Turning It Off


For the first twenty years of my life

I was taught not to turn on the switch

To see violence as the fate of fools

Where fighting never solved a problem


But in three months you stripped me down

To a bare semblance of who I thought I was

And in its place, you forged a skilled beast

One of the world’s most deadly animals


You pushed my strength and tenacity

Honed fatal skills to a razor’s edge

Showed me that nothing was impossible

However unlikely it may seem


Then you flipped the switch

And set me loose upon the world

To reap the souls you deemed unfit

Medals as reward for the lives taken


And I took to it like a fish to water

Reveling in the truest of camaraderie

Addicted to the adrenaline of near death

Wrapped in the flag of a country I love


I gave you my best years of youth

Rescinded my innocence with prejudice

Bore the scars of body and mind

And now know the animal within


I cannot forget what I have done

This will always be a part of me

For I have seen what I can become

I have seen myself with no heart


Somewhere in the passing of years

I was able to turn the switch off

To return from the edge of existence

Where any life held so little value


I will survive all this life has for me

The best lesson you ever taught

But the one thing you did not teach

Was how to turn that switch back off


16 Responses to “Turning It Off”
  1. I cannot “like” this entry, because I believe it is 110% accurate and it chills me to the bone. We, the people of this country you fought to protect, have no real clue – and probably can’t grasp – what you were taught, no, TRAINED, to become in order to do the tasks that were demanded of you. We honored you with medals and accolades without ever knowing the price you paid to earn them. You’ve been taught by the best, taught to carry with pride your service for our country. Only you can truly know the cost of that pride and its ongoing weight upon your shoulders. I am so grateful that you have learned, and are continuing to learn, how to shift some of that weight so that other parts of what is the whole of your life can glimpse light again. And I love you!

  2. Jim Borden says:

    what a powerful reflection on the journey your life has taken, and the inner resolve you possess to become theperson you want to be…

  3. beth says:

    what an incredibly powerful post, i know that a part of it will stay with you forever, as new parts of life open back up to you, slowly and over time. i’m sorry that anyone has to endure this

  4. Marlapaige says:

    I liked this because I found it powerful. But I also decided to comment because it is excruciating to me. In order for countries to survive they train the impressionable to do the unthinkable and erase the moral compasses that one is raised in. They give you new morals, new perceptions and new laws that make sense in the circumstance. But when your time has concluded, they just dump you in an unsuspecting public having done nothing to reinstall those morals and install what they have put in there. Then complain they don’t understand why integration is hard for most. It makes my heart break for those that did it, and as fla he and bone I am chilled straight through from the harsh realities. I hope you are able to continue your journey and love a happy life with this in the rear view mirror. Please take care 💜

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Thank you, Marla! There is great truth in your words and I appreciate your loving support. I have been given the gift of waking each day and appreciating it for one I was never promised.

      • Marlapaige says:

        “I have been given the gift of waking each day and appreciating it for one I was never promised.”

        Beautifully worded and a universal truth!

  5. petespringerauthor says:

    I’m so sorry that you and others have had to try and figure this out in your situation.

  6. jonicaggiano says:

    I am always sad when I think of war and the price paid. I am not going to even say I could imagine what it was like for you or my father (in the Korean War just turning sixteen having lied about his age).

    What I can say is through your poetry I do feel I know your heart a bit and it is a kind, loving, tender and modest one.

    We are suppose to follow our leaders and pray for them. War has always been part of history.

    I hope that you can give yourself recognition for following orders, protecting your Country and for that you deserve our gratitude.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful poetry with us and a part of your life that is difficult still. I am so proud to call you my friend Brad. Love to you and hugs ❤️❤️🤗🤗❤️🤗

  7. kristianw84 says:

    I can’t fathom what that must have been like for you. What it’s still like for you. The memories you have, both good and bad. The nightmares and daymares that haunt you. I can’t pretend to understand what any of that feels like, and only those who have experienced it can fully comprehend your words; but I can say, from reading you, you do your best, every day to be the man you want to be, and that’s all anyone, including yourself, could ever ask for. Sending you lots of love and hugs! ❤

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