This Vet Uses Poetry to Combat PTSD

In a previous post, we mentioned one combat veteran we’ve met who spent several years trying to overcome the emotional wounds that she suffered due to post-traumatic stress. This woman, Cleo DeLoner, has fought back against these wounds by turning them into her art, in the form of free verse. A collection of her works has been published as a book named “Triggerpieces.” Copies are available for sale on Here’s a sample of her work:


I have many aliases
Soldier’s Heart
Battle Fatigue
Shell Shock
I am like no enemy you have ever fought
I control you
I own you
I insert horrific memories in your head at my beck and call
I watch you from a distance
As your eyes stare at nothing
I startle you back to reality
I freeze the most graphic images in your mind
Forcing you to witness the horror over and over again
I fuel your rage
I fuel your hatred
I take you close in my arms
Away from everyone who cares about you
Because I am jealous
When I have you isolated, all to myself
My relentless assault intensifies
My voice is all that you will hear
I will convince you that you are
A burden
Unloved and
I will bring you to your knees
You will try to crawl your way out of the maze of confusion
Until you collapse face down
All the while I scream at you to end it
I will drive you to a depth of darkness so deep
No amount of light will penetrate
I will envelope you in total and utter unimaginable despair
The emptiness you feel carries a thousand echoes of the suffering that I inflict
You will make futile attempts to silence me
With your pathetic pills
Your bottles of booze
You will believe that I have retreated
But I am still with you
Waiting, watching, patiently
Your staggering drunkenness
Brings you to a state of unconsciousness
You are right where I want you
I now bring you the images in full color
I add the sounds of screams
Hovering over you
I watch as you twitch
Toss, turn
Punch the air
Cling to your blankets
And scream, “No!”
I drench you in cold sweat
Forcing you to awaken sitting straight up
As you gasp for air
You don’t like to talk about me to your loved ones
Why would you want to?
How would you describe me?
Am I just a voice in your head?
Am I the monster who has taken up residence in your mind?
Better to just stay quiet
Keep this affair between us
I have convinced you that they don’t care
That I’m the only one who cares
I’ll never leave you alone
This road that we stumble down together
Is a road I walk with many
I sabotage every relationship they have
Their loved ones retreat
Leaving them lonely
They fought me
They fought hard
In the end they all succumb to me
You will to
You have embraced me without even knowing it
I have you in the corner of darkness
Providing you with an instrument of death
I have encouraged you
Guided you
Defeated you
Now I can sit back
And watch your sad finale

Released to ONO for republication on September 9, 2016