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None of Them Were Human


Ode to the West Haven, CT VA Hospital


None of Them Were Human


They walk through sunshine, through rain,

And they came home from the jungles, deserts, and forests.

There were stacks and stacks of paperwork before them.

The finish line was nowhere in sight.


None of them were human.


In the meantime, the ungrateful called them out.

Baby Killers, they said, and they threw garbage without cheer.

Shame crept in and none of it made sense in their trauma.

The tentacles of the deep pulled them under for a swim.


Because none of them were human.


It took days, weeks, months, years, to get through.

Once becoming an insider, it was unlike any underworld.

They could not trust their own eyes

The new entity that swallowed them whole.


Oh, none of them were human.


The stars were supposed to align and shine.

This was the Promised Land that was garbled about.

But those who sent soldiers to war could do nothing

For those returning to a world that pushed for normalcy.


For none of them were human…


The silent swirl of darkness kept them in the cold mud.

The only conveyer belt assembled misshapen parts

On each specimen, congratulating them on

A job well done – as if killing another soul invigorates.


But none of them were human.


It is the primal screams of a dying animal,

But they are told they are the crazy ones

It is the sugar sweetness of the nurse’s injections,

But the only person she looks after is herself.


And none of them were human.


There was no privacy, no dignity, amongst them.

Soldiers crawled until they could no longer remain stuck.

The best they felt was at the bottom of the bottle,

Smiling as they wished for a bullet to the head.


Yes, none of them were human…


The cycle repeated itself time and again.

The muddy trenches deepened without mercy.

Suddenly, there was no names and numbers.

They said that there was no humanity amongst filth.


Only none of them were human.


And here I sit…

A half-shaken stirring scream of wordless

Years of suffering and darkness

That has no meaning, no gender, no name.


None of them were human.


That was where you were mistaken.


c. 2023 Sara Ellie MacKenzie

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