A death at the Super 8
I have always felt that we need to do more for the men and women who have served our country. Or at least we need to do more than we are doing. Some years ago I wrote a poem about a vet that I knew. He was a Vietnam vet who came back from that war with a purple heart and little else. He was a friend, and his story touched me deeply. I wrote a poem about ‘Roger’ (full disclosure – not his real name). Because this is Memorial Day weekend here in the United States, or ‘Decoration Day’ as my granddad, a World War I vet used to call it, I want to post this poem in ‘Roger’s’ honor.
A Death at the Super 8
Roger died at the Super 8, out on the edge of town,
Nobody left to bury him, his family long since gone,
His friends had all abandoned him, since he’d started talking strange,
Muttering about conspiracies, and weird lights out on the range,
Someone killed the Kennedys, and it ain’t who you’d think,
He told me in a local bar, after I had bought him his third drink,
Lots of things are going on, and the Feds are in the know,
Murders and black helicopters, drugs and UFOs,
He told me he heard people, whispering in his ear,
About the second coming, and it was happening next year,
He spoke in tongues, slept in the rain, and turned a ghastly pale,
A couple times he scared some folks, and ended up in jail,
The people who were close to him, all started to get scared,
So they started to avoid him, and they forgot they ever cared,
The welfare folks they finally found, a place where he could stay,
So he moved into the Super 8, and made the county pay,
But me and seven other guys, from the local Legion hall,
Turned out to see him buried, on a windy day last fall,
An Episcopalian preacher, who’d known him all his life,
Said Roger was a gentle man who’d always loved his wife.
He said it started years ago, when he couldn’t pay a loan,
A banker came down from Des Moines and took away his home,
His wife she moved to Keokuk, his son lives in Moline,
I heard he has a daughter too, but for years she’s not been seen,
He said he’d fought back demons, but now God would settle up the score,
And take away the agony of a man, who’d gone to war,
That night from fitful sleep I rose, and poured a shot of rye,
And drank a toast to Roger, and strange lights up in the sky.
I’m glad that you offered your poem as a tribute to veterans I guess Vietnam will always stay with me above all subsequent wars because I’m 73 years old and come from that era. That’s not to say that I am not deeply responsive to our involvement in Iraq and Afganastan. I have been in the process of writing a short story centered around a Vietnam vet who comes home with a diagnoses of PTSD and what happens to him post war. Different than your poem but with some common features..
Thank you for reading Pete. I would be quite interested in reading your short story when you get it finished. Keep us posted on how it is coming along.
I’m not an expert critic, but I think this poem is excellent.
Thank you so much for saying that jesusknowsmyname. I appreciate your stopping by here to read my work. I had almost forgotten about this poem, as I wrote it a few years ago, but it is one of my personal favorites.