Gregory Ross, Vietnam Veteran - war, survival, guilt & choice

Gregory Ross,
Vietnam Veteran

war, survival, guilt and choice

redemption starts in a dark nightmare

i can’t forget the light behind my eyes
not only when i sleep but, when i hide
inside, forgiveness bursts a fireworks
display of every choice i made to survive
and its cost in lives

not dying became a muscle memory
living a habit to survive
then a habit to forget
then a habit practiced
in a dark nightmare

tears exploding
i choose not to die
at anyone’s hand
not even mine
and step into the light
and cry: all i did
was to survive

November 12, 2017
--- --- ---

A Moment of Silence in a Forest of White Crosses

The Dead
do not require our silence to be honored
do not require our silence to be remembered
do not require our silence as remembrance, as honor
do not expect our silence to end:

the carnage of war
the child starved
the woman raped
the virulence of intolerance
the Earth desecrated.

It is the living who require our silence
in a lifetime of fear and complicity.

The Dead
do require our courage to defy the powerful and greedy
do require our lives be loud, compassionate, courageous
do require our anger at the continuance of war in their name
do require our shock at the maiming of the Earth in their name
do require our outrage to be honored, to be remembered

The Dead
have no use for our silence.

November 19th, 2017
--- --- ---

Green Tea Detox

"But I don’t know anyone like that ,” she said.

Smiling deeply into her eyes, I reply
“You know me.”

But she will not believe, needing
to be different from the people
she serves; needing an accomplice
to her invention of superiority.

“But, you were never like them,” she gasped.

The meaning clear: she held herself separate from
the people she treated and I, another acupuncturist,
must be like her, not like “them.”

“Addiction is subject to degrees,” I say.
“We all have a void. We all crave a return
to paradise, to the womb.
We all need a fix.
We all need.”

“But, you didn’t steal and lie and…”
she unable to say more.

Searching deeply into her eyes
I employ a visceral knowledge.

“How much tea have you drank today?” I say.
“Can you stop drinking tea?”
“But tea is good for you.” she murmured.

Nodding, I turn to put needles in the ears of
the Seekers of the Womb
the Cravers of Perfection Never Found.

Those who Need and Know They Need.


December 17, 2017
--- --- ---

Palo Alto California Veterans Administration Hospital

Psychology Unit Locked Ward 3C ,Thursday

the old men sat
the young men stood
both watched
their wristwatches
believing they had a place
to be besides inside their heads

JD walks the halls endlessly
talking to the inside of his head

the old men stood
the young men sat
surveying their wristwatches
the old men sat
the young men stood

JD inflicts his different selves
on his different selves

“Gentlemen,” the nurse yells
“Thursday afternoon meds”
we quickly check our wristwatches
a sure sign of sanity

JD, wrist-watchless, sputters down the hall
maniacally hazarding a wall clock

June 10, 2018
--- --- ---

GREGORY ROSS is a Viet Nam Veteran; a powerful negative impact in his life. Positively: he and his wife have been together for 42 years and have a 35 year old son and an 18 month old grandson. Gregory worked Acupuncture Detox for 25 years, mostly in Highland Hospital, the county hospital of Oakland, Ca. He has been published elsewhere. He is also a member of Veterans for Peace, East Bay Chapter 162. Gregory can be reached at gandgandg(at)

Gregory's poems are also at