I am the avenger of lost causes, says never trust strangers. I carry the plans to the next exposition, the future is in my backpack, salvation & brimstone marry in my wake. This is one for the books & I’ve read them all. I especially liked the ones with lots of sucking & fucking & lots of gore. The more the better. Understand, these are the remnants of your fractured civilization. Sorting out those worth saving is my immediate task. I’ll need volunteers. Two men & two women. You’ll be models for what’s to come & become. &. As if an after-thought, he tweaks the cheek of Marty’s mom & hauls her off to see his designs & his mysterious garden spoken about in the Big Book. In a matter of minutes, night falls on the town. No one has even hinted at sleep.
‘It was never meant to happen’ tells her tale with tear-filled eyes & a slight stutter. She of the priesthood. She of the Book. She of the League of Social Order. The congregation fidgets in their folding chairs & occasionally one or another will cough or take a sip from a hidden flask & on & on she goes. Seemingly, there is no reasonable explanation & when she’s through, ‘he of the four stars’ promises to find those who would bring this hell to our people. Promises to undo what has been done. To make up for lost time & the lies that have been spread. He seems sincere. Not like his orderly, ‘he who casts the first stone’. We’ve known him from years past. Racing by in his Aston Martin & secretly messing around with our women & young girls. Some say, there’s a bounty on his head. As of tonight, no one has attempted to collect.
Abracadabra & away we go into the maelstrom into the flood into the maw of the goat-of-war where bleeders roam the pastures hunting a way out & a way to believe & a way to the wayside where Uncle Charley waits in his Green Hornet disguise & Aunt What’s-Her-Name snaps-up snakes for dinner & never says No to a passing grunt her being a patriot doncha know & here the wheel turns & the whistle blows & Joe with a missing leg & Artie with a missing arm toss the dice to see who goes first & around the bend with shattered knees comes the Black Reaper on his hefty Hog with all those furry fox tails & a blond fox too stroking his neck & whispering in his one good ear & here we go again down the shoot to the end of the street where the whittlers whittle & the shufflers shuffle & buttered rum is the drink of choice & chess is for keeps & here’s Buddy with his perpetual grin ginning-up another cockeyed ruse for fun & games & burning the candle at both ends one in his ear & the other up his ass & away we ride to the show of shows & one for one & one for all & no one the wiser & no one to blame. It is what it is . . . doncha know.
. . . unresting death, a whole day nearer now, . . . From: Philip Larkin “Aubade”
It hovers, like the stink of sulfur or bad blood, wakes you in the night, squats on the edge of your bed staring into space, unmindful of your sweat, your knotted fingers or your trembling lips.
It’s then the darkness closes over, leaving you gasping for air, staring into the chasm where no one speaks & nothing moves & you are now, for the first time, completely, eternally & forever alone.
In memory of Neil Lehrman
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the enigmatic figure at the center of the worst American war crime in recent memory, admitted for the first time on Wednesday deliberately killing 16 Afghan civilians last year, most of them women and children . . . Critics of America’s decade of conflict in the region . . . seized on the stresses experienced in the war by soldiers like Sergeant Bales . . .
NY Times – June 5, 2013
It’s Late. Night hangs heavy in Kandahar Province. Scorpions. Wood lice. A Mantis prays. Staff Sergeant Robert Bales injects his nightly dose of anabolic steroids, buckles up his gear.
Four tours in ten years. No time to reminisce, no time to dream. He’s careful to climb down the ladder reserved especially for him. At the bottom is the pit, Dung Beetles scurry. His head throbs.
You’ve seen your buddies’ shredded bodies baking in the desert sun, babies dangling dead from barbed wire, a woman blown to clots & bone by the bomb she’d wrapped around her waist.
The medic’s say PTSD – The lawyers say, booze & drugs. Tonight, Robert dreams mayhem: Spirits of the brave & lost will cross the devil’s river – He’s locked & loaded . . .
Night goggles & high octane Wild Turkey 101. My enemies are everywhere: In their tents, behind their walls, in their gardens & in their beds. They babble in tongues, sneer & wail.
I need silence to think. My throat chokes on our renegade soup. There’s nothing to be done. Extermination. I am the champion of justice, the avenger & the priest. Locked & loaded.
Bless me father for I . . . I am a missile unleashed & proud, a drone in desert camouflage. I’ve been sent to redeem my country’s honor. I am without home, without mercy, without guilt.
Pray for me as I kneel in the sand & light my torch. Nothing is left of me. I am slag. I am heroic. I am disaster. See me for what I am, what I have been trained to be. I am a machine.
Running on fumes. Nothing matters. The mission is at hand. How many must die? & why? I am marked. Absurd. Without guile. A bomb. Fused. As intended. Poison. Catastrophe.
Collateral damage . . . It is. I am . . . What must be known . . . What must be expected.