the scars book center for books and chapbooks


blister and burn

a collection book

...On Other Work From Scars Publications

Jane B. Roth, writer (on the collection book “Slate and Marrow”): ...Absolutely beautiful. Very impressive. Congratulations. I loved the poem “Clipping Koltin.” The photography looks great.

Ryan Malone, writer (on the collection book “Sulphur and Sawdust”): I’m enjoying “Sulphur and Sawdust.” The design is phenomenal. Stark, sleek, brilliant, impressive. Very refreshing. The small lines of text running sideways down the pages? Very cool. This is a really, well-done, classy looking anthology. Congratulations.

BAST Media (on the book “Hope Chest in the Attic”): Cool look... in an alternative style and voice. Reads like a labor of love, most meaningful to those close to the author yet reaches any reader with observations and comments on various situations. Definitely worth reading.

Fred Whitehead, editor, Freethought History (on the book “The Window”): There’s powerful writing about insane prisoners, really tough and difficult to read, but at the same time, it is real. There is a substantial amount of prose, but also poetry and striking original art work based on computer images.

Ben Ohmart, writer (on the book “Close Cover Before Striking”): I’m currently reading the great book (“Close Cover Before Striking”). It’s fantastic. Best $10 I’ve ever spent.

Fred Whitehead, editor, Freethought History (on the book “(woman.)”): Kuypers ... is determined to transmit (sexism’s) regions so others can avoid pain and suffering. She insists we resolutely examine the roots of our society’s obsession with shaping and dominating, which much of the time is men ruling women. What we have done to women isn’t pretty. The paradox is that women are socialized to make themselves “pretty,” according to the false standards of male fantasies. I’m especially impressed by designed texts, which demonstrate in graphic form how women are viewed in our culture. Pay attention to the language, to the images.

Ed Hamilton, writer (on the magazine “Children, Churches and Daddies”): I really enjoyed the humor section. I’m not a fan of poetry - since much of it is so hard to decipher - but I was impressed by the work here, which tends toward the straightforward and unpretentious. The piece by Anderson is quite perceptive: I liked the way the self-deluding situation of the character is gradually, subtly revealed.

Paul Weinman, writer (on the magazine “Children, Churches and Daddies”): Wonderful new direction - great articles (especially those on AIDS). Great stories - all sorts of hot info!

Jane Butkin Roth, writer (on 1997 Poetry Wall Calendar): The poetry calendars ... look terrific. I loved Crossing the Street, The Burning, and The Year I Reach My Prime. Interesting photos, too. Congratulations on producing a beautiful calendar.

Dusty Dog Reviews, CA (on the chapbook “Dysfunctional Family Greeting Cards”): Ms. Kuypers shows us that, in certain circumstances, each person is an enormously authoritative reality to each other person...She is adept at creating an emotional layering.

Dusty Dog Reviews (on the chapbook “Right There, By Your Heart”): The whole project is hip, anti-academic, the poetry of reluctant grown-ups, picking noses in church. An enjoyable romp!

Dusty Dog Reviews, CA (on the chapbook “knife”): These poems document a very complicated internal response to the feminine side of social existence. This tale (“crazy”) displays such revelations into the inmate’s mind that I tend to believe it. And the poems become increasingly psychologically complex and, ultimately, fascinating and genuinely rewarding.

good friendsparted

Good friends parted like a winter coat
not quite warm enough
shedding rain and stopping wind
but not the cold
that brings us to hearths alone seeking
voices of comfort in the light
and in the darkness a gentle touch
of hands guiding safely
the shadowed passages of daily life
not quite in despair aging slowly
remembering quickly the smiles
and laughter in the eyes
across tables of food warm
smells rising with glistening
tears of souls touched
with honesty and love
oblivious to others passing
unaware of the secret knowing
of what it means to have
a friend to fill those moments

when we fear to be alone
and strive to be alone with someone
who will not interfere
with the searching and falling
a witness to our experiments
and path finding stumbling
catching just in time to slow
the fall toward anonymity.

boyd miller


an album of faded pictures
laying on an empty bed
on one side of a dusty room
nobody rents
even though the rates are god-awful good

I give up
[not that I invested much in this to begin with]

today passes like yesterday
hollow words
empty promises
donuts in a box on the radiator
and an album of faded pictures
remains unopened
[keepsakes left behind]

sepia suits you
delicate lace and silk stockings and
mauve suits with shoulder pads
style is your substance sweetheart
don’t fight it

pungent perfumes remind me of you
heart stopping poses no one else can emulate
[you really set the hook didn’t you?]

so I am in this god-forsaken place
reaching for grasping at a little peace
sidestepping shadows [very fred astaire]
doing nothing I can undo
underneath it all:

[somewhere someone I don’t know
takes notes]

underneath the desire: fear

[everyone here knows this is true]

underneath the fear:
or hunger

like the pictures in the album
evaporating in the summer heat
wrenched from me in absentia
sympathy proves insufficient

everyone who checks in stays

some never check in

regardless: everyone ends up here sooner or later

my memory justifies nothing
taking the easy way out

arguments bury evidence
to no advantage

secrets are revealed on cue

no one here escapes
devastation depression devotion

grandiose stories
told over and over in the bar
even though none of us believes them

[so what if
nobody cares?]

so what if nobody knows better?

my album sits on my bed
forgetting nothing remembering all

supposing any of this is real

so what if it’s all just another bad dream?
do you care? [did you ever?]

like love: this is never over

mea culpa sweet thing
reneging on history
gets you nowhere
except here

deckard kinder

before i learned
you’d think that the people that are most like you
are perfect for you
but if you find someone like that
and you’re dating someone like that
you’ll see
that they now have the same faults as you do
except their faults seem so much worse
and you want to kill them for the faults you have
and you want to crack their head open
and see their brains flowing out in the street

yeah, i know your mood swings, your hatred
your love of life and truth and fairness and art
and your anger
are all as strong as mine
but i’m still going to be hard on you
i’m still going to be hard on you
for being me
before i learned better

helena wolfe

the chambered

by bernadette miller
During her youth, Elizabeth’s lover had committed suicide, and she’d never recovered from the shock. She’d secluded herself with Yvette, a French-Canadian cousin, in her late father’s Victorian apartment, and struggled there for fourteen years on a meager trust fund and her craft work that Yvette sold to department stores.
One fall afternoon, Yvette set down groceries bought at supermarket sales, and opened a letter. Plump and cuddly with big blue eyes and gray plaits, she was over sixty, yet still retained from convent school a childlike innocence. She rushed to the parlor, waving the letter, and shouted over the electric drill, “Uncle Ralph invited us to Cindy’s wedding in upstate New York! Oh, how much fun it would be to go. It’s been such a long time...”
Elizabeth clicked off the drill and looked up from the wooden sea gull she was carving. “Yvie, you know I won’t budge from here. Besides, we can’t afford it.”
“Beth, it happened so long ago. It’s time to forgive yourself. Uncle Ralph would gladly loan us money for the trip. His daughter will be terribly disappointed if we don’t make it.”
“Yvie, we’ve been over this time and again. I couldn’t stand a room full of strangers, let alone a wedding. Now I’ve got to finish this sea gull.”
Yvette sighed and returned to the kitchenette.
Trembling, Elizabeth rose and walked to her china cabinet collection near the bay window, as she usually did when upset. It was twilight, the parlor bathed in pink. She gazed at the seashells, miniature alabaster animals, and coral. Removing the chambered nautilus Yvette had given her eight Christmases before, she held it up to the light. She admired the shell’s delicate coloring and stroked its pearly smoothness. How lovely it was, dainty and serene, unpressured by events... Starting to relax, she rehung it in the cabinet and returned to her work table near the fireplace.
At suppertime, she began storing her work materials in the sideboard drawer, and heard an ominous thump in the kitchenette. “Yvie!” She hurried through the book-lined hallway, darkened to save money, and found her cousin crumpled on the kitchenette floor.
“Yvie, what’s wrong?” Elizabeth said anxiously, lifting the older woman’s head onto her lap. “Are you okay?”
Yvette opened her blue eyes. “I don’t know, I must have passed out. I’m sure it’s nothing. Don’t worry.” She rose awkwardly, helped by Elizabeth, and reached for the paring knife on the butcher block counter. “I’ll finish the carrots for the salad. You set the work table. I’ll be okay.”
But apparently she wasn’t. The following week, as Elizabeth carved a dolphin, Yvette had another seizure.
“I’d better call an ambulance!” Elizabeth said in the kitchenette. She helped the older woman to rise.
“I feel better already,” Yvette said, straightening her house dress. She began scrubbing a pot with steel wool. “I’ll be all right.”
Elizabeth shook her head. “Yvie, I want you to go to the hospital for tests right now. I’m calling a taxi!”
“We can’t afford taxis.”
“Well, we’ll have to spend the money. We must find out what’s wrong.”
When the taxi arrived, she hugged Yvette at the door.
“I’m sure it’s nothing serious,” Yvette said, smiling to reassure Elizabeth. She buttoned the cardigan and pulled on a feathered cloche hat that emphasized her still girlish face and big blue eyes.
“I should go with you, but...”
Yvette smiled. “Well, if you can’t face a wedding, you certainly couldn’t face a hospital! Don’t worry. I’ll be back soon.”
Elizabeth nodded and returned to her work. Unable to concentrate, she stared through the bay window at the East River far below. She should have gone with Yvette... She shook her head. Strangers would remind her of the past. “I’d better finish the dolphin,” she said, and worked for awhile until she realized she wouldn’t hear Yvette unlocking the foyer door. Sighing, she clicked off the drill, and thought she heard footsteps echoing in the outside hall. Their neighbor, Mrs. Thompson, might be returning from Europe, as her maid had told Yvette yesterday. Or, perhaps Yvette had dropped her key...
Slowly Elizabeth opened the door and peeked out, wary of Mrs. Whitman, their other neighbor, catching sight of her and starting a conversation. There was no one. Ravel’s “Daphnis and Chloe” suddenly flooded the hall from the Stevens’ apartment downstairs. She hurried inside and slammed shut the door, but it was too late. She suddenly remembered Michael’s Greenwich Village apartment, listening to that same piece of music while he lovingly stroked the silky hair cascading over her shoulders.
“I’ll change your father’s mind about me,” he’d murmured. “As long as I have you, I’ll never want another drink.”
They kissed, and she nestled contentedly against his shoulder, enveloped by Ravel’s haunting music.
Elizabeth reproached herself for breaking her vow never to dwell on the past, and returned to work. When Yvette’s key turned in the lock, she hurried to the hall.
“The doctor said it’s just old age,” Yvette said, hanging her sweater in the hall closet. “I’d better start cooking or we won’t have any dinner tonight.”
Elizabeth followed her to the kitchenette and watched her cousin grate cabbage. “Well, old age or not, something’s causing the problem!” Brow furrowed with worry, she returned to the parlor and spread a cloth over the work table. She distributed her mother’s Limoges plates, the remaining antiques after Yvette sold the rest to pay bills. Upset about memories of Michael after so many years, she stopped and removed the chambered nautilus. She stroked the coils, yearning to curl up inside, protected from pain.
During supper, Elizabeth shoved aside the half-filled bowls of vegetable soup and coleslaw.
Yvette, serving tea, flashed an encouraging smile.
“Maybe we should skip Pou Belle tonight?” It was her pet name for the basement garbage. “The Whitmans are away, but if we run into Mrs. Thompson, we might have to explain why we’re rummaging through other people’s discards.”
“No, we’ll go down after supper. We don’t want rich neighbors running our life.”
Yvette chuckled. “Last year, Mrs. Whitman threw out that faded velvet chair, and we got fifty dollars for it! Then, Mrs. Stevens had to redecorate, too, and discarded those hooked rugs--just before our carpet disintegrated. My, what a wonderful Christmas that was...”
Elizabeth smiled at her cousin’s wistfulness. “This year will be even better. Well, if you’ve finished eating, let’s go.”
They got the flashlight, and took the elevator to the basement. Hurrying down a corridor toward the large, unlit room at the rear, they deposited their garbage bags in the corner bin. Then, while Yvette kept a lookout for visitors, Elizabeth guided her flashlight about the dark, and spotted an open carton of spices.
“I can certainly use that!” Yvette said, pleased.
They lugged their loot upstairs, intending to sneak it into the apartment, but Mrs. Thompson stood at her open door, sandwiched between suitcases. They smiled sheepishly at the neighbor with her sleek blonde chignon.
“Someone left perfectly good spices in Pou Belle,” Yvette said, squashing her nervousness.
“Pou Belle?” Mrs. Thompson looked disdainfully at the carton. “Oh, you mean the garbage.”
“Exactly,” Yvette said, flashing her most charming smile. “That’s what my mother in Quebec called the discards.”
Elizabeth, deeply embarrassed, muttered, “We probably shouldn’t have taken it, but nobody wanted it, so--”
“It’s a good haul!” Yvette interrupted, and turned with a conspiratorial whisper toward Mrs. Thompson. “You won’t tell anyone, will you, dear?”
“No, of course not.”
The women hurried with the carton to the kitchenette where they unloaded the spices. While Yvette finished in the kitchenette, Elizabeth read a novel borrowed from the library by Yvette. Her heart leaped when she heard another thump. This time Yvette had bumped her head on the baseboard near the sink.
Elizabeth trembled with anxiety as she bent over the older woman. “Yvie, something’s wrong! I’ll have you stay at the hospital for complete tests.”
Yvette rose with Elizabeth’s help. “We can’t afford it.”
“I’ll ... find a way to pay for it.”
Elizabeth swallowed hard. “Well, my craft work won’t cover it. I’ll. . . get a job.”
“You mean regular work?”
“Yes, Yvie, I’ll do it. I’ll do anything to make sure you’re okay.” She nodded, more to convince herself than Yvette. “As soon as the tests are paid for, I can quit.”
“We need the money, but if it’s too hard on you...”
“Well, let’s see how it works out.” Elizabeth patted Yvette’s arm. “I bet you forgot this is tv night. There’s a good movie--Dark Victory with Bette Davis.”
Yvette exclaimed, “I did forget!”
They hurried to the darkened parlor where Elizabeth plugged in the set opposite the sofa, and they settled down to watch. Elizabeth’s gaze shuttled from the movie to her cousin, who kept smiling to reassure her.
The next day, after brushing her teeth in the musty green bathroom near Yvette’s room, Elizabeth repinned her graying auburn hair behind her ears, and stared at her image. At fifty she had no wrinkles, just a sagging jaw, yet she felt much older. She tucked in her shirttail and
straightened the baggy slacks. She had managed to look as unattractive and unfeminine as possible--ever since Michael died.
She remembered coming home late, and her father storming from his room. “Don’t tell me you’ve seen that drunkard again after I forbade it?”
Fighting tears her father considered a weakness, she said, “Michael hasn’t had a drop for two years, not since meeting me.”
He’d nodded, his face softening. “But the problem’s always there, isn’t it?” he said gently. “Elizabeth, you deserve better in life than worrying about your husband taking another drink. How long do you think your love would last?”
She remained silent, torn by his logic. Week after week he’d urged that Michael was no good for her, until gradually, insidiously, he convinced her to change her mind. If only Mom had still been alive, maybe she wouldn’t have sent Michael that terrible letter...
And then the call from Yvette, hesitant and tearful, “Oh, Beth, I’m... so sorry to tell you this, but Michael... I just found out from his neighbor... poor Michael shot himself in the heart. Beth, dear, if there’s anything I can do...”
Now, Elizabeth felt a stab of anguish and shook her head. No, Yvette was right--it was over a long time ago! She must get a job, for Yvette’s sake. Maybe being among people wouldn’t be as painful as before...
To calm herself, she removed the chambered nautilus, and held it up to the light from the bay window; the colors shimmered with rainbow intensity. Turning the shell, she pictured the mollusk creating its lovely, hidden chambers, safely inhabiting one after another until it finally died.
The next morning, wrapped in an old robe, she walked through the sunny parlor; clinking noises emanated from the kitchenette where Yvette fried eggs.
“Feeling better?” Elizabeth said.
Yvette murmured, “I’m fine, dear.”
Nodding with relief, Elizabeth carried buttered toast and strawberry jam to the parlor table. Afterwards, she returned to work. She bent over the dolphin to attach a tiny brass ring so it could be worn as a pendant, and shivered when the mantel clock struck eleven. Time for Yvette to leave for her tests.
“Beth, I’m ready,” Yvette said, sticking her head in the door. It had grown colder outside. She wore a plaid winter coat, leather boots, a black fur hat, and carried an expensive purse: gifts from Pou Belle.
Elizabeth nodded and fought tears as they embraced.
“I’ll be all right,” Yvette said. “Probably just nerves, worrying about money, and you being so isolated in the apartment. I’ll bet there’s nothing wrong at all.”
Elizabeth daubed at her eyes. “I hope so. Please call as soon as you can.”
After Yvette left, Elizabeth played Mozart on the cassette player Yvette had given her several birthdays past, and again removed the chambered nautilus. “Don’t let Yvie die,” she whispered, holding up the shell. “Sixty-seven isn’t old. It can’t be time yet...” Turning the shell, she admired the delicate spiral architecture and felt strangely calm; somehow Yvie would be all right.
To occupy her mind, she dusted and vacuumed Yvette’s bedroom that had been her father’s, and then cleaned her small bedroom adjoining the parlor, trying not to glance at the bottom drawer containing Michael’s letter; she’d never replied to it. She wadded the dust cloth into a tight ball. She had obligations now, she couldn’t stay tied to the past.
The next day, after breakfast, she pondered job possibilities. Waitressing was impractical; she lacked experience. Nor could she sell anything. She walked to the bathroom, through the book-laden hallway, and returned to
the table to study The New York Times classified. A bookstore ad caught her eye. She could sell books-utilize her fine boarding-school education and her Smith College degree. She’d always loved to read, encouraged by her mother, a book editor for several years before she died of cancer. But what about appropriate clothes? Baggy trousers and a man’s shirt wouldn’t do.
She removed an old blue skirt from the bedroom closet, and stroked the soft wool. The hem sagged in places. She basted it from Yvette’s sewing kit, and then tugged on a pale blue Lady Arrow blouse with wide lace collar. A stain, probably catsup, appeared faintly near the bottom. She remembered wearing that skirt and blouse the day Michael died. Trembling, she closed her eyes, said aloud, “I’m not going to get upset!” and buttoned the front. She frowned at her mirror image. The clothes, though old, looked presentable; she couldn’t use the excuse that she had nothing to wear.
Reluctantly she donned Yvette’s cashmere coat, felt beret, and kidskin purse, also gifts of Pou Belle. Then, in the parlor, she gazed awhile at the chambered nautilus, and finally left.
Downstairs in the lobby, she was startled by the new uniformed doorman Yvette hadn’t mentioned, and wondered what happened to old Fred who’d been there since her father died.
“Hello, ma’am,” the young blond fellow said politely and held open the door.
“Uh...hello!” She felt awkward and stepped outside into the harsh bright sunshine flooding Beekman Place. Blinking in the glare, she fought the rising panic that boiled in her stomach, and walked slowly past canopied apartment buildings to the bookstore around the corner on First Avenue. Fur-clad women reeled their dogs on unwinding leashes instead of the old leather ones. And a new type of grocery had replaced the corner coffee shop. A glimpse inside revealed orientals tending hot and cold buffet stands between wall shelves of canned and baked goods; crates outside bulged with fresh tomatoes, melons, mangoes, and bananas, footed by cut flowers. She lingered over the roses perfuming the cold air.
Then, much too soon, she arrived at the small bookstore that had advertised for help. She hesitated and timidly entered, her gaze darting past stuffed shelves, overflowing tables, and piles on the carpet. Books were everywhere. She cringed at the chaos and yearned to flee but forced herself to stay for Yvette’s sake. Still, she’d never had a regular job. Why would anyone hire her?
And it was already afternoon, past lunch time. They’d probably gotten someone by now.
She’d nearly surrendered to the impulse to leave when the middle-aged lady at the cash register, called out, “May I help you? If you don’t see the book you want I’m sure it’s here somewhere. We have an extensive selection.”
Elizabeth, swiveling, flushed with embarrassment. “Uh, I’m here to apply...for...uh...the job.”
The lady, smiling, stepped from behind the register and introduced herself as the owner. With her feathery gray upsweep she peered at Elizabeth through large spectacles. “You could read here if you’ve done your work and there’s no business. I can’t pay much. We don’t get lots of customers like the big chains.”
Elizabeth, still fighting the urge to run out, mentally calculated how much she’d need to pay the hospital charges. They discussed wages, which would suffice. “Well..I love books,” she said, her awkwardness remaining. “I’ my best, Miss--”
“Call me Bev. I’ll be delighted to have a knowledgeable helper-finally.”
She mentioned hours and lunch period, and it was settled. Elizabeth would start the next morning.
Relieved the ordeal was over, she returned to the apartment in time to get Yvette’s call from the hospital.
“Beth, that’s wonderful! If I’m okay, I’ll try to get work, too.”
“No, if you’re not ill, there’s no sense making yourself sick by working. It’s better if I do it.”
“Yes, dear,” Yvette said.
The next day, Elizabeth nervously reported to the book store, and was pleased at how pleasant Bev was and how the time flew by. She felt useful when the customers, such as elderly Mrs. Steinberg, relied on her judgement, as if Elizabeth were a final authority on literature.
“Darling, my granddaughter is studying acting, and I want some funny Shakespeare plays to give her,” Mrs. Steinberg said. “I want to read them first, but sad stories always make me cry. What can you suggest?”
Elizabeth climbed the wall ladder and selected As You Like It, Twelfth Night, and Measure for Measure. “I think you’ll enjoy these, and so will your granddaughter.” She slipped the books into a paper bag.
Mrs. Steinberg watched her ring up the cash register. “I never read Shakespeare but I figure maybe it’s time to start.” She smiled. “Thank God that Bev hired you. The last person helping her couldn’t tell anybody anything about nothing ! “
Elizabeth grinned.
When Yvette was ready to leave the hospital the next day, Elizabeth took time off that afternoon to meet her on the front steps. On the way home, she described Bev and the interesting customers to Yvette, who nodded and smiled. They walked slowly along leaf-strewn streets, Elizabeth enjoying the cool fall fragrance.
At home, she began carving a miniature seahorse. She felt content, listening to chamber music while sweet aromas wafted through the parlor. Yvette baked an orange cake for the special occasion of her return home and Elizabeth’s job.
Elizabeth bent greedily over the steak and vegetables, paid for with her new paycheck, and said, “I’ll give Bev the seahorse I carved. She might like that.”
“Oh, I’m sure she would.”
Several days later, during dinner, Yvette watched her cousin eat for awhile, then put down her fork. “I have a confession to make...” She hesitated.
Elizabeth waited, her lips pinching together with worry.
“I...lied about being sick,” Yvette said finally.
“What do you mean?”
“Well...there’s nothing wrong with me. I...did it to get you out of the apartment. I wanted you to realize the past is finished. Please don’t be mad...”
Elizabeth stared at her, an anger rising from the pit of her stomach, but then she felt relieved that Yvette was all right. She said softly, “I’m just glad there’s nothing wrong with you.”
After supper, she tugged on Mrs. Whitman’s discarded suede jacket. “I’m going up to the roof for some air.”
Yvette looked up anxiously. “You won’t quit your job now?”
Elizabeth hesitated. “No, we can use the money. And I like working there.”
Yvette smiled and returned to The Daily News, her head snapping back and forth as she sought the money-saving coupons.
In the outside hall, Elizabeth climbed the few steps, ducked under the doorway, and crossed the asphalt roof. The weather was refreshing: the air clean and crisp. Elbows propped on the rail, she gazed at the distant bridge twinkling with car lights, and at the silvered water below, where a barge floated eerily by. What a lovely scene, she thought. If only she were seeing it with Michael...
She trembled, and reproached herself again. Then, she pictured the beautiful chambered nautilus, that fragile, empty shell, and quoted Oliver Wendell Holmes’ poem...
“Let each new temple, nobler than the last, shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast...”
Pausing, she scanned the stars dotting the night sky, and suddenly felt that Michael had long since forgiven her. She smiled at her new calmness, as if her soul, outgrowing the nautilus’s protective chambers, were finally free.

