FNG, Get Some, HadjiFNG
This is your rack—keep it made and sleep on top of the covers. This is your dresser; this, your wall locker. Keep them locked. There's only one thief around here: everyone else is just trying to get their shit back. This is the shop. Be here tomorrow morning dressed to run. If you fall out of a run, God help you. This is how to cut your own hair. This is how to roll your sleeves. This is how to blouse your boots. This is how to wear your cover. This is how to salute. Always keep your right hand free in case you need to salute. These are your friends now. Memorize their names and home towns. This is town. This is where we eat when we go to town. This is where we drink when we go to town. They don't ask for ID, so don't worry. You buy the first round until we get a new guy. Never fight here. If you do, never fuck anyone up and don't get caught. If you get caught, call me first. I'll bail you out, but God help you. This is your weapon. Break it down shotgun style and check the bolt. Reassemble and do function check. If it's good, memorize the serial number. BZO it and memorize the BZO. When you go to the rifle range, shoot Expert. If you can't shoot Expert, shoot Sharpshooter for sure.
This is your fire-team. You're the smallest guy, so you're the rifleman. When you're on point, your eyes and sights are connected. If you look where your rifle isn't, God help you. If you see something, hear something, get a bad feeling about anything, say so. Any of that shit could be the difference. This is how to lace your boots so we can cut them off if we need to. Label all your clothes in case we can't identify you any other way. This is your poncho. It's also a tent, a roof, a blanket, a pillow, a windbreak, a bag, a sail. Carry it everywhere.
This is deployment. Don't write home too much. Don't think about home. When they shoot, make yourself small. Make sure you can identify an IED. This is how you breach a door. This is your sector of fire. Always assault towards an ambush. Don't freeze.
This is a cluster-fuck. This is combat. Don't freak out. This is how you tie a tourniquet. This is how you treat a sucking chest wound. Breathing is more important than bleeding. Start the breathing, stop the bleeding, protect the wound, treat for shock. Nothing works in this fucking place. This is how you wrap a body in a poncho. It is also a shroud. Don't freak out.
This is home. Don't try to get it all back in one day. Give yourself time. Give your family time. Don't hurt anyone. Don't hurt yourself. Talk to us because we're the only ones who'll get it anyway. See you tomorrow.
I terrify, that I miss it.
In summer, I park my car in the sun,
return to heat like water.
I flash to steam, the leather scalds my neck.
I am an exhalation, my boiling mind reliving
Hudson's femoral, brachial
—did it matter what its fucking name was
when it jetted hot, even in the heat, hot
driving like rain the spray of his life
into our fear-faces, and the smell of it baked
into the radio, burning copper and meat,
never left the humvee, or any humvee, after.
Screaming like laughing, motherfuckers,
arming his blood and my tears of absolute joy
from my eyes, you should have killed me,
barrel stuck out the window jolting, jolting
glass dust and hot brass into my lungs
and I feel great
seeing everything through cordite smoke,
shutter-clicking a lifetime of dreams
while somewhere I'm showing myself
in detail better than it was
the last time I had sex, just in case.
I am lighter now, more than forty pounds—
Flak jacket with ceramic inserts,
helmet, gas mask, bayonet and M-16 and magazine,
magazine, magazine, magazine, magazine and magazine,
enough to kill fifteen dozen people—
or just three, sixty times over.
Without them I don't know how to walk.
I can't carry myself, with steps too light,
like mist waiting to evaporate
when the sun finally burns me off.
I thought I was ready for us to meet, Hadji,
as my convoy rumbled through your city.
I'd shot Expert, could keyhole
shots in the necks of man-shaped targets
at five-hundred yards—you'd be much closer.
I thought I knew how you'd go down, Hadji.
Targets don't bleed, or scream, or cling so
goddamn hard to life. 5.56's jump
on impact, go in the leg, out the neck
and covering the holes doesn't keep you alive.
I thought I'd be all right, Hadji—
went home on my feet, though I can't
remember how to sleep
a night through. Yesterday a girl
hit my cart at the grocery store.
I hadn't thought of you in months, didn't then,
just stood staring at cheeses
like they mattered,
wanting so much
to unclench my fists and fly the fuck apart.