What Manner of Man

(Excerpt from Outcast)

what manner of man have I become
in the midst of the mathematics of war?

to point my rifle and shoot a stranger simply
because i have been told that stranger
would have killed me had i not killed him?
all because men of power have placed us strangers in opposition.

to watch that stranger’s head explode
as my bullet enters his face
and see the squirt of blood from his headless neck
arc into the air.
again and again i see the gore imprinted on my mind.
will these memories ever leave me?

to survive by being lucky that the bombs thrown at us
by strangers
find my best friends instead of me —
leaving me to step through their sticky remains time after time.
will these memories ever leave me?

what manner of man have I become
as i survive this carnage?

to be released again among peaceful folk
and go back to punching buttons on a robotic lathe,
while the images of exploding heads echo forever in my mind.
will the vomiting ever cease?

to fake a laugh at tossing my baby boy into the air
and listen to his giggle,
while the pop and smell of exploding gun powder fill the air forever —
mixing with the smell of entrails.
will the vomiting ever cease?

to wake up at night screaming and sweating
and reliving every moment of shredding bodies
and my wife, now a stranger to me,
laying my head upon her breast
as i cry myself to sleep in exhausting sobs.

what manner of man have i become?

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