Senior Writes Book of Poems to Help Combat PTSD

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Senior Allen Simmons has an interesting hobby for an Electrical Engineering Technology major, he writes poetry. He has just published his first book of poetry. Also interesting is why he first started writing poetry. It was a way for him to help deal with post-traumatic stress disorder from his tours as a Marine in Afghanistan.

“In 2011, I returned from Afghanistan,” Simmons said. “I had been in a RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) explosion and in gun fights with the Taliban. I was battling PTSD and I turned to writing poetry as my therapy. When I started to write, I was able to find out what was really inside of me.”

Along with studying Electrical Engineering Technology, Simmons is also minoring in communications studies. He belongs to a group of local poets, who encouraged him to turn his collection of poems into a book. The title of the book is Can I Speak?

“The title is asking the reader to allow me into their mind for a minute,” Simmons said. “People tell me my poetry does makes them stop and think. I like that. It means I’ve reached them.”

Poetry has helped Simmons deal with his PTSD and discover who he really is inside. “A lot of my poems deal with looking in a mirror,” he said. “I need to look into my own eyes to find my own truth.”

Simmons’ book, Can I Speak?, can be bought on line here.

Below are two excerpts from Can I Speak?

Bottled Human

Rage. Anger. Patience. Laughter. Joy. Hope. Despair.  Confusion.  Sanity.  Love. Hate. Violence, peace, boldness and fear.  

See, I’m human too!  I'm holding all of this inside of me too!

This is all of me.  It's hard to explain all of me When I can only give you parts of me.  

Especially since half of you got mouths for ears Aren't you tired of wasting air?

I get tired of talking sometimes. It may be hard to believe but I carry heavy weight on my mind. 

I think about death a lot.  Sometimes I think about getting robbed or someone breaking into my home.  I know I’m not superman but sometimes I love the smell of harm, especially when it feels like fear.



Has never been a stranger, I can still feel the rifle vibrate from my anger.  The strain of the trigger as I flexed my finger. 

I can still smell the ground burning from explosions I can smell death in a garden of roses. 

I can taste my rage and feel it rattle my cage Unwrap my face, exposing the veins that dance on my face

This PTSD is something I can't explain  Sometimes I want to hit the desert and spill brains

Lift my pinky in the air to see which way the air is moving to put bullet to brain. 

I'm afraid of me sometimes This PTSD gets the best of my mind I try so hard to remain distant. 

Distant from my past self Or am I still him? Is he still me?

Dark thoughts are like sweet music to my ears

Or better yet poetry…


I understand that you can’t feel your feet because the journey hasn’t been nice to you. You feel defeated. You feel like throwing in the towel and surrendering because this pain is too much to bear. Why is it important that you come out on top of your situation?  I want to tell you this while I have your attention. You have a purpose, and there is a reason why you were born. There is a reason why you have triumphed over situations that were meant to keep you down for the count. You are victorious. You are not and have never been defeated. Can you promise me that you’ll keep trying? Will you persevere through the thick and thin parts of life? Will you win? The choice is yours.