Whirlwind Magazine Staff Founder Lamont B. Steptoe Editor Sean W. Lynch Art Director Melissa Rothman Outreach Coordinator Courtney Gambrell Assistant Editor Tiara DeGuzman Acknowledgements A special thanks to Larry Robin and the Moonstone Arts Center for sponsoring this publication. Lisa Van Wormer’s “Roll Call” previously appeared in Baltimore Fishbowl. Carol Barrett’s “Skating with Our Daughter on Veteran’s Day” appeared in her book Calling in the Bones (Ashland Poetry Press, 2005). A warm thanks to all of our supporters who helped fund the printing of this issue, and, of course, to all of our readers. We’re also grateful to Robert Zell and The Pen and Pencil Club for hosting our launch parties. Lamont B, Steptoe’s “American Literature” appeared in Big Hammer and Outlaw Poetry. His poems “Spider Holes” and “Who Survived?” were first published in the American Award winning book A Long Movie of Shadows. Steptoe’s “Debriefing” made its debut in his book Oracular Rumblings and Stiltwalking. Lamont B. Steptoe would like to dedicate these poems to Delacruz, a fellow Vietnam Veteran who is currently suffering from liver failure. Cover Art by Hayden P. Van Wormer First Printing Copyright © 2015 by Whirlwind Magazine All rights reserved to the authors. No individual poem or artwork may be reproduced in any form without the author’s permission. All inquiries should be addressed to: email@example.com Printed in Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A. Submit to Whirlwind! Send up to three poems, one 2,500 word short story or creative non-fiction piece in the body of the email to the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org Send artwork and/or photography in full size 300dpi, JPEG, or psd format to email@example.com
Letter From the Editor Dear reader, I am proud yet humbled to present to you these works created by humans who have faced death. Welcome to our fourth issue, which features poems, stories, memoirs, art, and photography depicting war and life viewed through the eyes of veterans and civilians alike. Through this issue, we hope to fight for awareness and treatment of mental illness, especially for our veterans, all the while striving for non-violence and mutual co-operation and compassion in order to solve humanity’s problems. We have Vietnam veteran Preston Hood to thank for this issue, as he suggested the idea to me when we first met at a Moonstone Arts poetry reading in December of 2014. How remarkable is it, that in the year 2015 we can still hear the voices of those who’ve experienced World War 2? 90 year old Hal O’Leary, a West Virginia native and veteran of the Allied campaign against the Nazis in Western Europe, wrote an enduring and reflective memoir piece that we have the honor of sharing with you in this issue. Other highlights from veterans in this issue: 1950’s Army vet Alex Marshall imagines the view of an ancient Chinese soldier from his Meditation Tao series of poems, Iraq War vet Alecc Costanzi emits a pungent warning in his poetry, Jon Turner, another veteran of the war in Iraq, shows us a glimpse of the “enemy’s” perspective, Doug D’Elia, who was a medic in Vietnam, shares with us the difficulty of reassuring a dying soldier, Lisa Van Wormer, an Iraq War veteran, accomplishes the near-impossible task of expressing the sorrow and bonding that occurs after a fellow soldier’s death, in second person mind you, Jay Dardes, a Vietnam vet, describes an encounter between a vet with ptsd and a therapist, and James Smith, a veteran of the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam, gives us an outstanding and at times humorous look at the hypocrisy of those who say they support our troops, yet are not sincere. In our most important issue yet, Whirlwind Magazine seeks an understanding between civilians and veterans. We not only want to show our appreciation to veterans who’ve contributed to our past issues, such as Peter Mahoney and Lamont Steptoe, but we’d like to dedicate our lives to remembering the people who have been killed because of war throughout history. This issue is especially dedicated to Preston Hood’s late son, Arrick Hood.
A Note From the Assistant Editor Even after 9/11, it is still easy for us to imagine that war and violence is something that Americans do not encounter, primarily because we do not have to deal with this kind of violence daily. However, this issue speaks of the pain and trauma that our war vets and the people who love them experience. My wish is that you will allow these poems and stories to make you think.
Table of Contents 1. “Sentry” 2. “Noise” 3. “195 Days” 5. “For Cathie and Gracie” 6. “Delay in Route” 9. “Blood on the Street” “Sweet Dreams” 10. “A Letter to my Brother” 12. “Legacy” 13. “Occupational Lies” 14. “The Forever War” 15. “Skating with our Daughter…” 16. “Roll Call” 17. “VA” 18. “Veterans’ Banquet 19. “Corrupt Eden” “Old Loneliness” 21. “Judoka” 22. “An Unlikely Friendship” 25. “American Literature” “Spider Holes” 26. From “Uncle’s South China Sea...” 27. “Debriefing” “Who Survived” 28. “Rung Sat” 30. “Hazy Light” 31. “Wishful Thinking” “What Saves Me” “To Shadow”
Alexander Marshall L.D. Charles O’Hay Jaz Howard Winn Mara Buck Alecc Costanzi Shokry Eldaly Jon Turner Doug D’Elia Carol Barrett Lisa Van Wormer Jay Dardes James E. Smith Harika Kottakota Lana Bella Gonzalinho da Costa Hal O’Leary Lamont B. Steptoe
Alexander Marshall You cannot see. Listen. Has the general given you a warm coat? Warm boots? Does the food he gives fill your belly? Then he is not a good general. Take energy from the Earth. Release fire arrows! Hurl pots of flaming oil! No. Tell the captain what you have seen, what you have heard. He may tell you to go out silently, to take a closer look.
Resource Center at Friends Hospital For twenty years, Consultation, Information & Referrals on matters pertaining to Mental Health. In the Scattergood Building, Friends Hospital, 4641 Roosevelt Roosevelt Boulevard Philadelphia PA, 19124 214 831 4894 A Free Service. Volunteers Wanted 1
I’ve heard the till clang bash back in receiving some bill it sounds like a revolver I’ve heard the ibis swallow the blown dike leaving water dust-mixed undrinkable it sounds like a revolver I’ve seen healthy mothers throw rucksack children bone-like to traffic it sounds like a bomb I’ve seen fleshy throngs of young fathers tattooing their lost teeth w/ brown and black
it sounds like a fire I’ve smelled the ache of retching death come pouring over my pages tick-typing vitriol like an alcoholic it sounds like a fire I’ve tasted the limits of poverty horn raised and shackle bound it sounds like a birth I’ve tasted wind chill across a broken nose and drunk blood w/ women who reel wild to laugh it sounds – and I try to listen
it sounds like a bomb I’ve touched the mound of flesh w/ gnarled fingers it sounds like a mob I’ve touched the klap-hand strife w/ music and sung deaf to the single note that rings it sounds like a mob I’ve smelled you in the doorway as you bray loose a tipsy toast to the mothlight
Headline: “Body Recovered from Seoul Ferry Wreck after 6 Months” Charlie O’Hay
I banged the walls till my knuckles bled. Nobody heard. The water came in so fast, like a winning team returning to its locker room. The lights went out and the world spun upside down. I held my breath the way I’d seen swimmers do. Then nothing. Every day since then has been night. The water is greener than we think. As children we draw water blue. From here I watch my own children asleep in their beds, see their drawings on the wall. Blue skies and white birds. An orange giraffe. In their dreams is an empty shape where I should be. Water flows around it like a river stone, an old fishing lure, or a pistol tossed away in haste. When they find me they will put me on a metal table under a bright lamp where a doctor will decide what to say when his own daughter asks what color death is.
