Todd in Baghdad with the North Dakota National Guard during the Iraq War

Explicit.
Todd served at Camp Slayer in Baghdad with the 164th Engineer Battalion, Headquarters Company, of the North Dakota Army National Guard in 2007 and 2008.
Recorded in 2011 in Todd’s home in North Dakota while looking at Baghdad on Google Maps and at his photos, with the television in the background.
Todd’s recollections are filled with charm and dark humor, wonder and sudden horror.
-The Voice before the Void

Todd in Baghdad with the North Dakota National Guard during the Iraq War

Sections:
1. Stray Bullet
2. We Didn’t Have a Bunker, We Didn’t Have Shit
3. Victory Over America Palace
4. One Night with the Wrecker
5. Work Area
6. All Demolished
7. Patriot Missile Launcher
8. They Were Trying to Hit That but They Could Never Hit It
9. What Kind of a Damn Tree Is This?
10. Quick Response Force
11. Weird Bunch of Boys
12. Our Flags
13. Blimp
14. Orange Sandstorms
15. Crammed in There
16. Little Fox
17. Towers and a Firefight
18. Destroyed Vehicles
19. Up-armored Humvees
20. Totally Destroyed the Shit but What Are You Going to Do?
21. Civilian Peterbilt
22. Convoys
23. Trouble
24. They’d Get Nailed
25. They Had It Rough but They Had It Made
26. Firing Range in Kuwait
27. Camels
28. Flying in a Tanker
29. Loaded to the Max

2004 January unfinished Victory Over America Palace Camp Slayer Baghdad Iraq War Saddam Hussein Al Radwaniyah Presidential Complex photo by Khartoba

“De Moose” by Jessamine Slaughter Burgum

“De Moose”

from Dakota Horizons

Jessamine Slaughter Burgum

published in 1940 by The Times Publishing Co., Hunter, North Dakota

“The poems herein may be reprinted or used in any program as desired if due credit is given to author and publisher.”

Yes, by Gar,
I tak you two young fallers,
From de states,
To where de moose live; Continue reading

The Ball in the Basement, and The Radio in the Dark

Halloween:
We were drinking Cuba Libres and telling stories.
-The Voice before the Void

The Ball in the Basement, and The Radio in the Dark

Alsazzi Terrato and The Voice before the Void

Sophie, the Ghost of Harvey, North Dakota: Interview with Carolyn Feickert at the Harvey Public Library, and “Sophie’s Legend Lingers in Harvey Library” from Dakota Mysteries and Oddities by William Jackson

2016-august-north-dakota-harvey-public-library-sophia-eberlein-sophie-ghost-haunted-folk-lore-legend-usa-nd-photo-by-the-voice-before-the-void2016-august-north-dakota-harvey-house-1-sophia-eberlein-sophie-crime-ghost-haunted-folk-lore-legend-spooky-tree-usa-nd-photo-by-the-voice-before-the-void 2016-august-north-dakota-harvey-house-2-sophia-eberlein-sophie-crime-ghost-haunted-folk-lore-legend-for-sale-usa-nd-photo-by-the-voice-before-the-void 2016-august-north-dakota-harvey-house-3-sophia-eberlein-sophie-crime-ghost-haunted-folk-lore-legend-creepy-front-door-usa-nd-photo-by-the-voice-before-the-voidHalloween:
An interview with the lovely librarian Carolyn Feickert in August, 2016, in the very busy Harvey Public Library in Harvey, North Dakota, along with the story of Sophia Eberlein from William Jackson’s first book of North Dakota lore, and some thoughts about folklore, tourism, and small town economies.
Fair use of copyrighted material is claimed under U.S. copyright law for the purposes of education and commentary.
-The Voice before the Void

Interview with Carolyn Feickert at the Harvey Public Library in Harvey, North Dakota

The Voice before the Void

and

“Sophie’s legend lingers in Harvey library”

from Dakota Mysteries and Oddities

William Jackson

Also mentioned:
Gorman UFO Dogfight over Fargo, North Dakota
Hazel Miner of the 1920 North Dakota Blizzard

