what i did in the war, poem by Matt Borczon

its hard
to explain
to civil­ians
that my
gun was
locked up
in an iso
con­tain­er
for the
whole time
I was
in Afghanistan
that I
did not
fight this
war I
worked in
a hos­pi­tal
at the
cra­zi­est
point of
the war
but no
I did not
fight the
war
I watched
it from
the dis­tance
of a
sev­ered arm
watched through
the holes in
marines chests
and stom­achs
through the
eye sock­ets
of chil­dren
shred­ded by
hell­fire heli­copters
but I
did not
fight the
war
I pre­pared
gauze for
wounds and
vac­u­ums to
suc­tion blood
I cleaned
dead bod­ies
for coffins
for planes
for home
for bro­ken
fam­i­lies
I bleached
mat­tress­es
between patients
and served
meals to
sol­diers with
no hands
to eat with
but I
did not
fight the
war
I searched
for miss­ing
limbs and
spoke with
angry vil­lage
elders and
was hit
by an
Afghan pris­on­er
for try­ing
to help
him stand
but I
did not
fight the
war
and it
wasn't until
I was in
Kuwait at
a stress
debrief­ing
that I
ever heard
the words
com­pas­sion fatigue
or sec­ondary PTSD
so I came home
unaware of
how it
would feel
to hear
heli­copters
at night
or how
night­mares
could make
me soak my
sheets with
sweat and
how pan­ic
would make
me ruin
my chil­dren
or how I
could lose
days upon
days in
mem­o­ries
keep­ing
the com­pa­ny
of ghosts
fan­ta­siz­ing
about my
own death
in order
to feel
like an
end was
in sight
but I
did not
fight the
war
I inhab­it­ed
the war
was forced
by blood
to adapt
by death
to adapt
by shock
and awe
to adapt
until the
day they
sent me
home with
no gauze
no bleach
no mor­phine
pump no
tool or
instruc­tions
to read­just
to turn
it off
to for­give
or for­get
so no
I did
not fight
the war
but I
am still
fight­ing
every sin­gle
day.

borczonlets see what can I tell you as far as a bio, Grad­u­at­ed from Edin­boro Uni­ver­si­ty with an art degree and no job prospects. Start­ed writ­ing back in grade school been at it pret­ty much ever since, joined the Navy reserve in 2001 went to Afghanistan in 2010 as a corps­man in the busiest com­bat hos­pi­tal in the world at that time. Came home and tried to for­get every­thing I saw. That didn't work. Even­tu­al­ly I start­ed writ­ing about it and that is how it all got from there to here. In my civil­ian life I am a prac­ti­cal nurse for a social ser­vice agency and I build cig­ar box gui­tars and cook­ie tin ban­jos for fun. My work has been in/on pres­sure press, bust­ed dhar­ma, dead snakes, big ham­mer, hang­ing loose and in the col­lec­tion 100 poems by the soul col­lec­tive. I am work­ing on a man­u­script of my war poems that I hope to get togeth­er some time before I die.

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2 Responses to what i did in the war, poem by Matt Borczon

  1. Matt, I loved your poems in Eunoia, and searched out your poet­ry and found this blog. This poem is even stronger than those. You have a true gift of help­ing us see war as it is — not as the glo­ry of vague abstrac­tions. I sup­port you in your fight to become whole.

  2. LaKni says:

    Excel­lent.

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