Waiting at the VA Clinic

Old men.
Waiting for the doctor.
Telling stories.
Remembering Iraq.
Comparing experiences.
Comparing diagnoses.
Swapping acronyms.
Waiting.

High tech checkin.
Scan your ID card.
Verify your birthday.
All medical files have been digitized.
Waiting for benefits.
Smiling at the receptionist.
Appreciating kindness.
Thinking about military service.

Feeling less out of place today.
When you’re 23 at the VA and you’re surrounded by WWII and Vietnam veterans, you kind of stick out.
I’m older now.
I’m not skinny any more.
I need to reduce my cholesterol.
My vision isn’t what it used to be.

Listening to the stories.
The stories in the waiting room.
The tales of the dead.
Bodies in Iraq.
Severed limbs
Burned in a pile
Chemical defoliants
Dropped by aircraft flying high above
Designed to peel back the jungle canopy
Peeling back years of vitality and health now
The unintended consequences
The science of warfare
Manifested now in the clinic
Waiting.
Listening.
Remembering.
Thinking.

Waiting at the VA clinic.

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Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

I always like fall
best
you can eat juicy lobster
from Atlantic waters
and peppermint bark
and blueberries
and sea salt and vinegar chips
and lots of
seafood
and hot chocolate
and maple syrup
at the town square
and walk to
the bonfire
outside
at the christmas
village
and go to Starbucks with
Zoë Sprankle
and sip carefully
and laugh constantly
all the time
not just when you hear a joke

Sarah Fryer

The Fire

This is a poem I wrote for my English class:

The Fire

The Fire

There was a fire ban that year

But the carless campers left

Leaving smoldering remains behind

The fire that ate the forest

 

Wind whispered wordlessly in the trees

The fire was given new life

Like a new small heartbeat

The fire that ate the forest

 

The fire lit the dry grass

It was gathering in strength

Like a lion preparing to strike

The fire that ate the forest

 

The fire now reached the trees

 It was a wild beast let free

Grey smoke billowed up to the sky

The fire that ate the forest

 

Campers couldn’t escape the wild flames

Sirens soon sounded on dirt roads

People evacuated their homes

The fire that ate the forest

 

Old oaks fell to their knees

Trees were consumed by flames

The heat was a blacksmith’s forge

The fire that ate the forest

 

Rescue men were left helpless

The fire covered the forest

Everyone did not escape

The fire that ate the forest

 

The fire burned bright in the sky

Smoke blocked the stars at night

Flames seemed to laugh evilly

The fire that ate the forest

 

 

The fire burned on still

Feasting on what ever it touched

Held back only from a river

The fire that ate the forest

 

The fire slowly reseeded

Rescue workers were gaining ground

Blessed rain started to fall

The fire that ate the forest

 

The roars finally abated

Land was left scorched

Flames had licked every tree clean

The fire that ate the forest

 

New grass began to grow

Trees again grew tall

Animals began to return

The fire that gave life