“When the Cold Comes” Melissa Rothman
For Cathie & Gracie Jaz
2 doves, determined, crash into each other beak and breast making a “thud!” that all of nature feels Their contemporariesgreat and small gather (like when each one knows when the other is in trouble) The loudest silence falls Even sea creatures halt with bated breath And I watch a fox and wolf peer with sly grins, revel in the birds’ impending demise (they always were jealous of their flight) A mix of feathers and blood lie in a heap disheveled on the floor of the earth Necks askew One bird lingers She dreams to grace the brilliant blue once more As the gleam in her eye slowly fades with the memory of her former glory This is the last thing that I see.
DELAY IN ROUTE by Howard Winn
It was a green and lush Spring. It was 1945. The war seemed like it had always been part of his young life. Since 1939 and then 1941. Getting closer and closer. Forever when you are in your teens. Now it had caught up with him. “Travel orders,” said the MP, holding out one hand. The young soldier pulled them from the inside pocket of his olive drab Eisenhower jacket and handed them up from his seat. The MP looked them through. His companion MP read over this shoulder. The two looked at each other. “Probably going to get you into Salt Lake City about eight hours late. Going on to Kearns?” the first MP asked. “Military bus pick-up, I guess,” answered the young soldier. “They take you out to the Repple Depple, I was told.” “Okay,” said the talkative MP. “Tell ‘em late trains, missed connections. After all, it’s war time. It’ll be okay. You should have started earlier, you know, but hard to leave home on these delay-in-route orders. Happens lots of time. Eight hours ain’t exactly AWOL you know. Good luck, soldier.” The two MPs moved on down the railroad car, toward other men in uniform. He knew he would be late when he started, but his mother and father wanted him home as long as
possible, he had arranged to take a girl to the movies on his last night. That was self-indulgent, he knew. He could also tell himself, and it would be true, that he was afraid his father would have another panic attack, thinking he was having some kind of heart problem. Watching the younger son, only eighteen, leave for the overseas replacement depot outside Salt Lake City, was not easy for either of them, but his father seemed the most affected. Odd thing it was his father, not his mother, the young soldier thought. Maybe it was because only about twenty years earlier, his father had gone off, leaving a young wife, and a child at home, to serve in World War One. That child had been his older brother, also now serving in the Army Air Corps, cushy job as a supply sergeant in Atlantic City with a wife and daughter and an off-base apartment with his in-laws. “The war to end all wars,” his father had said. “What a load of nonsense they sold us back then, and I voted for that blasted southerner, Wilson. It was all about empires, Africa, the far east, India.” “Oh, Albert, he was all right,” his mother had protested. “There have been a lot worse since. Think of Coolidge, or Hoover, and that Harding was a crook.” “Right out of high school, yet. I knew I should have paid off that Frank Trumble,
two-bit lawyer in town. Look what he did for the Cavanaugh kid.” His father was not to be diverted from his rant. “Oh, Albert, there you go again,” his mother had said. “Well, get the Cavanaugh family to buy a bunch of sheep from someone he knew up in Columbia Country and put them out to pasture on their golf driving range as though it were some kind of farm, and then Trumble gives the kid, one that went to Sunday School with Ted here, a farmer’s exemption. What do you call that, but a kind of buying preference. Wonder if the sheep herder gave Trumble a kick-back.” “Legal, I am sure,” his mother had said. ‘Frank is a lawyer, after all.” “Big difference in being legal and being ethical,” his father had returned. And the young soldier had just wished all that talk would go away, and he would leave for the oversea replacement depot and get on with it, whatever it was to be. He had finished all the appropriate air force schools in G. E. and Sperry computer gun and bomb sights, so get to the next step with the Twentieth Air Force in the Pacific. He knew that would be it. The MPs had moved on from his car and he settled back in the seat. He was sharing it with a young mother who was anxiously watching the seat facing them where her young
husband was sitting with a child on his lap, a little girl of about four. Next to him in their seat was a cloth covered cello that he was protecting as much as he was his child. Perhaps more. “I’ll take Molly,” the young mother said. “Okay, for a while,” said her husband, handing over the child. “Got to keep protecting the cello. Too bad we could not put it in the baggage car, but that would wreck it, I am afraid.” The young soldier had seen the couple and their child, who was obviously tired and fussy, waiting with other civilians in the train station in Chicago. Military personnel were put on one side of a rope barrier and civilians on the other side, because the military got to board first. He thought it was not very chivalrous to do that to the women and children, but who was he to question patriotic favoritism at such a time. After all, he was fighting, or soon would be, to preserve motherhood, apple pie, and Chevrolet or some bullshit like that. Our way of life, the slogan everywhere, came into his head, along with Lucky Strike Green has gone to war. Each hardly made any sense to him. What did, at the moment, he wondered. He had settled himself in when they must have dropped the ropes in the station and the civilians streamed aboard. The
young couple, child, and cello had appeared at the door of his car, making their way down the aisle to his seat. A sailor sitting across from him moved to another empty seat, not too many of them by then, so that the couple, child, and cello could sit together. Chivalry is not dead, the young soldier thought, although he himself had not moved. He also could not help thinking that sailors’ suits were ridiculous. He supposed he was glad he was in the Army Air Corps. A bell rang. The train began to move out of the station. The terminal walls seemed to slide backwards, as if they were moving and not the train. “Look, look,” said the little girl, pointing out the window.” The station is moving backwards. Look.” “Just an optical illusion,” the young soldier explained, without thinking. The child turned to him with a questioning look. Trapped into a conversation, the young soldier went on. “It only looks like the world is moving when it isn’t. We are moving. It all depends on where the observer is. If you were on the platform, you would see the train going past you.” All relative, he thought. Sort of Einstein-ian, maybe. Everything is positioned only in relation to something else. Connection, that was it. “Oh,” said the little girl, and the young soldier wondered if she were old enough to get it. “Hard to understand that sort of thing when you are only four,” laughed the mother. “I find it difficult
