How They Lived

by Jason Arment

No one ever asks me
how they lived
Rather, it is always
“What was it like to kill?” 

I wonder:
what is it like
to think the only death
is physical?

They were resilient
under our boot heel,
they did not waiver, nor
did their prophets abandon hope

Stalwart, a bulwark
& though our brief cleansings
will never truly know them
sometimes I remember a friend

sitting on his haunches
outside his shop,
Owen telling me
of his impending marriage

She was beautiful
of this I am certain
& had we not sundered
what he longed for

a life, a home
family & friends
a country
something to believe in 

he would've been happy
a hard-fought day won
and nothing in the world
left to stop him

jason arment collateral bio pic.jpg

Jason Arment served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Machine Gunner in the USMC. His memoir about his time in Iraq, Musalaheen, is now available from University of Hell Press. “How They Live” was written in remembrance of Iraqi interpreters, especially Owen, who were left in Iraq and subsequently purged by ISIS. “Fade Away” is about never finding relief, and turning to fatalism to stay us through the nights.