CCLT's Poets Corner


We are always looking for military and veteran poets. If you are interested, please email us with an inquiry.  


Don't forget our First Annual American Poetry Slam Contest is September 28, 2024. For more details see below.

Maybe I'm An Alcoholic

By: Omar Reatiga

Maybe I'm an alcoholic

Maybe I'm not

Maybe I love the warmth and the flavor

Maybe...

 

Or perhaps it's because

It takes away my anger

   It lets it ebb away and subside

It makes me feel again

   It lets me reminisce and cry

...Maybe

 

It could be that alcohol

Makes me happy

  Jump up and dance

Shake my hips and wave my hands

  Like in an ecstatic trance

Maybe...

 

I think it's the taste

It doesn't matter if straight or mixed

  Whether bitter or sweet

I drink them fast

   And soon I feel complete

Maybe...

 

Maybe I'll be honest...

 

When around people

Alcohol quiets my senses

   Eases my trembling hand

Deafens the screams

    And the pain from the past

 

Honesty...

 

When I'm driving

Alcohol blinds my nerves

   To snipers and threats

Roadside trash aren't IEDs

 

   My anxiety is easier to supress

 

Honesty...

 

When I get home

Alcohol clears my mind

   From seeing an enemy cave

I'm not walking into danger

   It's just my door not my grave

 

And once inside my place

I sit and relax with a drink

   And on my recliner I contemplate

Maybe I'm an alcoholic...

   Maybe I'm not




Omar Reatiga is an Air Force and a disabled veteran. He is currently enrolled at CUNY Hunter College earning his MA/PhD in Art History. In his free time, Reatiga likes to write, paint, go for a hike, visit museums, and he appreciates the live entertainment of NYC's Broadway district. 

71, 88, 12

By: Vinny Maher

Entered the scene in the 1, 9, 7, 1

Running the streets in the 7, 1, 8, til 88

It was fun in the 2 _ Zero century especially during the 7’s and 8’s

I grew up on the 1-5-0 and UTP to the age of 1-7

And by that time I had gotten, not 1, not 2, but 3 rides in a 107. All ending with a message, resulting in some limping and some swelling. The year was 1-9-8-8, things were done different.

It’s not because I was mad or crazy or even an adrenaline junkie, it’s just that when we had to run I was the anchor for the team, for all the wrong reasons. I know now that I was just the flunky, and they only kept me around to be the slow lamb for slaughter at the altar.

Catching cases at 1-7 ain’t no good, what the fuck I’m gonna do, who gonna want me by the time I’m 2-1

Moms and Pops are all but done with their child who has cost them their sleep and their bread. They say figure your shit out cause at 1-8 your ticket is punched, and a change of address card is what you’ll get.

Knowing it’s time for a reboot, I take the Q64 to 1-6-8 and JAM, where I meet a man in a uniform who says he has a plan, to turn this boy into a man. I say where do I sign, the man says take a test and then sign right here on the dotted line……………………. But wait he says, there’s a problem I see, your only 1-7 so you still need Mom and Pop to agree.

We all meet at the C-9 inside the 79-25, look over the contract, line for line, and that same Mom and Pop now seem hesitant to put me out. I thought they be happy, figured there be no doubt.   

I tell them look, I want this, let me go, so I can show you all that me is not your fault, that I get it now. Theres a man out there waiting for me to become him and if I wait too long then I just might miss him.

So sign they did and away I went……….

And for twenty four years ending in 1-2, I had a good run with stints in the 4-2, 4-8, 77th and the 3rd, and of course can’t forget that year under the blazing sun with bombs bursting in air where we all got medals pinned for our troubles……. Well not everyone ……. Some were handed to moms and pops, sons and daughters, husbands and wives with flags and plaques saying Thank You For Your Soldiers Service.  

Looking back, only one half of me really came back………….

Would I ever do it again? Most definitely, this old man would love to go back

If God forbid there was ever another attack……



Vincent J “Vinny” Maher is a Retired Army Veteran who served 24-years, retiring as an E-6. He also served for 27 years as a NYPD Detective, now retired. His service to his country still continues as an Armed Guard with the Defense Health Agency (DHA). Maher has 4 kids, of which one is an Navy veteran. In his free time, Maher enjoys stand-up comedy and hanging out with his girlfriend, Lisa.


Over Half a Century Ago...

By: Paul David Adkins


Over Half a Century Ago, Georgia Governor James Earl Carter Jr. Proclaimed April 5th,

         1971 as “American Fighting Man’s Day,”

Asked State Residents to Drive with Their Headlights on During Daylight for a Week to

         Show Support

for Second Lieutenant William L. Calley Jr. After Army Officers Announced His Sentence

         of Life Imprisonment for 22 Counts of Murder at My Lai 4

 

Time:  that tonic for guilt. That

is the way I like it:  guilt blinded by the light

of unreason. Time:  blinded and gagged.

 

Now, I’m building houses for the poor. Now,

I’m swinging a hammer. I’m just a humble farmer, just

a man you thought different

about the world: a hammer in my hand,

nails between my teeth.

I’m wearing a hardhat.

 

Because the world doesn’t need me,

I build one in my image:  smiling, kindhearted

to the meek and widows. The orphans:

they adore me.

 

When I saw Calley, I knew

he killed those children

because he didn’t get what he wanted: no glory,

just guts. Just guts and brains and intestines

and open wounds and tourniquets and severed limbs,

boobie traps and punji sticks.

 

Once, there was The Light of the World.

Once, we drove with headlights on all day

because there had to be light in the world I made.

There had to be innocence in war. And children:

all those children were there for killing.


 


Paul David Adkins (he/him) served in the US Army from 1991-2013. He holds a MA in Writing and Oral Tradition from The Graduate Institute, Bethany, CT. He counsels soldiers and teaches scholars in a correctional facility. Publications include Barzakh, The Mark, Crab Creek, Kissing Dynamite, Badwater, and Spillway.