The secret

is always on the tip of your tongue

like a flavor

you can’t identify.

If you taste it, and savor it

you can unlock the mystery

of why

there are so many masters

and only one

that will set you free.

My drill instructor speaks to me

in my dreams, like a sadist

He encourages me with smoke

and machine-gun fire

He tells me I’m a pussy

and he beats me on the back

with the butt of his rifle.

He makes an example out of me

in front of the men.

“You see, this is why you can’t succeed!”

He grabs me by the shirt-collar

and throws me in the mud.

His white hair is elegant, shaved close to his orange head.

He’s half Mexican, half asshole

He’s been in every combat situation since Vietnam

He’s murdered men in the board room,

when he got back to civilian life, that is


I go to him

in my dreams

and ask his advice.

“Where do I start, sir?”

“What kind of lame questions is that. Just do it!”

Even though he screams at me,

I know he cares.

I wake-up, like I’ve been kicked out of my bunk bed in boot camp

and my blood is pumping

like a river


I start typing…

“Punch the keys, damn it!”

I hear him in my head, like a crazy uncle

and that’s when I really start writing.

I drive to work

and notice

the men

fixing power-lines

digging-up parking lots

and doing repetitive jobs

“Where is the magic—that spontaneous thrill, to write about?” I ask.


I get to work, two minutes late, and die of drudgery.

I have died many times, so that I might live.

I drive home.

The library is empty. I get my books on hold.

The golf course is empty. I check-in at the pro shop.

“Where is everybody?”

“Don’t you know, it’s the world series, and the Mariners might win!”

“Oh—” I said.

“All the cool people are watching the game,” the prick in the pro shop said.

“I guess I’m not cool then—and I’ll take advantage.”

He laughed.

I teed-off.

I was playing golf in heaven.

There was nobody there.

It was like everybody

was raptured

before the nuclear holocaust

and I had front-row tickets

to the greatest show on earth.


5 thoughts on “My Drill Instructor in My Dreams

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