Marking Time

walmart man

photo courtesy of Kellie Elmore

Born through the grace and mercy of the Lord

Workin’ on Papa’s farm since my feet taught me to walk

Mama called me shy, her worried little boy

Happy to plow them fields sunrise to sunset

Got called up at eighteen to kill the commies in ‘Nam

Found myself knee deep in rice paddies

or in jungles lined with mines and leeches

Saw friends lose their limbs and lives

Lost my mind

Drownin’ in the blood left on those hills and in those huts

Red the common color in comrades, babies and women

Numbed my soul in the arms of yellow girls and in bottles of hooch

Got myself hooked on smack when the demons ruled my dreams

When the killin’ was done, they brought me home

Leavin’ me with nothin’ but the ghosts carried home in bags or draped in flags

Papa died while I was gone and Mama sold the farm

Found myself on the streets lookin’ for the next fix

‘Til the shelter took me in and cleaned me up

Spend my days workin’ the soup line and waitin’ for the clinic to open up

Livin’ and dyin’ through the grace and mercy of the Lord

Another great one from Kellie Elmore this week We wrote a story from this image that she posted on Instagram. His name is John. Check others’ out at:

#FWF Free Write Friday: Image Prompt

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28 thoughts on “Marking Time

    1. When I see people like John, I like to imagine what their life as a child was like and how the business of living changed them. Thank you for your feedback! I cannot wait to read your post that is sitting in my Reader!

  1. “Mama called me shy, her worried boy” how touching to see how that worried boy had something to worry about…life happened. My you’re good! I feel like I’m in J-K and everyone is in High School:) but love the exercise.

    1. Thank you! I have noticed that a common thread throughout the posts is the portrayal of John in a realistic (but not negative) light. It is so easy to assume from the photo that he brought his circumstances upon himself. As a society, we rush to judgement without even IMAGINING the reasons. Your prompt allowed this to happen for all of us. I have read some outstanding pieces as a result! XO 🙂

  2. A beautiful poignant read. Almost too hard for me as I was talking with my dad recently about his experiences in Vietnam and it was hitting very close to home. But absolutely brilliantly, accurately, and vividly depicted. An extremely engaging read.

  3. Wow Kim – so much packed inside this poem – my heart bleeds for heroes like this who are just discarded after they have served their use.
    Powerful lines;
    Spend my days workin’ the soup line and waitin’ for the clinic to open up

    Livin’ and dyin’ through the grace and mercy of the Lord

      1. I agree, and find it criminally heartless that governments all over the world leave these men and women who have fought for our freedom without the support they need after they have served for (Queen and) Country.

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