cc&d magazine (1993-2016)

the Blind Eye
cc&d magazine
v265, September/October 2016
Internet ISSN 1555-1555, print ISSN 1068-5154

cc&d magazine

Table of Contents




(the passionate stuff)

Charles Hayes Orion
John Yotko Orion photography
Charles Hayes New Bird
Janet Kuypers Orion
Xanadu Semiotics of Colors
Xanadu Imam Topeng photography
CEE You Don’t Speak No Good English
The Rider Two of Cups as Chaperone
LOL on the lowlow
Brian Looney I Loved You, and You Slammed the Door
David J. Thompson Door Red And White photograph
A.S. Coomer Seven Chords
Patrick Fealey David’s Last Party
David Ryan Nude art
Patrick Fealey all of all of them
Jane Stuart Untitled (dark)
HA!Man of South Africa fat fish drawing
Jane Stuart Untitled (graceful struggle)
Kyle Hemmings Beat 5 photograph
Richard Schnap Dealing with a New Deck
Marc Livanos Just One Mistake
Delilah Prosperousrose Mela Life of the streets
Robin Wyatt Dunn office party
Michael Lee Johnson Sadly, We Die
Wes Heine Kill Fuck art
Michael Ceraolo Things Found in Books (part 4)
Susan J. Rogers After the Blues
Erren Kelly Poet Diva Chick
Rose E. Grier Heels art
JoyAnne O’Donnell Sunshine
Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz Sunshine on a Rainy Day art
Dr (Ms.) Michael S. Whitt Spirituality and Organized Religion
Üzeyir Lokman Ç ART-K530RK art
Janet Kuypers Understanding what’s Crazy
M. L. Thompson Orlando poem
Drew Marshall User Unfriendly; the 2016 Election



(the meat & potatoes stuff)

Charles Hayes A Bad Lot
The Spoon
Steven K. Smith Loops
Janet Kuypers opening haiku
Dr. (Ms.) Michael S. Whitt A Brief Epic of Ecological Eroticism
    Progressive Soulmates Bond
    in Big Nature Spots
Patrick Fealey The Blind Eye
Janet Kuypers greatest haiku
Lisa Gray Three Days in Banknock
Nora McDonald Love your Fellow Man
Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz Kind Woman art
Bernard Otto Around Goes What?
Donal Mahoney A Disgusting Thing

lunchtime poll topic


(commentaries on relevant topics)

CEE Ask Not...You Will So Hate the Answer

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the passionate stuff


Charles Hayes

    Orion, you were my friend as I stood alone under your woodsy winter stand. My breath you lit so a halo of significance I could pretend, and a less anxious peace I might find.

    Now instead of snow that runs to leafless limbs begging upward, balmy nights and azure waters kiss the sand and verdant growth. And turning my weathered face to the jewel pocked sky, I find that you have come along as well. Loyal to the grave you will be.

    Only now my hunter you no longer are, your bow, a provider’s tool is gone. A staff instead you hold forth and where now you stand among this warmth, I find a Heavenly Shepherd with my years.

Charles Hayes bio

    Charles Hayes, a 2015 Pushcart Prize Nominee, is an American who lives part time in the Philippines and part time in Seattle with his wife. A product of the Appalachian Mountains, his writing has appeared in Ky Story’s Anthology Collection, Wilderness House Literary Review, The Fable Online, Unbroken Journal, CC&D Magazine, Random Sample Review, The Zodiac Review, eFiction Magazine, Saturday Night Reader, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, and others

Orion photograph by John Yotko

Orion photograph by John Yotko

New Bird

Charles Hayes

    The dusty blue shard of an egg shell, its membrane caught by the sunny trumpet of a daffodil, gently sways in the spring air. Magnified especially for me it seems, an announcement that a new life is somewhere up above. Looking up, my face dappled by the morning sun, through maple leaves with dew aglitter, I see a fledgling Robin chirping down at me. No worm nor juicy bug to feed, I move away to cause no tease nor fear.
    From away though still quite near, I watch the mother home from tree to tree, to quiet her charge’s chirps, with a frenzied service from her beak. Then off again she goes, for waiting all about, are more meals to bring home.

    Returning day by day to where the daffodils once were, not long in time I come to see, the honor that the mother allows for me. Crowding steady on her little peep, until it falls from all it ever had, she lets go of tender care. Righting from the pull of earth, its virgin wings beating so, a new bird lifts upon the wind, and in the maple mate across the way, a perch it finds. Tree to tree and ground to tree, the mother shows her young, until its task is learned beyond just rote, but to the main to always be.

    Come the end of spring, the new bird fit to be, I climb and lift its cradle from the maple limb. Spinning seeds like confetti fly, to celebrate the story that this gift will tell. The miracle of birth it will signify, as it sits upon my window sill. This Robin’s empty nest.

Charles Hayes bio

    Charles Hayes, a 2015 Pushcart Prize Nominee, is an American who lives part time in the Philippines and part time in Seattle with his wife. A product of the Appalachian Mountains, his writing has appeared in Ky Story’s Anthology Collection, Wilderness House Literary Review, The Fable Online, Unbroken Journal, CC&D Magazine, Random Sample Review, The Zodiac Review, eFiction Magazine, Saturday Night Reader, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, and others


Janet Kuypers
Spring 1994 Winter evenings I would look for you.
Dancing along the horizon. You were
always fighting; the great bear to the
north, the bull in the winter.

You were my favorite. whenever I
could I would look for you: out my
window, in my driveway. I remember
a nebula lived in the center of your sword.

You, spending millennia fighting. You
have taught me well. The other night, I
looked out my window again; you were
there. Receiving strength from me,

as I did so many years in you.

the constellation Orion superimposed and looking up to Janet Kuypers

Semiotics of Colors

Xanadu (Ofkadarefame)

green + blue = turquoise
yellow + brown = gold
inside + out = absence
table + dress = nude

(Thanks to Milan Cetic and his Iz ateljea
in National Gallery of Bosnia and Hercegovina)

Imam Topeng, photography by Xanadu

Imam Topeng, photography by Xanadu

You Don’t Speak No Good English


If you think The ‘Net’s gonna be
Forever tweaks, endless upgrades
A USA/Soviet Union arms race of
Gates vs. Anonymous,
Remember Blade Runner as The Future?
Remember people smoking in 2019?
The Future Is Morph, and nuthin’ but
I understand there’s a bill near the floor
Gonna change the nation’s name to
“Everybody Gets A Piece Of Candy”,
Here in Candyland,
Everybody gets a computer
No potted chicken, an empty garage, no pot
(not “free”, haha)
But, by cracky, ye gets a muh-sheen!

All arguments, re: Rulers and Those Ruled
Here, in Candyland
Miss a key point,
That stupid is as stupid does, Forrest
You can’t fix it
That’s what They’re counting on

(Hannibal the Cannibal—a justification)


Der Sword of Damocles, as truth, if you please...
Our story, is the story of threat of murder
Our lesson, that someone can be
Intimidated into submission
Without you actually pummeling them
So what, said I in my 20’s,
If I intimidate you?
You can intimidate me back!
said what rose to plow under golden fields of
Intimidation is a violation of space;
States the obvious as threat,
Which doesn’t intimidate me
I’ve threatened to kill others, everyone should
Why be intimidated by judgment?
We have precedent
We’re backed up by an ancient culture

The Rider Two of Cups as Chaperone


It was staring at me staring at her
Objective, cool
The dog’s face was more a tiny lion,
Regarding me with the dark concentration of
A Treasury Agent who didn’t like
The way you scratched your leg
As the President was speaking
And, the thing looked old
Not just NOT a puppy, but
The face,
That face had been lifted from a lithograph
Some ancient rendering
I’d seen such a face, before
It was a visage found only in artworks
Because it was, well, what stopped existing
When photography came into our world, i.e.
Living stuff of myth
The dog was an impossible thing, and
Not one created, stupid compound name, by
Not by any deity, either, for there was nothing
Not a thing
Like this thing
On our current version of Earth, Evaluating judge, the smiles
Between myself and my neighbor’s wife

LOL on the lowlow


Over 40 hipness is an oxymoron
A bullshit art practiced by
The Really? People
The ones who think that suitcase of money
Is Really in the trunk of that car
The Really? People, are afraid people,
And as they begin daily mummification
Are desperate to
Not seem pathetic,
Defining “pathetic”, stereo images:
A DEVO pipe-dad
A nerd-Mad Man
A sandals and socks weirdo
Logo for The Church of the Subgenius,
These images are sad, and they are loser
The Really? People
Once mighty upon the Earth, find these
So, they practice a bullshit art, e.g.
Speaking like The Young when
they aren’t
And, much akin to speaking Turkish,
Phonetically, from a Berlitz,
This is sad, and it is loser,
The kids, no, don’t see a stereo image
They don’t see an oxymoron,
They don’t have to see a thing
They know what they see
And what they don’t

I Loved You, and You Slammed the Door

Brian Looney

    I barked your name as you eloped upstairs, up to the private bathroom. I knew what you were doing. I wanted you to drop the bag.

