Reaction Figures

          G.I. Joes don’t need wheelchairs;
          they don’t come with removable
          limbs. Their laser rifles, wind-up
          satellite dishes, and grappling hook
          cannons are the weapons of these

          toy soldiers. Our weapons are whiskey,
          anti-psychotics, and self-inflicted
          gunshot wounds. The real American
          heroes huddle in the dark corners
          of a V.A. hospital waiting room,

          a new kind of P.O.W. camp, prisoners
          of our own memories and hallucinations.
          Daydreams and night terrors take
          the place of heroic battle cries
          and “Don’t Do Drugs” messages plastered

          on a Saturday morning television screen.
          Knowing is supposed to be half the battle,
          but we’re not even a quarter of the way
          there. We can’t wait for the next
          commercial break; we’re already broken.

Nick Brush is a graduate student at the University of North Texas pursuing his Ph.D. in Renaissance Literature. A Shakespeare fanboy, Nicholas writes poetry in his spare time, which means he hardly ever has time to write. His work reflects a veteran’s conflicts off the frontlines and on the battlefield of a civilian society that doesn’t seem to understand.