Joe Merritt

Letters

After Jeanann Verlee

Dear Anxiety,
You were never mine.
Stop telling everyone differently.

Dear upper left torso pain,
If my heart is causing this abuse...
they have a hotline for that.

Dear Izod Heart Monitor,
You are not as cool as the overzealous tech said you were.
P.S. stop choking me.

Look here, Anxiety–
I was nice before.
Seriously. Cut it out.

Dear Anger Management,
To be honest, I was only with you
because anxiety was stalking my Facebook.

Dear Clouded Mind,
Now that your shit’s out of my head–
I can’t even remember why I invited you in the first place

Dear Procrastination,
If I let you hang around
it just gives anxiety an excuse
to come over and fold laundry at 3:30 am

Dear Insomnia,
Sometimes we can be productive.
However please do not let me post sappy songs at 4:00 am ever again.

Dear OCD-type Behavior,
Are you high, dude?
Why did you spend two hours hanging pictures but forget to take out the trash? Again.

Dear Overburdened Need for Security,
Why do you lock up so much if you’re just going to give away all the keys?

Dear Guilt, Meet up for drinks later?

Lay In It

When your Egyptian cotton sheets
offer the comfort of rusted metal teeth
you find yourself contorting to sleep,
squeezing your bones into the irony
of an empty love seat.

The bird lands, kicking up a storm of sand
that settles in the deepest parts of you,
leaves an uneven deckled edge in your mind.
Nothing will ever fit perfectly again.

Watch them. Yes, you.
Watch them loaded onto the bird
again
and again.
Watch them.

A mind reloading images like your
gas-operated,
belt-fed,
air-cooled,
fully automatic
crew served weapon.

They have been gone for some years.
These dog-eared pages are their ghosts,
the tattered stories you won’t let go.

Those bunk beds are
the smashed clock of your twenties.
The gears and springs
lay across cluttered floors.
Childhood toys no longer remind me of youth–
They are priorities that lead to
a sink full of dishes, another weekend of laundry
a bedside coffee pot gives you an extra five minutes

Before waking the boys–
wake up,
skin like a wet bar of soap.
The dresser that held the linen is empty,
lay in the metal teeth.
Roll over and see the only one
staring back from a dirty vanity mirror
is you

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Combat Paper

Joe Merritt

I enlisted in the Marines in 2006 and spent four years with 3rd Battalion 8th Marines as a machine gunner in a Combined Anti Armor Team Platoon. I was stationed at MCB Quantico in 2010, where I taught Machineguns at T.B.S. In February 2013 I was introduced to Combat Paper NJ and Warrior Writers and I have attended workshops and conferences since. I am now a facilitator with Combat Paper NJ. I go to every writing group I can because they work. I am proof, and I’ve seen more first-hand from the community of veterans that has grown up out of these programs. From writing groups to words to song, Warrior Writers and Combat Paper offer the opportunities to perform and/or show your work. It builds that crucial link I didn’t have before I got involved with art: the communication link.

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