Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | August 2, 2014

Sample Audio for “Overload”

Charles Kahlenberg will be producing the audiobook for Overload.  When we listened to this sample, we knew he was the producer we wanted for the book. Listen. His website is here:

NEW_OL cover_sniper-3

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | July 26, 2014

Get The Book Now — The Price Is Going Up

Yesterday I listened to Carl Moore’s reading of the first two chapters of V Trooper – First Mission. The novella is currently listed at $.99 on Amazon. With an audiobook in the offing, the price will be going up to $2.49 on Tuesday.  Here’s the Amazon link.

Although I wrote it, I’m enjoying rereading the book.

This is Carl Moore’s website (under construction).

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | July 19, 2014

Prologue for V Trooper – First Mission

This prologue is being produced by Carl Moore, through ACX,  as an audiobook.  It should be available, exclusively through Amazon, by early October. The book is only 99 cents at the moment, but the price will rise within ten days.


Mustafa Muhammad was cold. Night in the mountains near Bamiyan, Afghanistan, chilled the Taliban warrior. His robes were not enough to block mountain winds that slithered as he squatted, watching the trails that led to his master’s encampment at the top of the hill.

No enemy will come, not even the infidel’s Special Forces, but the Sheikh would have my head removed if I left this post. Eight of us guard the Sheikh’s tent. If I have to piss, I can only go three meters away to a tin bucket, and I have to smell it until my relief comes at four in the morning. Then I have to take away the bucket, empty it, and bring it back for the next man.

My sergeant is sleeping in a comfortable bag inside a big, warm tent while I freeze.

A sound, like great wings above him, made Mustafa look to the stars and lift the barrel of his AK-47.


Then he was there, coming up the hill. A slim man in a black uniform, an American. He approached Mustafa without speaking. In the bare light of the sickle moon, the man seemed to smile. Before the Taliban guard could bring his weapon around, the stranger had grabbed the gun barrel. He was smiling, though there was a strange look to his mouth.

The intruder wore curved sunglasses and pulled them aside as he came ever closer. The eyes were red and glowed as fiery as the burning coals they mimicked. Mustafa released his grip on the weapon and turned to run. He opened his mouth to yell an alarm, but a hand as cold and hard as a knife’s blade covered his mouth and spun him around, drawing him against a body hard as dragon’s scales. The mouth the Taliban soldier thought was eerie, opened. Fangs, like those of a viper, glittered in the moonlight.

The only sound at the guard post was a slight drumming as the dead guard’s feet trembled in the cold dirt. VT_1

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | July 14, 2014

Cover for Devil’s Blade



This cover is at the blog as a link for entering a contest.  It was designed by my Friend, the lovely and talented Terre Britton.

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | July 7, 2014

Meet Author Jacqueline Chandler – Learn about Her Debut Novel

T. Hello, welcome to Pinnacle Writing.  Good to meet you. Tell us a bit about yourself.

J. I was raised in various cities and countries, never staying anywhere too long. I moved to Hong Kong at the age of 5, which I loved. Those were the happiest years of my childhood. Whenever I get the opportunity to go back there, I fall in love with that country and its people all over again. Every time.

I studied Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent. You’ll notice it isn’t especially vocational, particularly for a writing career, especially when you consider that I never have and never will write anything from a political standpoint. I chose it because I had enjoyed modern history in school and didn’t believe a writing career was a realistic possibility – there are only so many JK Rowling’s in the world.

It was only after University that my then-boyfriend (now-husband) encouraged me to chase my dream. It was the best thing, although perhaps not the most romantic thing, he’s ever said to me. I’m now settled with him and our two wonderful kids (and, currently, 26 fish) in Germany.


T. When did you start writing?

J. I have absolutely no idea. I was helping my mum clear out her attic last year and we found a load of little stories I’d written when I was about nine or ten, I guess. I’m not sure. I seemed obsessed with the plight of a little red tractor and had, appropriately, named the series of little books “The Little Red Tractor”.

