combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 05 Number 01 Winter ©Jan 2007

The View from the Edge

"You shall be known by the quality of your anger, the depth of your consciousness, the extent of your understanding, and the manner of your dying."

Having spent the last several months in various hospitals, I was now being in-processed for custodial convalescence with a mix of my fellows, some amputee, some paralyzed, some deaf or blind. The administrator arrived and awaited our attention, then announced in a harsh tone: "Don't even think about committing suicide! Most people fuck it up ... so if you think you're screwed-up now, just imagine what you'll be like then!" And with that fine welcome home, boys speech echoing inside, most of us wondered just how stupid we'd been by expecting to recover, to rebuild, to resume living. I resolved not to make the war and its aftermath an obstacle to beginning a new life. I promised myself not to become a permanent casualty of combat, a one episode character in an unsuccessful novel, a victim of other people's attitudes. Too many friends and comrades had died for me not to avail myself of the world's beautiful variety. I never considered my essential difference from almost everyone around me, but every time I checked back into the commo-net, I learned of more lost jobs, lost families, and lost dreams. Even though we tried to substitute it, it seemed that our common peak experience would remain the war. Some wouldn't relent, and others sought diversions ... some were stalked by violence, and others drank themselves to death. All of us had seemingly lost perspective; and our civilian counterparts were so capricious and frivolous that they never acquired any perspective at all. The indifferent and preoccupied world never made a systematic place for my uniqueness, never wanted my talents and skills, never recognized my potential or achievements, because all they ever saw was a protruding nail, an unaligned component, a misfit constituent. My life was ruined by my blatant difference, and the world's panoply was trite by comparison with wartime fundamentals. The promises were never fulfilled. The edge of emptiness had more appeal than social concerns. The precipice debouching into the void was more interesting than civilization's vacillations. The vortex of suicide beckons, and it's more salutary than all of humanity's distracting trivia. I meditate on the cutting edge, with no hope of ultimate redemption, and no belief in cardinal harmony. It's only a matter of time before the fatal bullet fired long ago and far away finally and utterly impacts.

"My shoes are gone; my clothes are almost gone. I'm weary. I'm sick, I'm hungry. My family has been killed or scattered, and may be now wandering helpless and unprotected in a strange country. And I have suffered all of this for my country. I love my country. I would die ... yes, I would die willingly because I love my country. But if this war is ever over, I'll be damned if I ever love another country!"
soldier's view

by Pan Perdu
... who is a former soldier and VA counselor; this work has been excerpted from Fragmentations, a book in progress.

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C O M B A T, the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones