Friday, December 5, 2008

Poem for Today...

Kissing Corners

Tasting the corners of your mouth,
Holding your upturned face in my hands,
But softly,
One dark palm on each side,
Like a California beach ball.

Your eyes are closed,
Small wrinkles around the edges,
I want to flatten them with my kisses.

Your lips are open,
And you are trying to breathe,
But you don't remember how.

Dec 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Poem for Today...

In Transit
As soon as I touched the crinkles in your lips,
I knew that I would break my heart.

This journey began with that kiss,
But now, I think maybe it was not the start.
Maybe you were just a lost passenger too,
Stepping accidentally onto my train,
We swayed together in the rolling carriage,
Easy riding, over down-hill runs.

Life was no effort.
Sitting contented, side by side, and happy when we bumped together,
Pushed close by bends in the tracks.

I thought the ride would never stop,
Each day was just simple.

But, while I dozed,
Anesthetized in the fumes of your love,
Somewhere you must have gotten off.

I can’t say now where you left,
There is no conductor to ask,
No signs to mark going or coming,
Just the side view from the windows,
No map or guidebook,
And even the rails are laid down new every day.

Leaving me on board and alone,
Not sure where I am going,
And starting to wonder if I paid too much for this trip.

September 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"They Say It's Your Birthday..."

The posts titled with song titles/lyrics continue.

It is my birthday today. Cold snap here. Damp and cool. Sky is grey like steel. Although a little while ago a gleam of pale sun - faint yellow like a boiled egg -popped through the clouds. I am stuck in the North of Iraq after a short mission - awaiting transportation. The wind / damp air are gently blowing. A few puddles reflect the sky, which is similar in color to the gravel strewn earth.

It is a bit despondent and run down here, as are a lot of the camps. Old Iraqi military buildings, are adorned with faded murals and Arabic writing. But the run-down and shabby feel of this place suits my mood today.

I will lift my spirits with a coffee which I will get from the DFAC. Although I am not really "down".
I am travelling with Iraqi-American translators. They speak Arabic amongst themselves and with the other translators. I am responsible for their safety, and perhaps they resent the over watch...I am removed from their language and conversations. Today I felt detached from them, as well as the fellow soldiers around me. Just feel more alone. Maybe not lonely.

I am thinking of a girl.

I can't remember last year's birthday. I won't forget this one though. It started with a morning flight in a helicopter. I thought, "My God, what a honor, what a privilege it is to serve on this day, away from home!"

My love for my country keeps me warm.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Three Little Birds...

Above where I live are some tiny -but chubby- little sparrows / finches. They have set up a nest(s) in the few inches between the top of my living space and the corrugated metal on the roof. Today I saw three of them peeking out and looking around. They have small faces with brilliant black eyes and short yellow-tan beaks.
They have such a playful, but self assured air that it is easy to start talking to them. "What are you up to?" or "Hey birds, what are you doing?" They look at you with complete disdain for a moment before they get back to business.

It's a different world for them.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Poem for Today


I hold you in my arms,
It’s a bad place.

I’ve lost all feeling for you,
Desire flattened like kid’s juice boxes.

Forgive me,
I can’t forget this other person.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Looking Out My Backdoor...

Nothing like flying in a helicopter...Here is the view from the rear gunner.

On a clear day you can see off into the haze of the distance and wonder what you are doing here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Poem for Today


Resting, in your silent,

And hard chambered world.

Insulated from knowing right or wrong,

Or seeing faces.

Just muffled sounds come to you,

And infrequent flashes of circular light,

Bouncing down grooved steel.

That is your view of the outside world.

Waiting to take your turn,

Running the curved spiral out into what we call life,

That’s where I live, and make the decision to free you.

Or not.

Wish I could make no judgments,

Just take the action, and fly.

September 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Feel sort of achy today. But the morning is bright and only touched with a faint film of dust. The breeze even has a cooling tinge to it.

The small sparrows are bouncing around, dashing about, tilting their small heads like they've never seen people before. Like they are at some zoo, and we are the ones to be observed and pondered at...They are probably wondering if we fly.

