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jagged roads

with her, i’m walking. exposed toes on jagged roads, 

made of pebbles, pebbles made of stones, 

made of boulders, boulders made from, who knows. 

ambition, a stones’ throw, a road grown, home.

each breath, extending, a finite stride, yet never-ending

pass along our final steps, ascending. pass on everything. 

pass on the pebbles made of stones. pass on the boulders made from, who knows

pass on the clothes, pass on the shoes that mute these jagged roads. 

step on the feet; the defeat of thorns, the wild ones adorn with dirty knees

step on believing we survive these things. step on the wars that make us men

step on the sights we’ll never see again. step on the day. step on the night

step on believing, despite the familiar jagged road being nowhere in sight. 

 

Print for Sale. Click photo above.

 

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I, started the words that ended, U.

there was adoration in her eyes. a spark like silence dancing naked in front of a mirror.

her tongue tasting the way it should, like honey, like lies, like a swarm of bees after the honey. those soft fingers untangling the hard knot that constricted us, those hard hands constricting the soft parts of us. it went on like this for hours, for seven lifetimes. 

the colors rose and fell and became aware of the moonlight dancing on shadows from the future.

she breathed into us one last time, shed a hard tear from her eye to mine and we collapsed within each other at the dying light of dawn when the drugs fell off and all we were left with was ourselves, entwined in the memory of tomorrow, blinded by forever. 

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Posthumous Self-Indulgent Inquires in a Final Letter to You, Old Friend.

Was it the first time in a long time you felt warm? A blanket cascade of crimson life, on loan, returning. Fast at first, I’m sure, spurting. When the blood slowed and the warmth turned cold, did you think of them? Your children? What a moment that must have been, did you think you made a mistake? Knowing you can’t reach down down down the drain and grab your life again. Cold now. Tired. Did you see the platelets struggling frantically, desperate to keep you together? Did life dry before your wet eyes? Did you know we all cared, no, we loved you and would have done anything to keep your life out of the drain. All of us, the strength, the resilience, what we would’ve done. Despite our vast reach, we still can’t pull your living parts back up now. You’re all mixed with piss and shit and shampoo and your daughter’s long blonde hair that always clogged the drain. I know, you meant to take care of that last week but didn’t get around to it. You were busy. Well, that’s what you told us. Really you were in a crippling state of desperate depression, unnecessarily battling alone. We didn’t know. You were “too strong” to let on. True strength is asking for help. That’s why I don’t understand, you were always the strong one. The one we admired. I hope you didn’t see your life coating and staining that blonde hair you used to brush. I hope that didn’t make you think about her first haircut or the time you were teaching her to ride her bike and she fell off and got that scar on her forehead, the one you used to kiss every night as she fell asleep. No one to kiss away her pain now. I hope you didn’t think of all that between the time you opened yourself and when your eyes closed the very last time.
Anyway, tell the other guys I said hello, I love them, and that we are all doing our best to take care of each of your daughters now.
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What’s Worth War?

In order to answer this question it is necessary to create a suitable definition for war. There are many in circulation, however, for the sake of this inquiry let us say war is; A state of armed conflict between two or more nations, states or groups, whereby violence is the primary method utilized to effectuate change. Allow me to simplify and say,

 war is the final leaf on the dying tree of diplomacy.

The reasons for engaging in armed conflict is seemingly different for an individual than it is for a government. A person may note a roiling hate for an opposing belief or aggressive action accosting their patriotic accord as reasons for stepping forth into the abyss and calamity of war. Hate is a powerful instrument in war. It is easily conjured and directed given the proper motivation. Sadly, it is not as transitory as it is transferable. To initiate armed conflict out of hate in an effort to effectuate change is misguided at best and will inevitably birth exponential levels of violence, fear, disdain, and hostility.

To hate one’s enemy is the infallible course to ensuring your children need fight their children.  

 

 

Similarly popular, yet perceivably more altruistic, is the mutual defense of others participating in the fight, often referred to as ‘brothers-in-arms.’ This mindset, however, requires a bit of reverse engineering. To join a group, you must first be outside of said group. It does not stand to reason your decision to join a military and fight war for your “brothers to the right and left.” The prerequisite of belonging is necessary, negating this as the reason for initially joining. Defense of country-men unwilling or incapable of defending themselves is significantly more viable.

A nation-state’s reasoning is often adopted by an individual in an effort to make sense of such a quagmire event. Echoing ethos of national security concerns, regional stability, ally assistance, and accumulation or protection of resources are merely a few concepts used to convolute and ultimately manipulate a populace into warfare. With these concepts we can justify war is being brought to us, legitimizing our involvement as a reaction. Historically these otherwise benign issues have been spun to represent a threat to liberty, thereby facilitating a call to arms.

The inverse relationship between liberty and oppression is what makes this method effective. Oppression, at its root, is a form of violence. In the presence of violence, peace can not exist. Peace is much greater than the absence of war. Peace is a flourishing serenity which must be nurtured and at times defended, preferably by those with the capacity to comprehend its importance.

 

As contrary as it may seem, peace is the only justifiable reason for war.

 

 

The degree and scale to which war is brought must coincide directly with the level of threat to peace. In the case of a mass genocide, all out decisive action must be taken against the known perpetrator and their supporters. This action must be swift and brutal to the extent in which future generations considering similar actions are effectively detoured. This should not, however, be done out of hate, rather the logical reaction to the disturbance of peace, similar to that of a professional law-enforcement officer. Smaller scale infractions against equanimity should be met with appropriate levels of conflict.

 

The inevitable lasting physical, mental, and emotional scars of war are thereby softened by the collective human understanding which knows they were achieved in the pursuit of serenity, liberty, and ultimately peace.

 
If a single man or a million men must die at the hand of war, each should make well with their final breath in a state of perfect tranquility knowing peace is the reason for their sacrifice.

 

 

Originally published by my good friends at COMBAT FLIP FLOPS.

Please go learn more about their incredible mission.

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A Photo Essay of VanLife

In August of 2014, I landed in Anchorage, Alaska via Hawaii. For years I had a goal to drink a beer in each of the 50 states. When I landed, there were three states remaining; Alaska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The plan was simple – in less than 24 hours, buy a vehicle and start the drive to South Dakota.

What transpired next unintentionally became one of the most epic road trips of my life…

Crossing into the ever expansive landscape of Yukon captured my attention and gave a rebirth to a dormant child-like wonder.

yukon

One of the first camping spots in the vehicle I selected. The beastly Dodge 2500 Ram Van affectionally earned the name “Falcor”

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With no cell phone and no internet connection, the extent of my “outside world” became simply what I could see. A fact which didn’t bother me a bit!

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My goal quickly became to find places as far away from the clamor of civilization as possible.

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Which brought me to beautiful Baja, Mexico.

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And wouldn’t you know… I met a girl there.

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Her and Falcor got along great. So I asked her to join us on our trip.

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We got stuck once or twice.

baja-stuck

We navigated the winding roads of Mexico together.

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Found a few beaches along the way…

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We learned the challenges of crossing boarders in Central America (in a vehicle I never got around to registering)

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We took the road less traveled through Guatemala.

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We met four traveling surfers in El Salvador and gave them a ride through three countries.

hitchhikers

We became good friends and surfed together everyday.

mates

We camped out together. Lauren played mom to five over-grown, hungry boys for weeks.

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We parted ways with our new friends in southern Nicaragua.

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Which meant we were able to get Falcor organized again!

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We fell in love with the Pacific coast of Costa Rica…

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…And the Caribbean coast…

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…And all the places in-between.

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We climbed rocks,

climbing

and surfed waves.

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We put our home on a boat in search of more adventures.

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We watched the sun kiss the ocean at night.

