Big Bridge #10

An Open Letter to America


Jonathan Penton


so i'm
            at a bar no i'm
            at a party or i'm
                                    walking down a downtown street and there's this man
                        and he's
                        my age and he is a
some man and
   he's cry
he                    is         cry and
wants to talk to me
because he
                                    needs some one to
            talk to
                        because he
                                    doesn't have many friends
            and i look like
                                    someone he can trust

he is
            my age and
he is
            an NCO and he    just got back

and i
           do not want to talk about this
and i                       do not want
to be here but he is here and i am here
and i am still here and he is still talking
and he                    doesn't want to hurt anyone
            he just wants things to be better he thought he
could make things better but
now                    he just wants to stop crying all the god damn time

i know
this is not a new thing i
saw Forrest Gump which had veryrealistic
wartime footage and for
counterbalance i saw
Full Metal Jacket
which showed how sexy
men could be

i saw a verywealthy actor portray Lee
                        surrendering to Grant

and adifferentactor cry at the Treaty of Versailles
and of course there was

the real violence
the real hatred
the real madness
but as bad as things got
            sooner or later
                        i could get away
                                    and i always did
                                                eventually but now i'm
in this bar at
                        this party and
on this downtown Texan street and

he is the first NCO home and
he is the first of many he is
my age but so many,
so many are still gone,
so many are so much younger than me and i say

Johnny, you'd better get used to this, because
            this is a big nation and
                        this is a big war and there will be
                                                                        many NCOs
                        and they will have
                                                                        no place to go
            and if they cannot get away then
                        neither can you