I can't seem to find the effort to make it to a computer to write recently, but there is a short verse of poetry I wanted to add here. It is from TE Lawrence, and was in the opening to his book "Seven Pillars of Wisdom". I read it a long while ago, and came across the poem again recently.

"I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands
and wrote my will across the sky in stars..."

Wonder if he was a man looking for himself, tossed between time and cultures, what was he seeking, and did he even know. I wonder - We do not know what we seek, yet we are able to find the excuses to go searching.
Perhaps we are all like that on a smaller scale, drifting across our own small and self-made planets. Some are lush, some like barren and grey winter deserts.
Trying to make a difference. I will seek some solace in coffee.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


A C-130 is a four engined cargo plane, used by many nations. Flying in it as a passenger is reassuring because the aircraft has been around forever. It is sort of ungainly, and has a utilitarian form which emanates a charm and also a feeling of security.

As a passenger, you are cramped onto seats made of nylon straps. Squashed between soldiers on each side, and in front of you. You have to interlock your feet and knees to get comfortable.

This is in contrast to flying back in the civilian world - where we spend so much time trying to make sure we are not touched by the passenger next to us.

The cramped experience is sort of ok, no choice really... The worst part is the interminable sweat which forms and rolls down my face, back and legs - and much worse is the nausea. There are only a few round windows on these aircraft, and any maneauver by the pilots means that you have no idea which way the aircraft is turning...Sometimes it feels like I am rolling upside down.
There is an unpleasant feeling of directionless movement with no view of the horizon. It is perhaps like being in a closed roller coaster compartment, with no windows, and no idea which way the track is going to take you.

Nausea is an overwheming feeling, producing an awful sensation of doom.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Poem for Today


Tonight’s infant moon is just out,
Hanging tiny,
Scared and poised,
Daring me with its arc eye,
Poking it out from hiding.

There’s a white gleam of skin at the edge of her shirt,
It is just where the front comes together, before the overlap.

A sliver of bright promise at the end of midnight blue fabric,
It gleams,
Afraid, and alert and looking.

August 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Its a Good Day When...

I'm going to miss these plastic toilets when I get back home...

There is no flushing, just use and go...Sometimes the best things in life are a clean plastic Port a John, and a hook to hang your clothes on.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Holy Drinking Bats, Batman!

A couple of days ago in the evening I saw bats...Nothing unusual ther. They are small and come out in the evening to spin and flutter in crazy patterns. At first one might think they are birds, but the angular nature of their wings gives them away. Also, their flight is frenetic seeming, like Brownian motion.

I saw them skim the water of a canal and dip their heads very briefly in it as they flew. Perhaps they had found an insect close to the surface. Perhaps that is they way they drink. Never saw that before.

Heard about the new batman movie in the States. Guess I only know Adam West as Batman...

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Despite the harsh heat and light of the day, the evenings here have a soft quality about them. It is not tropical, because there is not the humidity here, but it is sort of like a talcum powder softness - like you are rubbing the talc in your fingers...

Of course, that is what it usually feels like after a dust storm. The dust being so fine feels like talc. When you rub your hands together it feels like they are sliding over themselves with some kind of graphite lubricant.

Anyway, the night is soft and quiet, and the moon is almost full. Glistening.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Save the Planet

Saw a sign recently about recycling in the the dining facility (DFAC we call it).
It said "Save the planet."

I must admit it seemed a bit out of place...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Poem for Today...

Good Things

Being desperate for being wanted,

A person can lose themselves in religion,

Or expend an entire life in service to others,

Thinking these are good things.

Forgetting -,

That it’s all looking outwards,

When there is no solution within.

April 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Property of U.S. GOVT.

Sometimes as I walk around, or have an idle moment, I think of what it says on my CAC (Government ID card)...."Armed Forces of the United States". ..For me, that statement offers a sense of belonging and definement. No matter what one was, or claims to have been, they are now part of something else. Whatever one may think of it, the United States is a powerful and forceful nation.

I do feel a part of it, and just like the engraving on my weapon, I feel like property of the US Government, and am glad to be so.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Divided by a common language...

Worked with UK forces this week. What a pleasure! The enlisted and officers are great, and I really enjoyed being with them. Since I grew up in the UK, it almost seemed like coming full circle...Actually met someone that lives close to where I went to school in London. I had no trouble with some of the heavily accented words they spoke, and actually, as I spent more time with them I found my accent starting to revert back to the London -potato in mouth- sort of tone I had growing up. (I also fall into it when I get angry or hang out with my sole British friend in the states.)

It made me wonder though...would I have achieved the same position in the British Army as in the US Military? Somehow I doubt it...The Bristish officer corps seems much more homogenous. I am not saying that is bad or good....
I did enjoy talking with the "lads" in our vehicle, and it was great to get back to noshing on Branston pickle, Marmite on toast, and pickled onions...
I guess my international upbringing helps me to be more circumspect. I don't always consider it an advantage, as ignorance is bliss.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Bird in the hand...

Today I saw a boy in a store... On his shoulder was a small brown/fawn colored sparrow. He took it gently in both hands and set it on the table in front of himself. It hopped about, tweeting and looking around. It's tiny beak opening to emit small chirps. The boy put a grape in his mouth, and bit it into small pieces. The bird skipped onto his outstretched palm and took the small pieces of fruit from his hand.

The boy said that the bird did not like Americans, and that a soldier had swatted at the scrawny thing recently...Well, I don't know...Could be...Who knows? It seemed friendly enough to me, but it always returned to its owner, almost like a tiny airborne dog, flitting back to its master
Perhaps it is the food that kept it coming back to the youngster. The boy said the bird was like his son..

Seemed a touching statement of affection.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Love Hate, Ambivalence...yawn...

Like many diarists... I have mixed feelings to writing personal accounts.

Even if there is time to write one wonders should I write so much? Should it be personal, or evasive? Perhaps there is something of the restrained megalomaniac in all us bloggers and diary keepers...

Sometimes I just can't be bothered...Heard the economy is bad at home...It crosses my mind everytime I pull into the the fuel point...Of course, I don't pay directly to fill up the HMMWV. Just gas up with fuel and roll...

Unfortunately, there is no place to get a soda, as there is no attached convenience store !

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Poem for Today...


I hurt now
Having only the tangled up late hours,
And the lack of color between waking and eating and sleeping again.

Sometimes I wish I could be among the worst of them all,
And I would know what it is like,
To be more alive that I am now.

April 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Unbelievable how much one can sweat here. The body armor really amplifies the heat's effect. When I take it off, the back of my uniform is soaked. Not just damp, but soaking wet. But, it's a clean sweat, just pure water seemingly.

I feel the sweat trickle down the inside of my legs. It soaks the tops of my socks and even my boots and their nylon exterior are damp. But, the sensation reminds me-as ever- that I am a fallible human, not a machine.

At least it dries fast.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Poem For Today...

A Different Power of Love

Being so without love,
Or having lost it,
That has a power too.

Forcing a different type of passion,
One that makes me sit in a box,
In the dry desert,
Head bobbing, repentant as a saint.

It compels me to seek solace,
In flaying myself with fatigue,
Begging for more work,
Exercising, until pain brings fast sleep,
Or so one hopes.

Doing anything to un- remember,
Urgently soaking up each moment of the day in activity,
Seeking so hard to make each instant have no thought.

But trying to forget you is like forcing myself to sleep,
It only keeps me awake and thinking.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Attack of the Ladybugs

A couple of weeks ago we were swarmed by ladybugs. All over our uniforms, weapons, everything...Perhaps some kind of mating season?

I guess they are a type of beetle, but it is their capricious nature and coloring that makes them so alluring. They travel across fingers and hands and can be transferred from one hand to the other. It seems they are loath to fly off. I am always reminded that it is their coloring that makes people not swat them or crush them.

Here is a not very focused picture of one on my weapon. It was scurrying around, and the contrast of the red on the black was dramatic. Yeah, I know the weapon has some dust on it...
Are you guys ok out there?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Something to Write

I want to write about something I felt...But I don't want to write. ..Of the death of two people here that I did not even know...Perhaps I saw them in the chow hall, or crossed paths with them. They are gone now, never knew their names. See lots of people in a day sometimes.

