kandahar street

Life After Survival

Tell me, is there life after survival?

In elementary school they sold us a vision
of middle school as the big scary real world.
They told us not everyone would make it.
We were warned against cutting up in class,
but cutting up our arms was never mentioned.

Tell me, is there life after survival?

In middle school they sold us a vision
of high school as the big scary real world.
They told us again, not everyone would make it.
We were warned about the dangers of drugs,
but never told why we’d want to take them.

Tell me, is there life after survival?

In high school they told us the real world
would be the real world, and we didn’t listen.
They told us not everyone would make it,
and we pointed at the empty seats beside us.
We let our fallen classmates speak again,
let them testify how well we knew that truth.

Tell me, is there life after survival?

Some of us went to college.
Some of us went to war.
Some of us went to work.
They told us all that nothing we had seen
was the real world, and we briefly rejoiced,
wept tears of joy that our hell was over.
They laughed at every single one of us
as we learned that the real world is worse.

Tell me, is there life after survival?

Now we watch each other drop like flies.
Nervous breakdowns in the dorm rooms.
IEDs on the streets of Kandahar.
50 hour weeks spread across 3 jobs,
if we can find them.
Suicide, addiction, and disease
are never more than 2 degrees away
from even the luckiest among us,
and we can’t afford to help.

Tell me, is there life after survival?

Is there some magic threshold
that we still need to reach and cross?
If we make it through this latest trial,
is there another “real world” waiting,
where we can have a home,
where we can have a family,
where we can have a life?

Tell me, is there life after survival?
Please lie and tell me that there is.

// c.f.l. - 20170712 //