Made with

And So He Drank



America finally had its Manifest Destiny--

It was about killing.


A wife had a steadying effect on young men who might otherwise

Take to whoring

She kept her husband on a tight leash

His drinking problem was the talk of the town

A guilty expression like a man with a bad hangover


Slovenly in personal appearance

His mother showed him an indifference that was remarked upon

People near the frontier didn’t worry about babies

People became soldiers because they had failed at everything else


The tannery was next to the house with its noxious smells of rendered fat

Old cattle were penned up outside waiting to be slaughtered

The horse, still blindfolded, set off placidly


He wasted his time reading romantic novels

The endless parades, drills, and fussy inspections of infantry

He had no gift for small talk;

He’d never learned to dance


The first warning came in the shape of thousands of terrified rabbits

Horse’s hooves skittering on cobblestones slippery with blood

A hell hole of heat vermin and flies

A bullet struck the pillow where he was about to lay his head

The glint of bayonets through the smoke held nothing

He had to kill them in larger quantities


New wars echo old ones;

How much suffering are we prepared to watch?

What number of murders makes a massacre?

The gods reign where they can,

One calleth wisdom what another calleth fear


The object of warfare is murder

The best fighting men do not loot and rape--

Here are soldiers lining up the inhabitants of a peasant village,

Allegations surface:

Suffers temporary snow blindness, plays chess and checkers

With citizens, enjoys racing, betting on horses.

Becomes bored, lonely, and depressed

(is alleged to have drunk heavily),

Issues order expelling all Jews from Tennessee

Mostly communicates by notes.


The tomb had been allowed to fall into decay.

There was a troupe of barely clad dancers--

History in the making,

I stare so deep in your eyes.




Man proposes, God disposes--

The war had begun.


There was never any scolding or punishing by my parents

The brother and sister next younger than myself died of the same disease

Much of my time, I’m sorry to say, was devoted to novels

One of my superstitions had always been when I started to go anywhere

           Not to go back

I am not aware of ever having used a profane expletive in my life.


We became the army of invasion.

One cannon ball passed through our ranks, it took off the head

           Of an enlisted man

The exposure of a single head would bring a volley.

Before an animal is turned loose explosives are attached to him

I could not see how human beings could enjoy the suffering of beasts


We landed in front of a cornfield

My horse seemed to take in the situation

Our men commenced rummaging the tents to pick up trophies

A constant fire was delivered from every gun

A third ball passed through his hat


Alligators and other revolting looking things occupy the swamps

           In the thousands

There is nothing but pine woods surrounding us,

           Infested to an enormous degree with Ticks, Red Bugs,

           And a little creeping thing looking like a lizard;

We heard the most unearthly howling of wolves.


Meanwhile, cholera had broken out

I was attacked by fever and ague

Vomito, which usually visits that city early in the year

The Yellow Fever was raging during this time

I was suffering very severely with a sick headache

I spent the night putting mustard plasters on my wrists and the

Back part of my neck

My heart kept getting higher and higher until it felt to me as though

It was in my throat


Wars produce many stories of fiction, some of which

Are told until they are believed true

A state half slave and half free cannot exist

They claimed that one Southern man was equal to five Northern men

           In battle

This is the best of all places—the place of all places

I would not go home on any account whatever.




Read these blank lines just as I intend them and

They will express more than words


I can feel plainly that my system is preparing for dissolution

           In three ways;

One by hemorrhages, one by strangulations, and

           The third by exhaustion

There can not be a hope of going far beyond this time


This is always the trouble:

The cocaine does not seem to relieve the pain,

I will have to be careful about my writing--

Will not cut out anything of interest.


My tongue has commenced to diminish

In coughing a while ago much blood came up

A verb is anything that signifies to be; to do; or to suffer.

           I signify all three.


P.S. Have carefully preserved the lock of hair you gave me.

* Ulysses S. Grant: The Unlikely Hero, by Michael Korda; Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant; letters of Ulysses S. Grant, and “Notes to the Doctor” (Library of America edition, Grant, Memoirs and Selected Letters); Just and Unjust Wars, Michael Walzer; Arguing About War, Michael Walzer; lyrics of Beyoncé Knowles.