Zero-Six-Ten at LZ-Boston

Their five-day mission complete, LRRP Team Cobra rested silently but alertly within the jungle 20 meters from the edge of a small open space where they were to be extracted from “Indian Country” back to their base. This was Landing Zone-Boston.

“Okay, it’s zero-six-ten. Now what?” Sgt. Eddie Jones whispered.

“Orders were to wait here at LZ-Boston. So…” Lt. Ben Sharper replied.

“And when was that supposed to be?”

“Zero-five-hundred,”

“Christ, over an hour ago. And here we sitting like a pimple on Cramer’s lily white ass. He must want me dead,” Jones said.

“C’mon, you’ve been in-country for what, eight months? They’re just late. It means nothing,”

“LT, call in and see where our birds are. I mean before this extraction becomes a dust-off,” Jones said.

“Shut up and relax. We’ve got good cover and security’s tight. Besides, why would they ignore us?“ Sharper said.

“Maybe ‘cause Captain has throbs for Jonesie’s moose, Bian? That’s no hooch girl. She fine. An educated babe, no doubt. And man, she puts out like a five-dollar piece, but only for Josesie,” radioman Bernie Cioppa said.

“That’s ‘cause, while Cramer’s got a lotta swing with Supply, can get her anything from nylons to napalm, he ain’t got a lotta swing in this department,” Jones said.

“Put that away, Jones. I doubt Cramer’s jealous of your Johnson. Chopper, radio,” Sharper said.

Cioppa stood, then dropped like a sack of camouflage fatigues, cut down by an AK-47 round.Two seconds later the first mortar round fell onto their position, lobbed in. by the North Vietnamese LLDB special forces squad that had been tipped to their LZ.

In a couple of minutes, it was over. Much as was the sex between Jones’ girl and Capt. Cramer, happening at that same moment at Team Cobra’s base.

“Your name, honey. Bian. I’m sure it means something beautiful as you are.” Cramer said.

“In English I it means ‘Woman with secrets,’ lover.” Then she laughed the laugh that used to remind Eddie Jones of bamboo wind chimes. Jones was a good listener. SO was Bian.

“Ooh, me likee,” Cramer whispered in her ear.

“Mmmm…tell me more, mon chéri.”

This is a goosed up first draft of a story I wrote in response to author Cara Michaels’ Menage Monday contest, where she sets up three prompts and the writer must write a piece of flash fiction of 250 words or less using all three prompts. This week’s contest presented that photo at the top the story, plus exact use of the phrases “It means nothing” or “it means something.” Being a wise-ass, I did both. Finally, Judge Teresa Eccles wanted a conspiracy theory to be part of the story. I’m not sure how I managed to use that, but I’m equally stumped about where this story set in the Vietnam War came from. But here it is.

Oh, Frozen Night

Last night, I sat and torpidly watched
from my window the advent of deep winter
settle in well before Christmas .
I recall going out with the dog
on nights like this, when
what few sounds you could hear
seemed brittle upon arrival.
It was so still the cadenced report
of our feet on the snow was
something between a crunch and a squeak.
Every breath left the taste of steel
and blood on the back of your throat,
and each “C’mon, Slowpoke,” would
hang in front of your mouth like
sub-zero comic strip dialogue.
The air about you smelled so clean
as it chicaned its way through
the warming chambers lying
behind your frozen face, upon which,
if you cracked a smile,
you might indeed do just that.
Then you’d feel the tug of the leash
as a simple animal felt it necessary
to remind this dreamer that his dreams
were best accomplished under warm blankets
rather than beneath ice-crystal stars,
a haloed moon and a need to freeze
if only just to feel.

A winter day’s free write about winter nights.

How Do I Say It?

How do I say it,
when words won’t come?
My brain teeters in paralysis,
ready to topple again.
My tongue, always cocked and loaded
with some glib ammunition,
suddenly is a rusted and
dusty artifact, a relic of days
when you would fire me off
just to hear me bang.
How do I say it?
People mouth those words
all the time. It’s simple,
just like ordering coffee
used to be. But I wouldn’t know
an Americano from a Macchiato,
just as I wouldn’t know
Love from Obsession.
How do I say it?
How did I?
Did I?
How?
Oh…

My Soul to Keep

You think you know
who I’m talking about,
but I doubt you’re right.
You’ll say, “He’s going on
about me/her/us again.”
But you may be wrong.
I can’t say for sure myself.

