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Emancipation

I see into eyes of darkness
Though kindled into light
By a touch of silent sweetness
Felt through the shivering night

When time had felt so desolate
And pain became your constant friend
This song sings out to your open heart
To ignite but not condem

If at times you thought of hate
And life had nothing to give
It is a night like this tonight
Your dying soul begins to live

Warzone

Listen:
Wouldn’t it be grand
If I could get away
Get away from here
Spread my wings of gladness
Of every love I’ve felt
I’ve had
Of people, places, events
Still-shot in the frame of my life
My mind
Lift off on every hardship
The sadness and the pain
Heart-break
That somehow made me stronger
But only in retrospect
At the time I thought would break me
Break me down to nothing
And sail on future hopes and dreams
The promise of tomorrow
Of something more than just
The change in my pockets (with holes)
The boots on my feet
The M-16 in my hands

Old Friends

You text me from out the blue, and at first
I don’t know who you are
I pretend
Say a couple stock phrases
Hoping your answers will illume your identity

We note after some generic comments, about the weather
The same shit
The different day
Its been three years
Its been four years, you correct me

Ah yes, so long
Back when we learned to drive truck
For Uncle Sam
Back then
Months before being sent to war

You wished we had crossed paths in Iraq
I’m secretly glad we didn’t
I couldn’t handle the fact you weren’t
Ever
Going to be mine

But it’s four years later
And you’re single these days
I remember my joy
Our spontaneous kiss
While the Steelers won the Super Bowl
Yes, it’s all coming back

And I wonder, as I often do about myself in moments past
If I could have waited as patiently all this time had I known
When I watched you walk away at San Jose airport, thinking
“I will never see you again”
That some day, some random January day,
In 2013
We might finish what we started

All those years ago.

Restless

I wonder:
In those first couple seconds after the
First event horizon
As particles cooled and gathered, if they sensed
What I feel late at night, tossing
That inherent drive leading us
Through deep space and time
To become that which never could have been predicted
At the start

Book: The Commander (a working chapter)

The boy trembled as the guards led him down the dark hall to their commander’s bunker. From fear or cold, he couldn’t say. Certainly the dampness that had seeped into his very bone marrow since the final strike all those months ago contributed, but he was loathe to think about that just now. He had more pressing matters. “It is urgent that you get this to our friends as quickly as possible,” his father told him, days (or was it weeks, months?) ago. His father’s final words. A plea.

One guard rapped sharply on the wooden, makeshift door.

“Come in,” she said, and they all entered.

“Jefferson’s son has arrived with this month’s shipment of food. We got a watermelon…”

Though tinged with pain from the knowledge of the death of her old, dear friend, she faintly smiled at her confederate. He remembered.

“But the boy also wanted to give you something. In person, privately.”

As the guard said this the boy stepped from around the tall soldier, shyly, not sure what to do with his hands, feet. He shuffled around, fumbling with his shirt hem. Surprised, the commander stood slowly, mouth open.

“Of course……leave us.”

The guards left, and the two stood in silence. The boy’s eyes darted around the room, noticing the old maps, rifles, and other military paraphernalia, the dust falling from the ceiling as some large truck rolled by on the street above their heads. He seemed nervous to meet the commander’s eyes, though she evenly surveyed him, curious, pained.

Finally he looked at her. He might have thought she was beautiful, if he knew what beauty was, but instead he merely presented a small, slip of paper. She received it slowly. Without opening it or even taking her eyes from the child, she asked him, “What does it say?”

“I don’t know, I can’t read.”

The commander bowled over imperceptibly, as if the slightest kick had hit her square in the chest.

“Would you like me to read it to you?”

“NO,” the boy shouted quickly, loudly. Nervously.

The commander cocked her head to one side, searching, still not taking her eyes from him.

“No…I…I don’t want to know what it says. Not until I’ve finished delivering it to everybody. Father…my dad…he said everyone along the trade route needed to know…and…I have to do this quickly…or…I don’t know. I don’t want to know until the last person knows…”

The boy seemed ashamed of this, but the commander smiled warmly. She understood such hopes, fears.

“Uh…so…that’s it. I…well….see ya later.”

The boy turned back and forth several times, uncertain, finally deciding on a poorly executed salute. The commander stood straight, lock step, returned his salute with a quick, perfect one of her own. The boy scrambled to the door and tried unsuccessfully several times to grip the handle. The guard opened it from the other side, meeting the commander’s eyes before closing the door, his hand on the boy’s back. They gave each other the briefest of nods.

Once alone, the commander sat back down, the slip of paper still folded in front of her. She stared at it for some minutes and then slowly opened the message. She read and reread the single line over and over. Placing her head in her hands, she stared at it for a long, long while. Until finally, as if holding her breath the entire time, her whole body collapsed around a sigh. Closing her eyes, a single teardrop escaping.