The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Blood on the Risers

I'm in San Ramon at the California Book Club Summit, and got into a conversation with a lady who has been married twenty-five years. Whenever I meet people who are more successful than I am at something I care about, I listen carefully. She said that she had done an informal survey of her friends over the years, those who had remained married, and those who had gotten divorces. And she noticed a common thread: those who got divorces tended to be the same bunch that separated their belongings into "His" and "Hers." Whereas, those who remained married had blended their possessions from the very beginning. Hmmm. What do you guys think?


A friend of a friend, a former Special Forces soldier, died recently. It was said that the other old SpecOps guys listened to the eulogy, filled with Christian kindness and acts of mercy, and wondered if the priest had known their friend at all. The following, available on the West Point website, seems to be the song my friend considered more appropriate for his buddy. Called "Blood on the Risers" I thought I would offer it in tribute to one of America's fighting men, seconded to celestial service (the author is unknown):

He was just a rookie trooper and he surely shook with fright.
He checked off his equipment and made sure his pack was tight.
He had to sit and listen to those awful engines roar.
You ain't gonna jump no more.

Gory, gory, what a hell of way to die.
Gory, gory, what a hell of way to die.
Gory, gory, what a hell of way to die.
He ain't gonna jump no more.

"Is everybody happy?" cried the sergeant looking up.
Our hero feebly answered, "Yes", and then they stood him up.
He jumped into the icy blast, his static line unhooked.
And he ain't gonna jump no more.

He counted long, he counted loud, he waited for the shock.
He felt the wind, he felt the cold, he felt the awful drop.
The silk from his reserve spilled out and wrapped around his legs.
And he ain't gonna jump no more.

The risers swung around his neck, connectors cracked his dome.
Suspension lines were tied in knots around his skinny bones.
The canopy became his shroud, he hurtled to the ground.
And he ain't gonna jump no more.

The days he lived and loved and laughed kept running through his mind.
He thought about the girl back home, the one he left behind.
He thought about the medicos and wondered what they'd find.
And he ain't gonna jump no more.

The ambulance was on the spot, the jeeps were running wild.
The medics jumped and screamed with glee, rolled up their sleeves and smiled.
For it had been a week or more since last a 'chute had failed.
And he ain't gonna jump no more.

He hit the ground, the sound was "Splat," his blood went spurting high.
His comrades they were heard to say, "A helluva way to die."
He lay there rolling 'round in the welter of his gore.
And he ain't gonna jump no more.

There was blood upon the risers, there were brains upon the 'chute.
Intestines were a-dangling from his paratrooper suit.
He was a mess, they picked him up and poured him from his boots.
And he ain't gonna jump no more.


Daniel Keys Moran said...

On an unrelated note, and since several of the people who read this blog have sent me notes of encouragement over the years ... the court ruled yesterday that my 13 year old son no longer had to have contact with his biological father. The boy is free and safe at long last, and this is a great day.

Steve Perry said...

I think women's comment is perhaps bit too simple, but the underlying notion of being willing to share things is a good one.

It's my guitar and my wife's sewing machine, and neither of us begrudge the other. If she needed the guitar for something important, she could have it.

Steve Perry said...

I think women's comment is perhaps bit too simple, but the underlying notion of being willing to share things is a good one.

It's my guitar and my wife's sewing machine, and neither of us begrudge the other. If she needed the guitar for something important, she could have it.

Pagan Topologist said...

That is an interesting idea about marriage. My first wife and I were married for a little over a decade. I always thought we shared everything, possession wise. However, when she asked me to move out, she had a very clear idea of what was mine and what was hers, and perhaps surprisingly I almost always agreed with her choices.

Marty S said...

Dan: Congratulations with respect to your son.

Steve: The woman is wrong. There are two types of people in this world, one pocket people like the woman and myself and multi-pocket people like my wife. Talking now about assets, like money, the house etc. one pocket people look at all their assets as ours, while multi-pocket people feel more comfortable with yours, mine and ours. My wife and I are happily married for forty-two years and one of the things we had to do for this to happen was accommodate her need for multiple pockets. To do this we set up one bank account in her name with her money in it. This money allows her to spend on things without feeling guilty, that she would feel guilty about spending "our" money on. There are a number of keys to a lasting marriage, one of these is the ability to accommodate and compromise.

suzanne said...

I'm so happy
for you and your son!

I also thought
there were two kinds of people:
those who divide the world into
dualistic categories
and those who do not
I'm of the latter group
thinking that the former
seriously limits
conceptualizing the cosmos

Anonymous said...

Personally, i think that what is behind the separation of belongings matters. My wife is into several things i am not and the reverse is also true. However, should i ever start evincing an interest in German or continental knitting or the natural childbirth movement i know that i am welcome. In contrast, my relationship with an ex was different. In that relationship there were definitely places where i was not welcome. We didn't last long as a couple.


Anonymous said...

I see someone has been to jump school. I too went airborne and remember that song as well as other cadence ditties. Hell Week was fun too, NOT. It's all fun and games until somebody drops dead from exhaustion and especially if you happen to be at either Fort Bragg, NC or Fort Benning, GA in the middle of summer. Hell Week was torment, double and triple time everywhere you went and a lot of head games to get you to quit before you even see a parachute, let alone an airplane. Looking back brings fond memories nonetheless. Thank you for the walk down memory lane.

William Evans, Benning Class 0880

Unknown said...

I'm with Langdon that it depends on the reasons for the separation. In general, Joel and I (married 21 years and together for a year before that) treat everything as common property, but there are a few things that are clearly one person's (e.g. his camera equipment), and even some favorite foods that we tend to treat as more one person's (not in the sense that the other can't eat them, but in the sense that the other asks or tells the person who especially likes it first, so the person who especially likes that food isn't surprised to run out).

Most of the people I know who've been married as long as myself tend to share more than split, but I do know one couple who have been together as a couple (though not married) for just as long as Joel and me, and who keep their property completely separate except for one shared freezer.

Steven Barnes said...

Dan! Fabulous. You are a warrior for your family.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

We're all in something of a state of shock. We've been in court (aside from the time we spent out of the country) pretty much nonstop for over a decade. The idea that it's over (or at least that the threat to the kids is over) is so overwhelming it's hard to process.

Amy said the other day I looked ten years younger -- and I got carded buying alcohol because I looked "under 30," according to the waitress. Maybe she was just looking for a tip, but the fact is, no one's carded me since I was 17 and my hairline started receding, not ever, not once, in almost 30 years -- until last Friday evening.

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