“The Road of My Desire or How The Way Forward Never Is” by J. Howard Shannon

December 15, 2015

The Road of My Desire is long and seemingly straight, leading to where we are going, but the undulating hills, drumlins, dunes, decades and devoutly wished consummations hide the curves of the black ribbon, letting it twist and turn when out of view. The Road of My Desire is long and seemingly timeless, fraught with hidden terrors, hidden joys, sudden death.

To the East, a column of smoke.

Danger there. Let us make for it.

Perhaps. But we have been there before. Wait for a moment, come out of the trough, drive to the crest and mark the heading. The Road arcs to the right and now one column of smoke is clearly two — the second, no longer hidden by blended sight lines.

We must go there. There is a scourge in that place. We must save them from the danger. Save them from themselves. Save them to save ourselves.

We have been there. We have left there. That smoke marks our passage. We built those pillars. That is what we leave in our wake.

The fire will reach us.


It will.

Perhaps it won’t.

The Road dips and turns but always comes back on heading — West, forever West, always West.

Can you see? The smoke recedes. It is passed. It is past. No longer ours but a sign we were there.

This is The Road of My Desire. We will drive it to its end.

There will be other fires, other smoke, other dark cynosures like those we have left behind. Let nothing stop us now. We have learned our lessons. We drive better with every mile. We will get to where we are going. We will get to what we deserve.

Know this of the The Road, it can jump up and kill you sure as day and yet, this is still a way of taking you to where you are going. Sometimes it feels as though we could roll on it forever and other times there is a resigned joy at seeing the sun rise beyond the cambered pavement, not knowing if we will see it set.

There are times when traveling down a decline in The Road, the shadow of the hill beyond enrobes us in darkness. Eventually we feel the angle changing, climbing back up the black ribbon and we think, “When I crest this fucker I’ll be living in the sun again.” And we crest it and the sun has gone down and it is night. And we wonder, “Will The Road rise up to meet me – but in the worst way, so that I am in heaven or hell before even I know it? Is that the wind at my back or a blast wave? Is that the sun shining on my face or the heat from my burning vehicle? If God holds me in the palm of His hand, will He close it into a fist?” Beyond these doubts one thing holds true — This is The Road of My Desire and we will drive it to its end.


J.Howard_Shannon_Head_shotJ. Howard Shannon is a writer and retired US Army officer with over twenty-six years in the military. He served two tours in Afghanistan—the first in 2005 with 3rd Group Special Forces and again in 2008 with the New York Army National Guard. He lives and writes in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His work has appeared in The BookPress, The War Writer’s Campaign, Digital Americana Magazine, Scintilla Press, and the horror anthology High Strange Horror: Weird tales of Paranoia and the Damned.

3 commnets on ““The Road of My Desire or How The Way Forward Never Is” by J. Howard Shannon

  1. gene farmer says:

    Powerful. Good reading – thanks J.H.S

  2. Mia Z says:

    A stunning vision of a warrior’s mindset. Prose that allow a civilian to come as close as they might to grasping the desire and fatalism that a soldier has for combat.

  3. Anonymous says:

    A beautiful voice and homage to Mr. McCarthy

Leave a Reply