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.
P R A E S I D I U M
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.