Alright, it wasn’t Hartford. Amendment: It’s just hard to type anywhere when backpacks and make-shift trash bags are raining down on you.

Last night was our second venue, held at Battle Grounds Coffee in Haverhill, Mass. Though coffee shops are practically synonymous with the high-art crowd, the nature of the Verses and Curses tour seems just as apt, perhaps more, for bars— kind of like our first gig.  Going from a loud, New York watering hole to this, I knew, could easily present a double-edged sword: Leo, Justin, and I wouldn’t have to contend with clanking glasses, dropped plates and the usual, standard-issue barroom ruckus, but we could just as easily not have the same energy in a crowd now sipping on seasonal lattes.

“Man, you got one helluva turnout,” Nick said, smiling, after the show. Nick and I had served in 2D Recon Bn together, our platoons had come to one another’s aid in Iraq, and this time he was among an interactive, fighting-weight crowd that came to see what the hell this tour was all about.

There are events like these I’ve seen go down from Tampa to San Francisco, and the gatherings haven’t been as large nor as engaging as what we here have witnessed thus far. Look, its books—it’s even poetry sometimes, for Christ’s sake. If even six people come out, it’s a good night. When twenty-five attend, rolling up on Harleys, walking in with service dogs, and taking a gulp before stepping up to an open mic and reading words that mean something to them… it’s a great night. A surreal night.

Later, there were a string of bizarre yet easily linkable incidents: partying, walking around an unfamiliar town, trash picking, signing said trash then making a blurry, group writing exercise that was (un)fortunately recorded. But let’s bracket that; what went down at Battle Grounds makes my job of reporting here all the more satisfying.

We read selections of our works, and joining us on stage was Marty Skovlund Jr., author of Violence of Action. Marty isn’t only a fellow GWOT vet, but a fellow writer, traveler, and a real great guy to have around (from camera work to letting us use his apartment toilet, sink, and power outlets).

Also on stage came two women, one a vet, the other a civilian who runs a performing arts studio. All their contributions were palpable, and when we handed out RSF drawstring bags to those who participated, it was unclear who was thanking who with greater enthusiasm.

On the road now, we have a brief stop in Philadelphia, then it’s on to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in DC for our June 2 gig. Got word another published Recondo may attend. Hope so. If you are in the area, spread the good word and meet us at 6pm.

 

—David Rose