Before now poetry has taken notice
Of wars, and what are wars but politics
Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody?
from "Build Soil"
Robert Frost

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Walking in Dreams

I was looking through some of Idaho Journal writer Bill Schaefer's dispatches last night, trying to find the one he wrote about Badger 6 and me. Alongside the title list for his writing is a constantly changing slideshow. When I loaded the page, the image that came up was a picture of a hand holding a framed photograph- a picture of Clev and his fiancé. I've been thinking about him a lot lately, and unexpectedly seeing his picture was a bit of a shock.

Of the three guys we lost, I was closest to him. We'd talked during mobilization back in the states about opening up a coffee mini-bar when we got to Iraq; it was a series of conversations that revealed later how little we understood about the environment we would find ourselves in. We never got the room with an espresso machine that we'd talked about, nor did we really have much spare time to make coffee for people other than ourselves. He did it anyway, though- producing some decent brew on a tiny little machine in his room.

Hold fast to dreams/For if dreams die/Life is a broken-winged bird/That cannot fly

I've always had vivid dreams, and Clev has made his appearances in them as long as I've known him. Back before deployment, he showed up in dreams of crazy stunts and wild times back in Boise. Then, he turned up in dreams of a memorial service in the dusty future. I never told him about those- superstition aside, there's no point in worrying about something that's never going to happen. After it did happen, he kept showing up from time to time. Once, he told me the same thing he told me the last time I spoke to him- "Don't feel guilty, man... we all have a job to do". I'd told him not to stay safe, because I was supposed to be out on patrol until I drew guard duty instead, and I'd feel guilty if something happened out there.

Hold fast to dreams/For when dreams go/Life is a barren field/Frozen with snow

The latest dream was earlier today, just before I got onto the internet to be surprised by his picture. The platoon was back home; a bunch of us were at the mall for some reason. Everyone has little quirks about them- in the dream, those quirks were exaggerated until each person was nothing more than a caricature of themselves. Anderson was off shopping for guns, while Kildow and Sgt Kelsch were having a no-holds-barred grappling match in the middle of the food court. Yaw was doing pull-ups on an overhanging railing, and LT was standing on a little stage telling stories. I was sitting and writing behind a pile of coffee cups. When I went back to the stand to get fresh coffee, Clev was standing behind the counter making coffee.

At least I know he's happy, somewhere.

*Poem is "Dreams", by Langston Hughes


  1. Anonymous29/8/07 05:22 make me cry...but I agree with you (because I KNOW) that good men like you Clev ARE happy in that someplace better. Hurry home, safe!

  2. Anonymous29/8/07 07:50

    Wow. Amazing writing on this one.

  3. Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 08/29/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

  4. You make me cry.

    Gosh you're a good writer!!

  5. while the fact that you dream...and of course what you dream...says a great deal about you....However the way you tell us your dreams speaks volumes

  6. Has your "soul grown deep like the rivers."

    And did you ever dream that you would ever be this close to the Euphrates?

    thanks for the memories of Langston Huges, it had been a while.

  7. Anonymous31/8/07 16:12

    I was on a business trip in China for the past 2 weeks. Blogspot is blocked in China and I could not view your entries. The first thing I did upon my return was to hit this site and I am not disappointed. Your writing is vivid, graceful, eulogistic. It deserves to be published more widely. I hope you will continue to find writing material now that you are out of Iraq. All the best.

  8. You're good man. That was great to read. I bet there were lots of dashed illusions your first time over. But dreams will keep you going. Keep you sane.

  9. When you're walking in your dreams you need to know how to interpret dreams.