The Rain (Afghan Ruin) – Poem

Sometimes when I write poetry, its usually charged by an emotional response to something that is affecting myself.  For example, during the early days of June it was regarding the loss of Mike Forge, which impacts me because of how it impacted my father.  Tomorrow is Fathers day, and as I browsed the shop earlier today for a Fathers day Card (not for my Dad) a thought came to my mind.  One of the things that impacted us as a family, and still does in a differing form, was PTSD.  PTSD is something that people struggle with, in and out of conflicts involving war, but its something that a lot of soldiers hide.  They hide it through fear of being weak, being seen to be inferior, which is often a soldiers worst enemy (other times its himself).  My Dad, although he never admitted it, suffered from PTSD and, surprisingly, so does my Mother (for a different, private reason).  Its a tough thing to live around, the constant mood swings, random moments of darkness; but its totally acceptable in my book.  Many don’t understand it, deal with it or come to terms with it, and their families often ostracize them.  Many are left alone, and sadly when that happens, death’s knock isn’t too far behind.  Its tragic, and absolutely avoidable, but unseen by too many. 

Thinking of that I wrote a poem, I am not the best scribe, although I am trying to change that through practice.  Its titled “The Rain (Afghan Ruin)” as when I starting writing it a couple of days ago, my mind went towards those coming back from Afghanistan, with little or not welcome home.  Yet reading it back now, its appropriate to most veterans.  My Dad said when he arrived back on the boat from the Falklands, the main task force had received a heroes welcome, yet he’d been stuck on a boat for months.  Not the best environment for PTSD; packed into a boat, nothing to take your mind away from the thoughts that ran through your mind.  Add to that no flag waving when he arrived, not a heroes welcome, just business as usual. 

The Rain (Afghan Ruin)

The rain swept hard against his face,
As he looked around this alien place,
All his friends they looked around too,
Brothers in arms on this foreign ground,
Unknown to them what would come,
That no matter what their bond,
Would never be undone.

The rain swept hard against his face,
From down the line a voice was raised,
“MAN DOWN!” and all their faces drained,
The run to the chopper whilst his life ebbed away,
Feeling helpless as there was nothing to say,
As no one knew what truly happened that day.

The rain swept hard against his face,
Kicked out the army what a disgrace,
When he came home with what he’d faced,
No crowds cheered or waved,
To them they were monsters best left for the grave,
Fighting was his crime and his CO said no,
Nothing was left now and he had to go.

The rain swept hard against his face,
As he remembers friends faces,
That light no longer graces,
Alone he stands as he opens his eyes,
He looks up and see the black skies,
As he pleads with God to let him die,
He takes that step and as he looks down,
He places a wreath onto the ground,
Attached a plaque for comrades down,
Buried beneath on political grounds.

The rain swept hard against his face,
To people around him the skies were clear,
Clouds around him though were black with fear,
The lightning of guilt that no one could hear,
That’s when his eyes glass over and he drifts off into space,
He remembers that day when the rain swept hard against his face.

© Leonard Smith


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