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)

A Brief Tour of the Holy Land

Three bums touring the Holy Land

Well, almost a year after my tour of the Holy Land, I published the essay about my trip. It’s long – almost 8,000 words. Two fairly well-known magazines expressed interest, then said no. Finally, the great travel-writing website, GoNomad.com published it. I’m very proud of this essay.

A Brief Tour of the Holy Land

     Last summer, my friend Steffen and I decided to follow through on plans to visit Israel and the Palestinian Territories. We wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and went despite the war between Israel and Lebanon that had just begun.
     We happened to be Iraq veterans – in addition to fishing partners, drinking partners, each other’s wingmen, concerned citizens of the world, and students of the Arabic language, which was how we met at the University of Iowa. Officially, I was an M.F.A. student in the Writers’ Workshop. Steffen was moving to Jordan to continue studying Arabic, so it seemed a natural detour for him, and I still had deployment money left from my time in Iraq. I promised my mother to not get hurt, and to stay away from the actual fighting in Lebanon, Northern Israel, and Gaza. (more)

The Wall in Bethlehem

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)

The American Budget

My curiosity about the federal government, taxes, foreign policy, military spending, etc. led me to http://www.thebudgetgraph.com/. I bought the poster, and have since spent hours studying the administration’s discretionary budget proposal. It inspired the following guest opinion, published in the Daily Iowan on Feb 19th, 2007.

Demand better results from defense spending

We Americans, I think, do not generally consider ourselves militant. Our forces are all-volunteer. There is no sustained presence of uniformed soldiers in the streets, as exists in other nations. The ideals of peace, justice, and liberty feature prominently in both our history and folklore. We did not even keep a substantial standing army during peacetime for the first century and a half of our existence – the practice began in 1945.

For many, myself included, recent history runs contrary to what we thought we knew about ourselves. Read More

Time to leave the illusions behind

This guest opinion was published in the Daily Iowan, Jan. 17th, 2007, and the Press Citizen, Jan. 23rd, 2007.

Time to leave the illusions behind

President Bush mentioned the Iraq Study Group report twice in his 20-minute speech touting the proposed increased troop level in Iraq. He stated that his plan to embed more American advisers in Iraqi Army units is consistent with the report.

Although that specific morsel of his new plan is indeed consistent with the report, his saying so creates the illusion of a broader consistency that simply is not there. Read more: (Daily Iowan | Press Citizen)

Oasis

Oasis is a feature-length screenplay based on my experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a surealistic satire of our war in the desert, the people fighting it, and the politics surrounding it. It was a quarter finalist in the 2006 American Zoetrope Screenplay writing contest.

Log line: There’s a war in the desert and Lieutenant Tuttle struggles through culture, the military mindset, and a staggering bureaucracy to build a well for the locals.

Read It! (.pdf) | (.rtf)
(may download slowly, especially the pdf)