He poured shot after shot
of off-brand bourbon into cut-glass,
chain-smoked Chesterfield’s, rolled spliffs,
offering me a swallow,
a medicinal hit
from the same ashen hand
that formed his fist
that christened drywall,
my mother’s lip.
Now, when he sits
on the crag and tells me of the world’s
how black wasps carouselled
the tongues of bloated bison,
I believe him.
No maggot went unfed.
That was the way he wanted to live, the way that he lived, Matiushin repeated over and over to himself, unable to understand: live so that no one notices you’re alive? But the Uzbek carried on talking. Even if someone asks you to bring them a mug of water, refuse, don’t do people any kindnesses. If someone falls, don’t help him up, let him lie there, that way they’ll bother you less. Think about how not to fall, not about how to interfere and be better than others. If you eat bread, think that you’re eating shit, and if you eat shit, think that you’re eating bread. Do the work you’re told to do with a good will, be patient, but don’t let them force you to do that work. Matiushin heard more and more fuzzily: don’t have a lot of things, spend all your money as soon as you get your hands on it, give it all away so no one can take anything from you by force or make you give it away. Respect the strong, acknowledge them, let yourself be beaten. If you don’t respect them, they’ll make you wish you were dead or kill you. You have to live, think about nothing but living day and night.
The government apparently calls such attacks signature strikes because the targets are identified based on intelligence “signatures” that suggest involvement in terror plots or militant activity.
So what signatures does the U.S. look for and how much evidence is needed to justify a strike?
There is something about witnessing an act of homosexuality that so wounds and incenses a certain type of man, he cannot be reasoned with.
From the archives: When he was young and looking for a little direction, our writer turned to the Navy. There, he found many more questions than answers.
From the 2012 archives: Richard Wolinsky interviews Helen Benedict on her novel Sand Queen and the ongoing problem of sexual assault and internal violence in the military.
"The mandates from the government, the permission to torture, the lack of of a clear mission, trying to run the war on the cheap, and treating soldiers badly, all of that erodes one’s moral compass, as soldiers like to say."
How much does the United States spend each year occupying the planet with its bases and troops? How much does it spend on its global presence? Forced by Congress to account for its spending overseas, the Pentagon has put that figure at $22.1 billion a year. It turns out that even a conservative estimate of the true costs of garrisoning the globe comes to an annual total of about $170 billion. In fact, it may be considerably higher. Since the onset of “the Global War on Terror” in 2001, the total cost for our garrisoning policies, for our presence abroad, has probably reached $1.8 trillion to $2.1 trillion.
Her mother had been right. The need to be twice as good, twice as right. Twice as good at taking apart a military helicopter and putting it back together, with hardly anyone backing you up in a culture supposedly built on team bonding. The pauses where you have to leave the room, duck into the head to cry or yell, because they can’t be allowed to see you doing it. The harassment. “They don’t want tits in the shop,” was Sophie’s blunt summation.
The role of fiction is to go into the human soul, to go into the places real people are reluctant to talk about or even look into.