A Poem for Memorial Day

Game Over 
by Eli Wright

Maybe it was our aimless idealism,
or misguided patriotism.
Maybe we just didn’t understand what we were
getting ourselves into.
Driven by the desire to serve some greater good,
or follow in the footsteps of our fathers.
Some of us needed money for college,
or wanted to see the world in a new way.
But we couldn’t find any other way to pay for it.
We wanted to prove that we were men,
So we took the oath,
then traded our Nintendo’s for M-16’s.
We started out pushing buttons,
ended up pulling triggers,
and it was like no game we had ever played before.
When we first tasted war, we became addicts.
Got hooked on bullet crack and artillery blast.
Every day one of us would overdose on sniper shot or IED.
Some of us never got sober, relapsed on 3 or 4 tours.
Wishing we could just go back
to playing video games or Cops & Robbers again.
But there was no reset button this time.
No getting back up after counting to ten.
Our eyes were sewn open,
unable to look away from horror stories
unfolding in front of us.
We came home incomplete,
with no words to describe
how our hearts are now beating us black and blue
for some of the things we had to see and do.
We all got what we asked for, in one way or another.
But maybe we bit off more than we could chew
and we’re still struggling to swallow it all.
We’re still choking on the truth that we were lied to.
And even though they said our war was over,
it sure doesn’t seem that way.
But hopefully,
one of these days,
we’ll finally make it back home.

(This poem comes from Warrior Writers, a non-profit organization that teaches and gives space for veterans to write and create art about their experiences. You can donate here.)