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How to tell a true war story


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"If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil. "

"I'll picture Rat Kiley's face, his grief, and I'll think, You dumb cooze. Because she wasn't listening. It wasn't a war story. It was a love story. "

— Tim O'Brien (The Things They Carried)


This much is true I had a buddy
In Vietnam
He was bold and fearless
A daredevil with true balls of steel

There wasn’t cold that could make him shiver
He was one crazy cat
On Halloween he painted himself up cryptic
Paraded through the ville
Naked except for his gun

One day he stepped on a rigged 105 round
That blew him high
Into the trees and branches he was scattered
I swear I nearly cried

So I wrote his sister about a week later
Told her all these things
That her brother made the war seem so much fun
How we lit up the villes bringing smoke to bear

Yes he was hell raised straight from Cane
We were the best of friends for fact
I wrote his sister this beautiful letter
Would you believe
I never heard back


from WILD ANGELS, released December 7, 2010
Words and Music - joe Wilford
Inspired by the magnificent book 'The Things They Carried' by Tim O'Brien.




Joe Wilford Iowa City

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