“What a weird way to kick me when I’m down.”



I joined the Army, a frightened child
and learned of violence and killing.
That world of murder, rape, and fear
left me haunted by memories, chilling.

They used me up and sent me home,
to rot in silent desolation.
Unemployed, worthless, broken, sick,
and dependent on a hopeless situation.

The Army said all who serve are green.
Skin color was never a factor.
But the VA sees only my brown skin;
They treat me like a malingering actor.

The psychiatrist who scolded me,
claiming I need adult supervision,
had me taken away in shackles and cuffs,
banished with hateful derision.

He said, don’t come back or we’ll send you away.
Your behavior is too uncertain.
How dare you shower with pajamas on!
No one cares that we took the shower curtain.

Don’t bother us; we’re just here for the check.
Stay away from the nurse’s station.
Don’t talk to the staff, or we’ll make up new rules
and accuse you of having relations.

We finally figured out why you keep coming back;
You’re just bored. What’s that bruise on your leg?
No shelter will take you, the night nurse said;
No explanation. I was too proud to beg.

Just tell us the truth, another nurse proclaimed,
as if talking to them were allowed.
My husband, I said, but I couldn’t say more.
By that point, I was far too cowed.

First, they told me they were there to help.
Said, reach out before you act.
Then they mind-fucked me repeatedly
and blamed me for breaking the pact.

I shot myself in the head, that night.
But the fucking bullet jammed.
I laughed and laughed, then wept and screamed,
what did I do to be so damned?

Today I remembered who I am;
a killing machine full of rage.
A fierce memory, holding all the names
of the devils who built this cage.

Alison Wonderland, 2018.

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