I felt the concussion from the explosion that took their lives.
I know this is not saying much...

Something about love...
When you are in love...all you can think of is the joy of now! How exciting it is to be with someone, the trip planning, the fun dinners, the mellow evenings of delight, and just the sweet contentment of being. When that is over, all one can think of is the acrid memories of the past, and a future that seems very black. The "now" becomes lost. It is important to keep the "now", because it can be very short.

Peace be with you my brothers. I get teared up when I go to the military cemeteries, (like Punchbowl in Hawaii). I will feel for you soon too.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Yesterday the wind was blowing hard. ..Dry, warm and steady it was singing in the antennas and wires, and coaxing up swirls of dust from the barren ground.

I have heard it said that the wind "speaks". Well, I don't know about that, but it did seem to make a forlorn whistling noise. Perhaps it was not really too forlorn...It was more like the breath of a lover in ones ears...or the noise of a seashell held to the ear...but louder. A noise that is empty, but says something...if only one could figure out what it was.

The way the wind and dust and noise come come together I can picture a ghost town in some spaghetti Western. Clint Eastwood would be walking through the wooden saloon doors in some abandoned run down frontier place. Tumbleweeds would be blowing down the street, and old shutters would be creaking as his boots echoed on the saloon floors.

Those were good movies !

Friday, April 4, 2008

Poem for Today...

I hate writing about friggin' love. I hate it...But I still write about it...
Here you all go. I wrote this last month.

Lost in Thought

Washed out sky,
Scrubbed clean-white,
Wish it was my heart,
-Empty like that.

Pointless to wonder,
Is she thinking of me now?
Right now,
At this empty time for me.

Does she remember a drive we took,
Or a walk we made together?
What about the time we were in the tiny kitchen,
Together, washing and drying dishes.

Perhaps I’m somewhere in her mind,
In some crumpled, folded maze of thoughts.

I live in that soft puzzle,
Lost. Like a small porcelain figure,
Souvenir from some trip,
Perched on a dry wooden pedestal.

I’m stuck at the dead-end of her imagination.

Sometimes she roams into the closed space where I reside,
She pauses, then turns and leaves.

March 2008

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Thank You!

To all of you who have written and commented on my posts...what can I say?!

You are awesome, and you warm my spirit. Wish I could buy you all a beer, coffee, ice cream or beverage of your choice!

Thanks all! Wanted to use my short internet time to say...peace be with you.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Poem for Today

What Will Not Caring Feel Like?

I trembled very gently inside,
When the old man with a stroke,
Told me “thank you” in his own language.

He didn’t know if I understood,
But he said it anyway.
Saying it so quietly, like a sleeper’s sigh.

I knew what he said.

I did nothing but help him put his shirt on,
Dragging his dead arm through a coarse, sun-yellow shirt,
Tugging on a ragged, pilled sleeve,
I persuaded his crooked and stiff arm through.

I wonder when I will stop feeling…

How will I know I don’t care anymore?
Perhaps when I won’t have to wipe my eyes,
Blinking in the glaring whiteness of the hospital bathroom,
Pretending allergies or yawning is making me sniffle.

Maybe I won’t have to try to be harsh and cold then,
Because I really am.

Could it be, that I will always care, and be sad,
Grieving these patients’ loss for them?

But now…on this day…the man in yellow looks like a grandfather,
And I wish I didn’t feel.

February 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008


In some short palm trees nearby I saw two ring necked doves. They made a gentle cooing /gurgling sound. Then they suddenly started attacking each other and chasing each other around the tree. There was a dull thud of flaping wings and squawking and scratching.

Hmmm, wonder what that was about?
My quest for dark chocolate continues here...Seems none is to be had at any price in Iraq?

When I think of a memory I don't want I say to myself..."Walk don't think...just keep on walking." For some reason I have been thinking a lot about the times I was in Germany and Italy and how I often use to wander alone during a day off. Walking, observing and just watching. I felt alone during those times, but not lonely...or maybe I did...hard to separate the two.

Tough to get net access here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Rain in the Desert

There is a song that has a line about the desert missing the rain.

