The Center for Literate Values ~ Defending the Western tradition of responsible individualism, disciplined freedom, tasteful creativity, common sense, and faith in a supreme moral being.


A Common-Sense Journal of Literary and Cultural Analysis

15.1 (Winter 2015)





“Broken” and “The Cruelest Month”: A Two-Poem Salute
Michael H. Lythgoe



An older woman uninvited rubs my shoulder

after my reading. I did not know I needed pity.

I simply told a story about a Marine on a combat tour.

Everybody talks PTSD now. It means less and less.

But my combat buddies in The Corps

need real care more and more.


At the bar some guy says, yea, I was going to

sign up too…Who do you know in the VA Hospital

near you? How goes their care?

Does their scheduler get a bonus?

Does the appointment list keep changing?


Who really cares after the Memorial

Day parades, the Presidential visit

to Bagram Air Base? Who do you know

who serves in uniform? Do you help the USO,

the schools who send care packages to troops in

Afghanistan? Did a military wife who is a teacher

get your attention? Did her husband make it


home? What did you do for her, for him?

Send his unit some cookies. Better to get

a warrior with a head wound an appointment.

He does not want pity or more pills.

But he could use a little respect.

We need to fix this. I am not broken.

I am simply a soldier. I went to war.

Now I am back. I do not have PTSD.


The Cruelest Month

An art exhibit repeats Warhol’s subjects

lifted from the media; the headlines speak

death. Spring opens fresh red cuts

in a copse of green trees, fast slashes


of cardinals. Even though our soldiers

are mostly gone from Iraq and Afghanistan

American blood still spills. A doctor there

to heal is shot. The shooter is a guard


now healing in the same hospital. Reports

from Kabul are conflicted. Insider attacks

on Westerners highlight alienation with


foreigners–read U.S. and our allies, volunteers.

Over the border, Pakistan ends a ceasefire in Kyber

with the Taliban; now drones hum over Tigris River.

Lt. Col. Lythgoe (USAF, Retired) has published often in journals like Christianity and Literature and has produced several collections of his works. He now resides in Aiken, South Carolina. He recently taught a seminar for Lifelong Learning on the theme of The Literature of Espionage.

Leave a Reply