War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

road trip (from May Day)

M,

the papers say. the Taliban is back. lording.
vineyards. poppy fields. villages.
a frontier. the razor rock mountains. you, your men
have climbed.

(though I know you can’t. won’t tell. me if it’s true.)

I saw a pic in the paper of our guys on patrol. the long line. snake of soldiers through bible land. villages. past an old man. his passal of donkeys. a couple of kids. wives inventoried behind mud walls.

and I worried, over toast and marmelade. where the hell are you?
no letter. no email. no SAT phone. nothing.

it’s been weeks. since you sent the dress.

and it frightens me M. pisses me off too. because I’m left to guess.
where are you. in the thick of things. nerved and wired. presence patrols. the FOBs. KAF?

and soon the U.S. sending more troops. more fight. and all their enemies lined up to get in on it. “rent-a-war” said the guy who did my hair the other day, “it’s crazy. do you understand it?” he asked. “nope,” I replied, “haven’t a clue.” and I don’t M. try not to have an opinion. “honey,” hairdresser says, “ever thought of going red?” and I did. I’ll send a pic.

so M, are you lacing up the gloves. or on leave. road trip. releasing all that nervous electricity. you’ve built up. these past months.

maybe you’re getting drunk, on some Mediterranean island. Cyprus. Corfu. scaring package holidayers. driving the local men mad. flirting with their women. (though I can handle that). you and the brothers so lean and tanned. and hungry.
to live. wash the blood. the shit. from your eyes.
and I want you to.
live.

but listen, M, sometimes. when I’m really down. I imagine you’re home. haven’t told me. patched it up with your ex. for the kids. started back with all that drama.
avoiding all contact.
with me. like I’m some sort of love
disease.

because a long time ago, you said, “baby all I have to do is set my eyes on you. and I’m gone.” as if I’m a contagion.
and I like it and I hate it.

then when I imagine the second worst—you back with psycho wife—I hit the studio. dance hard. dance long. work out new choreography. learn new cante. new song. for the tour coming up. when los Gitanos (we stole the café’s name) packs up the skanky van with guitars. cahones. bins of flamenco dresses, hit the road. play every little joint up and down the west coast. go inland for a week or two. spreads the gospel of flamenco. like some kind of gypsy Chautauqua. all fire. no brimstone.

and this year, J is coming along. it’ll give him a break from inside his head. give us an extra hand too. sound equipment. boxes of lights. a roadie to help us flamencas. big G, little G unable to carry too much. protecting their nails. their backs. their hands. our cantaor too vain.

I figure J will fit in fine. all those hours on the road squished into the van with gear. three flamencas. big G, little G. constant sound. stop and start. stop and start. change of plan. lots of hurry up and wait. “get on the bus. get off the bus.” like life in the infantry. always someone coming and going. always waiting for someone to tell you what to do. our van like a LAV with the brothers. taking turns. keeping watch. helping each other. adjust equipment. uniforms. lighting cigarettes. two at a time. laughing and bull-shitting. practising infantryman meditation. one eye half-open. waiting for the show.

yes M, J’s going to fit in fine. he’ll roll with us. through the country. one of us keeping him company. him keeping watch over us. all the time.
a soldier’s a soldier’s a soldier. after all.

but tell me M. on the road trip you’re on.
who’s watching over you?

S


About This Page

The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled road trip (from May Day). It was posted here on January 30, 2009.

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