Dulce et Decorum
by Fred Reed:
A'Croaking We Shall Go
I am a soldier.
I am dirt. With Joshua I put the cities of Canaan to the sword while
women screamed and tried to protect their babies. I spent long days
in Nanjing butchering and butchering civilians because I enjoyed
it. For I am a soldier. I am dirt. I firebombed Hamburg till the
wind-fanned flames left nowhere to hide and the people burned screaming
and their fat puddled in the streets. I am a soldier. I am dirt.
On the crumbling
walls of Angkor Wat, the Cold Lairs, trees now crawling over the
walls, you may see me carved, marching, marching to kill forgotten
peoples, it matters not whom. In the sweltering heat of Chichen
Itza and the terrible winter of Stalingrad and the flaming paper
cities of Japan and on the Death March of Corregidor I killed and
killed, for I am a soldier. I am dirt. I kill.
In this I glory.
I spend my declining years drinking in bars with old soldiers I
knew when Breda fell to us and we raped and killed and looted, when
we torpedoed the troop ships and left the soldiers in their thousands
to drown slowly as their strength gave out. The fierce exultation
of watching Atlanta burn, Pearl Harbor, Nagasaki, these I remember
lovingly. For I am dirt.
skulls and eat their faces, we say with remembered bravado. We remember
the adventures fondly. They almost had us at Plei Cuy when a 551
arrived with beehive rounds, and that put paid to them, hoo-ah.
These are degenerate
days. Once I breached the walls of Ilium or Constantinople during
the Fourth Crusade and killed and looted and raped girls of seven
in front of their parents how they howled! Now perforce I
say I do it for democracy, about which I dont give a damn,
or to end evil, though our allies are the worst tyrants we can find.
Before, I could torture my captives between two slow fires, or by
running a red-hot poker up their neither ends, and this in the public
square for the amusement of a bored populace.
Now I water-board
them, bringing them to the edge of drowning, screaming, begging,
puking, yes, that does nicely, now a little more water as their
minds break, and maybe I will masturbate over it later. For I am
a soldier. I am dirt. I am the worst of a sorry species.
I am a soldier.
I pride myself on my allegiance to duty, God, honor, country. My
god is Moloch of the red fangs, who wills me to besiege a city into
cannibalism, to catapult the severed heads of loved ones over the
walls, with blankets infected with smallpox. My god, however named Yahweh,
Molloch, Satanas, Odin, imposes my duty, to kill, to rape.
But if my country
says to butcher, then butchery were no crime, but a source of honor.
To kill for pure enjoyment, as Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer, is most
contemptible, but to do it because Bush II, Tojo, Bin Laden, or
Netanyahu commands it this is virtue at its highest. Killing
for your own reasons is criminal. Killing someone you have never
seen for the benefit of a politician you have never met is a source
I was a soldier
once. I received certain medals. They were trivial medals. The meritorious
variety are awarded for jumping into a trench of scared conscripted
adolescents and bludgeoning them to death with a rifle butt. I lacked
the character. But medals presented problems. If I put them in the
toilet, they might clog it, but I certainly would not want children
exposed to them. The military presents problems that Clausewitz
did not anticipate.
Once, in a
war of no particular importance, I lay in a hospital of little importance
in a country in Asia that didnt matter. It was just a country.
Soldiers kill, who and where and why being beyond their capacities
for thought. I was blinded. Soldiers are dirt, and sometimes they
get what they deserve. I did. Across from me, though I couldnt
see them, were the survivors of a tank crew. An RPG 2, which you
probably dont know what is, had hit their
M60, which you probably dont know what it, had cooked off
the cherry juice, which you probably dont know what is.
see them. I was a soldier. I was dirt. But I was blind dirt. I couldnt
see them under the plastic sheeting under which they oozed serum.
But they spoke of the fire within, and the loader and gunner screaming
as their skin sloughed off, and they desperately tried to find the
hatches and couldnt, and died screaming, screaming, fingers
groping for hatches they couldnt find in the smoke and agony
and terror, which is why I hate you sonosonfbitches that sent them
and us to make money for McDonnell Douglas.
For this we
hold reunions. We get together in Wyoming and Tuscaloosa and Portland
and remember when we were young and the war held off the boredom
of life and the star shells flickered in the sky of Happy Valley
and life meant nothing but was at least intense. I hated the H&I
fire over the dark forests of a puzzled Cambodia and I hate you
cocksuckers living soft at home for sending us and I and I hate
what I did and I hate my friends who were there, who are really
my only friends. And I hope you one day pay, what we paid, what
our victims paid and they you pay it as we did. And this will bring
me the only joy in my life.
I am a soldier.
I am dirt.
is author of Nekkid
in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well, A
Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be, Curmudgeing
Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle, Au
Phuc Dup and Nowhere to Go: The Only Really True Book About Viet
Nam, and A
Grand Adventure: Wisdom's Price-Along with Bits and Pieces about
Mexico. Visit his
© 2012 Fred Reed
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