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Thursday, September 15, 2016


by Jimmy Pappas

Image source: Wounded Times

They did a study about veterans' suicides you know,
counted them and came up with an average: 22 per day.

Something like how many clowns can fit into a Volkswagen,
or how many hot dogs a person can eat without throwing up.

That's like saying, After you finish watching football today,
one veteran's going to blow his brains out, another one's going

to hang herself from the rafters if she can figure out
if she has any rafters to hang from in the first place.

The formality makes me want to put out a call for
the wailing women to gnash their teeth and tug at their hair.

The minister stands out from the crowd of leather-jacketed vets
with his tailor-made suit and conservatively perfect tie.

He quotes St. Paul, If God is for us, who can be against us?
to a group of men who have felt the whole world is against them.

Then he informs us that the prophet Isaiah believed God's
understanding is unsearchable, but I need an explanation of

why this soldier took every pill he could get his hands on. If he
did not want to be a burden, why do my shoulders feel so heavy?

Jimmy Pappas served for the Air Force in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970 as an English language instructor. After his service, Jimmy received a Bachelor's of Arts degree from Bridgewater State University and a Master's  in English literature from Rivier University. He is a retired teacher whose poems have been published in many journals, including Yellowchair Review, New Verse News, Shot Glass Journal, Kentucky Review, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Off the Coast, Boston Literary Magazine, The Ghazal Page, and War, Literature and the Arts. He is now a member of the executive board of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire.