Thursday, May 21, 2020

'Unmasking' Poem Now on NewVerseNews!

The author of "Welcome to FOB Haiku" has a new poem appearing in The New Verse News, a website that regularly presents "politically progressive poetry on current events and topical issues." Poems there are often inspired by recent news events and headlines.

Randy Brown's new work, titled "Unmasking Procedures," contains language borrowed and adapted from a procedure familiar to all U.S. Army soldiers. The task involves the deliberate removal of protective gear when a test kit for battlefield chemical agents is not available. (There is no such test kit for biological agents.)

The procedure is described in the U.S. Army “Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks” (Skill Level 2) and related training. Most soldiers are annually tested on their abilities to correctly perform these and other tasks.

For troops, the unmasking process notably involves the selection of one or more soldiers—likely the lowest-ranking or least "mission-critical"—to serve as test subjects on behalf of a larger group. For more discussion of the ethics involved in such decisions, visit this link.

"This poem is in response to an on-going news story," the poet wrote as part of his submission. "The governor of my Midwestern state has repeatedly said that moves toward 're-opening the economy' would be deliberate and based on COVID-19 testing data. Despite continuing concerns regarding test accuracy and availability, however—as well as increasing infection numbers—the governor determined earlier this month to reopen most businesses statewide."

He adds, "I hope my poem's potential metaphorical connections are evident, regardless of readers' party affiliations or policy-positions. Further—given our shared experience—the poem might be a catalyst for respectful and constructive conversations, among veterans and non-veterans alike, and across the 'civil-military divide.'"

A former newspaper journalist, Brown encourages other military-adjacent poets engage in artistic reactions to current events. In addition to The New Verse News, Brown notes, news-driven poetry markets include:

Photo caption: (From left to right) U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jesse D. Backman, an armor officer, and Cpl. Bryan D. Russell, Sgt. Patrick J. Sisler and Staff Sgt. Daniel E. Brun, cavalry scouts with B Troop, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, exit a CS gas chamber, Jan. 9, 2012 during quarterly Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear training on Fort Stewart, Ga. The “Bushmaster” soldiers received refresher training on the proper wear of the field protective mask and the Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology protective garment, and gained confidence in their equipment by unmasking in the gas chamber. Photo by U.S. Army  Sgt. Mary Katzenberger.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Three New 'Micro Poems' about War

The author of "Welcome to FOB Haiku" has new work appearing in Collateral Journal Issue No. 4.2. The on-line journal—which twice annually publishes a mix of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and art—"draws attention to the impact of violent conflict and military service by exploring the perspectives of those whose lives are indirectly touched by them."

Representing the author's continued experiments with minimalism, while exploring themes of war and its effects, three "micro poems" by Randy Brown appear in the issue. They are:
Other poets featured in Collateral Journal include: Former U.S. Navy corpsman Carlo André, U.S. Army veteran Kristine Iredale, and U.S. military family members Michaela Coplen, Jessica Evans, Mary Ellen Talley, and Anne Ward-Masterson.

Still more poems come from Alex Ewing, David Groulx, Sara Hailstone, and Imran Boe Khan.

Essayists Chelsey Mae Johnson and C. Christine Fair contribute to the issue's non-fiction section. Amanda Cerreto and Anita Lakshmi Powell contribute short fiction.

Graphics featured in Issue 4.1 are by Pakistan-born sculptor and painter Humaira Abid, now based in Seattle, Wash., who also participates in a Q&A interview feature.