Vainuupo Avegalio

I Am From

I am from the land of smiling faces and deep rooted ignorance
Humble beginnings and regal ancestry
From straw rooved houses to concrete fortresses
I am from the hand that fed the other and hands that feeds no other
Clinging to life and no fear of death
From shallow graves of countless enemies to tattooed heroes
I am from the gnawing of savage flesh eaters and the blood of gods
War club swinging heathens and gun slinging bad asses
Ancient warlords and new world warriors
I am from grease dripping fatty pork loins and mothers milk
Born in fire raised in the flames
From empty spam and raw hotdogs to ten-year-old chili mac MREs
I am from malaria infested rainforests and sweltering 110-degree deserts
Long curly curls and skin shaved high and tights
Floral t-shirts and olive-green uniforms
I am from natural herbal remedies and sodium filled banana IV bags
20 plus years of bone crushing agony and five deployments of countless dead in deserts dunes
From the natural healing of coconut oils to Zoloft that helps me forget

15 Reasons:

Waking up to a cool 110 degree morning,
Hair dryer breeze blowing in your face,
Time to start another beautiful day,
I love climbing into my truck each morning,
Catching that sudden rush of shit, hot ass, ball sweat,
Cigarettes and my favorite gunpowder.

I love the dumbass jokes,
Some funny, Some not so much,
I really love the heroic, make believe nitty gritty,
Dirty, Raunchy stories of our crews very own one-upper guy.

I love the long endless drives,
Just cruising,
The open dirt, pothole ridden,
Rocky roads, Uphill, Downhill,
Across flat open desert terrain,

Up steep mountain sides,
Down straight and,
Weird curvy roads,
All at a whopping 15- 25 miles an hour.

I love seeing the goats,
The occasional camel,
I love seeing the kids playing in the dirt,
As they kept an ever-watchful eye,

I love the old, bearded man,
Love that he dressed up just for us,
Rocking his brand-new Arabic attire,
And his plaid turban really makes hi outfit pop,

I love how he smiled,
Cellphone in right hand,
Waiving high or goodbye with his left hand as we passed,
His fucking left hand!

10! Left hand 10!
Cellphone 10!

In other unimportant news today,
Two 800-pound IEDs destroy 3 vehicles,
Instantly killing,

10 Soldiers,
10 Sons,
10 Brothers,
10 Family members,
10 Battle buddies,
10 Friends,

Tomorrow four more will die,
The day after one more will die,
I Love This Place.

15 Reasons:

I Am From

When I Say I Am a Sergeant

August Hope

Vainuupo Avegalio

I am a retired United States Army Veteran. I am a self-taught amateur mixed media artist and poet. My art and poetry focus on my experience while serving during multiple tours to Afghanistan and other undisclosed regions of the world as well as my daily struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I try to bring the chaos of war and raw trauma from the battlefield to canvas and paper with vivid color, texture and word play.

I started dabbling in art during my last two years in the military while receiving treatment for wounds and undergoing therapy sustained during my time in service. I used art and poetry to communicate the things I could not speak about. My art was originally noticed by the USO Arts Program Manager Ashy Palliparambil, Warrior Writers Non-Profit Founder Lovella Calica, Frontline Arts Instructor Elli Wright and Community Building Artworks Founder Seema Reza while I was attending an art workshop during my treatment.

My art has been housed and solo exhibited by several notable art galleries including The Workhouse Art Center in Virginia, The Torpedo Factory in Maryland, Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in the District of Columbia, and Original Thinkers Film Fest in Telluride. I have been a featured poet at the Kimmel Center For The Performing Arts, Torpedo Art Factory and Stanford University, just to name a few. Currently I spend the majority of my time holding free workshops, teaching art, and poetry to at-risk youth, first responders, current and former inmates, and active-duty Soldiers and veterans.

Press about Vainuupo Avegalio (AV):
The HBO Documentary "We are not done yet" features AV.
More information on the film is available here.