Posts Tagged ‘vietnam’

240 and Counting

July 4, 2016

Independence- 240 years and the descendants celebrate with wings, malt liquor and parades.  Bill of Rights and the rights of the dead, a bullet piercing the side of the head somewhere on the west side, south side, Chicago’s apartheid red line zone where the tourists never go.  But I digress- this is a process of processed food, entertainment and education.  Back when we were all English and white, on paper the ideas seemed right- Liberty and justice for all… or maybe some or none.  Manifest destiny, all for you and me from sea to shining sea.  You’re free above this line and slave below this one.  A war between brothers and in the end freedom with an asterisk- there was a fix.  You give us the presidency and we’ll look the other way for nearly a 100 years til someone refuses to give up a seat, sit where they want when they choose to eat, vote, protest and integrate, separate but equal became the Civil War sequel.  Well I’ve jumped ahead again.  The Kaiser, Sarajevo, trench warfare, mustard gas the rise of the working class.  Comrades in a sea of red, the Czar was dead.  The treaty left them angry and needy after reparations of Versailles a charismatic character, a director, a rector sold the scape goat- many die and why?  A bomb to stop a war and within a few years a little more and a truce that lasts til this day.

Unbridled growth and prosperity, suburbs and the interstate, sock hops and roller skates.  We liked Ike and then came JFK, Bay of Pigs, assassins and then LBJ and the KKK.  Just advisors to advise those who love and cherish democracy, imperial imposition of freedom for Vietnam.  Baby killers, draft dodgers, free love, and women’s lib.  Drugs and Nixon, the fix was in.  Watergate, oil crisis, a cancer on the presidency, end the war with dignity.  Ford, Carter Reagan- morning again in America.  This aggression will not stand- draw a line in the sand, new world order, Perot, Clinton, stained dress, Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill congressional hearings on the hill.  W, 9-11, weapons of mass destruction, mission accomplished, quagmire, Afghanistan/Taliban=Vietnam, Obama, Osama, Arab spring, ISIS, crisis of confidence, we’ll build a wall for our defense, terrorists, xenophobia, first woman presidential candidate, with shadows of doubt…  Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot… Wait!  This just in…  Citizen Trump


