Sunday, October 3, 2010


My days in the Cambodian POW camp were a strange mixture of the exuberantly mundane, bitchily sublime, and hauntingly bittersweet. By the end I found myself transfigured, no longer a man but something new and different than anything that had come before me: a vertex between the quivering legged entrails that are lifeforms and the bodiless unconquerable intellect of the spectral cosmic god things.

Mornings, they served us crepes and anchovies on little platters made from unrolled bean cans. We spent our afternoons learning to knit coconut cozies and little change purses from the skin of earthworms. For entertainment they let us host poetry slam contests or perform plays on a little makeshift stage on the bank of the Mekong. The inmates who had been punished for this indiscretion or that, were allowed to watch our shows from their mostly submerged bamboo cages. I remember the guy we called Minneapolis, a gaunt semi toothless pterodactyl pilot from Key West who spoke in anagrams and liked to eat his boogers. His plays were best and I remembered feeling the uncontrollable urge to strangle him in his sleep the time when our lead captor, the little Cambodian we called Saber Tooth Mike, called him to his hut after one premiere to feast on monkey nuggets and drink fermented Gatorade wine. But I got over it.

At least that's when I decided upon my plan to abscond. To find a way out, get back to my wife and our 10 Pomeranians: Duchess, Chunkles, Wilber Bean, Criminey Jickets, Sloop John B, Doug E. Fresh, Corporal Dingbat, Carrie Underwood, Gunky, Crampon, Gorgeous George, Grampa Funnynuts, and little Doodypoops Jr. After quite an ordeal I finally made it back to the States and I was given a hero's welcome. Unfortunately, I'd taken too long and my wife had rewed, married a used dishwasher salesman from Toledo.

Finally, I found myself sitting in my old Duster, parked on a pier that overlooks Long Island Sound and it dawned on me that those days in the camp were the best of my life and that oftentimes we try so hard to escape a place only to realize when it is too late that it was the one place where we ever truly belonged.


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