aweed nyoka

lying soggy on abandoned shores
i vomit salt and chunks of someone i don’t recognize
if anyone can hear my cries
they don’t respond

i don’t trust this shallow tide
nowhere to hunt. nowhere to hide?
to hell with pride, I need to live to fight another day
to stay where dark blue surf churns white, tinged red
but as I turn, fear sinks to dread. i see
where kin should be, a gnash of razor fins instead

i gasp as i forget to breathe
does this chest seethe with gills or lungs?
the deep is cold
and as it froths with hunger swarm
i start to feel that i want warm

but what if there’s a storm?
what if shade and food are rare?
what if i’m a predator…or prey
to the beasts who live up there?

i kneel…and fall
and try to roar
to stand, but stumble
bruised gut rumbling
mumbling, howling, i’ll soon need to feed
though I’m not sure
i’m still a carnivore

flippers trembling, i’m re-membering
where i’ve been
and what i’ve seen
and what i’ve done
and what’s to come…?

who am i?
galleon absent gallantry
missile with no master
a hollow knight
fighting only waves and waves
of me
adrift upon a sea of uncried tears

~ waking ~

call me hero, call me brave
shower me with righteous praise
for storming every clime and place
securing your malaise

say what you must to ease the shame
that creeps beneath your subtler senses
wash white the ugly truth
the blood that stains your picket fences

you look upon these scars and wince
but spare yourself the deeper toll
the wound no surgeon’s knife can mend
paid by my adolescent soul

for every me who fought and burned
to keep your evening fires aglow
ten more fill unmarked graves
simply for fighting back. a fact you know

a poet wrote: in the age of information
ignorance is a choice
if you won’t own the injuries you bought
don’t insult them with your shallow voice

~ don’t thank me for my service ~

a weed
must somehow mourn
and somehow heal
his stolen earth

his fate
to fill a void
torn long before he seeded

this dirt needed
deeper roots
more kin than kindling

it will have, at least
someone, who in sprouting
shares the water
shares the sun
and does not kill to live

so cleanse these bloody hands
wrap these battered feet
ground this guilty mind
feed this starved soul

in soil

where unlike war
death is also life

~ growing home ~

i was a boy
they said they’d make me a man
strong and stoic
powerful and proud
all they got was a pain in the ass
and my knees

i got so much more

the granitic confidence
to charm at will
the automatic credibility
of romanticized violence
the grit to bite through
any (physical) pain
dollars and doctors and diplomas

all they made me was man-shaped
and that was their greatest gift
to show me the difference

~ thank you usmc ~

funny how the reaper’s rhythm swells
how her blade fells and fells
and shrieks and wails and cries and yells
and turns still-smoking craters into scarlet pools
for years…and then


how can it be
amid so many careless deaths
so many stilled, still-hairless chests
so many brilliant minds and hearts
the best…
you would have ever known
had they come home

how can it be that laughing, loyal friends can’t last
while rusty, random things live on?

one set i melted down for scrap
another’s buried deep
a third lies mangled in a box atop the highest shelf
it doesn’t help
these dog tags still adorn my throat
they rip and lacerate and choke
and throb from deep within my neck
and just won’t give me room to breathe…

to forget

the dark i helped them spread
and all the dreamers our damned empire bled
i hate them
and me
and yet…
when i look close i find a seed of gratitude
for these small metal chips and chain
for when my neck was plain
before i lost enough to care
i cared only for me, and couldn’t see
that The Man is not a man. the Brotherhood is just a cruel old scam
and in between it all…is us
is everything

~ for Res ~

aweed nyoka is a former U.S. Marine working to live simply on the land. Writing helps him understand the injuries he caused and received in the military, and how to exist honorably in the culture those injuries continue to create.