    I wanted you to descend to me, though I was drowning in tequila fits and had no right to make demands. I had no right to make commands. You held the high ground, one flight up.

    Resentment knifed me from your eyes. You never knifed another like you knifed me that midnight. So I boiled, blind with hatred, sick with love, and the red-glow griddle was my drunkenness; the stretching sinew was my heart. Through it all I willed that you descend to me and me alone.

    You held my gaze and backed away. Insolent child, you slammed the door. The light played through the cracks: golden bars and lily-lines, the golden greatroom up the stairs, white within and green without. But I’ll never forget the way you held my gaze and slammed the door, and decisively shut me out.

    I’ll never forget the way you held my gaze and slammed the door, and darkened the head of the stairs. I loved you, though I didn’t pursue. I loved you, and you slammed the door.

Door Red And White, art by David J. Thompson

Door Red And White, art by David J. Thompson

Seven Chords

A.S. Coomer

I tried to talk with the covers singer,
he’s really a good guy,
about how he thinks he’ll feel
singing somebody else’s songs,
playing their chords,
intoning their words,
summoning their meanings,
ten years down the road.
And he didn’t really have an answer for me,
not one I could understand anyway.
He said he can make them his own,
make each of the song’s
seven chords,
sixty-six stanzas,
into something he can--rightfully--call his.
But will it ever really be? His own?
In a town so close to leading the country
in foreclosed houses, do you really think
identity and artistic foreclosure are the best bets
for a fulfilled existence? I mean,
we’ve all seen the boarded-up houses,
sprayed painted signs singing
“no copper here,”
calling back “condemned,”
“rockbottom” refrains
crying “don’t tread on me,”
and the ever present declamation,
the chorus to end all choruses:
“keep out;”
the real song lurking
in the heart of Toledo.

David’s Last Party

Patrick Fealey

drinking was in his blood
but when he remembered
his mother’s drunken madness
it kept him out of bars

the first time i met him was one night
i stopped by this used bookstore
at haight and fillmore where i worked
david was talking to the owner
i had a bottle of johnnie walker black
in my pocket and handed it around
david passed

irish parents.
irish neighborhood.
irish church.
altar boy. (the priest once walked back into the candles and set himself ablaze before the silent congregation. david put out the fire and the mass resumed.)
assistant to sam beckett.
trappist monk.

the monk thing didn’t work out when he called pope john paul II a fascist

david was also masturbating too voluminously in the shared quarters, his bed boards slapping while the monks tried to say their bedtime prayers.

he had wanted to be a trappist monk
but he did much better as an existentialist

aids volunteer.
computer whiz.
a painter’s painter.
a flaneur –
a nocturnal and alienated intellectual
who strolled the city by night
and then got up and drew and painted

the first time i visited his place i saw paintings hanging from clotheslines the length of his huge apartment
i was an art critic
and i had just entered matisse’s studio


david lived austerely
made it on social security
on sixth & mission on section 8
dyed his own hair black
shopped out of cardboard boxes
on the steet
rode the night bus home
to his stouffer’s meatloaf dinner
and gave blacks the utter contempt
they were looking for

then his aunt died
and he inherited $120,000

he stayed on the row
where he continued to step
over murder victims
outside his front door
but he started going to bars
mostly the same bar
where a family of hip, famous, the hoping to be famous, and those with tattoos blossomed
for him
while he drank dylan thomas
more than once below a table

he did buy a new computer
new teeth
and visited me on the east coast
and took cabs instead of buses
always asking the cabby to stop
a block before
they reached his building
we’d exchange emails 2:30 a.m. western time
and he continued sending drawings and paintings of women
david had a masculine hand, but the feminine in his models prevailed

of several thousand works
there remained about 100
and i think this is what broke
his creative heart: he had lost his life’s work
40 years worth of paintings
to a storage place
for the lack of $85

i was glad he had made
many new friends
at cassanova
but i knew these people
were drinking first
and so was he

one bartender, margarita
sucked off as many
men employees at the
as she could
and a sort of rivalry developed
between them
as well as a coke addiction
but she had a liver
that put her in the hospital

she brought david ensure and cereal
after that doc cut his intestine
and sealed him
to his death
by peritonitis

david’s estranged twin sister
a republican
who was repulsed by gays like david
and knew nothing of art
wrote me to say she had removed 17 boxes from his room
(including 100 pounds of our correspondence, which she was kind enough to mail me)
and she gave his last paintings
to margarita

his sister was perplexed
that she could find no cash in his room
and asked me for help
“where did david put his money??”
she said he could not have
spent it
not the way he lived
i laughed and multiplied
the whiskey and hustlers times three years
and all i could say was
“look in his books” – all 20,000 of them

Nude by David Ryan

Nude by David Ryan

all of all of them

Patrick Fealey

a heartbroken man dances into midnight
on the gunwales of a stranger’s boat
sucking on a bottle of grain alcohol
while sid vicious sings “my way.”
a heartbroken man awakens in the bed
of a strange woman
the floor is littered with condoms
and wrappers
he recalls she was on the boat
a heartbroken man gets out of bed at 4 p.m.
when his desire to die
is surpassed by his desire to
get the hell out of the house
a heartbroken man relents to dinner
with the strange woman
and she says, “what are we?”
the heartbroken man says, “having fun.”
the strange women doesn’t like the answer
she now looks heartbroken
the heartbroken man eats his steak and salad
while the strange woman sits in silence
a heartbroken man sleeps alone at home
and he dreams of the woman he once loved
he is with her in the backseat of a car
she has no head
her head has been erased
but she has a neck and body
a heartbroken man wakes in the morning
to find his flannel shorts are wet with semen
a heartbroken man wonders about the dream
and finally decides it was one hell of a steak


Patrick Fealey

my parents
don’t return
my phone calls,
but i ran into them
at the pharmacy today.
they’ve been “out” a lot.
since they got paid last week
and are now eating out
every night
on their spending spree
and have stopped calling me
driving around
they’re habits and avoidance
dad gets ten grand a week
for being an expert witness
defending a company
from a lawsuit
which i had listened to
for a month
so they avoided me
until i caught them
retrieving medication
and they invited me over
for a cheeseburger
and then they took me
to a seafood house
where they suggested
i order from the half-portion menu
because they said they’d
spent all the dough

Untitled (dark)

Jane Stuart

Dark fish, leafy grass,
trees that drop their summer leaves,
a crooked park swing

fat fish, drawing by the HA!Man of South Africa

fat fish, drawing by the HA!Man of South Africa

Untitled (graceful struggle)

Jane Stuart

Graceful night
your lip curves
with kisses to remember
  in the sea, a little boat
  struggles to the shore

Beat 5, photograph by Kyle Hemmings

Boat 5, photograph by Kyle Hemmings

Dealing with a New Deck

Richard Schnap

The spades
Have changed to skulls
For the dead
In unmarked graves

And the clubs
Have turned to clocks
For the time
That might run out

And the diamonds
Are now dime bags
For they fetch
A better price

And the hearts
Have become teardrops
For the few
That still can cry

deck and phto collage copyright 2016 Jaet Kuypers

Just One Mistake

Marc Livanos

One mistake.
One shot.
Wisdom and youth don’t mix.

Inner city handguns
provide muscle,
protection, prison fodder.

Prisoners left
in thoughtless wards
disappear from sight.

Communities left
fatherless are left to
fend for themselves.

Obama supports
lighting up landscapes with windmills
but won’t fully fund common core.

Obama champions
building stations on Mars
but won’t fund mini-police stations.

How long do our inner city youth have to wait?