anyone good
i used to think that i was no good
that i was worthless that i meant nothing
and then i got a good job
and then i got me a ton of money
and then i looked in the mirror
and i realized i was gorgeous
and people laughed at my jokes
and people thought i was talented and strong
and now i look around me
and i can’t find anyone good enough
and i wonder if i expect too much
but i know for a fact that i deserve more

helena wolfe

or not

i close my eyes,
seduced by magical thinking
and tactile daydreams
of your soft skin.

i know this may be cheating, but
for a split season i roam
to the alternate service area
of my tiny genius.

your specter is there,
as is mine
calling to me
expansive warm and blue.

soulmates or not, truth is
each breath takes us the
distance of the universe
from each other.

doris popovich

alone and

Alone and I are partners
Alone waits for me at night
Consumes by body and my life
Alone makes love to me
Wraps it’s legs arms and legs
Around me as I sleep
Alone understands my moods
And consoles me when I cry
Alone will be my friend
Until the day I die

rachel crawford

use what you

i’ve never had regrets
but i keep wondering
why i gave up what i had
for you, to be with you

if all you were going to do
was fuck me over
and then put me out on
the line to dry

i keep thinking of all the
hell i went through
with the last guy, but at
least he wanted me,

at least he had a big dick
and could get me off
(i’ve wanted to tell you
you had a small cock,

and you didn’t even know how
to use what you had, but then
again, you’ve never been in a
relationship for more than two

months, how could you ever
learn how to satisfy a woman,
you cock-sucker?) and although
my past relationship was still

dysfunctional at least he
wanted to make that commitment
with me, and i threw that
away so that i could go

on this stupid roller-
coaster with you, the man who
offered me in some ways no
more than and in some ways even

less than my ex, so that you
could then after all this crap
throw me away like i am some
sort of piece of trash that was

a little too big for the garbage
disposal but needed to be removed
nonetheless. oh, and i just
keep thinking that it’s so ironic

that i was looking for something
more and all i could get was a
bunch of nothing and i hate you
but at least i know now that

you have a really small cock, and
that you don’t even know how to
use it, and that you have to live with
that. that you’re stuck with that.

helena wolfe

burn through

now that i’ve seen you
i don’t even care
if you’re with her
because now that i’ve seen you
i know you don’t love her

and i know it for a fact
because you look at me
and burn through me
that way we did at the start

and if after so many years
we still feel that burn
imagine how many years we have
to feel alive

sydney anderson

i’m always
the one

i’m always the one
who has to
pick up the pieces

all i’ve done
is wipe your noses
and clean your rooms

and now i have to
clean up my life
and i have
no one to help me

mackenzie silver


all of that time
when you could have been with me
you were busy
saving yourself with your religion

when weren’t you
in actuality
saving yourself from your religion
by saving yourself from me

sydney anderson


Dear Jay Parini,

Thank you for the book
Which I had wanted as soon as I saw it
Was called Anthracite County, so excuse me
For taking so long to answer; Tim Wickland was
Tardy in sending it, and I was even more so
In getting it back to you, for metaphors
Are fearful things and sometimes feelings get
Too complex for the plain prose Monsieur Jordain
Was glad to find he had been speaking all his life
And in which Darwin’s bulldog, T. H. Huxley, explained
The great mysteries to eager workers with his piece
Of carpenter’s chalk and some magic lantern slides;
Poems are, of course, obsolete just like the slide rule
With which Tim still figures taxes and the silver
Tray on which elegant Arlinda serves high tea,
But sometimes too much collides for ordered prose.

I telephoned Karleen, my mother-in-law, in her double-wide
Among the branched saguaros in Tucson’s glare
And told her I’d been gifted with some hard black
Letters from a Scranton raising, although you now
Live near our friends on Weybridge Hill among the turning
Leaves so admired by Asian tourists and the roads
Marked FROST HEAVES in the Spring because the “Something
There is that doesn’t love a wall” is a pun I did not
Get until I paced that ground, but I have never plunged
Into anything more dark than the field trip mine at our
Museum of Science and Industry just a few miles
From where I write, and on my native ground in
The Cherokee Strip our dinosaurs, discreetly decaying,
Made natural gas which did not beg time my father’s
Arrow collars, although the lowering dust
Made ample nightmares, also mined for art
By Steinbeck and friends, whom you have chronicled.

So I asked Karleen about the French chateau given
To a town already stuffed with fossils as a shell not
Really suited for a library but which her husband,
Great grandfather to my grandchildren, guided
With some skill for six years penning Dewey
Decimals in white ink on spines you may recall, for
A dozen years later you must have been a stack hound,
A bookworm they called you then, fondling thick bindings,
Then burrowing toward something as real as the press
Of a fern extinct for a million years on the coal face,
Coveting the dirty books locked behind glass,
Trying on styles like sports coats off the rack,
Glorying in this anarchist heaven with open shelves
Where the front of the people’s labor is read by all.

Alert Karleen, who is ninety, disremembers
The name of that book-crammed chateau,
Aldrich maybe or Allbrick or I suggested
Maybe Alberich after Wagner’s niebelung,
And she told me the niebelungs had left
The central building upright, but one of the branches
Called Providence, she thinks, had crazy floors,
And once she descended from Nay Og Park between
The time the Coral Sea was refloored with fuselages
And pearl-eyed skulls and the time when stiff corpses
Served as sleds near Stalingrad, with her was
The thin-shanked, redheaded ten year-old
Who has been my wife for two third of our lives
And the good librarian whom you never met,
For he left Scranton the year that you were born
And died before I had a chance to meet him either,
And a dead but legendary and unforgotten dog
Who slid forward across the varnished planks
And yelped in alarm, for Scranton was an ant hill,
And you could not forget that you lived on
Compressed past ages that made hard coal
So that Phoebe Snow could ride the Lackawanna
All in white from the veins which
Tangled like the very eyebrows of John L
Beneath the gray and leaning houses and
Trolleys filled with men with a dried-sweat stink,
Pale under black face who yearned to smell of
Stogies and rye whiskey and think impure thoughts
Of lisping Emma Matso who had made it to Hollywood
As Lizabeth Scott, but mostly they were family men
Who got married in church and sat proudly
At first communions wishing their eyebrows could
Come clean, not even guessing that suburbanites
Would turn their backs on black anthracite before
Their granddaughters received the sacrificial wafer.

I hope we soon meet face to face sitting
On Tim’s front porch with elegant hors d’ouvres
From Arlinda’s silver tray, telling some stretchers
About hanging out in libraries, recalling
That ancient Gennan film about a cave-in
And miners who smashed frontiers to save
Their comrades, and, of course, watching namesakes
Shooting hoops in the driveway, and now and then
Raising our glasses to the fossils, a greenhouse
That once existed in Saginaw, a government camp
In Arvin, and all the language in the coal seams
And the chalk beds, for, like old Huxley,
I believe in fossils absolutely.

j. quinn brisben

a woman talking about
her rapist friend

He was my friend, and we had been
through a lot together, our psychological
ups and downs,

but he mixed drinks exceptionally well
at his college frat parties, and his
ice-blue eyes

always spoke the truth to me. It’s amazing
to think that the only reason we ever met
was because one day

he wore a turtleneck that perfectly
matched his eyes, and I had to tell him.
I don’t know why

he put up with my mood swings, with my
self-destructive social life and man-hating,
normally he didn’t

care about women, never gave their opinions
much thought, just tried to get them
drunk at parties,

maybe he knew that and that’s why he
listened to me. Then for a few years
our friendship

drifted, we didn’t see each other much,
I heard through the grapevine that he was
failing in school.

Then one day, out of the blue, he comes
over and he has two black eyes. And he
says to me

that when he was in the parking garage
two guys came and beat him up, and one
of them said,

you raped my girlfriend. And then he looked
at me and said, and you know, looking back,
he was right.

I raped her. And I know he wanted sym-
pathy, he wanted to hear me say something,
but I couldn’t.

And he said, I know this has to be hard for
you to hear, but I wanted to tell you. I know
it was wrong.

A part of me wanted to hate him. A part of
me thought that if he was my friend I would
be condoning

what he did. And a part of me thought that
our friendship made him realize what he
actually had done.

I tried to be there for him. I wasn’t much
good at it. Eventually, he moved away.
I didn’t try

to lose touch with him. But it’s just that a
part of me is still trying to figure out if I
can be his friend.

Sometimes you just lose touch with some-
one, sometimes that’s all you can do.

janet kuypers


by christophe brunski
I paused too abruptly inside the doorway, and the hush of air closing in with the glass pane that supported the perennial Come in! We’re open! nudged me curtly in the back and completed my entrance into Ronnie’s PayDay Diner. The bells sprinkled over my head like mistletoe run by a clock and my weighty jacket seemed to expand in the wave of agreeable heat.
“Just you?” A waitress in that famous red-plaid waitress form, blue name-tagged Sally, shining, smiling, dutifully radiant yet down-to-earth, and proffering a wire hanger for my ragged jacket.
“Yes.” I was quite sure no one was joining me on this particular morning, a morning plugged into the middle of a frigid winter. No invisible ghosts, no psychological specters, no assistant vagabonds. It was a solidarity I welcomed. I took the hanger with a nodded thanks, and hung up my jacket on the battered rack just aside the door.
Sally the waitress led me through a frightful labyrinth of chairs and tables and left me in the safety of a small square table by the window and an automatic cup of coffee. I sat and let myself be introduced the to atmosphere. The tabletop was somewhat dull and tarnished seemed not to reflect, but to absorb and small secret swellings of light here and there. I began to knead my closed fist on the aluminum edging of the table, thinking about the ironic way such nondescript things have of becoming so vividly etched in the mind and memory. My hands were still so numb that the temperature of the thing was totally ambiguous to me. I was thinking that I should have worn gloves, that I couldn’t feel a thing like this.
I looked around me. It was the very atmospheric complacency of this place, like any other roadside diner, that elicited my tendency to magnify details into icons. Looking out the windows, what struck me most was the flow of tanker trucks passing on the highway. Well, not the trucks themselves. It was the distance between my table at the window and the road, not a very long way, by any means, but its emptiness highlighted the passing of these trucks and the sun was positioned so that the light was reflected off the mirror-like tanks when they passed. So many hurdled by in rapid succession as to lend the image of diurnal stars soaring past the window, that magical canvas of moving pictures.
I sat quietly with myself and listened to the diatribes and explications from inside myself. I wondered what I looked like and imagined the classic scenario of a director sitting like a misplaced star in a theater of empty seats, listening to a few candid actresses dramatizing on-stage. (Figuring the voice of reason just had to be female...) I thought that thus far, all my destinations had been starting points or mid-way markers. All one can look for is a place to start, it seems most of the time. You can travel the world(s) fifty times over before realizing you were already there. All the hours of premeditation in the muscles around the eyes, and it takes a fourth of a second to blink the lids open and see. And it’s a world of mirrors, because it’s all from within. Of course, it takes a hell of a journey to figure that out. One of the actresses threw up her arms in philosophical exasperation: Ten thousand days to find the ground beneath your feet! And another five hundred to believe you’ve done it! And on my yellow notepad I penciled in, line after line:
Another five hundred to believe you’ve done it...
Another five hundred to believe you’ve done it...
Another -
I was called away from my enchantment when suddenly a girl placed herself alongside my table. “May I please?” she asked me. I told her the pleasure was mine. Seemingly she had come out of nowhere yet I figured that she must have been seated somewhere shortly before I arrived, because she had carried a menu with her to my table and I couldn’t recall hearing any more ringing mistletoe.
“Thank you. Really,” she said. “I was lonely over at my table,” she said, although I figured there was more to it than that. Her chair pulled out, her chair pulled in, up close to the table. Truly, I made no attempt to return to whatever half- or wholly-engaging thoughts had previously taken me. I didn’t. For some reason, I welcomed the distraction. It’s necessary to be drawn out of oneself from time to time.
Her name, she told me, was Merredith. I instantly expected daisies or something to sprout from her smile; her natural speaking voice was really quite pleasing, but when she injected her streams of social gaiety it rode a treble fluctuation, and if graphically registered would simulate the Himalayan skyline.
She said, “I love the winter. Do you love the winter?”
“I enjoy the cold.”
Her exemplary posture slackened a little, and the supportive base of her elbows on the table widened, and she lowered herself a bit more, resting just short of total relaxation, the stitches in her knit green sweater stretching with her smile. “Me too.”
I heard a Ready to order? from stage left and Merredith asked for some milk and juice and something else while I scurried through the menu, which I hadn’t even opened. I can never decide. The eyes turned to me. “Same here,” I said, closing the laminated wings of the menu. Sally with the name tag left and I leaned forward across the table.
“What am I having for breakfast?”
She laughed joyously, which lightened my repast-related tension a bit. “Milk, toast, and OJ. I hope you’re not too hungry!”
I was starving. I told her, “I guess I’ll order something else in a little while. . . “
“Yeah, you can always do that.”
God, her teeth were white. But I found myself drawn back to the window. I could feel her staring at the side of my face. This lead me to resume my study of the passing oil tankers with increased vigor. But I wasn’t thinking. Not at all.
“What are you looking at?”
“Nothing, really.”
She let a moment slide by in quiet before asking me if I was the type of person who likes just to sit and meditate to myself.
“I guess I am, to an extent,” I stumbled, “But what is that supposed to mean, you know?”
“Yeah, I know. But that alone, I mean your... resistance, there, signals that there’s something going on in your mind. Are you the artistic type?”
I raised my hand to a slight altitude of objection but she continued, “No, I’m serious. Are you?”
“I don’t know...” I hated this type of conversation, the type I held with myself all the time... “What good is the artist who thinks he’s an artist? Doesn’t that take away from it a bit? Doesn’t that slightly falsify the whole thing just a little?”
In decidedly quick measures she took her elbows off the table. From a purple backpack which I hadn’t noticed sitting nearby on the floor like an obedient dog, she drew a few small cards. She spread them out in front of me, saying, “You’ll like these,” and I surveyed what was a four-pointed fan composed of the glossy Kunstiarten one buys in the gift shops at museums. (Oh, I had been there.) Two Monets, a Degas, a Van Gogh.
“Oh, god,” I thought. “It’s always the Impressionists...”
Her finger tapped the Monet. “The Flowering Arches,” she said.
I refrained from comment.
So she continued. “See how the edges are all, like, obscured and indefinite?”
I nodded my head, somehow, barely moving, hardly able.
“That’s because Monet had. . . cataracts, or something, before he died. “
Thanks Darling, I knew that. I felt my internal organs settle in for a long and drawn-out lecture on the typical information sought out by every Girl-Who-Likes-Paintings; information that fit nicely on index cards, and, if one was lucky, could be recited in front of the actual canvas while men with dark braided hair sauntered past and finished every third sentence in French.
She planted her forefinger on the Van Gogh and told me to observe the manic yellow halos around the hanging lights of a sinister night cafe. “Yellow- it’s principal to all his master works. And you know, yellow has long been the color most associated with madness. He used to frequent these types of places in the midst of his lifelong sadness... And considering the turmoil in his friendship with Gaugin, it’s entirely clear that - “
She went on. I was forced to choke myself on her eager verbal porridge, siRing through repulsive words which, to me, seemed to constitute a kind of confession, on her part, that the words Essence and Feeling were not in her vocabulary, because within those academic games of soul-less Simon Says they were never mentioned- both are too easy to spell and too hard to define.
Perhaps what I did not say had stenciled itself across my forehead, for as I completed these thoughts Merredith stopped abruptly and corralled her miniature gallery. I felt sorry. To interrupt whatever I might have said to this effect was the waitress, again, setting down a grapefruit ordered some minutes previously by my companion. Sally offered a squawking apology for the delay and fluttered off someplace else. Merredith began to saw apart the yellow fruit. I stared at its pale rind sitting without revolt in a glass bowl, and I imagined how much poor Vincent would have simply loved somebody just to talk to, and here I was in the presence of such a person, a surprise gift, and I had nothing nice enough to say. At the grill, another breakfast was being prepared, the grease sizzling and hissing a somber culinary applause. I coughed, because I had nothing else to do.
For some time, we let the din of the place do the talking. She played along with our silence, letting the symphonic dropping of plates, the swinging of the kitchen door, and the tide of other voices replace our own. Obviously she found it a trifle morbid, but there was little I could do. Anyway, I was telling myself, The mentality we share as human beings seems inevitably divided into two critical bodies: One led the mind when actually thinking, the other responsible for engagements in conversation, and they only very rarely crossed paths and produced the much-aspired-to by-product known as eloquence. Of these two critical mental bodies, most people are one or the other. Merredith and I would no doubt be drawn at opposite ends of the chart. Then why the silence? I wondered. I had always thought polarities were a perfect match. It seemed overall that she was a very warm person, so I tried to prohibit my mind(s) from ruining that. I watched her eat.
Her spoon hung poised over the bowl like the needle of a record player, about to land again on the threadbare vinyl it had already decoded and translated thousands of times. But the tip of the spoon, much to its own surprise, clanged bell-like on the table.
Your eyes are red,” she said, not looking at me, then continuing the autopsy of her grapefruit. “So,” she asked me, like a journalist starting over from scratch, “What is it that you do, anyway?”
In the most concise language possible I broke the news that I was a so-called writer. I hoped to avoid any lengthy replies, analyses, monologues, or questions. I was bored with myself.
“Writing! Magnificent! I knew you were an artist.” She wiped her hands on her napkin. “So, you can bring what you think into reality... That must endow you with a certain freedom. Doesn’t it make you feel free?”
“Not quite.” I said that it was up to the insane to control their private piece of what the rest of the world dubbed reality. I said that there was no trap worse than the ability to play God. But somewhere in between the moment I took a short breath to say this and the moment I shut my mouth again, softly, I had changed my mind. I was there, perfectly there, and perfectly within my right mind. Yet hadn’t I brought this about? This morning was entirely of my own hand. If things seemed to run themselves, to be happening to me instead of the inverse, then this was caused by my failure to realize beforehand that I was as free to create as a child with a shard of glass etching a cloud into a field of hard-packed dirt.
“Not quite? You don’t think so?” she said, reading my face and taking a sugar packet from its little tray by the napkins. “It seems that we sometimes believe something a little less after saying it. “
Boy, do we. I thought about this as I watched the stream of sugar cascade into the yellow empty rind, piling into absorbent dunes, sinking. She crumpled the edge of the packet as one might fold the ear of a dog.
She stared straight at me. “The problem with you writers is that you never say anything.”
“Untrue,” I protested. “Plus - what, then, would we have to write about?”
“You see, then? It’s back to pad and paper. You may say all the right things, but you never DO it!”
A statement to which all my former teachers and lovers would eagerly attest. If she was right, she was right. Writers disembowel themselves onto the pages that they and others hide behind. She told me that words were my greatest aegis. She had a point, although arguments are so easily inverted... I had by now no doubt that should one invade her homely and falsely erudite bookshelves, any given volume could be opened to reveal ball-point effigies labeling Irony with a star and Foreshadowing with another. How I dread these blotches of ink thrown across the sun.
But all this time, my concerns were gradually drawing themselves back to the level of the fact that I was dead tired, and at any rate glad to have somebody to talk to. Our breakfast was drawing to a close. Something had to come next, I thought.
“Where do you go now?” she asked.
Where do I go now? I thought. I shrugged. It was my way of asking her permission to join her. “I’m following you,” I announced.
“Oh, good. I do enjoy your company. Where do you want to go, then, eh?”
“As I said, I’m following you, which means you pick a direction.”
“Okay.” She smiled as we rose from the table, spilling down random bills and coins as we went. Whatever we had left had to be enough, we figured, so I swept up her purple backpack from the ground, slung it over my shoulder, and we left, plan-less and carefree.
My legs felt oddly buoyant atop the crush of the parking lot gravel underfoot. I watched my legs cross this gray plateau. In a second I was moved by the clarity of which I saw the rocks scatter under and away from the soles of my shoes. Through the thin layer of tears the cold wind brought to my eyes when it blew, they appeared more defined, more crisp and superbly aware of their own borders than I ever could have imagined them, or anything. I plundered my way to the passenger side door of her car, colored pewter and polished by the sun, and I paused there, waiting for her to unlock the door. Dazzled by such a enormous sense of random perception, I managed to drop the now-symbolic purple backpack onto the ground, spilling half its contents onto the stones. Merredith’s fragments of the Louvre, a lipstick, three pens, and a legal pad with some notes tumbled to the ground.
I stared at the pad, hurriedly waiting for the trigger to activate my memory. What was it? What was it? What -
Ten thousand days to find the ground beneath your feet!
And another five hundred to believe to believe you’ve done it!
Another five hundred to believe...
“Oh, my God,” I said.
Merredith was about to get into the car. “What? What’s the matter? Just pick the stuff up. What, did something break, or something?”
“No,” I said, “Everything’s fine. I’ve got it.” I gathered her stuff and zipped the bag.
Merredith leaned over from the driver’s side and unlocked the door. It was pleasant inside, the cool kept out and the sunlight kept in. As Merredith’s body rolled through the movement of retrieving her keys from the pocket of her jeans, I thought I felt a downy whip of her hair brush my cheek. I don’t know how this could have happened. She was really nowhere near me then, yet, deciding that I had not imagined it, I felt three times over at peace with the world. How can that be? How can the edifice of Concern, Question, Thought, and Reflection be so simply leveled by a strand of hair?
The car stalled once. We left the parking lot of Ronnie’s Payday Diner behind another tanker truck. Even with their growing intensity, my thoughts were receding into silent horizons.
(We are physical creatures who must always return to our physical nature. At beginning and end there is nothing, except that we are human, and even to question such a thing is already to wander amidst a circular garden from which we must always return, in one lifetime or another, stumbling and dropping our bags, stepping back into the collective home, found and re-entered at the moment we stop our searching, and remember simply to sense our own existence...)
I let this voice speak inside me, and I listened, and coupled with Merredith’s prating, it formed a marvelous duet. She spoke again in her amusing half-textbook dialect, which my ears were learning to digest without repulsion. Her speech to me sounded slurred and worked like an elixir, two invisible hands laying back my head to lean against the window, where it rested, untouched by the jolts thrown up from the street through my body. Like a gull born above the clouds and given ten seconds to live, I dove into my sleep.


