John Doe, The Patriot - Poem by Judy Meibach
It's the third of the month.
His Social Security check has just arrived.
He feels rich.
John Doe sits
with his friends
at the corner of the street,
at the local bodega,
discussing how he will spend his
He has to pay his rent
for his cramped
3 x 5 studio
that the government is subsidizing.
He gets food stamps,
which cover all the goods that he could possibly want,
or maybe not -
John and his cronies find happiness
in the small things in life.
They are all indigent citizens of
the United States, who
have been defeated
by the system
as a result of their disabilities.
John is a veteran of Iraq,
serving the country that he thought he loved,
acting like the perfect citizen
which he thought he was.
I walk down the street,
with my gait,
a result of a fall that I acquired last year.
I am such a grouch, because
walking is so hard for me,
but not that hard, that I
cannot race to get my evening munchies and cigarettes.
One would think that I would die without these amenities.
John recognizes me walking down the stret and shouts out
How does he know my name?
'I want to talk to you - I recognize you from the bodega, why
are you limping? '
I feel guilty telling him my story, seeing how he is stationed
in his chair,
his pants are cut like shorts, showing the bottoms of his stubs,
his hair has not been shaven in God knows how long,
his hair, is oh, so very long, his beard reaches down to his chest.
He grins at me.
I see his broken teeth, which have not been brushed
and are laden with tobacco.
'I used to be like you - two legs, you know...'
What did I know?
I barely left the New York area, let alone Iraq.
'Look at these runners in the New York marathon'
We were eyeing the small television screen propped up in the
corner of the bodega.
'I ran the marathon. Finished it in 3 hours. They were all so proud
of me. Getting ready for Iraq. Wanted to fight this damn war! We
need to get out! Don't understand why Bush got us into this, but he
is no longer. I watch him on CNN all the time, and talk to my new buddies about the state of affairs. Come inside, let me buy you
Beer was of course what he meant.
'I don't want any, thank you just the same'.
What I was really saying was that I did not want to be around him
and his cronies.
I was scared.
I knew too much, but did not want to know at all.
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