“The Best of Us Are the Most Fucked Up”

Thirty years ago, within one week of my mother signing the contract for me, cause I was only 17, I was gone. I didn’t tell anyone I was leaving except two close homeboys. After I left homies and girls came searching for me, but my mother told them I had joined the Marine Corps. I wanted it that way. I was too ashamed to tell people I was going to escape.

I had to leave. It was either the prison revolver during the advent of mass incarceration, death, or the Corps. My brother (RIP) was in Susanville State Prison at the time. My best friends were going to the pen or would be dead or insane within a few years. I thought the Corps was the best option when I really had no options.

On November 9, 1989, at five o’clock in the morning, I left my mother’s house, walked to SFM’s 24th Street BART, and headed to Oakland to be inducted in the Marine Corps. Four years in the funk as a machine-gunner, came back home fucked up full of fire, yet have used all the tools they taught me for service to la gente. I shout and start shit.

Full force forward.

So, on this, the thirtieth anniversary of the beginning of that epic journey, I reflect on what it means to be a Marine. This poem below is dedicated to Ira Hayes, the Pima Indio Marine who planted the flag on Mount Suribachi, which became one of the most iconic images of the 20th century.


“The Best of Us Are the Most Fucked Up”

You join to
Kill or
Be killed
To suffer
To laugh
The dream
First to fight
You pray for war
Imagining a
Banzai! Attack
Against you
Just for you
You in the middle of
Blood and Guts

You are a special
A Marine
A grunt
Front line
The poorest of
The poor
The stupidest
Known to man
But contrary to popular
You are not more
Than anyone else
You know life
You know death
It is your tradition

Belleau Wood
Iwo Jima
Khe Sanh

You do not pick the war
You just show up and
They are there
Ready for you
To patrol the jungle
To jump into the trench
To step on the booby trap
To know nothing
Your dream come true

You are Ira Hayes
Un Indio
Un Pima Indio
Who lifted
And planted
The American Flag on
Mount Suribachi
The iconic
Image of the 20th century

The Indio
The Samurai
The Indio won
But that victory
Led to his
Death in a ditch
Back at home
An Arizona Injun Reservation
A giant concentration camp
Ira Hayes did not want to be a

He came back to the
Rez and
Fire water
Would get arrested
Thrown in the can
Get up
Get out
Then do it all over

A good Marine
A jughead
A gyrene
High and Tight
Devil Dog

You act like it
Aint shit
Everybody knows
That shit has

Death in a ditch

You’re a
Ira Hayes
The best of us
The most fucked






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Young Marine and his Squad

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