the Ex-Private
David Bates

he calls from Philly
says he still gets
but the VA can’t
find anything

and there are other cases
with higher priority

I don’t think of myself
as a veteran
he says
because I didn’t really do anything
over there

and then he’s quiet
for a full minute

and I want to say
but you were there, man
I remember seeing you

he rubs the telephone against his head

even his mother thinks
he’s faking it

and if he’s going to keep
getting drunk
every single night
just to go to sleep

then he better start looking
for his own apartment

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