Life of the streets

Delilah Prosperousrose Mela

Hustle hard they say
get yo money nigga make pay
but they rarely speak of the backlash of the late night early morning work that
can get you hurt locked up or killed on they beats
Its all about the money, fast cars and bitches you see
They wanna blind your eyes to the conspiracy
What conspiracy you may say
We do it to ourselves
But who endorses the crack in the neighborhood
Who keeps bringing it back, with gold around your neck to scream, “bling, bling I
got dem dollars make you holla
But on da scene I mean the screen you see those faces as criminals and fiends.
The media is exploiting your dreams of becoming a hood star
And putting so called “hard workin’” brothas in tha system
They dreams didn’t go far
They only thought so high
Just wanted to get by and find a quick high
just a way to release and not think about the police
See the life of the streets is seriously cold and will make you grow old young
From poverty to a Bentley we all got dreams
But in da hood dreams are plentiful like fiends
And that’s...
The life of the streets.

office party

Robin Wyatt Dunn

run down rigamarole
the ending of the buff in tough regard
the stalemate office party of your cheekiest desires
brutal free and possible only in the room of love
the room of death.

take me and send word
I had got caught out
not in the rain but in your heart
like plaque
secretly accreting my purest idolatry
my best caress inside.

rampant chiaroscuro is hard to see
inside the house of pain
the office park of love
take a photograph and it won’t come out
send word:

is it over?

Sadly, We Die

Michael Lee Johnson

Sadly, we die in little black suitcase boxes,
cave into our fears and the top falls down.
Save the laughter, celebration, thunder clapping,
rats experimentally test shed light at end of life’s tunnel.
Death is a midnight stoker, everyone living goes home.
All windows bolted, all smiles switched off.
Sad on examination tables,
in little rooms, red, with lightening we die,
move on.

Kill Fuck, art by Wes Heine

Kill Fuck, art by Wes Heine

Things Found in Books

Michael Ceraolo


Mayakovsky: Plays
by Vladimir Mayakovsky,
translated by Guy Daniels,
an introduction by Robert Payne,
published in English with the title
The Complete Plays of Vladimir Mayakovsky
copyright 1968
by Washington Square Press, Inc.
This edition published in 1995
by Northwestern University Press
by arrangement with Josiane Rodriguez-Daniels

And inside the book a card:

End your hair nightmares.
No gimmicks, no fancy hair gels.
We᾿ll listen to what you want
before we even take out the scissors-----
and we᾿ll do just what you say.
Call Dick Ferriuolo
and friendss
1150 Chanel Street, New Haven, CT 06511
(203) 777-4123

No name in the book,
no way of knowing if this workshop
produced a work of styling art

After the Blues

Susan J. Rogers

We were never popular in Chicago,
the mixed race lesbian couple.
She was too light. I was too white.
Angry white men shouted, “Dyke” or “Faggot”
as we walked by. I seethed. She begged me
not to start anything. We held hands, eyes
on the periphery. A skinny red-haired man
shouted at her, “Do you speak English?”
She was silent, squeezed my hand so I
would remain calm. On vacation in Wisconsin,
paying for gas, the manager asked her the rate
of exchange for pesos. We didn’t know what to say
until safely in our car, “What an idiot.”
My Chicago friends thought she was exotic.
Her friends did not trust me, except for Valerie,
who always spoke in the vernacular and said,
“That child don’t understand a word I say, do she?”
At Valerie’s house, her family cut their eyes at me.
but Valerie glared, “That’s my Jan. That’s my Jan.”
After the Blues Fest, we walked outside the fence.
There, a ragged trio played, souls on fire.
Timbales out of tune. A conga with the name
SPIRIT in crooked letters glued to the drum.
Another conga player drunk and out of time.
But these two, the SPIRIT drum and the rat eaten
timbales, attracted a crowd of African Americans.
As the crowd began to swell, they moved their hips
low to the ground. Someone plastered a dollar bill
to the timbale player’s forehead,
and another, and another.
She said, “You can dance if you want,”
but I thought it more respectful to watch
the dances of Africa. Then, two white men,
built like football players, ambled up
to the crowd, I moved closer,
waiting for the trouble to start.
The people noticed, kept dancing.
The white men got up on their toes, danced a jig,
Fairy people moving in them.
Everyone drunk and smiling, except us
who could only watch and never forget
this one-of-a-kind Chicago night.

Chicago skyline at night, copyright 2001-2016 Janet Kuypers

Poet Diva Chick

Erren Kelly

who has coffeehouse
or whole foods market
running through her
scan her dna and you’ll se
thrift shop
in it
hear her open her mouth
and you’ll hear alternative music or
hip hop living in it

she gives kids on the streets m&ms or
now and laters

she sees you
gives you a kiss now
and promises another one,

maya angelou, amber tamblyn
and jill scott
are some of her sisters
dauxrianne laux , wanda coleman
Nikki Giovanni and Nicole blackman
you cant resist her

she can give her love freely like
edna millay, floating like a feather
or like Sylvia plath, a thunderstorm
no matter the weather

her body may be a temple
or she may look like a

she’s not out to impress
as she’s blowing bubbles
but she’ll school ya

words ride the hemn of her dress
her love is a hymn she gives to

when she opens her mouth
like a bell, she’s always heard

she chews licorice like a communion

a high priestess of words

Heels, art by Rose E. Grier

Heels, art by Rose E. Grier


JoyAnne O’Donnell

The sun blinks orange diamond rays
lighting us up inside
with the green tree’s wind shine
with the clouds early dismissal
with the waterfalls cool trickle
in the yellow daffodils charm
sun is everywhere even when
she doesn’t shine.

Sunshine on a Rainy Day, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz

Sunshine on a Rainy Day, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz

Spirituality and Organized Religion

Dr. (Ms.) Michael S. Whitt

The foes of spirituality are organized religions
The foes of organized religions are daily experiences
The spiritually developed are at home when they are
            alone with these experiences
They have no need for churches with promises of eternal life
Or for a savior who dies to forgive all of the members’ sins
When unctuous Bible thumpers knock at the door,
            spiritual persons say ‘Go away pests
My feet are squarely on the ground, the whole of my being
            puts your god squarely in Big Nature’
Not in some vague abstraction you concoct

ART-K530RK, art by Üzeyir Lokman Çayci

ART-K530RK, art by Üzeyir Lokman Çayci

Understanding what’s Crazy

Janet Kuypers


Had a boyfriend.
had a Judeo-Christian boyfriend,
which meant...
When we were off in college
getting tanked on the weekends
his Sabbath
was from sundown Friday
to sundown Saturday,
he wouldn’t go out on Friday nights.

A male friend of mine
had tickets for a concert
one Friday night,
I was so psyched to go,
but my boyfriend,
it was his Sabbath.
I know
he wouldn’t
But he had no problem if I went.
I mean, this other guy was just a friend,
so before sundown Friday
my boyfriend came over
and helped me style my hair
before my big concert night
with another guy.

Now, that might seem a little odd,
but I swear to God,
this other guy and I
were just friends.
Which is why it seemed a little more crazy
That during the concert
my friend licked the side of my face.

I mean,
he stuck his tongue
to my jaw bone
and ran his tongue
up to my temple.

And he never explained why he did it.


The public gymnasium hall
was often in demand,
so when I couldn’t find a tennis partner
I reverted to racquetball,
practicing a different kind of swing,
and knowing that room of walls
would always bring the ball back to me.

But a guy who liked me
wanted to play racquetball,
so to the gymnasium we went,
and as I said,
these rooms were in demand,
so we had to keep looking
through the eight inch square windows
of every racquetball court
to see if any were empty
and we could enter,
and play.

Well, we finally found a room
and we made it our own,
dropping our cases in the corners,
and we started to practice our moves.
But one shot he hit,
well, it was fast,
but it must have come
at just the right angle
in the far upper room corner,
because it reflected repeatedly
before it shot right into my right eye.

Okay, okay,
it was more like just right of my eye,
below my right eyebrow,
but it was still really close,
and it was still really fast,
and it was still really hard.
I dropped my racquet
and turn my back to the nearby wall
so I’d have somewhere to fall to.
He instantly ran over to me,
then he put down his racquet
and put his hand to my face.
“Are you okay?” he asked
as I was trying to catch my breath.
I moved my hand,
and his eyes were two inches from mine.

It wasn’t quite crazy,
but it was a bit surreal
when I looked to the door
and saw someone trying to look in
to see if they could use the room.

Sorry, we’re not in a make-out session,
but the room is taken.


Maybe it’s not crazy
to drink in the sewers,
but it might seem crazy
when you’re a prim and proper girl
with a bottle of champagne
to share with your man,
and they suggest a great place to share it
would be in the sewer.

And this prim and proper girl
is wearing a suede miniskirt and shoes,
but prim and proper girls
are taught to follow their man,
so agrees she does,
and off they go.

Of course she has no idea
how to get <>Ito the sewer,
but of course, he does,
so they bring two disposable paper cups
(you know, the kind
you used to find
at office water coolers)
and he opens a grating
to below a deserted street
where they make their way
down the metal tubes for steps.

It wasn’t what the prim and proper girl had in mind.
And, oh well for the suede shoes on the metal steps.
Just try not to touch anything down there,
Just drink your champagne out of your mini paper cup
and remember that you’re finally some place
where no one else will think to find you.


