We never thought we'd become fallen
after returning home from the
Middle East wars,
our youthful bodies slowly smothered,
our lungs labored, cancers came.

Our own U.S. government's shattered
promise to take care of us,
we were exposed to the burn pits
on the U.S. bases in Iraq/Afghanistan.
They were angry red and orange behemoths,
larger than a football field,
a pyro's dream, our nightmare.

Poison plastics, chemicals in the
devilish roaring fires,
seared our sore throats,
no protective gear,
Death's stealing presence even in
our own barracks,
as the soot slithered serpentine
into the air conditioning.

Damn, Uncle Sam,
your misery is in your lies,
we were wounded living ghosts,
we entered the imposing monolithic
VA system, so many of us denied.
How could our own brass do this to us?!
We were expendable to them,
we came back to the U.S. betrayed.

Some of us were runners,
that could run no more.
Our spouses, our children bled grief.
After our deaths the PACT Act
finally passed,
such an insult to our worth.
The American flag covered us in
her consolation.

We had hopeful dreams too,
now we are buried,
neath well kept lawns with
cooing mourning doves and
white marble epitaphs in
undying presence.
Our souls welcomed to Eden's
where we can breathe deep,
immortal from the cinders ~

About this poem

This poem is about the U.S. soldiers who were betrayed by the U.S. government

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Written on May 01, 2023

Submitted by on May 01, 2023

1:19 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 1,309
Words 261
Stanzas 6
Stanza Lengths 5, 7, 8, 8, 8, 10

Regina Elliott

Regina Elliott is sixty-five and resides in North Carolina. She was a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee. more…

All Regina Elliott poems | Regina Elliott Books

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1 Comment
  • saraha.63834
    When I vote, I wait a day or two. Then ask myself which ones I remember best. Which ones stuck with me. This one did. I had no idea that medical problems stemming from burn pits were not covered for our vets until recently, and know I know that injustice because your poem brought me that awareness. Thank you for sharing, as some truths need said. 
    LikeReply3 months ago


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"Cinders" STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 24 Sep. 2023. <>.

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