We used to laugh at him,
The old crooked man with a lisp
who kept one eye open as he slept,
We all thought he was just crazy.
He said to us,
“Where do you think you’re goin’,
Hawaii? No, you’re goin’ into harm’s
He spoke very little about the invasion in 2003—
we watched as his eyes had changed,
They were not angry anymore
They were hurt
We never laughed after that
We listened and he
We learned quickly
that if you are being taught how to fire
a weapon, how to clean a weapon,
how to carry a weapon in formation;
it is best to listen—
War is only the next place you may be
and shooting stars are not the only counts of death.
Jon Turner has used poetry and other forms of creative expression to understand his wartime experience in Iraq. He served two tours of duty in Iraq as an infantryman with the marines, as well as a humanitarian mission in Haiti in 2004. Currently Turner lives in Vermont with his family, working to build sustainable food operations with local farmers while further transcribing his memories with veterans. To learn more, visit www.peacepaperproject.org.