I am living in a hole in the ground somewhere in South East Asia. Why is everyone shouting, tricking, hating and scheming?

I am bricked up inside
a wall in Belfast.

I am sitting with my
back broken in a football stadium in Kosovo.

I have had my leg blown off in the underground in Moscow. Strangling the truth bootlegging innocence. We can't eat money.

I am hungry my children have died in this latest famine, here in Ethiopia.

My wife has been burned she is completely disfigured, a bomb has just gone off in the school were she works.

Okay that's enough!! We all know about the horrific reality of life on this planet. A voice interjects and continues.

The things that are happening here have always happened here. Are you some sort of Commy? Trying to exploit the sympathy of freedom loving people for those who have suffered from the blindness of ignorance and darkness of bigotry. And plain bad luck, that's all there is to it.

I have to think carefully about how I answer that question in order that I don't say Yes" out of pure exasperation.

I respond technically.

There are differences between what freedom is to some people and what it is to others. Those differences are arbitrarily designed by economic and social forces that are linked to who produces what, where and for how much.

I'm not a Marxist.

I am an American. America is already communist. Two hundred years ago we went through these phases of transition. Civil War, Indian genocide, our founding fathers were all revolutionaries. Our way of life, the American Way, will one day conquer the world.

It's a Wednesday afternoon the big leaves from the plane trees are being swirled around the courtyard rounded up in the wind never being given a rest. They remind me of the immigrants that are refused entry into Marseille, France, blown back across the sea and blown around the coast of some other country. Their hopes and fears rising like the wind and dying like the day. Then swept up by autocratic nepotism but always falling more and more. That's what happens when you are living next to a continent that has been shut down. Africa has been shut down. Like South East Asia was shut down thirty years ago by a force with no integrity.

I love Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers but the show has got to stop goin on.

" Arbitrarily" that should be the motto for our age. Translated into Latin. Nailed to the doors of every English speaking home.

Engraved on the gilded letterbox of every rich person. Written on the walls of schools and hospitals that fight to stay open. The kids are coming home from one of those schools.

So I hope they are healthy so I don't have to take them to one of those hospitals.

Who decided to infest Africa with AIDS Who did that thing ???

You see my own father was traumatized by World War II. He was damaged by the eight year combination of profound grief and exhilaration of combat.

He would tell me stories of his exploits, a captive audience who learned all about the idiosyncratic brothels in Lebanon, in Damascus, in Suez and in Alexandria. How they could pay two pence to watch a donkey fuck a woman. As if the whole of Oriental culture was based on the Harem and the donkey. Therefore was totally worthless. He told me about things that he could have kept to himself .

How the orders came to bomb and set alight villages that were collaborating with the Germans and the Vichy French. Apparently he was guarding the oil pipeline. The village was attacked at five in the morning with rapid armored car mortar and machine gun fire. Every house was destroyed every body, man, woman, donkey and children of the donkey were buried in a mass grave There were no witnesses and it happened lots of times. A Story teller is immortal when his stories are told.

I bought " Apocalypse Now" at the flea market this morning. Brando was Gargantuan as Kurtz. His voice was like the voice of my father telling me those stories. Stories that I should never have been told. It's just finishing as they come home. I have to explain that I ran away from this war at the age of twenty. I knew they realized that our family was different that we don't have the same concerns as other families.

We are active politically. Support the Palestinians yet we aren't Moslems. Dad paints pictures that don't sell, drives a car that he is always trying to fix. He lives in France cos he can't stand to live in his own country. He ran away from a War that had the Doors playing in the background.

They understand the INTIFADA, my children are radically awakened.

They know that in Palestine the donkey children rise up in their millions from their mass graves and throw stones at tanks. Bible throwing, story throwing, holy throwing, holy holy throwing.

When I came to the Mediterranean region in the late sixties I read the Koran. I was living in a cave at the time on the hard stone. My guitar was left against the cave wall open stringed to the wind and it played all the time. An Aoliean harp played by nature only changing the position changed the song it sang.

The cave opened out to the sea. I was a hideaway poet who read the Koran.

Now thirty odd years later I touch my heart when I shake hands with a friend.

I am still reading the Koran.

Identifying with those big dying leaves levitating and spinning in the courtyard of rent collection. My wife tells the bedtime stories to the children, she realizes that trauma is systemic that with any luck it will die in me when I die.

There was no heating in the bed room that I had as a child. He would cover me with his great coat with the brass buttons the coat was so heavy like metal, like a World War weighing down on my young body. My father wanted to make sure I was warm as he told me those daring stories of the marines who died and the sergeants who sent them to their deaths. One story always filled me with wonder as well as dread. It was the story of the hidden bolt.

An infantry man has only his wits and his gun to keep himself from being killed in or out of action. The wits were supplied by the soldier, the survival skills supplied by experienced boot camp officers who knew all the ropes and gave everyone a hard time proving it.

Training is an assault on the hubris loaded immortal corpse of the young whatever the profession. You have to love your job. If your job is a murderously dirty one you have to love it all the more. I could never take training and I dodged the draught.

I live out the events in my own country that I love in garbled second hand newsreels.

I didn't loose much, I lost a hunk of my soul.

Any way back to the story. So Pa is eighteen and he's in boot camp learning his trade. Like in " Full Metal Jacket" The sadists have it all worked out. How can we get out of this primary assault is the question they are all asking. The sergeant is a goon, a victim maker a cold executioner of youth.

Sure enough he picked on the wrong guy, he picked on my Papa. He laughed as he told me this bit, his breath smelling of beer and gravy from his supper. The sergeant started to beat up on one frail rookie kid and began to threaten the others by his side. My papa threatened him with the Geneva Convention and that's how you find yourself in trouble.

He found himself running with a full pack for two weeks at the fragging double.

Even this sportsman had reached a limit of endurance. Late one night he went into the sergeants quarters and stole the bolt from the rifle of out sadistic sergeant; the next day was the great parade and the sado sergeant committed the greatest crime that any infantry man can ever commit. To lose the bolt from your rifle. He was sent to the army prison for two months and stripped of his rank. He knew who had done this and had messages sent out from the prison to find the ears of my father. When he came out of the prison he was given the toughest job of all re assembling the targets on the rifle range. It isn't difficult to imagine the possibilities that this posting offers for vengeance inspired shooting. This sado was blown away so many time that his arse was aflame at one point from very intentional and reckless FIRE Fragging shooting from hurt men and non hurt men alike. Needless to say his career was over he was shipped back home and became a grocer. The smiling boy was like a chocolate coon. Papa had turned the tables on the world and that was that

I always wanted to do the same from under the warmth of his greatcoat. But life was never black and white like that not since the Everley Brothers sang " Good Love go Bad " The identification with those who suffer and are broken in this life has given me vision of human existence sometimes it's like an open road sometimes it's like being thrown into a labyrinth. I am just a man. I am asleep under my fathers full of metal great coat. But I am not afraid to tell my own tale.


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