The psychological impact of work is palpable all around. All too often the damage is invisible. Serving in the navy for a country that sends you to a conflict zone and into harms way can induce a level of psychological trauma with consequences that resinate for a long, long time. Doctors, intellectuals and students have examined PTSD from many angles. They have written a great deal of interesting and useful work. Yet little of it matches the power of a soldier poet living it.
Tell you a Story
I’m going to tell you a story.
It’s a story of my life.
It’s not got a happy ending.
It’s full of trouble and strife.
I’m going to tell you about me.
And when I do please don’t cry.
Wipe away your sadness.
And know, I really did try.
I was a boy when I joined the service.
But a man after they trained me.
Any emotion I knew was taken away.
And so began my life at sea.
I learnt to bomb a country.
Far away from the land that I knew.
I learnt to forget about the innocent.
I just knew I had a job to do.
Then came the war in the desert.
And again to my duty I did go.
I lost some friends out there in the sand.
And I lost a bit of me, yet I didn’t know.
When I came home from my active duty,
I wasn’t the man I was before the war.
I didn’t love life the same way.
I couldn’t find the man I was before.
A policeman I then became.
The thin blue line my new way of life.
A slave to the system.
There was no nine to five.
I saw death and destruction.
Poverty, hatred, greed and more.
Day after day I struggled on.
But each day I was living my own personal war.
Years went by and no one I could tell.
My wife and my children lost me I fear.
And depression my only comfort in life.
Then it hit me, and I wiped away a tear.
My life had been for serving others
Yet no one knew or even cared.
My wife had long since left me.
I lived alone in a house we shared.
Still I serve the people.
Still I fight this war in my head.
Still I am lonely.
And still sleep alone in my bed.
I have taken the life of others.
Without cause seen life taken away.
I have witnessed all what’s wrong in this world.
And cried at the end of nearly every day.
So next time you see a soldier.
A policeman smiling at you.
Please just smile and say hi back.
Cos you don’t know what they’ve gone through.
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This poem is narrated by Lorraine Ansell, a British female voiceover professional.