Who ever thought a war, nay, two wars could become so distasteful to an entire country so quickly. Even more baffling for a nation with such a long standing hard-on for blood and guts and dominance and, y’know, just generally fucking shit up. I would like to say that a genuine moral outrage came over me as I sat on familiar bleachers, witnessing this paradox in practice. It didn’t. All I could think about was Mr. Clark’s bulging veins as he admonished Mike and I for reading the Satanic Bible, seated, as the Pledge of Allegiance was recited. Or Acea tumbling headlong down the rows just so we could watch the panic of those not in on the joke. And I thought about the lame half-punches Jason and I had thrown at one another, just a few years ago, a few paces from where I now sat amongst his classmates and family. Never best friends, occasional rivals, little league team mates (the kid never could run for shit). Now, here he was in front of me once again, but in full regalia. Supine.
I was roughly 14 when this whole clusterfuck began it’s most recent phase. I remember the eerie silence, watching the tv, our assignment forgotten. I remember partaking in the calls to violence on people we had never known. I remember the facing that ugliness within myself when I the discovery of that most virulent strain of crusty peace punk illuminated something in my adolescent brain. And in the years that followed, I remember the permeating sadness and exhaustion at how stupid and fucked up everything seemed to be as that righteousness corroded, having spent a few years immersed in reality. That sadness, for it’s part, never faded away. And I suppose that’s why I felt no ill will as I watched what was almost my entire hometown sit bathed in their grief and horror, uttering platitudes and going through the bizarre ritual that is a military funeral. What the fuck else could I expect of them? How could I place the blame for something so immense, so monstrous at their feet? That thing, that invisible hand that shuttered the doors at Dura, and every other place you could still find a decent job. How could I do that when I know that I, too, do my part in greasing those gears. This is not to say it isn’t frustrating, if not infuriating to watch people born at the bottom seemingly grind themselves into the dirt. When they vote, or don’t vote. When they smoke and drink and eat garbage and eschew birth control. When they join up… Maybe I was the only one in there who felt nothing at all for god or country. So be it, if that is true. All of my spite was, and is, aimed skyward, at those who will go their entire charmed lives never having to experience fear and anxiety and depression that comes with these choices-that-are-not-choices-at-all. The shit we swim in. What has trickled down to us.
The world can be ugly and brutal no matter what station you get in life. That is a fact. But they sent him, our first baseman, into the same mountains the Red Army broke their teeth upon. To be blown into nothing, for even less. It’s a choice some families can afford not to let their children face. And, honestly, fuck them. Plain and simple. Past politics and class warfare and all those big ideas that never really make it far beyond the cups of coffee they are endlessly discussed over. Fuck them. Who’s church/school/university/job/future in politics have been approved and decided. Who are not at the mercy of curable disease, overzealous law enforcement, poor nutrition and low wages. Fuck them.
I am on the losing team.
the true believers
the kids from nowhere towns
come back as folded flags