myself, not to trust what seems to be what I see.” By then the train had burst out into the sunlight and buildings rushed by at an ever increasing speed. Another train whooshed past, whistle blaring, going in the opposite direction. “Me, too,” replied the young soldier, “but I learned differently in high school physics.” “Not so long ago, I’ll bet,” said the young father. “If you will pardon me asking, but how old are you? “Eighteen,” said the young soldier, with some embarrassment at revealing his youth. “Oh, Lord,” burst out the man, “This war has become a Children’s Crusade!” “Hush, honey,” said his wife. “Where are you going, if it is not a war secret?” She had turned to her seat mate. “Well, after Utah, some place in the Pacific, although we don’t ever know really until we get there. Wouldn’t send you to Europe from the West that way. Some place where they have B29s, since that is what I work on. That’s no secret.” The young soldier shrugged. “So it will be the Pacific, and you all are going where?” “San Francisco,” put in the man, patting his cello. ”Got a string spot with the San Francisco Symphony. Drafting some of the musicians gives me an opening. New York is probably a better place, but Frisco isn’t bad. Up and coming out there in the Wild West. Pierre Monteux is the conductor and he is an innovator. ” “Oh, honey, I don’t think San Francisco is the Wild West, exactly,” his wife
put in. “Particularly with Monteux conducting. He is a serious man.” “Maybe not wild except in some of the musical choices. Anyway, the orchestra has a reputation for playing more modern music and I dig that.” The man patted his cello. “So does Rover, here.” “Rover?” asked the young soldier. “I named it that,” said his wife, “Since it is like his faithful hound, Rover. Loves it nearly as much as wife and child.” She laughed. “A man and his loyal cello can’t be separated. You can tell that by just looking at us, sitting here with a seat for Rover.” “Modern?” said the young soldier. “You mean like Stravinsky? Shostakovich? Prokofiev?” “Not just the Russians. Ives. Cowell. Schoenberg. Copeland. I love that stuff.” The cellist laughed. “So do I,” agreed the young soldier. “My mother, who plays the piano, doesn’t. Mozart. Bach. Chopin for her, but I buy records of those other guys and my mother puts up with them. Bartok, Milhaud. I would like to see San Francisco sometime. Maybe I’ll come back through there after the war. I got to see Kansas City while I was stationed at an air corps school near there. Great place with great music. Of course, it wasn’t classical that I got to listen to. Jazz and blues, mostly, although I went to a concert by Stan Kenton’s Orchestra. I guess there is a Kansas City Symphony, though. Didn’t have time to check that out.” “That’s funny,” said the young woman. “My husband
filled in on a record date back in the city, New York, that is, when we needed the cash for rent, for one of those big swing bands. Was it Stan Kenton, honey? Somebody like that.” She turned to her husband. “No. Woody Herman,” he answered. “They needed a bass player for a recording gig and I can do that as well as the cello. A one shot deal for the recording. On the other hand, I have played in theater pit orchestras when in need. Weird experience, actually, hidden down there while things you can’t see go on above on the stage. Union scale, not bad in an emergency. That Petrtillo knows how to look out for his musicians.” “Not exactly your kind of music, I guess,” said the young soldier. “How about Glenn Miller?” “No, never. Too bad about Miller, down into the Channel and never found.” ”Jerry likes all music,” said his wife. “Or nearly all music. Maybe not Guy Lombardo, or Kay Kyser, and he really does prefer the classics.” This discussion was interrupted by the little girl who began to make whimpering noises. “Potty,” she said. “Here, let me take her. You handled it in the Chicago terminal.” The young father stood up and took his daughter by the hand. “Watch the cello,” he said as the two of them inched down the aisle, past a few people sitting on luggage. The young soldier and the woman sat quietly for a few moments, looking out of the windows at the country side along the right-of-way
and fields beyond. Finally, she broke the silence. “He envies you, you know,” she said, obviously speaking of her husband. “He tried to get into one of the military band units, but couldn’t pass the physical. Besides, we were married and already had a child and I didn’t want him to go. I don’t know why I have to say so, but I know people look at him with suspicion, thinking why he isn’t fighting for his country. He would like to be you at some level.” “That’s okay with me. Not everybody has to fight.” the soldier said. “People have to do what they have to do.” He stopped for a moment, “But I would switch with him in a minute, when you come right down to it.” He turned in the seat to look at the woman. She suddenly blushed. Then the two lapsed into silence again, until the man and his daughter reappeared. “Wow, crowded,” he said as they sat down. The little girl was quiet. Her eye lids started to droop. She put her head down in her mother’s lap, her feet in the young soldier’s lap and fell asleep. Darkness began to turn the car windows into mirrors. The adults fell silent. The musician cradled his cello against his shoulder, as if it were a person sharing the seat. The young wife dozed and then she too seemed to fall deeply asleep. Her head rolled inevitably against the young soldier’s shoulder. He remained still and quiet, watching the reflections of himself, the woman and the child in the glass. He did not want to move and wake her. At
times, the mirror images were pierced by lights beyond, from the passing countryside. Farm houses, diners at crossroads, car headlights, would intrude briefly and vanish behind as the train rushed on through the night. At times, the passing lights seemed to be moving back, as had the walls of the terminal. At other times, he could destroy that illusion and feel the train and its occupants moving forward through the night. Sometimes delusion took command about the speed and direction, and sometimes it seemed as if his brain asserted itself and knew the truth of movement. Like life, he supposed. Hardly profound, he thought. What do I know at eighteen. What did he know? He imagined he could hear the opening bars of Shostakovich’s Seventh in the rhythm of the train wheels, but then it was gone. Only in his head. Not going to hear much of the music outside his mind where he was going, he thought. Nor did he know where he was going from Utah. What he did know was this singular moment, the warm pressure of the woman against his shoulder, a woman he would know only in this part of his journey, and never again, unconscious in sleep, and the weight of the child’s feet, supported by his lap, as the train and its passengers plunged into the future. Or stood still as the land speeded into the past. That would have to be enough for now.
