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Prisoner of war at home


Death has sucked on him and spit him out

from beyond dream almost to forever,

but some insistence yanked him back

back into horror and broken teeth.


Make my heart beat faster, make it catch up!l


Pressing his chest, he massages,

life is running out ahead dragging

him a frayed rope-end of leash,

he waits out the long slow stretch of time.


Now at home, still those seven years succeed

In breaking him (their goal all along),

they haunt his effort to rebuild, and still

derail his children’s futures.


Why, still, do I have to live in this body bag of flesh

the only thing they left me ....


Amnesty’s official records, lists of documented facts,

hours of interviews - he spoke until his voice

broke in his heart - still it changed nothing,

disturbing secrets drown his voice in silence.


Why can I only live in the debris of broken ribs,

only pretend anything but remembering

the stink of my body on that cell floor,

remember death’s rancid taste in my saliva?


With each military boot blow to his ribs, each

metal rod’s smash on his back, hate

broke him into pieces that rattle

inaudibly with even his tiniest step.

(continue with stanza break)


Running his hands over the hair on his legs

he makes it into smooth, minute lines

remembering the tiny hairline cracks

on walls of the cell, all these years later.


Too weak to put pressure where

he felt the leak of warm blood,

he moves just outside himself again

where it is safe and blank.


Tonight he lies on his bed

in the empty echo of his homemade

cell, watching headlights

arc across the walls of his room.


There must be some reason

why I should want to be alive

there must be some reason,

there must be some…

Sharon Lopez Mooney, Prisoner of war at home, Kennings Literary Journal, 13th edition, ed. Riley DeLong, Hanover, IN, June USA 2022

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