Gary Jacobson

THE HOMELESS VET

Gary Jacobson: The Homeless Vet
“Cuba’s shanty – he calls it his “hooch” – is nearby. You have to squeeze through an opening in a chain-link fence and climb down a little hill into some scrubby woods to get to it. It’s not easy to see, even when you know where it is. Cuba built it from sticks and evergreen boughs. It’s a little room with a stump in the middle to sit on.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel On-Line: November 12, 2002
In acrimonious harmony outside my cardboard box
Late again for appointment to detox
Misfortune and calamity my pox
The crickets singing seems so monotonous
Throbbing in these times barbarous
Forlornly disingenuous.

They sing to an ambiguous apparition lying there
Still with far away gaze in a thousand yard stare
Far across the sea… back there
To an Asian neverland’s nowhere
As people pass on nearby streets without a care
Life, food, drink… home, no longer simple fare.

Old men still hump wily jungle’s to Viet Cong auspicious
Wounded eagles with pure faith assiduous
Still fighting for right with audacious daring
Giving all to the good fight naïvely baring
Bearing God awful fear burnt out in vacant eyes
Men that “the world” they loved now seemingly despise.

Men armed and dangerous gone to war’s gray hoary bedlam
Still bearing the right arm of freedom
Gone to share with the disenfranchised America’s wisdom
Called from a country more than life they love
Great innocence protected surely by powers above
Lost in war without, to find within, a peaceful dove.

Won’t you see me now
Out of step with “the world,” somehow
Forgotten in sorrow somehow
Still living life in old battlefields
Sleeping in vacant fields
Without a haven, home on my back
All life in my combat rucksack.

Once a nation’s prince with such a bright future
Lost now in life’s dizzying adventure.
Once the hope for a nation, before that foreign war
Now destitute, bridging hadean woes I abhor.
Caught up in a world where I no longer belong
Still wondering where it all went wrong.

Now wounded and tired, the one disenfranchised
The old warrior with the forlorn look in his eyes
Now hearing in cricket’s singing monotonous.
Helicopters bringing attack spontaneous
Still feeling in life… fear… death
Caught fighting still in cankered breath.

I’m still searching for the bullet with my name on it
Still fighting a war back in fetid jungle pit
Hiding from the day so long ago abandoning
Once a hero… now in resignation living
Down-and-out, indigent, penniless
Disillusioned by life seeming hopeless.

Lost still in the singing of the crickets monotonous.

Author’s Note: Homeless veterans are a deep national concern, and a telling monument to this war, along with the thousands wounded in body and spirit, maimed and suffering violent PTSD episodes… forever! Yet knowing well the insidious and destructive characteristics of war that sends men’s value systems reeling, bringing on that vile beast called PTSD that we would not wish on our worst enemy… yet we still feel the need to send our sons and daughters into the fray…