It rained here last week...I don't think the desert misses or craves the rain...It despises it. The rain soaks into the ground for a couple of inches, and creates a glutinous mud. But, as you walk you lift off this top layer of mud leaving the dry desert layer exposed. This leaves a weird trail of dry footprints among the darker mud.

The mud then drys and leaves the ground with rock hard indentations and tire and track marks. Great for busting your ankle on. Rain leaves the earth here scarred and torn.

little time to update now. Poems to put up, but no time to get on the internet.

My best to all who read, have some dark chocolate for me!

Monday, March 10, 2008

World Without Color...

As generations of soldiers have done, I sat in the back of a truck yesterday looking out the open back.
Something about sitting in the dark, looking over the helmets of the soldiers, seeing the world pass by you, watching the retaining strap flex as the vehicle jarrs along. It makes one feel a commonality with the truck and the people in it. We all ride silently, looking at the blown up dirt.

The place where I am now has no color. Dust envelops and drowns everything. Concertina wire, vehicles, uniforms, faces, everything becomes the color of the dust and blends in with the ground.

I remember seeing pictures of the astronauts on the moon and everything was a harshly sunlit grey moonscpape aginst the infinite black of space.

Sky and ground are one here. The earth and sky are blended into one, and there is no sunlit terrain today. The couds makes everything obscure. It is like seeing things in a faint black and white tv, but you are watching it through an old dust covered mirror.

Perhaps not the best description...but things are completly washed out and blank.

I'm doing ok...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Listening to Birds...Poem for Today

Soldiers stand guard, and burn wood in old 55 gallon drums with holes punched in the side...
They get the wood from used pallets. The flames reflect off their faces at night, turning their faces orange, and enhancing the blackness that pours around them like honey. The smoke from the drums rises and mixes with the dust and mist.

There are some small sparrows that live in the cracks of the buildings near where I am. They twirl and skim across the hard ground, which is almost the same color as they are. They seem to be like friendly sprites, singing and bouncing their way between the sky and ground. I smiled to see them, and I wrote about them.

Just Looking at Birds

Tiny brown sparrows,
Same color as the ground,
A nothing color, like they are made from earth.

Flitting, dancing, posing,
Skimming like a crazy swarm of bad baby-angels,
Over dust and trash.

I scan around quickly.
Left, right, up, down.
Perimeter cleared…
Then I look at them.

They must be happy,
Like little imps,
Bringing back memories,
Of childhood and smiles and laughing eyes,

So alive,
I can’t find any pain in them,

They are way too fast for me to touch,
But all I want is to feel their life,
Collect some joy that is in them.

Right now, I feel like I never loved anything more.

February 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

14 looking like 10, going on 40...

I haven't talked about what I do here...Perhaps sometimes I don't feel like I do a lot, but perhaps that is not ours to say.

This evening a group of children were brought in to the hospital by ambulance. Mixed ages, one kid looked like he was about two, the others were perhaps up to 14 years old. Some awful injuries. I don't know the story, maybe playing in a field, apparently some mortars landed on them and a house nearby. My very qualified colleagues took the serious patients, and I worked on a young child. He was scrawny, dark eyes, black dusty hair. Quiet, observant. Dried blood caking and cracking on his hands.

He had a large ragged wound on his forearm, and the mid-shaft of his ulna was smashed and splintered per our x-ray. He was quiet and pensive. He spoke some English too. I try to stroke his hair, tell him he will be fine. He didn't grimace or complain when we took blood from him.

With all the other trauma going on in the emergency room I try to stand in front of him and block his view from everything else. I ask him about soccer and what he likes to do. But he is nauseated from the morphine and glum.

Our surgeon took him to the operating room later. The child said he was 14, but he was not like the huge kids we have back in the States. ...He was as light as a feather, and looked more like he was ten or even eight years old. My medical colleagues are wonderful, so professional and skilled. I pale in comparison to them, so I just try to do what I can.

I am hoping the child will forget what he was seeing around him. The detritus of the ER, bandages, blood stained gauze, blankets on the floor, CPR being performed on a patient on one side of him. Staff all mingling and blending into a whirl of activity and purposeful action.

