Terrance Hayes

Support the Troops

I'm sorry I will not be able to support any soldiers
at this time. I have a family and a house with slanting floors.
There is a merciless dampness in the basement,
a broken toilet, and several of the windows are painted shut.
I do not pretend my dread is anything like the dread
of men at war. Had I smaller feet, I would have gladly enlisted
myself. In fact, I come from a long line of military men.
My grandfather died heroically in 1965, though his medals have been
lost. I try to serve my country by killing houseflies. I am fully
aware of their usefulness, especially in matters of decay.
Napoleon's surgeon general, Baron Dominique Larrey,
reported during France's 1829 campaign
in Syria that certain species of fly only consumed
what was already dead and had a generally positive effect on wounds.
When my grandfather was found,
his corpse shimmered in maggots free of disease. As you can
tell, I know a little something about civilization.
I realize that when you said "Freedom," you were talking
about the meat we kill for, the head of the enemy leaking
in the bushes, how all of it makes peace possible.
Without firearms I know most violence would be impractical.
And thank you for enclosing photos and biographical information
of soldiers who might suit my household. I am sure any one
of them would be an excellent guardian of my family.
I admit I have no capacity for rifles or gadgetry.
I cannot use rulers accurately.
I have not been able to drive off the flies. I can see
that they all have teeth that are the very masticates of democracy
and I thank you for noting the one with a talent
for making the eagle tattooed across his back rear its talons.
I realize my support comes with a year long subscription
to the gentleman's magazine of my choice.
I realize were it not for the sacrifices of these young boys,
America would no longer have its source
of power. I have given considerable thought to your
offer, but at this time, I simply am unable to offer my support.

Terrance Hayes

 Terrance   HayesTerrance Hayes is the author of Wind in a Box (Penguin, 2006), Hip Logic (Penguin, 2002), and Muscular Music (Tia Chucha Press, 1999). His honors include a Whiting Writers Award, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a National Poetry Series Award, a Pushcart Prize, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. He is a Professor of Creative Writing at Carnegie Mellon University and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his family.
More info