I know you’ve been here somewhere,
since you left such a distinct mark
on my visceral poetic parts.
Bruise, scar, tattoo,
or something only I imagine?
Yes, no, probably. Who knows?
The question is, do you want these
to be about you? Do I?

Do you want to remain attached
to whatever it is containing
the emotion I never show?
Would you like to be the one opening
that little valve and releasing
the drips and gushes
with which I paint fantasies
too real to bear and realities
that can never be.

So if you don’t wish me
to write about you, don’t worry.
I’m not. But if you desire to be
remembered in a way so few are,
I’ll always hold a warm place
for your memory, my soul to keep.

I so wished to write a story today. Failed. So I just turned loose what remains of my scraggly creative wolf and he howled out this moonlit song. It’s not melancholy, at least. In fact, I think it might even be a little hopeful, Lord help me.

Lori

I always felt I was the one
discovered you out there in the aether,
while you were still gigging
never very far from Boston,
since you had to get the kids
off to school in the morning.
Yep, I was the one who heard
your ringing instrument with
a vague accent from the South side
of mid-America. Nothing like
your native Hah-vahd Yahd.

I downloaded all your freebies
and shared them with the ones
who counted and could appreciate
how you knew exactly what they felt,
as if they were the ones
scraping their chairs across
your kitchen floor, leaning in
while you’d try something new,
cut a demo, or poured
another cup of tea. Not coffee.

But I decided to let you go
after Nashville discovered you.
And I really got pissed when
Oprah told the world how she did.
What a silly, jealous man.
I guess I wanted to keep you to myself,
hidden like a whispered secret
beneath my headphones.
I still move my fingers to the chords
of the old songs when I listen
to them for hours on repeat.

But then, what’s one more time?

I decided to check in at Writer’s Digest’s Wednesday Poetry Prompt today. Especially since my mind’s currently incapable of finding inspiration on its own dime. The theme was a Composer poem, where I’d take a composer’s name, put it in the title and then let ‘er rip. I don’t know why, but I chose Lori McKenna, whose music I discovered online almost 20 years ago. You know, when she was still, as I said, gigging around Boston or so. The music was  great. But her words!! I didn’t realize it back then, but the title cut from her second album, Pieces of Me, became an anthem of sorts for this past section of my life:

I have been a poet all my life
With really not too much to say
So you can push me anywhere you like
But you can’t push me away

My life is written down on papers in my room
And yours is bottled up somewhere
So I’ll send you letters from half across the moon
And it will cross your mind but you won’t dare

Language Barrier

I used to understand its language.
But that was when the wind spoke to me.
Just like I used to understand
what you would said, when we still talked .
I’d hear you both strumming the air
in chords vibrating in frequencies
undetected by anyone else.
Then I’d transcribe what you’d say,
even the stormy messages
I never, ever wanted to hear.
But that was a long time ago.
Now I don’t understand the wind
and your voice lies mute to me.
It’s not that I can’t hear you.
Even in memory, I guess I’ve given up
trying to listen anymore.

The Magic in Gray and White

It’s been four days
since the storm left
it’s two feet planted firmly
over the property,
standing there on the roof
and straddling the road.
And during that time,
it lost its serene demeanor,
aging with wrinkles, scars
and the spots that time
will paint on your skin.
But she who ordered the storm
to leave a guard on this realm
until told to stand down,
that is until the coming March,
has sent in a bit of reinforcement.
Silently, the new minion
fills the gaps in the line
left by a few days where
the sun made its counterattack.
And now, with two inches of reserves
softening the uglies
that follow an early snow,
all’s quiet on the northern front.
At least until, I’d suspect,
some ranks of sun and rain
make this army of white
run down my roof
for the storm drains.
I can wait until
Christmas, though.

This study in gray and white – the poem, not necessarily the photo – is the winter view I have from my writing desk in the basement – my Lair. It’s just a gray wooden shed with some pines and maples holding up the sky behind it. But when the snow decides to fall, it becomes something magical, where the dull and plain become something to write about. At least to me.