“Through the Looking Glasses” Inna Vysman
Blood on the street Mara Buck
We lose the names. They disappear into non-memory with the softness of snow-melt. Today they are the news, the discussions at the water-coolers, the texts on millions of phones, the social media squabbles. The funeral flowers wilt and we go on until the next innocent is gunned down. We lose the names, because to retain them, to take them out and savor them, to dwell upon the pain and the suffering and the heartache is too much for us to bear. We prick our fingers on the thorns of roses, and we suck the blood unthinkingly like the vampire media whom we condemn, but like them, we eavesdrop. We lose the names. The list is long, twining like a Hydra until it clutches us too, until one of us or one of ours becomes a name fated to disappear, even as we ourselves canâ€™t breathe. Skittles and baby clothes, textbooks and wedding invitations fade as dreams, ephemera scattered upon the welcoming asphalt.
Sweet Dreams Alecc C. Costanzi
The smell of burning garbage And the putrid stench of Filth. No amount of scrubbing Could take away the taint of Corruption. Shit hole. Cesspit. The flies growing fat On human disease. The sounds of gunshots. Soft, soothing pops. Pop, pop, pop. Then a siren. A wail. A womanâ€™s voice. Warning, Warning, warning. Another battle begins While another never ends. People run, people scream, People die When the night becomes most alive.
A Letter To My Brother Shokry Eldaly
Dear Brother, You are too young to know this, But today, the revolution began. It started in El Pueblo When two began walking And others began to follow. They took it on the beach Because the soldiers hate the sand. It gets in their boots and rubs their ankles Raw. Today I ran up to a tree And carved into it A picture of you and I. They look, too much, like stick figures To recognize, but I Put the date under it So you will always be able to find it.
Then I grabbed some earth and Sprinkled it over us The way mama used to With tealeaves and cocoa. Then I took some earth and I Sprinkled it as we walked, Because our country Is a sick and dying baby Who, in this New world, has never had a chance to breathe. If this is the last you hear of me, then, I want you to do something. I want you To find the tree with Me and you and I want you to add the date.
â€œStruggleâ€? Jacqui Powell
“The Winter” Alison George
Legacy Jon Turner Look into her eyes See the stain her brother became on the wall Pink Mist is what we call it; The impact of munitions upon the human flesh Poof - - - Pink - - - Mist Stare long enough you will see her father standing there with blood upon his dishdasha holding one hand to his heart, the other to his groin. The blood is not his own- most likely from his son, or his other son, or his other sonstaining his chest with death and blood. You will see these images kept in the tiny amber irises of her well weathered eyes and see her people whose bodies have been buried beneath depleted soilsThose bodies to remain clung through time as she remembers
Occupational Lies Doug D’Elia I’m a combat medic, I patch-up people by mixing lies with morphine. Here’s the drill: First, I never let a soldier look at their wounds. Second, I distract them, ask them about their girlfriend, their favorite sports team, hunting or fishing, God and angels, anything that takes their mind off their injury. Third, and most important, I tell them I’m not going to let them die. When they have an exit wound the size of a softball, “You’re going to be fine.” Split open with intestines exposed, “You’re going to make it.” Missing limbs, blind, disfigured, “You’re not going to die.” I regret lying to those guys, and the thing is they knew I would tell them what they needed to hear and they asked anyway. They needed assurance and I was there for them. But old habits are like new wounds they heal slowly, so when my wife asks me, “Honey, do I look fat in this dress?” I take her in my arms and whisper with certainty, “You’re going to make it,” and this time I really believe it.
The Forever War Doug D’Elia The problem with war is that it doesn’t end with the enemies white flag. Nor does it end at the arrival gate of the municipal airport. And wouldn’t it be great if we could wash it off us, just step into the Jordan River and be done with it. Or if we could drink, drug, or sex it away, heaven knows we try. Instead we carry war home with us to Buffalo, Biloxi, Orlando, and every small town on the map of childhood memory where fireworks are incoming, loud noises are grenades, and kids playing at the park is the enemy celebrating. Where gravel and debris is shrapnel, potholes in the road are bomb sites and that black trash bag by the side of the interstate is a body bag awaiting transport, because no soldier is ever left behind, except the soldier by the on-ramp, with a small American flag taped to his wheelchair, holding a cardboard sign that reads, Homeless Veteran, and we look away and then rush home to our children with boxes of cereal and candy kisses before we send them off to fight in foreign countries, so we never have to suffer war on our own soil.
Skating with Our Daughter on Veteran’s Day Carol Barrett He was born from soil beneath this ice, clay red with tears, the names of tribes calling now as I watch his broken back: Winnebago, Hopi, Sioux. Witness: we broke his back in Nam, where the boys skated on mud. He could not keep them from falling. He pinned tags on their stiff toes, and sent them home. At least the bones went back. We broke his back in Nam, and before that – we broke it. I watch his stooped ghost travel this ice, racing his brothers across their backyard river, his grandfather’s black hair trailing the Mississippi. I am here to witness. At least the bones went back. Not always so: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw. Bones shipped in small white parcels to stone museums. Artifacts, we call them: leather, flint, bone. The severed hands of his fathers now in Paris, feet in Munich, ribs scattered to Rio de Janeiro and Rome. They are calling in the bones: Chinook, Cheyenne, Santee, assembling the teeth, the wrists of his people, returning the dead beneath the ice, raising them high above the snow in the rattled air of ravens so souls can rest, his grandfather, his mother, all the mothers. Smoke rises: Makah, Iroquois, Shawnee. New fires by the ice. Old bones. In the capital city the Nations weep, calling
for clavicle, hip bone, skull. Bones in the Smithsonian still haunt their graves. Federal skeletons, exempt from law: Pawnee, Delaware, Osage. There is no release. My daughter’s small bones on skates make tiny drums on the ice: Yakima, Penobscot, Creek. Her father glides toward me, back rising, long hair clinging to his face, lifts her into the net of my bones.