Peace is my wish for him. He seems strong, older than his years. He looks a bit like me, but he is more handsome of course! I wish my stupid smiling at him could actually make him better.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentines Day from the Battlefield....Poem for Today.

Tried to make a special attempt to get on the web today. Happy valentines Day to all. I wish everyone the joy that comes from being loved and able to love. It is a wonderful, powerful and amazing feeling. I wish those of you that have it may know it always, and those without may have strength and contentment till they find it .

I Guess I don't have it...or I lost it, or whatever. Not a cheerful poem today. It's just what I want to put up...

My Brotherhood with the Animals

There is a bone thin and pale street dog near here.
The children throw stones at it,
- Yesterday they gave it food.

It stands today on bent legs,
Trying to make itself very small,
It takes the acute sting of pebbles on its flanks.

Anemic brown and colorless.
Turning in low spirals to spread the pain.
It is lost too and whimpering.

I think, if the children offer it food,
It will come back again tomorrow.

I hate it…the way it craves food like love.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Global Conflict...

I have seen soldiers and police from several countries here in Iraq. Then there are the non-US contractors who are from Eastern Europe, South and South East Asia, and Africa. Most of the staff have menial jobs and try to minimize their presence, and be as unobtrusive as possible. Then of course, our own US personnel are a diverse bunch of ethnicities and upbringing. Soldiers may be from anywhere from Rhode Island to Samoa.

This mix of people makes me think of this as a World War, and to a great extent it is being fought on a global scale.
I do feel a responsibility to represent the US positively to any foreign person I meet.

I was briefly stationed in Italy a couple of years ago. I made good vibes with the local host nation staff. I was just interested and respectful of the culture and language. I will never forget when I was jokingly asked by one of the Italian staff "Are you sure you are in the Army? You don't act like an American?" (Even though they saw me in my uniform each day.) Well, I guess I took that as a compliment! I hope what they meant was that I was very open and warm to the staff, and courteous and respectful, and always acted in a humble way. It was their country, no matter if we were on a US base.

If one of the foreign civilian contractors can go home and say to their families and friends , "The US military were respectful, enthusiastic and optimistic. They are good guys and girls." We win another little battle, and it is the right thing to do.

Friday, February 8, 2008

For My Brothers and Sisters in Arms...

Can’t Get Colder...

This evening’s dust and mist,
Makes our floodlight beams seem like solid bars,
Everything is like I have dusty yellow lenses in my eyes.

The lights and swirling of air don’t seem friendly tonight.
Glum figures pass me, head down, walking fast,
Skimming over lit up dirt –crazy with shadows,

They are a nothing shade of granular grey, and silent,
Like purgatory ghosts who don’t care.
Moist fog slits through my uniform,
Clammy hands stuffed in pockets.

Everyone pulls their body in,
Quiet, all thoughts turned inward.
Shriveled into nuggets of men.

Soon, I stop fighting the cold and let myself shake,
With eyes closed very hard.

Checking always checking…

I reach down to feel the industrial steel,
Of Government Issued weapons,
Contracted to someone…somewhere
For use by us…in some place.

Touching the wet metal,
It reaches back for me,
Surprising me, like I suddenly woke up alone,
Not knowing where I slept.

I try to forget who I am,
And the night starts to feel much colder.

February 2008

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hersheys and Apaches...and banality

I was munching on a Hershey bar yesterday...with almonds too. It was a bit dry and tasteless like old chocolate can get sometimes. Anyway, I could have been walking in the dirt back home. Next thing, I hear a sharp whine and look up to see two Army attack helicopters knifing through the sky maybe less than 100 feet above me. I looked up to see the sharks teeth painted on one of them...Yeah...I'm sure as hell not home.

The power and capability of our nation fills me with awe sometime. I guess perhaps it can leave the individual feeling like a tiny tooth on a small gear in a large machine in some some vast engine.
But I suppose we all have our role to play.

Beautiful evening tonight, mild, sunny and I also don't feel too bad. I am circumspective, if that's a word, but not too bad.

I know that most of what I write here is pretty banal and day to day stuff, but I don;t want to say a whole lot about the places I am for security reasons...mainly cause they tell us not to, and it is the right thing to do...I think there is enough day to day stuff to write anyway.

