Triptych

1: Pink Slipped

There isn’t much to do here.

Activities are limited to

clicking at the t.v.

and becoming intimate with

one’s misery.

So Continue reading


Missed (Non) Connections

You approached me.

Or I approached you.

Who knows?

As these things often go:

there was at least a moderate level

of drunkenness involved. Continue reading


TDY

Sorry for the long delay in posting anything, but sometimes life gets in the way of self-indulgent hobbies, which if you’re reading this you most likely understand. We hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer: nothing in this post reflects the views of the Department of Defense, the Army, the Marines, etc. This is the personal opinion of the writer.

Some of my soldiers are going to the bar tonight. I am not. It’s a weeknight. All I can think about is the war I’m missing, the war before, and my wife at home. I’m not in the mood, so I’ll sit here in my room and watch television. We are deployed.

Here in Qatar you’re allowed three drinks a day, every day. There are two bars to choose from: a sports bar and a lounge. The lounge is closer to our dorms, so we go there most often. Continue reading


Out On The Weekend

Although this is my latest post, it is not, technically, new work. I wrote this over a year ago towards the middle of my stay at JAIL. A few weeks before this shit came out of my head, I had hit the book-cart lottery and came across a copy of Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing. It was such an amazing stroke of luck that I find it difficult to convey the excitement I felt at that time. In a claustrophobic world dominated by westerns, romance novels, fuck-books (slang for romance novels with explicit sex scenes), YA literature, outdated technical manuals (MS-DOS programming anyone?), and bottom of the barrel science fiction; finding The Crossing was the most merciful event I experienced since I had been incarcerated. However, I was about a third of the way into a novel of my own at the time and a few months later it became apparent that multiple readings of McCarthy’s work had negatively effected my own. I couldn’t help but notice that my novel had turned into a cheap imitation of Mr. McCarthy’s style. In response, I wrote this as an exercise to regain my natural voice. For lack of better terms, I would say that what came out was simply a dictation of a hallucinatory daydream and although not purely stream of conscious, I engaged in a very minimal amount of editing. I thought it was decent enough to copy and mail to a friend to see what he thought of it. Continue reading


The Lesson of a Sword

He never forgave her, not really.

They discussed it almost every week for over 50 years. They only stopped talking about it when he died.

He could have worn his seatbelt on that day and he would have walked away from that accident. He could have gone back home to his wife, to their not-quite argument over the lost swords. They wouldn’t be listening to Over the Rainbow by the Hawaiian guy at his funeral, but he was stubborn.

Stubborn as only a child of the Depression could be. Stubborn as a man who raised himself, who fought in WWII and Korea. He left the wars with a ringing in his ears that only got worse over time; but he never complained.

He never truly complained about anything. He didn’t complain when a misdiagnosis kept him from the airborne in WWII or when that missed opportunity sent him to occupy Japan rather than fight in Europe. He didn’t complain about his later alcoholism or the awkward intervention from his wife and adult children, nor were there complaints about the Petit Mal Seizures that struck only once or twice a year with no warning. The randomness of the seizures made them impossible to predict, so he didn’t worry about them. He didn’t plan. It was what it was.

He had one of those seizures the day he died. Continue reading


The Shine

Of late, I haven’t been able to write. I suppose you could label it a writer’s block – or what is commonly referred to as “writer’s block” – but the reality of the situation is more convoluted than what that simple term seems to suggest: that the inability to commit words to paper is, in itself, the root of the problem and not a symptom of something a little deeper and more complex. As if “writer’s block” is some grossly unthinking virus; something you catch like bad luck or the flu. Something that happens to you through no fault of your own. I wish that were the case, for it would seem to indicate an easy “recovery” – as if the block would effortlessly dissipate as easily as it came on. I know that is not going to happen. Because it isn’t something that just happened, but something I myself cultivated with weariness and hate and disillusion. It is a symptom of a deep attitudinal sickness that creeped in so slowly I hardly noticed it until it was in full bloom.

I don’t know how it happened, but suddenly I was sick again. AM sick. Sick of acquaintances playing the role of “friend.” Sick of fellow commuters and their petty anger. Sick of playing the dominance game with other men. Sick of bosses and their entitlement to my free time. Sick of probation officers with their suspicion and mock concern. Sick of a society that while screwing you demands the facade of a good attitude (It’s cool. I UNDERSTAND I am often going to be forcibly penetrated from time to time. It is what it is. But don’t hold me down and fuck me and then tell me we’re making love.) I am sick of pretending as if I am not nauseated by everything. Continue reading


Fun With Army Medical

Official disclaimer: nothing in this post reflects the views of the Department of Defense, the Army, the Marines, etc. This is only the unofficially terrible, wrong and poorly written opinion of one person who happened to have served at some point since 9/11. You have been warned.

