Ptsd Poem by Donal Mahoney


Rating: 5.0

In the waiting room, I squeeze
this old rosary a nun gave me
the day I got back from Iraq.

I was still in a daze on a gurney
and I still had sand in my hair.
Some of it remains, no matter

how many showers I take.
Sand from Iraq lingers, I'm told,
until you go bald, and then

you are able to concentrate
on other things.
What might they be, I wonder.

But today, in this waiting room,
I squeeze the rosary tighter
when I hear, louder than

the gunshots crackling in my dreams,
the real screams of that little boy
right over there, the one who's

rapped his elbow off the radiator.
Lord, listen to him scream!
Each week he comes with his mother

for her follow-up appointment.
He sounds like the jet
that takes me back at night

to that little village in Iraq
where the sand puffs up
in mushroom clouds

above the bullets
as the children scream
in their hovels louder

than that little boy
screaming over there.
Maybe everyone

in this waiting room
listening to him scream
can come with me now

to that village in Iraq.
Sitting here, I know
that boy's pain so well

that in my fist
this rosary no longer
knows my prayers.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Topic(s) of this poem: war
Tyler Smart 11 May 2017

I found this poem very interesting upon reading it. I have always wonder what PTSD was like and this piece helped me put it into greater perspective. The sequencing of flashbacks and present time was sad as it appears that focusing must be difficult. I am still not entirely sure what the limitations of the condition are, but hopefully it is suppressed and Mahoney no longer experiences such brutal flashbacks in the future.

0 0 Reply
Poppy Miller 09 April 2016

A well written and interesting piece Donal.

1 0 Reply
Colleen Courtney 11 June 2014

Wow. An honest and brutal look into what the horrors of war can do to a soldier's mind. Wonderful imagery. Heartbreaking poem.

3 0 Reply
James Mclain 11 June 2014

Not to be a pain. The D stands for disorder when it's not. It is in fact a physiological Injury to the brain caused by any thing external that any reasonable human being would or should know could cause incapacity to the brains normal function.....iip

1 1 Reply
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