Both men desire to be the commander-in-chief of a military whose slang for so-called drone kills is “bug splat.” Neither speaks of repealing the “doctrine” of pre-emptive war, and the indefinite detention camp called Guantánamo remains open.
Your mother gave her first interview about the burn pits that you slept by for six months and manned, unmasked, for weeks. In vast amounts, around the clock, these things were burned: metal, paint, munitions, human waste, hazardous medical material, petroleum products, lithium batteries, computers, guns, tires, vehicles, plastic, hydraulic fluids, unexploded ordnance, and “discarded human body parts.”
At Bagram Airfield, where the pit was the size of ten football fields, Afghans and soldiers called their sickness “Bagram Lung.” An Army captain who was at Abu Ghraib says, “You can’t tell me that was OK…While I was there everyone was hacking up weird shit.” But the VA has only recently acknowledged the “possible side effects” of what others say is “this generation’s Agent Orange.” One the EPA lists is “premature mortality.”
At his school, Nico led a morning assembly about Keats. Keats’s mother died of tuberculosis. Keats’s brother died of tuberculosis. Keats nursed them both then died, at 24, of tuberculosis. By way of conversation, I say: “Flannery O’Connor died at 39.” You were only 32.
In news of a different sort: Several people are running races for you, and you have won a new award.
I keep listening to Alice Coltrane — good music for letting go.