Independence Day in the USA…with all of the celebrations of freedom let us not forget the sacrifices of our military veterans, many of whom are also facing difficult challenges in present day civilian life. I wrote this piece during the first Gulf War and believe it still applies today. Thank God for our freedoms and bless our veterans!
The Fourth of July. A day of freedom.
But where is freedom in America today?
A shaggy haired, unshaven man
in a half-buttoned gray flannel shirt
with the tails drooping over faded blue jeans
steps away from an open window of a meager apartment.
The humidity is high and the heat is sweltering.
Sweat trickles into his eyes and drips from his nose.
He cannot afford air conditioning.
His home is plain, with no wallcoverings;
just old faded paint with water stains showing through.
A frozen dinner tray and a few empty beer cans
obscure a food-stained card table in the corner.
Outside, bottle rockets hiss and pop
across the hazy but starry sky.
He sits on an old green couch
and pushes the empty cylinder of a 44 magnum open.
He slides a hollow point shell into a chamber,
closes the cylinder, and spins it.
Then he places the barrel against his left temple.
Shadows flicker on the walls from the fireworks outside.
He hesitates, and thinks, if it’s an empty chamber
I’ll go to church and beg for forgiveness.
But if I hit the jackpot, I’ll see if God lives or not.
Nobody hears the shot in the dark.
Nobody knows he’s talking to God
one on one.
©1992, 21012 Gentry Avenue Productions. All Rights Reserved.