(about PTSD)

By Jesse Manciaz (Xam’le Kuiz, Red Feather)

I survived the jungle
which tore into me a living thorn
that ripped my flesh
and infected my mind
with, sorrow, regret, and scorn

But I survived the jungle

When I’m alone in the quiet,
I sit on the edge of my bed
In darkness, all around me
‘cept the glow of my cigarette

I trace the umbral pathways that I once walked
Eyes
tens of eyes
hundreds of eyes
stare and demand answers
I search
but I don’t know the question

Shadows dressed in black
squat on their haunches along the rim
peering from the terminus behind the dresser
peering from the dim

I hear their hearts not beating
Their silent words I never understood 
pelt down on my head like the monsoon rain
and in my heart like on rotting wood

And I smell their death
And I smell my death
Tens of dead
Hundreds of dead

But I survived the jungle

When I’m alone in the quiet,
sitting on the edge of my bed
with darkness, all around me
‘cept the glow of my cigarette

Jesse Manciaz was reared by his grandfather, a Carrizo Indian, and his grandmother, a medicine woman. He dropped out of school to join a caravan of migrant workers and then joined the Marines at the height of the Vietnam war. He was wounded on two separate occasions. Each time, he was patched up, pinned with a purple heart, and returned to the war’s brutal carnage.

He later earned an Associates degree in Science from Brazosport College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of North Texas. Jesse’s affinity for the human potential drew him to a career in Human Resources. As Director of Human Resources at the University of Texas at El Paso, he entered the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, but withdrew halfway through to accept a job offer from North Carolina State University as the Director of Employee Relations. Jesse retired and returned to Texas, but he is still active in the resistance to the destructive policies that violate human rights and defile mother earth. Jesse believes that if there ever was a time to sound the war drum, now is that time.

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