Shooting from the Hippie

Dear Dad,

How are you and Mom? In between quarrelling and trading abuses I mean. You really must take care of your health. Nasty thing, hypertension. A pal of mine tells me his father got paralysed after biffing his mother on the head with a bottle of Scotch. It broke, you know. The bottle, not the head. More’s the pity. Scotch does not come cheap.

As for your diabetes I would strongly suggest you lay off the mangoes you are so fond of. I understand it is quite difficult to walk around throwing your weight with both legs amputated. Fancy going around with crutches. Or worse, a wheelchair. Reminds me, I was reading a comic novel the other day about a guy’s wheelchair rolling off a cliff. Not very pleasant, I was given to understand. Christmas is around the corner so I decided to spread a little goodwill and cheer with you folks.

By the way, old man, I am a bit stony these days. Inflation, they tell me. I am saving a lot on haircuts, of course, but pot doesn’t come free you know. Be a good chap and wire me a thousand bucks at the earliest.

With love, respect and all that rot,
Your son,


the gleam in a barber’s eyes hippies

Gautam Nadkarni

Shooting from the Hippie

Moving On

prayer beads
falling apart—
henna designs

Sunset and sand. Near the well of Zam-Zam, outside the Kabba, dusty pilgrims end their sojourn.

We share a common humanity. As kings have reached out to grasp the Kaaba’s black stone, we too reach out, twirl like dervishes, or squat on prayer rugs, coiled up like spiders with our kabair (big sins) or saghair (little sins), not wanting, really, to throw stones, only enjoy the magic carpet ride.

Though arches hold up kalam (theology), skulking beneath gold domes, we feel so cold, dirty with petro-dollars, questioning Ali’s metempsychosis or what-not, wondering if we might, or might not, be blessed.

prayer call—
a camel shakes his head
and walks on

Anna Cates

Moving On

DIE GLOCKE (the Nazi bell)

Unseen fingers forged in the dark, in bottomless night mysterious doom, till the buzz whirled even the white noise black.

It hung above the long-grown grass, where the wolf came to sniff the gloom, stalk the shadows, gnaw futilely at metallic dusk, atomic sunrise.

The wolf snarled, My eyes gleam gold. I feast on hoarded magic, but my hunger grows. Frothy, I tread on, still warm from the hunt. I dread neither God nor man.

But violet Xerum 525 tears through bridle and bone. In the zone blood gels, flesh crystallizes— sparrows, rabbits, lilies die, and the golden eyes grow hollow, blind.

It did not hear the wolf’s howl. It did not fear the shadows. It sucked up all the magic, spinning like Mercury round the light. It tore free from its binds, testing gravity, time, leaving only scorch marks in the grass . . .

night wind
contemplating the death
of stars

Anna Cates

DIE GLOCKE (the Nazi bell)

a haunted house dreaming of Helsinki

‘You’re not necessarily an arsehole if you don’t vote.’
‘The haunted house must always have a hidden or secret room.’
‘Sometimes staying in bed is a good thing. Sometimes staying in bed is a just and right thing.’
‘The secret is the betrayal of knowledge or rather reality’s betrayal of knowing in regards to the knower, that would be us – the owner’s of the haunted house.’
‘Make sure your hair is suitable for such an endeavor. Just come at sides. Paint shapes.’
‘Any colour, really. Ready for dreams and suitcases.’
‘Dreams can be – landscapes, battles, empty gin bottles, tonic wine and hair getting in one’s eyes.’
‘The world like the secret room is both there and not.’
‘Knowing and yet not quite.’

like grey hairs
time moves

Michael O’Brien

a haunted house dreaming of Helsinki

benny and the ghost house

Benny ignored the yellow weather warnings and went out. The rain was heavy he thought to himself the rain is heavy because the rain was heavy. The wind was mild it thought. The southern front that had given seed to the rain had brought a mild front they thought.

as if it was a cow
the frog
cleans a gun

He walks around Langside. It is midday. He gets a coffee on Battlefield Road. The river high and thick brown whipped up soil from the heavy rain. Along the river someone has been attacking the trees. Seems weird he thinks to himself.

man being the last word

Michael O’Brien

benny and the ghost house

Memoir Notes of a Vampire Medic

I was born August 8, 1980, and I died March 21, 2002, when I was bitten on leave in Ethiopia. The incident was covered up for the sake of national security, of course. Imagine the public panic if word got out that Special Operations was using vampires in combat. Though the SEALs are known for unconventional warfare in combat, a vampire medic is another level of “unconventional.” Try “other-worldly” or a Saturday afternoon straight-to-DVD sci-fi flick.

