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by W. Mahlon Purdin

It was a deep experience
That seeped and drained
That reaped and sowed
That changed and destroyed
And then faded away
Like a boat wake in a long
Dirty river somewhere
In my distant childhood.

Suddenly it appears
As I hug or kiss or dream
Like the loud crack of gunfire
Or the soft dripping of blood
From wounds that won’t heal
Or like a flash of regret so
Intense that my retinas burn
And my arms fall like surrender.

It chaffs its way into everything
I do and say and think, so
Of course it is in my poems
Stanza after stanza, verse after verse
It’s in the rhythm and the rhyme
It’s in the meter like marching
It heaves in and out of the
Commas like gasping breath.

I fight it off like a soldier
Determined to get home
To take back the life deleted
To reclaim the boy who went
Off like a hero and came home
Like a warrior, who no one
Recognized, who had to
Go on alone, unknown.

If I try to tell it now
I always lie, what else?
I talk about the people
And the river flowing brown
And leave out the red,
The screaming, the sadness
Of being, the dark of deep
Things I still don’t understand.


Posted on 05/02/2015
Copyright © 2022 W. Mahlon Purdin

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by LK Barrett on 05/05/15 at 03:32 AM

This shattered me in so many ways, my friend, the ways we remember experiencing the overwhelming with being overwhelmed again, that basic instinct that allows us to not dread childbirth, to save someone from fire again...and then the way there are some memories that are too deep to not relive. A thank you for this is inadequate. lk

Posted by Joan Serratelli on 05/09/15 at 09:37 PM

I loved this- OUTSTANDING- especially the 4th stanza- A GREAT write!

Posted by George Hoerner on 01/06/17 at 07:40 PM

I feel that those who do write about war are all considered to be liars by those who haven't been unless they do lie to 'water' it down. And of course that does make them ...... Love the write and your sentiments.

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