Been working on a poem...put it up tomorrow I hope.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Concrete, concrete everywhere...

My compound is surrounded by a series of high, maze like concrete blast walls which are laid in segments. Along with these are shorter concrete barriers, like you see on the interstate back home, that serve to divide lanes during construction. They add a bleak industrial look to things, and this evening I had a run in with a short barrier, which I lost...

It is amazing how invisible these dull grey obstacles are at night, and I crashed square into one that resulted in me almost tumbling over the other side, just like in a cartoon. The wierd thing was, I walked right into it while my eyes were open and I was looking straight ahead! UGGGHH... I doubled over the barrier and thought for a moment I had broken a rib, especially since I felt so winded...If I had seen myself I would have laughed my ass off.

Almost wished I had my armor on. On my home to my tent (just got to a new camp today), I almost sliced my nose off with the cable stay for for the entry flap ....

I think I will just stay in at night...I was planning to take a shower, but at the rate I am going I would slip and break a leg.

Coming to a new place is always tough. I was getting pretty comfortable at the previous camp, so now it becomes a function of relearning the system and location of things here...Today, I thought of Charlie Sheen's words from Platoon when he comments about being in Vietnam, " I think I made a big mistake coming here."

Just thought it, I don't know. Perhaps I will look at things differently in the daylight.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Chuck Norris Lives in the Latrine

Ok, not really...But from the graffiti I read in the portable plastic boxes we all know so well, he has assumed the mythic stature of a Norse God of yore...For example, one scribe intoned n the wall of our latrine..."Chuck Norris doesn't do pushups, the earth does push ups on him"

That is just one of the many diatribes exalting his strength, virility and stamina. I mean, to read this thing Superman would be quavering in his little red boots if he had to do battle against the Chuckster. Someof the comments can really bring a dose of hilarity. Of course other comments are not printable, and BTW we also have some great artists here too.

It's early morning, cool, breezy. Waiting for breakfast...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Poem for today

Was speaking to a guy in my tent and he gave me an idea, for a poem I had been thinking about. I partly wrote this on the way to the chow hall, and finished the rest over a sandwich. Perhaps a pensive poem....usual subject matter...Make it be whatever you want...

A Place to Learn Forgetting

On the edge of another beginning,
Trying to forget you in this place.
Believing this is where I can fix my mind,
Making it like you never were.

There is no sound here except what men have made,
Gurgling throats of generators,
Fast heartbeats of slick black rotors.

Not a bird’s asking voice,
Or that mystic rolling sound of wind,
Rushing along on its own highway at the top of Georgia pines.

The soldiers’ sleeping noises,
A tired, night time choir.
It is like heavy fluid,
Pouring around my home of wood and plastic and canvas,
Covering me.

You’re still in my head.
But, I think that this place must be the cure.

January 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cold in the Desert

Transportaion of people and equipment is a huge task, and although the Army has a good handle on it, invariably there are delays, down time and lack of sleep. One thing any service member may know is the chaffng and mild swelling of hands that comes from lifting rucksacks and dufflebags and equipment. I guess my civillian hands were too soft, and now they are somewhat cracked and coarse from lugging around bags and gear. Reaching deep down into a duffle bags also scrapes the hands against the abrasive surface of the material. It is a feeling I had forgotten.

I am in the middle east. It is cold, and the sky is a dull slate grey. It completely blends with the desert, so it seems that there is no horizon, and land and sky are one.. The desert stretches out as far as you can see. If you have looked at the ocean and seen it disappear into the horizon, it is the same with the land desert. Just flat and scrub. The morning yesterday had a terrible clinging and penetrating fog from which there was no relief and the wind blows constantly.

Moving on from this location soon.

Didn't expect this amount of cold. It is a cold penetrating fog in the morning and evening. The yellow glow of overhead lights makes the compound look surreal.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Armed and Dangerous...But Friendly !

Training continues, but with a different flavor...After being issued weapons and body armor, I carry my weapon everywhere. If an external observer had seen us over the last few days we would have appeared as nothing more than a bunch of people engaged on some traing course. To see us now, the observer might raise an eyebrow as we eat meals, exercise, watch movies, write email with our weapons at our sides.

