To Wear Disease Around Your Neck

The ebola necklace at the flea market

was not in the shape of a microbial

ambiguous blur, nor did its reddened

insides resonate on a blue slide.

No, the item was not an artist’s rendering

of some surreal flattened figure.

The ebola necklace gemstone

was a vial in which liquid

shifted as its steel chain-link swung

before the pale vendor gushing

about the ebola necklace.

The worm-like replication

floated peacefully in its cage

hanging from a wooden rack

among the inane as privileged customers

laughed while touching the novelty,

the disease only temporary to them;

it, the object between plump, pallid fingers ̶

the ebola necklace at the flea market.

An Encounter

In 2013 I saw burning streets

and violence natural and unnatural,

a city on fire.

I helped a man as old

as the three digit temperature

up the subway stairs

on my way to work

and each step took

ten heart beats.

The sweat became

our salvation as his charcoal

face sagged and showed no emotion.

His shaking cane gave no support

so I took his arm and led him above

steaming concrete into aching light.

I expected gratitude and received

none, which was better somehow

I walked through solidifying heat

and desired to keep the encounter

secret in order to appreciate

its value and yet I ruined

it by bragging in casual conversation

w/ a wealthy customer.

Just like that it didn’t matter

anymore like everything else

out in the open

smoldering under

our city’s setting sun.

At the Bodies by Route 38

I saw a child walk over skeletons

as she searched for someone,

something, someone…

I drove past her-

the little girl in a summer dress

by herself in the graveyard.

I parked the car

and saw more humans

working on sprinklers.

I walked toward where I thought

her grave was, it took me a minute,

a middle aged couple approached,

I was worried they were her parents,

but they weren’t, just some other parents,

then the woman turned back and sat in the car.

I watched the man sip from his beer can

and cry silently as I stood there relieved

that they weren’t her parents.

I found her, but I couldn’t see her, no matter

how much I willed it,

although she was there.

I said, “I’m sorry if I seem presumptuous.”

It had been a long time

since I’d visited her last.

I sat there cross-legged

in the grass and looked

at the sky and the grass-

I didn’t mind the highway sounds

at first, but then the noises made me

anxious and I left her faster than I should’ve.

The final word that came out was “sorry”

and I departed slowly away

leaving her bones w/ bumblebees and withered roses.

Letter from the Editor Issue #4

Dear reader,

I am proud yet humbled to present to you these works created by humans who have faced death. Welcome to our fourth issue, which features poems, stories, memoirs, art, and photography depicting war and life viewed through the eyes of veterans and civilians alike. Through this issue, we hope to fight for awareness and treatment of mental illness, especially for our veterans, all the while striving for non-violence and mutual co-operation and compassion in order to solve humanity’s problems. We have Vietnam veteran Preston Hood to thank for this issue, as he suggested the idea to me when we first met at a Moonstone Arts poetry reading in December of 2014.

How remarkable is it, that in the year 2015 we can still hear the voices of those who’ve experienced World War 2? 90 year old Hal O’Leary, a West Virginia native and veteran of the Allied campaign against the Nazis in Western Europe, wrote an enduring and reflective memoir piece that we have the honor of sharing with you in this issue. Other highlights from veterans in this issue: Cold War era Army vet Alex Marshall imagines the view of an ancient Chinese soldier from his Meditation Tao series of poems, Iraq War vet Alecc Costanzi emits a pungent warning in his poetry, Jon Turner, another veteran of the war in Iraq, shows us a glimpse of the “enemy’s” perspective, Doug D’Elia, who was a medic in Vietnam, shares with us the difficulty of reassuring a dying soldier,  Lisa Van Wormer, an Iraq War veteran, accomplishes the near-impossible task of expressing the sorrow and bonding that occurs after a fellow soldier’s death, in second person mind you, Jay Dardes, a Vietnam era vet, describes an encounter between a vet with ptsd and a therapist, and James Smith, a veteran of the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam, gives us an outstanding and at times humorous look at the hypocrisy of those who say they support our troops, yet are not sincere.

In our most important issue yet, Whirlwind Magazine seeks an understanding between civilians and veterans. We not only want to show our appreciation to veterans who’ve contributed to our past issues, such as Peter Mahoney and Lamont Steptoe, but we’d like to remember all people who have been killed because of war. This issue is dedicated to Preston Hood’s late son, Arrick Hood.

An early draft of Issue 4's cover:
An early draft of Issue 4’s cover: “Window to Baghdad” by veteran Hayden Van Wormer.

issue is dedicated to Preston Hood’s late son, Arrick Hood.