I know I did a lot of writing in secondary school. I dreamed up the idea that was basically the story of “But You Can’t Hide” during those years. Around the age of 15, I remember visiting the local Police Station and bombarding a hugely patient and understanding policeman with a whole range of questions pertinent to the story. Twice during this interview he checked with me that I wasn’t actually planning on doing any of this. The story ended up being too big and I decided to write the latter half, which became “But You Can’t Hide”. I have never written the prequel.

BYCH cover

T. Was there a favorite writing teacher or mentor? Tell us about him/her.

J. No. I’ve never had one. I just got on with it blindly going in and putting pen to paper without really knowing what I was doing. Writing is an urge. It doesn’t matter if I’m any good. I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from doing it.

I will say though, in the last few years, I’ve met another writer (just the one, I’m afraid), and it’s marvelously inspirational to talk to her and bounce ideas off her.

T. Please tell us about your current book. What is the genre? Give us a thumbnail sketch.

J. It’s called “But You Can’t Hide” and is available on Amazon (both in paperback and Kindle format) and Kobo. I affectionately refer to it as a trashy thriller. It’s the sort of easy-read book you would buy in an airport to read on holiday for a few hours escapism. It’s not meant to be literature. It’s meant to be fun.

I had to summarize the book when I wrote the ‘back cover blurb’. It was incredibly hard to do. It’s easier just to write the book. I guess brevity has never been one of my strengths. Considering the agonizing and sleepless nights during that ordeal, if it’s all the same to you, I’m just going to repeat the back cover blurb here:

Private detective Stuart Finlay is looking for a girl. He has a photo, a name and a clue to her location, but the girl appears to be a homeless runaway and few people notice the homeless. His investigation leads him to Katherine, who is neither homeless nor a runaway but is a dead ringer for the girl in the photo. Nothing matches what he’s been told though and it’s clear to him that someone, possibly even his own client, is lying. Despite the physical similarities, Katherine doesn’t seem to be the one and Finlay is out of possible leads. His client continues to push and Finlay comes to realize that he isn’t the only one looking for this girl. Brutal killers, thinking Finlay has already found his target, hunt him down in a quest for answers but Finlay doesn’t know anything. As they start to look at Katherine, Finlay risks everything to try to convince them she isn’t the one.

He fails.

Laden with guilt, Finlay is forced to watch as, bit by bit, Katherine is made to lose everything. He’s desperate to help her, but the killers are holding something over him, something Finlay will risk dying for in order to protect. If she can’t get away, Katherine may be forced to make the same sacrifice.

T. Do you have a sequel or prequel in mind or works in progress?

J. I didn’t, until people read the book and asked me what was going to happen next. I ended up coming up with a sequel. The working title is ‘Betrayal’. That title has been done to death, so it will be named something else but there is much debate at the moment as to which title I might go for. The current favorite seems to be ‘When They Find You’ but I personally prefer ‘Dead End’ as an alternative.

Other than that, I have seven other novels that I’ve been playing with over the years that cross into the genres of sci-fi, fantasy, and romance. I’m itching to get back to some of these once ‘Betrayal’ is done.

T. What are your writing habits? Are you an outliner or do you write “by the seat of your pants?”

J. I’d love to say that I write by the seat of my pants just because it sounds so daring. But I don’t. So I won’t.

I start with mind maps – those sprawling diagrams which start with a bubble in the center of the page and then has various arrows coming off it. I use the mind maps to decide on the motivations of my characters, the events in the book which affects them, and their reactions to the events (and how that affects other characters).

It’s really important to me to work out what my characters want to achieve in the book (even if it’s as simple as ‘get the girl’ or ‘stay alive’). As much as possible I try to get these motivations to clash with the actions of as many of the other characters as possible and then I let them battle it out to see who gets what they want (or near to it) by the end.

Once I have this in my head, I do a chapter plan which details what happens in each chapter and who the ‘point of view’ character is – whose eyes we see that chapter through.

Eventually, as it gets bigger, the chapter plan becomes the book.

T. What are your ideas about the future of digital publishing compared to paper books?

J. I can’t deny the practicality or cost-effectiveness (not to mention ecological benefits) of devices such as the Kindle. But honestly, I’m an old-fashioned kind of girl. I like the feel of holding a book. I need to have it in my hands. It’s a preference.

