Nelson Algren after the war

If he could be in Afghanistan, retreating,
he could regularize his requirement;
they’ve got the access there.

If he could be in Germany or Palestine,
wherever soldiers collect,
his problems would all be in the arm,
in the armies,
named for their purpose
and the abuse that conquers.

Instead he’s empty, a civilian without supplies,
cooking up filters from the bottom of old spoons,
burning fruit, putting torn segments in the flame
and watching the juices bubble and boil.

[Nelson wrote ‘The Man With The Golden Arm’
and for a long time some of us,
not only in America but elsewhere also,
imagined it might be the only book there was
about our real life.]