Hauntings of Heroes of War: And No One Wins

Brian Turner in his book of poems, Phantom Noise, gives readers a chance to experience the PTSD, (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).   Through my work, I hear a lot about war stories, so when I saw the title “VA Confessional” I knew it was going to be a war-torn story of what it is like to occupy another country.   The poem did not disappoint.    The very next poem, “At Lowes Home Improvement Center”, launched right into a PTSD episode.  The poem was laid out so vividly, I felt like I was watching a music video.  Brian Turner’s voice is amazing in this collection of stories.  There is one video that I kept thinking of when I read some of these poems.

The poems through out the book were varied.  Some of the poems lulled me into a false sense of security until the military vernacular began to sneak out from between the lines, like soldiers. It gave me the feeling that I was suffering PTSD to a lesser degree in the extreme as I was always looking over my shoulder for that dark tide of feeling to wash over me and drown my sensibilities away in the awful power of the memories of war. I found this feeling the most in “Chinese Ink Brush Painting”.

When I separate myself from the power of the words that Brian Turner put in his poetry, I find that I am on the other side of Burning Bagdhad.  I am no longer listening to a survivor and a victim. I am listening to a perpetrator…who is also a victim.  Reading these poems makes me remember all the stories I have heard from friends who come home and realize that they have lost in this war too. Coming home as a hero means that you are a hero to some, and a killer to others.  People will love you (but not really love YOU), and people will hate you (and they will really hate YOU) becuase you hefted a gun at the orders of others.  The one resounding message that both Burning Baghdad and Phantom Noises gives is that no one wins in war.

Works cited:

Adams, Ren. Swimming. Chinese Ink Brush Painting.


Rise Against. Image. Hero of War.


Rise Against. Hero of War. Music video. Youtube.com 2004.


Shirt. No One Wins in War. Polyvore.com. http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/img-thing?.out=jpg&size=l&tid=2763933

Wang, Jiashan. Chicken Peony Blossom. Chinese Ink Brush Painting. http://www.sell-arts.com/images/items/10018/1018169_0.jpg

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About wayneceallaigh

I am a teacher, which means I am constantly learning. While my wife has taught me many things, I find that my students force me to learn new, and hard, lessons daily that help forge a better 'me'. Once I wore the last name of 'Barone', the family that adopted me, and I tried to bring pride to this name, but I was doing this for all of the wrong reasons. I was yearning to be someone I was not born to be, nor allowed to be, hence, I went back to the name that is my blood-right, O'Ceallaigh. Ceallaigh is what you will see though. Shakespeare penned the thought, "what is in a name?" I say, "identity". The one thing that I have found out is that today's society is all about an identity crisis. We are all trying to be individuals so much that individuality has become mainstream. I have found the way out of that. I stopped caring about the novelty of identity, and now I feel that my name is more than a moniker, it is an ideal. One can still say that I am still working under the philosophy of identity, but I will hasten to add that a third dimensional being can never truly illustrate the fullness of existence to a second dimensional being. When I am not teaching, I am a husband, and a father of five lovely children, Alex (20), Lilith (14), Jade (12), Lucas (4) and Ameaus (just born). In my free time I love to read, play online strategy games, practice Kempo, or spar with my friends in the various medieval fighting groups that exist all over the globe. Once in a while I like to shoot zombies, but they are a rather relentless bunch, so I tend to stay away from them if I can.

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