I wrote you a letter on the bus back from the city, but that's a different kind of weary, the kind that you can't measure with a slide rule, but is crushed like the ends of Players Milds snuffed out on an unglazed terra cotta ashtray. I wrote it with an old fountain pen my American uncle left me when he died, with the grave instructions that it was for form not function. I flirt with damnation every time I pen a grocery list with it to spite the dead old bastard. The tip broke when I crossed the t in pomegranate and I smiled a wicked grin, listening for him spinning in his pine box, his felt hat and dinner jacket torn to ribbons by undoctored nails. A man that lived in bowling shoes has audacity to find culture on his deathbed. New world culture, like a pulp paper Magna Carta, can't even muster up a damp book smell.

To leave you there by yourself chained to fate, it broke my heart. The tide was turning and your anchor was deep in the muck. I lived my life in transition, glass bottomed boat looking for the next mine, but you, you hoisted yourself up on shore and shed those gills as soon as you could. The sea was our common ground, your dead end and my next escape. When we walked on beach, you always walked in the water, but ran from the waves. Old Kieran, mending his nets, called you a sandpiper. Why can't you fly away with me birdie? Come out to sea to die.

I sold my Vauxhall to the fuzzy faced kids watching the destroyers leave port. I almost gave it away, sorry that they would have to live the balance of their lives in the space between now and draft notice. Liberty wants blood again, and she's a thirsty whore.

Claresholm. I'm running off to the Colonies, like so many before me, cowards and criminals in the eyes of their civic betters. Puffins become hawks in a hairsbreadth, when they whiff dangerous skies. I was going to go to Purple Springs, but it seemed rather like a fairytale, and made me uneasy, as though I was playing a game made for schoolboys. Peace in our time? Rather more window dressing for self-important monsters writing checks with men's blood. War is coming Maria. I feel it in my bones, forged in the dirty French mud. The bastard's back for more.

You damned fish wife, you never understood what we did then! I want to wring your neck and drag away you screaming, but it would break both of our hearts. You lost Henry to Flanders mud, you stupid bitch! Can't you remember? Or did I paper over the hole in your heart? England is in the fire now, not safe from the fucking Huns and their murderous ways. Mark my words; they'll march down Fleet Street, atop the Union Jack.

I'm done. I wash my hands of you and of England. I'll rather die in the icy Dominion instead of on John Bull's bayonet in my back. I'll miss you most of all Maria, but I'll not sleep in a burning bed.


for a friend

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