Warm night like the Sahara’s moon-spread sand. Nothing like moving camp when the dark is cool. I’m sure you could say the right words to get the head man to let me ride a camel, please try. Stay away from the harem? Can’t you even get close enough to smell the way they smell?
Women in this part of the world have no business being independent, there’s no way they go without a man. How can I whisper when I cry real tears and make so much noise, she asked sobbing so you heard no question. They take them to the arena and make them kneel and cut off their heads for going without a burqa. Or for listening to the radio or talking together on a street.
Join the fucking army, or if you’re brave become a marine. Fly boys and sailors don’t count. Be all you can be. Or see a recruiter the day after high school graduation, there are few enough jobs. Think you’re going to find a job like your dad? Hell, boy, you couldn’t even work as a fry cook.
Note how mother and father divvy up the labor between them. She cares for the kids, he gives her orders for her to give them. Where are the days he took off his shoes and read the paper before watching TV? Gone. And nothing arrives to take their place. All is anxious, nervous, nihilistic: The cars blow off their glass pak mufflers on the main drag and the girls giggle and look around.
That’s normal; now for the freakish part. Jittery quiet in the cockpit, loud hush in the bay, no one talking, not even to quiet their nerves. They volunteered. The way the world goes these are dying and they are dead–jury-rigged intravenous feeding here, zipped-up black body bags over yonder.
Stone cold, stony silence, no flowers allowed. The calls were all made yesterday. Moms and dads sit stunned until it’s time to sleep and then they stay up staring at the TV, nodding off after while. I am in my mask, so are the others, you would think it’s Mardi Gras, and it’s like the krewe chief this year is Mister Death, asking "How do you like your blue-eyed boy?," girls flashing their tits.
(9 October 2010)