the Hand
the unknown Hand
i’m frightened
i move
toward it
the Hand
the mystery
entangles me
spins my mind
i move
i need
the love
i feel
the lust
the Hand
i fear
but i
must know
i need
to learn
the pain
the cry
i scream
i need
i want
i take
a step
i’m wild
i’m no longer
i need
i want
the Hand
it reaches out
for mine.

gabriel athens

a warm day
in march

kissing the cat
curled in the breath
of laundered sheets
and no noise today
conjures me returning
upstairs in my grandmother’s
house one day after she’d left
something would
come out of my
my gaping vulnerable
a cave leading into
and barricades
air was diamond dust
with a red wall
of fire
trapped behind my
you dissolved
you go to hell

joan papalia eisert

content with
inferior men

there are some theorists that say
that women need to be able to look up to a man
in order to feel complete. these theorists
would say that a woman could not be president,
at least not on a personal level.
think of it - here is a woman, the most important
person on earth, and she would never know of anyone
who had more power than her. how could she
look up to any man? how could she admire
any man? how could she respect any man?
and you know, i can kind of see that point,
how can you love someone you don’t respect,
i mean, i want someone in my life that can teach
me something, that can help me grow, and if
i was the most powerful person on earth
i would probably think that no one could teach
me anything. but the only thing i could think of
in response to this theory is, why don’t men
who are the presidents of the united states
of america find themselves unhappy with their
boring, unequal, supportive wives? why is it
that man are content with inferior women
but women aren’t content with inferior men?

janet kuypers


Betrayal comes in the form of a woman
She dresses in the clothes of frugality
Her hair is matted with guilt and shame
Her skin is tough like leather
Nothing can enter in
Her hands and nails are dirty
From digging in the soil
Trying to hide her anger and shame
Her coat is non protector
her eyes are filled with fright
Her face is abandonment
The darkness is her light
Betrayal comes in the form of a woman
Her name is...........Mother

rachel crawford

your image

grandfather i take your spirit
with my camera

i come to your ceremony
like a new child

your rattles summon
spirit dancers deer people

eyes that see
the running of the Chumash people

before the building
of Bradbury Dam
seven villages spanned
seven and one-half miles

cradled before blue heron
redtailed hawk grebe
golden eagle

whose flight spans overhead
centuries later

reflected in water
like a cloudour pontoon
scans over ghosts of round houses

chris mckinnon

the bartender from
another planet

by alan catlin

It isn’t readily apparent what this post graduate course in life I’m taking is going to be called. No academic graduate course I’ve ever encountered prepares you for the kind of in depth research among the lost tribes that I’ve had to endure. Little did I know that the most useful course in college I ever had would be Abnormal. It wasn’t as comprehensive as it could have been but, at least, it gave me a framework to work within.
No one tells you what to expect at 2 AM in the morning, looking into a room full of out of control wild life, hell bent on some kind of personal Apollo Mission to the dark side of an unseen moon, wired on Angel Dust, Magic Mushrooms and Tequila Sunrises. That’s a special kind of crazy and you’re just, somehow, supposed to recognize the signs and know what to do.
And you do find out or else. Or else, you’re another casualty in the cosmic game of Life there was never any hope of winning in the first place
So when they crash land in front of you, face down on the bar, wide eyed and unconscious, their simulated flight plans unraveling in the barren hemispheres of their brain, attempting to reestablish contact from ground control to space command, requires a specific kind of expertise that an MA in English doesn’t provide. Stomach pumping goes a long way to solving the immediate problems but dealing with the body afterwards is another problem.
A vacation in a rubber room usually helps for awhile.
Still, a rubber room is not forever, the way some things are, like death, for instance. Those desolation angels usually begin weeding themselves out, in a spectacular Karmic board game, played out on the highways of life. The Late Night News is enlivened by tales of their passing. Mere photojournalism cannot do justice to motorcycles launched into tree lines, failing to negotiate a graduated ESS turn at the base of an unlighted Altamont Horror hill. The remains, in the morning, are of burnt Harley fluids, ravaged spare parts and scorched rubber, silently smoking, clouding, the stilled dawn.
Fellow soldiers of misfortune gather at the scene, staring through thick black lensed aviator glasses, smoking impossibly fat joints marveling,”Man, that sucker, Really was flying when he hit.”
Still as Darwin observed, the process of Natural Selection is a slow one. The highly adapted, garden variety psychotic is a truly rare creature. Somehow, he has managed to elude confinement for the rest of his unnatural existence. He is waiting for whatever twisted manifestation his particular brand of personal pathology will eventually take.
In the mean time, as the keeper of the spirit, it is your duty to provide the rocket fuel for the next leg of the journey. You are the sky pilot in charge of the spirals for the severely deranged, charting the ebbing and flowing of his declining orbit as he cruises on for the final crash.
The options are many and varied and when you say, “Name your poison.” It is with a kind of sincerity and simplicity that
borders somewhere between pure cynicism and reverence. There is no other explanation as to how you can justify providing what the Psychotic wished for. “Liquid Death, tarbender and I want it like now.”
And you make it like now. A double that reduces him to a staggering moron, bereft of reason, on an automatic pilot, with badly scrambled operational fatal error messages.
Years later, seeing this particular psychotic face on the front of a newspaper is no surprise. He is the accused in a merciless killing his sister-in -law, found strangled, wearing a coat hanger necklace, wired to a car handle door for life, in a new kind of cold storage. Oddly, you feel very little, having brushed up this close to death. Over the years it has just become part of the vast continuum of everyday life.
Still, the Alien Nation, is everywhere expanding like a vast human, black hole, an event horizon, waiting to happen every time the barroom door opens. The walking dead weave in and out, between parked cars outside, describing an almost perfect arc to the door and somehow arriving at the bar, miraculously standing And speaking in the general direction of where he thinks you should be making drinks and says, “I’ll have a Bass Ale. Make it a pint.”
And you make the drink just to see what will happen. None of the creatures encountered thus far have sprouted tentacles, glaucous membranes bursting from pale as death skin demanding human blood, in pitchers, please, to go with the beer on the bar.
Not yet, anyway.
This one orders a t-shirt with a shamrock, bearing the name of the bar inside the leaf, worn in extra large sizes directly over the heart. Dead center in the middle of the T in Tavern is where the silver bullet goes.
Still later, on a particular slow Monday morning, in the wee hours just before the time of the wolf, the pre-dawn raiders are released. They come clutching their bags full of pennies, stolen lunch money, containers returned individually and the loot hoarded for a last one for the ditch. The latest lost leader says, “Give me your cheapest draft beer and a shot.”
The temptation is to dispense with the formalities and just blow her away with the Saturday Night Special under the bar but that will still get you a charge of Manslaughter in this State no creative writing class will ever explain away. Instead you say;
“Pennies. Very nice. You have to wrap them before we might consider taking them as legal tender.”
“What’s the matter with you? It’s money.”
“Yeah, and so are Bleeding Virgin Hearts, in Pre-Colombian Mexico.”
“Since when don’t you except money for drinks?”
“Try something a little larger, like a quarter. If you want, I’ll show you what one looks like. Four of them will do nicely for a beer.”
“All I got is pennies.”
That was one drinking problem, I could do without so I directed her to the door. I told her, to report back to the mother ship for further instructions.”Tell the powers that be up there that you need to work on the Basic Training Manual before unleashing the advance forces.” I don’t think that she got the message but someone did.
The next wave was lead by an old woman, sort of the wife of a janitor in a drum, leaning on the edge of the bar, with a draft beer in one hand, and, a six pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon gravity beers, weighing her down, in the other. Somehow, by laughing at the right time at a series of stupid jokes and by occupying space at the end of a series of rounds, she’s pounding Gin and Tonics with the best of them. Four quick pops and a surreptitious move, polishing off the remains of her boon companions leftovers on the bar, she’s ready to navigate the treacherous wasteland spaces separating her and the home planet, blocks away.
Stepping out into the frozen midnight wastes she dimly recognizes the iced over paths of Western Avenue, the poorly lighted moons of Jupiter, the out of control asteroid belts of her life, clouding the spinning navigational screen before her eyes. Unsettled by the weight of the gravity beers, she goes down , crash landing on the ice, a soon to be frozen casualty of the outer space walking expedition, lost in mid-mission.
Calling Emergency #911 doesn’t always help. Somehow, it’s all my fault, who wandered in here from the house kitty corner from the Block that God forgot, was spitting blood all over her apartment now. I said, something to the effect that, “That house had been haunted for twenty years, at least, and that anyone who lived there was subject to the laws of out of control Physics.”
She said,”That’s my roommate, I should have done something about her.” I said, “She had no teeth. I don’t trust raving people screaming about how I stole their teeth, used hot pokers to inflame their brains late at night and that I was an agent for the Devil. I especially don’t trust them when they claim to come from that house.”
I heard, later, that when someone else finally got around to calling #911, she was probably dead or worse and that it was all my fault. And, maybe it was.
I guess, it was like the guy who assumed I was supposed to be an inexhaustible source of a certain kind of useless information. When the noise finished on the infernal jukebox machine he asked me:
“What was that, how many minutes is it and who was the artist?”
“First,if you’re referring to the noise, I have no idea, I wasn’t listening. The blocking mechanism in my brain screens out those kind of messages. Second, if it’s music you’re interested in, I especially like Classical Music, Mozart is very high on my list and I know for sure that, whatever that was,it wasn’t one of his. Much too modern. Lastly, if we’re going to do trivia, let’s do something more interesting like, how many symphonies did Hayden compose? If that’s too tough, let’s try literary trivia, like what do all those initials of famous writers stand for?
I’ll go first Thomas Stearns is the T.S. in Eliot.”
The look he gave me suggested I wasn’t the type of bartender he was used to. In fact, he was looking at me as if I were the legendary bartender he’d heard about for years. The one from another planet.

betrayed by the

The anger builds at the innocent child
The punishment doesn’t fit the crime
She was sent to the bedrooom
She didn’t know why
They came in with a gun and a smile
“I’ll kill you”, he said
Fright filled her eyes
He pulled the trigger
She fell and died
The voices she heard
Were very faint
Were they voices of Angels
Or voices of haints
She opened her eyes
They were still in her room
The man with the gun and the haint
Her anger exploded when she realized
The bullets were only blanks

rachel crawford

et l’amour

I touch you
my fingertips
your gentle hand
my fingertips
my tongue
the sweet curve
of your neck
my tongue
my lips
the sensuous sweep
of your back
my lips
your luscious lips
how slow
we go
by fear
how slow
in love
your deep eyes
invite me
unspoken words
unimagined pleasure
unending desire
I touch you
you touch me
we touch
my skin
your skin
my breath
your breath
my soul
your soul
your eyes
swallow me
my words
drown you
all in ways
nobody knows
except us
become one
as we are
all this
and love

deckard kinder


Anyone can love a June morning
when the warm sun rushes to your arms
to kiss your cheek as you embrace
all that is the prize of waiting
for spring to end it’s cruel malingering.

But who will love the winter storms?
when bitter cold and lashing rains
stab the heart with melancholy grays
that stretch before in endless sameness
until one stops remembering summers joys.

It takes a special soul to love them both
holding each above the labeling
that forces words not meant for such
prizing each for gifts the other can not share
holding each until the passing serves it’s time
marking the newness of the changing season
with smiles of old friends greeting
and sadness of old friends passing

knowing that with every seasons change
lessons learned and practiced bring new meaning
to every ray of sun, and every drop of rain.

boyd miller

the hammer

I wake to
the early morning.
I wear the gray shirt.
the hammer falls.
I throw it down
with a skilled accuracy.
I create a repetition
that is true to life..
hours on end
the hammer meets
with it’s enemy.
and every day
I strike with
a renewed fever.
and every day
the relentless steel
refuses to give in.
so I retire.
so I resign myself
once again
to the early morning
and the falling

shannon peppers


Standing by the fire untended
we hear wolves calling to us
in the wilderness of our fears
touching our hearts beckoning
to another world beyond
our penthouse and Porsche
above the valley of desperation.

And in our travels alone
sometimes we lose ourselves
abandoning the easy path to cross
rivers cold and soft against our souls
trailing the scent of buffalo
to their home between the rivers
deltas of protection.

Until we like them
lose our way and sink anonymously
into the mires of our mistakes
peacefully awaiting
the calls that tell us it is done
surrendering to the sacred fate
circling to bring us back again.

boyd miller


She laid her feet up the front porch steps
The house looked noncommittal
gray, with narrow posts to support the porch
neat, clean, Amish-plain
She laid her hand around the brass doorknocker
Her heart should be rapping hard, shouldn’t it?
After all these years?
Where was the anger she had felt, and tears,
when he vacated from her childhood
from her birthdays, from her Christmases and
Independence Days? ...
unprotected through summers unkind,
cold winters colder...
He opened the door and she
took in his eyes
she laid her head on his shoulder.

nancy l’enz hogan

i used to think that i would like to get into an accident
to be injured, to see who would care about me: to see who
would feel bad for not paying me any attention. now i
think that if i were to be injured, that a few of you
would revel in it, that a few of you would like to spoon-
feed me, to take care of me, just to be able to prove
to yourselves that i’m not infallible. but sooner or later
you’d get bored with it, you’d need someone to take
care of you again, and i’d be cast aside. so i’m never going
to give you that chance, i’m never going to let my
guard down, not even once, no matter how much i may
need help from any one of you, because none of you
are willing to think that i’m human and have real needs

mackenzie silver

i’m thinking about
too much

janet kuypers

all of my life it
has all been about you
what do you need
what do you want
how can i help you
what can i do for you
and now for once
i start to live
and now you tell me
that i’m thinking about
myself too much
and i think back to
all the time i’ve
spent with you
and all the care
i’ve given you
and now you tell me
that i’m thinking about
myself too much
and i’ve cooked for
you and i’ve cleaned
for you and i’ve made
sure everything in
your world made sense
and now you tell me
that i’m thinking about
myself too much
and all i can think
is that you’re
only angry
because i’m
about me at all

kids can be cruel:
the effect of peers on one’s full potential

by courtney steele

When I was a little child, I was very smart for my age. I was always considered the teacher’s pet, and I always did my homework as soon as I got home from school. I came from a family of all older brothers and sisters, and I constantly heard language that was more advanced than a normal infant would be accustomed to. I read by the age of three. I seemed to have a good ability for math, and my memory retention was above normal. Teachers from my grade wanted me to skip a year of school.
I also didn’t have a hard time getting along with others. I was always friendly (at least as far as I can remember), and I enjoyed having fun. However, it seemed as if other children had a hard time getting along with me. I would be picked on a lot because I was smart, and I never understood why - for there were quite a few smart boys in my class as well. I don’t think it was because I was very different from them because I was smarter, for I think I acted like a kid just as much as everyone else. I think other kids didn’t get along with me and picked on me because they didn’t like the fact that I was a girl and I was smart. I could always beat the boys in any academic competition, and it was very easy for me to do so. I think that is why the people that picked on me the most were the boys.
I don’t think I acted like a boy, and I don’t think I was any less feminine because I was smart. I never picked fights with these boys, and I was never too aggressive (generally considered a masculine trait). Every day I would receive a series of cut-downs because I was considered smart. Every day I felt these blows, trying to stop me from being what I really wanted to be - what I really could have been.
Once I got to high school, I never tried as hard in any of the work I did. I became a procrastinator. More importantly, I noticed a change in the way that I viewed myself - I suddenly became overly conscious of looking and acting like a girl, and not a boy. I’m sure that others go through these changes in opinion, but I don’t think that the reasons are the same. I notice the changes now - there are differences in the way that I keep myself, for example. I make a point to always wear make-up and jewelry. My nails are always manicured - to the point of giving me difficulty in writing this. My hair has been long ever since I left the third grade. I haven’t cut my hair in four years.
For the time I spend making myself look “pretty”, I could be doing something more constructive. I could be working harder to achieve my full potential in academics. I can’t help but wonder if I could have been any better if I wasn’t cut down when I was a child for doing something that was particularly masculine. I’m sure I could have.
I don’t know why the other kids treated me the way that they did. Maybe it was because the other boys felt threatened by my success. Maybe it was because the other boys thought that I was a girl that didn’t fit into the role that she was supposed to be playing. Maybe something different startled them, and maybe they felt that the only way to cope with that problem was to try to eliminate it. I don’t know what the reasons could be that a society would do that to a person, but those damages can be far too great.
I know that the things that have happened to me have had a great impact on my life as it is now. An example: I like to wear mini skirts. I must admit that they’re not particularly comfortable, and I often get annoyed by the stares that I get when I wear them, but I wear them anyway. Why? Because I feel that mini skirts will make me feel more feminine, and if more men notice that I am feminine, I feel better. Then I know that I will never be mistaken for a man again, or made fun of because I carry masculine traits. I find myself often playing the role of a “dumb blonde” around men-- I even find myself talking in a higher voice in an effort to make myself sound more feminine.
Once I grew older, I grew taller. Much taller. Five feet and ten inches is very tall for a woman to be - at least by today’s standards in society. This presents itself as another blow to my feminine ego (which is already damaged), and so I think I often feel as if I must overcompensate for these traits that I carry. I slouch more than the average; I try to act meek.
When I don’t gain acceptance in a feminine respect, especially after I’ve tried to (for example, when I’ve tried to look pretty and nobody notices the fact that I’ve made this effort to look “sexy”, “cute”, or “womanly”), I feel very dejected. I feel as if I haven’t done what I should have, and I feel like a failure. I feel miserable when I don’t have a boyfriend, for a woman can’t be a woman without a man. All my other female friends can’t understand why I want to have a boyfriend so much.
But I know why. Society tells me that I am supposed to be feminine. I am supposed to have a man, and if I don’t I am not a complete woman. I have accepted these notions, for they have been ingrained into my head for all of my life. I have already received blows to my fragile female ego-- I have been made fun of because I was smart (for that was a masculine trait), and I have been made fun of because I was tall. Maybe, because of this society and because of the things that have been said to me, I feel the need to make myself feel feminine.
And maybe that’s not right. And maybe, as I gain self-confidence, I will be able to change that and be myself in front of others. Maybe I will yet be able to grow to my full potential.
Look in advertisements today. There are women dressed as women in pretty pink dresses. There are men dressed as men-- in gray business suits. Women cook the meals, men go to work. Women are passive and submissive, men are strong and aggressive.
Children can see these signs at very early ages. Society - everyone that they know - accepts this and tells them that they should accept this as well. If a child sees something that doesn’t fit into this picture of a model society that everyone has construed for them, it can be considered understandable that the child may grow hostile to it, and want to make fun of it if it is considered something different.
Look at the influence that parents have over their child. Many children come from homes where the father works and the mother stays home and takes care of the kids. As soon as the child is born they are thrown into a nursery room with a color scheme that matches the baby’s sex. Girls are given dolls as opposed to trains, they are told to play inside instead of outside and they are appreciated when they act “feminine” instead of “masculine”, and they are cut down when they deviate from society’s norm. Picture books even impact the child’s beliefs: Male and female role models can be found in these books, and they are particularly masculine and feminine. In the picture books What Boys Can Be and What Girls Can Be, children are informed that boys can be firemen, policemen, businessmen. Girls are informed that they can be school teachers, nurses, and - don’t forget - mothers and housewives. The effect these childhood experiences can have on children can have a great impact on them for the rest of their lives.
Not only can these things influence a child’s attitudes toward their own sense of self, but it can also have a great influence over the child’s view of others. If another child is acting in a way that seems to go against all that had been taught to that child from everyone and everything else, they may want to act out against that behavior, in a passive, conforming context. The behavior of making fun of someone that has characteristics that are different from that of their assigned sex (according to society) can reaffirm a person’s belief in their own masculinity/femininity.
But that’s not the only thing that the action of teasing does. It also has a very negative effect on the person that is being made fun of.


