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UGLY IN BLACK
As Earth returns to chaos, her women brace to mourn,
excavate their buried faith, tap reservoirs of grace, to mourn.
Soldiers steady M-16s, search stillborn eyes for welcome
or signs of commonality. Ferreting no trace, they mourn.
Few are safe, where passions swell like gangrened limbs
you cannot amputate. Sever one, another takes its place,
and you mourn.
Freefall into martyrdom, a bronze-skinned youth slips into the
crowd, pulls the pin. He and destiny embrace, together mourn.
Grenades are colorblind. A woman falls, spilling ebony hair
beside the blond in camouflage. Death’s doorman gives chase. All
Even hell capitulates to sudden downpour. Cloudburst sweeps across
the hardpan, cracks its bloodstained carapace. Hear God mourn.
Up through scattered motes, a daughter reaches for an album. She
climbs into a rocking chair to search for Daddy’s face, and mourn.
Downstairs, a widow splinters on the bed, drops her head into his
silhouette, etched in linen on the pillowcase, to mourn.
Alone, the world is ugly in black. When final night descends
to blanket memory, drops its shroud of tattered lace, who will
POETS WRITE ELOQUENTLY
About war, creating vivid images
of severed limbs, crusting body fluids
and restless final sleep, using nothing
more than a few well-crafted words.
Easy enough to jab philosophically
from the comfort of a warm winter
hearth or an air-conditioned summer.
But what can a sequestered writer know
of frontline realities—blistering
marches under relentless sand-choked
skies, where you’d better drink
your weight in water every day or die
from dehydration? Flipside—teeth-
cracking nights, too frigid for action,
bored out of your mind as you try
to stay warm in front of a makeshift fire.
How can any distant observer know
of traversing rock-rutted trails,
hyperaware that your camouflage comes
with a built-in bull’s-eye; or of sleeping
with one ear listening for incoming
peril; or of the way fear clogs your
pores every time you climb inside
a Humvee and head out for a drive?
You can see these things in movies.
But you can’t understand the way
they gnaw your heart and corrode
your mind, unless you’ve been a soldier
outside the wire in a country where
no one native is really your friend,
and anyone might be your enemy.
You don’t know till you’re ducking
bullets. The only person you dare rely
on is the buddy who looks a lot like
you—too young for this, leaking bravado,
and wearing the same uniform.
Even people who love soldiers—
people like me—can only know these
things tangentially, and not so much
because of what our beloveds tell us
as what they’ll never be able to.
OF COURSE, IF YOU ASK
Me about falling in love
with a guy in the military,
I’d tell you to about-face
and double-time toward
a decent, sensible civilian.
Someone with a fat bank
account and solid future,
built on dreams entirely
his own. I’d advise you
to detour widely around
any man who prefers fatigues
to a well-worn pair of jeans;
whose romantic getaways
are defined by three-day
leaves; who, at age twenty-
six has drunk more liquor
than most people manage
in a lifetime. He and his
fellow grunts would claim
it’s just for fun. A way to let
their hair down, if they had
much hair to speak of. But
those they leave behind,
devoted shadows, understand
that each booze-soaked
night is a short-lived
retrieve from uncertain
yesterdays. Service. Sacrifice.
The problem with that being,
everyone attached to those
soldiers must sacrifice, too.
So, as some Afghani warlord
might say, put that in your
pipe and smoke it. Okay, that
was actually my grandpa’s saying.
But it works, and what I mean
is, think long and hard before
offering your heart to someone
who can only accept it part-time.
Posted October 24, 2012
I have read every single book by Ellen Hopkins. Im telling you read anything and everything by her because her books will always give you something to think about. They do what books are supposed to do: entertain!
8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 22, 2012
I can't get passed this author calling Marines "Soldiers". Soldiers are in the United States Army. Not the United States Marine Corp. Individuals in the Marine Corp are Marines. I'm in the Air Force and I'm an Airman. Navy are Sailors. I wish people would stop calling every military member Soldiers. Decent book though although I'm not a fan of the book written in stanzas.
