Veteran of Internal Wars

The mood descends.
It flows into his body,
as it has before,
like a grey gas,
filling his pores,
wrapping him in its cocoon,
shutting down other emotions,
quietly turning off the alarm
so no one will see it appear.

The veteran sees anyway.
Resistance forms.
A struggle ensues,
the veteran fighting
to keep himself separate,
watching, unengulfed.
They both stake out their positions.
Inside, he remains awake.

The grey gas doesn’t like
being in the searchlight.
It withdraws to its hiding place.

The veteran is relieved to have
the upper hand, even temporarily.
He dreams of happier times.
The dream puts him to sleep again.

Under cover of his slumber,
the mood gathers its forces,
its troops of psychic vampires—
self-pity, resignation, victimization—
waiting to drain his spirit dry.

The veteran sees that too, now.
There are skirmishes
on the edges of consciousness. . .

The veteran has a crucial ally—
his wish to be here,
as he is, present, alive,
and not chased away,
hypnotized by fears
conjured up, salvos
sent from the other side.

This wish takes up residence
in another corner of his being,
keeping an eye on its enemy.

The smoke clears.
Another day starts,
calling him to sally forth.

Even as he is called
to other battlefields,
he watches and waits
on this one.

Meanwhile, he stores up
munitions for the next round—
munitions which are the fruits
of his awareness,
of these experiences of seeing,
of his wish—regardless of the opposition—
to meet life
facing forward.

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