As more and more
of your family dies,
after you’ve almost
been killed yourself,
well, do something
to say you’ve done it,
before it’s too late.

So take a flight across the country
to jump from an airplane
and have a view of the Rockies
during your fall.
Spend hours in training,
then wait hours
because of an afternoon rainfall.
The locals say,
it’s okay, wait a few hours
and the storm will pass,
in time to make the jump today.

So the woman is waiting,
the camera crew’s there too,
and the only thing she was told to do
for the camera was,
“If you’re having fun,
do ‘jazz hands’.”

Seems simple enough,
but when the time came
and they were on an airplane
with no door
and their altimeter said
they were at twelve thousand feet
and it was time to go,
she completely went numb.
It was like her eyes
went out of focus
and she just blindly
followed the staff’s commands
and went through the motions,
without thinking.

She didn’t remember how to move her legs
when she first fell,
but she did everything perfectly.
But after they landed,
a cameraman had to ask her,
“What were you doing with your hands?
They were flying all over the place.”
And she looked at him quizzically
and said, “I was doing ‘jazz hands’.”

Even though a hundred twenty-five
mile per hour wind resistance
gave her no control over her hands,
she thought he had to be able to tell.

Doing ‘jazz hands’.
Of course she was.
If you jump out of an airplane,
what else would you do?


Because the rock band “Wham!”
was the first popular European group
to hold a rock concert in China,
they made their “Freedom” video
back in the ‘80s of the China concert.

All of the Chinese people
will want a photograph with you
at the Great Wall of China
because everyone is half your height.
Well, maybe you can break away
from the locals, so you won’t look
so crazy, when you walk along the wall
and break into song.
“I don’t want your freedom,”
(That’s a perfect line for the Chinese),
“I don’t want your freedom...”


I know I wasn’t supposed to be hanging out
with the two brothers from up the street —
they weren’t really bright,
but their screw-ups were so entertaining...
So I was out with them at an empty field
that led to an abandoned storage building,
they set up cans and extra metal sheets
as targets for shooting their guns.
Okay, no harm there,
but one of the shots hit a metal sheet
and ricocheted straight into my leg,
right by my knee. Okay, okay, the bullet
slowed down from the ricochet,
it’s right under the surface, it barely hurts.
But, my parents don’t want me hanging
out with these boys, so hopefully
I can just push the bullet out and stop the bleeding
and no one will be the wiser.


What am I thinking.
I’ve never really been crazy.
But I’ll tell you what is crazy,
a bunch of Democrats
supporting an old Socialist
because eighteen year olds
who are going to college
like hearing someone tell them
that college will be free,
because right now
they’ll be in debt for years
because of their education.
I know they’re too young to know
that any Socialist system
won’t work in the States,
but they don’t need logic or sanity
when someone tells them
what they want to hear.

And speaking of politics right now,
I’ll tell you what is crazy,
is that a third of the nation
supports a business mogul running for President
who wants to stop some religions
from entering this country,
and who refers to women they don’t like
as having blood coming out of their lady parts,
and who calls another nation
one of rapists and robbers.

Crazy wants to run our county.
Why am I wondering where crazy is.
I see crazy wherever I go.

video videonot yet rated
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers’ 3 poems Have You Ever Had, Understanding what’s Crazy and I Blow Bubbles at Georgetown’s Poetry Plus open mic at Cianfrani’s 3/11/16 (from a Canon Power Shot).
video videonot yet rated
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers’ 3 poems Have You Ever Had, Understanding what’s Crazy and I Blow Bubbles at Georgetown’s Poetry Plus open mic at Cianfrani’s 3/11/16 (from a Nikon CooPix S7000).

Janet Kuypers Bio

    Janet Kuypers has a Communications degree in News/Editorial Journalism (starting in computer science engineering studies) from the UIUC. She had the equivalent of a minor in photography and specialized in creative writing. A portrait photographer for years in the early 1990s, she was also an acquaintance rape workshop facilitator, and she started her publishing career as an editor of two literary magazines. Later she was an art director, webmaster and photographer for a few magazines for a publishing company in Chicago, and this Journalism major was even the final featured poetry performer of 15 poets with a 10 minute feature at the 2006 Society of Professional Journalism Expo’s Chicago Poetry Showcase. This certified minister was even the officiant of a wedding in 2006.
    She sang with acoustic bands “Mom’s Favorite Vase”, “Weeds and Flowers” and “the Second Axing”, and does music sampling. Kuypers is published in books, magazines and on the internet around 9,300 times for writing, and over 17,800 times for art work in her professional career, and has been profiled in such magazines as Nation and Discover U, won the award for a Poetry Ambassador and was nominated as Poet of the Year for 2006 by the International Society of Poets. She has also been highlighted on radio stations, including WEFT (90.1FM), WLUW (88.7FM), WSUM (91.7FM), WZRD (88.3FM), WLS (8900AM), the internet radio stations ArtistFirst dot com,’s Poetry World Radio and Scars Internet Radio (SIR), and was even shortly on Q101 FM radio. She has also appeared on television for poetry in Nashville (in 1997), Chicago (in 1997), and northern Illinois (in a few appearances on the show for the Lake County Poets Society in 2006). Kuypers was also interviewed on her art work on Urbana’s WCIA channel 3 10 o’clock news.
    She turned her writing into performance art on her own and with musical groups like Pointless Orchestra, 5D/5D, The DMJ Art Connection, Order From Chaos, Peter Bartels, Jake and Haystack, the Bastard Trio, and the JoAnne Pow!ers Trio, and starting in 2005 Kuypers ran a monthly iPodCast of her work, as well mixed JK Radio — an Internet radio station — into Scars Internet Radio (both radio stations on the Internet air 2005-2009). She even managed the Chaotic Radio show (an hour long Internet radio show 1.5 years, 2006-2007) through and She has performed spoken word and music across the country - in the spring of 1998 she embarked on her first national poetry tour, with featured performances, among other venues, at the Albuquerque Spoken Word Festival during the National Poetry Slam; her bands have had concerts in Chicago and in Alaska; in 2003 she hosted and performed at a weekly poetry and music open mike (called Sing Your Life), and from 2002 through 2005 was a featured performance artist, doing quarterly performance art shows with readings, music and images.
    Since 2010 Kuypers also hosts the Chicago poetry open mic at the Café Gallery, while also broadcasting the Cafés weekly feature podcasts (and where she sometimes also performs impromptu mini-features of poetry or short stories or songs, in addition to other shows she performs live in the Chicago area).
    In addition to being published with Bernadette Miller in the short story collection book Domestic Blisters, as well as in a book of poetry turned to prose with Eric Bonholtzer in the book Duality, Kuypers has had many books of her own published: Hope Chest in the Attic, The Window, Close Cover Before Striking, (woman.) (spiral bound), Autumn Reason (novel in letter form), the Average Guy’s Guide (to Feminism), Contents Under Pressure, etc., and eventually The Key To Believing (2002 650 page novel), Changing Gears (travel journals around the United States), The Other Side (European travel book), the three collection books from 2004: Oeuvre (poetry), Exaro Versus (prose) and L’arte (art), The Boss Lady’s Editorials, The Boss Lady’s Editorials (2005 Expanded Edition), Seeing Things Differently, Change/Rearrange, Death Comes in Threes, Moving Performances, Six Eleven, Live at Cafe Aloha, Dreams, Rough Mixes, The Entropy Project, The Other Side (2006 edition), Stop., Sing Your Life, the hardcover art book (with an editorial) in cc&d v165.25, the Kuypers edition of Writings to Honour & Cherish, The Kuypers Edition: Blister and Burn, S&M, cc&d v170.5, cc&d v171.5: Living in Chaos, Tick Tock, cc&d v1273.22: Silent Screams, Taking It All In, It All Comes Down, Rising to the Surface, Galapagos, Chapter 38 (v1 and volume 1), Chapter 38 (v2 and Volume 2), Chapter 38 v3, Finally: Literature for the Snotty and Elite (Volume 1, Volume 2 and part 1 of a 3 part set), A Wake-Up Call From Tradition (part 2 of a 3 part set), (recovery), Dark Matter: the mind of Janet Kuypers , Evolution, Adolph Hitler, O .J. Simpson and U.S. Politics, the one thing the government still has no control over, (tweet), Get Your Buzz On, Janet & Jean Together, po•em, Taking Poetry to the Streets, the Cana-Dixie Chi-town Union, the Written Word, Dual, Prepare Her for This, uncorrect, Living in a Big World (color interior book with art and with “Seeing a Psychiatrist”), Pulled the Trigger (part 3 of a 3 part set), Venture to the Unknown (select writings with extensive color NASA/Huubble Space Telescope images), Janet Kuypers: Enriched, She’s an Open Book, “40”, Sexism and Other Stories, the Stories of Women, Prominent Pen (Kuypers edition), Elemental, the paperback book of the 2012 Datebook (which was also released as a spiral-bound cc&d ISSN# 2012 little spiral datebook, , Chaotic Elements, and Fusion, the (select) death poetry book Stabity Stabity Stab Stab Stab, the 2012 art book a Picture’s Worth 1,000 words (available with both b&w interior pages and full color interior pages, the shutterfly ISSN# cc& hardcover art book life, in color, Post-Apocalyptic, Burn Through Me, Under the Sea (photo book), the Periodic Table of Poetry, a year long Journey, Bon Voyage!, and the mini books Part of my Pain, Let me See you Stripped, Say Nothing, Give me the News, when you Dream tonight, Rape, Sexism, Life & Death (with some Slovak poetry translations), Twitterati, and 100 Haikus, that coincided with the June 2014 release of the two poetry collection books Partial Nudity and Revealed.

