by Flint Driscoll on June 3rd, 2011

Can it really be twenty years since I said farewell to arms? The calendar, alas, does not lie. Twenty long years, blowing in the cold, heartless, not-understanding winds of civvy street…

I guess I still have a lot of mental and spiritual baggage from my army service during Desert Storm. The Flint Driscoll who emerged from the VA hospital, still bruised by the accidental beating he received in a darkened store-room, was not the same naive and idealistic young reserve lieutentant who had landed in Ramstein Air Base only two months before. War made a man of me, but in ways that have scarred me until this very day. I still find it very difficult to talk about those times, apart those four novels I wrote, and the articles for The National Interest, and the biopic feature pitch that is currently still in Hallmark’s court.

If you weren’t there, you wouldn’t understand.

Now, though, after twenty long years, surely the time has come to purge myself of the psychic pain, and I fear that mere prose will not suffice. Only verse – blank or heroic – will bear the dreadful burden of my suffering, the profundity of my insights, the zen-like comprehension of the ying and yang of cruelty and kindness, life and death, loneliness and brotherhood, war and peace. I envisage a major and troubling retro-modernist verse cycle, analogous to Eliot’s The Waste Land, but without all the faggoty footnotes he added to explain the meaning. You wimped out, Eliot. Have the courage of your convictions. Besides, the kind of people who read poetry are happy when they don’t really get it.

It could take me a week, perhaps two, to knock-up an  Eliot/Pound-type epic, so in the meantime I’ll leave you with this. Okay, I didn’t write it myself, but I still can’t read it without crying.


by anonymous

I am Quartermaster
My story is enfolded in the history of this nation.
Sustainer of Armies…

My forges burned at Valley Forge.
Down frozen, rutted roads my oxen hauled
the meager foods a bankrupt Congress sent me…
Scant rations for the cold and starving troops,
Gunpowder, salt, and lead.

In 1812 we sailed to war in ships my boatwrights built.
I fought beside you in the deserts of our great Southwest.
My pack mules perished seeking water holes,
And I went on with camels.
I gave flags to serve.
The medals and crest you wear are my design.

Since 1862, I have sought our fallen brothers
from Private to President.
In war or peace I bring them home
And lay them gently down in fields of honor.

Provisioner, transporter.
In 1898 I took you to Havana Harbor and the Philippines.
I brought you tents, your khaki cloth for uniforms.
When yellow fever struck, I brought the mattresses you lay upon.

In 1918, soldier… like you.
Pearl harbor, too. Mine was the first blood spilled that day.
I jumped in darkness into Normandy, D-Day plus 1.
Bataan, North Africa, Sicily. I was there.
The ‘chutes that filled the gray Korean skies were mine;
I lead the endless trains across the beach in Vietnam.

By air and sea I supported the fight for Grenada.
Helicopters above the jungles of Panama carried my supplies.
In Desert Storm, I was there when we crossed the border into
Iraq…sustaining combat and paying the ultimate sacrifice as we liberated Kuwait.

I can shape the course of combat,
Change the outcome of battle.
Look to me: Sustainer of Armies…Since 1775.



One Response to “Twenty years a-blowing”

  1. […] downright cowardly. I may be ex-Army myself (Operation Desert Storm 1991: Ramstein Air Base; if you weren’t there you won’t understand), but I refuse to believe that the men of the USMC would ever sink to such depths. I have met many […]