Roll Call Lisa Van Wormer You are about halfway through your year deployment to Iraq at this point, just enough time to make routines and gain a sense of security in the day to day. You are at a satellite site away from the majority of your unit when you hear the news. Once granted permission you are on the next convoy to travel the 40 miles down IED alley to the base that it happened at, to be there for your surviving friends—for roll call. The feeling this day at the base is far different from any other you have experienced. For one, everyone is in full battle rattle (flak vest with shields, Kevlar, slung weapon, eight 30-round magazines), even off guard duty, which was not the norm for this secluded base. Secondly, there was no milling around or open chatting—the whole base is silent and somber. You spiral up the staircase to the female barracks, you drop your gear and just witness. The soldier lost is a female and only in the privacy of their sleeping quarters the other women of the unit feel safe enough to actually feel about the situation. You hear the full story and are horrified. You hear how she was pulling duty twelve hours a day out in the cities. How she was shot at so often it stopped phasing her. Then you hear the worst part. That it was her first day off in twenty, and how she was laughing with her mom on the phone when a rocket came from across the Tigris River and turned the area she was reminiscing in to rubble. You hear the wounded wails
of the girls who rushed to her rescue and how their valorous attempts still could not save her life. You sit in grief with them, cry with them, imagine with them what suddenly could be your last moments here, and you think about the utter devastation of your mom after hearing your destruction from across the world. You take the cues from the rest and respectfully keep your distance from her cot, from her bags, from her movies, from her plush blanket, from her taped up pictures of her family, and head down the marble staircase to consider lunch and be ready for roll call. You have to take an unfamiliar path to avoid the rubble of the rockets that had hit the base the day before. The chow hall is eerily quiet. You eat as fast as possible and go outside to wait for formation. You don’t know what to expect, having only seen this sort of formation in the movies. All you know for sure is that this roll call happens anytime soldiers are lost in a unit, and it is to acknowledge the fallen soldier’s contribution to her country. It is not a mandatory formation. Soldiers line up if they think they can hold it together long enough, or they hang back in the background. You stand in the back of the formation, but can still see that in front are her boots, weapon, dog tags, and helmet. The First Sergeant calls out “Roll Call” and the formation is called and everyone around
snaps to attention and stands as still as possible in the close to 100 degree stifling heat. Every soldier in formation’s name is called out one by one, and a response of “Here Sergeant Major” is quietly called in return. Then the Sergeant Major calls out her name. The whole place is silent, even the generators seem to respect the quiet and drone softer. He calls her name a second time. Again, no response. He calls her name, her full name and rank, a third and final time. The First Sergeant steps forward and responds with her full name, her rank, and that she was killed in action the day before in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. There is a quiet sniffling pause from the group, and after a long moment the Sergeant Major responded to the accountability in the affirmative and the group is put “at ease”. You won’t remember the words the Sergeant Major uses to characterize her, her value, her contributions, and her sacrifice. You will vaguely remember his urging to never forget this member of your Army family, and how you need to pull together with the rest of your brothers and sisters in arms to grieve and continue to move forward. You wonder if he is thinking about her mother too. ***** When the deployment is over and you finally return home, you attend one final roll call formation. Everyone attends this formation, including the family of those who did not come back
from the war. It is another accountability formation that calls out the names of all of the soldiers that did not return with you. Your unit is “lucky” to still have only one name called on this day. At this formation, you notice her parents and siblings are there. Her family’s grief is the only sound you hear during the calling of her name. Her sister’s gasping, her father’s silent shoulder shaking, her brother’s quiet screaming inside his hands that are covering his face, and her mother’s strangled sobs. Well-meaning yet insufficient words are said about her bravery, about her kindness, and about her sacrifice in support of our country. While standing in formation, you think about how different this feels compared to the one about six months prior. When you are out there and horror happens, there is no relief because you are still there and really there is no time to even pause and feel because you still have to be aware and present every moment to continue trying to survive. When you finally return, you are so grateful to be home and yet the gravity that your fallen friends will never be weighs on you, and on the unit as a whole. You’ve never before been so conflicted by grief and gratitude. You let your tears fall while standing at attention in formation, and you remember your friend smiling, laughing, and know that the last chapter of her life will always be a part of this chapter of yours.
VA Jay Dardes
It’s two o’clock in the afternoon. I have already spent five hours working with patients, all of them vets with ptsd, telling me combat experiences so frightening or sad or horrifying they make me want to throw up. They tear up, go silent, close their eyes, voices shake; their stories are so difficult to put a voice to. This one is different. He is eager to talk, to get it out…again. He leans forward, his eyes never leaving mine, his voice intense as if he wants to push his memories into me so I’ll see what he saw. Even now, in his fifties, his face is boyish and his build slight and it isn’t difficult to picture the young army medic, rope around his waist, low crawling out of the dense jungle into the open to where the man is down, drawing heavy fire only to find the soldier dead. He grabs him by the legs. Too heavy for him to carry, the men pull them back with the rope. At the end of the session, he asks me, “How do you listen to this stuff all day long?” I tell him, “It’s what I do.” No need to tell him what it does to me.
Veteransâ€™ Banquet James E. Smith
While the red white and ragged flag stumbled down the floor old men in leather vests covered by exclamations lamentations sucked in their guts silently saluted, while the American Legion left them for dead they swore almighty never again will one generation of veterans abandon another until the last man breathing, while selling t-shirts advertising PTSD the disabled complained lousy compensation Democrats denied what heroes deserved Agent Orange to blame for mortality, while those who took bullets in stride swallowed rockets red lead stood before the television crew shed a tear trembled remembered their homecoming somebody spit, while corn-fed Christians sold $3,000 tickets to see the miracle heal the wounds play championship golf believe it the war is over Viet Cong love democracy love all of us, while wives threw fits about seating arrangements when sitting next to strangers eating chicken with their grubby hands who refused to pass the rolls, while the after dinner Marine said damn good job jar-headed maggots you should be proud 3,000,000 enemy dead wins the prize freedom preserved like peaches, while the best of a brave generation managed to stand on their feet cheering ovation hooray not a single one noticed I lay upon the floor still bleeding.
Corrupt Eden Harika Kottakota Acres razed, left forgotten Had bloomed into a corrupt Eden Petals of tender skin Stems of porous bone Nurtured with blood Murkier than urban atmosphere One arm there, one leg here Rooted in strata of ash Their festering now innocuous Yet, the unneeded Sun rises And if you squint enough Some tattered, white fabric Hovers like a storybook phantom Still brawling cardinal gales I never decided whether Those howls were pleas for Benediction or simply echoes
OLD LONELINESS Lana Bella My old loneliness, caught in the city light. Conked out on the tin roof of a Marlboro man sign. Whose eyes, vain in their lifeless brilliance, were quick with winks, and heavy with blank secrets. And when the autumn wind came whistling through the sleeve of loneliness, it flicked a tongue in length of miles upon the warmth of my skin, crawling into the waiting mouth. We sat, facing each other on opposite sides of the same papery thin shell. Where gold down pressed plumed wisp of recognition on lonelinessâ€™ back, along the map of its spine. Under the palms of my hands, I felt the solitary stretch of secrets and voices, one by one tearing to their chosen home of cells and sinew. Like an intimate coat of memories, scraping over the captive shadows of the dawn, the dusk, and the million flecks of tissue where no flesh dressed my bone.
