Shrapnel Shell: A Special Feature with the Veterans Writing Project

On that morning just outside of Fallujah,another Krakatoa exploded.It blew Rico into pieces,sent him spinning into the sacrificialair where T.S. Eliot waswrong—the mangy dog never whimperedas it cowered and crawledalong the ground for twenty yards to Rico’s arm,which looked like a B-grade horror movie propas the little pink tongue licked and lickedthe bloody offering.I emptied…

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Randy Brown, Nichole Goff, C.R. McCarthy, Michael McManus, Matthew Mobley, TJ Reynolds, Brandy Williams

Randy Brown embedded with his former Iowa Army National Guard unit as a civilian journalist in Afghanistan, May-June 2011. He authored the poetry collection Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poems from Inside the Wire (Middle West Press, 2015). His poetry and nonfiction have appeared widely in literary print and online publications, and he is the current poetry editor of the literary journal As You Were, published by the nonprofit Military Experience & the Arts. As “Charlie Sherpa,” he blogs about military culture at:

Nichole Goff graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Notre Dame in 2016, where she studied poetry. She is a former assistant editor at Action Books and a current editor at Spork Press. She resides in Tucson where she teaches writing classes, binds books, practices martial arts and dance, and continues to write poetry. You can find her work in Smoking Glue Gun, O-Dark-Thirty Magazine, The Fem Online Magazine, Witch Craft Magazine,, The White Stag, and Quaint Magazine.

Chris McCarthy is a retired Marine, having completed 30 years of service. With the help of The Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, VA, he is working on his poetry and learning the difference between Lord Byron and Billy Collins. He prefers Billy Collins. His work has appeared in 3Elements Review, O-Dark-Thirty, and on He and his wife live in Virginia Beach, VA.

Michael McManus’s work has appeared in numerous publications. He is the recipient of an Artist Fellowship Award from the Louisiana Division of the Arts and numerous Pushcart Prize nominations. He has received The Virginia Award and The Oceans Prize for poetry. He attended Penn State and The University of Louisiana at Monroe. He currently lives in Millheim, PA. He is a Navy Veteran and service-connected Disabled Veteran. His book of poetry, The Buddha Knot, is forthcoming from Prolific Press.

Matthew J. Mobley is a poet, essayist, and former career U.S. Army Infantry Officer, Paratrooper, and Ranger with multiple combat tours. He currently works as the Assistant Professor of Military Science at the University of Tampa, though he considers military service much more of an abstract art than an exact science. A graduate of North Carolina State University and the University of Tampa’s MFA program, his previous work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, O-Dark Thirty, Bridge Eight Literary Journal, and The Sandhill Review.

TJ Reynolds has published non-fiction and poetry with NAILED Magazine, The Hour After Happy Hour Review, The Deadly Writers Patrol, and Ash and Bones Magazine. He writes about war, violence, the fickle nature of power, and how these intersect with gender and racial politics. From 2004-2005, TJ served an infantryman in Iraq with 1/24 Infantry in the city of Mosul. He has 3 gorgeous children and works as an English Instructor at Cypress College in Orange County, CA. The work of crooked politician tycoons and iconoclasts has inspired him to fight back in the war against hate and oppression.

Brandy R. Williams served in the USAF from 1997-2010 as a jet engine mechanic and an Independent Duty Medical Technician. She earned a BA in English from Louisiana State University at Alexandria in 2014. That is when she fell in love with writing and began to use it as a therapeutic tool, and went on to earn an MA in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi in 2016. It is her desire to become a professor so she can teach the power of the written word. Her previous works are published in the Jongleur, The Report: O-Dark-Thirty, and Confluence.

Tyler Champion

Tyler Champion is an illustrator and designer working in Nashville, TN. He graduated from the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic art in 2010. He has worked on an array of projects including gig posters, concept art for video games, comics, shirt designs, and advertisements.

First Featured In: No. 8, summer 2017

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