This is a newspaper clip from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch – September 14, 1988, something I saved from the memory hole. I clipped it when I first saw it, I displayed it on my office/bedroom door at the Good Samaritan House in Carbondale where I worked as a sensitive bouncer sometimes welcoming, sometimes evicting the homeless, and now I’ve been carrying it around for almost 30 years.
My Lai Veteran Killed In Fight Over Vodka
Pittsburgh (AP) – Robert W. T’Souvas died a bum, a homeless man, 39, shot in the head after an argument over a bottle of vodka under a downtown bridge.
Relatives say life had mostly been downhill for T’Souvas in the nearly two decades since he stood trial for killing two Vietnamese children in what came to be known as the My Lai massacre.
“He had problems with Vietnam over and over,” said his father, William T’Souvas, of San Jose, Calif. “He didn’t talk about it much. But he had problems with the body counts, things like that.”
“He lasted 20 years, but he was walking a tight line.”
Army Spec. 4 T’Souvas, then 19 and a high school dropout in San Jose, was a member of a platoon that entered the village of My Lai on March 16, 1968. They were looking for Viet Cong soldiers, but they found civillians instead.
The platoon headed by Lt. William Calley, Jr., moved into My Lai, firing on fleeing Vietnamese, tossing grenades into houses and slaughtering animals.
When the soldiers left, at least 175 men, women, and children were dead, aaccording to an Army report in 1970. Later investigations put the toll as high as 500.
The Army charged T’Souvas with the premeditated murder of two unidentified Vietnamese with a machine gun. He was one of nine enlisted men charged.
Calley was convicted of killing at least 22 civillians at My Lai. Of the enlisted men, two soldiers were acquitted, and the charges against T’Souvas and the six others were dropped. All were given honorable discharges.
Calley was ordered to spend life in prison, but President Richard M. Nixon later reduced his sentence to 20 years. Calley served three years under house arrest at Fort Benning, Ga.
He was released when his conviction was overturned by a federal district judge, and he was not returned to house arrest when an appeals court reinstated the conviction.
Relatives of T’Souvas said that while he awaited the court-martial at Fort McPherson, Ga. he lived in a commune in Atlanta, where he met and married a woman named Rebecca. Both later spent time in jail on marijuana charges before they moved to California, the relatives said.
They raised two children, and T’Souvas worked in a bakery and at various other jobs before the marriage broke up, said Lynn T’Souvas, an aunt.
About four years ago, he met a carnival worker, Kathleen T’Souvas, now 36, the woman whom police in Pittsburgh have charged with shooting him.
Even though T’Souvas was never divorced from his first wife, family members said that his new companions had assumed his last name.
“She was more like a buddy than a wife, a drinking buddy,” his father said.
His aunt said: “She did nothing but drag him down. Everybody tried to warn him. She drank nothing but straight vodka and she didn’t care if she had a roof over her head or shoes on her feet as long as she had her vodka. I saw her fight him over a drink several times.”
On Sept. 3, police said, the couple and a homeless man, David Bozic, 42, spent the day drinking, fishing, and using Bozic’s .22 caliber pistol to shoot rats and cans under a bridge in Pittsburgh.
While Bozic was gone to get food, police said, the couple argued over a bottle of vodka that Robert T’Souvas had. Police said the woman took Bozic’s gun and shot T’Souvas once in the head.
Kathleen T’Souvas was charged with criminal homicide and is being held without bail at the Allegheny County Jail.
I can’t write worth a damn or speak coherently while drunk or stoned. Some might suggest I can’t do any of that sober. I do the best I can and however good that is, I think it’s better with a straight edge. I cite that vanity whenever I address the curious lack of recreational substance abuse in my life. There are some old videos, photos, and personal accounts of the excess that occasionally characterized my younger days, though not much in writing. This poem is an exception to that. I wrote it in a cloud of reefer madness. Pretty sure it was Spring of ’92. Why spend Memorial Day thinking only of those who gave their lives in warfare? That’s what we do, isn’t it? Thinking only of that? Let’s take a moment to Memorialize our species, a moment of projection for that future Memorial Day when there are no humans remaining to acknowledge the fallen. The paranoia seems so mainstream and middle of the road in today’s political climate, though the potential ecological/nuclear/biological warfare catastrophe has been in the works for decades. On a lighter note, I tend to be more hopeful and positive today than I was when I wrote this. I suspect the climate around me is not so much that way.
When they finally found out the monkey could speak,
They put his signifyin’ ass to work.
Stupid little monkey, they said.
But he was smart enough to know the boss is a jerk.
Stupid little monkey, they said.
But she busted the copy machine and set herself free.
So they launched their missiles, rolled their tanks,
And burned the whole fucking jungle to the ground.
Stupid little monkey.
No stupid little monkey to be found.
So they finally found out the monkey could hide.
They looked inside themselves,
There was their goddamn clever monkey
Imitating the song that made the Earth.
Hell is something known. Heaven is something weird.
Work might keep you busy. Love might get you high.
But when they found out we all is monkeys,
They killed us all with suicide.
File this poem I wrote in the ’90s under “The more things change…” I wrote, published, and performed in a number of different odd places in the ’80s and ’90s but I’m especially proud that thanks to my friend Robert Herzog, this ended up posted on a bulletin board at Malcolm X College here in Chicago. A poem that doesn’t get torn down or defaced on a bulletin board is something for a struggling peoples’ poet to be proud of… with due respect to Rik Mayall, R.I.P. OK, here’s the damn poem. More of a blurb for a missing manifesto than a poem. Whatever. Reductio Ad Absurdum.
CONTRACT WITH AMERICA
Unplug the public machine.
Keep my golf-cart clean.
Sweat-shops and jail the poor.
March or die.
Jesus is our C.E.O.
In God we Trust.
The bottom line:
I got mine.
I stand with Mika and J Street.
- Donald Trump “I’ve done a lot of business with the Russians.”
- Don Trump, Jr. “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
- Eric Trump: “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.”
Which is worse? : a) The United States electorate promoted a pathological liar to the Presidency b) The President’s dishonesty, even by an established standard of half-truths and rampant dishonesty, takes political falsehoods to garish new levels c) RE: The Art of Lying, President Trump displays a frightening level of incompetence even in an area where he devotes a tremendous amount of time and effort. d) People still believe him e) All the Above
Howl some more, asshole
The best minds of my generation were never made.
Starved in Africa. Killed by mercenaries in Latin America.
made them unnecessary,
The surviving children of the scam-o-rama
of doom and gloom,
slapped by an invisible backhand into the marketplace:
looking for temp-to-permanent employment,
waiting for a bigger piece
of the pyramid scheme,
bargain rates for famine, plague,
chic designer executioner’s hood,
this Best Possible World
where poetry, philosophy,
and Mom’s decorative wax banana
have minimum connection
to every game-show host who will never ask:
how insane should we be,
that the world is made rotten by pimps?”