SasWhat podcast and SmallTownMonsters.com
Fouke, Arkansas and the Beast of Boggy Creek
Inverness, Scotland and the Loch Ness Monster
Deadwood, South Dakota and Aces over Eights
Roswell, New Mexico and the Roswell UFO Crash

Harvey, North Dakota
Harvey Public Library
Ben Franklin store in Harvey
Tastee Freez restaurant in Harvey

“Lemon Wedges” by Tracy Lindquist Price

Love is a tremendous thing. I love this poem.
Read Price’s work at The Cherry Window and Plains Prose.
-The Voice before the Void

“Lemon Wedges”

Tracy Lindquist Price

Today I chewed on lemon wedges to kill the sweet taste of you
in my mouth but still the water came and the acid stung my cheeks
as the pulp tears slid down my face they leapt off my chin
hit the ground and beneath my feet a lemon tree grew

I watched as it emerged, the trunk was crusted in sugar
the leaves were glossy and crystallized, the fruit had begun to bear
from the yellow cracked bits of flowers that perched upon the edges
of candied sticks and there is where the hard rock lemon drops formed

by the thousands; and to shake the hung tree was tempting
so I did just that in my sapphire dress with a wedge between my teeth
it poured over me like rain in a storm, landing quiet as cotton balls
and a mountain of stones built around me, I was pushed atop the peak.

I took a step, grabbed the highest branch and sat quiet on a limb.
I listened when the dropped mountain began to tremble, gazed
as it all started falling upwards from the bottom to the top until nothing remained
on the grass, but me, the empty tree and the last of my lemon rinds.

Through the sky the drops flew higher, beyond the clouds and the moon
and I could not tell what twinkled more, the sugar or the stars
each stopped in time to find its place and I fixated on Cepheus when into
his crown did a handful slip as Cassiopeia sighed; love within reach forever.

http://cherrywindow.blogspot.com/2012/03/lemon-wedges.html

Interview with Noelle Myers of the Northern Ink Writers’ Group of Grand Forks, North Dakota

I sat down with Noelle Myers, the moderator of the Northern Ink Writers’ Group, which meets every two weeks in the Grand Forks Public Library in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
The Red River, which flows through Grand Forks north to the Hudson Bay, catastrophically flooded the city in 1997. The Grand Forks Herald won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its coverage of the flood.
We talked about Northern Ink’s Life in the North anthology; fiction genres; literary charities; writers’ conferences; constructive criticism; narrative construction; creating a new genre; geological and economical fiction; the “new adult” genre; “heat” or sex in fiction; rules for publishing and “pirate rules”; taboo subjects in fiction; the difference between romance fiction and women’s fiction or literary fiction; science fiction and Hugo Gernsback; sub-genres; anthologies; the purpose of life; being a better writer; the UND and NDSU sports rivalry; sports, arts, literature, and other frivolity; beauty; collegiate sports funding; online writing groups and writing sprints; dead-tree books and Nooks; antique children’s books; book collecting; the Grand Forks Flood of 1997; antique stores; the library swap shelf; support and encouragement; the Grand Forks Herald and its Pulitzer; and writers’ characters.
“There’s like 20 different -punks.”
-The Voice before the Void

Northern Ink
The Laughing Girls Poetry Reading Series and The Laughing Girls on Facebook
Teegan Loy at Dreamspinner Press
Written? Kitten!
WriteOrDie.com
PaperbackSwap.com

Interview with Noelle Myers of the Northern Ink Writers’ Group of Grand Forks, North Dakota

The Voice before the Void

3 Lakota Heroes: Red Cloud, Gall, and Crazy Horse by Charles Eastman

Battle of the Little Bighorn Anniversary:
June 25 is the anniversary of the great victory. As of 2016, it’s been only 140 years.
From one of his popular books, here presented are dramatic biographies of three men by the Dakota writer Ohiyesa, more widely known as Charles Eastman.
-The Voice before the Void

3 Lakota Heroes: Red Cloud, Gall, and Crazy Horse

from Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains

Charles Eastman

“Red Cloud”

The Sioux were now entering upon the most stormy period of their history. The old things were fast giving place to new. The young men, for the first time engaging in serious and destructive warfare with the neighboring tribes, armed with the deadly weapons furnished by the white man, began to realize that they must soon enter upon a desperate struggle for their ancestral hunting grounds. The old men had been innocently cultivating the friendship of the stranger, saying among themselves, “Surely there is land enough for all!”

