Just heard that yet another soldier on my friend's list, Thomas Strickland aka rev_wayfarer, died in Iraq earlier this month in an accident.
Thomas was a gifted writer and poet, and had a way with words...
"Humanity, I think, is what fills the little gaps between all the broken shit, all the breaking, and all the plans, schematics, graphics and orders. Its the sand slipping out of grasping fingers. Its our instinct without progress as a motivator. It's who we are when we concentrate on being more than doing."
"I spent about two hours cleaning and inspecting my three main weapon systems, a M2 HB .50cal machinegun, a M-4 carbine, and an M-9 pistol so that I may face the enemies you all have placed me in proximity of . . . All this scares the shit out of me. I've never been shot at...or blown up...or done the shooting and blowing up. And i want you to know that I'm disappointed that you have sent me here. Thanks. But not really. I'm not the first trooper you've sent to do your dirty work . . . I'm trying to calm my hands, shaking all palsy-like. And so i clean. I prepare. I shower. I write. I'll meditate. Any suggestions? No, I can't go to the driving range. I don't think I'm the first soldier to be nervously twitchy about doing what I've agreed to do. And I hope it doesn't stop really. And I hope there are others like me. And I hope you understand that war needs people like me...who can't dehumanize your enemy. I hope you want me here. But not really."
That makes him and Mike Smith (wolfmoon98) and Adam Estep (adeptus13).
One of my friends in Iraq said that after a while, having people you know die over there gets easier. For me, it just seems that much more tragic. Sometimes I feel like I could go hoarse from saying how f'ed up this whole conflict is, and yet I do want to try to somehow stay at least somewhat reasoned and objective. It's not easy. Just suffice it to say that such objectivity gets harder, not easier, and no, having people I get to know online die over there isn't getting any easier either.
Thomas wrote this poem, which is on his userinfo page:
Hail hail the dusky crow!
Sweeping silhouetted across the noonday sun,
Happy unfortunate shadow rolls
Looking eastward and inverted
in unkempt homeless ambition
"Liberty": its lamed-hoarse holler
Give us misdirection
Perched upon your dinted lamppost
Speak more of shame
to hobbled monuments
and decayed halberdiers.
Speak me Liberty once more.
In tear drop-tattoos
Let us wounded march
to your tune.
Speak me death.
O black-winged foe!
Blow, breath carried death, blow!
Woe to those beneath your
and wide smiling face;
A Sahara-sun of blistering eyes
and teeth flashing kindness,
ashing wetness with heat emanation.
and lost surface tension
and back pulling evaporation puddle,
lips baring gums and teeth,
on soaking sand sponge,
Your bright smile
warms the flapping butterfly flock
in shock and struggling
orangy golden brown speckled
in the wet-spattered crust.
Give me Liberty if you must,
Give me Liberty
make me dust.