No Exit by Richard L Ratliff

No Exit

No Exit


Let me set the scene for you
Pay attention so you take it all in

At the neighborhood corner of Main and Oak
Generations of mostly reluctant warriors, modern gladiators
All are drawn like moths, to the flickering neon sign

Beer, liquor, lunch

It takes a while for eyes to adjust to the
Dingy glow of incandescent hanging lights
The dark oak bar is covered by linoleum
And grit and grime of decades has been rubbed in
With burn marks from Camels and Lucky Strikes still visible
Cracked red leather covers the chrome legged bar stools:
Support for conversation with Jack and PBR

Two old WWIIs at the bar are drinking long neck beers
Frail and grey, reliving dim eyed memories
Thinking of beaches, bulges, and desert foxes
John Wayne memories for sure

A Vietnam squad plays poker with draft cards
Drinking agent orange, thinking of Saigon
Having night sweats
And needing their own parade

Afghanistan rangers playing pool
Fighting thru a nine eleven combination
Breaking balls looking for revenge
Moralistic rampage to run the table

Iraq vets laser focused throwing darts
Just a few memories of the sandbox
Snacking on MREs and avoiding IEDs
Tanks and missing limbs

Some have monuments some have none
But all have given more than asked
What happened to the war to end all wars?
Do we ever really win?

One by one at closing they leave as they entered
Alone, only bound by nightmares
Trenches rice paddies warlords or sandstorms
Leaving only to return again: there is no exit

About the Author

Richard L Ratliff is a baby boomer born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. His midwest ties have built the foundation and setting for his poetry. He is a Purdue University graduate with two years of engineering turned into a degree in English Literature. All of these eclectic combinations have given him a career as a boiler and combustion expert and poet. He has had almost two dozen published poems in print and online.

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