1865-1880 - Sioux - Red Bear, Young Man Afraid of his Horses, Good Voice, Ring Thunder, Iron Crow, White Tail, Spotted Tail, Yellow Bear, Red Cloud, Big Road, Little Wound, Black CrowRed Cloud was a modest and little-known man of about twenty-eight years when General [William S.] Harney called all the western bands of Sioux together at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, for the purpose of securing an agreement and right of way through their territory. The Ogallalas held aloof from this proposal, but Bear Bull, an Ogallala chief, after having been plied with whisky, undertook to dictate submission to the rest of the clan. Enraged by failure, he fired upon a group of his own tribesmen, and Red Cloud’s father and brother fell dead. According to Indian custom, it fell to him to avenge the deed. Calmly, without uttering a word, he faced old Bear Bull and his son, who attempted to defend his father, and shot them both. Continue reading

“Sims, North Dakota” from Wikipedia

Walpurgis Night Special:
Visit North Dakota.

“Sims, North Dakota”

Wikipedia

Sims is a ghost town in Morton County, North Dakota, United States. The town was founded in 1883, and Sims Scandinavian Lutheran Church was constructed the following year. Today, the church has been restored and still worships every other Sunday. The church parsonage has also been restored and is home to the Sims Historical Society Museum.

During her trip to North Dakota in October 2008, First Lady Laura Bush visited Sims and toured its church.

History

Sims was founded in 1883 as a coal town. Coal mining and the town’s brickyard helped Sims grow to a population of more than 1,000 people. However, the 1910 Census recorded a population of just 86 people. The population fluctuated over the years, with an estimated 98 people in 1940.

The post office was founded in 1883 and closed in 1947, with mail routed through Almont, North Dakota, to the south.

Sims Scandinavian Lutheran Church was built in 1884 as a combination church and residence. A new church was built in 1896 next to the parsonage. The church is reportedly North Dakota’s oldest Lutheran church west of the Missouri River. The congregation still has roughly 50 members, even though they do not live in Sims. Locals report, however, that the town does have one remaining resident: a former pastor’s wife who died between 1916 and 1918. Dubbed the “Gray Lady Ghost,” her spirit is reported to haunt the old parsonage, wandering the rooms and playing the organ.

Lights in the North Dakota Night Sky

We were sitting around the kitchen table, telling stories.
-The Voice before the Void

Lights in the North Dakota Night Sky

The Voice before the Void

“Three Toes of Harding County” from Wikipedia

Old stories, told long ago.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Three Toes of Harding County”

Wikipedia

Three Toes of Harding County was the nickname given to a solitary North American male wolf who killed livestock at ranches in Harding County, South Dakota over a thirteen-year period in the early 20th century. His hunting range extended into southwestern North Dakota and southeastern Montana.

Three Toes began his depredations in 1912, becoming a fully fledged livestock killer by 1917. He was estimated to have killed $50,000 worth of livestock in his thirteen-year career. He is known to have killed 66 sheep in two nights shortly before his capture. He was pursued by over 150 men, only to be trapped on July 23, 1925, in the Kahoun pasture, near Gallup, South Dakota, by Clyde F. Briggs, the state deputy predatory animal inspector.

Three Toes was thought to have been 20 years old, and measured 6 feet in length and weighed between 75 and 80 pounds.