i think of statues of greek gods
they were what people could aspire to be
they were something to strive for

and i’ve had no inspiration
other than my own mind
and i’ve created my own images
to keep me going

and i’ve succeeded
i’ve done it all
i’ve got the fame, the fortune

and now i look around
and all i see is destruction
i see the ruins of a fallen age

and i just want to see that statue
it’s so vivid in my mind
and i know it has to be out there somewhere

but i’ve been working so hard so long
that i forgot about the light at the end of the tunnel
and now i don’t know where to look

janet kuypers

consumed by

I saw two eyes of flame
In my sleepy dream
My voice was silent
I could not scream
I thought I was
But no one came
To save me from
The eyes of flame
They pierced my body
And my soul
Over me they hovered
In a short time
The eyes of flame
Became my passionate lover

rachel crawford

marilyn monroe’s
sex life

some people would have
called me a slut
I prefer a vixen

Personally, I don’t think
I was doing anything wrong
I had it all
men adored me

most men would have done
the same thing I did
played the field

I wasn’t even looking for sex
just companionship

I had the fame
I had the wealth, the looks

why would I want one man
keeping me in place
what if I wanted to see
a bit more of life
through the eyes of other people

why am I resented for that

so I start seeing my ex again
and another ex
and a new guy
and another

you know, most men
would normally love to have
a no-strings attached relationship
with a woman

why couldn’t that happen with me
why is it people
become obsessed with me

am I really that famous
that perfect

I have rejected some of them
so many times they had to
pick up their ego from the floor
but they keep coming back
telling me they love me
wanting me to choose
wanting me to love them back

why do they think I want anyone

I know I brought this
upon myself
I wanted to go on this wild trip
but I didn’t want to carry any baggage

I thought I could make the men
carry it for me

and it seems that my bags are getting
and it seems that the bags under
my eyes won’t go away anymore

the bags are getting heavier
they’re so heavy

janet kuypers


by jane butkin roth
You took the house, I took the dining table; and we split our children right down the middle-- although it’s hard to divide three, so they come out even.... And so it went, plate by plate, undoing what was left of our lives together. It was not an unpleasant morning; we were always at our best with a project.... I heard you worried later I may have sneaked an extra Pyrex.
Now you come in, uninvited, and stare at my walls where the paintings, which used to be ours, are mine; and I see your discomfort. ‘Though I gave you all your first choices, you say, “I’ll trade you the Gorman for the Fairchild, or the two Mortensens for the Miro.” But there comes a time to stop passing things across the lines.
Your main irritation is at the bread making machine on my crowded counter-top-- such a modern convenience, so easy, so fast. You remember when its blade gave out, letting us down like a broken promise. And you tell me you would like it, that you would fix it. But I won’t give it up and I won’t fix it, and I see how crazy it still makes you for me to let things go. You were always so efficient. Even before the bread maker fell apart, it was mostly hype, as it popped out its tiny, misshapen or too-perfect loaf, its aroma barely a hint....
Before the machine came into my life, I used to braid my own loaf: a wondrous work of art. I loved to work the dough all day; it kept me close to the house as I waited for the yeast to bring life. I was kneading... punching... waiting in stages ‘til the smell filled the house, ‘til we were both done-- the loaf and I-- golden, glistening, and proud.
My broken bread maker takes up too much space now; it’s quite lifeless and useless. But I keep it. Today, when you leave, I open the top and peer in, surprised. It takes only one tear to make a tinny sound falling on a dead blade; one tear to mark a time when our home was filled with the fragrance of bread in the oven, when everyone had his place, and I still wanted, more than anything, to set our table.


don’t hate yourself
for the choices you’ve made
just make the right choices

helena wolfe


by kevin sampsell

How do I begin to tell you the confusion that was in my head just hours ago when I saw this thing that I didn’t want to see and how this thing wiped my brain blank? It all started when I came home and I found it empty. Sure, sure, furniture and stuff, but empty of other people. Not even notes or messages. There’s a thing to record your voice for memos, but nothing. Peace and quiet. I thought of things to do but sat down on the foamy chair instead.
One thing at a time and right at that time the chair came first.
Unwind, relax, I told myself. Think of something besides work. Something besides car parts and catalog numbers. Brake fluid. WD40. Spark plugs.
I thought about a film going around the black market. Someone at work said they’d seen it on TV. I thought about that for about fifteen minutes. How it was interesting. How it was puzzling.
It was a film of Richard Speck, a famous murderer, in a room somewhere. The person at work told me it was a room in a prison where he was held. A room in a prison? I’ve never thought about rooms in prisons. The bars make it not a room. Am I right?
So it’s hard to imagine, but there’s a room in a prison and Speck is snorting coke on a table with another man. When they get it all snorted, Speck takes his shirt off and they start doing a porno. This person who saw it on TV said that Speck had large breasts, like he’d been taking hormone pills. “Notice the abnormal size of his chest,” is what the person at work said the TV announcer said. She couldn’t remember what show it was. She said the news, but I don’t think they would show something as sensationalist as that.
Except at 7:30, which is when they have these investigative shows where they talk about serial killers, super models, and sometimes happy cute stuff (someone having a baby or a wedding or a prize-winning poodle). I wish I could’ve seen the show. I can’t stop wondering what the room looked like. A murderer doing a gay porno film was interesting to me, especially thinking about how it would probably be fuzzy looking. I imagined it being shot from the corner of the ceiling for some reason. Like security cameras at 7-11.
Maybe it was the guards filming secretly.
I wonder how much it cost to buy a copy of it. How they obtained cocaine and a video camera perplexes me. The hormones, they might be easy to get, but why? I’m not even going to speculate, even though I wondered what his chest looked like. But only a little. I’d seen someone like that before and so I knew. It was also someone in a porno film, but not in a prison. I looked for a couple of seconds and then flicked past because it wasn’t pretty and barely interesting. Like balloons with not enough air in them; and flat and wrinkled. Maybe Speck’s were better looking. But if you were the other guy would you want to fuck a killer? Even with boobs? Or maybe the killer fucked you. I’d have to see the film.
Or should we call it video? Okay, to be technically correct, we’ll start calling it video.
So I sat in the foamy chair and thought about that. The person at work, the video, the person at work watching the video on her television, the announcer talking about “the abnormal size of his chest”.
It was 7:30 and I turned on the TV and started watching one of these shows I was previously talking about, with movie stars and gossip and normal people doing things so weird or violent that they were just as interesting as movie stars.
The telephone rang and I got up to answer it. It was someone for my wife but she wasn’t there. I told the person I didn’t know where my wife was. And the boy was gone too. When I hung up, the phone rang again and it was my wife calling. She said she tried putting a memo on the machine but it didn’t work.
“I’m at Shawn’s, and I was supposed to have a class tonight,” she said. “You have to pick us up now.”
Our boy was playing with Shawn’s girl, laughing in the background. I wanted to see him. I always wanted to see him. Especially when I worked all day and I couldn’t see him. He says “Dada” when he sees me. I say “Loooove the dada.” I get off the phone and realize I can’t remember how to get to Shawn’s.
Shawn was married to Gloria but she since died and he had to move into a new house. One just a little smaller. My wife spends a lot of time at Shawn’s watching his two-year old with our two-year old. She usually has her own car to drive though.
Okay. So this is when it happened. I sat back in the foamy chair. On the 7:30 show I saw a video of a big black guy with his shirt off standing in a swampy-looking water with his back to the camera. He had broad, muscular shoulders. I’d say that the water was up to his chest but I couldn’t see his chest. I couldn’t even see his face.
He had a boy in his hands and a 911 call was giving viewers a sketchy scenario. Something along the lines of this guy, this big guy with broad shoulders goes to some lady’s house and asks to see some girl. The lady tells him to go away and the man says something like “I know what I have to do then,” and he somehow gets ahold of this boy who looks about a year old. “There’s a bayou out back of our house. He took the baby in there with him. I don’t know if he’s gonna drown him or what,” the lady says on the 911 call. The video shows two men in a small boat in the bayou where the man and the baby are. He seems to be holding the baby so its head is just above water. The baby looks around him and starts screaming.
I can’t figure out what’s going on and there is no sound except the screaming. I expect an announcer’s voice to narrate the scene, but it is strangely absent. Only the sound of swamp and crying.
The men in the boat are talking to the big man but you can’t hear what they say. You see the men in the boat and their faces. They have big clubs or oars in their hands but they stay in the boat, maybe afraid to drown in the muddy water. The man with the baby is very large. I don’t see the baby’s head anymore. But there is his hand waving by the man’s shoulder. The men in the boat start pounding the man’s back and head. The baby boy is not screaming. I can’t see exactly what’s happening but I think the man is holding the baby underwater.
I see the boy’s arm moving, waving slowly.
Blood is all over the man’s back. There is no announcer to explain. The men keep beating the man but seem wobbly in the boat. I stand up. I try to remember how to get to Shawn’s. They are waiting for me there. The baby’s head is nowhere, only his hand, still in the air. It seems like a long time. I become infuriated. I can’t believe they would show this on TV with no announcer to comfort us. I take a step toward the TV. The blood is really dark. Time goes by slow when there are no voices heard. I stomp my foot. I’m not sure what’s going on inside me. I yell “Fuck!” I stomp my foot again. This is all I can do for the baby. I am helpless.
These are real people on a real video.
The TV is on a big table with heavy candles and picture frames. They rattle against each other when I stomp. I know the sound and I’m used to it. My boy jumps around this very room all the time, making things rattle. On some parts of the floor he can make our CD player skip. I am not alarmed or concerned that things will fall and break. They never do.
This is a video. It is not live footage. In real time, this scene is over and everyone involved is hopefully peaceful and calm; with TVs off. I just watch. They would never show a man killing a boy on TV I am thinking. There must be a happy ending. I am just watching.
They are leaning out of the boat. The baby’s arm reaches for help.
They keep hammering on the man’s body. Babies are supposed to be good swimmers. Natural instinct or something.
The baby’s head is in the swampy bayou.
My eyes almost want to close. No announcer. A small boat. Water like thin mud. Is this what a snuff film is like? The only places I’ve heard of where you can see a real snuff film are these dingy theaters in New Orleans.
There are bayous in Louisiana.
The man is beaten down, groggy. The boat is rowed away from the man. The baby is dazed and coughing in the boat, held tightly by one of the men. I sit back down. The one man rowing the boat breaks down and starts crying heavily.
The video jumps ahead minutes later to show policemen in rubber suits taking the man out of the bayou. His hands are cuff and he seems undisturbed. The show switches to clips of people talking about how normal and unassuming the man was in his everyday life. Teachers, priests, relatives, all with looks of horror on their face.
I turn the television off and think for a second that I should have recorded it on the VCR. Knowing that the boy survived makes me want to show it to other people; a kind of testament.
As I grab the car keys and put on my coat I see that one of the picture frames on the table by the TV has fallen over and broke.
I haven’t seen my boy all day. I’ll figure out where Shawn lives if it takes me all night, but deep down I know, that when I start driving I’ll remember everything I need to.


you’ve killed me with your words
we’ve ended it many times
and now you call me back
saying that you want me in your life
and that you don’t see me as just a friend
(well you better not, since you fucked me) -
and that you don’t want to throw away
what we have been building
(and what were we building when you
dumped me?)
and that you’re praying to your
god that i’ll take your calls
and that you’ve been crying your eyes out
and that you hope that makes me feel better
well, it does, my friend
and it’s my turn now
and i’m going to put you through hell
because you’ve done it to me,
and come to think of it,
you’re not my friend
and no one hurts me like this
and comes out of it unscathed

helena wolfe

the cicerone
above the pits

(for A. H.)

Below the goddess Ceres at the foot
Of LaSalle Street in the visitor’s gallery
Of the Chicago Board of Trade
A crystal-clear language barrier,
Double-paned, dims the shouting below,
But dumb show which is, despite the seeming,
Anything but chaos, can be clearly seen;
The rainbow Joseph coats of fortune seekers
Mean something, the steps on which they stand
Mark times to come, palm in means buy,
Palm out means sell, the fingers signal prices
To the quarter-cent, each pit signifies
The abstract of quantities of grain or oil
Or of precious metals, no standard but another
Shimmering uncertainty, and half the pits
Trade only options to buy, somewhat troubling
For farmers accustomed to judging grain by feel,
Melons by thump, composting dung by heat
And ripe odor, fodder by delicate shadings.

They are villagers and the cicerone
A village explainer, faces another barrier;
Although some of his best friends are
Transylvanians, He speaks no Szekely Magyar or Romanian
But relies on an elfin firecracker woman
Speaking idiomatic body language supplemented
By some English and nudges who transfers
The cicerone’s musings into the dancing
And astringent common talk of Janosfaha,
One of a string of Unitarian villages
In the Homorod valley of Transylvania,
In Romania but Hungarian by speech and custom,
A real place with real soil, livestock, and crops,
Burdened with a cacophony of history and myth
And now thrust shivering above the pits
Where flashing signs determine shapes of lives.

The cicerone searches for a connection
And finds one unexpectedly in his grandmother
On a & frontier a long time ago:

“She hoped for a heavenly view like this
With a big window slanting hellward on the writhing
Of middlemen who bilked Oklahoma’s honest farmers,
And this place does recall Dante’s eighth circle:
The evil ditches for frauds and malefactors,
Grafters, panders, sowers of discord, evil counselors;
But Grandma and Dante had certainties that we
Cannot have however we desire them,
And we can even pity, seeing by the
Lightning impulses that these noisy desperados
Are as obsolete as sickles and fountain pens,
Railroad firemen, or the crew laying sleepers
For rails near Walden Pond observed
With amusement by the heir to the
Latest thing in pencil factories, no return,
And freezing the frame is art but never life;
We can only move one minute per minute
Always forward and afraid as the world shrinks
And accelerates, but this is earth not hell,
For we have not abandoned hope.”

j. quinn brisben

I saw you there
throwing her on the floor
like another one of your toys.
I had to pull out my army knife
and slit your face;
I had to watch the
blood stream from your open wounds
at the same speed as the apologies
that parted from your lips.
It was almost hard
to keep up with your show,
but I must admit
that it was good entertainment.

You know,
I still couldn’t help but notice
that your pocket knife
was bigger than the one I bought
for myself.
An extra blade or two,
a better pair of tweezers.
And you were so proud
of your little gadgets,
and you were so sure
that it was a better pocket knife.
But I can’t help but think
that not only does mine
do the job,
but it does the job well,
and because you never use yours
it’s all just a waste.


only a

you know, it would be easier
if someone came along
someone new altogether
and swept me off my feet

someone tall, really tall,
and boyishly handsome,
and someone with way too much
and someone who was strong,
and romantic

someone I shouldn’t even be
thinking about,
because he doesn’t exist

I feel like a character in a novel
who sees the protagonist
and thinks that they’re just too good
and can’t be real

I’m the only one that’s real
and my biological clock is ticking
and I’ve got a year to decide
only a year

and there’s so much I want to do
and there’s so much I want to say
and there’s so much I want to feel
and all I feel is lost
and I’m in a room full of people
and all I feel is alone

and I’ve only got a year
and the seconds are ticking away
and I can’t even think
of making a decision
and I can’t decide
how my life should unfold

will someone wait
for me

will anyone wait

for me

helena wolfe

russians at a
garage sale

at our annual garage sale this year
all these old couples came walking by

they were from the russian neighborhood
they could barely speak english

they would pick up an iron. “how much?”
“four dollars.” “fifty cents?” “no.”

it was a warm indian summer day
we were all clad in shorts and sunglasses

they would point at the iron, a toaster,
a blender. “all for a dollar?” “no.”

and all the old couples wore raincoats
and scarves wrapped around their heads

they would pick up a wine glass. “how much?”
“twenty-five cents.” “how about ten?”

janet kuypers


The chain lock snapped
as the voices poured out
that filled my brain with death.

the bespattered remains
of what could be called
my inflated ego
clung to the curtains
that were stained with rain
and dripped from the bedsheets
onto the champagne stained

I only wanted to surprise you
as my tears dripped down ice
and my screams were only
blocked by a blank stare.

I never like that carpet anyway.

