I live among you, a beat, fallen man.
To look at myself in the mirror is reason for my stomach to twirl;
force me to my knees and hurl.
Taste the waste that rushes out between my teeth, firing my tongue;
tasting so wrong.
It should make me livid, make me want to go and drown my stupidity
among the narcissi that know no pity.
But take me, my dear lord; let my seeds not already be sown.
O Provider, Provider
Let this not persist, or harm my daughter.
She is tiny and innocent, like no other, may she grow old and bright,
with dreams sparkling alight.
Let her quiet slumbers have dreams masked from violence and hate;
If it is her future that I control, I pray to carry it gently.
To her I will whisper praises quietly.
I beseech thee, Guardian, let my callous feet not falter.
O Protector, Protector
The humble nymph cries out my name once more.
Let her hold no attention of mine, for but a spirit walks in my stead;
forget I ever existed.
She sent love to me, softly handled by wind’s squalling fingers;
My defense cannot be conquered; my walls stretch to the sky, unflinching.
Even I cannot cross; I fear the writhing.
This is a castle of guilt and sorrow from the very core.
O Destroyer, Destroyer
Why continue cry out to this weak man?
Your words; they convey to me thoughts and feelings only foreign how I stand.
They feel like a fiery brand.
Stop, for these feelings are even higher than the skies above.
Why must you love?
You destroy my fortress, bring me to knee, leaving me naked and heaving.
Astounding! Your love for the unbelieving.
My castle is built anew, the way only a master can.
O Father, Father
"Oh you tak' the high road,
and I'll tak' the low road,
and I'll be in Scotland a'fore you.
For me and my true love will never meet again,
on the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond"
I strolled down the street that lead to the pier with all my equipment strapped on again, humming the tune and tapping the beat on my drum with my fingertips. The boys had slept in later than me and so I headed out alone, leaving them stumbling out of bed and wiping the tiredness from their eyes. I was anxious to get going and get everything over with.
I started humming the first verse of the song, singing the words in my head. It was a tune written during the rebellion by a Scottish prisoner, to his sweetheart, as most songs are, and although it has a sad tune usually, I gave it a bit of a happier bounce this morning. I took a breath and went into the chorus again. "Oh you tak' the high road..." When I came to the last two lines I started with a little counter-melody "...for me and my true love will never meet again-"
"On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond!" sang out a voice behind me. At first I took it to be Chris, following me down the street, but then I turned around and was surprised to find a boy maybe fifteen years old, with straight, reddish-brown hair, and light, blue-grey eyes. A lopsided smile brightened his entire face. I looked him over and found him wearing the exact same uniform as me, minus the drum. His bearskin hat was tucked under one arm and a fife poked from under his coat.
I raised an eyebrow. "Only an incredibly stupid Englishman, or a very brave Scotsman, would sing that aroond here, ya ken?"
The smile widened. "Weel, ah've heard stupidity and bravery can go hand in hand." He stepped up beside me and we walked together. "But then, I cannae think of anyone else that's braver than me." He thrust a thumb at his own chest and my eyebrow went up again.
"so, you cannae think very hard, and that proves your stupidity." The grin switched from his face to mine momentarily, and then it was back. So this was our missing fifer, and now the Scotsmen in the company's musicians outnumbered the rest.
"You're a quick one, nae doubt. Must be a man of the highlands for that sort of wit." said the boy.
"Aye, and tae know that song, sae must you." I threw back at him. I knew what he was trying to do, it was a game all highlanders played, get the other man to say his name first, so you could determine if your family ever feuded with them or not. I had played it with Campbell, though he never knew it.
This boy gave in easily as well, for he sighed and nodded. "aye, a man of the Cameron clan am I. Alexander Cameron, at your service."
I smiled. that clan was well known for giving the bonnie Prince seven hundred men at the beginning of the 45'. "Well, Alex, if I may call you that, Ah'm pleased tae meet you. MacPherson am I. Daniel, but you can call me Danny."
This time, his eyebrows went up. "MacPherson? You wouldnae be related to the famous C
Jealousy don’t look good on you,In fact, it makes you look fat.And old.And lame.And Stupid.And did I mention old?And that’s why you jealous, cause you spend too much time hatin and mad to actually do something with yaself.Lemme help you,I’m not the reason you stuck where you areAnd I damn sure a’int the reason you a’int get too farSo please don’t be upset that I have happy things to say,The hell I look like…Miserable?If that were the case, you wouldn’t have anything to be jealous of…And I’d be just like youSitting,Hating,Jealous.Tell me, if you’re the one that’s hating….Who’s the loser in this situation?Jealous?
The familiar ring of the alarm clock startled him out of a sound sleep. Beside him, her equally familiar grumbles began, as she groped along the edge of the bedside table to find her phone and shut the ringing off. Cracking open his own eyelids, he looked over at her, at the curve of her shoulder as she turned onto her side and re-buried her face in her pillow.
