national boomerang
bravo whiskey
if I were in Vietnam
my kill
declaimed poetry
distant lover
my father reading marx for the first time
first in - last out

A meditation on the Vietnam War, a veteran, his son, and their hunting together.


When he talked about Vietnam it was only because I asked him. I don't remember how I asked him, but I know I always had him talking about it. And when he did, it wasn't to tell me about the people he killed or the friends he lost, and there were a few. He never mentioned how brave he was or how close he'd come to dying. And he didn't say much about the firefights, the booby traps, the blood or the body parts. But when I was a kid, that's all I ever thought about.

I thought about it so much I think the war became just a figment of my imagination, or a dream, but as an aspiration. I used to pretend that instead of hunting deer we're walking point, humping through the jungles of Vietnam, and hunting men together. It was one thing to play at war by yourself in the backyard against an imaginary enemy, but it was another thing to walk through the woods next to your dad with a loaded rifle, looking to kill something for real.

Some people would have you believe that hunting's not about killing, that it's about something else more spiritual, but that's bullshit. Like how some people would try telling you that war isn't about killing either, that it's about winning things like hearts and minds. But that kind of talk only sees you through a couple of seasons before you have to give it up. But I never loved hunting. Where I come from it's just one of those things you do with your father. What I loved was the war. Besides, if you don't kill anything, there's nothing spiritual about freezing your ass off.

I was lucky though. I shot this one in the morning. The deer was just walking up a hill, and like my dad says, didn't know shit. But killing a deer was never enough, even now. I always have to invent some kind of a story that turns what I'm doing into a fantasy, like how in the backyard things come to life, like this deer into an enemy, maybe a gook, or maybe just his ghost.

He'd been following my dad for forty years, only to find him back in the world, just in time for me to get my kill.

My Kill, 2009, video, 5:35