If Memory Dances Like the Wind

after Susan Musgrave

at night in a tent with forty-five other guys
you switch on your headlamp and pull the soul
out of your boot, the footbed –
everything you’ve had for all the months you’ve been
gone with your hand searching, fingernails picking at the corner
of the photo
until you’re able to look at it.

until you’re able to look at it
you build it up in your mind
every mission that your run
with your muzzle pressed the the small of a woman’s
back at the mess tent with the juices of a pseudo-American
burger running down your chin,
when the stones crunch under the tires
and Paint It Black sings you to sleep in the desert.

and Paint it Black sings you to sleep in the desert
after you’ve switched on your headlamp and pulled the soul
out of the small of a woman’s back,
everything you’ve had for all the months you’ve been
gone with your hand searching, fingernails picking at the corner
of your boot, the footbed –
until you’re able to look at it
at night in a tent with forty-five other guys.

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Sleeping War Away

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No Knock Knock Joke

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How It Works

If I could grant the world a miracle,
I wouldn’t know where to start.

I have no idea what it’s like to be so hungry that machine grease is a delicacy called ‘butter’,
No idea how many weeks of starvation it takes for a grandfather to call glycerin ‘honey’,
But I know what it’s like to yearn for something more than I have, for every cell in my body to stutter and pray for survival, for every fibre to bend towards the resurrection of Forgiveness.

I have seen bodies laying in the streets,
Surrounded by casings and all the ones that got away –

If I could close the open legs of Baghdad
I’m not sure that I would put another white face in their history books because I know what it’s like to be violently explored by foreigners I didn’t invite,
The impressions of boots take millennia to be blown out of dunes and valleys no matter how gentle or forceful be the wind that blows the sand.
Would I be wasting a miracle to paint over the cracks we have made?

If I sat on the edge of the world,
Would I overlook Jerusalem or Washington?
Two cities sharing a hill, both built on the backs of slaves, both strangers in a strange land,
Both fighting to keep the infidels out of a land they now call their own.
Would giving them eyes to see through their enemies’ be a waste of a miracle?

I have never lived through a tsunami,
Never had the earth lift up beneath me and come back down as water,
But I have felt the world shift beneath my feet.
I have run across fault lines and survived with only fragments left.
If I found myself in a tsunami, my  brain tied up in knots, my legs unable to carry me far enough fast enough,
Would my fear of losing everything teach me how to swim through an ocean turned muddy with our fracking and drilling and drilling and drilling into the veins of the earth, our machines sucking out the blood like vampires?
Would I be a Democrat or Republican if I was swimming through this ocean of blood turned black with our hatred of the body it came from?
Would one miracle really be enough to redeem ourselves?

I have never been hungry enough to call machine grease ‘butter’,
If I could close the open legs of Baghdad, I’m not sure that I would put another white face in their history books,
If I sat on the edge of the world, I don’t know if I’d see Jerusalem or Washington,
And I have never lived through a tsunami,
But if I could grant the world one miracle, I wouldn’t know where to start.
Would one miracle really be enough to redeem ourselves?

Kirkuk

after Ilya Kaminsky

Let us wash our faces of this dust and forget how the dirt collects in our wounds.
Let the women mourn the way they have never had the time to mourn their men.
Let their men kneel on the roof, clearing their throats, and know those are not guns in their hands
but telescopes, they want to see the universe unfold without a bang.
Let our hearts beat fast without pulling our triggers.
Let there be room for doubt.

What is silence? Something of the sky in us.

We are on our bellies in this silence, Lord.

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Bloodletting

after Nate Klug

To stand for the first time
Outside myself

To look in,
A hangman’s noose around my neck
And feel no remorse
And yet regret

There is no name
For this lawless labyrinth

We have claimed it
For it to claim us.

Afghanistan

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Not sure where this is. Grabbed it off the internet a long time ago – probably from here.

The Return

inspired by Clinton’s post earlier this morning.
after Andrei Platonov.

On the morning he comes home
Regret folds through her body like hips
Undulating under a slave driver’s whip
And there is nothing for her to say except

I’m sorry

and nothing for her to do but to hope
it is enough
like the clouds hope the wind
is enough
like the dust hopes the sun
is enough
to pull from the soil what water
there once was hope
in the water they drank
but now there’s only the sting
of salt that they imagine
between sips of conversation
stinging in the wounds he wishes
he’d received because it would
give her a reason to care for him
like God used to care for His children.

Regrets

“my only regret
is not having the courage
to have any.”

– an email from a friend of mine when he got back stateside.

Oedipus Wrecks

Before you get deployed
Cut out your own eyes.
They’ll still send you
But you won’t have to see what you’ve done.

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Iraqi/Syrian border around ’09/’10’. now, Syria is commiting massive war crimes and nobody does shit all.

Fighting Holes

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Ranger grave up. These arent comfy but i miss them. They’re also more comfortable than most sleeping arrangements in-country once you get outside the FOB.

korengal

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Think this might be Restrepo. Korengal valley is infamous in Afghanistan. It’s also where Pat Tillman was killed (Jon Krakauer wrote a good book about that).

Kids And War Go Together Like Mac’n’Cheese

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July 3, 2007. Fallujah

I don’t give a fuck about America.
America don’t give a fuck about me.

Squared Away

Sep. 15, 2011

after Edward Said


No less fearsome are the guerrillas.

Salvation

for Heidi Kraft

in the second before the bomb
fell from God,
he felt himself slip from
the Lord’s embrace
as only a favourite son can
slip from his father’s arms.

it happened in slow motion.
he could see only the child
and hear only the sound of his rifle
giggling.

he waited a long time to die,
but death was something
he could only look at,
his Sergeant stopping him from
getting too close,
a mother tugging at her son’s bloodied shirt.

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