He chuckled, more at her obvious reluctance to greet the morning with any of the respect it deserved than anything else. Kissing the exposed skin, he threw back his half of the blankets without uncovering her body and got up to make coffee.
Their kitchen was in a casual state of disarray from the evening's get-together the night before. They'd made dinner for a few guests, a not so transparent attempt on her part to set up his brother with one of her best friends. The dishes were piled in the sink, her edged china and his sterile pots and pans. Wine glasses from the over-indulgent were stacked on the counter, along with two empty wine bottles. Between the six of them, they'd had maybe a little too much to drink.
Plugging in their coffee pot, he selected her favorite hazelnut blend and began to boil the water. Once the coffee was percolating away, he meandered into the living room and began to tidy up, refolding the blankets and straightening couch cushions that had been left askew. They were charged up the ass for their electricity--which included heat, as she was so fond of pointing out. Usually this meant that when they had guests over they would pass out blankets and encourage couch sharing to minimize the length of time they had to crank up the thermostat to seventy.
If he had their way they'd find a new place, hopefully bigger and better, by the first of the year. The location and amenities mattered, but not as much as his choice of roommate. As long as he had her, he would be okay living anywhere--no matter how crappy the place was.
Settling for crappy didn't much appeal to him though. If they were going to take the next step in their relationship, he wanted to be able to prove that he could provide for her. Picking a place that would suit both of them was an easy way of doing just that.
Once the coffee had finished, he poured out a steaming cup, doctoring it just the way she liked with a little half and half, but no sugar. Then he went back to their bedroom and stood in the doorway, leaning his shoulder against the frame until she smelled her drink and inevitably woke up enough to get it.
This was one of his favorite parts of the morning. Seeing her stir, freeing both hands from beneath the blankets before she finally rolled onto her back and sat up. The simple repetition of the process always made him smile. "Morning," he said, when she propped herself up on her hands and looked at him.
"Morning, you." Tucking a long strand of reddish-gold hair behind one ear, she said, "You come bearing gifts."
"Two," she corrected him. "The coffee, and yourself."
He smiled at her, coming around to her side of the bed to set the coffee on the night table. The second he was seated on
I’m sure that everyone wants to know about how we lost the Vietnam War, well I do two but I will tell you some information that will have you pondering about how we lost that war. Well in the Vietnam War the U.S Military had many advantages.
During the Vietnam War we tested many Vehicles and weapons, like rifles, machine guns, shells, bombs, mines, artillery guns, ships, tanks, and jets. One of the best bomber planes was the B-52 Stratofortress bomber. Some of the best supersonic jets were these: the F-100 Supersabres, F-101Voodoos, F-102 Delta Daggers, F-104 Starfighters, F-105 Thunderchiefs (one of the only planes that could conceal an entire nuke inside it), A-1 Skyraiders, A-4 Skyhawks, A-6 Intruders, A-7 Corsairs, F-4 Phantoms, and F-8 Crusaiders. They also had high altitude spy planes such as the U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird. As you can see we had a lot of advantages by testing and using these planes.
We had a lot of help from other countries during Vietnam. The ROK (Republic of Korea), located East of Vietnam, was the largest allied contingent in 1965. They sent in a medical and engineer personnel team, they were then joined by the Marine Corps 2nd Brigade (Blue Dragon). The ROKs Army Capitol Division arrived eventually and then 5 months later the 9th division (White Horse) arrived. Thailand, located Southwest of Vietnam and South of China, sent in 11,568 combat soldiers. The first group to arrive was the Queens Cobras Regiment in Sept. 1967. They were replaced by the Royal Thai Volunteer force in July 1968 consisting of the Black Panther Division with two infantry brigades, three artillery battalions and an armed cavalry squadron. The Philippines, located North of Australia and south of Vietnam, didn’t really help much compared to the others. In 1964 they sent in a medical contingent additionally in 1966 a 1,500 man Philippine civic action group was sent in to help. Australia, south of Vietnam and the Philippines, probably helped out the most. Along with that they were the first country to respond and aid us. The first group so arrive was a Jungle warfare specialist team. I can imagine that it helped a lot because practically the whole area was jungle. Next to respond was an engineer and aviation detachment team. In addition to that they sent in the first battalion R.A.R (Royal Australian Regiment) and the first Australian task force. Along with that the first Australian task force turned into a two-infantry battalion force, a medium tank squadron, and a helicopter squadron. Not only that but they also sent in the R.A.A (Royal Australian Airforce) with No.9 squadron of Iroquis helicopters, No.35 squadron of Carribou transport aircraft, and the No.2 squadron of Canberra Bombers which flew 11,963 sorties (air combat missions). New Zealand, located east of Australia, was another country that responded. They deployed an engineer platoon and surgical team. Later they were replaced by the Royal New Zealand Artillery’s 161st battery and a special air force platoon and infantry regiment.
