The Coma

  by Rawclyde

  !

Fiddler's stray leg

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Aye, the coma long, the coma deep

The coma comatizes as in a coma I sleep

I levitate above the planet & my baboon race

I ricochet from orb to orb in outer space

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I mingle with floating souls here & there

We meander dust-like without a care

Like molecules we form little critters & moss

Get tied together with webs of dental floss

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An avalanche occurs & zillions are buried

No longer able to breath, a remnant of me is carried

Back to the Afghaneeland that I know

Dropped into a crack like a flake of snow

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I hide out here for centuries without one melt

On a mountain ridge memorizing how it felt

To be alive like a snow leopard a sprint

Of the future a distant rumbling is one hint…

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imagesCAV8W9E3

Afghaneeland Adventure Series | Old Timer Chronicle II 

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Text / Copyright Clyde Collins 2014

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The Coma II (Taliban Brains)

Afghan lizard & bullet shells

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Crack a chunk of eggshell lying on the path

Murder is threatened with zealous wrath

The border gots holes, the mullah gots souls

Duck when ye dig-up yer leader’s secret goals

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Holier-than-thou bumpkins shout

One thousand & one Taliban sprout

A mushroom cloud flowering in the sky

Pakistan spits in Big Bo’s eye

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The pack on your back gets smaller & smaller

‘Til there’s no more to eat & nothin’s there

The enemy your mullah proposed gets taller & taller

‘Til he’s a mountain & curling clouds are his hair

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Virgins circle around after a knock on the head

They’ve got long-feathered wings & oops, you’re dead

They chirp & chirp but you never get layed

You been buffaloed by the prayers you prayed

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Grubby little Worm sails across the sea

He’s got ammo & a gun & he’s comin’ fer me

He blows me away, I’m gone now for writing this

A cloud now splattering him with piss

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Ohhh a long endless coma is such bad news

Thoughts molesting n’ all I can do is snooze

Doggerel snapping at my fingers & gnawing on my shoe

Saved on the net & done yip-yipping at you…

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Rawclyde!

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snow-leopard--afghanistan

Afghaneeland Adventure Series | Old Timer Chronicle II 

Text / Copyright Clyde Collins 2014

The Coma III

FlyingCarpet

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by Rawclyde!

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I love my magic carpet

I ride it every day

Now that I’m in a coma

I arrive right away

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This morning while riding

In a shrunken state

Like an ant on a bread crumb

However, I was late

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burkha

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I was supposed to sing in

Mamoodia’s ear

Before she arose from her blankets

She’s up now without cheer

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She peers at my somnolent form

on the mat in the corner

She is now wearing her burka

& I’m eternally the foreigner

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Sufi_by_zweeZwyy

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Lost in a maelstrom deeper & deeper

Of comatose sleep nobody can understand

Nobody but he who voyages thusly

In strange strange Afghaneeland

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Yes, lying there with plenty of time to think

He has discovered lots of things

How to do this, how to do that

& how to give Afghaneeland wings

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cosmicdance

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Being as this strange land is

Really just a bubble in mine own head

I have discovered that it is I who is in charge

As I, yes, I twilight sleep on that thin bed

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However, as I also ride my magic carpet

Here & there throughout the house

I discover my colonel

Sneaking a kiss with her ex-Taliban spouse

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celticdragon_3_by_sayara_s-d6i90ru

http://sayara-s.deviantart.com/art/CelticDragon-3-393451050

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What a reminder is this!

How can it be that I rule this bubble

When Colonel Sheena Johnson rules me?

I, Capt’n Chuck Fiddler, gots trouble

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DSCN5948_resize

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Until I figure out what to do

I’ll continue my coma, my coma true blue

Where there is trouble, comfort may be found too

Mamoodia’s arrow stuck in the heel of my shoe

~

Deviantart-Stock-Collection-Hijab-2014-5

Afghaneeland Adventure Series | Old Timer Chronicle II

Text / Copyright Clyde Collins 2014

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Airstrikes Assist in Helmand

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by Mujib Mashal & Taimoor Shah

New York Times

August 8, 2016

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KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan security forces are struggling to head off an intensified Taliban offensive in Helmand Province in recent weeks, heavily relying on American airstrikes as the insurgents have again tightened the noose around Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, according to officials and residents.

