War Wounded

POETRY FORMAT, 26 Oct 2015

Tom Greening – TRANSCEND Media Service

I cannot see you.
I do not want to hear you.

Go away–
I have a life to live.

I did not start this war
or all the others,
and I can’t end it.

Give me enough steel
to encase my heart.

I want to be up-armored
against these assaults by your pain.

Then I will survive this war
and wait dumbly for the next one,
helpless like the wounded soldier stuck
all night on the barbed wire
crying for help,
except I won’t die at dawn.

Tom Greening: “I engage in five professional activities:
Faculty Member at Saybrook University
Private Practice of Psychotherapy
Clinical Professor of Psychology, UCLA
International Editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology
Writing (Poetry).”


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 26 Oct 2015.

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2 Responses to “War Wounded”

  1. Gary Corseri says:

    This is one of the best ways to handle a subject like this: the tone is understated, ironic. We’re not sure if the author, at first, is merely being callous: “Go away,” he writes, “I have a life to live.”

    He writes that he cannot see or hear the wounded victim of war; he complains that he is not the initiator of wars–and cannot end them! He wants to “steel” and “encase” his heart against the “assaults” of another’s pain!

    But, he knows in his “up-armored” heart that he will not succeed in “steeling” himself; he will only wait “dumbly” for the next war–“helpless,” like the wounded soldier who is dying on the barbed wire.

    It’s a stark poem about fear, empathy–even the fear of empathy! It reminds me a little of Hardy’s “The Man He Killed” (from a war of 100 years ago!) Pity the human race that we persist in our perversities and ignorance!

    • Wonderful comment dear Gary.

      Poets possess this unique ability to be able to describe our souls, verbalize them, disrobe them for everyone to see their hidden faces, so to say.

      Like both you and the author did here. I can relate deeply with this ‘fear of empathy.’ It hurts to feel helpless–which does not necessarily mean ‘to be’ helpless.

      Thank you for putting me in touch with an underlying feeling not easily acknowledged. By the way, the author is also a psychotherapist. It figures…