Believe it or not in Vietnam our troops were the best trained, educated, disciplined and successful. For example in
tendered flesh where your
found my skin—
[jaw lines, joints, appendages twixt]
indistinct regret as my
turnt my chin.
reminiscent of your essence,
everpresent in all my recollections
seeps between discretion.
you linger like a dream
lining my subconscious,
you stick to my clothes—
[jeans dirtied, hair tousled]
you re-emerge in inhalation and contemplation;
disrupt the surface with ease.
the smudges left,
the rubber burnt,
the charcoal scent stains
in a chest pit;
fueled with every
the skin-to-skin sensation
and each beat accelerated—
a feather-lined stomach
wont to sway in anticipation
stays its state
as if it were expected.
and to lie beside
is more than welcoming,
to sit with a firelit
until the morning; tempting.
loyal like a dog,
loyal to a fault,
knuckles colliding with wood, fissures of relief. short-lived and the complication is raw: tangled, knotted, red, like this fist. like this fucking sorry heart.the friction rises, flesh inflamed; slowly purpled as a sunset, slowly darkened like my horizon, the future splayed. I reel, surreal, come down I spill and fall. fool. and you wonder why it frayed.juxtaposed and incongruent; I've tried to sate this expectation. he sits in a ribbed cavern, purging out into this hole and I thought it had been sweetness, swore it was a medicine. it rots, allergic to this imitation: this. this. affirmation, all my second plans, all the fall-back-never-should-couldn't-be is left. disappointment seeps, softens all the skin until a simple breath can bruise. a simple fucking implication wounds.you will laugh and I will too, the salted streaks. you will roll your eyes at me and I will rub them until they bleed.
(I've always been heavily influenced by latin magical realism, but it's a hard form to write. I always end up tying myself back to reason and force my stuff to obey unnecessary rules. This is one where I deliberately forced myself to be non-linear and a bit stranger, and I'm fond of the result. Hope you like it!)
Every seat on the bus is taken and much of the space a person could stand in is filled by something that perspires. There are hands running through hair and gathering wetness, brushing the damp bangs from in front of faces. Mothers, sons, daughters, the occasional father, they’re fanning themselves with whatever papers they have, slow as they can, to draw out every ounce of the cool from the heat that hangs around each of us.
20 minutes ago everyone on the bus was milling around in the lobby of the University of Iowa’s main theater, Hancher Auditorium, trying to navigate crowds and lines and follow signs telling us where we might go to begin the process of freshman orientation. My mother and I had snuck in the side door and I watched, from outside the largest throng of people, the parents with proud, nervous smiles and the prospective students with jittering insides. My step carried a swagger, my hands resting in my pockets, the right corner of my mouth turned up slightly with eyes half-closed to create an all-knowing smirk. But the hands in my pockets had torn apart an old receipt in a fit of nerves and my walk was slow to calm my heartbeat. The swagger didn’t exist for my sake, but for the sake of the several hundred girls my age that, at least from my perspective, encompassed most of what was interesting about the scene.
On the bus there’s a smaller group than there was then and I can overhear most of their conversation. Conversational zones insulate the bus, no one ready to expand out of the immediate, comfortable interaction their families and friends can offer. A boy gets frustrated with his mom for trying to fix his hair, a bit mussed in the heat of summer. In response, she’s wise enough to smile, enough to see her days in his.
2 hours from now I’ll be sitting in a conference room being told what I should expect from my college experience.
The future CEOS, the astronauts, the authors and the entrepreneurs, those are what I see. There are people around me who will fulfill their dreams or won’t. I look over the sweating faces and find it difficult to see the academics and the substance abuse and the quick, sudden expansion of worlds and horizons that I’ve come to associate with college. It’s more, I think, that I’m surrounded by futures. And in this moment I choose to look to my right from my spot standing at the left rear of the bus. There’s a girl sitting down at the back that I can see in between the arms of someone grasping at something to brace themselves for the bus and its nauseating swerve. Their arms form an odd, ovular frame around her face and torso that secures my focus.
This piece is a collaboration between myself and the XRIVO Writing Interns. Each of them were given the same introductory paragraphs and told to creatively interpret them. They could do whatever they wanted, whether it was to completely rewrite the paragraphs or simply continue with the story. Each of them have a different focus when it comes to writing - from poetry to journalism - and they interpreted the initial paragraphs with that skill-set in mind. The result is a rather fun collaboration of the different directions a single story can take when multiple perspectives are brought in.
Dedicated to my brother Jesse.
These are the first 3 chapters from a work I've been planning for a long time. Throughout the course of the next couple months, I'll be regularly adding content to it in the form of new chapters. I hope you enjoy it. Putting this work together has been and will continue to be something of an emotional purging. It's a bit insane for me to think that I've actually begun to write this, but it's been long overdue.
I'll be chronicling the last few years of my life in the form of a novel, hopefully taking you on a journey that will be memorable, charming, and curious. Feel free to leave whatever feedback you like. I'm open to any thoughts you'd like to share.
A sincere thanks to all who read this.