T. Anything else to share?

J. Nothing I can think of. Like I said, brevity is not my strong suit, so you’ve probably got it all. If any of your readers do ever decide to give the book a try, if they could please review it on Amazon I’d greatly appreciate it. It’s hard for an unknown author to get anywhere without reviews on Amazon. And, they should know, if they decide to read my book, that I really am a very happy, well-adjusted person.

Thanks so much for this opportunity to ‘chat’. It’s my first ever interview, so quite a big deal for me.

T. Thank you for visiting. It’s been a pleasure to meet you.  Jackie’s website is  Take a look.




Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | July 4, 2014

Five Loaves and Two Fish

Only a few instances exist in which all four of the Gospels tell the same story. Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the synoptic Gospels because they are so aligned that often, they use the same words. The Gospel of John is different. John often reports incidents that the other three Gospels do not. One of the incidents that all four report is the feeding of the five thousand. The miracle of the five loaves and two fishes is reported in Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:1-14.

Jesus and his Disciples had just learned that John the Baptist had been beheaded. They went across Lake Galilee to be alone. But, the people had anticipated their travel and when they arrived they found a huge crowd waiting for them.

After healing the sick and teaching about the Kingdom of God, the time had come that the people should eat. The Disciples came to Jesus and asked that he send the multitude away so that they could go into the countryside and buy food. They said, “…this place is like a desert.”

Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.” [Luke 9:13]

The Disciples, of course, began to come up with all the reasons that it was impossible for them to feed the huge crowd. They talked about the cost and finally Jesus asked them what they had to give.

John is the only one that reports the source of the food. In John 6: 8 “Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the disciples. He spoke up and said, 9. “There is a boy here who has five small loaves of barley bread and two fish. But what good is that with all these people?”

All the other Gospels just mention that the tiny amount of food was available to feed the crowd. Only John says a boy had the food.

You know the rest of the story: after blessing the food, Jesus broke the bread and divided the fish and everyone was fed and there were twelve baskets of leftovers.

The Disciples were, once more, being taught lessons. First, they were given what appeared to be an impossible task. “You give them something to eat.” Their reaction was natural. They could not do it. Notice the word, “they.” It wasn’t feasible for them to meet the needs of such a massive crowd. It was not, of course, impossible for Jesus. With Him, anything was, and is, possible.

Think about the boy John mentions. Why did he have the food with him? Was he the only person present who had enough foresight to pack a lunch?

The Disciples must’ve gone through the crowd asking if anyone had food with them. When the boy came forward, it was a generous gesture. He could have hidden his cache of food away and eaten it himself, but he chose to answer the call.

He could have said, “What I have is too little to make a difference.” Yes, and he would’ve been right if he’d tried to do it alone.

He didn’t. He placed all that he had in the hands of Jesus and The Lord made it more than enough.

When Christians are called upon to do tasks that appear impossible, they can follow the example of the unnamed boy. They can put all that they have in the hands of Christ and He will make the offering more than enough.


Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | June 11, 2014

The Lower Lights


Listen, in your mind—if you can recall the melody—to the wonderful music of the old hymn, Let the Lower Lights be Burning as you read this devotional.

The words, and the music that accompanied them, are from one of the best-known Christian and gospel music composer in history: Philip Paul Bliss—or as you may have seen it in hymnals, P.P. Bliss. Other music by Bliss includes: Hallelujah, What a Savior; Hold the Fort; Jesus Loves Even Me; The Light of the World Is Jesus; Whosoever Will; Wonderful Words of Life and the all-time favorite invitational hymn: Almost Persuaded, but this is by no means an all-inclusive list. He also wrote the music for the song, It Is Well with My Soul, which he sang at its public introduction only a month before he and his wife were killed in a tragic train wreck in December 1876.

Bliss wrote Let the Lower Lights be Burning—which was published in 1874—after hearing D.L. Moody, the famous evangelist, tell the story of a tragic shipwreck. Moody had told of a passenger ship that was trying to reach the Cleveland, Ohio harbor from Lake Erie in a terrible storm. The ship’s pilot, Moody said, knew that he could only make the harbor safety by keeping the lower shore lights aligned with the main beacon of the lighthouse. As the ship approached the rocky shoreline, the captain of the ship knew that there was trouble and asked the pilot if he was sure that they were headed for the Cleveland harbor. The pilot told the captain that he was sure it was Cleveland, but that the lower lights were out and he was forced to try for the harbor without those guides. In the turbulence and darkness, the pilot missed the channel and the ship was hurled against the rocks and sank. Most of the passengers drowned in the cold, dark waters.

