The Following Are Some of the Feelings
That Most Will Never Know

Today I freaked out in a store where danger was non-existent.
Maybe if I stay up all night doing coke there won't be any nightmares.
But I can't go without sleep.

The war is over for me.
I don't understand why I panic or break out into sweats
or fits of anger.

Today I saw most of my family for the first time in a year.
Nothing felt real; everyone was but a stranger passing by me on a street.
"Dissociation" is the term, I believe.

I feel like my mind has shattered
and that I left my soul in Iraq.
I don't want to admit that I'm hurting inside.

When my emotions were shut off,
I didn't get to choose which ones I would keep.
I feel utterly lost.

I used to be strong and proud.
Now all I can think about is what I saw, what I experienced.
Nothing in the world seems to matter beyond that.

I think more now, and when I speak it's with a sarcastic tone.
Months of feeling dead inside are followed by a week of depression and tears.
I feel weak and frail, my identity and faith shattered.

In "The Odyssey," Homer asked:
"Must you carry the bloody horror of combat in your heart forever?"
The answer still eludes me.

The author of this poem about the Iraq war and PTSD, sleeping in a foxhole before the push into Fallujah.

The author (center) and other Marines sleep in their foxholes
before the First Battle of Fallujah, April 2004.

The author is a Marine veteran who deployed to Afghanistan from February to October 2002 and to Iraq from March to November 2004. He now lives in Northern California and is being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury.