The tear-jerker of a letter below was written by a World War II veteran named Brian Keith to another soldier, known only as “Dave.” The two began their romance in 1943 while stationed in North Africa together. This letter commemorated that anniversary.
It was first re-printed for wide distribution in 1961, by pioneering gay publication, ONE Magazine. But this love letter could very well have never seen the light of day. ONE put out their first issue in 1953, and brazenly sold on the streets of Los Angeles. In 1954 the magazine faced obscenity charges from the U.S. Post Office Department. They sued, and in 1958, won in a Supreme Court trial that set new legal precedent for First Amendment protections. ONE Magazine ran until 1967.
This is in memory of an anniversary — the anniversary of October 27th, 1943, when I first heard you singing in North Africa. That song brings memories of the happiest times I’ve ever known. Memories of a GI show troop — curtains made from barrage balloons — spotlights made from cocoa cans — rehearsals that ran late into the evenings — and a handsome boy with a wonderful tenor voice. Opening night at a theatre in Canastel — perhaps a bit too much muscatel, and someone who understood. Exciting days playing in the beautiful and stately Municipal Opera House in Oran — a misunderstanding — an understanding in the wings just before opening chorus.
Drinks at “Coq d’or” — dinner at the “Auberge” — a ring and promise given. The show 1st Armoured — muscatel, scotch, wine — someone who had to be carried from the truck and put to bed in his tent. A night of pouring rain and two very soaked GIs beneath a solitary tree on an African plain. A borrowed French convertible — a warm sulphur spring, the cool Mediterranean, and a picnic of “rations” and hot cokes. Two lieutenants who were smart enough to know the score, but not smart enough to realize that we wanted to be alone. A screwball piano player — competition — miserable days and lonely nights. The cold, windy night we crawled through the window of a GI theatre and fell asleep on a cot backstage, locked in each other’s arms — the shock when we awoke and realized that miraculously we hadn’t been discovered. A fast drive to a cliff above the sea — pictures taken, and a stop amid the purple grapes and cool leaves of a vineyard.
The happiness when told we were going home — and the misery when we learned that we would not be going together. Fond goodbyes on a secluded beach beneath the star-studded velvet of an African night, and the tears that would not be stopped as I stood atop the sea-wall and watched your convoy disappear over the horizon.
We vowed we’d be together again “back home,” but fate knew better — you never got there. And so, Dave, I hope that wherever you are these memories are as precious to you as they are to me.
Goodnight, sleep well my love.
Goldfrapp’s moving “Clay” from their latest long-player, Tales of Us, is based on the letter.
If something burns your soul with purpose and desire, it’s your duty to be reduced to ashes by it. Any other form of existence will be yet another dull book in the library of life
—Charles Bukowski (via psych-facts)
I shiver, thinking how easy it is to be totally wrong about people, to see one tiny part of them and confuse it for the whole.
—Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall (via psych-facts)
Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.
—Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum LP (via psych-facts)
For women who are tied to the moon, love alone is not enough. We insist each day wrap it’s knuckles through our heart strings and pull. The lows. The joy. The poetry. We dance at the edge of a cliff, you have fallen off. So it goes. You will climb up again.
You rare girl, once again, you have a body that belongs to no lover, to no father, belongs to no one but you. Wear your sorrow like the lines on your palm. Like a shawl to keep you warm at night. Don’t mourn the love that is lost to you now. It is a book of poems whose meters worked their way into your pulse. Even if it has slipped from your hands, it will stay in your body.
You loved a man who treated you like absinthe, half poison and half god. He tried to sweeten you, to water you down. So you left. And now you have your heart all to yourself again. A heart like a stone cottage. Heart like a lover’s diary. Hope like an ocean.