At the end of his sermon, Moody was quoted as saying, “Brethren, the Master will take care of the great lighthouse; let us keep the lower lights burning.” Bliss, who worked with the great evangelist at the time, sang the new song he had written, Let the Lower Lights be Burning at Moody’s next meeting.

The use of light in the Bible begins in Genesis 1:2-3: “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light.’ and there was light.”

 Creation, then, began with God’s command for light to exist and push away the darkness. The idea of light has, in the world’s literature, stood as a metaphor for understanding and opening of the minds. The words, illumination and enlightenment come from the same basic roots.

In the Old Testament, Isaiah’s prophesy of the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, is expressed in terms of light: Isaiah 9:2:

The people walking in darkness

have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of the shadow of death

a light has dawned.

Of course, Chapter 9 continues with the wonderful prophesy of Christ that says in verse 6:

For to us a child is born

to us a son is given.

and the government will be on his shoulders

And he will be called

Wonderful counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

 John begins his gospel, in Chapter 1:4 with this description of Christ: “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” thus equating the Son of God with light and life. Then later, in 8:12, John tells us of Jesus’ words as he spoke to the people in the temple courts. “When Jesus spoke again to the people he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness.’”

In 1 John, the Apostle writes a contrast between light and darkness. Read the contrasts in your Bible. Chapter 1, Verse 5 has two powerful images of light: “…God is light. In Him there is no darkness at all.” Then, Verse 7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His son, purifies us all from sin.”

 Jesus, though, didn’t intend that the world at large find His light on its own. In Matthew 5:14, a part of the Beatitudes, he told his disciples that:

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on a stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Jesus told the crowds in the temple, “I am the light of the world…” and then when he left the crowds and took his disciples up into the mountains, he told them, “You are the light of the world.” These statements aren’t contradictory. Jesus was and is the light of the world. It is only through him and by his illumination that his disciples—then and now—become lights to the world around them. When Jesus told the disciples that they were to be lights in the world it was in anticipation of his departure from this world and the need for them to carry on His ministry.

A more modern example of the concept of D.L. Moody’s sermon can be found in many modern settings. Imagine the scene when a friend asks you to come visit for dinner in the evening: You might drive up to the friend’s house and park your car. Looking at the house you would probably see that the lights on the front porch are turned on so that the door to the home is illuminated. Along the pathway that leads to the front steps there may be a number of small—relatively dim—lights to shine on the paving stones so you won’t stumble as you walk.

Those little lamps, so popular these days, are solar powered. They depend on the energy from the sun to charge their batteries so that their light can last through the night. Without sunlight, the little garden lights would not shine and the path would be dark, and maybe hazardous.

The play on the words “sun” and “Son,” is relevant here: without the power and light of the Son of God, Christians could never be what Christ told his disciples to be “lights of the world.” There would be no illumination in the world’s darkness, just as there would be no illumination from solar lamps without the sun.

Remember again now, the story told by the evangelist, D.L. Moody: The pilot of the doomed ship knew that he had to keep the lower shore lights aligned with the beacon on the main lighthouse in order to safely bring the ship into the harbor. If the lower lights have gone out in today’s world, it could be because they have not drawn enough energy from the sun to fulfill their purpose. If the lower lights, themselves, are not aligned with the beam from the lighthouse, they are as unreliable as if they were dark.

Those who most need to have the path ahead of them illuminated are not yet looking up to the “Great Lighthouse” of Christ. They need the lower lights, which draw their glow from The Son to keep burning to show them the way through the treacherous waters of their lives and finally to safety on shore at the foot of the lighthouse. Christians must draw their light from Jesus and stay aligned with Him so that they will provide stable markers leading to safe harbor in His love.








Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | June 9, 2014

Thomas, The Good Student

I may have posted this before, but I still like the idea.


