Veterans Day 2012

Keep Sending The Checks

By Stephen Orr Manning, 2011


Turn off the streetlight
I’d like to get some sleep
in my split-level cardboard box
in the alley off Main Street USA.
Just keep sending the checks.

Keep your colored ribbons
your certificates of praise
Parades on Main Street
and fine speeches.
Just give me some proof
that when I return
I can have the good life at cheap prices.

Give me some sign that
while I lay there bleeding
you paused during your
fast boatride on the lake,
one end to the other, and back again
So would you take me fishing
in your bass boat or is it just for show?
With just one arm I can hold the rod
but I cannot crank the reel.
Would you help me?

Give me some sign please.
Would you take me golfing
at your country club?
I dearly loved the game.
I would walk slower now
on my one leg.
Or would that delay the members
who must hurry back to important business?

I used to love the game of bridge.
Now with half a brain
it takes me longer to count points.
Would you partner me,
or would you find my slowness

On second thought, never mind.
Just keep sending the checks.



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  1. Stephen (“Honest Abe”) Manning also posted this today on Facebook:

    As a retired military officer commissioned from the ranks, I would like to ask you to keep your parades and speeches and insincere expressions of “Thank you for your service.” Congressman Tim Griffin, why did you fly down from Washington to put a stop to local vet’s efforts to open a vet’s service center in Little Rock, Arkansas? Because the rich and privileged were afraid pink-haired matrons would have to step over homeless vets to get to their hair salons in the business district.

    Republicans, Tea Party, religious right-wing, why do you hold ceremonies to honor vets, costing you nothing but then vote against VA appropriations in Congress? Why do you close VA hospitals requiring further sacrifice by the disabled to travel great distances for promised care, but mouth platitudes about defending freedom and the “Constitution?” And when we have done it you shrink from contact, assistance and campaign on slogans about “takers,” as though honorably retired or disabled are somehow leeches on your white, religious, rich and well-born society?

    We can tell, you know, when you mouth that simple slogan whether you are sincere or simply salving your own service-dodging conscience. If you are not willing to back it up, don’t bother to say it. If you are a phony, just keep it to yourself.

  1. […] PS – “Liberal letter writer Stephen Orr Manning” is my friend and a damn fine poet! […]

  2. […] poet-friend Stephen Manning (who died last week) once reminded me that one of Saul Alinsky’s favorite rules in his […]

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