Archive for the ‘poets agains the war’ Category
There’s not much I can say publicly about the work I do without violating my profession’s code of ethics. I can say I work with at risk youth, helping them to develop a career choice and providing services designed to help them reach that career goal.
It can be a struggle. Many of my kids are faced with some daunting barriers that no child should have to endure, but occur all too often and are all too common for the culture of wealth we enjoy in this country.
This is the time of year I like best, by the way – graduation time. There’s no greater satisfaction than seeing a kid achieve something that once looked impossible. I’ve said it before elsewhere – if you want to get a shot of inspiration, go to a high school graduation. Want even more inspiration? Go to a GED graduation.
Anyway, once a youth has completed program services with us, it’s rare that I hear from them again or that we even get a thank you. That’s perfectly ok, it’s not something I expect. If the kid had even a modicum of success while with our program, that’s thanks enough.
Occasionally, I get a phone call or a visit from someone who participated in our program which is always a treat. Today I got such a visit from a young woman who came through our program about five years ago. At that time she was at a crossroads – she’d dropped out of high school and was trying to get off of drugs. While with us, she got her GED and then decided to enter the military.
She has just returned from a twenty-seven month tour of duty in Iraq. In that twenty-seven months, she did a lot of growing up. In front of me sat a vibrant young woman who now had focus and a purpose. While we were talking, she thanked me for the influence I had on her five years ago. She said I helped her find a direction and without that, she didn’t know what would have happened.
I was floored. I do what I do, try to do my best, collect a paycheck and go home. As I stated above, I’ve never expected a thank you from any of the kids I’ve worked with over the years – after all, they are the ones doing the hard work. They are the ones that have to walk the path. All I’ve done is maybe given them an inkling of what direction to go. The rest is up to them.
So when this young lady said that to me, I was humbled. She made all the crappy bureaucratic bullshit I’ve had to put up with for seven years completely worth it. That one statement reminded me why I do what I do, to hell with the rest.
I gave her a big hug and then we compared tattoos. She had a brand new beautiful tat on her back – a floral design, full of color – subtle reds & blues. She wanted something that hinted of patriotism for this was her “army” tat. She is a vet and a patriot – but she is against the war.
She told me she wrote a lot of poetry during her tour and that several of her poems have been published on Poets Against War. After she left, I spent some time and read all of her poetry. The poems are a little rough around the edges, but woven with raw, sad and painful imagery of war and a soldier’s dilemma.
I found the following line from one of the poem’s especially poignant. The poem’s title is Mistaken: a Soldier’s Horror:
With shaking hands through the rubble I sift
They tell me weapons of mass destruction are here
But so far it’s only ribbons with singed hair that I lift
I am very proud her and I am very thankful she walked into my office today. She gave me a bit of validation I was sorely in need of, more-so than I care to admit.