The Rogue Voice


November 01, 2007

The Poems of Iraq War Veteran, Noah Charles Pierce


I feel bad for the kids
Can’t blame them for begging
Can’t give them anything, they beg more
This one was different
He was 7
I let him sit next to me on the Bradley
I give him water,
He goes gets me food.
It’s great compared to MRE’s
No english
No arabic
Yet we still understand each other
Then it’s time to leave
He wraps his arms around me crying
I say it will be ok
I still wonder if he is.

—Noah Charles Pierce © 2007 Cheryl Softich

Still at war

Got home almost a year and a half ago
We were so happy
That beer never tasted so good
Iraq was the farthest thing from my mind
That was the best week of my life
It crept up slowly
first just while sleeping
more real and scary than when it happened
After, it’s on the mind awake
Never 10 minutes goes by without being reminded
Been home a year and a half physically
Mentally I will never be home

—Noah Charles Pierce © 2007 Cheryl Softich


the wind is picking up a little dust
no big deal
It must be getting worse
Vehicles are upside down all over
It’s daylight now and we have to stay put
The sky is a weird orange
Just mid-day but it’s dark
better tie a rope before you go pee
Seems like someone keeps dumping a bucket of
Sand on my lap
I wonder if this is an omen not to wage war
Or is this our glimpse of the hell we are destined to.

—Noah Charles Pierce © 2007 Cheryl Softich


The sun just dipped off the horizon.
Only a matter of hours now.
After months of waiting
Morale is high, let’s do this
Then we spot the first cruise missile
My stomach goes in knots
Reality just kicked in
Even non-smokers light one up
What will tonight have in store
Time to load up.
Guess we’ll find out.

—Noah Charles Pierce © 2007 Cheryl Softich


It’s been hours since we saw our unit
Keep heading north hoping to find them
The sky was full of green streaks
Pretty amazing,
beautiful, if only nobody was dying at the end
too many explosions to use the night vision goggles
Just made you blind
I ask my driver, are we in Iraq yet?
He shrugs
An enemy tank blows up and tells us we are
A year ago,
All I worried about was next weekend.
Now I wonder if I will see the morning
Finally, radio contact
that was an easy night

—Noah Charles Pierce © 2007 Cheryl Softich

2nd time

We are getting on the plane.
That last step
I hope it isn’t my last in U.S. soil
Nothing to do but sleep
I wonder what it will be like this time.
Hurry from the plane onto a bus
Sleep some more
Stopped, I hope we can get off for a smoke
Must be lucky
Before I even light up the feeling hits me.
Did I ever leave the desert?
The girlfriends, the parties, the training
All I remember is this godforgotten country

—Noah Charles Pierce © 2007 Cheryl Softich

freedom isn’t free

It’s dark and I sit at my .50 cal trembling
40 mph in a humvee and I have deju vu
Just want to go home
then that bad feeling hits me again
are my ears bleeding?
is everybody else OK?
Goddamned roadside bombs
We are fine
Another truck wasn’t so lucky
Back at base no food, can barely get a
new truck ready in time for the morning
Another day kicking in doors
find a cache and insurgents responsible
for american deaths
Frustrated because we have to be nice
as we arrest them
So when you talk to me
I may not seem to pay attention
I may forget to laugh at a joke
remember freedom isn’t free
I would do it all over for you

—Noah Charles Pierce © 2007 Cheryl Softich


hurry up and eat
We roll out in 20
Tonight just doesn’t seem right
The feeling won’t shake
Can’t smoke enough cigarettes
Why are these vehicles fucking with me
I shine my spotlight, he pulls over
The other stomps on the gas
Oh fuck, another car bomb
I shoot
Someone shouts, “This one’s dead.”
At camp people shake my hand
I’m just upset and pissed
It was a doctor
The investigation said it was done by the books
I ask myself, “What the fuck kind of
war is this?”

—Noah Charles Pierce © 2007 Cheryl Softich

Everything I imagined

They yell get out of the truck
I just wonder why as I take over
“Boom” and I think I hope that’s friendly.
Someone yells open fire
Don’t know what I’m shooting at.
People fall, but did I do it?
Just keep shooting
Really just want to roll up in a ball and wake up
If only it were a dream
As we advance I no longer fear for myself
I worry about whoever that guy is next to me
My eyes burn from all the smoke
I wonder if the smell of death will ever
leave my nose
People shake my hand now
They say thanks for serving the country
Sorry, you guys were the farthest from my mind
That day was exactly the way
I imagined war

—Noah Charles Pierce © 2007 Cheryl Softich


It is 7:30. Got off work at 4:30
Yet I find myself drunk again
I drink to forget
But it seems like I drink to remember
At least drunk I don’t dream

—Noah Charles Pierce © 2007 Cheryl Softich
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    At 6:33 PM, Blogger Ken said...

    god bless Noah for protecting what the rest of take for granted. My heart is with you and all of your family. Wish I could have known you.

    At 6:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    wow.... god bless....

    At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Wow, that was so deep. It almost makes you understand why he commited suicide. Im so sorry for the mother, but as Im sure you have already dealt with his death in your own way. It was like his peoms said, he cant sleep because of the dreams and when he was awake he was drinking to not dream when he did sleep.

