New Poetry: “What Great Grief Has Made the Civilian Mute” by Jennifer Murphy

3CR deploys to Afghanistan

To watch soldiers load into planes on television
To ignore veterans who manage to make it home

To cry out when an airman murders four of your friends
To never question the valiance of combatants

To have visions of your father stabbing you to death
To lose your sight in vodka and cigarettes

To flee the western night for that big bright eastern city
To discover there is no such thing as relief in escape

To forget the names of the slain from your hazy youth
To remember in excruciating detail the site of their wounds

To learn there is nothing you can do to raise the dead
To spend your life writing the killed into existence

To read the greatest fear for men is being embarrassed
To understand that for women it’s being murdered

To be the only female in the room of camouflaged men
To befriend the lonely fighter in the city of civilians

To love a Marine who became a decorated firefighter
To lose him in the North Tower that blue September

To watch soldiers load into planes on television
To embrace veterans who manage to make it home



for Deborah, Amy, Melissa, and Heather Anderson
and Captain Patrick “Paddy” Brown


Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Maj. Adam Weece, 3rd CR PAO, 1st Cav. Div.
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Jennifer Murphy

Jennifer Murphy is an award-winning writer and performer whose work has been featured in numerous literary journals and anthologies. A recipient of the PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Literary Award honoring excellence in multicultural literature, she has performed her work at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater, Kitting Factory, The Nuyorican Poets Café, and will be featured at TEDWomen in November 2017. Jennifer also maintains a parallel career as a private investigator in the business intelligence and security sectors, specializing in online investigations, crisis communications, and threat monitoring for high-consequence events. She moonlights as an E.M.T. Jennifer holds a B.A. from Syracuse University, an M.A. from the University of Chicago, and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from NYU, where she assisted with the NYU Veterans Writing Workshop. She lives in Brooklyn.

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