Think back to a time when you were in school, or the last time you were in a class of any type. There were probably moments when something the teacher said or did made you want to ask a question, but you may have held back for fear that someone else in the class would think you’d asked a dumb question.

Remember what a relief you felt when one of the other students stuck up a hand and asked, “Teacher…?” Yeah, you remember that. And you can be sure that there were probably several other students in the group who had the same question and felt the same relief that you did.

Jesus was, and is, the master teacher. The twelve Disciples can be considered his first and closest students. Some of his students finally did ask the questions that I feel sure the others wanted to ask themselves. Let’s consider Thomas. We don’t know very much about him, except that he has been given the dubious title of “Doubting.” Lets look closely at how Jesus used Thomas’ outspoken questions and how He even used his doubts to teach. Through these, Jesus taught his disciples and through the Gospels, he teaches us.

I have an affinity for Thomas. I may have just been that student who impetuously stuck up his hand to ask the question that none of the others would voice. I have often been that student who would ask the “dumb question,” and, I feel sure that other students were waiting eagerly for the answer.

When, in John 14, Jesus said:

“Do not your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Then Thomas stuck up his hand.

“Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” he said.

Thomas, like probably some of the other Disciples, took Jesus’ words as describing a physical trip, as to Bethany or Jerusalem. Some of the others were probably saying—silently—to themselves, “Whew, good for you, Thomas. I’m glad to have you ask that question rather than me! I didn’t understand either.”

Jesus must have smiled at Thomas, knowing the thoughts of the other disciples, and I picture Him as looking around at all of them with deep love as he told them, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” and, “If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well”

Jesus, the master teacher, used Thomas’ question as a way to teach the disciples—and you those of us who read His Word—that, if you want to know the way to The Father, here it is: “I am the way…” John has recorded the words “I am…” said by Jesus as the words that signify the oneness of Jesus with God The Father. These words, remember, are the words God spoke to Moses from the burning bush when Moses asked who he should tell the Israelites had sent him to them when they asked, “What is his name?” God answered Moses’ question with, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I Am has sent me to you.’” The Jewish religious leaders were incensed at Jesus’ use of the phrase, “I am,” since it linked Him directly to the almighty.

He told Philip, in John 14:9: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”

That was a part of the same conversation when Thomas asked his famous question about where Jesus was going.

Thomas was a strong and loyal Disciple. At one point when Jesus told his Disciples that he was going to Lazarus, who had been sick and died; they knew that He was walking into danger. Thomas’ grim but faithful statement to the other disciples was, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” These are the words and of a man who truly loved and believed in Jesus.

In the scene that has forever laid the title, “doubting” on him, Thomas probably stood mentally where some of the Disciples had been before they had seen Jesus themselves. We aren’t told why Thomas wasn’t with the other ten Disciples when Jesus appeared to them on earlier occasions, but they had surely told him excitedly over and over that He had risen.

It is easy for us to understand why Thomas doubted the others. He had seen His Lord had brutally humiliated and crucified. The structure of his faith had been shattered. Like students in classes every class, Thomas had not listened closely enough. Jesus had told them of his impending death and the reasons for it. Thomas, along with the others, had run away and left Jesus in Gethsemane, but he had watched the scenes of The Passion and the crucifixion play out from a distance, and obviously knew what the physical wounds had been on Jesus’ body.

The defining moment that tagged Thomas with the “doubting” label came when Jesus had been crucified and had risen.   The Gospel of John tells us that:

“Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’”

Thomas, still in anguish over the loss of his Lord and the destruction of the very fabric of his faith, probably wished and hoped that they were right, but told them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” We can imagine that those words were spoken through the awful pain of loss.

We also aren’t told what happened during the next week, but I have to wonder if the other Disciples tried again and again to convince Thomas that the Lord had truly risen. A stubborn, hurt man; Thomas—probably with a hollow pain inside him—mourned his Lord. He didn’t, however, desert the others. He was with them in a locked room when Jesus came to them and said, “Peace be with you!”

Imagine the flooding of relief and the glory of hope restored that must have swept through Thomas. Imagine also, the awful, sinking feeling of shame and embarrassment that he had not believed what the other disciples had told him. At this point, Thomas didn’t have to actually touch Jesus to believe, but when Jesus told him to “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” His answer was the answer that Jesus wanted him to finally say and understand, “My Lord and my God!”