The Ineffable or The Hitchhiker

October 23, 2010

“Sometimes things are just not as they appear, young man…” said Terrance as he drove his large 1972 Chrysler Newport down a desolate country road late at night.
“Yeah… How so?” Asked Purvis, who grasped a lead pipe in his right hand as he waited for the right moment to beat Terrance over the head to steal his car.
“We spend our whole lives thinking that what we think is true is true. You take that war in Vietnam… I spent two years running through the jungle. What I’ve learned is that we don’t really know anything. You take absolutes… Absolutes. The things we believe that are completely true and just are because we all have come to accept an idea, that does not make it a truth. Rationalities run our lives with reason or so we are lead to believe. We all are born, live and die, right?” Said Terrance.
“Yeah… I dig what you’re saying, man.” Said Purvis.
Purvis had just robbed a family that was quietly sleeping in their rooms in a remote area on the outskirts of New Orleans. Purvis dodged the draft and was hiding out with drifters, thieves and drug addicts wherever he could. In the presence of the parents who were bound and gagged, Purvis raped a sixteen year old girl, kicked the family dog to death and made off with several hundred dollars in currency as well as some jewelry. Purvis stuck out his thumb as headlights came towards him for the first time in what seemed like a half hour as he walked down a dark country road. The sounds of frogs and crickets filled the air like a symphony. Purvis thought about alligators coming out of the cattails and attacking him. Purvis had no way of knowing if they were out there and if they were hungry.
Terrance had hopped into his car to go for a ride after sounds began to make shapes and colors. Terrance was watching The Hollywood Squares when the sounds of the voices on television began to emit smells and voices such as Charles Nelson Reilly and Paul Lynne were followed by colors. There were swirling mélanges of pinkish purple. Terrance was eating some crawfish stew when everything just snapped. The walls began to heave like they were breathing and voices told him he needed to move on before Charlie found him. Terrance decided to leave his house and go for a ride. Fate or divine intervention brought Purvis, a young, white, angry male together with a black man who had served in Vietnam and had a PHD in philosophy and suffered the effects of Agent Orange and LSD.
Purvis had never met a black man with such a strange way of speaking. It all sound like English but he had no idea what he was talking about.
“The Greek thinking was killed off by Constantine and his mother upon finding Christianity… If had not been for Constantine’s mother, we’d all be pagan still. Is it any wonder that the dark ages were dark? Dutch pictures of a Dutch Virgin Mary and Christ child… How did that happen? How did Paul find the gentiles? He was looking for Jews… That’s the joke of it all. Paul was looking to convert Jews, man!” Said Terrance, with a hardy laugh.
Purvis took the heavy lead pipe and cracked Terrance over the right part of his head. Terrance heard a dull thud and for a few seconds, all his thoughts seem to dissipate. He looked over at Purvis who was shocked that the large black man was still driving the vehicle while blood poured into his right ear. Terrance stopped the car abruptly which caused Purvis to slam his head against the dashboard. Terrance grabbed rope from under his side of the bench seat and tied up the hands and feet of Purvis. All the while Terrance never stopped speaking.
“You were born a blank slate young man… There is no such thing as original sin. Someone taught you to be who you are. Someone filled your slate full of hate. Sad that things got to come to this. In the whole universe, something brought you to me tonight. Why you think this is possible? A curse and a blessing all at the same time… I know what you’re thinking… Some white man gave the monkey a brain and created a monster. I ain’t no monkey and no monster. There was no Frankenstein and I wasn’t fabricated by some great white mind… At least I don’t believe this to be true. Then again beliefs are a funny thing. We all believe that America is destined to be something that god had planned. Everything is in god’s plan. Progress in the age of enlightenment, right? The whole world wants to be American. I want to live in America, everything is good in America… John Wayne loves god and god loves him like a damn disciple. God told white people to come to America and bring black people with them to lighten the load. Can’t hardly believe how that whole thing worked… Capitalism has brought about a perversion that has hampered our ability to find our soul. We got a soul in us, man. As much as you feel you had the right to try to off me and drive away in my automobile for monetary means, to help you get a fix and a meal til you need to hunt someone else again like an animal on the Serengeti. I don’t blame you. You come to the water hole and lost this time to a stronger and more intelligent animal.” Said Terrance.
“You are one crazy nigger. You gonna kill me, than just do it. All this crazy talk… I can’t take it.” Said Purvis.
“Where do you think you’re going to go to once you leave here? Do you think you’re going to go to god? Go to hell? Maybe a hallway as far as the eye can see for the rest of time. You take numbers for example and then you can understand that infinity is possible. Forever is forever and it don’t end, man. We got a starting point and it difficult to accept that from zero, we can go either direction for ever just like heaven and just like hell. And forever is a real long time. I grew up a Baptist with a father who was a minister and the more I learned, the less religion made sense to me. We look for justice and legitimacy in everything we do. Religion teaches us this. There is too much that cannot be explained. You wanna have faith in something subliminal… Something intangible. You can go to sleep and a dream makes more sense than reality. Your reality right now is like a bad dream, young man.” Said Terrance.
“You’re really nuts, man. I wish you’d just speak English. You gonna torture me? Then just do it. I don’t want to hear all your stuff anymore. I don’t even understand what you’re saying.” Said Purvis.
“You ever seen a baby born?” Asked Terrance.
“No.” Said Purvis.
“You ever seen somebody die?” Asked Terrance.
Purvis had killed animals and then later people. It was always random and devoid of empathy. The people killed had material things that Purvis needed and desired. Killing was a way of separating what one had from what he needed. There was no remorse.
Terrance got close enough to kiss Purvis and whispered in his ear. The blood trickled down from Terrance’s ear onto the bench seat. Purvis sweated profusely and for the first time in his life, thought of all the people he had killed and tortured in his life. Terrance was torturing him and would ultimately kill him.
“Life…” Whispered Terrance into the ear of Purvis. “Life is ineffable… Among truths and beliefs and deities, I can tell you this is a universal among universals and Socrates and Aristotle would back me on this. When you think you’re time is about to pass, there are the questions we cannot answer as living beings and life suddenly has a lot more value. Faith? Nothing? You tell me, young man. I’m gonna wait here listening to Smokey Robinson. You Crackers don’t know nothing about Smokey.”
The song, More Love, played on the radio while the two men sweated and bled. Purvis had never heard the song. Terrance heard the song for the first time while sleeping with a Vietnamese woman who looked to be ten years old even though she was twenty two with three children.
Let it be soon, don’t hesitate
Make it now, don’t wait
Open your heart and let my love come in
I want the moment to stop when I can fill your heart
With more love, and more joy
Than age or time could ever destroy
My love will be so solid
It would take a hundred lifetimes
To live it down, wear it down, tear it down
This is no fiction
This is no act
This is real, it’s a fact
I’ll always belong only to you
Each day I’ll be living to make sure
I’m giving you more love and more joy
Than age or time could ever destroy
My love will be so solid
It would take a hundred lifetimes
To live it down, wear it down, tear it down
As we grow older no need to fear
When you need me I’ll be here
I’ll be beside you every step of the way
A heart that’s truthful and keeping you youthful
With more love, more joy
Than age or time can ever destroy
My love will be so solid
It would take a hundred lifetimes
To live it down, war it down, tear it down.