Our weapons offer feeble protection agains blasts or snipers, but they are part of what we do, so I suppose one takes comfort in being armed. Finally got some decent sleep last night...

Yesterday, one of the civillains on the bus said to me "You don't seem sad to be here." I guess I must have been smiliing at something...But it made me realize how important it is to try to maintain a good attitude, and make others feel better too.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Breakfast in America...

In certain settings we all resort to a particular personae, and now that I am back on full time active duty, I have moved into a different and more optimistic mindset than I usually have. I also had my good old standard Army breakfast of eggs, grits, coffee and brown bread. I love grits, and we just don't get them enough up north! I guess I could have this particular breakfast anytime, but I save such simple pleasures for my Army life. Anyway, it is much easier to have a standard breakfast, because there is always eggs and coffee, except with MRE's of course. Perhaps it is just part of taking on a different character that comes with wearing the colors.

I feel comfortable to be back in uniform. The myriad acronyms, the customs, the talk, even the coarseness of my wool sweater, and the harsh brush of the velcro on my uniform reminds me of working for something above myself.
BTW, my arm throbs from my vaccination today...guess that reminds me I am back in the Army too!

"they gotta' have 'em in Texas, cuz everyone's a millionaire."

Army Friends

Ahhh...back at Fort Benning...

Brings back memories of my last deployment from here. I met some great people on that tour...I often think of them, especially now that I am here again. One thing about the service is the continual forming of close and intense friendships for a short period of time, and then the bittersweet parting as each person moves back to their duty station or goes back home. I guess with the internet etc. It is easier to communicate and keep up with them now...
I was going to write that making new companions and then parting from them takes a little away from me each time, but I think that it may be very selfish to say that. I should ponder on the things that the people have added to my life. It does not do them justice to say that they have placed a toll on me. Their companionship provided me with something good and hopeful, and that is something that should be remembered too.

The way life is so transient now it seems that our friends often become our family. Certainly they know more about us in many ways than our parents!

As for the CRC...plenty of paperwork, lots of good briefings too. It is the same and also completely different from last time. I'm not really willing to post much about the training because of security etc.

Anyway, one thing I can say is that it is very cold here!

I listened to U2's song "Beautiful Day" this morning in the airport.
There is a line there I often say to myself "What you don't have, you don't need it now."
We should live this day for today.

Saturday, January 19, 2008 in the lounge!

Yeah, ain't it great sitting in the airline lounge?!
The Delta Crown Room at Newark is a real oasis.

I sit here pondering my deployment as I get ready to head down to the CRC (CONUS Replacement Center) at Fort Benning, Georgia - and ship out from there to Iraq.
Alas and to Atlanta are canceled because of weather, and so back to the starting point and do this all again tomorrow.

When a person is mobilized, there is process of disengagement...I quietly go around detaching from people and things as I build my personal defense mechanisms to deal with being away. Of course, the people left behind do the same thing too... So naturally, saying goodbye is not something you want to do twice!

The thing about the Army is that if you know you are going to miss duty there is a compelling desire to tell all and sundry that you can't make it. In my case, there is no way to get to Atlanta, but the first thing I did was notify the CRC. Almost like telling a parent that you are going to be delayed coming home from the movies. I guess it's the legality of it all...But, there is a strange sense of comfort in checking in too. perhaps it is that one has someone that cares where I am and why I am not there
Of course with my regular civilian job I would tell them I would be delayed also, but somehow if I didn't all would be well.

As I start this blog I guess I better put up a poem too...Something about love, or losing it or whatever...

Dancing This Life

Dancing this life with damaged women,
It is my own dry emptiness that drags me to them…
Flailing like a floundering lifeguard,
Needing my own rescue,
As much as seeking theirs.

If only I could really encompass them-
Staying permanently lost,
In a tiny patch of freckled skin,
Behind my lover’s ear.

There would be no thinking then.
Only laying with her, quietly entwined,
With my lips to her ear,
Breathing into her mind,
Just letting her sleep.

June 2007