1925 July Three Toes of Harding County South Dakota famous wolf taken by Clyde F Briggs state deputy predatory animal inspector

“Cattle Rustling and the Republic” by Theodore Roosevelt

With an old cowboy story of North Dakota, Roosevelt illustrates a moral truth about representative democracy and the line it threads between brutal revolution and authoritarian plutocracy.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Cattle Rustling and the Republic”

from Realizable Ideals (The Earl Lectures), “The Public Servant and the Eighth Commandment,” address delivered extemporaneously to the Pacific Theological Seminary, Berkeley, California, 1911 spring

Theodore Roosevelt

edited by The Voice before the Void

In the old days, I used to have a cow-ranch in the short-grass country. At that time, there were no fences within a thousand miles of it. If a calf was passed by on the round-up, so that next year when it was a yearling and was not following any cow, it was still unbranded, it was called a maverick. It was range custom or range law that if a maverick were found on any range, the man finding it would put on the brand of that range. I had hired a new cow-puncher, and one day when he and I were riding, we struck a maverick. It was on a neighbor’s range, the Thistle Range. The puncher roped and threw the maverick; we built a little fire of sage-brush, and took out the cinch iron, heated it, and started to run on the brand. I said to him: “The Thistle brand.” He answered: “That’s all right, boss, I know my business.” In a minute, I said, “Hold on, you’re putting on my brand”; to which he answered: “Yes, I always put on the boss’s brand.” I said: “Oh, well, you go back to the house and get your time.” He rose Continue reading

The 3 Classic UFO Encounters: Mantell Incident, Chiles-Whitted Encounter, and Gorman Dogfight

Mantell UFO Incident Anniversary Special:
Edward J. Ruppelt was the first head of Project Blue Book, an official U.S. Air Force investigation of UFOs. In his 1956 book The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, Ruppelt identified three UFO encounters of 1948 as the “classic” encounters that convinced Air Force personnel “that UFOs were real” and energized the UFO phenomenon in the mainstream public consciousness.

As Ruppelt wrote:

“With the Soviets practically eliminated as a UFO source, the idea of interplanetary spaceships was becoming more popular. During 1948 the people in the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) were openly discussing the possibility of interplanetary visitors without others tapping their heads and looking smug. … ‘The Classics’ were three historic reports that were the highlights of 1948. They are called ‘The Classics,’ a name given them by the Project Blue Book staff, because: (1) they are classic examples of how the true facts of a UFO report can be twisted and warped by some writers to prove their point, (2) they are the most highly publicized reports of this early era of the UFO’s, and (3) they ‘proved’ to ATIC’s intelligence specialists that UFO’s were real.”

The three “classic” encounters were: the Mantell UFO incident of January 7 near Franklin, Kentucky; the Chiles-Whitted UFO encounter of July 24 near Montgomery, Alabama; and the Gorman UFO dogfight of October 1 in the skies over Fargo, North Dakota.
⁓The Voice before the Void

circa 1947 - US Air Force North American F-51D Mustang - North Dakota Air National Guard - World War II era fighter plane P-51

“Mantell UFO incident”

Wikipedia

The Mantell UFO incident was among the most publicized early UFO reports. The incident resulted in the crash and death of 25-year-old Kentucky Air National Guard pilot, Captain Thomas F. Mantell, on January 7, 1948 while in pursuit of a UFO.

Historian David M. Jacobs argues the Mantell case marked a sharp shift in both public and governmental perceptions of UFOs. Previously, the news media often treated UFO reports with a whimsical or glib attitude reserved for silly season news. Following Mantell’s death, however, Jacobs notes “the fact that a person had died in an encounter with an alleged flying saucer dramatically increased public concern about the phenomenon. Now a dramatic new prospect entered thought about UFOs: they might be not only extraterrestrial but potentially hostile as well.” Continue reading

“Thomas McGrath (poet)” from Wikipedia

Thomas McGrath’s Birthday Special:
Never enough poet-heroes.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Thomas McGrath (poet)”

Wikipedia

Thomas Matthew McGrath (born 1916 November 20, near Sheldon, North Dakota; died 1990 September 20, Minneapolis, Minnesota) was a celebrated American poet.