You miss out on so much when you are dead. Of course, there’s the obvious family stuff–weddings, children’s first days of school, aging in the annual family portrait–but there’s also the subtle rites and rituals I used to enjoy–the morning sun hitting my face as I paddle out for one more wave before heading to base, getting drunk in an Imperial Beach squid bar after something goes FUBAR, coming home to Esther (who stuck it out for four years after the incident before moving on to a living boyfriend), looking forward to retirement. Even relating to my buddies’ injuries. I can’t even remember my sore shoulder after Hell Week.

a butterfly’s wings
gossamer, flapping in the wind—
tick and tock of life

Of course, immortality has its advantages. I can stay out in the Coronado surf indefinitely without concern of hypothermia. I’ve probably died over a hundred times taking a bullet or a grenade for Eddy, Brown, and T; there’s no shortage of terrorist blood in those firefights to patch up a hole or two. Staying the same pant size has cut down on clothing expenditure, and I can pull off fashion trends the second time around. Or third. Or fourth.

We’re not all the tortured Louise’s or cavalier Lestat’s. Most of us are somewhere in between, trying to carve out a day-to-day life with some purpose or understanding of the world around us. Make an honest living. Find love. Find life after love. Art is trickier, though. Most creative works emanate from the urgency mortality bestows–fears of danger and death, grief mixed with hope of uniting in an afterlife, the gift of each second or breath as potentially one’s last.

Mona Lisa smile—
loves won and lost,
the one that got away

Work goes on much as it did before the incident. Night missions carry on as they did for years before that night, though I am saddled with a bit heavier a load than before–extra medical supplies, extra ammo, an occasional tank. My unit burns through considerably less C4 these days, as I simply remove the buttressed steel doors for hassle-free infil. Day missions are a bit trickier, and I’m sure the day will eventually come when I can’t don a full burqa and blend in with my surroundings.

I do feel the bloodlust during battle, but it’s nothing more than what is common to man. Hunting dinner on the African plain or Georgia woods. Fighting the enemy after watching a close friend die in battle–just read some of the Medal of Honor citations. It’s only natural that the dark gift bolsters in battle. Some might say it’s an unfair advantage in combat, but terrorist organizations have been using vampires as weapons of mass destruction since the mujahedeen. Heck, Mossad’s elite of the elite have been mainly vampires since Munich, and there’s credible intel that Spetsnaz has experimented with a vampire group above Alpha.

grim reaper creeping
through the bedroom window—
headlights through the tree

I don’t know when vampires first fought alongside humans in battle. Dracula is a clever myth–as are crosses and holy water. I personally prefer yarmulkes and menorahs, but, to each his own. I don’t buy the Judas Conjecture, either. I scoured the ancient texts after the bite, hoping to find answers, and vampires are ancient. Mesopotamian myths, particularly the Alphabet of Sirach in Judaism and ancient cuneiform texts from the Sumerians and Akkadians, point to Lilith as the first, the original wife of Adam and possible tempter of the serpent who felled humanity. One might even venture that the Angel of Death passing over the houses marked with blood was actually a vampire.

Yes, immortality does have its advantages in combat, but you’re cursed to drift from battle to battle and war to war, carrying loss for all eternity and watching your friends medically retired by training accidents and battle wounds. I’m sure I’ll face a different type of “medical retirement” should I ever develop symptoms of PTSD. A vampire with flashbacks, gnawing at a mirage. In a shared bunker. Or a training drill. They’d never allow it. Even I shudder at the thought.

dog chasing its tail—
the food chain
going in reverse

But, for now, I’m an 18D medic, saving lives rather than taking them (minus a sanctioned snacking on the enemy from time to time). Casualties have been down 70% since I was bitten. Our op tempo has picked up considerably. And the great whites that circle San Clemente Island to torment Phase III BUD/S classes have been strangely absent.

Colleen M. Farrelly

Memoir Notes of a Vampire Medic