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Punk Writes

20 Years in Afghanistan (poetry)

Almost a decade ago, I wrote several poems about war after reading an excellent book about soldiers who fought (and tortured) in Iraq. So, given the recent events in Afghanistan, I looked at those old poems again, and have decided to share a few here, and a new one as well.

Worth Fighting For (originally written 2/7/13)

What is worth fighting for?


Whose freedom?

Our freedom--

is our freedom worth fighting for?

I thought we'd already won it.

Freedom isn't free--

I know that.

Men have fought and died

by the thouands

for our freedom.

Men, but not women--

because it has been a while

since we've fought for

our freedom.

Now we try to fight

for the freedom of others--

but they didn't ask for it.

Our freedoms are not under threat,

not from the international community,


Be wary of the government.

Do not fear it, but

know what it can do--

like detain you indefinitely,

or supress your rights.

So, if you want to fight

for your freedom,

for all your freedoms--

take to the streets,

but leave the guns behind.

Fight for your right to keep those,

though, even if I don't agree.

Fight for your freedoms,

but leave the violence

to war.

Your freedoms are worth fighting for.


Flash bangs and AKs,

bullets jumping through the haze.

Sand swirls and people shout,

grenades fly through dust clouds.

Bodies fall and children cry,

fathers, mothers, brothers die.

Flags lay tatered in the dust;

the violence of war is never just.

Covering the body of a comrade,

his little boy just lost his dad.

Fire back and shoot them dead,

a single bullet to the head.

Cease fire, cease the fight,

they're all dead; forever night.

Back at the barracks, take some time,

your morality could turn on a dime.

Jokes and pranks to keep things light,

jody calls and brotherly fights.

You want to go home, deep in your core,

don't even believe in this damn war.

Suicide (originally written 2/26/13, meant to be heard)

Suicide, homicide, patricide, matricide--

but all together inside someone has died.

Died, died, died--

alone and cold, and if we'd only knon, then maybe--

but no!

Nothing is helping, they keep dying, dying, dying.

"I'm okay," but it's just a lie

designed for us to help them die,

slip-slide away into


Well maybe it'd just be better for me

to forget them,

ignore them, abhore them,

after all, it waas

only for us they went to war then.

That argument is flawed.

War wasn't for us, just

a bust of so-called terrorists--

the women and children:

collateral damage.

Our civillians turned soldiers

then expected to return

to reality, the totality of

their circumstances

ignored, abhored,

pushed aside as we watch them


22 a day.

22 veterans a day

are dying, crying out, trying

to speak, but nothing to say--

because we no longer care.

Who is here for them, for these men

who gave up their lives for a

cause, though flawed, they deserve

our respect and awe--

not to let them go raw.

That's one in five, down from one in four,

but still so many exiting the door

of life so early,

but surely there must be a way

to say, to stop it--

to help?

I'm sorry to all the victims

of suicide, that you died

because maybe no one tried

to stop you, to save you,

to intercede and plead on

your behalf, to prevent the

ultimate social gaffe.

Suicide, Suicide,

rest in peace all those who died.

What's really depressing about this is these stats are almost a decade old, and last year saw a sharp rise in military suicides. The number of servicemen and women who have died by their own hand is more than four times that the number who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq--30,177. And with that, the poem from this week.

Twenty Years in Afghanistan

Twenty years gone by,

an entire generation come of age

on the failure of the

war in Afghanistan

Roughly 200,000 lives--

coalition, combatant, civillian--

and many more left living

with the scars.

Two trillion dollars to

Afghanistan; Iraq--

it clearly wasn't spent on

training the army.

A country that has always been


a bloody history of assassinations

and failed foreign invasions.

American hubris to think

"this time will be different"--

but it could have been,

if we'd done it right.

Those who helped us now

hastily abandoned to the Taliban.

People jumped from the World Trade Center

and fell from military jets in Kabul.

We invented and perfected

drone warfare; worried war would

become a video game--reality,

their PTSD is unique and lonely.

Four times as many service members

that died in Afghanistan and Iraq

returned home only to die

by their own hand.

25% of the US population experince 9/11

only as a historical event,

and I know innacurate history is

already being taught.

It started in earnest with Reagan arming

the Mujahideen against the

godless commies, but we left them

to fester in a war-torn land.

The Taliban and Al-Qaeda

are two separate entities.

The Taliban siezed Afghanistan,

giving safe harbor to Al-Qaeda.

The 9/11 hijackers were overwhelmingly

linked with Saudi Arabia,

but they're our friends,

so Afghanistan and then Iraq it was.

For 20 years, we first destroyed,

then tried to rebuild a nation.

We gave them democracy

and an army.

We didn't make sure their

foundation was solid.

Pull people out first, and

then announce withdrawal.

I have no hope for a "reform"

Taliban, just more public scrutiny

then was possible

in the '90s.

Social media my be the

saving grace of Afghanistan.

Hope y'all enjoyed my poetry! I'm still working on my analysis of Bo Burnham's "Inside", and an article about slasher films and serial killers. This was topical, and poetry is much easier than prose to get out quickly, so, yeah.

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