gabriel athens

the purpose of the
through the nature of political consent

by courtney steele

Communications within a society - communications between individual members as well as communication between the members of the society and the government that they live under - pivots on the role that the government plays in the lives of the people within the community. In other words, the relationship between the members of society and the government that rules over them holds a great bearing on the nature of political consent, and the subsequent justification of the purpose of the state. By outlining the histories and the views of two opposing thinkers - Thomas Hobbes and John Locke - it can be seen how different forms of government exist under the premise that there is consent in legitimating government. These theories that there thinkers brought up centuries ago still have a great effect on the governments that we live under today.
Thomas Hobbes wrote his work The Leviathan immediately after the first English Civil War. Because of changes in the social structure, a drastic increase in the population of the country (it at least doubled, possibly tripled), and a severe series of famines, a gruesome civil war occurred that lasted 30 years, destroyed land, brought inflation up to 33%, and killed 25% of the population. Hobbes lived during this period, and felt that there had to be a new “blueprint” to government, and that there had to be a better way of understanding politically why people behave the way that they do. He worked on the conflict theory of society - all people are out to get one another, because they are at odds with one another over the possession and control of scarce resources. In this world of scarcity, people are base and brutish and compete for everything.
Hobbes felt that there were two main points necessary in the understanding of how people act. One was that people understand that there is a scarcity for the goods of the world; they will fight for those resources. The other is that all people have an innate quest for glory and power. His solution to dealing with these problems is the Leviathan, which is literally a horrific monster. It will be an all powerful source that will control not only the state but also the church. This will eliminate all competing interests. A solitary ruler, followed by all of the people, will make laws that will entail how to act, what the people can and can not do, and how the things that are legal should be done.
One of the Leviathan’s priorities is with the commerce of the nation. This is because of the fact that it is because of problems with commerce that England lost a lot of its power during the Civil War.
“Money the blood of the commonwealth...For gold and silver, being, as it happens almost in all countries of the world highly valued, is a commodious measure of the value of all things else between nations; and money, of what matter soever coined by the sovereign of a commonwealth, is a sufficient measure of the value of all things else, between the subjects of that commonwealth. By the means of which measure, all commodities, movable and immovable, are made to accompany a man to all places of his resort... and the same passeth from man to man, within the commonwealth; and goes round about, nourishing, as it passeth, every part thereof...for natural blood is in like manner made of the fruits of the earth; and circulating, nourisheth by the way every member of the body of man. “ (pg. 188-189)
But the Leviathan controls politics of the country, and a lot of the foundations of the Leviathan can be seen in the structure of even today’s society. The Leviathan controls the bureaucracy: Hobbes calls this the executive power (like the presidency). The role of the government was to air complaints (which resembles the legislative branch of government today), to resolve the conflict (which is represented by the judicial branch of government today), and then to change the system so that the problem never happens again (this is another role of the legislative branch of government).
It might seem as if this all-encompassing creature of government that Hobbes calls the Leviathan would be a creature that does not work under the concepts of “consent by the people.” However, Thomas Hobbes would say that it would, because the people are the ones in the first place that create the government to rule over them. People, when they don’t have laws governing them and don’t have a solid ruler to enforce these laws, are free to do all things - and therefore there is a condition to fight, for people will always be trying to take a lot of power.
“For the laws of nature, as justice, equity, modesty, mercy, and, in sum, doing to others, as we would be done to, of themselves, without the terror of some power, to cause them to be observed, are contrary to our natural passions, that carry us to partiality, pride, revenge, and the like. And covenants, without the sword, are but words, and of no strength to secure a man at all.” (pg. 129)
There will always be a state of conflict, and therefore the people go into a contract where they give up some of their rights so that other rights (more important, more basic rights) are maintained. That is why the people want the government erected.
“...If there be no power erected, or not great enough for our security; every man will, and may lawfully rely on his own strength and art, for caution against all other men....Men are continually in competition for honor and dignity... amongst men, there are very many, that think themselves wiser, and abler to govern the public, better than the rest; and these strive to reform and innovate, one this way, another that way; and thereby bring it into distraction and civil war... man is then most troublesome, when he is most at ease: for it is then that he loves to shew his wisdom, and control the actions of them that govern the commonwealth...
...the men is by covenant only, which is artificial: and therefore it is no wonder if there be somewhat else required, besides covenant, to make their agreement constant and lasting; which is a common power, to keep them in awe, and to direct their actions to the common benefit.” (pg. 129-132)
This is an outline of the theory: the people give up a part of their power so that the Leviathan can have complete power. They give this power to the Leviathan, and this one man, because the people gave him all of this power, feels a great sense of honor (this is Hobbes’ only use of the concept of humanism in any of his arguments). There is a trust with a sacrifice from the people, and the leviathan will preserve the commonwealth of the people via creation of just laws and the installation of a police force.
“For execution. Public ministers are also those, that have authority from the sovereign, to procure the execution of judgments given; to publish the sovereign’s commands; to suppress tumults; to apprehend, and imprison malefactors; and other acts tending to the conservation of the peace. For every act they do by such authority, is the act of the commonwealth; and their service, answerable to that of the hands, in a body natural. “
Therefore, if there is a conflict, the Leviathan is always right, because if competing groups are allowed to compete again over a problem, there will be another Civil War, which was something that Hobbes dreadfully feared. Hobbes felt that a tyranny was better than a large number of “mini-tyrannists” that would try to kill each other.
Hobbes felt that the monarchy that he describes would be the best system of government for many reasons. There would be a unification of interests, a centralization of knowledge and opinion, and no time consumption because of debate (for if there were a need for debate, there would once again be the state of nature). It is good because the monarchy cannot disagree with itself, and it can do good as quickly as it can hurt, which is more difficult to do with an assembly. Even if the monarchy were at a time ruled by child, it would still be better than an assembly, for (a) an assembly often acts like a child, never getting things done, and (b) the rule of a child is better than being in a civil war.
The underlying concept of consent in Thomas Hobbes’ model is that the consent lies in the original creation of the governmental structure and the consent of the people to let this one ruler rule over them. The whole group has the power to create the Leviathan, but once the Leviathan is created, no one person has power over him (pg. 140). The idea is that the people of a country, or the subjects, consent to the Leviathan and anything that he does because they created him in the first place. It is his creation that implies consent, and not the notion that the people consent to every little detail of government as it happens.
After the Civil War, Hobbes’ The Leviathan came out. John Locke wrote in the 1680’s, when the monarch lost some of its power. Parliament became a vehicle for more of the people (“people” being upper-middle class men), and they had control over the monarch. Then they started to argue over who was able to run and operate what.
The two thinkers discussed the differences between what we know now as the “old” feudal system and their interpretation of how society should be established, organized and maintained. Before there were levels of rank; with their theories there was freedom of movement within the confines of laws for everyone. The freedom of movement that people could then experience could then be different, but all are considered just as free to the ruler. Hobbes looked at the old feudal system and saw that there had to be a difference in the amounts of freedom that existed. He referred to people as individuals or subjects, which was different from the old system. Locke did the same thing, but he then asked what an individual is. That he felt could be understood by discussing what people are like in the state of nature.
Hobbes said, for example, that people were mean to each other because they knew that there were scarce resources. Locke said, on the other hand, that if everyone just took a little, took only what they needed, there would always be plenty of resources.
While Hobbes’ concept of consent rested on the fact that it is only the creation of the government that implied consent, Locke contends that the idea of consent is used daily by the people of a nation when they voice their opinions about laws and the government takes their input and suits the government to their needs. This is where the two theories are drastically different.
Locke starts and bases his argument on the fact that everyone has the right to own land, and land is a basis for property for Locke. The labor that a person puts into a piece of land makes it their own property. Locke also concluded that if all people can own land, then they can all be represented in government (for at the time the only people that were allowed to vote were the people who owned land). This concept of all people having the right to be represented in government (assumed in day-to-day life) is different from that of Hobbes. Locke believes that people have reason, whereas Hobbes did not. (pg. 267-8) Locke felt that people act rationally, as well as does nature.
He also felt that politics had its own realm to work in: in other words, politics had its own space, and therefore there was a private sphere for the individual. When the government has no rules pertaining to a certain aspect of a person’s life, the government cannot intrude. This is how people have space away from the government, and Hobbes felt that people did not necessarily have that right.
“Political power then I take to be a right of making laws with penalties of death, and consequently all less penalties, for the regulating and preserving of property, and of employing the force of the community, in the execution of such laws, and in the defense of the common-wealth from foreign injury, and all this only for the publik good.”
Locke felt that in the state of nature, equality (which is merely produced by reason amongst the people - pg. 271) and rationality and property would produce prosperity, and he felt that with the help of an appropriate government, this goal could be easy to achieve (pg. 269). Where Locke disagrees with Hobbes dramatically is in the concept of the state of war. Locke does agree with Hobbes in the sense that the state of war is where people hurt each other, but Locke felt that the state of war is unnatural or irrational, and that the rational way is a peaceful, prosperous way. Locke also disagrees with Hobbes by stating that the state of war is an exceptional case and not a normal one.
Locke felt, therefore, that society is constructed in order to preserve that “natural” sort of life, without the fear of the exceptional case of war looming. Society is created rationally through the concept of self-preservation, and the government is created through and by consent.
“To avoid this state of war... is one of great reason of mens putting themselves into society, and quitting the state of nature. For where there is an authority, a power on earth, from which relief can be had by appeal, there the continuance of the state of war is excluded, and the controversie is decided by that power.” (pg. 282)
The concept of the state of war, and the differences between it and the state of nature, are the main reasons that people decide to enter into a society.
“And here we have the plain difference between the state of nature, and the state of war, which however some men have confounded, are as far distant, as a state of peace, good will, mutual assistance, and preservation, and a state of enmity, malice, violence, and mutual destruction are from one another. Men living together according to reason, without a common superior on earth, with authority to judge between them, is properly the state of nature. But force, or a declared sign of force upon the person of another, where there is no common superior on earth to appeal to for relief, is the state of war.”
Locke looks at other power structures (first the individual, and then the family) in order to come to a better understanding of the appropriate power structure, in his opinion, of government. He looks at equality and finds that there should be an equality between people within the political boundaries of law (political or civil society, as he calls it). Then he looks at citizenship, and finds that there are two components to it: consent, and the progression of rationality. Within the state, this is shown as consent to be in the state, for a person can always move to another country if they don’t want to consent to living within that country.
Then he goes over the concept of consent, or the ability to agree, which is a rational choice for Locke. As a person gets more rational (as they grow up), one uses consent instead of force in order to decide to stay or go (this can be seen in the idea of a family as well as Lock’s idea of the state). And this is how the concept of a government by contract is validated, for consent is how the state is made. People agree to a contract with the government. The acts that the government then continue to do are by the consent of the people (as opposed to Hobbes, who states that the Leviathan is brought into power because of consent, but then stays in power no matter what people say), and they continue to be acts by the consent of the people.
There are different ways to consent to be a part of society. One is an explicit consent (which is the type of consent that builds a society in the first place). It is the kind of consent where people actively consent to or oppose something within the society. The other type of consent is an implied (or tacit) consent (which is the type of consent that is necessary in order to maintain the society). It is a more passive consent: if a person is enjoying the benefits of society and they’re not actively going against parts of the society, then that person’s consent is implied.
Consent is merely support to Locke. Consent to him doesn’t mean that a person is active or that a person isn’t frustrated with their society. As long as the person is there (not leaving the society) and as long as they are not acting against the society, those people consent to the society.
Communication in the modern sense, according to Locke, becomes very necessary because government and the people need free consent from informed men. Therefore it is necessary to communicate on a mass scale with the people so that they become informed and are able to communicate their views back to government. This was therefore done with newsprint, so that there would be an unbiased source for information that would be faster than word of mouth.
Because the people consent to the government so that it will maintain the basic rights of freedom, prosperity, property and movement, the government must have a set of functions to achieve these goals. These are to make common law (one law for all people which preserves the objectives of the society, an idea which resembles the legislative branch of government), to have unbiased judges who follow and uphold the law (through their judgments, an idea which is representative of the judicial branch of government today), and to enforce and uphold those laws (and uphold the peace via things like the police force, an idea which can be considered the role of the executive as well as the judicial branch of government today). All of these functions that the government do are to preserve the consent of the people. If the government doesn’t do some or any of these things, the people have the grounds to complain, or to possibly change the government.
It can therefore be seen that a majority is necessary in an opinion in order for anything to get done within the government, because the government needs that feedback from members of the society. This is yet another way in which the theories of Locke and Hobbes are different.
As opposed to Hobbes, which felt that the Leviathan was supreme once it was created, Locke felt that the people still controlled the government. The legislature cannot be arbitrary, for it has to respond to the people (para. 135). The legislature is separated from the judicial branch, because it would seem to be impossible to judge a law that you created unbiasedly (para. 136). The government cannot arbitrarily take property, because its function is to preserve the people’s property (para. 138). Because the power that is given to the legislature is given to them on a basis of trust and not of fact, the legislature cannot transfer its power - only the people can (para. 141, page 362). The legislature could not change itself, for that power was within the power of the people. Only the people’s representatives could make laws for them, and the people only have to follow the laws that their representatives make for them. Therefore, communication is essential, because the people have to talk to their representatives, and the feedback that they get from their government is through a change in the law.
With Hobbes’ theory, the only communication that is necessary is the communication of the laws that the Leviathan decided on, so that the people knew what they could and could not do.
Neither of the two authors believed that active consent was necessary in order to have consent for a government to continue to operate. Locke believed that an active consent was necessary for the creation of a society and its government, and that implied consent was necessary for the maintenance for a society and its government. This is because Locke’s concept of government entailed the fact that it was not supreme: because it was not, it depended on the consent of the people in order for it to continue to work effectively. Hobbes, on the other hand, only believed that the active consent was necessary in oder to form the society and its government; the tacit consent was not necessary in order for the government to continue to operate, for the government that the people created was supreme and consequently did not need the consent of the people.
The communications, therefore, are very different between the two theorists. Hobbes believed that mass communications was only necessary in order to let the people know about the changes in the laws that the Leviathan, or the supreme power, decided on. Locke needed that mass communication, but only as the feedback for the fact that the people told government what they needed and wanted, and the government catered to their requests via laws, and informed them of this through the printed medium.

can’t answer
that one

i have a better job than you
i have more talent than you
i’ve made more money than you

i’m attractive
i’m funny
i’m kind

i’m strong
i’m intelligent
i’m beautiful

and i look at what we had
and i wonder why i ever tried
and why i ever bothered

why did i ever put up with you
why did i think i needed you
why did i let you make me unhappy

with all my talent, with all my
i still can’t answer that one

helena wolfe

chances two:
here i am

you asked me if you have
only so many loves in your life
and the answer is yes

and it not because of fate
or religion, or chance
but the chances are just so thin

that you can find someone
that you can love, revere, respect
someone that always keeps you guessing

and someone that makes you feel alive
just by listening to the things they
say, to the way they think

that only happens so often, you know
so i guess you do only get so many
loves, so if you need me, here i


sydney anderson


On the shores of Tripoli
As the master said to me
Look in side yourself
And see the haunting
Try the buddha and the zen
Try the miracles of men
But you must look into yourself
And see the haunting
You must look into it’s eyes
You’ll be scared
And you will cry
You must look into
The face of the haunting
You have to see
Through the dark
Past the fire and the spark
You will see
With your soul
You are the haunting

rachel crawford

blond hair, blue eyed

Raging storms always there
Dark blue eyes, sparse blond hair
Stocky built, big calloused hands
Raging storms were a man
Tornadic fury, devastation beyond repair
Bleeding bodies every where
Afraid to move, afraid to cry
Fear of lightning from the sky
Raging storms all the time
Left in the ruins of my mind

rachel crawford

they tried to hold me down
they tried to keep me in
they didn’t understand
“I was different”
they said
as day after day
I led my life
with the interrogation
lamp shining in my face

they tried to change me
they tried to bend my will
they wanted to break me
“We don’t like you”
they said
but every day
I faced the battle
in splendid silence
knowing that all like me
would understand me
and thank me

they tried to make me beg
they tried to make me cry
they wanted me to conform
“We don’t need your type”
they said
and I ignored them
for I couldn’t let those
who didn’t understand
and didn’t want to learn
or respect
or treat me as human
destroy me


i have my

i don’t even care
if you call me anymore
because i have my dreams
and they make me happier
than you

sydney anderson

i must

i’ve never had regrets before
i’ve never had any fears before
i’ve never been alone before

and now i wonder what i’ve done
and now i wonder where you’ve gone
and now i wonder if i’m dead

are you thinking of me right now?
can you feel me sliding under your skin
an injection coursing down your vein?

i must believe you know i’m here

helena wolfe

i do not
know you

Brian Zahnd moves across souls
like a famine of the word of God
raising the dust
with tithes and tongues
frenzied as the prophets of Baal

A Paul and Jan hollywood pentecost
Christians devouring christians
while the lions look on
God not calling them to do
half the things they say he does

{did we not build a virtual reality theater?}
{did we not buy Twitty City?}
{sign on another TV station?}

Jeff Fenholt’s maudlin praises
stalking the stage with glib sufficiency
of his own holiness
the vetch clambering quickly up
the surety of heaven

Traveling by satellite covered wagon
selling snake oil
brother John Avanzini’s medicinal 100 fold cure

Rod Parsley’s gospel folded like origami
his wireless microphone
a scepter ordaining
the great falling away

{send in your best love gift
tucking in your personal check}
{start a revival by credit card
calling down a fire of buying
books and tapes by telephone}

How hard it is
for the rich man
to enter the Kingdom of God

Benny Hinn whipping scorpion tails
capturing thoughts, that set themselves up
against how he sees Jesus
aiming his holy ghost scatter gun
to slay by error
and heal in the security
of his sleeping conscience

Kenneth Copeland lurking
like a crocodile in deep waters
an unmarked grave
people unknowinglt walk over
a pharisee laying burdens
lunar as stonehenge
waiting to widow the church

Del Way dreams of gold Harleys in heaven
Mike Purkey blithers and imbibes
LaVerne Tripp mugs the anointing fashionably
Dean and Mary Brown are a lounge lizard act

{did we not prophecy?
did we not drive out demons?
did we not do mighty deeds
in your name?}

jeff foster

pieces of the well-bred,
inbred undead
When Something entered Stonehenge
It did bring a wee wicker suitcase
with her lying inside
crushed against her false red painted arm
another product of the dress design house
sung as Frankenstitch
“Frocks For Wrestlers and Circus Ponies”
assured the labels torn in bites
“This is a picture of Jessie
-ay Hoehn’s flowers whe-
-he died. She died --vember 190-”
the penis mightier than the sword and
spanking a naughty child makes tender pot roast
There may eb a clashing of symbols
during pursuit of the unchaste
The final note to the Yard said:
“When you smoke a candle
make sure it doesn’t drip
or leave a bit of tallow
clinging to your lip. Signed: Ripper, Jack the”

nancy l’enz hogan

see you

come on, boy
i want to see you come crawling back
not because i want you here
but because i want to see you crawl

janet kuypers

shiny new

i’ve always been by your side

i’ve always tried to help you
when something was wrong

i’ve always picked up the pieces

and i’ve seen you fall apart
and i’ve seen it happen to others, too

and i’ve picked up the pieces
glued them back together
til they were shiny new again

and now i feel like it’s happening
to me and who is here for me

you’re falling apart too how
are you supposed to help me

mackenzie silver

the things
warren says

I know about this guy,
he sucked his eyeball out
with a shop-vac

he went to the hospital
brought the shop-vac
with him

he was okay, but they
couldn’t put his eye
back in:

it was all mangled, and
besides, it was covered
in potato chips

janet kuypers


When I fall down like this
I often see glass birds and my evil twin
chasing each other in ferris wheel fashion
in front of my eyes...
I forget things like
How to walk
How to put my glasses back on
How to let strangers brush my coat...
Landing on my head is worst;
my memories rewind to
the cord slinkyed between my mother’s leg
the pulling-out doctor pushing me aside:
“Here comes another”
and the clock slid...past... midnight...
giving us separate birthdays
“Gotta make a space for the evil one,”
I think a nurse joked,
her eyes blazing like the sun
peeling my forehead
on the sidewalk
(I get headaches with nostalgia)
Some say it’s the twin thing
that something bad is happening
to the other and that’s why
my brain pounds and my balance
is destroyed;
a rose crushed in a dictionary
or a carnival ride breaking away from its stem
a dog licks my face
a blurry person is asking me questions
but I have no idea who they
or who I
or who is when and where
I’m on my knees praying to Dog
and the god becomes vicious,
biting me on my neck
like a vampire or a strange woman with a long nose.

This does not happen every day,
I’ll retrace my steps and tell you in the back of
the ambulance--
I walk twice a day
two miles each time;
I buy flowers and coffee,
I give my change to street kids,
I pet the dog.
I do all the simple things
of a simple man
in a simple world.

I eat sandwiches full
of cars and gatesand garbage.
I go to softball games
and root for the team with the most
beer cans in their dugout.
I unlace my fingers from my penis
and lick my own semen
like any good catholic.
I am a normal male person
wearing a suit (and black socks)
with photos of my siblings in my wallet
and my hand extended,
recruiting new friends by the minute--
even when I am dizzy and hurt
from my twin falling down somewhere
in some secret part of the world.

One thing I do
to make myself feel not lopsided
I select an old photograph
of my evil twin every day,
and then I find clothes similar
to what he is wearing in the picture,
so that we match.

When I re-unite with my evil twin
on some night before our barely separated birthdays
and we fill our stomachs with gin
in an effort to plant seeds of brotherly love
I will announce to him, like a spoiled child:
In two hours,
I will be older than you.

kevin sampsell


She’s halo’d and pitchfork’d
and she runs on two’s
but prowls on four’s
and the carpet is stained
from where her spade
has wildly flung
time and time again
hitting me in the head
and knocking my coffee off the end
time and time again
leaving me gasping for breath.

d. michael mcnamara

the lust
her lips quiver anxiously
she wants
the craving
the longing
the yearning
is no longer contained
His eyes fixed
in a trance-like gaze
the erotic fantasies
the passion
the obsession
his burning
appetite is released
Her heart quickens
as her breath becomes
a pant
she is ravenous with need
His hand moves
his anticipation climaxes
his muscles tense with
the cyprian
lurid desires
the heat
the fire
they cannot hold back
he touches her

gabriel athens

shame on

you are stubborn, moody,
angry and hateful
you want to hate
and you want to hate me

and i keep thinking that
you couldn’t even fuck
your way out of a card-
board box, you ass-hole

but i still tried, i wanted
to make it work with us
and the highs were too high
but the lows were too low

and i’ve tried, i’ve worked
and i’ve slaved for you
and i wanted to know
this couldn’t fail

but once again
you’ve proved me wrong

fool me once
and shame on you,
fool me twice

and shame on me

janet kuypers

didn’t know
what it was

i wanted you tonight
and i wanted to make sure the world knew
that i wanted you
and it was only because
i knew i wanted something
and i didn’t know what it was

sydney anderson


you think i’m going to come
running back to you again, do you,
you think i need you so desperately
that all you have to say is that
you do care about me
and that you don’t want me to
leave your life and that you
don’t want this to be goodbye,
well, you told me good-bye once
before and i took you back
but now you’ve done it again
and you think it’s all so easy
and you think it’s all roses and
candy and i’m not going back to you
and what you did isn’t good for me
and i know i sound like a psychai-
trist now but you have some
issues you need to deal with
and i can’t be your counselor;
i need someone to counsel me
and if you need help you can’t
help me, and i’ve figured that
much out: you can’t help me

janet kuypers

the one at
mardi gras

i was at mardi gras last weekend
and i got a bunch of beads from parades
(no, i didn’t lift my shirt for them) -

and a friend of mine had a balcony
on bourbon street, and so we were on it
on friday night, and the swarms

of people stretched for over a mile. it was
a mob, no one could walk and the crowd
just kind of carried them along. and all

the men expected women to get naked
for them for beads, and from my balcony
i would see every few minutes a series of

flash pops, coupled with a roar from the
crowd, and i knew a woman lifted her shirt
for the screaming masses. i refused, however,

to strip for drunk strangers, when i knew
they all expected me to, being on a balcony
and all. so men would look up and stretch

out their arms, looking up inquisitively, as
if to ask either for me to give them beads
or for me to strip. since i wasn’t stripping

and had plenty of my own beads, i decided
to turn the tables, see if men would accept
the same conditions they asked of women.

when they looked up at me for something,
i would say, “drop your pants.” they’d look
at me, confused, the women are the

ones that are supposed to be stripping, but
in general i got two responses from men:
either they would look at me like i was

crazy and walk away, or they would shrug,
as if to say, “okay,” and then they would
unzip their pants. then they would

make a gesture to turn around, as if to ask,
“do you want to see my butt?” so i’d
yell, “the front,” and then they’d turn back

around, with their pants and underwear
at their knees, and start moving their hips
(which i never asked for, by the way).

so over the course of the evening i
managed to get at least twenty men to
strip like this for me, and i was amazed

that there was this society, this micro-
cosm of society, that allowed this kind
of debauchery in the streets, a sort of

prostitution-for-plastic-beads form of
capitalism. so i was reveling in this bizarre
annual ritual when this man, average to
everyone else, wearing grey and minding
his own business, decided to look up at me. so
i asked him to drop his pants, and instead of

disgustedly leaving or willingly obliging
he crossed both hands on his chest and looked
up at me, as if to ask, “you want to me do

what? you naughty, naughty girl.” and he
smiled and looked up at me, and it occurred
to me that i finally found someone in this

massive crowd that thinks they way i do.
new orleans has a population, from what i
hear, of about one million, but during mardi gras

there are nine or ten million people, and
all i could think was that of all these people
here, i finally found someone who wouldn’t

blindly do what i asked, but at the same time
wouldn’t think i was crazy for asking.
of course as i looked at him i also happened

to think that he was stunning, by far the best-
looking man i had seen that entire night, he
looked like he had style, like he was self-

confident, but then again, i’m near-sighted
and was on a balcony drunk at mardi gras.
we hit an impasse when he wouldn’t strip

and neither would i, so his attention was
eventually diverted to other balconies. but i
noticed for that next half-hour he never left

from under my balcony, every once in a while
he would still turn around and look at me. oh,
boy, i was thinking the entire time, i know

this is no way to start a relationship, hell,
i’m sure this guy lives nowhere near me, and
i haven’t had a real conversation with him,

but he’s damn near perfect. all that time we
were screaming and partying at mardi gras,
he would still occasionally turn around and

make sure i was still there. and finally he
looked at me, signalling that he had to move
on with his friends, and i held up my index

finger to make him wait and then i threw
a bunch of beads at him. part of me threw
them because he was a good sport, putting

up with my taunting and still not giving in,
but a part of me threw them because i
saw in him the strong values and the sense

of self-worth, the sheer love of life, the
desire to be alive, that i possessed all along
and have always longed for in someone else.

janet kuypers


The night I asked her
if she was beautiful
or only looked it,
she asked me
if she could crawl inside
and turn out the lights.
I said I don’t think
there’s room, but I’ve got
two kidneys when
I only need one, and
certainly nobody needs
all that intestine, and after
removing some ribs and some
strategic relocation everything
should fit just fine.
That night she said never
you mind and that night
I had an awful feeling
about life without a heart
and so I rang you on the
telephone but you weren’t home
and I’ve still been waiting
all this time to tell you.

