Saturday, April 30, 2011

PTSD

In the waiting room, I squeeze 
this old rosary a nun gave me 
the day I got back from Iraq.

I was still in a daze on a gurney
and I still had sand in my hair.
Some of it remains, no matter 

how many showers I take. 
Sand from Iraq lingers, I'm told,
until you go bald, and then

you are able to concentrate
on other things.
What might they be, I wonder.

But today, in this waiting room,
I squeeze the rosary tighter  
when I hear, louder than 

the gunshots crackling in my dreams, 
the real screams of that little boy 
right over there, the one who's 

rapped his elbow off the radiator.
Lord, listen to him scream! 
Each week he comes with his mother 

for her follow-up appointment. 
He sounds like the jet 
that takes me back at night

to that little village in Iraq
where the sand puffs up  
in mushroom clouds

above the bullets
as the children scream 
in their hovels louder 

than that little boy  
screaming over there.
Maybe everyone 

in this waiting room
listening to him scream  
can come with me now 

to that village in Iraq.
Sitting here, I know 
that boy's pain so well 

that in my fist 
this rosary no longer
knows my prayers. 

--Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He has had poems published in Calliope Nerve and other publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

1 comment:

misener said...

The Donal strikes again! Such a flexible writer. . . I always find his work interesting.