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He jumps by Bill Quinn

He jumps

off the 14th street bridge after
he leaves work with me.
Our last moments together
he smells like brimstone.
His mind like a truck going
down a dusty dirt road.

I’ve got the soul of a whore
destroying vows for money.
I’m tired of walking through graveyards.
I should have looked
out for my band of brothers,
yet he threw water on the fire of feeling
and locked his plan in a top secret drawer.

Men whose job is to kill people would never jump
in front of a bullet in battle,
so where did the courage to jump
come from? Did he hate the only things
that showed him love or did hope leave
on the bus that day? One way ticket. Return TBD.

I don’t cry at life. Sadness helps me enjoy the joy.
But this moment stares back at me in my dreams.
Some nights life feels like I’m jumping with him.

by Bill Quinn (988 — Suicide and Crisis Lifeline)

Editor’s Note: The imagery in this poem is stark and difficult, drawing the reader into the pain of a veteran’s reality, so much so it’s no longer easy to offer platitudes to service when life and death continue long after battle.


6 responses to “He jumps by Bill Quinn”

  1. Michelle Meyer Avatar

    This breaks and opens my heart at the same time.

  2. richardsund Avatar

    Having been a Psychiatric Crisis ER RN for 30 years, we had to decide if a patient could go home for outpatient or the patient would voluntarily sign into a locked Psych Unit, or if the patient needed to be committed against their will for treatment. Over decades, when in the ER, I never lost a patient to suicide. Over the years, there were several Vietnam patients with severe PTSD. This is a very observant poem. Sad but very realistic.

  3. richardsund Avatar

    Second comment- I did not mean to imply that NO ONE we saw in the ER did not later commit suicide. BUT, perhaps 5 years after I last saw them, they killed themselves. I hope this Poet has some solid support. R.S.

    1. Bill Quinn Avatar
      Bill Quinn

      Hi. Thank you for your thoughts. I’m doing well. This event happened about many years ago. It probably pushed me to help others. I taught inner city high school after. I also received training to help people through the process of a spouse’s death.

  4. richardsund Avatar

    Hi Bill, I’m glad you are ok, and thanks for replying, and for a very moving poem. Rick Sund

  5. Ralph Stevens Avatar
    Ralph Stevens

    A very poignant and insightful – and compassionate – description of suicide. We have suffered from it in our family and perhaps one day I’ll be able to go public with the experience, but this poem helps me live with the pain. Thank you, Bill.

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