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
for the
whole time
I was
in Afghanistan
that I
did not
fight this
war I
worked in
a hospital
at the
point of
the war
but no
I did not
fight the
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
I prepared
gauze for
wounds and
vacuums to
suction blood
I cleaned
dead bodies
for coffins
for planes
for home
for broken
I bleached
between patients
and served
meals to
soldiers with
no hands
to eat with
but I
did not
fight the
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
and it
wasn’t until
I was in
Kuwait at
a stress
that I
ever heard
the words
compassion fatigue
or secondary PTSD
so I came home
unaware of
how it
would feel
to hear
at night
or how
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
the company
of ghosts
about my
own death
in order
to feel
like an
end was
in sight
but I
did not
fight the
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
to readjust
to turn
it off
to forgive
or forget
so no
I did
not fight
the war
but I
am still
every single

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:


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