[The casualties of a seemingly invisible war are brought home in
J. L. L. Kroll’s poem about a single veteran. ]
[https://portside.org/] 

 PORTSIDE CULTURE 

 THE MAN WHO CAME BACK  
[https://portside.org/2019-01-11/man-who-came-back] 

 

 J. L. L. Kroll 
 October 1, 2018
Spillway 

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 _ The casualties of a seemingly invisible war are brought home in J.
L. L. Kroll’s poem about a single veteran. _ 

 , 

 

THE MAN WHO CAME BACK

BY J. L. L. KROLL

The man who came back 

from the war all wrong 

used to belong here. Now he sits 

barefoot in the middle of a lawn 

with a guitar and wanders

the downtown in dirty clothes, toting 

two bags of newspapers. With his long

hair and eyes like traffic lights—

alternating blank and panic-pain—he 

is a sore that should be hidden. So your

mother seems to think. “It’s a shame,”

she declares, as if someone slovenly

had left a broken washing machine

on their front porch too long.

Every night, your father listens to

news of the faraway war. But to you,

the barefoot man with the bags

is the only solid evidence that war exists.

He is what you see inside your mind

when any adult around you dares

carelessly to name it.

J. L. L. Kroll’s poetry has appeared in journals such
as _Faultline_, _California Quarterly_, _Cold Mountain Review_,
and _Talking River Review_. Kroll’s chapbooks, _Ghost Town
Girls_ and _Pantheon_, are available on Amazon.com and from other
online booksellers. J. L. L. Kroll grew up in Wisconsin, and many of
her poems are set in crumbling towns and cities of the Upper Midwest.
She is currently working on a collection of poems that explore the
intersection of corporate greed, environmental degradation, and human
illness.

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