A young Marine was carried in, still unconscious and full of morphine, and his legs were gone. As he was being carried into the ward, he came out of it briefly and saw a Catholic chaplain standing over him.
“Father,” he said, “am I all right?”
The chaplain didn’t know what to say. “You’ll have to talk about that with the doctors, son.”
“Father, are my legs okay?”
“Yes,” the chaplain said. “Sure.”
By the next afternoon the shock had worn off and the boy knew all about it. He was lying on his cot when the chaplain came by.
“Father,” the Marine said, “I’d like to ask you for something.”
“I’d like to have that cross.” And he pointed to the tiny silver insignia on the chaplain’s lapel.
“Of course,” the chaplain said. “But why?”
“Well, it was the first thing I saw when I came to yesterday, and I’d like to have it.”
The chaplain removed the cross and handed it to him. The Marine held it tightly in his fist and looked at the chaplain.
“You lied to me, Father,” he said. “You cocksucker. You lied to me.”
-Michael Herr, Dispatches
Making love in the sun, in the morning sun
in a hotel room
above the alley
where poor men poke for bottles;
making love in the sun
making love by a carpet redder than our blood,
making love while the boys sell headlines
making love by a photograph of Paris
and an open pack of Chesterfields,
making love while other men - poor fools -
That moment – to this…
may be years in the way they measure,
but it’s only one sentence back in my mind -
there are so many days
when living stops and pulls up and sits
and waits like a train on the rails.
I pass the hotel at 8
and at 5; there are cats in the alleys
and bottles and bums,
and I look up at the window and think,
I no longer know where you are,
and I walk on and wonder where
the living goes
when it stops.
—Charles Bukowski, Layover (via henrycharlesbukowski)
On that young, nondescript face the smile seemed to come out of some old knowledge, and it said, ‘I’ll tell you why I’m smiling , but it will drive you crazy.
—Michael Herr, Dispatches
There are always a few such people who demand the utmost of life and yet cannot come to terms with its stupidity and crudeness.
—Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf
Profound boredom, drifting here and there in the abysses of our existence like a muffling fog, removes all things and men and oneself along with it into a remarkable indifference. This boredom reveals being as a whole.
—Martin Heidegger, What is Metaphysics? (via heteroglossia)