Orlando poem

M. L. Thompson

Terrible tragedy,
With so much to say,
So much to think about,
And so much to feel for,

I’ve been hearing the poetry,
The works,
And the comments pulled up out of the carnage,
Tearing into heart strings
And snapping them up as violin wire
Bound up into our throats
As we cry out these panic attacks
And enraged sobs
In memory of so many lost
And in tragic respect given to those
That have to carry the physical and mental wounds
Deep into their bones and blood
All the way into their broken souls
They try to keep in tact
Inside their shaking palms,

In an immediate moment of well-meaning,
I tried to write a response piece
To find words to this one-night genocide built on the fury of hate
Just to hate,

I could’ve written about the people,
The customers at work
And the friends of friends on Facebook
Being vicious enough to use this as ammunition for their own views,

Good ol’ boys raising up their hands to the same God that they seek
forgiveness and acceptance from
And then split their tongues open on narcissistic blades
Searing into this pain made like hypocritical love lust
They can’t help but to taste as delicious and say,
“They’re not gonna take my guns,”

Politicians stripping it bare of any emotion
And of the hard effects it’s had on our heart,
Slapping it up on their podiums as this vapid object
That they can insert their opinions in,
Manufactured by what the public wants to hear,
And what they spit out are not genuine apologies,
But this snake-like ticker tape that flicks out from their mouths
While they pander to our vulnerabilities,
Which are still fresh and bleeding on American soil,

All of these different sides
We can all be guilty of,
Letting the flames of fury and deep sadness
Take a slice of red dark over our eyes,
Infusing this very thick,
And very emotional and difficult and troubled wall
Into them,
Slipping into our heads like a madness
That cries alone in the night
Caged and confused in a rusted cell
Where all we can see and hear are
Conservatives are limited in their thinking and empty,
Liberals should tape their mouths shut,
The club scene is dangerous,
Being gay is wrong,
Bible thumpers should learn acceptance and tolerance,
Let’s get rid of all the closed-minded people,
And all of these words and views and hatred and rage and suspicion
Building up this tornado flying around us
With so much debris and objects in the way,
Making it difficult for us to see,

I could’ve written about being an openly gay man
And suddenly having a target
Callously drawn over my skin in crude war paint
Dipped into buckets of fear and misunderstanding
Every time I wanna speak openly
Or hold another man’s hand in public
Or how any action I could take
To embody that part of my life
Being ripped open and sloppily put back together
In the eyes of monsters waiting to see an open meal
Out in the wild
And they wanna be the big man by taking a shot at me,

And how I’ve had to deal with rejection
And my own awkward way of being in this world
To find a place back in comfort with myself and my own skin
And now I’ve gotta a deal with this,
And that I have all these feelings and fears and hopes and desires
That these innocent people were feeling that night
And how it was just another night of being fun,
Chaotic and fragile
And everything that makes the human condition tick
Until these lives
Became hell
And all of these feelings were wasted
Because they don’t live here anymore,

I could’ve written about how it was an insane madman’s dream
And everyone elses nightmare in Aurora
During the Dark Knight Rises screening,
How sad and bleak it was when it happened in a church in Charleston, South Carolina,
And how cruel and one-sided and vicious and cowardly it was in Orlando,
How easy it is for some people to take lives
Because they take it upon themselves
To determine that we shouldn’t live as ourselves,
That our skin color’s wrong,
That we’re just these tiny little toys
In some deeply disturbed individual’s mindset
And how we can get snuffed out in a second
Because we were being just as human as they were,
Except they decided that it was their turn to be God
And play with lives,

I could’ve written about the theory
That this man had replaced true sentiment with bullets,
That he felt claustrophobic because he had to hide among family
Whose views could have remained stubborn in a society where,
As much progress as we have made,
Homosexuality can still be this thing,
This odd, unusual thing that many remain either tight-lipped about,
Sewing up their mouths with a threaded consciousness
That is falsely proclaimed as acceptable in table-manner handbooks
On how to be proper in society,
Or being vocal and malicious and just as evil
As the killers that rampage our society,
How it is 2016,
And we are still talking about gay rights,
Transgender rights,
Gender equality,
And civil rights,
As if the world hasn’t moved forward, at all,

I could’ve written all of this,
But the fact remains
That people are dead,
And that there are still many that live
And have to live with these wounds in their heart
And on their bodies,
Coming back from wars
In battlegrounds that shouldn’t have been the place
To make casualties happen,

But we can still see past the storm,
And yes,
We should speak up and speak out,
We should find ways for this to not happen again,
And yes,
We should keep ourselves open
Because in each of these situations,
I’m confident that their could’ve been someone to prevent this from happening,
It can sometimes be easy for us to be complacent
And accept things as they are,

But we should work on accepting who each of us are
And stop seeing what can be so bad in one another
Work openly together to find ways
To stop each other from dying off,
Put together events,
Raise awareness,
Make laws,
Enjoy what time we have in between,
And God-Damn it
For those that can’t,
Be unafraid of these cruel beasts that want us to fear them
Because they don’t have what it takes live this life and survive,

Because life
Is already hard enough.

video videonot yet rated

See YouTube video of M. L. Thompson reading his poem “Orlando poem” at Austin’s Kick Butt Poetry: Spoken and Heard open mic (where he also co-hosts the open mic).

User Unfriendly; the 2016 Election

Drew Marshall

I received a letter from my friend in Ohio
He told me he wasn’t voting this year
I replied that for the first time in forty years
I would be sitting this one out as well

It makes for great political theater
You have a wildly popular buffoon running as a Republican
He is not under the thumb of the Republican Party
Therefore, they are out to destroy the candidate

You have a female Democrat, that no one likes or trusts
And last but not least, a leftist from Brooklyn, New York
Bernie will give the Democrats a run for their money
He will split the democratic vote and assure Trump’s victory

The Democrats will blame Bernie for losing
They blamed Ralph Nader in 2004 for John Kerry’s defeat
I agree with Bernie, this is good for Democracy
It also shows the weaknesses of the current two party system

Get rid of the Electoral College
Let win with the popular vote
I’m a registered Independent
I can’t vote in my state primary

Competition, is what capitalism is all about


the meat and potatoes stuff

A Bad Lot

Charles Hayes

    Watching his laying hens chase the cracked corn, Luke Oleman worries that his decision to skip college and a draft deferment to stay home with his family and help manage their Dairy business had been the wrong one. Having graduated with the high school class of 1965 a few months earlier, he couldn’t see then how the Army would be interested in a Virginia farm boy who hated any kind of killing. But lately he was learning that temperament made little difference to the local draft board when it came to filling their quotas. Some of the older boys that he knew had been called up recently. Tossing the last of the feed, he kneels to pet his old border collie, Beau. Enjoying his love for his dog and animals in general, Luke remembers how a couple of their dairy cows had gotten nailed by a marauding bull when he was in grade school. And how he had stood up to his dad when his dad had wanted to slaughter the calves to save the milk. His dad had finally given in and let Luke raise the calves with their mothers separate from the rest of the herd. A year later he and the calves had won best of a new breed at the fair. And the State University had paid big bucks to have them in a new program at their Agricultural College.
    Noticing the mailman pull up and stick something in their box, Luke smoothes Beau’s coat, stands, and goes to the mailbox with a foreboding that seems to dog him more every day. After knocking the beginnings of a wasp nest from underneath it, he opens the flap and withdraws a white envelope with a blue Department of Defense Seal printed on it. Standing in the diminishing dust from the mail truck with his stomach sinking, Luke stares at the letter that he knows is his draft notice. Slowly opening it, he tries to brace himself by thinking that Nancy will still be in college during his service. Just get it out of the way for their life later he tells himself. Reading the dreaded word “Greetings”, Luke confirms that it is his induction notice. Unable to casually continue his chores, he lowers the letter and looks down at Beau. Sensing that all is not right, Beau cocks his head slightly, lifts a paw, and whines softly.

