September 21, 2009

As you pay last respects to your soldier

I to eyes
by Matt Freire

Yesterday we joked
Lots of laughs
Fun times
The times lives should be made of
And filled with
The companionship of friends
Even though my GPS coordinates are located in a war zone
These times I’m well acquainted with

And today
Today is the same
At least for the majority of the day
But a small large part
Put life into play

Yesterday while we joked
A rocket kissed our FOB and injured a hand full
And one
One gave
As they say
The ultimate sacrifice

I haven’t met they
But I’ve heard they’s words
They create, conjure and destroy
They are welcomed, shunned and ever-present
They lurk
They stock
Some say they are indifferent
Some say they are passionate
But either way you phrase
We all hear what they say
We listen to they
We all are they

And today
Because of yesterday
And those that are they
Fallen comrade ceremony was held today

Honorable event
Emotional event
Real event
Not the most enjoyable event

To attend

To photograph

It’s long, hot and uncomfortable
That feeling is there
That tense feeling
That pain feeling
That emotional feeling

That past tense feeling
That could have been feeling
That that’s how it can happen feeling
That I don’t want to be here feeling
That feeling
Feeling that feeling
That there’s a dead husband and father of six
In a red white and blue covered metal box
With scattered stars
Sitting in the middle of an empty C130
While six children and a wife….

That’s a direction I will not go
As I listen to the Chaplin reciting scripture
Grieving sounds of tears, sniffling and marching
Vibrating off the metallic air-Hurst’s stomach walls

I hate standing right here
Eye to eye to you
To the leaders
To the friends
To the loved ones
As you pay last respects to your soldier
Your comrade
Your friend
This is uncomfortable feeling
That feeling you remember
That feeling that’s with you forever

I’m feeling I’m hungry
A feeling the deceased knows no meaning
Dozens march up in the belly

Group halt
Right face
Present arms
Order arms

They take humble knees to the floor
Giving respects with eyes closed so tight the dead become alive
And a final moment is shared
And you peek at who's next to you
Because you don’t know how long you should pay respects
Thinking those next to you know
But knowing that person next to you doesn’t know
Like anyone knows
Hand touching the cold box
Clenching the flag
Till one starts to stand

Present arms
Order arms
Left face
They march shuffling composure away
As I stay and capture what I can
What I should
What I let myself

A comrade
A soldier
A friend
A women no more than 5 foot 90lbs
Takes knee and places her strong blood pumping hand
On the flag
That clenches to a fist
And an agonizing scream echoes on the hollow
Vibrating in the living
As the emotional small fist pounds on the red and white
As the tears pour from her eyes
As memories flood out
As emotions break

A friend close by reaches out to comfort
But sometimes there is no immediate comfort
Sometime all there is
Is time

And I stand motionless
Wrists crossed at my waste
Camera pointed down
Without the “glory” of that great shot
Without the selfish distance so easily I could defend myself with

Some moments should not be captured
Some moments are worth more than a thousand words
These moments
Moments that my digits, mouth and mind can’t explain
Just the feeling
The feeling of knowing what’s right
What’s human
An action
Some of us humans
Are dehumanized too

September 12, 2009

frivolous confabs and librettos

send it with technicolor sauce
by Matt Freire

i didn't write anything for awhile
and i didn't like it
but don't have writers block i have execution block
i have a desire to write about so much
but i can’t articulate and adjust my firing squad
to get a kill
because the rounds double feed
and jam my starved chamber

struct a reality
and commit it to memory
commit to the uncertainties of language
suspect the increasingly clear
is why i keep my windows dirty

in hot pursuing
bullets tease the opposition's intuition
the self-
imposed fetish of objectivity
to write
frivolous confabs and librettos
wish to make their plight known
and how i construct
it depends upon isolated places
and the opposite of lethargy
and a magazine of insomnia
i pull from my plate carrier

first of all
describe in
detail the various actions taking place
capable of disturbing the assumed
shall it inquire into
or onto
or has it
or should it
with an almost endless humanity
let us
then suppose
in the very process of laying bare
by ourselves
no limits can be assigned to the iterations of our minds
or alteration of our breath
or whatever you please to call them

send it
like the buildings on fire and your cup of coffee is evaporating too quickly
leaving you without your security rush

send it
like winos who go to grocery stores and steal grapes
that the produce man feels sorry for and lets happen

send it
like it’s been vocalized to the deaf and blind
while you push to the front of rock concerts

the digressive maundering perceived
is a consummate
portion swallow
problems involved
the finished
the working on
the approaching
wither like a time-lapse film of conception to submersion
pausing superficial at developmental millstones
because there could be a lot to cover

a smidgen about the author

i am a Leo by month or an ox by birth year. That might mean something to some people but means absolutely nothing to me. it would be sweet, though, to be a large lion and eat an ox.

i have brown eyes that are color blind.

