"American Pastoral"

November 1, 2019



“But the turmoil they experience isn’t who they are; the PTSD invades their minds and bodies.” 
― Robert Koger, Death's Revenge


I wish I could

  tell you how

they loved

before the war,

farm girl farm boy,

how they believed

in cows and hogs,

and children to 

work the farm,

and a new big house

with flowerbeds

and chickens.


All I can tell you

is how the Germans

came back again,

invisible to all but him, 

swooping over 

the big new house,

crawling through 

stubbled hayfields

in the night,

looking for him.


All I can tell you

is how a vision

distorted children

into soldiers from 

a bloody front

come to kill again,

how screams drove back

the cow’s sweet moan,

how fragile broken bones

become war’s 

discounted debris.

Joyce Compton Brown has published in journals such as Kakalak, Still, and County Lines. Her chapbooks are Bequest (Finishing Line, 2015) and Singing with Jarred Edges (2018).  She spends her time writing, drawing, and singing and playing old-time songs on the five-string. In a previous life she graded thousands of papers, was a semi-activist treehugger, and semester-break scribbler.

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