Unnamed David Russell
To my father Gonzalinho da Costa Grappling for smallest advantage, Shifting weight left, right, Right, left, He tugs, pulls, jostles, Feints, hoists, Heaves,Wound-up athlete Poised to hurl, fling, explode… Coiled jumper, Drawn bow, Hidden in grass, wildcat Eyeing prey, he waits… It happens— Momentary weakness, Instant hesitation, Pause off-balance, Sliver-sized opening, door— Sudden soundless bolt, Swift glider in descent, Juggernaut runaway truck, He throws his opponent, Alarm bells yelling, Pins him down Penny-flat, Binds his arms Sheaf-tight, Gasping fish Struggling like water To hold its shape.
AN UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP Hal O’Leary The fact that returning soldiers from war are often reluctant to speak of their experiences is certainly understandable. To do so is to relive them. As a veteran of WWII, I recall a sergeant who was temporarily attached to our outfit after returning from the horrors of Guadalcanal in the Philippines at the beginning of our involvement in that war. The only thing he had to say was, “I wouldn’t take a million dollars for my experiences, but I wouldn’t go through them again for a million dollars.” I took that to mean that even to speak of the horrors he encountered, he would, in a sense, “go through them again.” While we justifiably register sorrow for the amputee, we often fail to take into account the mental anguish some veterans will carry with them for life. Yes, war is horrible. One would think there might be a better way to settle disputes. And now in the current perpetual war in which we find ourselves, the blunt warnings of John Fitzgerald Kennedy ring loud and clear. “Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.” Never has this been made more obvious than in this the age of super weapons capable of rendering the planet uninhabitable. But, if war is so horrible, why or how can the average citizen be persuaded to
enter into it with a blaze of patriotism that defies all reason. The answer, I fear, is fear. Again, the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt prophetically remind us that “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Admittedly the fear he spoke of was the fear of a declared enemy, but I maintain that a prophetic interpretation of that statement can lead us to understand that it is a fear manufactured by the few that leads us to defy reason and march in lock-step off war to a war of their making. This is the fear that we should guard against. However, mankind will find it impossible to put an end to war unless and until it can say “No” to the call. We the People, do not want war. Having personally experienced an incident in which the kinship that we have for all humanity was made paramount, I can speak with some authority. But, first, let us go back in time to World War 1 and the Christmas truce of 1914. Little publicized or spoken of for obvious reasons, it involved British and German soldiers armin-arm between opposing trenches. Men from both sides ventured across the lines in no man’s land to exchange food and souvenirs. They were known to have joined in the singing of Christmas carols. Of course, such behavior was strongly condemned by the
high command, but orders prohibiting such encounters were simply ignored. While such exchanges were not uncommon on other occasions, the Christmas truces were particularly significant due to the number of men involved and the level of their participation – even in very peaceful sectors, dozens of men openly congregating in daylight was remarkable – and are often seen as a symbolic moment of peace and humanity amidst one of the most violent events of human history. Soon thereafter, there were excursions across No Man’s Land, where small gifts were exchanged, such as food, tobacco and alcohol, and souvenirs such as buttons and hats. The artillery in the region fell silent. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently killed soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Joint services were held. In many sectors, the truce lasted through Christmas night, continuing until New Year’s Day. If anything could stand more in the face of the folly of war than this Christmas Truce, I cannot imagine what it could be. However, I was not one of those who returned scarred. Seeing action in but two battles in the ETO (European Theatre of Operations), I was extremely fortunate, and as a result I have a story of war
that I would very much like to tell. In one of Patton’s famed “Spearheads” when the hostilities ended, we found ourselves in the town of Schwabach in Bavaria. As one might imagine, things in Germany at that time were a little less than orderly. One of the problems our military faced was how to handle the thousands of former German soldiers wishing to be taken prisoner. The situation was made worse by the number of those soldiers fleeing to the west to avoid capture by the Soviet forces. Such capture was feared as a fate worse than death. I remember our GI “six-by” trucks with quarter-ton trailers attached, packed with standing prisoners being moved to the rear just to clear the roads. Chaos reigned. We were billeted in a schoolhouse in Schawbach and there came to our outfit a young German looking for something to eat. We thought it odd for a man of his age not to be in uniform, and he soon confessed to having been a soldier. He had discarded his uniform, and he, like so many others, was desperately trying to avoid capture by the Russians. His name was Albert Alfred Rupee, and when he volunteered to work for his fare, our Mess Sergeant was only too happy to oblige. So industrious was Albert
that in the following days he made himself almost indispensable. He would do anything asked of him by any member of the Battery. I soon noticed that the demands on his time became more than he could handle. On one occasion I, as a corporal, intervened when a private insisted that Albert carry his duffle bag. With a goodly portion of the Battery assembled, I informed the private, et al, that Albert was to be no valet to a hundred men and that his duties would be defined by the Mess Sergeant only. This incident endeared me to Albert, and over the next few weeks, I became his “Boodie.” In the evening hours after his duties in the kitchen, he would seek me out as the only company he seemed to enjoy. At those times I was held spellbound as he related his wartime experiences. He was born in the Alsace Lorraine of a German mother and a French father whose national allegiances brought about their separation. It mattered not to Albert for he had more immediate concerns. When the Germans invaded, and determined that Albert and all males his age were eligible for military service, he was drafted and assigned to
the German Navy. He hadn’t been on his ship long until SS officers came aboard and asked for volunteers for the Eastern (Russian) front. Although Albert did not volunteer, he was chosen, and off he was sent off to what was to become a most horrible fate. He found himself an infantryman in the frigid climes of the Soviet Union. With inadequate English supplemented with the most vivid of gestures in reenacting the events, he left little to the imagination. I, on one occasion, with Patton’s Third Army, had experienced the combination of being both cold and hungry at the same time. My experience, however, was mild compared to what Albert encountered in the sub-freezing, snow-covered clime of a Russian winter with shortages of food and ammunition in the face of hordes of well-supplied Soviet troops. It was one of the more horrific events that Albert described in agonizing detail of how he had lost the three fingers of his right hand. With the shortage of ammunition, the German soldier was required to rise from his foxhole and take careful aim before firing, in an effort to conserve ammunition. This would,
however, expose him to fire from the enemy, who would simply raise his rifle from the foxhole over his head and fire indiscriminately in all directions. It was one such burst of fire that took Albert’s fingers, but rather than relieving him, the field hospital hurriedly patched him up and returned him to duty. With the rapid Soviet advance, the battle lines vanished, and his rapidly retreating unit found itself in such disarray that Albert was able simply to abandon the fray along with his uniform and make his way westward, so that with the ending of hostilities he found himself near to where we were billeted. So it was that through the exchange not only of wartime experiences but also fears and aspirations, we came to realize the insanity of war, and that rather than enemies, we were brothers. Shortly after VE Day, our Battalion was deactivated, and the cadre of noncoms that had come from the old New York 69th Division in Hawaii to train us had enough service points to be immediately sent home. I (along with all the other corporals) was made sergeant to fill a resulting vacancy; happily, Albert remained with us as we became known as “Troops of Occupation.”
