It is that whimsical time of year again. It is time to celebrate all the things we are thankful for. For me this means taking a retreat to my old stomping grounds in New York to really be overcome by the season. The most exciting part of Thanksgiving is the wave of new books that is upon us. Whether you’re a fascist, doing time in a cell, or just finishing up the night shift I’ve got something for you this year.
As many of you have heard me discuss before, I have the upcoming Worked Stiff: Poetry and Prose for the Common and of course Modern Waste: Calhoun My Love will be soon to follow. My writers out there know how hard it is to find work-life balance. Many of you are spitting out novels between midnight and AM, in between shifts, or during a long vacation of seclusion. This is a part of what makes our writing so enthralling and so maddening, we are half out of our minds when we turn these machinations into public displays. Today, the eve of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share that spirit of being at wits end which drives one of America’s bravest and strongest fighting forces: the paratrooper. I hope you enjoy this excerpt from the upcoming Worked Stiff: Poetry and Prose for the Common. For daily updates be sure to follow me on Twitter @marcdcrepeaux
Time stops but the figures before the man keep moving.
On and on they perform with lone purpose in mind.
The man finds his body in ritual too,
copying their every move, singing.
This is all a movie, played back slow, primed for editing.
The grumbling beast turns on its side,
just when the birds thought that particular section of the sky was safe.
The movement for another pass captures the man’s stomach.
His will to ever say no again is gone.
The men in front of the line all hook up and chant.
He turns to see that nobody is there to copy his movements.
Nobody is there to push him out if he doesn’t seem to have the action required at the door.
He is the last in his line and the time is soon.
He knows as the other men near the door show an inch on their fingers.
All echoed by the lines of the willing.
The fear inside of him is so great that it reaches absurdity.
Boiling over, he can only smile and sheer himself out of his physical form.
He examines his body, his gear as he hovers above himself.
He watches the man turn soldier walk and hand his lifeline to another.
Time allows only a trusting, momentary stare.
Exiting the door into a sudden free-fall, intense wind steals the man’s lungs.
Broccoli and toy trucks morph into a pause for judgment.
The soldier’s mind can only whirl through the many decisions he has made.
Did he need to bomb that test? Did he need to take her out? Did he need to buy that car?
Those and other certain events have driven him into this life, into this panic.
Will it end? Will he perish with the adrenaline soaking in his blood?
No. A snap of his torso gives the soldier hope.
His eyes look in wonder straight up at this moment’s only love.
He can only guess this violence of body surely must mean survival.
A Canopy, a Savior, a Prince.
Work must be done now to ensure the rest goes well.
Proper descent is only up to him and the ritual he remembers, wait.
The soldier catches a peak of the horizon,
the beautiful reality meeting him at his same human level.
Eye to eye, mesmerized to be equal to the Earth and the Sun.
The spectacle has captured only him, is only for him.
His eyes follow the streaks of light to the ground,
past the tops of his trusty boots, an act the ritual warned against.
They said he must never ever look straight down as he has now.
He forces his head back to the horizon, his eyes must not betray the work.
The soldier pulls with all of his might this way and that.
Combating the wind with his silk savior.
He looks to the trees for permission,
the sign to release his only belongings to the feared below.
Down the ruck zings on a line, stopping far enough under his feet.
The time is coming soon, his eyes no longer an equal with the horizon.
“Be loose! Be loose!” the soldier cries only to himself, his feet and knees together.
Mantra, mantra, all the way down,
he can anticipate no more.
“Oomph!” The air leaves his body as he rolls to counteract the hit.
Tall blades, crisp and sweet, had no idea he was coming.
A reassuring fraction of a second without swelling pain is taken as litmus.
That is all the soldier needs to know he has survived.
He cackles, playful as a child, the spilling parachute covers him like a blanket.