Purvis couldn’t focus on the lyrics. Terrance almost began to start crying. He felt almost angry that a strong emotional moment could not be shared or understood by another living being near him. Purvis was suddenly worth less than life.
“We are born, we mature and then we decay… And it don’t make no sense and it ain’t no comfort, young man. Is there anything of value in anything in life? Is there anything real in the mystery that is life itself? We are going to die. We don’t know when or why. We can look for symbols to help us understand what life is about… To understand the crux of humanity. We put a man on the moon and what does that mean? What does that mean to you? We got into an automobile and drove down this road. That you can comprehend. The moon? What is the moon, man? I been to Asia and that might as well be the moon. Nobody I knew could have found Vietnam on a damn map before 1962 but they could have told you where the moon was. Nobody can really say for certain why going there was a necessity and if they could explain it, is what they are saying the truth? What is the truth anyway? How do you define the moon anymore than truth?” Asked Terrance.
“You weirdo… What the hell do you want from me? Look… Just let me go and I won’t say nothing to nobody. I hit you over the head cause I was scared. I’m sorry, man.” Said Purvis.
“I understand that you are perplexed by the mystery of life. I know that I am and it plagues me. How do I live with this thing that makes me powerless and emasculates me? Life is a circle. You start here and end here and for what purpose? I have concluded that it’s all not going anywhere. It’s hard to believe that we leave here and go nowhere and that we are plagued with the thought that maybe this is all there is.” Said Terrance.
“You’re really sick, man… Really. You need help.” Said Purvis.
“I maybe the only sane, clear thinking human being you will ever meet… Then again, I believe that I am the last person you will ever meet too. I just want you to appreciate how fragile this all is before you go because we are all really just hanging on by a thread, man. Fate and faith sound almost the same when you say it in English. I haven’t figured out the difference….”
Terrance was about to smash the head of Purvis when flashing lights filled the dark night. Terrance smelled lemons and grapefruits as the sirens blared towards him. The sounds made strange shapes. Terrance was hypnotized by the lights and was unable to move. Several police officers approached the vehicle with drawn guns. Purvis was all too ready to purge himself of his sins. Terrance was held in high esteem as a war hero and one who sought to right wrongs wherever they raised their heads. Amen.

