Social Justice Poetry

Jimmy Pappas

I Ask a Veteran to Help Me Write a Poem | A Social Justice Poem by Jimmy Pappas

You ask me if I will tell you
about my experiences in ‘Nam
so you can write a poem, but
soldiers don’t like to tell
their war stories. It would be
like pretending to be some
sort of hero instead of what
you really were: just a regular
guy trying his best to survive.
The next thing you know, no one
is satisfied. They want you
to tell them all the gory
details. The past suddenly
becomes the present. It puts
pressure on the next generation
of young men who feel the need
to be worthy of your respect.

And those gold star mothers?
The ones who lost their children
and have to live on? I can’t imagine
what that must be like.

You know my son went to Iraq.
Now what if he went there because
he wanted to impress his father?
How would I feel if he died there?
Because if my son ever died
in Iraq, I’d never forgive myself.
That’s why I can’t tell you these stories.
So, No, I just can’t help you write a poem.