Mark I. Kirkmeyer


This was the big weekend
In this little town
To finish out the celebration
Some yahoos set off fireworks
I react, instinctively, rolling

The second blast goes off
To the windows
Looking down on the street
Man with a rifle
I react, instinctively, stealth

Down the stairs
It’s just the young Marine
Back from Iraq
I take a chance, communicate
He reacted, instinctively, armed

More fireworks go off
We call the cops
Then go out to watch.
The cops do nothing;
We react, investigative-ly, searching

We find the fireworks lighters
Confront them with question
They answer “is it against your religion?”
My answer “Sort of, I’ve got PTSD”
Lighters react, ignorantly

I inform them what PTSD is
The father replies you’re not old enough for NAM
My response shocks him.
The Marines response enlightens him.
The father reacts Marine-like

I return to the apartment
Check on the NAM vet living here
His daughter is frightened
I kneel beside him
He reacted spasmodically


I made sure he took his sleeping pill and stayed with him until he fell off to sleep. After coming back to my apartment, I forgot my own advice and didn’t take my sleeping pill. I tossed and turned all night. Guardian spent the night dodging fists, chops, and kicks. After I gave up trying to sleep, I started writing this poem and chatting with Monica. I’m waiting now for a reasonable hour to call my sister before I go take my sleeping pill and crash out for the day. I may also call my counselor to let him know what happened.