The Love Child from Across the Border

February 24, 2010

Back in the sixties it was a curiosity and a novelty for Wade and his friends to cross over from Detroit on the Ambassador Bridge just to hang out and cause trouble in Windsor, Ontario. As a boy, it was hard for Wade to understand that those people across the water were different and belonged to a different country and they had different money and put vinegar and gravy with cheese on their French Fries. It wasn’t until Wade turned sixteen and had a car of his own did he ever cross the border to Canada. When he got there, he was disappointed to find that the differences were so subtle that they were almost undetectable.
In 1966, Wade was supposed to be in high school as a sophomore but quit so that he could work as a mechanics assistant which meant that he patched tires, changed oil and pumped gas. He wore his jet black hair in a pompadour and had cheap tattoos on his arms. He loved Elvis, the United States, John Wayne and the idea of killing Communists for the common good of god fearing, god loving, democratic, and law abiding citizens anywhere. Wade was just waiting until he turned seventeen so that with his parent’s permission, he could enlist to get on the front line of the Vietnam War.
Somewhere across the straits that separate The United States from Canada in Detroit, was a bored young woman who hated her home life and always felt like a frog out of water. I say frog because her family had lived since the days of Napoleon in Quebec and had trekked west so that her father could work for the Ford Motor Company. Her name was Antoinette and her family was a little darker than the others in the neighborhood and they spoke French to one another and attended a Catholic Church between Windsor and Chatham for French refugees from Quebec. It was at a diner that Antoinette met Wade and raced around in his car with him and eventually consummated their amorous feelings for one another and spawned a baby.
Now Wade didn’t want to be a father or a husband and he did his best to take his girlfriend out of Canada to the state of New York where abortions were legal. It was around Toledo that Wade’s engine blew up like a bomb. At first he heard metal banging fast and hard and then there was an explosion and nothing but black smoke. Wade had changed his oil for the trip but had not thread the plug correctly to the oil pan and all the oil had leaked out. A life was created and saved out of negligence.
Antoinette did not want to move to Detroit and Wade really could not see himself living in Windsor although he gave it a try and even went to work with Antoinette’s father for six months at Ford. As soon as Wade turned seventeen, he defected back to Detroit, got his parents to help him enlist and was in Vietnam faster than you could say Lyndon Baines Johnson.
While Wade was hunting ghosts in Southeast Asia, Antoinette was experimenting with psychedelic drugs and music and wound up in Victoria Island while their son Patrick stayed behind in Windsor.
Patrick learned to speak French and play hockey and love the Montreal Canadians even though the Detroit Red Wings were much much closer. It was around the age of fifteen that Patrick began to smoke pot, began drinking, breaking into homes and even robbing people for small cash with some local hooligans whenever they weren’t playing hockey. Patrick’s grandmother wrote a letter to Wade asking for help after almost fifteen years since he had left for Vietnam. Wade thought about it and liked the idea of seeing his son after so many years. If nothing else he wanted to see if the kid actually looked like him or one of his friends who might have popped Antoinette too when he wasn’t around.
Patrick was really opposed to the idea of going to Detroit for a weekend with a stranger, but the threat of pulling hockey from him in the fall forced his hand. When the man who looked like Charles Manson pulled up in an Oldsmobile 442 with the top down, Patrick was actually scared. The man looked mean with intense eyes.
Wade drove across the bridge and pulled over on interstate 75 and got out of the car and opened the passenger side door for Patrick to get out.
“You got a license?”
“No, sir…”
“Well fuck it… Now’s as good a time as any to start driving.”
Patrick gripped the wheel of the fast automobile and tried to look through the spider web looking cracked glass on the windshield. Patrick asked what happened.
“Some fucking punks were throwing rocks from an over pass. If the fucking rock would have cleared the windshield, it would have knocked my fucking head off… Which reminds me, I wanna make a stop up north to get this glass fixed today. Keep driving, I’ll tell you where to go.”
America had always appeared to be the land of opportunity on television and the streets paved with gold and so on. The streets that Patrick was driving down, had grass growing in the cracks of the sidewalks and there were burned down and boarded up homes everywhere. It was dismal and as third world as anything Patrick had seen on television. It was hard to believe that so much blight was possible in the United States and so close to Windsor.
While the windshield was being fixed at the Five Mile Auto Glass, Wade and Patrick walked over to a Coney Island that was still run by an old white man in an all black neighborhood. They ordered some burgers and talked. Both without commenting saw something of themselves in the other such as facial expressions, cheek bone structure and the shapes of their eyes. As they spoke four young men walked into the restaurant and began quietly robbing people from table to table. They would surround people at each table and quietly told them to give whatever money they had or be shot. The quartet reached the booth that Patrick and Wade shared. Patrick’s teeth were chattering while Wade sat without any expression on his face. A cocky young man with a black fist hair pick stuck in his hair and a tooth pick in his mouth sat across from Wade and dipped a fry into some catsup and put it in his mouth.
“Say man… We taken contributions today. You contribute to the cause and we go bout our business,” said the ringleader while eating the French fry.
“Boys let me explain something to you… I went to Vietnam and carried a rifle everyday while walking through a jungle not knowing if the rice farmers I just passed would shoot me in the fucking back. I walked in wet fucking boots, contracted the clap and Malaria just so I could come home and find that you motherfuckers burned up my city. This was my city back when you were just a bunch of tadpoles in your father’s nut bag and now you are going to come in here and extract money from me and all these other people? Do you feel that between your legs? It’s a 357 magnum. Listen to this…”
Wade cocked the hammer back.
“That sound your hearing is the last sound you’ll ever hear before your fucking balls fly through your asshole and splatter your friend’s faces… Now set down all the shit you just took and back the fuck out of here before I decide to shoot you just for fucking sport.”
Patrick couldn’t eat another bite nor drink another sip. He watched the man who was his biological father light a cigarette and talk about cars and women and how he met his mom and how he actually came to be. He mentioned places he had been and cars he had owned and where he wanted to move to. Patrick couldn’t help but think of the innocent people he and his buddies had robbed in front gas stations and banks in Windsor. Patrick wondered if his grandmother had told his father about the break-ins and robberies. Patrick wondered what he would do if he ever tried to rob the wrong guy, a guy like his father.
Wade and Patrick walked the block from the Coney Island to the glass shop to get the car and Wade never worried about being jumped by those that just sought to rob him. They spent the weekend swimming in a small lake up near Waterford, Michigan and then Patrick returned to his life in Windsor as if he had never met Wade. Wade wasn’t very sentimental but he did give his son some advice.
“If you’re horsing around now, use a rubber and if the rubber breaks pray and if it’s too late for that… Make sure you check the oil… I’ll see you kid.”
With that he winked, slipped a hundred dollar bill American in his hand and drove off. Never to be seen again.

