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Howling Iraq

I have seen the greatest men of my generation fall to IEDs and to RPG’s, from night terrors and self-medication. I have seen the greatest men of my generation emerge crazy from their diseases and their demons, taking a bullet for a brother, or from their own gun because they couldn’t take that bullet. I have seen the marble-lined graves of the fallen who could not find an enemy worth engaging. I have seen real men seeking the Book of the Wars of the Lord, finding out-of-shape ayatollahs spouting lies and wreaking fury and false promises.  I’ve looked down my barrel at such low-life commanders and mealy-mouthed mullahs, and passed judgement. PUSILLANIMITY! Not worth my ammo.

I have seen the feared warriors of my generation reduced by the five, by the ten, when a 19-year-old punk and his godless twenty-three year-old brother unload a shrapnel bomb. I have heard the word of God spoken like the water at the living stream, and a hundred lowlife supposed men of Allah trying to explain the appeal of seventy-two vestal virgins. I have heard the many drink from the words of a few. I have seen people of promise spend twenty years of their lives chasing their tails like mentally handicapped dogs because they would sooner die that listen to a word of wise counsel, and a thousand times sooner if that counsel came in the name of our Lord. I have seen children of the church who never faced a challenge they didn’t know what to do with from Vacation Bible School who never developed the faith of a mustard seed, because their faithlessness was never challenges, so it could never develop.

I have seen wafers that could spread out across the Sea of Galilee wasted as so many empty calories on the tongues of children of the untested. I have seen sermons snail-mailed, e-mailed, newslettered and tacked up like Martin Luther’s 99 Theses. by well-meaning pastors who are preaching holy words, but lacking the fire to ignite the faith. I have seen those ministers fall to their own unbelief, because they howl into the empty chapel and say, “It’s not information, children! It’s not seventh-period English. It’s what will save your lives, but you don’t listen, and then the best and the brightest of our generation go off and die with their song still unsung because the Lord is crying and you don’t care!

About Ronald FIschman

I am a public school teacher who had a prior career as a cantor, opera singer, and composer. My greatest notoriety comes from my settings of Dylan Thomas's "Vision and Prayer" and Percy Byssshe Shelley's "Ozymandias" for singers and large instrumental ensemble. My first poetry collection, "Generations," honors the roles of son, husband, and father, and is available at

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