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Writings By Brothers and Sisters Like These

The following poem, written by Carl Zipperer, is part of a combat healing process in which members of the
NC Veterans Writing Alliance perform public readings of their work in a program called Brothers and Sisters
Like These. The group’s mission is to provide healing to veterans of all conflicts through the arts and creative
writing.

 “This piece describes my healing from memories which followed me after I returned from Vietnam.”

Carl Zipperer

What Healing Looks Like

By Carl Zipperer

Mountains out my window rise steeply across the valley — past times drift through my mind
Young, defiant brown men and women defend their country — invaders kill, destroy, spoil.
Life snuffed — incoming rockets, bullets, mortars, smoke — fire in the hole — mangled bodies.
In between death, there is so much beauty — people, clear blue ocean, long sandy beaches.
Flashes of long-ago barge into my mind — hover, clear for takeoff — in the red
Everyday thoughts, memories — young men who forever and always will remain young to us.
Never having peace — thoughts surround me — create visions of the past good and bad.
One life lived seeing my brother's hand covering, weeping at the Missing Man Table
With tilted chair empty — plate with a lemon slice and salt — a candle, a rose, a flag
No longer striving mentally to control the anger surging up within me
Or having to apologize for launching into a rage — face red, gritting teeth
My daydreams no longer interrupted — scenes barging in from so many years ago
Only warm feelings of love, friendship, camaraderie, fill my heart for the Lost Ones
Relieved of the burden of survival, standing beside those Brave Souls who did not
Echoes of voices from past — crackling radios squelch never play hell in my ears
Pictures of that dying young man, guts spilled on a mat on my cargo floor leave me
Tears of past agony stop flowing from my eyes — no blood. bones. severed limbs. remembered
So when will peace and compassion ever become our object — no more war by Man
Hit the ground, Stupid!
Damn the holiday firecrackers I must never again flinch
When there were feelings so low, sad, down, anxious, mad, grief, just plain tired,

Help came to make me finally see what was happening — how to grieve and have peace
Live life sans old pain, remorse, loud echoes — brutal sights, PULL FULL COLLECTIVE PITCH
LEVER!
Life beginning over, brighter, happy, peace, more body pain now — much less mind pain

Carl Zipperer served as a Warrant Officer Aviator in the US Army. His enlistment included a one-year term in Vietnam from July 1970 to July 1971 with the 176 Assault Helicopter Company.

For more information about this group, visit their website at or contact the
group’s President, Steve Henderson at 828-606-5988.