​Jason Arment served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Machine Gunner in the USMC. His work has appeared in Narrative Magazine, Gulf Coast, Lunch Ticket, Chautauqua, The Burrow Press Review (Pushcart nomination) and many more; been anthologized in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Volumes 2 & 4; and is forthcoming in Zone 3, Duende, New Madrid, Veterans Writing Project, Midwestern Gothic and The Iowa Review. University of Hell Press will publish his memoir Musalaheen in 2017. Jason lives in Denver, where he coordinates the Denver Veterans Writing Workshop with the Colorado Humanities, and can be reached at jason.arment@gmail.com.

 

    Health

Jason Arment

 

In country, SOP was ignore everything.

How the radio jammers hundreds of hertz

split the heads of Marines

with a throbbing ache

 

or the way dust storms

caused sickness so severe

the Corps airlifted patients

to Sweden's neutrality

 

Now

veterans line the streets

& methadone clinics

seemingly invisible to the public

 

Back home,

even if we'd

have it otherwise

—ignore everything.

 

Every Marine a Rifleman

Jason Arment

 

A well aimed shot

is worth ten

wild ones,

not so with people

 

Although bullets

& people

are sometimes similar

& made for each other

 

People can disobey

follow their own way,

a bullet is nothing more

than an empty vessel

 

Jarhead is a telling euphemism

along with dum-dum round

misfire, hangfire,

& blanks

 

Jarheads are bullet-catchers

as well as gunslingers,

a moth to flame Mobius strip

that hasn't stopped since 1775

 

Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, War-guided

Jason Arment

 

Civilians don't know anything

about missiles, so no surprise

when ISIS started using TOWs

no one cared

 

An Egyptian destroyer

trolling the Red Sea

broadsided by a

small sun

 

Made me think of when

I swam in the same waters

with the Israeli Defense Force

where Eilat meets the waves

 

the memory made remote

by the video of

rocket flare

& blinding impact

 

When I was in Iraq

the only people with TOWs

were: the U.S. &

allied forces

 

Now

the situation has changed

from RPGs to TOW missiles,

& ISIS on the rise.

 
 

Marine Blues

Jason Arment

The blues

if it were darker

but not bruise black

more like blood on the asphalt

 

& not the musicians

playing their hearts

out every night

more fevered dream, fetid sweat

 

The feeling

when all is lost

& not just for a second,

but forever

 

The crumbling

of rotted wood

underfoot

or callow hearts

 

Like coming down

off a drug, or

laying out a gun

& writing a note

 

Mostly the last one

but a little of all of them

because my blues, brother

will drag you from sunlight

 

The Absence of Dreams

Jason Arment

I miss dreaming

until I skip the meds

& wake up

sweat soaked screaming

 

In one night-terror

I'll never forget

the squad & I reunited

to patrol stateside streets

 

We ran into a kid

I used to teach math

at an inner-city

middle school

 

I maced & beat the 6th grader,

not out of malice, but compulsion.

No idea if

he survived

© 2015 Cogswell College •  191 Baypointe Parkway, San Jose, CA 95134 800.264.7955 • www.cogswell.edu