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And bathed in cold, mountain streams in the mornings.

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We drove ’till there wasn’t anymore road to drive.

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What we found was much more than an adventure of a lifetime. We found each other.

And that was just the beginning of our adventure together…

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We’re right back on the road in our upgraded adventure wagon. (With a bathroom this time)

If you want to read more about the start of this journey pick up a copy of the best-selling book,

FIRST TRAIN OUT OF DENVER

by Leo Jenkins

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How to Vote Like an American

Note: This piece originally ran on EricgKirsch.com

I used to love election season. As a political science major at Purdue University during the 2008 elections, I was enthralled with every aspect of the process. I had recently left the military after multiple deployments to Afghanistan and to Iraq and wanted desperately to understand the political system which brought us into those theaters, as well as why. What has changed in eight years? We are not, nor have we ever been, living in a stagnant society. Polarity of opinion is nothing new. There is, however, an increasing tendency to place focus on fringe political extremities.

Like many Americans, I feel a level of disenfranchisement in our political process. The once towering oak of patriotic feeling burgeoning from the root of the democratic process is withering. The soil feels adulterate and barren. At the current tick of the clock there is no disputing the incestuous relationship composing the corporate-political-media machine. A clever narrative of rating-chasing division highlights the ten percent on each periphery, while the other quarter billion people feel forced to choose the lesser of two evils.

We squabble about past events and start riots in support or opposition of a person who claims to have the answers. We are easily manipulated into the belief that a presidential candidate has more power than we the people. People feel entitled to their opinions, regardless if they lack the necessary time and experience to have properly developed them. Those individuals harbor a misguided belief that being vociferous is the same as being accurate. If I can yell louder than you, I am correct.

I know you America. You don’t hate the government, you just want them to be held accountable to at least the same level you are. You want them to have to pay their bills on time and stay out of your business. You don’t actually have a problem with gay people getting married, or your neighbor smoking a joint in their living room. You don’t mind paying taxes when it goes to building roads, schools, libraries, and helping those truly in need. You don’t think someone is a racist just because they disagree with you. You don’t think all Muslims are terrorists or that new immigrants are a bad thing for the country, because you understand that, more than likely, someone in your family tree was an immigrant too.

It is important to understand that, regardless of what the news says, you are the majority. The media profits from showing the most extreme viewpoints, creating division. As a result, politicians cater to these outliers. That’s not us though, is it America? 99.99% of the population wouldn’t cry about someone’s name in chalk, yet such an incident is repetitively plastered on the “news” to intentionally create a false division. Why?

Allow me to remind you, the overwhelming majority of United States citizens, who go to work, pay your taxes, and do right by your family, of something you already know. We are being manipulated into believing we are fractured. Bullshit slogans like, “Make America great again,” evoke a belief that we have fallen, that we are less than we used to be. Standing on a platform of “Change” is a parlor trick, and a cheap one at that.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” Let’s take a minute then to discuss an idea. You are currently sitting on more democratic power than can ever hope to be dropped into a ballot box. You possess an overwhelmingly persuasive autonomy, greater than all of the propaganda on all of the news networks combined. You are the center of this great nation, and how you spend your time and resources is the ripple-creating-pebble in our collective patriotic pond.

Stop watching Trump, Clinton, and Sanders and start reading Emerson, Mill, and Aristotle. Stop handing over your power twenty dollars at a time. Do five minutes of research into a company before giving them your monetary vote. Ignorance is not an excuse. You make this nation great, not these plastic, opportunistic, self-serving politicians. You are the majority, not the screaming, whining, safe-place needing individuals the media sells you. You want America to maintain its place as a free and prosperous union? Look in the mirror and understand such a responsibility is 100% yours.

This is our revolution. It will not be made better or worse by any single elected official. It will not be won by violent force or sniveling platitudes, but rather by the moderate majority making rational educated decisions every single day, not just the first Tuesday in November.

How will you vote today?