    Nancy Childers had been looking forward to her weekend visit home and the chance to spend a little time with Luke. Since starting college she had missed the boy that she had loved as far back as she could remember. Now, since getting his phone call and the news of his draft notice, there was a sadness about the coming weekend that she couldn’t quite shake. Telling herself the same things that Luke was saying—that it’s only for two years and she’ll still be in college all that time—she snaps her bag and goes to catch her ride with another student going her way for the weekend. Nancy has never really been away from home before and it will still be nice to get back to old familiar ground for a little while. The little town of Smithville doesn’t have that much going for it but it is where she and Luke had spent their lives living on adjacent farms in the outlying area. And it was their home.
    Waiting for her ride, she recalls how they had fished and picnicked together through the years and how they had come to love the quietness and solitude that they shared roaming the rolling landscape around their farms. How the dying patches of snow, like little white islands in a sea of green, provided their avenues for hiking and loving over the land. Maybe Luke was right, two years could fly by and so far lots of draftees were getting stations other than Vietnam. But Nancy was no wonderland Alice. She knew that lots were not.


    Luke, riding a big roan gelding and Nancy, mounted on a smaller chestnut mare, let their mounts amble and graze along the creek that runs for miles to empty into the much larger Shenandoah. Quietly they try to enjoy this last ride before Luke leaves for the war. Despite all their hopes, it had been short schrift for Luke once he finished boot camp. A draftee and no years of training to bring him up to par for specialized jobs, he was slapped with the infantry and posted to the centeral highlands of Vietnam to help fill the void that the increasing demands of the war were placing on America.
    Coming to their favorite swimming hole, a clear pool of still water with reflections of the large sycamore trees that shelter its banks, they let the horses drink, dismount, and tie them off to some smaller trees coming up in the nearby meadow.
    Just inside the lee of the sycamores there is a small raised grassy plateau that overlooks the creek and provides a look out through the trees to the meadow and land beyond. With only blankets under their arms, Luke and Nancy leave the horses and silently make their way to their grassy love spot. There, without words but with an understanding that years of togetherness has brought them, they lie together.

    Under the sycamores young moist bodies dappled by the soft filtered sunlight lounge side by side, touching along their length as if one, staring through the treetops to the patches of blue beyond. Lovely and placid they are in their repose until a sudden mutual hunger, fueled by memories and uncertain futures, brings their eyes back to one another.
    “I love you,” Luke says, as he watches a tear fall from Nancy’s lash. “I can not remember a time when I didn’t. You are my all and all to no end.”
    No longer immersed in the tranquil moments of after love, Nancy begins to cry openly as she swings her leg over Luke and takes him in.
    “Oh my God Luke, I love you. You are my soul, my future. Please come back to me. I’m empty without you. Don’t get killed, please God don’t get killed.”
    Breathing fast, and bursting with his own emotions, Luke lets it out as well.
    “I’ll be back dear love, I’ll be back, through heaven and hell I’ll be back. Wait for me, I promise I’ll be back.”
    Both weeping, their love tuned to a crescendo of passion and catharsis, Luke and Nancy truly escape the ordinary of their young lives.
    Out in the meadow the roan and the chestnut lift their heads from the grass and look toward the trees as the duet of a piercing cry reaches their ears.


    Amid the defoliated landscape of shattered tree trunks and shell craters, Luke and an older kid from the Mississippi Delta, known as Big Daddy, bear one of the dead to the medical evacuation helicopter touching down in the A Shau Valley of Vietnam. Rocking slightly upon impact, the chopper sends a splash of blood over the edge of the deck onto the two as they load a lumpy black body bag on the slippery deck. Covered with mud and blood, the pair quickly shove the body in past the crew chief to the other waiting crewman.
    Running low as the chopper lifts off, they are clear of the rotor blades when Luke suddenly stops and heaves up a stream of vomit. Big Daddy looks on as Luke, doubled over and trying to regain his stance, instead, vomits again.
    Sniffing the heavy smell of puke, cordite and smoke as if they opine his thoughts, Big Daddy says, “That’s right, get that blood gut outside ya where it belongs. I went through it first time too....God damn them that do this war and never see it...never smell it....never taste it stuck in their craw like a rotten chicken gizzard......God damn them all!”
    Giving Luke a modicum of privacy for his sickness, Big Daddy looks to the sky and shakes his head.
    Finally catching his breath, Luke straightens up and seems to see his stretcher mate for the first time.
    “You been through this before? I didn’t think anything could be this bad. Else I would’ve gone to Canada.”
    Big Daddy chuckles and lays his hand on Luke’s shoulder.
    “Sure you would’ve, sure you would’ve. Just liken a frog would’ve growed wings if he’d knowed he would bump his ass so much. People like me an’ you can’t go to Canada. We’re home boys. Now come on, let’s get the rest of these bagged boys back to their homes.”

    Luke hadn’t had much experience with people like Big Daddy, but they grew tight. And when they shook hands and locked eyes for the last time as Big Daddy was getting on the chopper to leave the war and go home, much had passed between them.

    Setting in the door of the chopper with his feet on the landing skids as it revs up to lift off, Big Daddy slaps the top of Luke’s helmet and screams above the rotor noise, “Luke, you my man, you be ok now, no sweat, but you and me and all these other poor son a bitches around here, we ain’t never gonna be the same. Of all things remember boy.”
    Watching his smiling friend waving from the door of the rising helicopter, Luke feels a big sorrow yet a certain jubilation that Big Daddy is making it out. And he knows that his last words are true. He will make it too.....and he will never be the same. Standing there, watching the chopper shrink to a dot on the horizon, Luke calls back a time that seems to come from another world. He remembers Nancy and their last ride together.


    Newly discharged from the armed forces of the United States and still in uniform, Luke makes his way through the crowded Richmond International Airport, a choking feeling in his throat and unease in his step. The funny dress and long hair is a bit unsettling to the rigid standards he had more or less adapted to over the past two years. And some of the looks he gets are down right hostile. But the worst is the way the people seem to be going about a business that somehow excites them, gives a purpose to their steps. What is it that moves them in such a way, makes them laugh and mingle together. Luke now knows in the main what Big Daddy meant about not being the same. Here, back in the world, it spooks him as he pretends a purpose—making his way to the baggage claim to get his duffle bag.

    Standing near the baggage carrousel eyeing the passengers as they retrieve their luggage, Nancy, dressed in wild colors and bellbottoms, waits for Luke who doesn’t know that she is there. She has driven all the way from her Northern Virginia school to surprise him and welcome him home..
    Looking at the stream of people coming to the baggage area Nancy spots the uniform first and then the tall young man that she loves. All other earthly thoughts and feelings disappear as she runs toward him. A flash of brilliant hippie color, Nancy cries out her welcome as she draws near.
    “Luke! Welcome home my darling love.”
    Seeing only a pretty young woman wearing wild colors and beads, Luke at first doesn’t recognize Nancy and shies from her approach.
    Startled almost to disappointment and feeling a little hurt by his cool reception, Nancy stops shy of her lover and searches his face for signs of something wrong.
    “Are you alright, baby? You look scared.”
    “I didn’t recognize you,” Luke replies. “It’s just this crowded airport and all the people. Makes me nervous.”
    “Well grab your bag and let’s get out of her. We’re going home in my new car.”
    Not really knowing the import of a new car compared to an old car, Luke shoulders his bag and listens to Nancy’s excited chatter about school and the life that lies ahead of them. And as they make their way to the parking lot, the unease that has dogged him since his return to the world sits on his shoulder, telling him in one ear that there is something wrong with him, while he tries to hear what Nancy is saying with the other.