Even as Afghan and American officials insist that they will not allow another urban center to fall, concerned about the political ramifications for the struggling government in Kabul as well as the presidential campaign in the United States, residents and local officials describe Lashkar Gah as practically besieged.

The main road connecting the city and the highway to the southern commercial and military hub of Kandahar has been repeatedly blocked in recent days by the Taliban, who blew up several bridges. Civilian passengers can travel on an alternate dirt road, but have to pass through insurgent checkpoints. Many businesses and nongovernmental organizations based in Lashkar Gah are trying to evacuate, and the road blockages have added to their alarm.

The Afghan forces’ continuous failure to hold ground in a province that has seen the deployment of a large number of troops and resources, as well as hundreds of NATO military advisers, is taking a toll on the residents of Lashkar Gah. The city has long been a haven for people displaced from other areas of Helmand by the constant back and forth between the Taliban and the coalition and government forces.

Questions are also being raised about the sustainability of a military response that relies desperately on airstrikes against a guerrilla force.

“People are still coming from fighting areas to Lashkar Gah, but what if the Taliban enter Lashkar Gah?” said Ahmad Shirzad, a resident who said the sounds of distant shelling and aircraft had become constant. “We have witnessed fighting for so long that we are really fed up with this life and would be happy to be killed by the Taliban, or NATO to be done with this hardship.”

While the Taliban have held the Lashkar Gah suburb of Babaji for months, in recent weeks they have mounted offensives in Nad Ali District, overrunning a neighborhood there that is less than 10 miles from Lashkar Gah.

Since Sunday, the militants have also carried out attacks in Nawa District, the southern gate to Lashkar Gah. Nawa had remained one of only two safe districts in Helmand Province, according to internal Afghan government communications. Of Helmand’s 14 districts, the Afghan government considers four entirely under Taliban control, four facing a high threat of collapse, four with a medium threat but limited government activity, and only two as safe.

The tempo of fighting increased over the summer after a brief lull for the late-spring opium cultivation season. The escalation of the Taliban offensive this year was also slowed down by a leadership change after their supreme commander was killed by American drone strike in Pakistan.

But in that pattern, and in the intense escalation of fighting in recent weeks, this year looks much as last year did — a disastrous season of setbacks when the Taliban overran the northern provincial capital of Kunduz at the end of September and sent fear through other important cities. Also as they did last year, the insurgents are mounting offensives across several provinces to stretch the resources of an already struggling government and security establishment.

A report by ToloNews, Afghanistan’s largest news channel, found that insurgent attacks across the country had increased by 28 percent in July compared with the previous month, with Helmand Province remaining near the top. Over the same period, ground operations by Afghan forces decreased by 22 percent. But airstrikes conducted by United States and Afghan forces increased by more than 50 percent — including, for the first time in years, the reintroduction of American B-52 strategic bombers to the Afghan battlefield.

Officials said that most of those airstrikes were directed at Islamic State affiliates in eastern Afghanistan. But Afghan and American officials confirm that there has also been an increase in Helmand, where the Afghan forces have struggled to hold the line as the Taliban have drawn closer to Lashkar Gah.

Col. Mohammad Rasoul Zazai, the spokesman for the 215 Maiwand Corps of the Afghan Army, said, “We are going to weaken the enemy through airstrikes and then start ground offensives.”

Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, the main spokesman for the United States military command in Afghanistan, confirmed that there had been an escalation in airstrikes in Helmand — up to two or three each day, he said.

But Gen. Aqa Noor Kentoz, the police chief of Helmand, said that the average had actually been more like six or seven airstrikes a day in the past couple of weeks, and that they had been having an important effect.

“For example, 11 airstrikes have been carried out by NATO forces since yesterday, and the Afghan forces are also conducting strikes,” General Kentoz said. “The airstrikes have busted the momentum of the Taliban; otherwise Taliban would have control of the provincial capital.”

Even amid reports of insurgents sending special units to Helmand, and Afghan commanders’ claims that insurgents have amassed from neighboring areas, the Taliban numbers in the province do not exceed 2,000 fighters, with only about 500 active, according to Abdul Jabar Qahraman. Mr. Qahraman recently quit as President Ashraf Ghani’s envoy overseeing the Helmand battle and since then has publicly uttered harsh and repeated criticism of the Afghan military leadership.

That the Afghan forces, which Mr. Qahraman said numbered “20 times more than the Taliban,” have struggled so badly in Helmand despite repeated changes of leadership and scrutiny from Kabul does not bode well at a time when there is no political resolution to the conflict in sight.

Mr. Qahraman attributed the failure of the government forces mainly to the military leadership’s deep corruption and the local people’s loss of trust in them, with many feeling less harassed under Taliban rule. Many of the military leaders sent to Helmand over the years have returned richer, while the situation has only deteriorated.

Relying on airstrikes, a quick fix that is quickly becoming the main tactic of defense, is unsustainable in the face of a resilient guerrilla force, he said.

“The U.S. and Afghan air forces are increasing the bombing of areas — it is ineffective,” Mr. Qahraman said. “This is not a war of tanks and artillery. It is a guerrilla war, and the government should deal with it that way. “

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Copyright New York Times 2016

Taliban Dwelling in Kunduz

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by Najim Rahim & Mujib Mashal

New York Times

July 28, 2016

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KUNDUZ CITY, Afghanistan — When President Ashraf Ghani visited the northern provincial capital of Kunduz last fall, after the city had finally been reclaimed after falling to the Taliban, he promised improvements to make sure things never got out of hand again.

Among the changes was creating three new administrative districts to help improve government support in the province. But nearly eight months later, those three districts are firmly under the control of the Taliban — and, in fact, government forces were never able to clear them and install the new officials. It is the same story in much of the rest of Kunduz Province, where the Taliban control or have mined many roads and have enforced their ban on smoking and listening to music in several areas.

Even in some of the Kunduz districts nominally under government control, officials’ true reach remains limited to the bazaars and the administrative buildings, with the Taliban having free movement in the villages, according to local residents. And last week, the government all but lost control of another district in the province, Qala-i-Zal.

“The district administrative building is neither with us nor with the Taliban,” the provincial police chief, Gen. Qasim Jangalbagh, said in an interview in Kunduz on Wednesday. “We have planted mines, and they have planted mines. So, it’s back and forth like that.”

The situation in the northern province speaks to a broader struggle this year for the Afghan security forces, with months of the Taliban’s offensive still ahead. Although the Afghan forces have so far done better in defending territory this year after a disastrous 2015, they have seemed unable to turn back the insurgents’ gains.

Even the expansion of American powers to conduct airstrikes has not eased the concerns of local officials in a year in which both civilian casualties and Afghan security force losses are on pace for record highs.

Abdul Karim Khadimzai, the head of the provincial council in Uruzgan, expressed concern that the security situation was spiraling out of control. 

“Most of the districts are cut off by the Taliban and only the district centers are nominally controlled by the government,” Mr. Khadimzai said.

“There is nothing to eat and wear, our men are staying in the trenches for 14 months, and they are homesick and have not got a single day off to take rest or be out of danger,” said Anar Gul, a local police commander in Khas Uruzgan. “We are just counting days and night in this hardship, and any moment we are expecting death.”

In Helmand, officials said the government has been unable to regain the territories lost last year, although airstrikes have so far prevented further Taliban advances. The Babaji suburb of the provincial capital and many of the province’s northern districts remain controlled or contested by the Taliban.

Estimates differ about the amount of Afghanistan under insurgent control or threat this summer.

“As of May, our assessment was that approximately nine districts were under insurgent control and about 27 districts were under some level of insurgent influence,” said Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, a spokesman for United States forces in Afghanistan.

Sediq Sediqqi, an Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman, said government forces did not have control over nine districts and faced threats in 40-45 other districts that they were working to repel.

Privately officials worry that the Taliban threat remains at least as high as it was last year.

The Taliban made another push around Kunduz City this spring. While officials said changes in the chain of command and improved discipline had helped fend off the offensive, they were quick to note that American airstrikes have been the most critical factor.

Just weeks before slowing down the withdrawel of the remaining American troops in Afghanistan, President Obama gave his commander here broader powers to use force — essentially drawing American forces deeper into a war in which the Taliban are not the government’s only enemy.

On Wednesday, the United States military announced for the first time that American troops had been wounded in combat with fighters for the Islamic State offshoot in eastern Afghanistan: Five soldiers were reported to have taken “nonlife-threatening” injuries during an offensive against the group in Nangarhar.

