Joe

Haunted by memories of shattered bodies
Blood soaked uniforms cut away
Other people’s blood, other people’s bone
Taliban revenge killings
Orders obeyed. Kill or be killed
Sleeping in a derelict doorway
Easing emaciated buttocks
Suffering from concrete burns, torn flesh
Shivering as dawn approaches

‘Hungry and Homeless’ facing a day
Of feared hatred, ugly, fierce, tattooed
Institutional post- coded charity stays away
There’s no one else in this doorway
Impotent in everything (except breathing)
Labels avoid Joe- live or die-
Taught cunning by the army
Joe slides through society

The Council’s revenge squad
Wakes him, flash light in the face
Smug faced busy- body caring for him
-lice hopping, eyes popping, veins bulging-
He says, “I’m alright, leave me alone”
He’s a military derelict, he knows about pain
Living in a shop doorway isn’t so bad

Joe had a bad war
Limbs intact, mind wandering
Body flown home,
Mind faraway in Afghanistan
Forgetting to die a hero
He lives as a hideous shadow.

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