    “Can you feel it in your legs?” Luke says. “The horses are getting old.”
    Seeing Luke more like his old self, Nancy smiles and tells herself it’s going to be OK.
    “Maybe a little,” she says. “I’m not the horse person that you are. But no doubt they are older.”
    For some reason Luke considers her reply inadequate and feels a bit slighted.
    “Well, you don’t need to be a horse person to feel a difference in your old mounts.”
    Noticing his curtness, Nancy lets it pass and changes the subject.
    “Do you think our spot by the creek will be overgrown?”
    “Don’t think so,” Luke replies. “That’s the nice thing about sycamores. They have a natural moderating effect on their surrounding soil when it comes to overgrowth. But never mind, there is no such thing as overgrown where I been. The more there is, the better.”
    A tinge of selfishness in Luke that had never been there before brings Nancy to only smile and nod. Maybe she can feel the difference in him. But again, she tries to ignore it.
    About a hundred yards from the little raised spot among the creek sycamores Luke heels his big roan into a full gallop and yells to Nancy, “Come on babe, follow me and let the wind color your cheeks for pretty pleasure.”
    Having no real choice since she is only a sometimes rider and since the chestnut pairs with the big roan on instinct, Nancy barely hangs on to the saddle horn as both horses gallop to their old hitching spots.
    After tying up the horses Luke takes Nancy’s hand and pulls her inside the trees and up the small overlook.
    Pulling her down roughly, Luke fumbles with the buttons to her blouse with one hand while trying to take her pants off with the other.
    Feeling overlooked like never before, Nancy tries to get Luke to take a little time.
    “Luke please, slow down. At least let me take my boots off first. I can take the rest off as well.”
    “Oh darling,” Luke replies, “if you only knew how many times I dreamed of this.”
    “Me too Luke,” Nancy replies as she removes her clothes and smoothes the blankets. Lying back on the blankets, Nancy becomes a little anxious to find Luke still dressed and just staring at her nakedness.
    “Aren’t you going to get undressed?”
    “No need,” Luke says, as he pulls his pants down and forcibly mounts her.
    To her horror, when Nancy tries to stop him, she is simply overpowered and used in a rush.

    Handing Luke the reins to the chestnut after the long silent ride back to the barn, Nancy avoids his eyes and turns away. Going to her car with tears flowing down her cheeks, she gets in, starts it up and drives off. Looking ahead to the road and resisting any urge to look up to the review mirror, Nancy feels crushed and humiliated. Even now she is telling herself that this could not have happened.
    Not watching her go, Luke stables the horses and heads to the dairy barn. An older and grayer Beau sits at the barn door. When Luke reaches down to pet him the old dog whines and moves away.


    Eighth graders, all eager to get out of the classroom for the day, fidget and squirm as Nancy, their science teacher, tells them not to forget to study the small critters that live near their homes. As the final bell sounds, the commotion signals the end of another workday for Nancy. Feeling tired but with a sense of accomplishment, she is ready for the weekend break.
    Putting away her books and charts, Nancy notices a figure at her door out of the corner of her eye. Turning in that direction, she is surprised to find a much thinner Luke standing in the doorway.
     “Luke?............What are you doing here?”
    Trying to come up with the right words, Luke lowers his eyes for a moment then looks up.
    “I’m sorry, Nancy. I made a terrible mistake, did an awful thing. Can you ever forgive me?”
    Thoroughly surprised by this encounter, Nancy pretends to attend to her books while she too looks for an answer. Finally Nancy faces him and says, “Yes, you did Luke. And I don’t know. I know that you had a bad lot compared to most of the rest of us. But to become so hardened, what have you got to show for your sorry?”
    Though glad to see that Nancy still has her spirit and confidence, Luke has to admit, “Not much, I’m afraid. Just a strong desire for us to be the way we used to be...............before I thought the war gave me privileges that were wrong. I had everything wrong but....... little by little, I think I can get it right..............if you will help me. Can you find it in your heart to do that Nancy? We go back a long ways. ”
    Walking across the room to study Luke’s eyes, Nancy ponders her reply and after a long silence takes Luke’s hand.
    “Maybe Luke. Just maybe. After all, I am a teacher. Come on let’s go get some coffee and talk about it.”
    Walking down the corridor and out the doors of the school, Luke Oleman and Nancy Childers emerge into the bright afternoon sunlight, like old souls from a shadowed cavern, young hearts that will smile, beat on, and accept the challenge of coming home again.

The Spoon

Charles Hayes

    Hanging from a pulley chain, I hear the squeaking wheels of The Spoon in the corridor outside my concrete cell. Stretched to my toes, like a bagged buck ready to gut, I see the intermittent splashes of color from the whirling lights of the control board. They come and go across the glass of my steel door’s peep square. Watching the colors flash, I try to go away into their rhythm. Mind travel is all I have left. But my trip away suddenly vanishes when the hum of the electric motor, and its mishmash of internal noises, enters my senses. And I know that, again, I am going nowhere.
    Adding their own sounds to this cacophony of ungodly choruses, my guts begin to grumble low down, like an underground loosed liquid beginning its journey upward. Quickly growing louder, they erupt, sending a stream of feces down my legs and onto the concrete floor. The resulting stench completes the staging for The Spoon, the principal of my terror. And just in time. The colorful reflections of the peep square glass are fixed and the wheels are silent. The hum and beeps of the motor are at my door.

    I must talk and answer no matter what. Talk and keep talking like it is all from memory. Like it is true. Never must I stall, act like I don’t know an answer. To not know an answer will put The Spoon in me. Arms with foreign tattoos will haul the chain, tie my feet, and guide the spoon. Ringed fingers will move over the board, turn on the switches.
    I watch the prep testing of The Spoon. The short bursts of the gritty brown pudding like substance from the dosing arm yield to gravity quickly and mix with the excrement on the floor. Little splatting noises occur with each of these unions and the foul vapors increase.
    “All good Gods, please take me to my boyhood and the place where, as kids, we watched pirated monster movies about Igor and his kind. Help me to be there, laughing and pointing with my friends, until I can give the foreign tattooed ones what they want. And not feel what they do to me.”

    The blast of cold water from the hose, like a whiff of strong ammonia, calls me back and tells me that it is over for now. Cold metal no longer presses my naked skin and the dosing arm has been removed from inside me. Unable to touch the floor and with a rag in my mouth to keep me from a filibuster of terror, I watch my keepers, having gotten all the answers that they can get, hose down the floor. They push the spillage and excrement down a central drain. Strangely, I flash back to the chore I had as a boy, hosing down the concrete slab of my father’s cattle barn. The Spoon is gone, being driven back to its garage. Back, squeaking down the corridor until the next time. I hope my answers are better then.


Steven K. Smith

    There’s a place I know off the bike trail near Alexandria, Ohio. You pull off, go down a tractor path around a bean field, through a stand of sycamores and maples to a swimming hole in Raccoon Creek. I left my virginity there on August 17, 1976.
    There wasn’t a bike trail then, just the tractor access from the road. Kids used to go there in the summer, but it was too small a bend in the creek to accommodate very many people. By August, when the water level was down anyway, most people had given up on it.
    I was 19, and shy; Lori was 22, and worldly. That afternoon she’d suggested a swimming date, but when we got there she said that she hadn’t brought a swim suit. Did I mind?
    I mostly hid my surprise when her pubic hair wasn’t trimmed the way the models in Playboy had theirs, and I didn’t really know what to do, except theoretically. I was eager, full of hormones, and her hot slippery wetness was so much different and better than when I masturbated. I peaked too soon and said I was sorry.
    She said it was okay.
    The radio played The Who as we drove back to Newark: Behind Blue Eyes. We got burgers and french fries at McDonald’s on Mt. Vernon Ave. I had a chocolate shake, she had a diet coke, but bought a six of Bud at Morgan’s Carryout afterwards. We drove up to one of the back parking lots in Horn’s Hill park and drank it in the car with Led Zeppelin playing on my eight track to cover the awkward silence.
    School started for me the next month and work started for her. She went to teach third graders in Missouri, and I went to OSU main campus to study engineering. Of course, we knew from our first date this was going to happen. Still, I cried after her car turned onto the main road as she left and there was no longer any chance that she might see me.
    I wrote her a few times. She answered once. Then I met my wife and I stopped sending the letters. The Christmas card we sent her the December following our wedding came back marked, “No forwarding address.”


