Of Love and War


I don’t remember the last time that we got mail,

or which stained cot or shithole that I was in

when I opened it


and read about your summer days sun bathing

in your new 4th of July two-piece out at the lake

with Eric and Tori. Or about how softly your

mother cried, lifting and dabbing behind her glasses

with a wadded up tissue, while helping you pick

out new linens for your hour-and-a-half away

dorm room bed.


But now I sift through this pile of white and

mixed colored letters, moving my family’s

and friend’s aside, and stacking yours on top by

the date that you carefully wrote on the outside

seal.And, one dirty thumb print after another,

I open them all chapter by chapter.


“Jake, I love you.”


“Jake, I love you.”


“Jake, I love you.”


I kiss them all, one by one, fading away into

winter thoughts of us and the last time that

we touched. And still visible splashes of your

perfume reminding me of your neck, when

I would press my tongue and lips against it,

making you bump up with chills, just as

these thoughts of you do to me now.


I lie down damp and hope for dreams of us,

like that summer before, on a fuzzy blanket in

the sharp grassed field beside my father’s house,

where romance was slapping mosquitos from

each other’s backs under partially cloudy stars

and stirrings in the woods beside us. We made it

quick, but lasting.



“Seventeen days until I see you… until I touch

you, until I kiss you.”


My voice quietly hiding the excitement in a

room full of hardened Marines murmuring

trying to hold back tears on phone calls home.


But your voice is not as I remember it from a

month ago. Your “I miss you’s and I love you’s”

sound shaky, barren, and empty. I pass it off as

nerves and swallow down a warm meal to fill

the pit in my stomach.


For the first time since nine months away, I fear

that I don’t know you.



I’ve laid restless for hours beside your steady,

easy breathing. And mine is sharp, shallow, and

forced from gritted teeth. Between you and the

ceiling, I can’t stare anywhere else. The hugs

from earlier have worn off, and the kisses

weren’t as warming as I had imagined.


You’re bra is still fastened, your levi’s are

buttoned, and the long sleeved shirt I offered

you to wear, is sitting on the chair beside us. You

are wearing what you wore to my brother’s

football game, and I’ve spent hours

trying to figure out why.



Eventually, tomorrow morning will come, though

sleep will not. And you will finally tell me about

Stephen, with a phh, from school.


And I will mock him, threaten to kill him, to

gut him with my K-bar knife,

to gouge out his eyeballs and skull fuck his corpse.


You will cry; and I will rage.


I will scream out in a voice that I thought I buried

just weeks ago, and it will scare me to the core.


You will shed believable tears down your flush

cheeks, and I will still want to hold you. I will still

want to love you; though, I can’t.


**Published in The Deadly Writers Patrol Issue 12

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