Mostly, though, the broader authority for American commanders has been a freer hand in using airstrikes to help the Afghan forces.

“As a commander, and working closely with my Afghan comrades every day, this is a big difference — it enables them to retain the initiative against the enemy,” Gen. John W. Nicholson, the commander of American and NATO forces, said in a recent briefing. “Whereas before we were preventing defeat, now we are able to help them gain and retain the initiative.”

One senior Western official in Kabul, however, said the loosening airstrike restrictions came out of a realization that losing more territory, particularly cities and district centers, could further destabilize the country as the fragile Afghan government is struggling to manage political and factional tensions.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private briefings, said that more intense airstrikes were crucial to trying to achieve some sort of stalemate with the Taliban that could eventually increase their interest in negotiating.

But in Kunduz right now, officials describe a situation in which district centers remain under government control, but the Taliban are just around the corner.

The main road from Gul Tepa, one of the areas Mr. Ghani declared a new district in November, to Kunduz City is cut off by Taliban mines, residents said. A trip to the city that once took 15 minutes, now rerouted, takes an hour. The road closures have also affected the region’s main agricultural produce: melons and watermelons.

“In Gul Tepa, it’s all Taliban — they treat us well, but they make every home serve them food every 10 days or so, and they have told people not to smoke cigarettes and hashish or listen to music,” said Zabihullah, a shopkeeper in the district who goes by one name. “Since the government said this place will be a new district, we haven’t seen the government carrying out an operation to come and help our pain.”

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Taimoor Shah & Mohammad Fahim Abed contributed reporting from Kandahar & Kabul, Afghanistan

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Copyright New York Times 2016

Translators Plead for Delayed U.S. Visas

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by Emmarie Huetteman

New York Times

August 9,2016

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WASHINGTON — Zar Mohammad Stanikzai remembers the promise made to him when he became a translator supporting the United States military in 2012: Help us, and we will keep you safe. Four years later, his fear of Taliban reprisals has made him a prisoner in his Afghan home, he said, and he is still waiting for the Americans to honor their commitment.

Instead, Congress is bickering over the program meant to be his deliverance.

Republican infighting, infused with nativist tones, has left in question whether a special visa program for translators and interpreters who assisted the military during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will be renewed, a potentially devastating blow to approximately 12,000 Afghans whose immigration applications are in limbo.

“We’ve really been trying to reinforce the fact to Afghans that we are committed to you, and this gives the enemy some propaganda to say, ‘Hey, these people really aren’t committed to you,’ ” said Brig. Gen. Charles H. Cleveland, spokesman for the American command in Afghanistan.

“It’s our credibility that is on the line,” he added.

Senator John McCain of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a longtime champion of the visa program, was blunt. “People are going to die,” Mr. McCain said on the Senate floor, challenging a fellow Republican who was blocking more visas. “Don’t you understand the gravity of that?”

For more than eight years, the State Department has offered a visa program designated for many of those who face an “ongoing serious threat” as a result of having provided critical linguistic support — whether in oral interpretation or written translation — in Afghanistan and Iraq. In the last two and a half years, officials say, they have issued visas to more than 8,000 Afghans and their immediate families through the program, which members of the armed services, military officials and lawmakers from both parties have hailed as indispensable to national security.

Then this year, something changed: A few Republicans said no, asking whether more visas were necessary when the State Department still had visas from previous years that could be distributed.

Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — which has jurisdiction over immigration matters — also questioned the cost of adding the 4,000 visas that the Obama administration requested this year, pointing to a Congressional Budget Office estimate of $446 million over the next 10 years.

After Congress failed to approve more visas in the House and Senate defense bills, a bipartisan group of senators tried again last month with a compromise that would have added 2,500 visas — only to be blocked by Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, who said his quarrel was not with the visa program but rather with the fact that it was getting a vote while one of his own, unrelated measures was not.

Mr. McCain responded by accusing Mr. Lee of “signing the death warrants” of people who had put their lives on the line to help the United States.

Mr. Stanikzai would agree. Now 24, he first applied in 2013 for one of the visas, writing to American officials later that year that an imam had warned his father that his son must stop working for the Americans or be killed. He then described how he came under fire as he drove home from his mosque, his car hit by three rounds from an AK-47, he said.