my forehead is aptly known by some as a fivehead giving the optical illusion that i have a large dome. in fact my hat size is that of a pubescent

my clothes are medium regular housing a mildly ill-regular figure

i love to write even though this cannot be done without spell check

my hands are soft even though i constantly labor in work

society describes me white even though i'm more of a reddish hue

i'm average height even though everyone seems taller than me

i have strong opinions even though i'm usually a quiet conscious observer

most of my faults i keep hidden even to myself

i love the hunt but i have never killed and don't plan on it anytime soon

if it's you or i, you will die. if its me or my family, they will live

i fear being alone but alone is what i am

i spend a lot of time thinking but make most decisions spontaneously

i am quiet and reserved in new situations but those who know me would tell you the complete opposite

laughter is my favorite pastime but drama and action is what i fill my life with

water is my favorite hydration tool. Cranberry juice is my favorite airplane beverage. if you offered an orange or grape soda, i'd decline it

i urinate in the shower and i don't believe people who say they don't

i'm generally positive or at least pretend that i am

i don't always know what's going on but pretend that i do

i learn the hard way, skipping a concertina wire jump rope on a road most traveled

i would sing all the time but people would take me for simple

when i'm confronted by people i always first think i did something wrong

i turn red when embarrassed

i naturally look at peoples' mouths when they talk to me but force myself to look at there eyes because socially that's norm. i never know what eye to look at though

i have a lot of ideas and goals that i start then spend hours convincing myself they're stupid

i think best at night, maybe that's why i sleep so well

if i could survive on dreaming i would

if you had an office and left me in the office alone for a bit, and if there was a paper clip on the desk of that office, i would bend the paperclip so it could not hold papers together

i don't like cake so for my birthday i eat pumpkin pie

if i could please everyone i think i would purposely piss off one or two

my favorite defense mechanism is a projectile weapon

i would rather play pictionary with friends then play any card game involving money

i have never gambled for money but have done many things that put my life at risk

i know i'm stubborn but don't think i am

my goal is to one day be content with myself but being content means I'm not trying hard enough or I'm ignoring something

when someone says don't look, i look

i read all the imagery in magazines and look at the words

i say how's it going for a greeting sometimes but almost never want to know how the person is doing

what's up is a greeting i respond to with what's up.

i like writing words that take a moment to think about to get the various meanings, but i when i read others works i like to understand them immediately

if i wasn't me, i wouldn't read me's stuff

i have a low bandwidth if i'm hungry

i have one of the most eclectic music selections of anyone i know, but i don't know everyone's music collection i knows

i keep trying chocolate thinking i'm going to like it this time

i don't always condone what i do or do what i intend

after rigorous activities to the point of exhaustion i like to take a semi-cold shower, enough for some steam to fog up the mirror. sometimes i wipe away the fog and make faces at my self

i'm 24 and i act my age anywhere between the ages of 17 to 47

if i had a super power it would be to grow a super cool mustache

if trying times made me stronger, i might be able to come up with more to write

i would write more to this smidgen but it now bores me and i want to move on, really i'm just lazy but i convince myself that it's done and since it's late and i'm tired and mosquitoes are draining my fluids i'm easily swayed

September 9, 2009

some favorite photos

Some favorite photos, either because of composition & light or because of the pathos in the faces or maybe the pathos the faces educe.

living like this has brought me to this

by Matt Freire

if i had to choose between a rock and a hard place i would choose the rock
to knock myself out with
for even only a few hours
escaping this for just awhile
hoping this will pass
i don’t want to pass out in a hard place
that just doesn’t sound fun
but i am in a hard place
and i feel faint

ive been foul, disgusting, rotten, grotesque
the presence i'm giving off is one inhuman
i have become a different person
i actually don’t consider myself human
i'm some type of vile creature who prays on the innocent and unsuspecting

people don't want to be around me
people i don't want to be around

i make a conscious effort to stay in solitude these days
a recluse i've turned into by necessity
i can’t control my violent outbreaks anymore
i never thought i'd come to this
i always thought myself a better man
maybe standards were unrealistic
maybe i didn't put everything into factor
or factor everything
too illogical for me to achieve
now as society is out of reach
because i devolved into something
that i can’t quite word

i am the type your haste is a must

i am the type you flee with child in hand
when i enter the room you better put your ear muffs on
because i'm vicious
i will attack you
i will show no mercy
attacking man woman and child
this matters not to i
at this
the current state of my life

the army has a large part to do with this
war has a huge part to do with this
i have a ginormous part to do with this
living like this has brought me to this

i don't like it when it’s quiet
i know the horrors that creep in the quiet
like masked ninjas throwing blades and poison darts
i don't like it when its loud
it creates discomfort
the noise wakes me up at night
and it tears me up at times
even though that’s hard to admit how odious i have become

because i've never teared in the silent of the night before
like this before
i've never had to keep moving trying to get away from myself before
like this before
i can’t stand myself
before after or during
like this no more
i'm a nasty horrible evil
i will never be able to forget the things that i did
for sure
the people i did them to
not forewarned
it makes my hair fall out
and then want to burn my clothes
the air is torn
scrub my hands till they bleed clean
to get this horrid off my corpse because i am beyond the stench of death

can there be a cure to this
i was not always like this
and i cannot live like this
i can handle it while i'm here in afghan
for a bit
but in the states
in society
my kind is not welcome
my kind is not asked
but poked with a long stick to leave
great shame i've become
great unease i've caused myself and those around

borborygmus like no other
when i burp it taste like vomit
yes i can actually taste my burps
and if you were within a 15 foot radius you could too
i can even chew on my burps as if it were vomit flavored oatmeal jelly fish
with chunks of goat flesh and MREs
and that can not compare to
the methane that i produce
and the toilette food
i care not to describe
for i have self diagnosed myself with PTISD
putrid traumatic intestine sewage disorder
or maybe disease
i don't know it’s hard to think
i'm writing this from my porcelain island of relief and discomfort
with the door open
for being enclosed with myself right now is not an option

