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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