The Veterans Life
Occupies small spaces set aside in parades
to march amidst babies and balloons.
In old uniforms, bright campaign ribbons
under fluttering flags, emerging cleansed
of quiet rooms, coffee and cigarettes,
prescription bottles and embattled nights,
days awaiting mail and monthly checks
signifying their dwindling esteem.
Now trying on pride marches once again
scanning eyes for signs of understanding,
appreciation, or interest in its
yearly appearance, or apparition.
surrounded by the foreign landscapes
of civilian life, it tentatively
emerges braving new explosions as
sharp cracks of applause replace cartridges
scanning faces, awaiting recognition
dreaming of places and lost friends fallen
it retreats once again to the comfort
of older, more familiar companions
bidding another rigid farewell,
to its heartland, like children and villages
family dinners, backyard barbecues,
innocence and safety, all lost
forever when the killing began.