We can only speculate what would have happened if Peter, or one of the other Disciples had not seen Jesus and was in the place of Thomas. Peter, who had denied Christ three times, may have been stronger. We don’t know. But we can be sure that Thomas was probably not alone in his doubts before he had seen Jesus for himself.

Thomas, through his stubborn doubting, gave us the chance to know the words of the Master Teacher that echo down the centuries.

“Because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Jesus used the doubts of a strong, loyal Disciple to tell those of us who, in time, are so far away from the days when He was physically on earth, that we are blessed when we believe in Him although we have not physically seen Him.


Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | May 26, 2014

A Final Poem for Memorial Day 2014

Some of this poem is autobiographical, some imagined.  All of it is sincere respect for our fallen warriors. Remember:  To the Colors is a bugle call rendering honor to the nation. It is played when the National Colors, our flag, is being lowered for the day.






She waltzed so lightly

like only a warmth

in the crook of the arm,

at the college Military Ball,

smiling over braided epaulets, at her love,

dancing with my date.


Now in barely two years, this thick fresh clay

drags her feet,

each step heavier than the last,

and her small hand weighs on my shoulder

like that of an old, lame woman—

each foot searching cold ground

for stability.


Once under the edge of a canopy tent,

we sit in the front row of steel folding chairs.

The chaplain says the same words,

Just ahead,

constantly in sight,

the flag-draped coffin hangs suspended,

surrounded by humps of artificial grass

hiding exposed dirt;

but its smell clogs each breath.


Another funeral I watched,

at greater distance,

moved by wagon down a street in Saigon;

led by hired mourners wailing as loudly as relatives,

in unison with a one-stringed violin.


All the living dressed in white.


My companion, born to those customs

said that even the colors were different,

in Vietnam,

and white was the color of death.



Precision volleys of rifle fire

slash chill air

signaling the trumpet.

Crisp-stepping honor guards salute

and begin triangle-folding the colors.


The last notes of “Taps” shimmer

then disappear,

tucked away in a final fold

below the stars.


The red, I had always been told,

symbolized patriot’s blood:

Blue for fidelity,



But the white stripes that shrouded the coffin

cannot hold their symbol,

the beauty I once knew.


These are Asian white.



Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | May 23, 2014

For Memorial Day, 2014

This is partly a bit of history, but  it’s poetry.  It is meant to be a memorial for all the fallen warriors. I may have posted it before, a couple of years ago, but the feelings haven’t changed.


“He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.”

Hot and raining as it is today,
it seems appropriate,
coming down Gunter’s Mountain into the park,
hanging like tattered tapestry from hills,
rising from steaming ground and wet trees,
leaching  memories of valleys in Laos and Vietnam,
where mists seemed to flow down from mountains
and pool in steep ravines,
like fog in an old horror movie,
hiding something at the bottom.

How often does a man find an obituary for a comrade
he didn’t know was gone,
in U.S. News?
While eating a sandwich at Wendy’s?

I once started a poem about things that don’t fit:
Pavarotti singing  Nessun Dorma in my head
while waiting in line at McDonald’s,
-Achey Breaky Heart playing on the loudspeakers.
But that was all,
it was a definition, not a poem.

Today, here,
an epitaph for a warrior lies in front of me,
on the table,
slamming like an AK round,
like finding my own picture
featured in obituaries of a local paper.

I hold in my hands,
a remembrance with two pictures,
a past that we never quite left,
-strong young warriors
filled with belief and intensity.
and today’s face,
dragging almost-forgotten pains like a wounded leg
whose scars you don’t see
until a man is stripped and naked.

A picture of an aging man,
wearing his green beret,
at a Special Forces convention,
where we try through telling,
and again retelling,
remembering names of abandoned places,
pinpoints on terrain maps of the brain;
remembering names of dead warriors,
carved on The Wall, and in our hearts;
you to me: me to you,
our litany of names like beads on a string,
a ceremony of incantations,
somehow to create again,
here, far  downstream,
the men in old pictures.

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