Immediately after you return from a deployment, the Army has you fill out a Post-Deployment Health Assessment (PDHA), and 90 days after that, the Post-Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA). These consist of questions regarding basic physical and mental health, drug and alcohol use, etc. Each phase is completed by a phone call with a doctor where they go over your answers with you and make sure you have no questions or other issues.

It’s a straight forward process, and in my opinion it is very beneficial to returning soldiers. You may be surprised that I support this process, and that if I do, why I am writing about it here, given that all of my other Army posts are about its screw-ups? Because the Army deserves credit where it is due, and when something works like it is supposed to work, that is worth noting. However, as you will see below, even when the Army gets something right, the process is not without its issues.

So, after my recent deployment to Afghanistan, I started to get a tingling or numbness in my left hand, specifically the ring finger and pinkie. Nothing crazy; it feels like after your funny bone gets hit and the tingling is almost gone, but not quite, and it’s all the time. I’ve put up with it so far for many reasons: laziness, just not wanting to deal with it, fear of the possibility of surgery, and sheer stubbornness.

During the PDHRA, one of the questions asks if you have any numbness or tingling in your hands. In a new-found effort to be honest with the Army about my health, I answered yes. I say new-found honesty because when I returned from Iraq I was honest about how much I was drinking, and they tried to get me into a program. You keep a red-blooded American soldier away from booze for 15 months, and then act surprised when he lives it up a little when he gets home? Come-on. Continue reading


The Tipping Point

Officer Steve, possibly the most hated correctional officer of the Lake County Correctional Facility, leads Fred Dewitt, an ex-alcoholic laborer, in his mid-50’s, down a concrete block corridor, past the protective custody cells (one of which houses a mouse of a man whom to Fred looks more like a pedophile than anyone he has ever seen – although the man’s actual charges are unknown to him. The other is occupied by a large pool of vomit. The vomit is composed entirely of baby-shit-colored stomach bile in which the solids have congealed into a single pulpy mass, the liquid having run off in a stream that creeps steadily towards the cell door. Fred estimates that 80% of the countie’s inmates are junkies in on heroin related charges) and then to the door of the visiting room. C.O. Steve radios the control tower and there is an audible click as the steel door unlocks. Steve gestures for Fred to enter and he does. Continue reading


A Suicide Bombing Sure Does Ruin Your Day

Official disclaimer: nothing in this post reflects the views of the Department of Defense, the Army, the Marines, etc. This is only the unofficially terrible, wrong and poorly written opinion of one person who happened to have served at some point since 9/11. This is a work of fiction, but still, better to throw this disclaimer in here. You have been warned.

Beele was not pleased with the deployment. He had joined the Army, specifically the infantry, so that he could prove himself in combat. To get right down to it and quit fucking around, he joined up so he could have the chance to kill someone. But the deployment so far was a joke. The unit had deployed in December. In November, most of the tribes fighting the U.S. decided to switch sides and were now our allies, which coincided with an 85 percent drop in enemy contact. Can’t fight the enemy when they’re your pals now.

It was now February, and only one platoon in the entire battalion had even had a chance to fire their weapons. Three months in, and that was it? That was bullshit, Beele thought; a waste of his time. His platoon spent most of its time on patrol – driving out to some hillbilly, dusty Iraqi village of 30 people to ask them if they’d “seen the enemy.” Yeah right, like they weren’t still the enemy and like they wouldn’t be again if the U.S. money dried up. The platoon leader and one of the squad leaders would meet up with the local sheik and find out if anything was needed in the area. The usual answers were water, electricity and more weapons for security. The exact three things the unit had zero ability (or authorization, in the case of weapons) to provide. Continue reading


Poem # 1,2,3,4 I Don’t Like You (Curmudgeon Song)

i am what and where you are

when you fall out of a dream

into an everyday

where

you have to steal your first foot

forward,

through a world full of C.O.’s,

everyone out

for themselves,

still they insist on shaking hands,

with their mustache smiles,

flat-top faces,

eyes that perceive only

weakness,

guffawing as they drag your broken body Continue reading


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