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The Secret of the Widow on the Side of the Road

by Thomas Carnes

She kneels there
Hands out
Eyes crying behind the burqa veil
The widow knows the secret
But she won’t share or tell
She wants us to find out in our own time
The world is not a splash of sepia
Through a small thick bulletproof window pane
It is bright and big with the colors of death and pain
She knows, how well she knows
Every day, no matter how hot
She sits there, her children playing in the deserted desert dying lot
She holds out her hand to every passing caravan
Regardless of who or what
She wants to share her grief, to exchange her pain, to give out her secrets
But we have a secret of our own
One that we take with us, far away, eternal and home
We won’t share it with the widow
We would all just cry
We take our secret on with us
And pass her by.

Thomas Carnes is a medically retired Army captain. He has served in the Army Reserve, on active duty, and in the National Guard. As an enlisted soldier, he was a Blackhawk crew chief, doing time at Fort Polk, Korea and Fort Bragg. He has deployed to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan as a military police officer. Currently he teaches criminal justice at James Madison High School in San Antonio, Texas.

Painting the Room Red

By Lea Baker

Louie was standing on the slick trunk of the fallen tree, gripping Doreen’s screen door for balance, when Brena opened the front door.

“No strangers.”

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Mirrored Eyes

by Eric Hawkins

horned owl on breathless field
feathers charred on twisted wings
eyes reflect   shattered horizon

white-tailed doe under fallen oak
branch impaled through cervix
eyes reflect   shattered fawn

man prone fractured on stone
torso smothered smoked splayed
eyes reflect     shattered dream

vultures swirl on acrid waves as
mortality seeps from natures breast

Eric Hawkins is a disabled veteran. He served ten years as an infantryman/Bradley gunner from 1985 to 1996. He is currently a student at Austin Peay State University and is seeking a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.

The Orange Key

by Terry Brunt

“I think I’m going to shit myself,” Clinton sputtered as he tried to escape.

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Who Am I?

by Aaron Auld

Do you ever look at yourself? Sure, you see yourself in the mirror a handful of times a day when you go to the bathroom to take a leak and all that, but usually I find that when I look into the mirror I’m looking at all of the things that aren’t me. Is there something on my face? Lately, however, I don’t really know why, but I have been making a concentrated effort to look myself in the eyes when I find myself facing a mirror. Sometimes I can hold a gaze longer than others.

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Fire Away: A Veteran’s Journey From War To College

By Timothy Schumacher

“An Army veteran uses two different weapons to combat the struggles of adjusting to college life after war.”

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The Ghost and the Steel Wheel Roller

by Luke Vermeulen

February, 2005

Mosul, Iraq

We have a steel wheel roller in our motor pool that’s haunted.

Usually it’s houses and stuff that you hear about getting haunted on TV but that dumb roller definitely has a ghost hanging around it. I’m looking at the thing right now and the ghost’s right there, standing in front of the big steel wheel staring at me. Probably standing right in the exact spot where it got crushed when the roller was being unloaded at the port. We have four identical rollers all parked in a row in the motor pool and I can totally tell which one is the haunted one from a mile away.

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How Cold? Icebreaker Cold

by Don Robishaw           

It was the dark of the evening and temperatures were below freezing. With an unlit Marlboro between his teeth, the able-bodied seaman turned, bent over, and cupped his hands to block out the wind and seawater.

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The Chaplain’s Call

by Harvey Ranard

It was a beautiful day at sea aboard the USS Caloosahatchee, AO-98. We were in a part of the Caribbean where the water was a mile deep and as crystal clear below us as the endless royal, sun-drenched sky above us. I was just a year or so into my twenty-three-year service as a Navy chaplain, so every experience was crisp and salty. From my view on the bridge, I watched our ship cut gracefully through waters that sparkled with the beauty of a diamond, the sort of moment travel agencies advertise. Maybe more people would join the Navy if they could see what I saw that day.

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Trimmer, No More Need Be Said

by Phillip Parotti

In the time of Camelot, long before I took up teaching as a career, I answered John F. Kennedy’s call by doing my bit as a naval officer. As a result, on a warm day in August 1963, I made my way to San Diego, where I reported aboard a new destroyer. As “George,” the junior Ensign aboard, I didn’t have immense responsibilities as the Assistant Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer. In fact, I was a gopher for the ASW Officer, a Lieutenant who had risen through the ranks. “Mustangs,” men formerly enlisted, were some of the most knowledgeable people in the Navy, and while I might have been the ship’s “George,” I wasn’t thoroughly green. Four years at Annapolis had taught me that Mustangs knew the ropes and that to prosper, I would be wise to listen to them. My training started at once.

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