Independence and Dependency

October 13, 2009

September 26, 2009

Independence and Dependency

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackhumouristpress @ 9:32 am Edit This

Independence and Dependency

Wade volunteered in 1968 to fight for the United States of America in the Vietnam War before the government came calling.  His twin brother Warren, left on foot and crossed into Canada through Maine.  One moment he was in Maine and the next moment he was in New Brunswick.  It didn’t look or feel any different at the time.  Warren hitchhiked to Halifax, Nova Scotia and found a job hunting Cod on a really big ship in the Atlantic Ocean.  His brother Wade went hunting small Asiatic people who didn’t know they wanted democracy and freedom.  They wanted equality in the form of communism and in some strange, unexplainable way, it was a threat  to people like Wade in Southern California and other regions of the United States.  That’s what he believed at the time anyway.  That’s what he was told then.
Warren met a bunch of young people who were rebelling against their Scottish upbringing in the highlands of Cape Breton.  They bought a VW bus and decided that they were going to grow vegetables and wine and stuff near Victoria, British Columbia which was only 5000 miles or so away.  Warren smoked a lot of pot, took a lot of pills and fucked a lot of women.  His hair grew to the middle of his back and he had a beard.  Warren learned to play the banjo and got really good at playing Bluegrass music.
At roughly the same time, Wade was walking through the jungle that had recently lost all it’s leaves after a B52 dropped defoliants from the heavens.  Miles and miles of jungle with not a leaf on a tree.  Wade and a colored soldier from some southern state where people protested and white people tried to beat them, came up on a village.  The colored soldier who’s name was Cleveland and had never stepped foot in Ohio, was approached by a small Vietnamese boy who was running fast towards him.  Neither Cleveland nor Wade could understand anything the boy said except the word, candy.  Cleveland who was twenty feet from Wade, suddenly blew into pieces with the small boy.  Wade guessed that the people in the near by village that he and Cleveland were checking on, had strapped a bomb to the boy to kill not just one soldier but possibly many at once.
Warren met a woman in Victoria who held all the beauty and poise that he ever thought would be possible.  Her father was a missionary in Cote D’Ivoire in Africa.  Her name was Joan and she had been born in Africa and lived among Africans and taught poor people about god.  A god that had become Dutch over the course of almost two thousand years.  Joan’s father came back to tend to family business in British Columbia and Joan visited North America for the first time in her life.  Joan fell in love with Warren as hard as he fell in love with her.
Now back in that village, Wade returned with other young men who were thrust into a part of the world that was as foreign as the moon.  None of them understood that they were in a civil war.  None of them understood that most of the people just wanted to live and be left alone.  The people in the village that they massacred believing that they attempted to bomb the American soldiers, were just simple rice farmers who were threatened by the communist troops and killed by Americans who jumped to conclusions.  As they walked from the village, it was Wade who saw the three foot deep, six foot in diameter hole in the ground that would have been consistent with a mine at the spot where Cleveland and the young boy seeking candy, blew to pieces.  Wade never shared that information with the others who had mowed down dozens of innocent crying peasants.
“Remember that my brother is one of god’s children no matter how he may appear and no matter what he may say,” said Warren to his family while driving to their parent’s home to celebrate the United States independence from Great Britain.
Back during the Vietnam War, Warren was the one who smelled and had long unkempt hair and a beard.  Warren was the one who withdrew from society and took drugs and alcohol.  Wade was the god fearing, god loving, patriotic, Nixon loving young man with a buzz cut.  Sitting in the backyard of their parent’s home in Orange County, california, was Wade on one side without a wife, without children, without a home, without a car, without a job.  Wade appeared to be a street bum more than anything.His hair was graying, long, unwashed and uncombed.  Anti-depressants and alcohol, helped to numb the effect of no life and no future for Wade.  Sitting across from Wade was Warren; clean cut and smiling the smile of a well to do evangelist.  His wife and children for as much as they smiled, were very uncomfortable in the presence of Wade.  He smelled and his face sagged.  Wade’s eyes had the look of a zombie.  Wade appeared to be alive but he had checked out years ago.  He mumbled incoherent things to someone who wasn’t there.  Warren reached across the table and took Wade’s hand as the whole family clasped hands and bowed their heads while Warren gave the blessing.
“We thank you, lord… that we can live in such a great country and have such wonderful things with so much hope and so much prosperity.  We thank you, oh lord, for giving us independence and have guided us to where we our today over the course of some 200 plus years… Thank you for allowing us to be Americans.  The greatest nation in the world… Amen.”