As such, we were moved from town to town, and upon arrival at each one, it became Albert’s duty to intercede in any dispute that might arise with the local citizens. Then, too, he would reconnoiter for any loose wine and/or women. Speaking German, French and Italian fluently, and not at all unattractive, he was ideally suited for this rather questionable undertaking. Such escapades only served to draw us closer together, and by the time I was to be finally sent home eleven months later in May of 1946, our friendship was well established. A month or so after coming home, I did receive one letter from Albert. It was very brief, and with a combination of the best English and German we had finally managed to master, he said that with my departure, things were not the same and he felt it was time for him to move on. I tried to respond, but with no luck. I can assume that with no home to return to, he could be almost anywhere. But wherever that may be, I’m sure that he, as I, will carry with him fond memories of two former enemies who became fast Boodies.
“With You Beside You Despite You” Teri McCans
American Literature Lamont B. Steptoe Vietnam poets and writers are the niggahs of American Literature Always bringing up forbidden topics Ideas and images that make people weep or get angry The cyberspace of Vietnam won’t go away The machinegunned the blown apart bodies of youth, truth and beauty Keep screaming keep moaning refusing to die The blood refuses silence wails like ambulances and fire engines En route to civilization’s largest conflagration O’death Silence these bards Let us go on with our lives Our mistakes Our mistakes
Spider Holes Lamont B. Steptoe suddenly i remember vietcong spider holes those hiding places only large enough for one person to conceal themselves in ambush singular sniper invisible until the victim drops no one explained how memories of terror can pop out of spider holes claim victims decades after the ink of peace treaties has faded
From “Uncle’s South China Sea Blue Nightmare” Lamont B. Steptoe In country Black men were a nation dap slap flippy flap Johnny Walker Red Johnny Walker Black damn sure can’t go home in no body sack White man’s war White man’s price run brother run you a child of the sun don’t leave your bones behind bad enough to remember this place with its pumpkin colored ghosts Dap slap flippy flap Johnny Walker Red Johnny Walker Black front line fever has thinned the ranks Long Binh Jail is another thanks Black men are a nation under siege if you lived to fight another day the White man will try to kill you in the U.S. of A. Dedicated to Manuel Delacruz
Debriefing Lamont B. Steptoe When the men returned from patrol They explained they had encountered No enemy movement Located no hidden caches Their most significant find Was a GI jungle boot With a boyâ€™s foot inside
Who Survived Lamont B. Steptoe i am a daddy who survived the train wreck of war but i cannot erase the horror from the blackboard of my spirit forgive me daughter for making you a little soldier and striking you with the tropic lightning of my hands and words
Rung Sat Preston Hood I rappel through the door of the gunship thinking about someone to love. On patrol I’m a hunter in the blackness dozing off, hardened, tired of danger, I sight the enemy, waist deep in Rung Sat, muscular legs standing executioner quiet, black-green smudge & sweat curled on lip. A snake stops me. I wade ahead, fall through myself like a stone, enemy voices passing only meters away, the back drop of dark, life’s death. I scan the horizon for movement, count the bodies across the canal, wait until they slip into the mud. My mind is a red brown blur, a gauze for the wounded we torture. What’s happening seems not true. Two hours before dawn the next day, we insert by chopper, on some Viet Cong farmer’s land to interrogate sympathizers, & search for the mortar tubes the NVA shell us with. We demand revenge: the smell of rice at the jungle top, lazy orange mist shifting like smoke. In low silhouette, we patrol to ambush – our bodies surrounded by dark – the shadow of surprise suspended inside us. Across the trail, wind rips nipper palm, fear crawling at our feet, a wounded man. We radio in an air strike – the wounded lie with the dying, the dragged bodies hurried away disappear into bamboo. Blood trails along the river mark a company retreat – abandoned bombed-out bunkers shallow graves dug quickly, brown-uniformed & black pajama bodies, rice bowls & fish heads – children half-buried in dirt. I am a man half in the water, half out; my legs suck into mud. My hands hold my head outstretched – hasten to deliver me among the dead.
“War and Stress” Jacqui Powell
Elegy for Arrick Preston Hood
I saw you gaze through the brown spiral eyelash triage, each ray filmed in shadow, bleeds to the helix at the center, a mirror’s dark black hole pulling you down into your shut-down heart. The owl’s head of double arms & legs gyrate at the mirror’s oval edge. You wanted arteries of red & gold, not candy apples. You knew the ant that crawled on your arm did not care how the body burns like the sun on the horizon. You walked the blacker grass. How was it the blues got down so low you could not rise above them, shrunk so far within, the body a long shadow, clouds dark for miles; those cocaine voices rushed you away for years to where life’s last instant turned in on itself: (bulletkillingcarcrashing). For too long you hoarded two dollar bills of nothing like the no-light forest triple canopy of grief, your life-song; this hazy light, your sorrow.
Wishful Thinking Preston Hood Days when my head is clear & thoughts lift from the killing zone of grief I am a mountain stream in the open field of your arms & I have never spoken to you about heartache’s dark room
What Saves Me
for Arrick H. Hood, USMC
The morning of your suicide, I lean against the black sky, the overcast drizzle waiting for rain’s hard slap across the bay. Rifle in your mouth. Bullet exploding in your brain. Grief upon grief worn thin. Child on a swing, what snapped in you? I still search for the warm part of you who reaches out, who touches in his clever way the sun on the windowsill.
for Brian Turner Preston Hood
To shadow go the wounded & scarred, each of their kills smeared in blood. To shadow goes denial, more men & women’s thoughts, missing. To shadow desire’s bedroom & grief’s fisted heart. Gone to shadow the cawing crows flapping with the walking dead, those dark wings of war.
