How Could You Do That?


By Eric Chandler

By Eric Chandler

It’s a Christmas party.

Everybody is pretty lubed up.


I just read your article, he says.


(Here we go.)


I probably shouldn’t,

but I’m going to ask you a question:

How could you do that?


Well, the story was about how I


shoot women and children.


Yeah, yeah, yeah, 

but how could you do that?


(The story included


but it wasn’t the point.)


I said,

no sane person wants to do


Law of Armed Conflict.

Enemy combatants.

Et cetera.


Too late,

I know what I’d say now:

I have a question for you.

If you didn’t like


maybe you should’ve done something about


other than asking me:

How could you do

(ew, gross)



Since you insist:

Because you sent me.


I was an extension of the will of the people.

You sent me.

The right bumper sticker on your car isn’t enough.

You sent me.

You don’t get to dismiss me by thanking me.

You sent me.

You don’t get to forgive your own sins.

You sent me.

You are not absolved.

You sent me.

By commission or omission.

You sent me.

Last I checked, it was

We the People.


After you brush your teeth tomorrow,

put your face up to the mirror

and ask,


How could you do that?



Eric Chandler is the author of Hugging This Rock: Poems of Earth & Sky, Love & War (Middle West Press, 2017). Chandler directed the Bridging the Gap writing workshop in Duluth, Minnesota in June, 2018 that addressed the civil-military divide. His writing has appeared in Northern WildsGrey Sparrow Journal, The Talking Stick, Flying Magazine, Sleet Magazine, The Thunderbird Review, O-Dark-Thirty, Columbia Journal and The Deadly Writers Patrol. He’s also a USAF veteran who served in the active duty and the Minnesota Air National Guard. He flew 145 combat missions and over 3000 hours in the F-16. He retired in 2013 as a lieutenant colonel. He’s a member of Lake Superior Writers, the Outdoor Writers Association of America, and the Military Writers Guild. Eric is a husband, father, and pilot who cross-country skis as fast as he can in Duluth, Minnesota.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Lost your password?