May 31, 2015

Abby E. Murray

MEMORIAL DAY 2015

Hello stranger, dear neighbor, brave soldier, hey buddy,
I want you to know we’re glad you ate the goat meat
half-cooked over burning paper, that you handed out jawbreakers,
that you researched the body and all its invisible hinges,
the hair that melts and bones that flavor the blood like soup,
thank you, we mean it, for feeding one stray dog but not the other,
for eating beef stew from a bag and cocoa beverage powder
on your anniversary, on Christmas, thanks for drowning the mice
together in the same bucket, for finding Sergeant Garcia first,
for bringing Connor home and running the memorial race,
for dropping that rose into the ground in Pennsylvania,
for wearing your blues, you sure look sharp, you look good,
you wouldn’t know you’re a soldier, you’re such a normal guy,
so thanks for trusting the interpreter, for saying woah, woah, woah
and giving money to the sheikh, thanks for giving your heavy knife
to the Afghan colonel as a gift, for waiting to hear if the city fell,
thanks for going abroad, overseas, into the sandbox, hell and back,
Godknowswhere and no-man’s-land, because we can only imagine
the PTSD, the hopelessness, the sedatives, the sweats,
we’re so happy you made it, you survived, you came back,
not a dent in the fender, this beer’s for you, buddy, sir, kiddo,
without you I wouldn’t be free to drink it.

Poets Respond
May 31, 2015

[download audio]

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Abby E. Murray: “I celebrate every Memorial Day (and Veterans Day) by watching my husband get thanked for his service, an experience he seems unable to escape. Does anyone know a soldier who appreciates being thanked in this way? Please, stop saying thank you for your service unless you can acknowledge what the word service entails. All he wants to do on Monday is drink gin and think about his dead friends. It’s hard enough for me to keep him alive without you walking across our yard to remind him what his loss has provided for others.” (website)