d. michael mcnamara


by ken sieben

Sep,8 O.k. iw’ll write this stupid jernel but, onley cuz the teecher say we gotto if we wanna pass the corse. An we can use cuss word she say that cool that cool that cool that cool that dum she say if you cant think a nothink to write jes keep writting the last think you done wrote that cool that cool that cool that cool. Anyways, she say she aint gonna reed this unless we ax her to, no way iw’ll.
Sep 10TH The main thing you need to no about me is that i’am not what youd call a (nice) person. I mean I allways think a myself first. Like I have a dauter but i dont reely care about her. Oh, yeah, once in a wile I like to tell people that I’am a father but, the truth is I dont no the kid at all and iw’ll probly keep it like that, I just like to remind my-self from time to time that I reely am a father.
Sep 15TH I’am twenty years old, i done quit Highschool too months fore i was thru, that why I’am takin this here corse to get my GED case I deside to go for my mates lisense, but i dont no about that. Anyways I’am livin on my own now since my Mom got shakked up again and moved to Riverton, i dig clams for a livin, an i like it. Don’t get me rong, its a tuff way to ern a livin, but I’am my own boss, and that what count. I bust my ass evry day and Iw’ll tell you I’am hurtin by the time i quit, but i wud’nt wanna do nothink else. I mean the mony good, corse it aint as good as it usta be fore the state inspekters stopped us from diggin on weekends. They say we always brakin their dam rules. Anyways i aint afrade a hard work. I’am big and strong. Reel big, six foot-five to be exack, onley I dont look that tall cuz I got such a normus chest an sholders an arms. Peepel look at me an thing I’am just a mussel freek but then they stand next to me an relize I’am a fukkin jient. I mean, i dont wanna brag but i’am the strongest guy i no.
Sep 17TH I’am sorry, i did’nt no we was posta write this here jernel ever-day, i though it was ever-day we have class. What the hell we posta put in it? Teacher she say we can use cuss words, maybe iw’ll, ha-ha-ha. I like that teacher, she got nice big jussy tit, i like to suck on em. She nice too, she say we dont gotta worry none bout spellin an punxashun an all that shit. That dont mean nothink anyway. Were posta write atlease a hunerd words ever-day, i no, a hunerd words ever-day a hunerd words ever-day. There, i done sum extra. Sep 18TH This is harder on the days when we dont have class. I mean, the teacher she aint here to tell me what to write. She say to put down ever-think we do all day. I’am to tired, iw’ll do it to-moroh.
Sep 19TH I was out to late on friday to write much in my jernel. I found a spot where a guy jes took his boat out an it was loaded with clams, nobody dug there all sumer i bet. Anyways, i got me a mess a clams ever-time i stuck my rake in. Dam near fill my boat up. I was last won back to the de-purashen plant but i got more mony then i ever done got, it was the best day i ever had sins i been diggin. I went back today and there was still more were they come from, hope there still thier on monday.
Sep 20TH I aint writting nothink on sunday.
Sep 21ST Saterday nite i went out to sellabrate. I went to the Seaside Nashville bar an had me a reel ball. I met this girl i usta no in Highschool. She was OK then even tho i did’nt pay no tenshen to her, she was awful skiny, you no what i mean, but she shure can put away the beer now, i mean she dam near drunk me under the table. An she a reel gnock-out ta look at to. She shure changed a lot sins Highschool.
Wednesday, Sept. 23 That was quiet a surprise, I didn’t think you was gonna reed our journals. I mean you said that the first nite. Well I gess it O.K. long as you keep it privet and don’t tell no-body in the class what I done writ. Anyways, I think I got my contraxions right this time.
OK, you said to try and discribe a person using all the senses. I’m gonna discribe Peggy, this person I met Saturday nite. First of all, she short. Corse ever-body short next to me but she reel short, onley about five-too or five-three. She also kinda thin, not skiny like she usta be, jest thin. She don’t look but about fifteen or sixteen. She cud’nt get served in no other Bar sep the Seaside Nashville. She got freckles all over, I mean all over, but I aint gonna tell you how I no that, you can gess. And she got red hair, its reel short and curly, an i like it. She got a reel nice figure to.
She talk nice, she got a sweet voice, reel quite-like. I don’t like wimmen with loud voices. No offense Miss. Klinger, I no you got a loud voice but teachers has gotto, I gess. I mean she “Peggy” talk so quite an soft that you gotta get reel close to here her.
And she smell good to. I mean she smell reel kleen. I wont get into how she feel and tast cuz that kinda dirty I think.
Thursday, Sept. 24 Well, today was a goddam tuff day. First of all my moter wouldn’t start. The plugs was all fouled up so I hadda kleen em. Then I hadda replace won of the high tenshen wires. I don’t no how much longer its gonna last, it was jest a old peace a shit when I bawt it.
Anyways, by the time I got goin an got to my new favrit spot, there was two other guys there allreddy. I like to work by myself, you no, so i jest kep on chugin along lookin for a new spot. Onley I didn’t find a good won all day. Shit, I wound up with bearly anuf clams to pay for my gas.
Fri., Sept. 25 Another tuff day. If i dont find me a nice new bed a softees soon I’m gonna hafta quit this bizness an get a job. I got a frend name Stanley and he maken good mony as a mate, i cud do that to onley you need to have a Highschool daploma to take the test. Anyways I aint shure i wanna take orders from no-body els. I like workin for me. I’m in bizness for my-self. I gess I’ll stick it out for the rest a the year anyways an then see. Its cold as a wiches tit in the Winter but i like it best then, your reely alone out on the river, no goddam clouns racin around, no water-skirs, no goddam sale-boats. Thats it for tonite, I’m to dam tird.
Sat., Sept. 26 “Well, its reely Sunday mornin but you said i cud do that”. I met Peggy again, she shure is a gnock-out. She came with anuther chik but stayd with me all night, i mean for as long as i was at the Bar. We danst an i skweezed her ass reel good a few times an she liked it, atlease she didn’t stop me. I walked her home an kist her good-nite. She sed i cudda come in cep her old man was home, maybe next time. I told her she cud come over my trailer if she liked. Its a nice little place up on the hill, nice an quite, corse it aint mine, i jest pay rent, but sum-day I’m gonna own my own dubble-wide. I got a reel nice vuew a north cape bay an on a cleer day you can see N.Y. I think I’d like having a wumen like Peggy livin here with me.
Mon., Sept. 28 Sorry, but i jest didn’t have a chance to write any-thing yesterday and i gotto be up and diging fore the sun comes up. Well, Peggy come over Sunday night an wached the Mets game on TV with me an cooked us a cupel a cheezebergers. They was better than MACdonalds or Berger-Kings, reel nice an jussy an the cheeze was all melted, she even tosted the roles. I didn’t no she was such a good cook, my Mom never cud cook werth a dam. Anyways, then we put on sum tapes and danst sum an had a few beers. Fore you no it we was in bed with our clothes off an i aint gonna write down no more about it, cep that it was the best i done ever had.
Tuesday, Sept. 29 You can reed reel quick, Miss. Klinger. I dont no how you red all them jernels wile we was working on them word problems. I wached you wiles you was reeding mine and I saw you smiling. Now if you was jest smiling cuz you though sum-thing I wrote was kinda funny, then thats OK, but if you was laffing at me cuz you think you’re better then me then it aint. The thing thats going thru my mind is that I though you was diffrent then teachers I had back in Highschool, but maybe I was rong. Anyways, I aint here for no college course, I jest want my GED. I’m a little pist-off so I aint gonna write no more tonite.
Wed., Sept. 30 I red over what I wrote last night and I take back what I put about you. I was thinking those things, tho, and you said we shud put down whatever we was thinking but now I aint. I think you’re O.K. What els I been thinking today is about Peggy. She sorta moved in with me and she’s reel nice and all, but well I aint sure I like it. The thing is its waring me out. I mean I gotto get up around 4;30 or 5;00 a-clock ever morning. So I usta jest have me a beer around 9;00 at nite and then go to bed. But Peggy she work’s as a waitrus at this place called the Admirl Ben-Bo, it’s a reel hi-class place, and she dont get home till after mid-nite. So she wake’s me up and we have a beer so she can kinda unwind and then she come’s to bed and we screw and then I cant get back to sleep. I been dragging my ass ever-day this week and I don’t no how long I can keep it up. I didn’t mean that dirty, maybe I did.
Thurs., Oct. 1 Now that you done went over them rules with me I gess I can spell a little better, anyway I’ll try and get em rite. I don’t like it when peepel make fun a me cuz they think I’m dum. Shit, I’m jest as smart as anybody els, you onley gotto tell me sum-thing wonce and I know it. I jest never liked school, it was to dam boring. I liked playing basket-ball cuz I was dam good and nobody cud stop me. The coach he was alright cuz he passed me in Histry even tho I didn’t hardly ever go to class. But all the chiks went crazy over me. This won stuk-up bich espeshly, she was the A-number 1 student in the hole school and I got her to go down for me and I got her pregnent. She was a reel Miss. Smarty-pants, you know the kind? I’ll say one thing, she was the best looking broad in the school, she looked like a goddam moovy-star. But she cudn’t screw werth a dam. Compaired to Peggy it was like screwing a goddam corpse. Oh, I gess she cuda learned if weeda stayed together, but after she got pregnent she didn’t wanna see me again. That was O.K. with me, onley I’d kinda like to see my own kid. Caralin (I don’t give any last names) had it last November, so next month my little girl is gonna be a hole year old. May-be I’ll go see her then. And may-be I’ll give that Caralin sum-thing to remember me by. Yea, how’s that for a great idea? Let’s see if I can get it into words. I’d like to have intercorse with the mother of my daughter again, to see if she learned how to do it rite yet. What I’d reely like to do is slap her stuk-up face or smak her on her ass. I mean who the hell dose she think she is, I wuda maried her, I gess I ain’t good anuf for her tho, goddam rich bich.
Fri., Oct. 2 When you’re all by yourself digging clams for twelve hours you got a lotta time to think about things. I been thinking all day long about what I wrote last night and you know what, I don’t even know my own kid’s name. Now that ain’t right. I mean, I’m the father, I got my rights too. I wanna make shure my dauter is razed right. So I’m gonna discus it with Peggy to- moroh. That’s all for tonite. I gotto get sum sleep.
Sun., Oct. 4 (A.M.) Well Peggy shure was suprized when I told her about my dauter. She remembered Caralin getting pregnent but didn’t know I was the father. She said Caralin never told no-won who the father was, I gess she was shamed of me. I never told no-won eether cuz I felt kinda sorry for her, I mean I thought I was being reel nice about it, her being such a reel Miss. Goody-goody. I cud’ve bragged to ever-body about getting her in trubbel but I didn’t think it was right but now I’m reely pist. Well anyways, Peggy agrees with me that I oughta have sum say in razing her, my dauter I mean, and Peggy says her name is Lisa, she ran into Caralin in a store or sum-place a cuppel months ago.
Well when we was dansing last nite at the Seaside Nashville I cudn’t stop thinking about Lisa, my dauter. Peggy she says I’m getting obsest but I can’t help it, I wanna get her sum-thing for her birth-day, like maybe a doll or sum-thing. Anyways, we got to talking and Peggy says she gonna go back with her old man during the week and stay with me on weekends. He got sum kinda dizeze and he don’t eat rite less she feeds him, that’s O.K. with me, like I said, it’s waring me out.
Sun., Oct. 4 (P.M.) It started raning so we staid in bed mosta the after-noon, it was reel nice. Then Peggy made us sum clam chouder that was reel good. It’s kinda funny me being a clamer and all, I never eat clams much. Fact, I ain’t ate none since a friend a mine got hapa-titus. Well, he ain’t a friend exakly, he’s jest won a the other clamers, but he was outa work for more then a month and he can’t eat no more clams the rest of his life. Anyways, Peggy made this here chouder onley she put milk in it sted of tomatoe juse and it was good, I didn’t think it wud be. She shure is a good cook, she wants to open up her own restrant, she says we cud do it together but I don’t know. Maybe I could jest catch the fish and dig the clams and she cud run the place. You know, I jest now though of that and it’s maybe not a bad idea. I’m gonna be thinking about it all week so when Peggy comes back on Friday nite (she jest left fore I started writing this) we can discuss it.
Mon., Oct. 5 Well I slep pretty good last nite counta there wasn’t no-body to wake me up, so I felt a hole lot better working all day. It’s a good thing cuz I found me another mess of softees like I ain’t never seen nothing like it before. I mean ever-time I stuck my rake in I come up with a dozen, big wons to. I got me fourty goddam bushels fore I was thru. Ain’t no way I’m gonna quit digging long as I can make this kinda mony. Man I’m so goddam tired tonite I’m gonna go to bed at 8;00 a-clock.
Well I went to bed at 8;00 a-clock and I fell asleep right away but then I woke up round 8-30 thinking about how sexy Peggy was and how much I miss her, I can’t get back to sleep no-way.
Tues., Oct. 6 That Ms. Klinger knows how to explain spelling and grammar rules reel good, but she sure don’t know much about people. I better explain that cause she’s probly gonna reed this and I don’t want her to be insulted. The thing is if any-body down at the Seaside Nashville found out I was even taking this here GED course, I culdn’t never show my face in there again. Hell, even Peggy don’t know where I go on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and she ain’t gonna know neether. Besides, I ain’t got no tranzpertashen since I toteled my car last July. I can get to that there extention center by bus but I ain’t taking no bus all the way out to the goddam College campus, not me.
Wed., Oct. 7 I think I better explain myself sum-more. There are two kinds of people in Waterwitch. The kind that go to college and the kind that don’t. The kind that go to college are rich and they all got new cars and hafe of them own boats. They all work in N.Y. and camute on the fairy-boat. And they live in those fansy new condos on the waterfront and up on top of the mountain. Like Caralin, you shuld see the place she lives at with their own privet dock for her old man’s speed-boat and her sale-boat. She got this big room all to herself and she even got her own privet bath-room with a goddam wirl-pool. Her parents got a duble-size one to, only their divorsed. Me and her used it one after-noon but I didn’t reely like it. Seemed sorta un-nachrel to me a guy and a girl taking a bath to-gether. Anyways, she put a hole mess of bubbels in and ruened it.
I sorta got off the subject there. What I was saying was that there are two kinds of people in my town. One kind is the rich ones like Caralin and the other kind is like me and Peggy, we don’t own diddely-squat. Corse I own my boat and moter but that’s how I earn my living. I get reel pissed-off when I see sum kid racing around the river with a fansy boat and moter his old man probly bawt for him to play with wile I jest got this old piece of shit that hafe the time don’t even start in the morning.
Thursday, Oct. 8 One time last summer I was digging near sum rich guy’s dock way up the river and he came out and tried to chace me away, said I was on his property. Well shit I got me a lisense says I can dig rite up to the goddam low tide line, I don’t need no-body’s speshel permishen, but he yelled and screemed at me like I was sum-kind of dog. One day next week it was so fogy you culd slise it with a nife and I shut off my moter going passed his place and jest drifted right up to his dock and cut the lines that was holding his big fansy speed-boat and it jest drifted away. Rich son of a bich better show more respect.
Fri., Oct. 9 Peggy left me a note saying she gotto work until 1:00 a.m. so I’m gonna do my journal and then try to catch a few hours sleep. It rained like hell all day and it was goddam cold. Hafe the clamers didn’t even go out but I dug over thirty bushels. Shure wud be nice rite now to have Peggy give me a rub-down, I ake all over. I wish it wuld only rain on Saturdays and Sundays when I can stay in bed all day. That’s dum I know but I can’t think of nothing else tonight.
Sat., Oct. 10 Peggy was acting kind of funny when she come in last night so I talked to her real nice and finely got it out. Seems that Caralin came into the restrant with sum guy. They didn’t sit at one of Peggy’s tables so she didn’t have to wait on them but she followed her into the Ladies Room to have a talk. She told her I wanted to see my dauter and Caralin said fine, I could come over any-time I want. But I can tell that Peggy’s jelus now cause she thinks it’s really Caralin I want to see and not Lisa, but that ain’t true. Well, like I said I’d kind of like to see her again jest to see how she’s making out but that’s all, I mean I don’t even want to mess around with her. In fact seeing how she right away said I could see the kid and she was so nice to Peggy and all I ain’t even pissed off at her any-more. So I want to go see her tomorrow but Peggy don’t want me to go without her and she gotto work.
Sun., Oct. 11 Well I took Peggy out to the Seaside Nashville last night but sum guy she useto go out with was there and he had too much to drink and said sum-thing dirty to her and I had to pop him. I busted his nose good and he went out and got sum friends and then before you know it evry-body was fighting and sum-body called the cops. We just about got out the back door before they come in. Anyway Peggy was mad as hell at me, she said she culd’ve handled the guy in a nice way, but I thought I done the right thing. A man’s suppose to proteck a wumen.
Mon., Oct. 12 The goddam state inspekters don’t have to work on Culumbus Day so I couldn’t work either. But those basterds get paid and I don’t. So Peggy and I went to see my dauter. She’s real big for being not quiet a year old, corse Carolyn’s around five-ten and I’m six-five. But I’m real confused, I can’t figure out whether to be pissed or not. The thing is I saw Carolyn’s name on the Birth Certificate, so now I know how to spell it, but my name’s not on it, it says (father unidentified). I mean, she gave my kid her own last name instead of mine. She said she did it to protect me cause she didn’t think I wanted the expense or responsability of a baby and she said she never blamed it on me. But I don’t know, it don’t seem right sum-how. But Carolyn was real nice and sweet to me and to Peggy too. She lives by herself cause her parents got back together and moved up around Boston where her old man has his own business, sum-thing to do with computers. She’s going to Lenape County College, I almost told her I was going there too but then I remembered Peggy don’t know that so I kept quite. Anyway, I ain’t really going to college, we been through that before.
Tues., Oct. 13 Well I thought about it all day wile I was out digging clams in the goddam rain and I jest about desided that Carolyn was telling the truth. I mean she was only seventeen and I was alreddy eighteen so she culd’ve put me in jail if she wanted, espeshly with her old man’s mony and connexions backing her up. So I gess she was dam nice to me. But I think I want to have that Birth Certificate changed to have me listed proper as the father. I gotto talk to her again about it.
Wed., Oct. 14 Peggy come by last night cause she didn’t hafto work, she gotto work on Saturday insted cause she’s cooking now stead of waitrusing which means we can’t go to the Seaside Nashville. But that’s okay I gess, I mean I better not show my face around thier for awile. One of the other clamers told me the guy who I busted his nose has got a cuppel buddies with him evry night looking for me. I ain’t afraid of nobody but Peggy she don’t want me fighting and I dout if Carolyn would change that Birth Certificate if she heard I was in any kind of trubble. Shit, wimmen can sure ty down a guy.
Thursday, Oct., 15 Well it was a real beutaful day today, the sun was bright and the air was warm and there was these normus white clouds in the sky so Peggy she come out in the boat with me all day and we had us a long talk. You know, it’s nice having a wumen like that to look at wile you’re working, she’s so pretty it makes me jest want to kiss her. Corse I only dug about a dozen bushels. Anyway we talked about the fucher and all, and she says she really wants to have her own restrant sum-day. It’s gonna be called (Potluck Peggy’s) and she’s gonna cook all kinds of fish and clams and stuff she can get right around here. She told me she got $5000 in the bank to get started. That suprized the hell out of me, I don’t know how she got all that mony when she’s only my age. But I don’t know, I mean $5000 ain’t a hell of a lot of mony when it comes to starting a restrant. She says we oughtto do it together, but I told her to forget about me, I only got about 2 grand in the bank and I gonna need a new moter pretty soon.
Anyway Peggy was working from 5:00 to 1:00 so she was gonna go back to her old man’s place tonight so I went to class like I always do on Thursdays and I got to thinking I might tell her about those restrant management classes Ms. Klinger told me about, so I asked her and she gave me a brosure that tells all about them. Corse I don’t know if Peggy would want to spend her mony on jest taking corses, she allreddy knows how to cook real good.
Ms. Klinger also taught us some more spelling rules, I think I got taught, thought, and though and a coupel other of them ou and au words right now. I’d like to write more about her but she reeds this. But she’s a dam good teacher and that ain’t no brown-nosing, neether, that’s the truth.
Fri., Oct. 16 Well I busted my ass today and made more mony then I made the rest of the week. I gotto start saving up for another car, I’m getting tired of not being able to go no-where less I can walk and I hate waiting for the goddam bus. Peggy she gonna need a car too if she decides to take those courses over at the college. I thought some more about Lisa and decided I’d like to speak to Carolyn again. About that Birth certificate I mean. Maybe I can get Peggy to go over with me tomorrow or Sunday.
Sat., Oct. 17 Goddam it, wimmen can be a pain in the ass, sorry Ms. Klinger if you took that rong. I mean I gave Peggy that brosure about them restaurant courses and she got real pissed, she says I jest think she’s stupid cause I’m always compairing her to Carolyn and she’s going to college. But that’s not it at all, I just thought she might want to go. But that’s o.k. if she don’t want to waste her mony on no college course, they can’t teach you nothing in college anyway about running no restaurant. But then when I told her I was taking this here GED course, she got so mad she started crying. I should’ve smacked her good but insted I went and started feeling sorry for her, I think she’s really jellous. She told me she had some good news but she wouldn’t tell me about it until she got home from work, if I wanted to here about it I’d hafta wait up.
Sun., Oct. 18 Well today was even worst than yesterday. I guess I drunk a sixpak and fell asleep last night before Peggy got back and she said she couldn’t wake me up. She called me a (drunk) and made me feel bad. Anyway, we made up and then she told me her good news. The wumen who owns the Admirl Ben-Bo has made her a reglar full-time cook and put her in charge of soup. Well it don’t sound like no big deal to me but she was so proud I didn’t let on, I just smiled and said that was great. Now I didn’t know this but the wumen’s son is a guy we went to school with, a guy named Jim, and he told Peggy how much his Mom likes her and how she might offer her a part intrest in the place if she works out good. Now this guy Jim was a real jerk who was in the fukkin boyscouts for Chrissake, he’s another one of them rich guys that don’t gotto work for nothing. But he hates the restrant business so his Mom’s allways on the look-out for somebody to take over when she retires. Peggy says Jim works as afternoon manager but he’s studing computer repair at some night school.
So then I ax Peggy to go see Lisa and Carolyn with me, and she blew up again. She said Lisa’s probly not even my daughter cause Carolyn was screwing around with the hole basket-ball team and that’s when I finely smacked her right across her big mouth.
But even that didn’t shut her up, she just kept yelling at me and cussing me out and then she ran out. I ain’t seen her all day.
Mon., Oct. 19 I worked twelve fukkin hours today in the goddam rain and I ain’t never felt so bad in my life. I feel bad about hitting Peggy, I mean she deserved it for what she said but she’s so tiny and I’m so strong I could’ve busted her jaw or something. But I feel bad about Lisa too. I mean, suppose Peggy’s right and I ain’t the father, all this time I thought I had a daughter and now maybe I don’t. But Carolyn was so sweet and I don’t see how she could’ve been screwing around with anybody else, I mean she was with me practicly all the time when she wasn’t in school. I just don’t know.
Tues., Oct. 20 That dam north-east wind was so cold today that I almost froze my goonies off. And I was feeling so bad that I felt like crying. I cut class tonight cause I couldn’t stand Ms. Klinger reeding what I wrote here this week. I still don’t know weather I’m pissed-off most at Peggy, Carolyn, or myself. I don’t know what to do.
Wed., Oct. 21 What I done was go out to this new bar on Water St. called the Pair-a-Dice. They don’t have no gambling atleast not legal like in Atlantic City but they have some great go-go dancers that really put on a show. And next summer they’re gonna have a bakini contest evry Friday and a wet tee-shirt contest evry Saturday. Now that’s a real classy place, better than the Seaside Nashville. I was getting sick of that twangy old cuntry music anyway.
Thursday, Oct. 22 Well, that’s what I did Tuesday night insted of going to school and I went again tonight and met this nice looking broad with great tits that’s supposed to come over to my place on Friday night.
Fri., Oct. 23 Busted my ass again and fell asleep around 8:00. Don’t even know if the broad showed up. Screw her!
Sat., Oct. 24 Peggy come by this afternoon and was real nice. She says she ain’t sure weather what she said about Carolyn is true but that all the girls in school thought it was true. She says if I love Carolyn more then her she won’t try to stop me and she won’t say nothing more bad about her. I thought that was real genrus of her, not many wimmen would say such a thing and mean it.
Peggy’s working five to one evry night but Monday and Tuesday. She’s making ten bucks an hour, but she don’t get no tips no more now that she’s hed soup cook. Mrs. Hawkins, that’s the lady that owns the restaurant, she’s gonna pay Peggy’s tuishen at Lenape County College so she can take those management courses. So she’s gonna keep saving as much mony as she can and I said I’d help her as soon as I save up enough for a car and a new moter.
Sun., Oct 25 I ran into my buddy Stanley at the Pair-a-Dice last night and he says he’s doing real good. He says I should try for my mate’s lisense soon’s as I pass my GED test. By then he’ll have his captain’s lisense and I can work for him for three years and get mine. He says we could go partners on a little party boat he knows that’s gonna be for sale next Spring. Between the two of us he says we could make two or three trips evry day and still have some time for ourselves. Only thing is I’d need to come up with $7500 cash for my hafe of the down payment. I told him this chick living with me had a lot of mony, course I gotto talk to Peggy about it and see what she thinks.
Mon., Oct. 26 Peggy come over again and said she’s stay the night if I liked and course I said I would. Lucky I stopped and bought a six-pak. She wanted me to try some new dish she was working on all day so I did and it was real tastey. I ain’t never had nothing like it before but she didn’t wan to tell me what it was at first. Then she did, it was raw fish. Course it was all mixed up with hot peppers and lemon juice and it didn’t hardly taste like fish but it was still raw fish. Shit I told her I didn’t think people would spend good mony on it, I mean it ain’t like it was raw clams or oysters and she started to get pissed. I could tell it wasn’t the right time to bring up the mony for the party boat so I just acted sweet as I could for the rest of the night and we had us a good time.
Tues., Oct. 27 Let me take care of class tonight first. Ms. Klinger gave us a practise GED test and it was real hard. There was all kinds of reeding questions but nothing about spelling or grammer, I don’t think she’s been teaching us the right stuff. She says we’re gonna have to spend the rest of the course doing reeding questions but we still gotto keep writing in our journals, that don’t make no sense to me.
When I got home Peggy was waiting for me and being real sweet so I told her about what Stanley said about buying the party boat. She said she didn’t know Stanley but she didn’t think I oughtto trust him right off. She said anyway wasn’t I saving up for a car and I said yea but it’s more important to get a real bizness started and she said she alreddy was started and didn’t need none of my mony if I wanted to do something else with it. I could tell she was getting pissed again cause her freckles started getting real dark so I decided to cool it.
Wed., Oct 28 When I got home there was no note from Peggy but I could see that she had moved all her clothes and cooking stuff out and cleened the place all up. She must’ve gone to the laundramat cause all my clothes was folded up and put away real neat. She’s a sweet girl but kind of hard to figure sometimes.
Stanley come by to find out how I made out but I just told him I was working on it. Then he said he’d have to know pretty soon cause there’s this other guy he might be able to get to go in with him if I can’t. That kind of pissed me off a little cause he didn’t say nothing about it the other night.
Thurs., Oct 29 Today I got this great idea about borrowing the mony from Carolyn, she’s loaded and I know she’d like me to make something out of myself, then she could brag about me to her folks. I just gotto figure out a way to ask her right. I don’t want her to think I’m begging for any bones. I can’t just barje in on her, maybe I’ll write her and ask her to meet me at the Pair-a-Dice for a bizness proposition.
Good thing Ms. Klinger checked our journals tonight and corrected my spelling, I wouldn’t want to look stupid on paper.
Fri., Oct. 30 Well I stuck a note in Carolyn’s mailbox this morning before I went out and asked her to pleaze meet me on (business) at the Pair-a-Dice tonight, tomorrow, or Sunday between eight and ten. I waited till almost eleven tonight and she didn’t show. Too bad, I was hoping to get it settled before I have to face Peggy again tomorrow.
Sat., Oct. 31 Peggy didn’t show up all morning so I walked on over to her place in the afternoon. Her old man told me to stay away from his daughter but I told the old fart I do what I want. Jeez, I felt like telling him to fuk off, but I didn’t know he was so goddam old, he must be over seventy. Somehow he’s fat and scrawny at the same time like he ain’t done nothing but eat and drink for ten years. The hole time I was there he was sipping on a glass of some kind of wine and sucking on some pretzels. He ain’t got no teeth and his face is all red and splotchy-like. If I ever wind up looking like that I think I’d kill myself first.
It turned out to be a pretty lousy day cause Carolyn didn’t show up either. So I had about a hafe dozen beers and went home by myself wondering why life is so shity sometimes. When I got there thier was red paint sprayed all over my trailer, it said (FUCK YOU) right on my fukking front door. Then I remembered it was Hollawene. Goddam kids!
Sun., Nov. 1 Well Carolyn come by the Bar tonight and said she had to work on Friday and Saturday which I find kind of suspicious being she’s so rich. But she heard me out and said it was a good idea only she didn’t really have any mony, she was borrowing from her parents to suport herself and Lisa and get herself through college and wants to pay them back soon as she gets a good job. I didn’t know weather to believe her or not but she was so goddam friendly and you should have seen all those guys in the bar staring at me sitting there with this gorjes chick that I couldn’t just call her a liar to her face. So we shook hands and she told me she thought Peggy was a lovely person and wished us the best.
Mon., Nov. 2 Peggy came by to say she don’t think we should see each other for awile, she says she’s too busy and that I ain’t showing enough intrest in her. I ax her what she means and she says all I talk about is myself and my car and my new moter and now the party boat I want to buy with Stanley. I said that ain’t fair cause I’m just trying to get established. Well we went on like that for awile and then the truth come out. She didn’t say it this way exackly but I ain’t stupid, I can figure out what’s going on. She’s been pretending to get real sweet with that Jim Hawkins trying to get on his Mom’s good side, that’s what it’s all about. So I told her she don’t owe me nothing, she can clear out of my life if that’s what she wants. I don’t need her one goddam little bit. So she run out crying and I don’t give a shit.
Tues., Nov. 3 Wimmen are all alike, all they want is mony. I been about as nice to Peggy as a guy could be and she turns on me, she throws me over for a fukkin piss-ass little jerk-off just cause his old lady owns a goddam fancy restaurant. Red-headed bitch better stay the hell away from me, I smacked her once and I’ll smack her again. No, I won’t. I cut school again tonight.
Wed., Nov. 4 Stanley was waiting for me at the de-purashen plant when I finished today, he says he’s got to know by Saturday if I can get the mony. I told him to forget it, I’d rather just dig clams anyway, too much troubel worrying about a big boat and satisfying the custumers all the time. Me, I just gotto dig my clams and bring them in to the plant, that’s all, no partners to worry about. But Stanley he don’t give up that easy and he said he wants to meet Peggy and just talk to her so I thought what the hell, it can’t do no harm. So we walked on over to the Admiral Benbow (I checked the spelling on the sine out front) and went over to a door where some guy was puting out the garbage and we stepped right into the kichen and thier was Peggy standing over one of them big stainless steel gas ranges stirring about six diffrent pots at once and shouting orders at two guys that looked like dishwashers and a coupel waitruses. Well I was impressed. She seen us and said we couldn’t stay their but I spoke real sweet to her and said (pleaze) and before you know it she agreed to meet us out on the dock soon as she could take a brake. So we went out there and waited for a hafe hour before she came out. But she didn’t like Stanley’s stile, I could tell that, he thinks he’s real smoothe with the girls but he sounded fonier than a pecker on a clam to me. So what it all comes down to is she don’t want nothing to do with the party boat idea, she’s gonna save her mony to buy up an intrest in the restaurant, I can’t really blame her, I said, and then she ax real nice if she could come over after work and spend the night with me. Stanley he about shit in his pants cause I guess he didn’t believe a wumen cute as Peggy would care anything at all about a big mean looking basterd like me.
Thursday, Nov. 5. Well I dragged my tired ass around the river all day today cause me and Peggy stayed up so late talking last night. She finally told me what’s really been bugging her. She was scared that if she ever got pregnant, I’d skip out just like I skipped out on Carolyn. I told her I wouldn’t do that to her, if she gets pregnant, we’ll get married. Besides, I started sending Carolyn some money to help out with Lisa cause I just found out she was supporting the kid all by herself. Well that really made Peggy turn sweet and sexy again. She ax me if I’d marry her someday even if she wasn’t pregnant. I said yes so now we’re engaged.