Thomas McGrath North Dakota poet Communist populist UND NDSUMcGrath grew up on a farm in Ransom County, North Dakota. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. During World War II, he served with the U.S. Army Air Forces in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. McGrath was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford, and also pursued postgraduate studies at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He taught at Colby College in Maine and at Los Angeles State College in California, from which he was dismissed in connection with his appearance, as an unfriendly witness, before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1953. Later he taught at North Dakota State University in Fargo, and Moorhead State University in Minnesota. McGrath was a member of the Communist Party USA and a Guggenheim Fellow. Continue reading

“Matilda” by Karrie Schaff

Mother’s Day Special:
…until forgotten.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Matilda”

Karrie Schaff

My name is Matilda Shiff.
They used to call me Tilly.
I’ve had ten children,
and an alcoholic husband.
We had hard times,
many hard times.
I remember giving the kids
a nickel the first day of
school to purchase three
pencils for the year. Continue reading

“Biking in the Spring” by Steve Kosbab

Springtime Special:
The arrival of spring is ever of note.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Biking in the Spring”

Steve Kosbab

Rolling out the wheels after a winter’s rest,
Inspecting all to make sure it is right.
Jumping on the seat,
Gripping the handlebars, testing the brakes.
Then, wow!
I’m off, like a dragracer or derby horse just
Out of the gate.
The wind in my face, the fresh spring air
Through my lungs.
The sun on my back.
Speeding, swaying, swerving
Right into a puddle, and down. Continue reading

Hazel Miner and the 1920 North Dakota Blizzard

1920 North Dakota Blizzard Anniversary Special:
Thirty-four people killed, one of them a folk-hero legend.
⁓The Voice before the Void

Hazel Miner and the 1920 North Dakota Blizzard

compiled from Wikipedia

The 1920 North Dakota Blizzard was a severe three-day blizzard that killed 34 people from March 15 to March 18, 1920, in the state of North Dakota. High winds and an eight-inch snowfall stopped rail service in Bismarck, knocked out telephone service between Devils Lake and Fargo, and left only one functioning telephone line between Fargo and Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is one of the worst North Dakota blizzards on record.

Myrdith and Emmet Miner photo from State Historical Society of North DakotaAmong the victims across North Dakota were Charles Hutchins, who lived north of the town of Douglas; the 12-year-old son of Matt Yashenko, who lived five miles south of the town of Ruso; “Chicken Pete” Johnson, an eccentric who was found dead in his dug-out on South Hill in Minot; the young mother, Mrs. Andrew Whitehead; the four Wohlk brothers; and Hazel Miner. Continue reading

“Trapped by a War Party” by Theodore Roosevelt

Regrettable and complex, Roosevelt’s attitude toward Native Americans is reflective of his entire nation’s attitude toward Native Americans.
Here, Roosevelt goads his reluctant friend into relating one of the most desperate struggles of his friend’s life, because the event also happened to be one of the most famous gunfights of the American West.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Trapped by a War Party”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

Accidents are common. Men break their collar-bones, arms, or legs by falling when riding at speed over dangerous ground, when cutting cattle or trying to control a stampeded herd, or by being thrown or rolled on by bucking or rearing horses; or their horses, and on rare occasion even they themselves, are gored by fighting steers. Death by storm or in flood, death in striving to master a wild and vicious horse, or in handling maddened cattle, and too often death in brutal conflict with one of his own fellows–any one of these is the not unnatural end of the life of the dweller on the plains or in the mountains.

But a few years ago other risks had to be run from savage beasts, and from the Indians. Continue reading

“How Cowboys Die in North Dakota” by Theodore Roosevelt

“How Cowboys Die in North Dakota”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

Last spring one of the Three-Seven riders, a magnificent horseman, was killed on the round-up near Belfield, his horse bucking and falling on him. “It was accounted a plumb gentle horse too,” said my informant, “only it sometimes sulked and acted a little mean when it was cinched up behind.” The unfortunate rider did not know of this failing of the “plumb gentle horse,” and as soon as he was in the saddle it threw itself over sideways with a great bound, and he fell on his head, and never spoke again.