    At 10:45 AM, Anonymous twink said...

    My heart goes out to your family. I have read another's as well as Noah's poems. Quite frankly it scares the living hell out of me. My 24 year old son (Army)is in Iraq, and was home on leave shortly before Christmas. He had changed in a way that I could not put my finger on, and that also scared me. I think it is beyond comprehension as to why the Army Soldiers have 15 to 22 month tours, while all other branches are 6-8 months. That is way too long to make anyone endure that hell. Good luck on your work in the Capitol.

    At 4:34 PM, Anonymous Peregrine said...

    Such powerful poems. Thank you for sharing them and for helping others understand what it's like for our soldiers in Iraq. I'm sorry for the loss of your son, and I hope things change so that other soldiers can feel comfortable getting help with their experiences. It's real and human for such things to affect a person. Nobody should have to carry that alone within themselves, but I can imagine it's hard to talk about with those who weren't there. The tragedies of war are not their fault--they were doing the job we asked them to do.

    At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I am so deeply sorry for you're loss. I can not even begin to imagine what they are going through overseas. It is so unfortunate that it takes stories such as Noah's to open the public's eyes as to what is really going on over there or for families that have loved ones over there fighting for all of us. So many things in our lives are taken for granted everyday. If we only took one moment to pray and think about what people like Noah were doing and are still going through and doing for us our so called everyday "problems" would not be so bad. Most of us don't know how good we have it. We should all be so thankful. Thank you Mrs. Pierce for sharing Noah's poems. I will keep you, Noah, and your family in my prayers.

    At 5:08 AM, Anonymous OBX sailor said...

    May God bless Noah's soul and let him rest in peace forever more. May God bless you and your family. Noah's poems are so spritual.
    My father was a Marine in WWII and Korea, suffered from PTSD with the same result for our family. My son-in-law just got back about 6 months ago from Iraq.
    I am so proud to be a retired Marine and wish I could go back in, so I could do my part all over again. Today I work for the Marines so I can get them what they need to win.

    At 8:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I have to say these poems really put into prosepective what goes on over there. I am not big into poetry, and never really understood the PTSD debate, but these writings definately put a real feeling on the issue. Good luck in your quest, you're fighting for a good cause, don't give up. Fair winds and following seas to your son.


    At 8:46 AM, Anonymous Tena said...

    After reading Noah's poems, I feel as though I knew him......
    May God bless you and your family. We are a Military family, I know what deployments feel like. At times it's not easy. But God always brought us through is, and I know He will continue to.

    Know that God loves you, call on Him in times of sorrow, He will send His comforter to you.


    At 8:58 AM, Anonymous iamstdennis said...

    Thank you Cheryl, for sharing and your immense courage for being a great part in effectively addressing resolutions of PTSD. Also, let us salute the local Post in their actions. Let's hope our legislators do not let us down when it comes to doing their part which includes real resources and real and permanent solutions and systems. Let us all vow to take some part in this effort which you now carry. Everyone can at least e-mail, write, call the legislators which you will be addressing to support you and prompt them to do their part effectively.
    Do you have a "command center"/website for this effort so that we can get the facts and respond in unison with you. God forbid, we rely on "the media" for anything important, let alone the real and whole story in a timely fashion.
    You are part of the victory when you DO something concrete for our troops. Your contribution is immense. You honor your son, Noah Charles Pierce and, indeed all of the troops there and here.
    THANK YOU! Good Luck, God Bless, you and Noah will be in my thoughts and prayers as well as my professional direction as I volunteer to reactivate for a second time in USANC.

    At 9:15 AM, Blogger Bob said...

    Cheryl, I am a desert storm era vet who has been diagnosed with PTSD at my local VA I have seen and been similar places and seems like I go on the internet just looking for things to remind me about the sand Noah took me there thank you for sharing.

    At 5:15 PM, Anonymous sessyb said...

    I am the wife of a soldier wounded by an IED in Iraq in 2006 he has TBI and severe PTSD.My heart just breaks for this youg man and his family. My hope is that our government will soon open thier eyes to the fact that these soldiers coming home with PTSD need constant support, encouragemnet and the best of medical attention. Living with someone with PTSD is very difficult because you don't know how to stop the pain for them. Sp I can't even imagine the kind of inner hell they go thru. Thank you for sharing Noah's poems. God Bless you and your family

    Suzette Boler

    At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Scott said...

    I am a friend of Noah. I went to school with him in Eveleth. I am also an Iraq vet. I read these at his funeral and it is nice to see that others are able to read them as well. We miss you Noah and you are always in our thoughts.


    At 6:38 PM, Anonymous mrwinkle said...

    Richard said I am a Viet-nam Vet and its been nearly 40yrs and I still live with the same horries
    over and over and they never go away.

    At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Noah's mom said...

