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The Homeless Man

The Homeless Man

A Poem by Dr. Joel C. Brothers

A poem about how a lot of us combat veterans end up. A condemnation of war as an instrument of Foreign Policy.


I met a homeless man, the other day,

With unkept hair, and beard of grey,

On his head sat the hat of my beloved Marine Corps

He wore an aged Field Jacket from the Vietnam War.

On his sleeve was a Unit Patch that I knew very well,

The unit I served in, when I did my time in Hell.

Passers-by taunted him, calling him “Gunny”

As he stood there and begged for cigarettes and money.

His eyes were haunted with the 1000-Yard Stare

His mind ravaged by cheap booze, and despair.

His thoughts, I'm sure, were still trapped in Saigon

For him, the nightmare was still going on.

They say he came home a hero, from Vietnam

He did his duty for Uncle Sam

He was awarded the Purple Heart for his acts of bravery

But he also won scars that nobody could see.

He was a boy of 18, who worked at the mill,

When they handed him a rifle, and forced him to kill.

He spent months in the jungle fighting the Viet Cong

With no time to wonder if it was right or wrong.

He went home and married his High School sweetheart.

They had a few good years, then it all fell apart.

She just couldn't understand that the wall that he'd built,

was to shut out the feelings of horror and guilt.

Because sometimes at night, when he'd lay down in bed,

He'd hear gunfire, explosions, and see the faces of the dead.

And the feelings all came back, that he tried to hide inside,

As he would wake up screaming, then hang his head and cry.

Now, after all these years, Father Time takes his toll.

Now his best friend is a bottle, and he sleeps in the cold.

He just haunts the graveyards, talking to the stones,

Of the ones who died fighting so far from home.

The people around town talk about him a lot.

But they never mention the war that he fought.

They just say he's crazy, a fool and a bum.

The fighting's all over, but the war is never really won.

I put a Twenty in his pocket, and took my leave

With a heavy heart, and a spirit bereaved.

Being a hero is not really much fun,

When the fighting's all over, but the healing's never done.

I went to my home, and locked the door,

And thought about my fellow veteran a little bit more.

And about how war casualties aren't just the ones who died.

As I sat on my couch, I cried......

Semper Fi!

© 2011 Dr. Joel C. Brothers

My Review

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You awaken my compassion on levels I didn't know were possible. Bless all "soul"diers

Posted 8 Years Ago

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WOW so intriguing and powerful.
This is a heart-tugger.
Nicely written.

Posted 8 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on December 22, 2011
Last Updated on December 22, 2011
Tags: War, Vietnam, Homeless


Dr. Joel C. Brothers
Dr. Joel C. Brothers

Crandall, GA

I have been a professional writer on for over 10 years. I am a Dr. of Naturopthy (Holistic Health Care), and have a PHD in Spiritual Healing. I am also a Cerified Pre-Marriage Counselor. .. more..