Veteran Voices — literary reading at Iowa City’s “The Mill”

I read at the Mill alongside four other veterans.

I read the essays “Narrative and Memory at War” and “Something Worth Fighting For.” It was a great event all around. I had planned to record myself, but forgot.

The Daily Iowan published a review of the reading:

“My cynicism also shows in this one. So … sorry, believers,” he said before he began reading his second piece.

But even Skaskiw, a graduate of the Writers’ Workshop in 2007, agreed that Monday’s event was effective.

“Wars are important events regardless of what you think about them,” he said.

Home of the Brave – Stories in Uniform, edited by Jeffery Hess

This short fiction collection, edited by DD-214 Writers’ Workshop director Jeffery Hess, serves up a diverse offering of contemporary short stories set against the backdrop of the American military experience, from World War II to current conflicts in Iraq and elsewhere. Penned by some of the best writers of our time, many of whom have served in the military themselves.

Among these stories by writers, including Kurt Vonnegut, Tim O’Brien, James Salter, Tobias Wolff, Chris Offutt, Benjamin Percy and many others [like me!].

http://www.amazon.com/Home-Brave-Stories-Jeffery-Hess/dp/0982441606

Monsters

“. . . And excited children would run the streets, announcing the monsters’ arrival, and the school master, first folding his spectacles, then replacing a bookmark in the yellowed pages of some long-forgotten text, would shuffel to the schoolhouse, iron key heavy in the pocket of his night gown, children bouncing alongside, beside themselves with anticipation, and he would grip the sweat-blackened rope, the little hands of as many children as could crowd around him joining in the task, and with a slow, grave cadence of his shoulders and back, the school master would sound the bell whose peal proclaimed the arrival of the monsters who lived in the caves in the mountains by the sea . . .”

Published in Nethra, Vol. 10 No. 3, A non-specialist journal for lively minds
Edited by Ameena Huseein
(buy the issue at icescolombo.org)

The Goblins’ Drum

The Goblins’ Drum

I had a nightmare as a child, where goblins marched through the snow in step to the slow, steady rhythm of their drum, and the line of them extended way up into the mountains. Now, when I put my ear to the pillow, I can hear the sound again, and I remember them coming through the walls to get me.

A large, slow-moving river runs through the center of my new life. (Read more in In The Fray Magazine, Dec 08)

On the Day of Calamity – anthologized

On the Day of Calamity
the Sons of Light Shall Battle with the Company of Darkness

    It was a warm November second or first. The clouds spent the day gathering and breaking apart and gathering again.
    The Democrats were poised to take back Congress, and even though we didn’t know too much about politics, my friends and I were all jazzed . . . (read more)

On the Day of Calamity

This story appears in The Steel City Review, Fall 07 issue.

UDPATE (Nov 7): It has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

On the Day of Calamity
the Sons of Light Shall Battle with the Company of Darkness

    It was a warm November second or first. The clouds spent the day gathering and breaking apart and gathering again.
    The Democrats were poised to take back Congress, and even though we didn’t know too much about politics, my friends and I were all jazzed . . . (read more)

Something Worth Fighting For

Hurray! I published a story. “Something Worth Fighting For” has appeared in the summer 2007 issue of Front Porch Journal.

This is the first story I put up for workshop at Iowa. I returned to it very slowly. Advice can be difficult.

Something Worth Fighting For

     “Did you ever kill anyone?” she asked. Then reconsidered. “I’m sorry, never mind.” She bit her glossy lip. “It’s just, I’m really interested, because it’s really interesting.” Her eyebrows arced high, and her dainty earrings dangled as she spoke.
     The young man twisted on his stool, as if working out a kink in his spine. It was dark, inside and out. The bar was nearly empty. The happy couples had long since left. Only a few desperate patrons still lingered.
     She said something else. And then something else.
     The young man nodded. She prattled on about the virtues of dissent, hooking and jabbing at him like a boxer, all the while keeping her dukes up, leaving no opening to exploit. He sat with polo shirt tucked into constricting wrinkle-free slacks.
     When he’d returned from the war a couple months ago, he learned two things: That his girlfriend whom he told not to wait for him, in fact, didn’t, and that life was very easy – mostly. The important things were easy. Going for a walk, for example. Eating. Sleeping.(more)