Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Yet Again

the phone



are you there? i ask.


people hurt? i ask.

(voice small)

another blackout. you know what that means.

small. voice. few. words.

are you ok? i ask. urgently.


people didn’t walk away?

oh, momma, families won’t even get bodies.

outside the wire. pieces. they were picking up pieces. hours. it took hours to process the site.


the families.

the families. they are the ones. feel sorry for them.

it was catastrophic.

a terrible day.

i lost my composure

four separate times.

i felt bad.

Listen, i said … though i wonder now whether or not it might have better been left to silence. you are supposed to lose your composure. it is supposed to work like that. feel bad, i said. feel worse when the day comes and you don't lose your composure.
(shouting inside. swearing inside.)

(tears. maybe tears. hesitation.)

i thought so hard about this.

i tried to carry it.

i needed to call home.

is that ok?

my head hurts so hard.

my body is screaming.


Randy and Yvonne sent me a Christmas tree, mom.

six more weeks, i say to myself.

maybe eight.

(quiet. too quiet.)

speed the day.


yes. i'm here.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

When Only Weeks Remain


... not much time to talk.

Bad stuff has been happening.

I need a sober moment with you.

I thought it would make the news.

It didn’t.

I can’t talk. on the phone.

We’re in a como blackout.

(careful. slow. tears. quiet.)

bad guys.

really bad guys.

we caught ‘em.

pray, momma. pray.

(slow. slow.)

some very young men won’t be going home again.

(my own tears now. eight weeks more. maybe ten.)

pray, momma … not for me. i’m here. i’m safe. i’ll be coming home.

don’t worry.


and be very glad you don’t have a son coming over here.

it’s hard work these days.

there’s lot of hard work goin’ on.

weeks of work.

and they got one of the bad guys.


mighta taken one of the gates.

coulda been stretchers.

you see things here. nobody should hafta see.


(what do you do with this seeing? this knowing?)

(slow. deliberate.)

what do i do?

i see it.

and then i remember i’m coming home.

all this was here before i came.

it’ll be here when i’m gone.

these are a proud people.

they believe they are doing what is right.

they have better weapons now.

their shooters have better aim.

they believe in God. in his reward.

i am ready to come home.

pray. momma.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Days and Dollars Roll By

It's been a while since I've written, but in cyber-travels of recent of days, I came across the work of the National Priorities Project for the first time and found myself compelled in the reflecting the experience here.

A visit to the front page of the NPP opens a door to information about federal spending on projects ranging from clean air/water to the Katrina clean-up to the distribution of taxes collected for the average household in over a hundred different U.S. cities. However, it was this rolling tally of dollars spent non-stop for the Iraq war that most captured my attention. I sat and watched the tally roll when I should have been reading the next pages of Heidegger. I watched the numbers fly by and imagined items passing as though being seen by the electronic eye at a check out counter: one major, two generals, three sergeants, 16 four-wheelers, two Apache helicopters, one amazingly precious first lieutenant ... and so on and on and the numbers rolled/are rolling even as I write here ... now.

I hear "worth it" sentiments from bloggers in uniform and out. I hear "waste of money and lives" frustrations from bloggers in uniform and out. And I know the last chapters of my own story, my first-person "mom/Tommi" story, are falling into place for an ending set in an ordinary everydayness of quiet drama. Tommi is in "double digits" as she tells it: by the end of another eight weeks she'll have turned in the keys to her office and turned over the weight of her job to a next round of soldiers assigned to occupy hope as the world waits for the gamble of a cowboy president to play itself out. What exactly is there to "win" when you fight a war of ideas and words? I'll be glad when Tommi is home. I won't know the others who remain, but I'll be glad when they're home, too.

The National Priorities Project (NPP) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization serving citizens and community groups by provided tools for informed citizenship in matters relating to the federal budget and policy priorities currently engaged. It is the aim of the NPP to support and better equip citizens for participation in advancing social and economic justice.

The National Priorities Project

  • provides data on the impact of federal spending policies for states, cities and counties;
  • educates and trains citizens, activists, media and elected officials on the federal budget, the budget’s local impact and community needs;
  • collaborates with national groups on federal budget initiatives; and
  • facilitates dialogue and action between national social justice and security policy groups.

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