12 July 2017

Welcome to the Basic Training Poetry Lovers' Club!

At various times during the past 16 years of war, I've anonymously sent buddies deployed downrange all sorts of wacky mail and care packages. Some of my favorites included:
  • A voice-changing Darth Vader mask.
  • An inflatable hot tub that looked like a fuel blivet.
  • Truckstop automotive supplies, such as "new car smell" air fresheners, steering wheel covers, and dashboard hula dancers.
Now, however, now my buddies have gotten old enough that I can send mail to their kids, while the latter are off at Boot Camp. I'm not mean or crazy enough to send them cookies or other pogeybait—if you do that, you'd better bake enough for the entire platoon—but I will drop them some semi-motivational snail-mail. Hooah?

(Back in the 1980s, drill sergeants would drop you 10 push-ups for postcards, and 20 for letters. I wonder what the going rate is now?)

During my first training experiences in the Army, I carried a copy of William Shakespeare's "Henry V" in my left cargo pocket. During fire guard duty and other peaceful times—there were few—I'd work on memorizing the St. Crispin's Day speech, or deciphering the rest of the play.

Inspired by this memory, I've been sending at least one lucky basic trainee this summer cycle some 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division, U.S. Army, and Iowa-themed postcards, along with some potentially relevant selections from "Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poems from Inside the Wire." Poems include:
  • "wait for it"
  • "your squad leader writes haiku"
  • "your drill sergeant writes haiku, too"
  • "Jody stole your haiku tools"
  • "Grace, Ready-to-Eat"
Of course, if I am truly lucky—and my beneficiary truly isn't—a drill sergeant may even ask them to perform a dramatic reading of my work, in front of their peers!

I would pay money to see that! I'd even do a push-up or two!

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