Dear Ms. Klinger;
I won’t be in class no-more cause next week I start washing dishes four nights a week at the Admiral Benbow. I really need the money. I’m leaving my journal on your desk so you can see how evrything turned out with Peggy. Thanks for teaching me how to spell and do word problems. If I fail my GED I’ll come back next year and hope I get you again.

Your favrit (ha-ha) student,
Tim the Clammer

to the gypsy’s
more than once
i’ve heard the expression
describe someone else.

this morning
i woke up.
on three sides by drawn shades,

the fourth side
my oft fled
wi n

d o w
to the gypsy’s dancehall.

in the last
i’ll hear the expression
describe someone else

and i’ll spit
and smile.

doris popovich


I find and old suitcase
Containing my life’s treasures
I open it and see reminders of
Things that never were
There’s my Sluggo doll
Dirty from time and hugs
From my grimy little hands
Lavender and lace
Musty now
Locked up in time
Tattered letters
Written as a child
That were never sent
Lace doilies, yellowed with age
Some torn, some saved
Wash delicately
Happy childhood
Stuck to the bottom
Congealed and matted
With love never given
Throw away when you scrape it
From the bottom
Memories of things
That never took place
Wishful thinking
In my heart
Forgotten in time
Stuck in the suitcase of my mind
Old baggage
Retrieved upon reflection
Reminding me
Of the memories
That never took place

rachel crawford

who you tell your
dreams to

we were driving down the freeway
you and me in the pick-up truck
and your girlfriend in between
where you could move the gear shift
and it would mean so much to you

and you saw something that you thought
was beautiful, and you said, “look
at the lines, look at how it was made”
and you were inspired by the beauty
of an everyday object no one else noticed

and your girlfriend, riding in the middle
said “that’s him, people think he’s crazy”
and i thought, “no, it just depends on who
you tell your dreams to” but i couldn’t
say it in the truck i wouldn’t say it

janet kuypers

by courtney steele
No... I don’t victim blame.
Nobody wants to think that they are at fault. When it seems that the accused is too innocent looking, when it seems that the boy next door is the one being accused of rape, it may only seem appropriate to think that somehow the victim caused the incident to happen. And especially when we are bombarded by society with messages that state that if the victim of sexual harassment was wearing a tight dress, was drunk or flirting, then they were at fault, how could we not come to that conclusion on our own?
But just as a burglar has no right to steal, a rapist has no right to rape.
That last sentence is often never considered, however. Most seem to feel that an act of rape - acquaintance or stranger - is just too bizarre to actually have no reason for happening. It may seem too strange to think that a man you’ve never met before could just come out of a bush, pick you out and attack you. It may seem too strange to think that a friend, or a boyfriend, or someone that you thought you could trust, could turn on you in such a way for no apparent reason and hurt you so much. In this world, things don’t just happen - there’s a reason for things, and there is sense in the world. Besides, the victim probably brought themselves into the trouble and therefore deserved what they got. If we as onlookers just don’t make the same mistakes that they did, we won’t have the same problems that they did. In this way unexplainable, traumatic acts such as rape can be explained away and therefore be easier to handle.
This is the line of reasoning that many people go through. If a woman can victim blame another woman, then she can eventually say to herself, “That’s never happened to me, so it must have been something that she did. Well, if I don’t do what they did, then I will be safe.” Since women live with the fear of rape all the time, victim blaming makes them feel better about the irregularities of the world. If a man victim blames a woman, it may be because he can’t understand that another man - possibly someone that he knows, possibly a friend - can do what the accused did. If another man has the capacity to do that, than that male onlooker may have that capacity, too. It’s a frightening thought to think that you could be a rapist. The man may eventually say, “I couldn’t do that, and therefore that other guy couldn’t do that. It must have been something that she did.”
The reason I find is the most believable is the reason that there is sense in the world and that there is a reason for everything. If there is a reason for everything, then there must be a reason for something as insane as rape - even if the reason doesn’t seem immediately apparent. Maybe, as many come to think, maybe the reason that it happened is because the victim led her attacker on or didn’t do enough to stop him. When someone blames the victim, the behavior is then correctable, and when the victim corrects that ‘wrong’ behavior, then they feel not only safer, but also a better person for correcting their own faults.
I have often found myself victim blaming, and although I may realize that it is irrational for me to do so, I can’t seem to help it. What I have noted, however, is that I only seem to victim blame when it comes to myself. Maybe I do that because experiences that happen to someone else aren’t as hard-hitting as experiences that happen to yourself. You hear newscasts of people dead in a plane accident, or of people held hostage by irate third world terrorist groups, or of a woman beaten to death after she was raped, but these experiences, possibly because we don’t experience them first hand but only hear about them, don’t seem to affect us. Sadly enough, when I hear of these experiences, they don’t affect me and I therefore don’t have to explain them away through victim blaming. But when I live through an experience and it seems as if there is no reason for the violence or the trauma, I can’t help but try to explain it away through investigating my own behavior.
When I hear of another person that has gone through a traumatic experience such as rape, I never think that it was their fault or that they deserved it. When it comes to my own experiences, because I have to explain them away (when I don’t have to explain away other’s experiences), I find myself victim blaming.
I have always been taught respect and kindness for others. I have always been taught to turn the other cheek when I am hurt, and I have been taught to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Because I possess these qualities, I often have a tendency to think of them as faults and see them as a cause for victim blaming - when it comes to myself.
I was forced into a traumatic sexual experience, and although I had no choice in the matter, I still to this day can’t help but feel that there still was something that I could have done. I should have been more explicit in what I wanted. I shouldn’t have had so much to drink. I should have seen that he was trying to get me drunk. I shouldn’t have been so nice to him. I should have said something afterwards: to him, to the police, to myself. I keep thinking that if I just keep looking over the pieces of the puzzle, something will fall into place and make it all understandable, all comprehensible. I keep thinking that if I keep looking for what I did wrong, once I find it I will be able to explain away what happened.
If I blame myself for what happened, I feel that then the problem is solvable, avoidable, and correctable. It makes my world make sense again.
But the thing is, I can’t. I can’t try to depend on the myths that surround us to explain away unexplainable behavior. I can’t try to hurt myself by blaming myself for something that wasn’t my fault. But sometimes that pain seems better than shattering everything I’ve always believed in.

more than we
should have

when i think of bob i usually think about the drinking

actually, i never think of him as drinking
come to think of it
i just think of him as drunk
i can’t even remember seeing the drinks in his hand
but his perception of the world is always altered

but someone reminded me tonight
of when he would work outside in the the cold Chicago winters
and he would come back with his moustache frozen
and there would be little icicles hanging
down toward his mouth

and then i thought of
when i waited with him once at the airport
because we were picking up someone
and we sat in the shrimp cocktail lounge
and he drank, and ate, and i waited

and as we left
we tried to pay the expressway toll with pennies
but some of the coins fell into the street
and we had to throw more change at the machine

we paid more than we should have
i’m sure we did

janet kuypers

the one you always

what if you and the one person you always loved
the one person you would always have a place in your heart for
the one that was your mentor
the one that was your first love
the one you’ll always feel a twinge of pain when thinking about
the one that was your soul mate
the one you thought of as the one that got away
the one person you have regrets over leaving

what if the two of you were friends
and you thought still that he was your soul mate
and you didn’t know what your future entailed
and you wanted to see him because he was your teacher
and you’ll always love him
and you don’t know what you’re hoping for
and you’re definitely hoping for something

and then you talk to him
and he says that would be good to see you
and then he drops this bomb,
that he has a girlfriend
and then he says that he’s been
going out with her for over a year

and i know it’s retarded
but you’ve never met anyone like him
and you don’t know what else to hope for

what would you do then

mackenzie silver


this halloween i got a costume together
i wore a black page-boy wig,
a vinyl dress and matching vinyl boots

it was strange for me
i’m not such an outgoing person

and every time i was left alone at a bar
someone would hit on me
usually someone ugly
but i didn’t tell them to leave me alone:

i gave them a fake name, a fake number

and looking back, what made the difference
was not wearing the revealing clothes
but wearing a wig, changing my identity

and it’s not that i’d do it again
but i must admit
i really like being someone else
just for a little while

janet kuypers

the chocolate

They gave her a lethal dose of
as her gift
Really fine pieces, not
chocolates confected at a fancy farm
not chocolates rustled up on a stove -
O, no -
drooling, sucking, smacking primo pieces these were,
with internal parts
heretofore unknown to
the probing tongue of man
slurpily liquid, dripping down the clutching fingers
yummily gummed together
dark, passionate, bittersweet
like an interracial love relationship
She couldn’t stop, couldn’t stop
Flopped she across the bed, legs spread
arms flung above her head
inflated cheeks walloping the mattress
while they swallowed up her ears
like a pair of pink fluffy pillows
Before the chocolate’s binge -
earlier in that day -
her cheeks had been as dainty as
two small cushions of sachet

nancy l’enz hogan


Drench me
in the finest furs
surround me
in the rarest silks of the Orient.
Rest me in the clouds.
I don’t care.
I still contend
that the finest feeling
is laying
with my head
on your shoulder

alexandria rand

why i’ll never
get married

at work we’ve been looking
for a new employee
we’ve sifted through resumes
we’ve interviewed a few

and some were good
some were very good
and we took some time to decide
and then we called our #1 choice

and they said they wanted
more money than we offered
so we said our goodbyes
and we called our second choice

and they said they couldn’t work
at such a small place
so someone at work said
we should interview some more

and that’s when i knew
at the rate we were going
we’d never find anyone
and no one would want us

janet kuypers

a dream about murder.

by janet kuypers

I had a dream last night, it was different from my usual dreams, usually I dream about stuff that seems pretty real, somewhat mundane and at most usually frustrating. But I don’t know if it was the wine I had at the Thanksgiving feast at Rachel’s down the block, or if I heard some strange story on television earlier, but I dreamt about murder.
Dave and I were staying at a hotel, I don’t know where the hotel was, but it was on a body of water, I think it was a lake, not an ocean or anything. And I remember at some point, it was dawn in the dream, I went for a jog, I noticed two good-looking men outside while I was on my jog, and then I went down the hill to the water. I wanted to jog along the water. But they had it roped off - I don’t even know who “they” would be, but the area along the water was roped off, maybe until full daylight, maybe then lifeguards would be there to protect the people. But the point is, I couldn’t jog along the water, so I sat down at the bottom of the stairs by the water’s edge, right in front of the ropes, and watched the water. And a woman came along down the stairs, and sat down next to me to watch the water, too. I remember thinking that I didn’t like her being so close, I like to keep a sense of personal space, but then it occurred to me that there wasn’t much space for her to go since the whole area was roped off. And the thing is, I don’t even like to jog.
Oh, so anyway, I don’t even know why I went for a jog or at what point in time in my dream this jog occurred. But I know that in the dream I killed someone. It occurred before my dream technically started; I don’t remember anything about the murder, I don’t know if it was me alone that did the killing or if Dave was there with me, all I know is that I killed a guy, I don’t know why I killed him, but I killed someone in another room in the same hotel, someone who I didn’t even really know. And the thing is, I was wearing fake nails during the murder, or at least that’s what I inferred in the dream, because I thought I lost one of them at the scene of the crime and the main part of the dream was me in the bathroom removing all of my fake nails because they might implicate me in the murder.
So I was removing my nails, they were plastic nails glued on to my real nails, and they weren’t even painted, they were still just white plastic. And as I was removing these fake nails I was dropping them on the floor because I was ripping them off so frantically, I didn’t want anyone to be able to link me to this murder. So when I got them all off, I was still worried that I had a little glue left on my real finger nails, so I was trying to scrape that off, and then I was trying to pick up all the fake nails off the bathroom floor. They all fell just to the right of the toilet, and were on the tile floor, and I remember as I was picking them up I also picked up a dust ball and a used piece of clear tape. I remember thinking that was odd, because usually hotel bathroom floors are clean, they’re cleaned every day. So anyway, I kept picking up the nails, trying to make sure I got them all, occasionally dropping one of them back on the floor because I was so hectic and so nervous. This made the whole procedure take up most of my dream.
Once I had all of the nails, the only thing I could think about was how to dispose of the nails, and the rest of the dream became a frantic effort to figure out how I could get rid of them so that they could not be traced back to me. I thought that I could just flush them all down the toilet, but then I thought that there might be a chance that one of the nails wouldn’t go down and would just stay at the bottom of the toilet and I wouldn’t notice it and think I was home free but in actuality I’d be leaving a huge piece of evidence in my own hotel room linking me to the murder. Then I wondered if they’d have a way to sift through the sewer water from the hotel, so then I thought that I shouldn’t flush any of them down the toilet, but go to various public restroom around town and flush a few at a time.
Then I started to worry that if the nail I left at the scene of the crime took more than just the glue with it, that it actually took some of my nail with it, then I would have left DNA evidence at the scene of the crime and there would be nothing I could do.
And then I started to wonder if I actually lost a nail at the scene of the murder, or if I was just overreacting.
And then I wondered if anyone had even found the dead body yet, all this time laying there on the floor of their hotel room. And then the phone rang and I woke up.

the cicerone sees
a trashed columbus

(for P. R.)

The tour group is amused to see
HONKY GO HOME splashed on the base
Of far-staring bronze Columbus
At the foot of Columbus Drive in Chicago;
The cicerone is caught between
His beloved midquakes and
The jumbled attic of his lore:

The cops gassed us in 1968
When we gathered at the old bandshell,
Long since torn down and marked only by memory,
And we played hide and seek with them
Around the base of Columbus here.

Chicago schools still get this holiday;
The Catholics make sure of that, especially the Italians,
They learned they had to control a piece
Of the great revolutionary ruling myth.

Maybe it can be moved to a safer place,
The way they moved the big cop in Haymarket Square
To an always guarded spot in police headquarters
After we blew it up a couple of times
Or Kosciuszko that they moved across the way
Because they were afraid Puerto Ricans would not respect
A Polish statue when the neighborhood changed.

