The Air Force shaved our heads, was it because of the heat of a San Antonio summer or that we’ll all look equally like fools, and easier for Sarge to maintain unit cohesiveness in his rag tag band of semi-successful Army avoiders.
Now we all wear masks and assume we all look equally foolish, knowing the virus cares nothing for cohesiveness, and normal is insignia only to dreams and at times life is shit on a shingle now.
We want our childhoods back, before the war, before the barracks and bad food, before expectations, and those few imposed could be ignored at minimal parental retribution, we want what never really existed, it is our right.
We marched and sang “Suicide is Painless”, never believed it for a moment, but now we consider it in passing as we walk down the shortening pier into the ocean of darkness.
First published in Circumference, Issue 4, June 2021
When you ask me of the sea, living, as I do, fifteen miles from the nearest ocean, it is not the sandy beaches of Hutchinson Island I recall, nor the crowded sandbox that is Fort Lauderdale’s beach.
If you ask me of the sea, it is perched on the horizon, far in the distance, looking out of the kitchen window, or perhaps that of the library, over the yard, with its deflated soccer ball, the fence, and finally to the Irish Sea, cloud shrouded at the horizon.
This is what Lloyd George saw each day, so it is little wonder eschewed burial in London or even England for this hidden estate in his beloved Ty Newydd in Wales.
First published in Dreich, Issue 10, Autumn 2020 (Scotland)
If you walk into the room and many are meditating how will you know which is the teacher, which the students?
If one sits on a higher platform will you assume him teacher and ask the depth of his Zen. If he comes down to you and says he has no depth to offer do not think him a fool. When you sit at the bottom of the ocean and look down the water beneath you is shallow but the surface of the sea cannot be seen.
There was nothing he liked more than wandering along the shore early in the morning, before the rakes and people arrived, just to see what the night had washed in on the now departed high tide. There would be shells of course, but rarely one he didn’t have already in profusion, and the occasional jellyfish which he would flag for the lifeguards to remove later. He always hoped for a bottle with a message in it, from some far off place, or containing a cry for help, but all he had found were plastic soda bottles, a few he was surprised to see, with labels in Portuguese, from Brazil, he imagined, until it became clear from the other trash, that they were from a ship jettisoning garbage into the ocean he called mother.
He feels like a rock cast into a river partially rising above the water now forced to flow around him. It pulls at him, seems to say you belong in the sea, let us carry you there, but he can no longer move and knows he will meet the ocean in bits pulled off by the jetsam of other people’s lives as it flows past him on this leg of its endless journey.