Such accidents are too common in the wild country to attract very much attention; the men accept them with grim quiet, as inevitable in such lives as theirs–lives that are harsh and narrow in their toil and their pleasure Continue reading

“Light-hearted Way of Regarding ‘Broke Horses'” by Theodore Roosevelt

Insight into cowboy culture.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Light-hearted Way of Regarding ‘Broke Horses'”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

In the cow-country there is nothing more refreshing than the light-hearted belief entertained by the average man to the effect that any animal which by main force has been saddled and ridden, or harnessed and driven a couple of times, is a “broke horse.” My present foreman is firmly wedded to this idea, as well as to its complement, the belief that any animal with hoofs, before any vehicle with wheels, can be driven across any country. One summer on reaching the ranch I was entertained with the usual accounts of the adventures and misadventures which had befallen my own men and my neighbors since I had been out last. In the course of the conversation my foreman remarked: “We had a great time out here about six weeks ago. There was a professor from Ann Arbor come out with his wife to see the Bad Lands, Continue reading

“Buildings Made of Canvas” by Theodore Roosevelt

Disaster overwhelms a frontier town.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Buildings Made of Canvas”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

Squalid, pretentiously named little clusters of make-shift dwellings on the edge of the wild country spring up with the rapid growth of mushrooms, and are often no longer lived. In their earlier stages these towns are frequently built entirely of canvas, and are subject to grotesque calamities. When the territory purchased from the Sioux, in the Dakotas, a couple of years ago was thrown open to settlement, there was a furious inrush of men on horseback and in wagons, and various ambitious cities sprang up overnight. The new settlers were all under the influence of that curious craze which causes every true westerner to put unlimited faith in the unknown Continue reading

“Hunting a Horse-thief” by Theodore Roosevelt

An ethical dilemma on the wild frontier.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Hunting a Horse-thief”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

Early one spring, now nearly ten years ago, I was out hunting some lost horses. They had strayed from the range three months before, and we had in a roundabout way heard that they were ranging near some broken country, where a man named Brophy had a ranch, nearly fifty miles from my own. When I started thither the weather was warm, but the second day out it grew colder and a heavy snowstorm came on. Fortunately I was able to reach the ranch all right, finding there one of the sons of a Little Beaver ranchman, and a young cowpuncher belonging to a Texas outfit, whom I knew very well. After putting my horse into the corral and throwing him down some hay I strode into the low hut, made partly of turf and partly of cottonwood logs, and speedily warmed myself before the fire. We had a good warm supper, of bread, potatoes, fried venison, and tea. My two companions grew very sociable and began to talk freely over their pipes. There were two bunks one above the other. I climbed into the upper, leaving my friends, who occupied the lower, sitting together on a bench recounting different incidents in the careers of themselves and their cronies during the winter that had just passed. Soon one of them asked the other what had become of a certain horse, Continue reading

“Spirit Buck” by Karen Zenner

Mythic narrative.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Spirit Buck”

Karen Zenner

The first year I went hunting –
with Pa and Mike –
Everyone winked at me, and said,
“He looks like he’s all set for Ol’ Spirit.”
And I grinned and said I was.

Only a few had actually seen Spirit,
And then there was them that said they’d
gotten off a shot,
But you could count them on one hand. Continue reading

“The Road to Horrorhill” by Barb Lunde

Halloween Special:
Happy Halloweird.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Road to Horrorhill”

Barb Lunde

The road to Horrorhill is like a dark long
piece of rope with chewing marks all
along it.
The trees look like telephone poles with
strands of wire banging in the wind.
The houses are like pancakes covered with
tar.
The shops are pieces of toast covered with
grease.
The people are like yellow tree frogs
hopping on their hind legs only.

“Deep in the” by Maria Williams

Tremendousness by a young student.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Deep in the”

Maria Williams

Deep in the
pit of
my
soul
lies a small
dead sparrow
singing
at the grave
of my dog.
Sparrows aren’t forever
neither was my dog
neither am I.

“Well, I’m back in North Dakota” by Nina Farley Wishek

An old poem by a pioneer woman of Dakota Territory.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Well, I’m back in North Dakota”

Nina Farley Wishek

Well, I’m back in North Dakota
Where the prairie is broad and flat–
Strange, how could I have forgotten
That it looks like that. Continue reading