Dennis L. Johnson


I walk this earth in search of ghosts.
Not the translucent vagaries of too much drink or imagination;
But haunting, nonetheless.

The ghosts are men who disappeared while serving our country:
The ones who didn’t come home.

Granted, none of us came home the same person.
But most of us made it home alive.

I see the ghosts of those brave men not yet home;
Those who were lost to us;
Those who died;
Those who were captured;
Those who are still missing;

I see them in many places, both expected and unexpected.
When I see Old Glory waving in the wind, I see them.
When I hear a certain song, a phrase, a name,
I see them.

When I sit at the Wall they gather ‘round:
Seeking news of family, friends, things in the World.

When I walk the streets at night they walk with me.
I am never really alone.

Remembering the dreams I had back then,
I mourn the loss of all the dreams they never had a chance to fulfill.

Remembering the songs we sang back then,
I think of all the songs they’ve never heard.

Remembering my children as they were growing up,
I wonder about all the children who grew up without their fathers.

There was a time when I hid from the ghosts of war.
Living in a void, trying to avoid.

Now I seek them out.

They are all around me.

Robbed of their future, they remind me of the past.

They want to be remembered and I will remember them, forever.