No one ever tells you that the bunk beds
you sleep on in boot camp
are the same bunk beds
you sleep on in prison—
rusted steel frames,
stained thin mattresses,
scratchy green blankets.
They also don’t tell you how good
it feels to lose your virginity
to psychotropic meds—
does it even matter? All the shaved skulls
glimmer like gold.
And they’ll never say how, at home,
you might wake up one morning and mistake
a 4-year-old’s playfulness as an enemy force.
You hear this and think you’re back in Kandahar,
near the abandoned schoolhouse,
where machine guns drown
thoughts of everything that used to be familiar,
like taking selfies in pink polka-dotted tea cups at Disney World.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what they tell you
because the people who used to praise you
can’t stop staring at the toy gun marked EXHIBIT A.
Theresa Dozier lives in Annapolis, MD and earned her MA in Liberal Arts (literature concentration) from Johns Hopkins University. She teaches writing at the University Maryland University College and is a program manager in the public sector. Her prose has appeared in or is forthcoming in Door Is A Jar, Flash Fiction Magazine, and 101 Words. Follow her at @theresa_dozier.