U.S. Soldier, 194th Armored Regiment, retired, Brainerd, Minnesota

I’ve had both knees replaced. I’ve got a steel
pin in my hip. I don’t hear you so good,
but I’m not stupid, son. How would you feel,
surviving the Bataan Death March, no food
for days, no water, and the ones who fell
behind were bayoneted where they lay,
and now you’re marching off to death? Real hell
is not old age, though. No, taking away
the rights we died for, saying torture’s right,
that’s hell. Hand me the iron and those shirts,
would you? Thanks, son. As long as I have fight
in me I’ll love this country till it hurts.
And it does. This is worse than what I saw
overseas. Torture. In America.

From Tongue of War: WWII Poems (BKMK Press, 2009) by Tony Barnstone. Copyright © 2009 by Tony Barnstone. Used with the permission of the author.