Watching My Classmates Come Home from the War in Iraq by Matt Prater

One built a cabin. One bought a Kawasaki.
One washed out, but shares his opinions constantly.
One took up with the police force & follows
the police code exactly. All have come home.

Some will never come back all the way.
Most have gone to larger towns. Most stay
busier than most would need. I don’t ask
questions. I suspect we won’t agree.

& what can I know anyway of what I can’t:
Nothing. Or only (maybe I’m wrong) I suspect
some do not tell out some of what they think,
& some think some of what they think because

to take on any other thinking might negate
their work that brought on loss, & brought
them out of their own raising; that made
them hard, & made them quiet, & made

them need a Kawasaki, or a beach house,
or a beat so as not to think of what came after
the free cap & the training & the mission
that did not change the final situation;

that left them (but none of us) weary;
that was started on a lie; that was hotter
& boringer than shit (until it wasn’t);
that only earned thanks from folks

who still don’t understand (what others of us are there?)
that they wouldn’t do again; that they might be made to;
though it didn’t work then; though it won’t work again;
though it wasn’t (the doing made it) necessary.

Of course you can, and should, ditch my opinions.
They were eating rations. I was watching Minions.



Matt Prater is a writer and visual artist from Saltville, VA. His work has appeared in Forklift, Ohio; The Moth; Little Patuxent Review, and Appalachian Heritage, among other publications.



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