(a poem written by this Veteran trying to cope with PTSD while in the 1st Cavalry at Fort Hood, Texas. This poem was written after my Overseas Deployment when I was trying to cope with all of it, trying to make sense of it. And maybe it will speak to you and maybe you too are in that dark place right now or have been there in your lifetime and you too are always trying to break out and come back to the light. )
Trading things for the same – or less;
Out of time, be my guess.
Out of place, all did confess;
Yet all were to ride “Oblivion Express.”
All did stare in morose gloom;
Panickily, more piled in and there was no more room.
Down, Down, then off the tracks;
Gasping for breath all looked back.
A hard starboard and up into the sky we soared.
Only headroom left between the stars.
Mutinous were our thoughts and sorely we pulled a window down;
A cloud of cold, ice-wind gushed in and my face felt the cold cloudy dew.
Verses were all outside
And the Lord’s Prayer was at our feet;
Then a sign, “Heaven l0,000,000,000,000 miles” we did meet.
——To think, we had boarded only to go 10 miles——-
The conductor walked in dressed in radiant white;
There was also thunder and a flash of light.
“Just a precaution” he called and began checking our hands and head.
Then, he started removing us one by one letting ones without the marks remain.
A reddened glow came from the door to which we were to go;
Frantically the marks from myself I did try to remove.
Soon, I was next to be removed
And I saw deep down inside Satan — in a joyous mood!
My life, my crimes, he did read and laugh in nursery rhyme.
All the streets I saw with people in torment down below;
Screams and horror struck me now — I saw the names of those who had let them go
And my name was on so many of the young and old.
Satan laughed and joked-
Come on GI’s and take another toke
“Thanks for helping my kingdom grow.”
But, to show you that I’m not a bad fellow,
In your room I’ve personally installed
a thermostat and brimstone—scented pillow.
To think I could have avoided all this;
Just by reading one of the verses on the Wall of that train.
He(the Lord) loved me then — and even to the last,
He tried to give me his blood
Truly the Savior.
In my past, I had looked at church as a joke,
and thought none of it to last.
But I have been found wrong and am in awesome pain.
To think, I put my foot forward one Step on that train,
and put myself in the insane.
If I had only avoided “Oblivion Express.”
Some of the people had madly stared
Some cried and a few prayed for something to justify that day.
No matter the reason or cause
Justice from above was there for us all,
and the conductor called out-
May 22, 1975
James L. Brown, US Army Veteran, author of A Panther’s Father Book Series