Biographies Alexander Marshall was born in 1938, and grew up during the Second World War and the period immediately following. Where he lived, it was expected of young men that they would go into the service upon completing their education. He got a degree in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania and was drafted during the Berlin crisis in 1962. The National morale was high during the Kennedy years, and Alex’s experience of military life was positive. He served mainly in the Infantry and Artillery, but had many interesting temporary duty assignments. He was stationed in Colorado and Germany, operated an experimental radar set, was on his Battalion boxing team, taught at the Education center in Germany, and made money in the G.I. rackets. L.D. is the poetry editor at Veldtfire, a Cape Town based online literary and arts revue. He currently lives in Cape Town. Charles O’Hay’s poems have appeared in over 100 literary publications. His first book, “Far from Luck,” was published in 2011 by Lucky Bat Books (Reno, NV). His second collection, “Smoking in Elevators,” is forthcoming. He lives in Philadelphia. Jaz is the author of two poetry chapbooks “The Carving Out Of A Butterfly’s Wings, Parts I & II.” Her poetry has been published in local & international literary journals & anthologies. Jaz is also a vocalist, actress & ASCAP-member songwriter. She is a minister to hurting hearts. Howard Winn’s fiction and poetry, has been published recently by such journals as Dalhousie Review, Taj Mahal Review (India), Galway Review (Ireland), Antigonish Review, Southern Humanities Review ,Chaffin Review, Thin Air Literary Journal, and Futures Trading Literary Journal. His B. A. is from Vassar College. He has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford University His doctoral work was done at N. Y. U. He has been a social worker in California and is a faculty member of SUNY as Emeritus Professor of English. Mara Buck writes and paints within a self-constructed hideaway in the Maine woods --- and dreams of returning to the city. She’s been published in many of the usual and unusual places and keeps a roll of duct tape handy for her worn-out marching boots. Alecc Costanzi served in the United States Army as a 19D Cavalry Scout from December 2009 to December of 2012. He was stationed in Fort Hood, TX with 3D Armored Cavalry Regiment and deployed to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn. He was MEDEVAC from theater a month later due to a non-combat related injury. He then served with the Chaplain Corps of Fort Hood until being medically retired due to his injury. Shokry Eldaly is an Egyptian-Dominican poet and novelist from New York City. His work has appeared in The Acentos Review, Kweli Journal, Mizna, Sixers Review and elsewhere. Additionally, his work is prominently featured in the forthcoming SUNY Press Anthology, The City That Never Sleeps. Shokry is a 5-time Pushcart nominee and has received numerous fellowships including the Aquellos and Blanche Colton Williams Fellowships, as well as, the AALC’s Naguib Mahfouz award. Jon Turner served three deployments with the Marines from 2003-2007 in Haiti and twice to Iraq. He currently resides in Vermont, where he is building an educational farm that will be utilized for veteran re-integration after returning from war. His written work has been published with Left Curve Magazine, Inquiring Mind Journal and is forthcoming in No Achilles War Anthology. For more information, please visit his website at www.sevenstarart.com
Doug D’Elia was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts. He graduated from the University of Central Florida (Religious Studies) and served as a medic during the Vietnam War. He serves on Jimmy Santiago Baca’s Veteran’s Video Project, and is a member of the Syracuse Veterans’ Writers Group. He is the author of two books of war poetry. His war poems have appeared in ten publications including Evergreen Review, O’Dark Thirty, and Stone Canoe. A complete list of his published work is available at his blog site, dougdelia.com. Carol Barrett teaches for Union Institute & University and for Saybrook University. She has published two volumes of poetry, including Calling in the Bones from Ashland Poetry Press, and over 200 poems in magazines and anthologies. She is interested in the healing potential of poetry and lives in Bend, OR. Lisa Van Wormer is an MFA candidate at the University of Baltimore in the Creative Writing and Publishing program. She has had memoir essays published as featured articles in the Baltimore Fishbowl, read some of them as a part of the “The Signal”, a weekly news radio magazine on the local Baltimore NPR station (WYPR), and was a featured presenter at the Maryland Humanities Council’s latest Veterans Program event. She recently took first place at the state level of the Veteran’s Creative Arts Festival in the Short Story and Personal Experience categories and her work has also been featured in a number of local Baltimore publications and events. She writes mostly about her time as a soldier in the U.S. Army to include her deployment experiences in Iraq. She enjoys spending time with her young daughter Ivy and husband Hayden who is also an Army combat veteran. Jay Dardes is a retired psychotherapist who lives on 22 wooded acres in northwestern Pennsylvania, along with his wife, Elaine, and his dog, Gretel. He is a Vietnam era veteran. James E. Smith was dragged up to 401 North Broad Street in 1968, then had various adventures as a grunt with the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam. The rest of his life has been rather dull. Harika Kottakota is a California high school student who loves to explore the metaphysical and abstract in poetry. She has been published in Canvas Literary Journal, Creative Communications, and JUST Poetry. Lana Bella has a diverse work of poetry and flash fiction anthologized, published and forthcoming with more than sixty journals, including Aurorean Poetry, Burningword Literary Journal, Cardinal Sins, Eunoia Review, Mothers Always Write, New Plains Review, The Criterion Journal, Unlikely Stories, and Featured Artist with Quail Bell Magazine, among others. She resides in the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, with her novelist husband and two frolicsome imps. Gonzalinho da Costa teaches Methods of Research in Management, and Managerial Statistics at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, Makati City, Philippines. He is a management research and communication consultant, and Managing Director of Technikos Consulting, Inc. A lover of world literature, he has completed three humanities degrees. Hal O’Leary, having retired from a life in the theatre at age 84, has turned to writing. Now, at age 89, he has been published in 16 different countries. As a secular Humanist, Hal believes that it is only through the arts that one is afforded an occasional glimpse into the otherwise incomprehensible, and for his contributions to the arts, he is a recent recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from West Liberty University, the same institution from which
he became a college dropout some 60 years earlier. Lamont B. Steptoe is a poet and publisher originally from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He has published twelve books of poetry and edited two poetry collections by the late South African activist Dennis Brutus. In 2006 he won a Pew Fellowship, and his latest book is “Meditations in Congo Square.” Steptoe is currently working on several books. Preston Hood served with SEAL TEAM 2 in Vietnam (1970). His poems have appeared in The Café Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Take Heart Anthology, Poems From Maine, and elsewhere. His first book, A Chill I Understand (2006), published by Summer Home Press, was a finalist for the 2007 Maine Literary Award for Poetry. Červená Barva Press published The Hallelujah of Listening (2011) which won the 2012 Maine Literary Award for Poetry. He published an essay, South Vietnam, 1970, in Prairie Schooner (2013). Preston is currently writing his memoir and working on his third poetry book. He lives in Lyman, ME with his wife, Barbara J. Noone. Hayden P. Van Wormer is an Army Veteran who served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom to include a deployment for one year to Baghdad, Iraq. He uses art as a way to express himself and works across multiple mediums. This is one of many pictures he took while deployed and will be his first published photograph. He lives in Baltimore, MD with his wife, another Army combat veteran, and their young daughter, Ivy.
Our spring issue focusing on veterans, featuring work from vets of Iraq, Vietnam, and WW2.