Vol.3 Issue.2

Up until a year ago, Charish Halliburton was working on a commercial fishing boat off the coast of Alaska. In between tying knots, she wrote poetry. Below deck she read Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and underlined passages that reminded her of lyrical dichotomies and increased dementia. Ahhh. The sea made her melancholic, the waves made her nauseous, and the fish made her miss her lover back in the continental U.S. It was time to return. So she gathered her things; one sack, one hook, one coil of rope and flew back to Normal Illinois. It was there; she reunited with her loved ones and told tales of her seaside exploits. But it won’t be long before Charish gets restless and returns to the tumultuous waves of Poseidon. . .

10 Quarters

Charish Halliburton



            Sometimes when I get nervous I sing a song in my head
I have a few songs in my head actually
I sing them in order like a record I start with
some doors
some turtles
then some beatles
then back to the doors
maybe some joplin
then some hendrix
some stones
some ccr
some steppenwolf
and then I might finish with the doors


            My brain works like jukebox with 10 quarters
10 quarters and then the night is over and we all go home
Only I don’t go home


            I stay here in the jungle all the goddamn time and I’m nervous all night and every night and I always have enough quarters even though I only need 10
10 gets you in
10 gets you in Mary Jane’s drawers and your hand up her sweater
10 out here, however, buys you a lifetime of aching joints trench foot and mosquito bites
I’ve had it up to here with the jungle and Charlie and reefer escapism
I wanna go home and fuck my girl Mary Jane the sweet Catholic girl who gave the sweetest hand jobs who had the sweetest lips
I wanna stop referring to her in the past tense because she’s not dead
If anyone’s dead it’s me
Vietnam has got to be my special purgatory it’s hotter than all be damned it’s hotter than the underside of Satan’s tongue
I did something to be here


            Mary Jane asked me if I loved her and I said something smart like I have no desire to go beyond saying the answer is yes
I wish I said something better


            I’m sitting in the middle of the jungle watching the perimeter like a good grunt should thinking about Mary Jane or some woman with Mary Jane’s body
But I’ve seen other bodies today
a million faceless gooks
face down in foreign mud
not foreign to them but to me
a bunch of nonface nobodies


            When I get nervous I pull out my 10 quarters and I go to town
One song right after the other
And tonight I’m sweating like a whore sitting in church
I’m more nervous than usual
and 10 quarters might not be enough for tonight or maybe the songs aren’t enough
I saw a bloated body today it was a small child it was face down it was shot in the back
where are my quarters
It laid in the bog or swamp or whatever you call this terrain
I could see the bullet holes in the back
Where are my quarters
When I saw it the bile struggled against the spit in the back of my throat and my hands went numb around my rifle
Where are my fucking quarters
Gotta think
Gotta remember
Gotta forget
Gotta serve and protect
Gotta love her or somebody like her
Gotta be efuckingficient
Fuck the quarters and think of something else
I want music though


            Think of a woman’s body
it doesn’t have to be Mary Jane’s
it doesn’t have to be the gook kid with the bullet in the back
Think about the body that gives you a hard on
makes you believe in God
and makes you wanna cry
All in one


            An instrument in the shape of a woman with curves a long neck and
a man’s fingers plucking her delicate strings plucking her gently
She makes the appropriate noises and
she follows him accordingly
she asks for his bow
she asks for his fingers
she plays
makes noise
moans for only him and
Together they make the sweetest music anyone could ever know
Sweeter than the doors
Sweeter than the hands of Mary Jane


            You’ve always wanted to hold her between your legs and feel the vibratos come from her strings
            Remember when you were younger you saw your grandfather hold one and play her so beautifully
            You watched and wanted that instrument
            You wanted anything but the life you have now
            But something went horribly wrong
            Something between that time and now things went horribly wrong
            You settled for Mary Jane
            You settled for the doors
            You settled for boot camp
            You settled for less
            You settled for your own special purgatory.


            You’re going to sit here with a throb between your legs
in the rain on the ground
You’re going to sit in the bog the swamp the shit whatever the fuck they call this terrain with a throb between your thighs that aches with all the things you’ve missed out on because you settled for less
You’re going to want to reach down
even though you’re supposed to watch the perimeter like a good grunt
You’re going to want to reach down and rub one out



        You’re going to look up to the skies in the rain past the jungle’s canopy and ask God to forgive you
You’re going to say
            God I’m sorry for pissing it all away
            I’m sorry I never went to Church
            I’m sorry I didn’t play the cello like my grandfather told me to
            I’m sorry I didn’t stay in school like my mother told me to
            I’m sorry for it all


Our hero
clutches his gun
and watches the perimeter like he should
He remembers the sweet music
and he waits
Our hero waits with a handful
of useless quarters for a useless
He’s got nothing else to do
but wait
and cry

Euphemism Campus Box 4240 Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4240