Social Justice Poetry

Feeding the Grinder | A Social Justice Poem by Roy Pullam

The Greyhound bus stopped
At the Webster County courthouse
A group of boys
Men by selective service designation
Came forward
From family cars
Some mothers
Hugging their sons
Others weeping
The shadow of Vietnam
Hung over the morning
Thoughts of apple-cheeked boys
Fodder in an endless war
Was reaching
The rural homes
Fathers who had known war
Mothers numbed by network news
Not ready to send sons
To a faraway war
The bus was crowded
We stood in the aisle
Hoping that stops
Would discharge passengers
Along the winding Highway 60
Small towns and short stops
Waited all the way
Leaving hours before Louisville
Eddie still drunk
From the night before
Hollered from the back
Of the bus
“Next stop Vietnam”
We cringed in our seats
The news cast
Bringing the horror
To our door
Our desire
Just wanting to live
To have our lives
In peace
He did not get
The laugh
He was looking for
We snailed our way
Both anxious
But in no hurry
The bus slid
Into Ft. Knox
One of a number
Discharging its human cargo
Two days for an hour physical
Some rejected
Others dejected
The culling process
Less defined
As the war amped up
The return trip quiet
For some
The freedom soon gone
As they would merge
Into the green morass
I too lived
With the verdict
My heart’s weakness
Keeping me home
While my brother fought
I gave them a final look
Men I would not see again
Some returning
Much older
Some not returning at all
It is the boys
Who fight
Old men’s wars
Paying a price
No one
Should ever pay
My life would be
On the sideline
My guilt mainstream
Watching from safety
As others
Marched off to war

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4 thoughts on “Feeding the Grinder | A Social Justice Poem by Roy Pullam

  1. R U Outavit

    Anybody who rode that “bus” unlike Trump for example may understand:



    the right to protest
    is more important than your
    respect for the Flag

    RUO. 9/26/17


      1. R U Outavit

        The Selective Service System is a rather curious invention of noble, but dubious intention…