5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 17, 2012
Holy wow. This was my first Hopkins book and let me just say that I was blown away. This is a story that packs quite a punch and left me reeling. She totally surprised me with the ending but yet I was happy and broken hearted all at the same time.
Collateral is def a book for mature teens and if it is not classified as.new adult I think it is a perfect candidate. There is more steamy scenes than I am used to with traditional ya but I think it was still in good taste and fit with the tone of the story. There is also drinking and sinew pretty disturbing scenes but I think it use one of the most realistic stories I have read about soldiers. I think that it was said best though that you can't really understand unless you are a soldier or the emotional toll that it takes on a family or loves one that the soldier leaves behind.
Ashley the main character took me on quite a journey with her and it was an emotional one. I really felt for her and understood the places her mind took her. She was brave for the decisions she made and I appreciate the emotional cost of the decisions she made and the growth that I saw in her how she loves Cole, finds herself and ultimately makes the best choices for herself no matter how.
Bottom line: Hard hitting, emotional story about a soldier at war and the woman he leaves behind.
3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 21, 2013
Ellen Hopkins is one of my favorite authors. To date, this has been the only novel of hers that disappointed me.
One of the things I've enjoyed most about Ellen Hopkins's books has always been her ability to pull off stories done in verse. It didn't happen here. While I want the story to be a complete story (and it was), it didn't read like poetry to me. It read like a story that was cut up and formatted to look like poetry instead of being actual poetry. This was probably the biggest disappointment for me.
The story was frustrating. There were so many times when I wish Ashley would just get fed up with Cole's BS and leave him. Ashley is supposed to be smart, but her actions prove otherwise. As someone that's been in a relationship and refused to leave (even when I knew I should) because of love, I could understand to a certain extent. By the end of the book, though, I was irritated and fed up with Ashley. Instead of seeing a smart woman, I saw a weak, selfish, and naive girl. After everything she had been through with Cole, it was disappointing to see that she had grown little as a character. Cole's character is hard to flesh out in the story as we don't see very much from his point-of-view. We're presented with certain facts about him and left to fill in the rest of it ourselves. Unfortunately, I feel like this paints Cole into a negative light that doesn't necessarily do justice to who he really is. [Note, I'm not defending him or his actions.]
Overall, I didn't care for Collateral very much. I was really looking forward to this book and I'm saddened that it didn't live up to my expectations. That being said, I'm sure many people will love Collateral.
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 4, 2015
Although this book was written well and in a unique manner, I would not recommend it to someone who is in a relationship with a military member. Throughout the novel, Hopkins drills in the dangers of dating marines. I thought this was a bit unfair. When all was said and done, the strongest message I took away from it was that marines are damaged and not suitable for healthy relationships.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 5, 2013
This book was so good. I could not put it down. I rrad everything ellen hopkins writes she is my favorite author. Collateral was just so different. I know little to nothing about the military and what their families go through everyday. For me to get insight was interesting as well as shocking. The twist and turn in this book were so unexpected. Th eending caught me off guard. It was a great book and i hope everyone reads it. It gives you a insight to the military life.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 26, 2013
Posted December 30, 2012
Ellen obviously does not write a bad book. It keeps your interest through out the entire book. The way she flips you from past to present time keeps you wanting more. The story line is such a great idea because its relative to the world around us now. The things we ignore that we shouldnt! She should have went more indetailed with some of the events and scenes! It leaves you wishing she would have wrote more and developed the character and scene more. All in all though very happy and would reccomend it. GOOD BUY!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 16, 2012
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings
My second Ellen Hopkins book and this one was just as good as the last, if not even better. Centered around the war abroad, this book takes you into a relationship between a young woman and a new Marine as they try to live through deployments and very minimal time together. The book unravels with many details that affect her relationship from his commitment level to past experiences her parents have had with the military - I never realized how many outside factors can affect a relationship beyond the two who are involved.
Posted December 4, 2012
Posted November 30, 2012
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