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This book arose out of  a series of conversations between us. Both of us began writing poetry before, during, and after the wars in the Gulf. Our experience of those years are very different, and the aftermath of those years are as well, but we both were forced to deal with the consequences of decisions made by others and the fallout from those decisions in our family and in the wider society. Our discussion eventually lead to sharing our poetry and, eventually,  on deciding to curate our work in a collaborative publication. 

But this is not only a book on the emotional aftermath of war.  For each of us, both civilian and  veteran, there is aftermath to be dealt with. Of war, of love, of tragedy great or small. Each must needs be handled; perhaps with courage,  hopefully with honor, but nonetheless handled. In this small collection we  hope to share somewhat of our experience in continuing despite what has gone before. 

There is usually nothing else to do.


J.E. McCollough served in the Marine Corps from 1996 to 2005. He is a combat veteran, including Operations Iraqi Freedom I and II as a Counterintelligence Specialist, and the recipient of a Purple Heart and a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with ‘V’ Combat Distinguishing Device. While in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, J.E. served as a part of 1st CI/HUMINT Company, 1st Intelligence Battalion. He was attached to 3rd Battalion/5th Marines,Task Force Tripoli and 3rd Battalion/23rd Marines at various points during the invasion and was attached to 2nd Battalion/4th Marines in Ramadi in 2004. Including post-Marine Corps civilian deployments as an intelligence analyst for the Department of Defense, he served over forty months in the Middle East and Central Asia between 2002 and 2011. J.E. has written articles for  TIME magazine’s Battleland online,,  as well as


Andrew grew up in a highly religious migrant family that worked in California and Arizona.  After graduation he went to Japan to teach English for several years and then returned to the United States for an advanced degree. That took longer than expected. Following a brief stint as a post-doc at Oregon Health and Science University, he co-founded a software consultancy.  Now he works at another startup and in between he writes.