    Thank you to all that have made such wonderful comments about my son Noah's poems. I still remember the day I snooped in his notebook and found them...and the same day I took that notebook to work and copied those poems. I was a bit scared to tell him what I did, so I didn't tell him for about 2 weeks...went over a lot better than I expected. Noah was pleased that I saw them and wanted to know what I one word, "AWESOME." I told him to keep it up and we would get them published someday...which I ended up doing without Noah...but I kept my word to him and that is what matters. I promise each and every
    one of you that I WILL NOT STOP TRYING TO GET MANDATORY HELP FOR OUR VETERANS THAT HAVE BEEN IN COMBAT, and those that haven't been in combat, that might need help for
    feeling guilt because they weren't there with their brothers and sisters for whatever reason. This
    has become my way of dealing with the loss of my son. To make sure another persons son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, or wife...does not have to live life like I do now, without my child and fighting every day for yours...because I am fighting for your children...and all the Vets, past, present, and FUTURE. If anyone needs to talk to me, you can find me on
    Once again...thank you all very much for the kind words and the encouragement. BTW...if anyone is interested in joining the AmVet Noah C. Pierce Post 33 in Virginia
    Minnesota...feel free, and please do. AmVet's also has a MySpace page as well. I have room for ladies that want to join the Auxillary too. :)
    Noah's mom...Cheryl Softich

    At 9:05 AM, Anonymous roy said...

    I'll just be honest and I cannot say it any simpler than this, even though I did not know Noah or his wonderful family at the time, in his death Noah has changed my life. When I first heard he was missing, had PTSD, armed and presumed dangerous. I was mad but I knew in my heart he was already dead. Mad because of the stigma that comes with PTSD and this is the very reason that vets such as Noah do not seek the help they need for such a common injury and that is just what it is, an injury. Nothing to be ashamed of. A common combat injury. Also a very treatable injury. Tragically in Noah's case a fatal injury. I am told that part of the reason Noah did not follow through with his treatment because he did not want anyone to think anything was "wrong" with him.
    When I heard they found Noah's body I was in a bar, I ran out side and had had a melt down and wept uncontrollably for several minutes. I thought to myself how awful it must be to get your son home from the war so far away only to have the war come back here and kill him anyhow.
    I decided right then and there that we would name our AMVETS post after Noah.
    The day of his funeral I was sitting in my office when I was handed a copy of his poems. They are very powerful and served to cement my resolve in naming my post after him and to start my campaign to raise public awareness about PTSD.
    Fast forward five months. At a post social gathering, coming back in from a smoke brake a young Iraqi vet with PTSD pulls me aside. He tells me he would get help BUT he does not want anyone to think there is anything "wrong" with him. I stand there crystallized hearing these words again but this brave young Trooper does give me some insight to the solution. He tells me, "I am a soldier and I follow orders. If I was ordered to receive treatment, I would go". Herein lies the answer, mandatory consoling for a period of time after you leave the combat zone. An opportunity to get the help you need weather you want to admit there is something "wrong" or not.
    Another part of the solution is public awareness and perception of PTSD. Soldiers who have received this injury have nothing "wrong" with them. I say again, it is a common injury. We do not think there is anything "wrong" with the soldier who has lost an arm, leg or has had shrapnel removed. Why should we perceive this injury any different?
    We owe it to the brave men and women who have been willing to sacrifice everything on our behalf
    to ensure that they have good quality of life after their time in service as well as life it's self.
    I will fight with Cheryl Softich (Noah's mother) to make mandatory treatment available. What ever it takes. "freedon is not free"
    I am Shawn Carr and I am proud to say that I am the Commander of AMVETS Noah C. Pierce Post 33.

    At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    These poems give great insight to what Noah went through. My heart goes out to you and your family! I am actually doing a research paper to ptsd in our military, and this is extremely helpfull. Although these poems are extremely insightful, I worry for my love. He has just finished his 3rd tour in Iraq, his 7 all together, and he exhibits some of these same characteristics. I am honored to have men/women such as Noah defend our country!

    At 6:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Mine leaves in July for a year; states away now, seems so far.
    I am glad his mother was able to obtain his poetry as poems come from our hearts and minds; she will have a part of him with her always. God Bless.

    At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    As Noah was, my son too is a soldier. As Noah did, my son too writes poetry. I am so moved on so many levels ... Cheryl, no matter what the future brings in your pursuits, know this - Freedom Isn't Free, and Noah will not be forgotten. From a Blue Star Mom who is sharing in your grief at the loss of your son while sharing in your pride for all Noah stood for.

    At 8:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I think of him often, I'm glad to have know him and extremely proud to have served with him!!

    At 5:49 AM, Anonymous David Anderson said...

    I served alongside Noah, he is gone, but he will never be forgotten in the hearts and minds of those who were with him, either in the sands overseas or in his final moments on this earth.

    At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Rodger said...

    So well put. Young adult words often tell us more about their rearing than anything else, and there is such clarity and beauty in these poems.

    Thank you for doing such a wonderful job.

    At 9:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Genial fill someone in on and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you as your information.

    At 7:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Opulently I agree but I think the collection should prepare more info then it has.

    At 12:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    My prayers are with you and your family.We that are in the theater,know that nothing is free.We as soldiers,know that all to well.We and those we fight for and protect,give our all.

    Crowley,Maj US Army Cent Com

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