September 6, 2009

my camera and weapon in arm's reach

by Matt Freire

Sitting overlooking the border of Pakistan
Listening to the vocal bugs ratchet Morris code song
Nice weather this night
Like a camping trip my mind drifts
Then I think of my weapon
We were just told attack is imminent
Word from multiple sources
We aren’t worried
We are dug in good
Only thing to worry about are mortars
But i have no confidence in their ability
We all take our positions
Mine with the radios and the medic
And I sleep as if I was on vacation
With my camera and weapon in arm's reach

090903-A-2946F-698 by getoffmyeye.
Task Force Khwost test fire a ZSU23 at Pakistan border control point 6, Khwost province Afghanistan Sept. 3rd, 2009. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Matthew Freire / RELEASED )



Task Force Khwost prepares dinner at border control point 6, Khwost province Afghanistan Sep. 3rd, 2009. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Matthew Freire / RELEASED )

Task Force Khwost covers naan at border control point 6, Khwost province Afghanistan Sep. 3rd, 2009. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Matthew Freire / RELEASED )


"Goat is the most frequently consumed meat in the world." Ohio State University Fact Sheet

"[The] ability to survive in inhospitable areas has made goat the most widely consumed meat in the world..." Paula Disbrowe, NY Times Magazine


Task Force Khwost prepares a goat for dinner at border control point 6, Khwost province Afghanistan Sep. 3rd, 2009. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Matthew Freire / RELEASED )

Ramadan is practiced by almost all

Antonym of tasteless

by Matt Freire

Fingers clench the head back as the rusty knife saws into the throat
The captives’ cries turn to sputtering then silence as blood sprays the gravel
The spine resists the blade
But the continual saw eventual separates the head from the body
the mouth still motions as if finding breath to call the body
The legs twitch and randomly kick as if trying to locate the head

One down
The next bound victim is grabbed
Crying as if it knows its fate
yet helpless
even though only grass bound the legs
The blade draws a red line across the neck
This time stopped at the spine
Perhaps because blood sprayed into the knife bearer’s mouth

An explosion in the distance
Diverts our attention

From our vantage we can see the smoke
Who knows
It creates a stir for awhile
Then back to task at hand

These guys are hungry
It’s Ramadan and they fast when the sun is up
Waiting till 1820 tonight
It will be dark then

Meet hook slides into the first’s leg and is strung up on a HESCO
And the years of skinning is witness by my virgin eyes
A slice in the ankle and then grab the skin
Pull the skin off as if it were a tight jacket that the zipper broke
Readjust, a few well place cuts
Bare hands digging and pulling
Until the whole coat is off

Lot less bloody then I imagined
The only real bloody part has already happened
Even when they hack off the appendages
And when they slice the belly

The organs are just as you would think
I thought as the intestines plopped on the ground
The same as you see in movies
More vivid in color though

But hardly any blood

A board is placed on the ground where the meat goes
Men get to work removing bone and the unnecessary
All without gloves
I imagine this process hasn’t changed much

rusty knives and bayonets continue their worth
to the kitchen
the smell is ancient, as is the room
blackened walls
stale archaic presence

well water is poured on the meat
and drained into a hole that puddles outside
the meat is rinsed and sifted through
cut even smaller
a pile of onions in the corner is sifted through and deiced by the same blades used on the flesh

a man starts sweeping
I would have picked a better time
Dirt lands on uncovered flesh
as the fire starts
dust picks up
anything that can burn is thrown in flame
Plastic bottles create hot flames
and blinding smoke

the dark room hardly ventilated
and my eyes burn and water
my throat and lungs shred
my nose pours relentlessly
yet these guys go about their work unaffected

the fire starts dying
diesel helps it along

a large iron pot is set
water and cans of lard fill half the pot
the chef hawks loogies on the ground as he stirs the goat
other ingredients are added

flour starts to be beat in the other room
molded into little balls to be flattened and thrown into the flame

my hunger builds
yet they must wait till dark before eating
more patient than i
I am starving
Ramadan is practiced by almost all
So I wait with them

Actually I sneak off and eat an MRE
Then wait with them

September 2, 2009

The Children of August 31, 2009


Coalition forces alongside 2nd Afghan Commandos question a family for information during a cordon and search of a compound as part of Operation Raven, Aug. 31st, 2009. Operation Raven is a joint operation involving Task Force Khowst and 2nd Afghan commandos, to search for an IED cell operating in the area east of Khowst City, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Matthew Freire / RELEASED )

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