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I have seen him many times Throughout the years And given him money Not loose change either Tens and twenties to help him out Some days I watch him From across the street And take a snapshot of him In my mind The soles of both shoes Have worn almost through His pants are stained Soiled And covered with holes And his dingy plaid shirt missing buttons All except for a few That are fastened With carefree attention His hands are dirt-covered As black as the earth His face unshaven And scruffy unwashed His hair knotted Gray like a mop His front teeth missing The rest were all rotten And when he talks It is to himself He mumbles But his words whistle Through his absent teeth Sometimes I cross the street Then sit Beside him I don’t say a word I close my eyes and Listen to him tell Wild stories His breath reeks of liquor He had been badly injured In 1969 Fort Jackson, South Carolina When he accidentally fired his rifle While cleaning it during training He didn’t remember loading Or unloading it The bullet lodged in his brain And changed him forever He recalls pieces of his childhood His Dad getting plastered Beating him Telling him he is worthless His brother crying in the corner Thinking he might be next His mother dated other men He sees his brother getting a draft notice To fight the war He remembers joining the military To be with his brother Protect him His brother who came home a hero! There is nothing to deal With the pain of his past The memories he cannot forget I tell him he is not worthless Every time But he doesn’t hear me As I stand up and give him money My brother My hero My brother's blind eyes Will never see the sun, yet Maple leaves are red
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