Maybe they can make it invisible for a while
By re-routing traffic the way they did
For the Roman column that Mussolini gave to Chicago
“In the eleventh year of the fascist era,” really,
Check it out; it’s less than a mile away.

Maybe, don’t laugh, this statue could be art again;
Galleries are full reverently preserved Apollos once
made dickless and noseless by enthusiastic Christians;
Mosiacs have icon dust plaster carefully peeled off
In mosques that were once churches and are now museums.

Of course it is too late for leaden George the Third
Melted for bullets, then fired at his soldiers,
And Kalinin, whom I saw in his namesake city
Now once again Tver, with PUNK ROCK
Chalked on his shoes, may never come back.

Graffitists triumphant, we anti-imperialists,
We anti-racists, we true preservers
Of ecologies and cultures; we caught
A symbol off balance, seized a teachable moment,
And proudly flaunted our black belts
As we made old myths do our will.

The imperialist recessional goes
“Lest we forget, lest we forget,”
And no one can predict who
Will be the last statue in the park;
We are fused with Columbus, like him
We could not go home and could not
Even if we knew
Where home was.

j. quinn brisben

you feel more

it’s like this:
run your hand
back and forth
in a line
parallel to
the ground
that’s the world
you see
it’s that line
now raise
your hand
a few inches,
maybe six
above that line
and run your hand
back and forth
and that is you
you’re above it all
you’re better
than them all
you can do more
you succeed more
you feel more
and then,
you see, you
raise your hand
a few inches,
maybe six more
above that line
and run your hand
back and forth
and that is
who you love

and when you feel
you’re above
them all
how will you
find someone

janet kuypers


bricks in my boots walking on pages of gold
i get the call on a whacked mushroom
for the sins of my mother who
only did the washing, drove the brown wagon
that grew daily, the shit hardening on the wood wheels
flame dreams that cracked my neck to look
in the ebbing of silent waterfalls that never foam
to the experience of my dog who would wait
at the glass in the door, and heard her coming
getting up, black tail moving, a shriek,
a total moving of parts, as a day meant a whole week
and we were all glad she made it

rachel crawford


The wretched irony becomes apparent.
You twitch and climb
through the entangling web
crawl through the intricate maze
to learn that you will never
reach the end
but a terrifying minotaur
only the center
the heart
where the most horrifying evil preys
the towering walls grow arms
an infinite sum of groping
overpowering arms
there is nowhere to run and hide
as the walls stretch taller
touching the sky
they creak and move closer
while the arms reach and pull you
the tentacles grab you
and try to destroy you
the sky turns a deep dark black
an infinite black
there is no hope
the solid ground begins to melt
as the blades of grass become sharpened knives
the treacherous teeth of the animal below
suck you down
and consume you
there is nowhere to go but forward
as you write in agony
go forward
with the only hope
that soon the monstrous
insidious nightmare
the desperation
the pain
will end

shannon peppers


by bernadette miller

I am a tumbleweed. Unanchored, I drift about on a desert, clinging to life. Hate being a tumbleweed: melancholy, no purpose. Blown by a breeze, I roll this way and that--unable to avoid the merciless sun, but somehow avoiding the prickly cactus. I’m searching. For what? I only know that by my third drink, I’ve become a traveler...
A sea gull! Yes, I’m now a sea gull circling over New York City, recklessly zigzagging around smoke stacks. I’ve migrated from a posh Connecticut town, separated from my flock; their route was unappealing. Alone, I spread my wings and soar, then coast on the wind. Oh, the exhilaration of flying. So beautiful, don’t want to stop.
Tired, though. Very, very tired. Must find a resting spot.
I’ve settled down as a rock near the Atlantic Ocean.
Solid, dependable, enduring. Steve Wilson, the lush, has become a rock. Nothing tires a rock. Having no eyes to see with, I face the ocean stoically, accepting whatever fate offers. My slender, refined ex-wife walks by. She can’t see me inside the rock, but her daughter, Jana, can. Adorable six-year-old Jana pauses, pats my shoulder, and whispers affectionately, “Nice rock.” I’m stirred by sweet little Jana, feel intense loneliness as I watch her skip away to join her mother gathering seashells. Even Jana can’t see me now. Locked up inside this rock, I gaze with sightless eyes. No good being mere background. I’m a traveler...
Could be a horse or cow or pig. Maybe ass--ha! ha! I could wallow contentedly in mud like a hippopotamus, or trot over sand like a camel. Or, how about a watermelon? Cool, delicious watermelon, fertile with seeds, protected by thick rind. People would want me. A nice, middle-aged housewife in Murray Hill might select me at the supermarket. Thoughtfully, she’d weigh me in her steady hands, wondering if I’m worth the price. I’d smile, hoping she’d notice my pristine condition, unsullied by fifteen years of alcohol. Agreeing I’m pure, she’d deposit me in her grocery cart, and serve me at family dinner. The kids would scream with delight, “Oh, boy, watermelon!” I’d be relished--a refreshing treat on a hot summer day. Then, forgotten.
Okay, I’m not a watermelon; I’m a wristwatch. Mr. Moran, my owner, checks me impatiently as he runs for the train. He reminds me of my ex-boss. Obese and sixtyish, Mr. Moran is a big-shot executive in a super corporation-like the one I used to work for. He lives in a swanky house in Newport, Connecticut, and commutes to New York. Mr. Moran depends on his wristwatch to fill his life. Time is important to him. I’m awed. Being a wristwatch is a heavy responsibility. Responsibility is not my forte. In fact, that’s why I quit my prestigious managerial job and started dropping by my favorite East Sixties pub. Don’t want people laying their burdens on my conscience; can’t take it. Mr. Moran frowns at me as he finally sits, huffing in his seat. He almost messed up his routine and, for some idiotic reason, blames me. Why do people blame me when things go wrong? Why did my parents blame me for being unhappy with success? Demands, demands, demands. That’s what started my drinking. Can’t stop now. Too late. I’m a traveler...
Could be a canvas. That would be hopeful. A canvas waiting to be filled up: lines, shapes, rhythms, faces. Yes, I’m a canvas wanting an artist to buy me in a supply store in Greenwich Village. He’ll take me to his studio with its cheerful skylight, and for a long time I’ll ponder the artist while he ponders my emptiness. I yearn for the colors he’ll splash on me. He’ll give me life. How I crave life! But, must be patient, wait for the painter’s gift. He’ll make me significant, worthy. I wait. The painter, an intense young man of twenty-five, shakes his head. He’s not in the mood today to paint. Perhaps tomorrow. I wait in the darkened studio. I feel forlorn, despite the other canvasses. They’re alive; I’m not. For weeks I wait, but the painter doesn’t return. Something has happened. Don’t know whether he’s been killed in an accident, committed suicide, or what. His wife, Louise, enters the studio this morning. She gazes with velvety eyes at the paintings, strokes her husband’s work with her long, thin fingers, and sighs. I’m certain something terrible has happened to my painter, but don’t want to think about it. Can’t be a canvas--too upset, lost heart. The young man seemed so full of potential-like myself at that age--and now he’s gone. Not a canvas anyway. I’m a traveler...
A cloud, that’s what I am. Floating lazily in an azure sky. Not a worry in the world. Ah, feel utterly content. Don’t need another drink. May never drink again. You don’t need liquor when you’re a cloud. I’ll float over New York and watch the inhabitants. Busy, busy, busy. They have so much to do: going to work, shopping, making love, maybe even traveling, like me. It’s comforting being a cloud. Free of human pressures, I can descend wherever I like, peek into my favorite pub, and see what my drinking buddies are up to. They’re eating pretzels and watching television. Don’t like to observe them because I know they’re wasting themselves. Makes me uncomfortable. I quickly rise, then descend again to inspect offices, kitchens, tennis courts, hear nonsensical chatter about stock certificates, hairdos, buying a second car. Bored, I retreat into my carefree sky. Don’t like it there either; atmosphere too rarefied. Being a cloud no longer ends my need to drink; feel the desire returning.
So goodbye, cloud, puffy with importance. Must resume my journey, escape this pub with its pseudo-Tiffany lamps glowing over sad-faced couples in booths, my buddies at the bar repeating their maudlin stories to ears that don’t listen. The affluent drunks are those in conservative suits with loosened ties. Drunks without affluence are sprawled on park benches or gutters. How lucky I am to be an affluent drunk! Thanks so much, Dad, for making all that money in real estate. Truly considerate of you to insist I attend Harvard, pursue a sensible career like Business Administration. You made sure I did all the right things, yet none of them...
I’m a train. Sleek and shiny. I can toot my whistle and puff steam. Pregnant with passengers, I proudly roar out of Grand Central Station and head toward the Midwest, away from the frantic pace of the city. I’m a train. What freedom! Feel as if I were born to be a train. I fly by the countryside, watch the tracks spinning and weaving like black ribbons, watch the planted fields adjoin and merge, looking alike yet somehow different. Sometimes kids on bicycles wave as I pass, and I whistle at them cheerfully. Oh, I feel so happy being a train. I pass through little towns and big cities. Such variety. I discharge passengers, welcome others; I’m beginning to love them dearly. I obey the engineer’s every command.
I go, wait, stop, whistle, steam, grin. Yes, I actually grin, though people in the pub don’t notice and wouldn’t care anyway. But that’s because they don’t know I’m a train. Now I approach a ghetto. I sneak through, ashamed as I scan decaying tenements. I see hopeless faces, feel their hate. They hate me because I don’t let them rest. I rattle the windows of their obscenely-poor apartments, give them no peace whatsoever. No wonder the ghetto hates me. My tracks always run through the poorest section of town. Not allowed to bother the rich, only the poor. My God, being a train is getting on my nerves! Don’t want hate; only love. My parents didn’t hate me. Misunderstanding is more apt. That’s why, when drunk, I’m careful not to disappoint anyone. I smile a lot, am very accommodating. But, shouldn’t dwell on that. Too depressing. Instead I’d rather be a mirror.
My owner, a divorcee, goes out a lot--mostly to bars like my favorite pub, where she picked me up. Judy worries about me, fearful I’ll shatter. Gently, she props me on the booth seat. What a soothing relationship we have! As a mirror, I receive much attention. My owner studies her reflection in my blue eyes, discusses her hopes as she combs her dark curls, and I listen.
Don’t feel lonely anymore. Sometimes she clowns with me, wrinkling her nose in an amusing way, and I laugh. It’s such fun being a mirror! But, after several weeks, Judy regards me mournfully, which makes me squirm. When she first propped me in the booth, she was excited about finally being on her own, and I shared her delight. Now, I glimpse her terror of the unknown future, and I don’t like it. Contemplating the future makes me nervous. She’s lousing up all my joy of being a mirror. She’s causing me to want to be something else, sending the road again, a traveler...
A Pekingese? Yes, indeed, a pampered pet, that’s me! I’m the mascot of a drying-out hospital in Long Island. Feel so protected here: fed, bathed, medicated, given vitamins. Marvelous! In return, I follow orders, am lovable, eager to please. Though the doctors try hard, they can’t cure my self-destructive habit. Know they mean well, but I’m beginning to resent their tyranny. In the back yard, a nurse calls me:
“Stevie! Stevie! Come here, you naughty little dog. Come here at once or I shall become very angry!”
Don’t know why she doesn’t realize I’m running toward her as fast as my little paws will allow. Running so fast, I’m losing my breath, but her yells are getting angrier and angrier. Oh, I see why--I’m running in the opposite direction! I’ve left the yard and am fleeing down the street, away from that scary institution with its electric-shock treatments. Well, seems I wasn’t happy being a pet. No more calling me, overly-concerned nurses. Can’t hear you. I’m off on another journey. I’m a traveler...
An old man has bought me at the liquor store. What? Can I really be a bottle of wine? Is that how I end up? Ironic, perhaps, but morbid. He pats me tenderly, gazes at my label, but doesn’t see me. He wants to quench his unquenchable thirst. He doesn’t care about me. As they say, if you’ve tasted one drink, you’ve tasted them all. He staggers from the store, and pauses with his cargo. He’s very dirty, baggy trousers colorless, like his life. His shirt is torn. Think at one time it was plaid, but now hard to tell the pattern. Streaked with stains: liquor, undoubtedly, and maybe last week’s breakfast. He wanders for awhile. Finally settles on a bench in Central Park, removes me from the paper bag, and takes a long swig. I sense his appreciation, but wish he’d linger more. Savor me, cherish me. He drinks in gulps, as though it were his last chance, and who knows, it might be. Thought I’d be happy being a bottle of wine, satisfying someone’s deepest desires. As I watch the old man with his grizzled cheeks and bleary, once-blue eyes, I’m sad, terribly sad. Want to cry, for him and myself...
Why can’t I satisfy people? Why can’t I ever be satisfied? Hell, I’m damn lucky to be standing on my feet, fumbling in trouser pockets and shoving bills at the skinny bartender. So long, Mike baby. See you tomorrow. And every day after that...
Finally leave the pub, stare at swaying apartment buildings across the street, and faceless people floating past in the rainbowed lamplight. Not a traveler now. Noooo, too drunk to travel. Just groping along, trying to find my way home.

who is at my

all i want now
is to have a piece of me back
i want to do something for me

and everyone wants a piece of me
and everyone wants my help

but when the chips are down
who is at my side

mackenzie silver

chances one:
yes, it’s yes

you asked me before
if there are only so many
loves in our lives

if there are only so
many chances
for love

and i said yes

and i know
that you think
it’s because of fate
or god
or religion

but i know that
there are only
so many chances
to feel that bond

that there can only be
so many people
who perfectly fit you

who fit like a glove

who want what you want
who feel like you feel
who dream what you dream

you ask me if
there are only so many loves
and the answer is
oh, yes, it’s yes



You asked me to the masquerade
and I willingly complied
but I’m tired of wearing this dress
for the feathers in my costume
won’t stop licking my face
and you cannot see the tears
falling behind my mask -

When you seethe price they pay
I’m sure you’ll come and join
the masquerade, you say
but the price is too high
for I don’t want to wear a mask
with you, and I wouls only hope
that I don’t have to.

shannon peppers

no regrets

how else can I explain
sometimes I look into your eyes
and I see us in rocking chairs
on our porch
when we are old and gray
I see my future

and sometimes I see your face
and I think you’re a despicable
useless defenseless human being
and I hate myself
for ever loving you

and I think
I have to stay away from you
I have to

I used to think
that everything would be wonderful for us
that we’d have our white picket fences
that we’d have no regrets together
that we’d love together
for always

and now I look at my life
and wonder what my future holds
and wonder what I’m doing
with him
with us

but I want you to understand
I want the world to understand
that although I’m afraid of my future
I have to live in the present
I have to feel needed
I have to feel loved
I have to look for my future somewhere

I have to do something
even though
some nights I dream of him
and some nights I dream of you

and I don’t have the answers anymore
somebody help me
oh, somebody help me

helena wolfe


I wondered if you’d have the patience
to wait for the ice cubes to melt
in time they will

as you sat next to me
head hanging down
you swirled your cocktail glass
the ice cubes crashed with one another
and beads of sweat dripped from the rim
all I could do was sit there
shoulders back
eyes fixed in the wall

I’m sorry

Did I give you too many ice cubes
you asked for them

alexandria rand

Jane Butkin Roth, writer (on 1997 Poetry Wall Calendar)
The poetry calendars arrived today. They look terrific. I loved Crossing the Street, The Burning, and The Year I Reach My Prime. Interesting photos, too. Congratulations on the results of (Kuypers’) efforts in producing a beautiful calendar.

Ben Ohmart, writer (on the book “Close Cover Before Striking”)
I’m currently reading the great book (“Close Cover Before Striking”). It’s fantastic. Best $10 I’ve ever spent.

Jane B. Roth, writer (on the collection book “Slate and Marrow”)
...Absolutely beautiful. Very impressive. Congratulations. Haven’t had a chance to read much yet, but I loved the poem “Clipping Koltin.” The photography looks great.

BAST Media (on the book “Hope Chest in the Attic”)
Cool look... in an alternative style and voice. Reads like a labor of love, most meaningful to those close to the author yet reaches any reader with observations and comments on various situations. Definitely worth reading.

Fred Whitehead, Editor, Freethought History (on the book “(woman.)”)
Janet Kuypers has gazed into this Hell (of sexism), and is determined to preserve and transmit the lived record of its regions so that, perhaps, others can avoid pain and suffering. She insists that we resolutely examine the roots of our society’s obsession with owning and buying and shaping and dominating, which much of the time is men ruling women.
The truth isn’t always pretty. What we have done to women isn’t pretty. The paradox is that women are socialized to make themselves as “pretty” as possible, according to the false standards of male fantasies. I’m especially impressed by Janet’s designed texts, which demonstrate in graphic form how women are viewed in our culture. Pay attention to the language, to the images, and we can see. Yes, we can all see.

Ed Hamilton, writer (on the literary magazine “Children, Churches and Daddies”)
#85 (of children, churches and daddies) turned out well. I really enjoyed the humor section, especially the test score answers. And, the cup-holder story is hilarious. I’m not a big fan of poetry - since much of it is so hard to decipher - but I was impressed by the work here, which tends toward the straightforward and unpretentious.
As for the fiction, the piece by Anderson is quite perceptive: I liked the way the self-deluding situation of the character is gradually, subtly revealed. (Kuypers’) story is good too: the way it switches narrative perspective via the letter device is a nice touch.

Dusty Dog Reviews, CA (on the chapbook “Dysfunctional Family Greeting Cards”)
Ms. Kuypers shows us that, in certain circumstances, each person is an enormously authoritative reality to each other person...Ms. Kuypers is adept at creating an emotional layering.

Ryan Malone, Writer (on the collection book “Sulphur and Sawdust”)
I’m enjoying the copy of “Suphur and Sawdust,” which came in the mail yesterday. The design is phenomenal. Stark, sleek, brilliant, impressive. Very refreshing. The small lines of text running sideways down the pages? Very cool. This is really, well-done, classy looking anthology. Congratulations, Janet.

Carlton Press, New York, NY (on the book “Hope Chest in the Attic”)
HOPE CHEST IN THE ATTIC is a collection of well-fashioned, often elegant poems and short prose that deals in many instances, with the most mysterious and awesome of human experiences: love... Janet Kuypers draws from a vast range of experiences and transforms thoughts into lyrical and succinct verse... Recommended as poetic fare that will titillate the palate in its imagery and imaginative creations.

Dusty Dog Reviews, CA (on the chapbook “knife”)
These poems document a very complicated internal response to the feminine side of social existence.
She gives us an intimate peek into the incarcerated existence of a woman who killed her boyfriend/rapist (“crazy”) and who was pronounced insane because of it. This tale displays such revelations into the inmate’s mind that I tend to believe it.
And as the book proceeds the poems become increasingly psychologically complex and, ultimately, fascinating and genuinely rewarding.

Dorrance Publishing Co., Pittsburgh, PA (on the book “Hope Chest in the Attic”)
“Hope Chest in the Attic” captures the complexity of human nature and reveals startling yet profound discernments about the travesties that surge through the course of life. This collection of poetry, prose and artwork reflects sensitivity toward feminist issues concerning abuse, sexism and equality. It also probes the emotional torrent that people may experience as a reaction to the delicate topics of death, love and family.
“Chain Smoking” depicts the emotional distress that afflicted a friend while he struggled to clarify his sexual ambiguity. Not only does this thought-provoking profile address the plight that homosexuals face in a homophobic society, it also characterizes the essence of friendship.
“The room of the rape” is a passionate representation of the suffering rape victims experience. Vivid descriptions, rich symbolism, and candid expressions paint a shocking portrait of victory over the gripping fear that consumes the soul after a painful exploitation.

Fithian Press, Santa Barbara, CA (on the book “Hope Chest in the Attic”)
Indeed, there’s a healthy balance here between wit and dark vision, romance and reality, just as there’s a good balance between words and graphics. The work shows brave self-exploration, and serves as a reminder of mortality and the fragile beauty of friendship.

Dusty Dog Reviews (on the chapbook “Right There, By Your Heart”)
The whole project is hip, anti-academic, the poetry of reluctant grown-ups, picking noses in church. An enjoyable romp! Though also serious.

They Won’t Stay Dead, Book Reviews (on the book “Hope Chest in the Attic”)
Janet rules. Period. Generally, “Poetry” bores me, but more often than not, “ignores” me, but not Janet’s. There’s so many feelings and emotional heartache in her works, that many of her pieces can still moisten my eyes and heave my chest even after umpteenth readings. Sometimes raw, sometimes polished, sometimes shocking in its honesty, and always moving, Janet’s writing continually manages to wring some sort of reaction from the reader. One can almost see the tears dripped on the manuscripts, nakedly displayed for all who care to see, be it her tears, or yours. It’s packed with human feelings, much of which concerns feminist issues, but don’t let that put you off. This is not Riot Girl ranting, but rather the fears and feelings of a highly intelligent, articulate and talented modern woman. Very emotional, very readabel and very recommended. An absolute must for poetry/prose enthusiasts.

Brian B. Braddock, Writer (on the literary magazine “Children, Churches and Daddies”)
I passed on a copy to my brother who is the director of the St. Camillus AIDS programs. We found (Children, Churches and Daddies’) obvious dedication along this line admirable.

Paul Weinman, Writer (on the literary magazine “Children, Churches and Daddies”)
Wonderful new direction (Children, Churches and Daddies has) taken - great articles, etc. (especially those on AIDS). Great stories - all sorts of hot info!

Fred Whitehead, Editor, Freethought History (on the book “The Window”)
In this collection, she writes on “a wider variety of issues, from childhood to death, from love to separation, from family to loneliness, from wealth to homelessness.” There’s some powerful writing about insane prisoners here, really tough and difficult to read, but at the same time, it is all real. In this volume, there is a substantial amount of prose, but also poetry and striking original art work based on computer images. “Christmas Eve” recounts taking a left-over meal to homeless men on the street: “and all i could think of/was these two men/eating pasta with their fingers/on Christmas Eve.” Also pertinent is “St. Anthony’s Medallion,” told in the voice of a father who takes his son to a cemetary where his mother was buried a month before. Lightning strikes the boy dead: “It is believed a St. Anthony medallion worn around his neck acted as a conductor.”

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