James H. Smith

UNSEEN MAN

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: April 10, 2007
Awarded: April 10, 2007
I stop and look within myself and ask, “Who am I?
What happened, that makes me so unable to cry.”
A second man lives within me
This man only I can see

I met him on a battle field, below red rocket’s glare
Until he stepped forward, I never knew he was there
Survive; live forget the blood and gore
We would do things his way, or we would be no more

I stood as him, until the battle’s end
Then he faded, until battles call brought him forth again
When was it that I learned to kill, take another’s life
Involved with so little feeling, in war’s bloody strife?

A gentle man with smiling eyes, I can no longer claim to be
For a survivor lives inside, he shadows everything I see
He wakes me in the night, to each scuff or creaking sound
Then he prods me to get up, check it out, make the rounds

Sometimes I’m bothered knowing this shadow lives inside
But if he had not awoke upon that night we might have died
Awakened, he shall never again upon his duty sleep
Perceived or real from danger we will keep

His shadow of dark knowing lives with me day to day
He shadows the things I do and think, he shadows the things I say
We live with our memories with no way to even the score
What a price we pay for playing in someone else’s war