If the Taliban find him — or any of the Afghans hoping the United States will grant them visas — “they will kill us,” he said in an interview.

Yet with neither the House nor the Senate approving more visas in their competing defense policy bills, lawmakers hashing out a compromise this fall may be unlikely to step in.

Much of the resistance seems to stem from a growing discomfort with immigrants, said Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire and one of the visa program’s most active supporters. One Republican counterproposal this year would have offset each special visa by deducting one green-card visa from the 50,000 allocated every year to ordinary immigrants. “What that said to me is that the issue here is not really the special immigrant visas for our interpreters,” she said. “It was, ‘How do we keep from allowing more people into the United States?’ ”

In an election year in which many voters have cheered Donald J. Trump’s call to keep out migrants from Muslim countries, Ryan C. Crocker, who served as ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, saw more troubling motivations.

“I haven’t heard members say that openly, but I sometimes wonder if behind a reluctance to move in a positive fashion lurks that anti-Muslim sentiment,” he said.

John Kirby, the State Department’s spokesman, said the vetting of applicants included fingerprint and facial recognition checks as part of a full counterterrorism screening.

The government has struggled to keep pace with the influx of Afghan and Iraqi applications for special visas and changes to the eligibility rules made by lawmakers, mistakenly disqualifying some applicants and trapping others in a holding pattern that lasts months or even years. That is time, several translators and interpreters said, that the applicants cannot afford to waste as they face serious threats to their lives every day.

As the Obama administration works out those problems, congressional inaction would turn off the spigot at the end of the year and shut out any new applications. 

That has horrified program supporters, including many military officers. Gen. David H. Petraeus and Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, former commanders of the United States forces in Afghanistan, as well as Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the current commander, have pressed Congress to renew the program.

Simply debating whether to help those who helped the United States is damaging, Mr. Crocker said, because it leaves people wondering, as he put it, “What kind of people are those Americans?”

Mohammad Nasim Hashimyar, 29, said he worked with the American Special Forces in Afghanistan for a little more than a year, but his visa was rejected because of a “lack of faithful and valuable service,” according to the letter he received from the American Embassy. He kept it along with a handful of certificates of appreciation and letters of recommendation from soldiers he helped, including one who wrote that Mr. Hashimyar was “the key to success” in many of their efforts. He has appealed his rejection.

Facing threats to him and his family, he said he avoided leaving his home when possible, and he carried a gun. 

“I wish I have never worked with them,” he said. “I destroyed my life.”

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Mohammad Fahim Abed contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan

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Copyright New York Times 2016

Rug Rats

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by Rawclyde!

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The brave people of Pluckame

Witness a convulsion of miracles in their village

In the wake of ex-Taliban Habibullah’s marriage to

Col. Sheena Johnson, errant U.S. Army

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Habibullah’s resplendent wife via her inner ear is the recipient

Of the whispered guidance from afar of Saint Joan of Arizona

The reincarnation of Saint Joan of Arc

Whose trip from Mars to Earth is a tale in which we will not indulge here

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Kamdesh Village

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I guess the exit of the U.S. Army out of Nuristan Province

And the mysterious return of the legendary colonel

Have expanded the probabilities of divine intervention

So that miracles occur one after another in Pluckame now

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Such as the crash landing of yours truly

Capt’n Chuck Fiddler, retired U.S. Army

An artificial limb gone astray & my last leg broken

I lay in a coma and, alas, alive

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In the corner of a back room in the humble home of the happy couple

Lay I in prostrate idiocy & miraculous survival & the ceaseless sacrifice

Of Habibullah’s cousin the unfathomable Mamoodia

Without her deft manipulations I would have died a long time ago

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Lying in a seemingly endless coma I have managed to penetrate

The innermost laboratories of my dumb-ass brain to such a degree that

I have figured out how to miniaturize on a tiny magic carpet & fly

in & out of my left nostril to explore the doings of this household

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Of course,  flying around in such a remarkable state amongst the

Brothers, sisters, parents, grand parents, aunts, lost uncles, dug-up ancestors &

Other popping in & out neighborhood orphans of Habibullah’s household

I couldn’t help but get discovered by ~ rug rats!

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Afghaneeland Adventure Series | Old Timer Chronicle II

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archer art

http://digital-art-gallery.com/picture/gallery/archer

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text

Copyright Clyde Collins 2014

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