The Vet and the IED

October 1, 2012 | By | 9 Replies More

During the month of October 2012, for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we will be featuring some posts related to Domestic Violence.

This one is a poem by Anora. People like to ask her if her #DV writing is based on personal experience. She answers, “What’s important to know is that it is universal.”

 The Vet and the IED

I am a veteran,
Yes a vet of foreign wars,
Not the vets you think of
And not their foreign shores.

I’ve survived an unnamed war,
Came back burned, shocked
And torn.
I’d stayed too many tours.

Yes, I am a veteran,
A vet of foreign wars.
My number is 226-968-43-57-63.

What war you ask?
What enemy?
What battle?
What place?

Which battalion?
What commander?
Which division?
Which base?

I stammer.  I stutter.
I hesitate, then say.
I am a veteran,
Yes a vet of foreign wars.

My number is, you’ll want to see

I married a foreigner,
A man with a rage,
Who intermittently exploded
Like a gas-filled maze.

Sipping tea in the quiet,
In a sec it could be war:
A blast of exploding shrapnel
With a typhoon’s roar.

A knife flying past my head.
A frying pan thrown at the stove.
An air-borne chair to my left.
A rice bowl slammed and broken.

A table over turned,
A dozen china plates and food

And curses like you’ve never heard,
So fast, so many, so well said,
As if acting for a TV movie,
The kind that plays after you go to bed.

That was rough,
But there was something worse.
This man bore an ancient curse.

Words like poison sprayed.
Words like acid stung.
Words like knives cutting.
Words like insults, like slut.

Like liar. Like lesbian. Like whore.
Like stupid. Like selfish. Like bitch.

Stunned like a deer in the road,
In the rooms of my own home,
My little boy shaking beside me.

No one could know.
Not the brothers or sisters.
Not parents or friends.
Shame, like duct tape.

I say I’m a vet
A vet of foreign wars.
But not the vets you think of
And not their foreign shores.

My number is 226-968-43-57-63.

Frozen in the angst,
The mess, the disbelief.
This cannot be my life.
I cannot be this monster’s wife.

Maybe it’s not so bad?
See today he’s calm.
See the storm never lasts.
Maybe nothing’s wrong.

But the war always starts again.
No telling when.
But sure as dawn,
Something else triggers a bomb.

A tongue so mean.
A tone so cruel.
An anger terrorizing.

Yes, I am a veteran,
A vet of foreign wars.
My number is 226-968-43-57-63.

I am a veteran.
Though no army knows my name
My son and I, prisoners
In a house with an unlocked door.

A war that nearly killed us
Land mines exploding round.
The intermittent explosive don
Nearly took us down.

I owe my life to a 12 stepping nurse
Who heard my coded words.
Said, “You don’t have to live like that.
Get help, it only gets worse.”

My number was 226-968-43-57-63.
Now it’s changed
To only seven:

May 2010 / March 2012

If you are in a situation where someone else is controlling your life, be very careful when you seek help. But do seek help. The most dangerous time for anyone in a domestic violence situation is when they try to leave, or after they’ve left.

In the United States: Visit the

“Please use a safer computer, and/or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) orTTY 1−800−787−3224″

Global Help: On Twitter, this following account publishes information about help country, by country. @PixelProject or visit their site:

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Category: Contemporary Women Writers, Poetry by Women Poets, US American Women Writers, Women Writing Poetry

Comments (9)

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  1. Bonnie Petrie says:

    Too many tears, over here. Your words are perfectly evocative of living in the burning bunker of an abusive home. Too much terror. Too much time on a razor’s edge. Too much spirit-death. Too much shame. Anora, I identified with every word.

    “Can you help me”

    Your message in a bottle, the whisper of a terrified child…

    I am wrecked by your words, yet inspired by the narrator’s reclamation. Her body. Her soul. Her hope. Her own.

    Thank you.


    • Thank you so much for reading this Bonnie. The feedback helps me know it better, each word, each phrase, each feeling. Thank you especially for taking note of the number sequence, trying to make a connection between a prisoner of war only supposed to give his name, rank and serial number, and hiding a message in it. May each person’s journey to freedom widen the path for others. – Anora

  2. Anora, I’m honestly crying right now after reading this. Very powerful words and definitely a message that needs to be spread. You captured everything perfectly and it was very emotional for me to read – the shame, the fear, the coded pleas for help that others don’t always notice, and the danger inherent in getting away.

    It is a hard battle to fight and more people need to be aware. Thank you for featuring all these articles. Thanks too for sharing your poem.

  3. Sara Taber says:

    This poem has such a subtle and growing power, a shocking power–which is just what its subject matter deserves. I hope that other women veterans of such foreign wars can some across it. It lays out the battering pattern with a drumbeat-rhythm that mimes so well the emotional roller-coaster of an abusive home. Really a gorgeous, true, honest, penetrating, skillful piece of work. Congratulations, Anora!

  4. Terry says:

    I wish this poem could appear on websites that appeal to men, and especially those who are concerned about women’s welfare. The poem shocks, tells the truth, penetrates the insidiousness of the problem (secrecy, danger of taking action), and engages the reader/listener to take action. Please keep writing Anora.

  5. Kevlene Kelly says:

    Emily Dickinson said when she read a good poem she’d feel like the top of her head was blowing off. I think that’s what happened when I read this. The poem scares me but I gotta go on you know. There is lots of repetition which in this poem conveys a sense of doom. The imagery is powerful and holds the piece together well. I went back to some of her other writings and noticed more writings on relationships. Smile. The “duct tape” line is awesome. I also detect a tinge of authority at the end -like you (“monster”) tried to keep me down but in the end you failed. Anora sometimes says she is wasting her time because after all nobody reads poetry. Yea we do!

  6. Carin says:

    “Maybe it’s not so bad?
    See today he’s calm.
    See the storm never lasts.
    Maybe nothing’s wrong..”

    The confusion is maddening. And, each battle so wounding that you’re starved for the calm and sometimes high that follows.

    “Shame, like duct tape”…I love that.

    I felt trusted and endeared by these raw emotions. I believe as silence speaks, others will also find the courage to leave and dream another dream.


    • Carin, thank you so much for your comment. It’s amazing how each reader’s comments inform me differently and importantly about the poem. “Shame, like duct tape” just emerged in this most recent edit. Trying to find fresh ways of naming things so we can hear them more powerfully.

      “As silence speaks” is a beautiful phrase.

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