Lost Goodbyes

The words come slipping out

before you can stop them like

bullets

and from the looks on their 

faces you know

nothing said now will stop the bleeding

but Goddamit, what should you apologize for?

They don't know what

part of you died in that war

when you watched him lose himself

into scattered pieces

when you carried his scattered soul

into safety from the fire

when you had your goodbye ripped away from you

like you had lost your own limb

They don't know how hard she cried when

you gave her that flag

because no words will fix us no

words will change the war

Why should you apologize

for what you don't understand?

Surely they realize you're just

a man

Mortars are flying

and both sides are aching

They don't know you see him 

when you close your eyes

and when you open them 

he's there too

on the face of the young woman you left

behind as a little girl

in the eyes of the wife you used to hold

close and in the peaceful slumber

of the boy who will soon be a man

They don't get it that there are voices in your

head whispering "guilty" because don't you know

its his blood on your hands

and they don't get that you're guilty for all the

things you never did because you lost

your goodbye like you lost your own limb

Why should you apologize when you don't know what

you did I mean you heard the words and watched

it happen

but was that really you breaking hearts and

losing goodbyes because inside you're broken

without anywhere to hide

and they don't get that you've lost so

many goodbyes

You try to make up for it and you

try and you try and

you try

but that flag can't be unfolded and

your daughter will never be small

again and wish as you might

you might never be whole again

The ground is scattered with 

all the bullets you've wasted and

the walls are dripping with the wounds you've

created by not swallowing your pride

They say there's no higher sacrifice watching

your buddy burn its for your country you

better be proud of letting him die letting him go

letting them go

But how could they understand that a handshake is

a mock to his memory in light of their words? they

never had to miss a goodbye or a first

day of school or a middle school graduation or

a birthday or even the birth of their first child they don't

know the goodbyes you've given up or the

self-respect you think you no longer deserve

even though there was nothing you could've done all 

you wanted was a goodbye and

an "I'm sorry" and an

"I love you"

But how could they understand the limbs

you've lost in the cross fires of

life lost in the chaos of coming home

lost in the tears you cry at night lost

with him

because "I'm sorry" won't fix what

has been done to you or

to them and their looks when

you lose control remind you

of telling her he wouldn't ever come home

because he'll be thrown together 

in a box in the ground like a hero with

a cross staked above him in a field

surrounded by other shattered lives but she'll

get a handshake

(don't worry)

and the things he brought

with him over there

(oh good)

and a sad lonely star to hang in her window but

all she really wanted was him or

at least one last goodbye that you couldn't give

So how could they understand the bullets you've taken

straight through the heart you've missed your

life and now its falling apart you see

the tears on their cheeks and wonder why yours

are dry so you keep talking but can't

apologize for something no man understands

Don't they see you're dying to avoid facing

the goodbyes because you want to see that high

school graduation and varsity sports game and

all the birthdays they might have left

and the voices still whisper from your bullet holes

"guilty" for failing but how is it

your fault you've done your best 

considering how much you've given

And you think they blame you for

all that is wrong but how could 

they understand it they don't know 

what you saw while you were gone

They're scared because each goodbye

could be your last but you don't talk about

it its your sacrifice although you don't know all the 

bullets they never meant to fire and they sit

up late at night praying for you in the desert please God

don't let that be The Goodbye

And you're in the same room but there's too much pride we

ignore what we don't know thats one goodbye we wish would

happen your lost limbs are creaking in the silence that 

has exploded in light of your temper

But how could you understand why

the goodbyes they've had have lost you a little more each

time you've lost a little more each day you lose

him the one you saw crying with half

his face 

half a goodbye

How will we ever understand the lies we tell

ourselves that goodbye would be enough we're so 

riddled with bullets there's no going 

back to who we were before

to who you were

before to them, not the ones you remember

What would you say to apologize for everything when his face haunts your

mind he's the one you can't apologize 

to so every day you just wish

you could've said

"Goodbye."

This poem is about: 
Me
My family

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