    Twenty years later I went with my wife and son to a parent-teacher conference at his school. Without warning I found myself sitting beside my wife in a chair too small for an adult across from Lori. I saw recognition flash in her eyes as she shook our hands, but she professionally discussed our son’s progress and challenges, and suggested organizational tactics for keeping him on task.
    Afterwards, he took his mom to see the mural the class had painted in the cafeteria for Halloween, but I made an excuse to stay behind.
    “I just wanted to thank you for being kind,” I said. “That time at the creek, it was my first time, you know, and it couldn’t have been very good for you.”
    She smiled at me. A sad smile, but a smile, nonetheless. “I didn’t know, but I’d guessed.” She pulled a folder out of her briefcase and put it face down on the desk in front of her. “We were so young then,” she said. “I think back and can hardly believe that I’m the person that lived though those memories. You were so sweet, so much the gentleman. I hated leaving you, but I knew it would never work out. It’s best this way, a short, sweet affair.”
    “I’m sure you’re right,” I replied. The image behind my eyes was of her car departing, followed by the memory of my wife saying, “I do” in a park surrounded by friends and relatives and cherry blossoms.
    Lori looked back up at me. “It was good to see you again, Barry. You have a fine son.” She glanced at the door, then turned back to me. “I have one more appointment before my son picks me up tonight.”
    I found my wife and son in the cafeteria and admired the mural, holding her hand. After a few minutes we headed back to the parking lot. As we left, a young man approached the building and I did a double-take as we passed. He looked like my high school yearbook photo.
    “Barry! Don’t squeeze my hand so tight!” My wife scolded. “Is something wrong?”
    I turned back to her and relaxed my hand. “No. No, it’s fine.” My ears roared. “Everything’s fine.”


Janet Kuypers
haiku 2/15/14

you can feel me now
rushing, swirling to your neck
opening your mouth

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Dr (Ms.) Michael. S. Whitt

    Michael and Amanda left the campsite and the Chevy Van in which they had been sleeping in Cloudland Canyon State park. The park was nestled in the North Georgia Appalachian Mountains. They were excited. They were headed for the main waterfalls. They had heard from others who had already visited these falls that they are large and powerful.
    As they moved toward them, Michael commented, “It’s a beautiful spring day.”
    “It feels wonderful; crisp, and dry. I can’t wait to get to the main falls.”
    Michael and Amanda met when he was a master’s student in a class Amanda taught. At the time, her first marriage was falling apart. Soon after meeting Michael, Amanda joyfully left the marriage. Michael’s wife had Leukemia. She died a little over a year after he met Amanda. Although she was only three years older than he, Amanda was an associate professor with tenure and had been teaching at Auburn for four years. She also had a number of publications. Michael had resigned his job in the public schools to start graduate work. As a result of taking Amanda’s class and that of one of her colleagues, he changed his major. When he began, he intended to obtain a masters degree in health and physical education to teach and coach in college. Their classes re-focused his interest toward pursuing a doctorate in the interdisciplinary field of foundations of education. During the months his wife was hospitalized he read extensively with his future doctoral studies in mind.
    Michael’s shyness around Amanda came not only as result of her professional accomplishments. His shyness was also in the erotic area. She was a beautiful woman who was humbly aware of her stunning good looks. By the time she was fifteen she had started to love her body. She had a lot of help from lovers in achieving the latter.
    One young lover gasped audibly the first time they made love, “My god Amanda, you have the most beautiful body I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen plenty of them.” At that Amanda, although she tried to stifle them, she burst into peals of laughter with apologies and expressions of gratitude to the lover.
    Although she could not have known it, she might have guessed that Michael paced up and down the room every time he made a call to Amanda. He thought to himself, I just known she’ll reject me or she might. I’m not sure I could stand that. Maybe I could, but maybe I couldn’t. His heart was pounding as he made the call, and then, oh damn, she’s not home. Thirty minutes later he tried again. Now he was sweating. Whew! This time she answered in a lilting voice. She sounded genuinely glad to hear from Michael. His heart rate went back down.
    In the past few years Amanda’s beauty had deepened and intensified. At thirty-three she was 5’ 10 ?” and weighed one hundred and thirty pounds. Her breasts which she used to think were too small were the size and shape of elegant teacups. They were by no means flat. Amanda was highly aware that Michael’s vulnerability had to do with his ego. This was especially the case with making sexual moves toward her. Each time he thought about doing so, his heart began to pound harder than with phone calls. Had she rejected him, his ego would have been badly bruised. However, she refused to make the first move.
    Amanda knew he was on ego trip. She already had plenty of evidence he had inadvertently given that he was on an ego trip. One of the most telling was that at least once or more during any conversation in which they were involved brought about the phrase, “This girl I used to date,” a boast any sensitive woman would pick up on. Amanda could care less about any of these girls and let it be known loud and clear, although he seemed to overlook her pointed remarks.
    When the two arrived at the main fails, they were large and powerful, especially for falls in the southern most mountains of the southeast. However, there were people hanging out everywhere and they were not quiet. They were stumbling clumsily over the rocks beneath the falls. They were yelling at each other to try and be heard over the noise of the falls.
    “This isn’t the place we want to be.”
    “No it isn’t, Amanda.”
    The two surveyed the situation they were in. Back a few yards there was a sign which reach “For your own safety stay on the paths.” The couple looked at each other with knowing looks. They quickly stepped over the railing and were soon out of sight. They were descending around the curve of the mountain. They were on a quest for some secluded falls. After fifteen minutes of difficult hiking they found their falls. When they found them they were spectacular, far more wild and gorgeous than the first.
    Amanda said, “Michael look.” They stood on a wide rock looking at them.
    Michael said, “If I could choose to be anywhere it would be on this rock with a woman like you.” He no doubt thought he had made a super romantic remark. However, surprise, surprise, Amanda was far from impressed.
    Instead, Amanda stepped back with her hands on her hips defiantly, “What do you mean by a woman like me? There is a lot of wiggle room between a woman like me and me an actual flesh and blood woman.”
    The man’s ego had been pricked. Michael hung his head some and was silent.
    Then he said, “Yes. I see what you mean.”
    Amanda looked at him for a few moments and giggled. At length she said, “Michael, don’t you realize I have stronger feelings for you than I do for any other man to whom I am in relation or might possibly be in relation. The only competitor is a beautiful man of Cajun background who is married with children, but that never deterred us before. If we’re close, we’ll make love, but we’re not right now. He is in Louisiana. I’ll tell you about him sometime. You men can be so silly about the most important matters.” And she giggled again.
    “Gosh,” Michael responded. “that is truly GREAT to know, and I’d like to hear about this Cajun man. He must be something else to attract you when he is married with children” Michael took her hand and squeezed it. He smiled at her.
    Amanda replied, “Well, we’ve had a relationship since 1974. His wife got too bossy and violated him badly. I have a feeling that soon he’ll be divorced with children.”
    Michael had known Amanda long enough to know that she was the quintessantly water nymph, and With pride he told his friends, “I’ve never known anyone who loves water as much as Amanda. Whether she is in an ocean, the Caribbean, the Pacific, the Atlantic; or one of the crystal clear springs which cover north central Florida, and from which the myth of the Fountains of Youth comes; or one of the beautiful swimming lakes which populate the village of Frostproof from which she grew up; or in one of the beautiful streams in the north Georgia and North Carolina mountains, she is never more at her element than when she is in one of these bodies of water.
    Amanda was ecstatic at their discovery. She was dressed in hot pants and a crop top. Michael wore a pair of cutoffs and a tee shirt. They shed their garments and made intense love on the stone. It felt as soft as a grassy meadow as they were overwhelmed with love and passion. Later, they played like children until they were hungry. They went to their van and ate a luscious, cold mango. Later they had a light evening meal in a restaurant close to the park. That night, with the back door and all windows open, they slept soundly in the van. Later they realized they had been in the presence of divine natural forces that day. They began the process of joining them in erotic-spiritual marriage. This occurred independently of their conscious wills. Later Amanda wrote a poem, “The Goddess of the Waterfall.” The poem’s concluding lines amplify the significance of the waterfall event:

Nine months later for practical reasons
We needed society’s profane blessings for our union.
Oh how poor was this legal ritual compared to that of
The Goddess of the Waterfall and her entourage
What the Waterfall has united let no human rend asunder!

    This big nature experience happened on May, 1979.
    In early September they flew to Northern California, and the processes of marriage by Big Nature continued in other power places. Tuolumne Meadows is an Alpine area nine thousand feet above sea level in Yosemite National Park. While camping at a site just inside the park, they discovered the summer paradise. Michael and Amanda took down the tent and drove to the Meadows. They rented an $11 per night tent-cabin.
    In the late afternoon they set out to explore the meadows. Michael drove all along the road, and pulled over when he saw a spot with wild flowers growing everywhere. Amanda jumped out of the car, and with joyous abandon, ran into the sea of flowers. She did a “front over,” a maneuver she learned when she took ballet, tap, and acrobatics from age 5 to 11. It involves a hand stand and flip which lands one upside down, hands and feet supporting one. Michael caught Amanda with the camera just as she was going over. A little farther down the road, a more inviting spot, Snow Creek, beckoned to them. Flowers were thick. There was a brook, a cluster of several large rocks, and a redwood forest on one side. They decided to return to this place the next day.
    That evening they built a fire in the wood burner, and under army blankets, they made love and snuggled. The couple awoke cold at five and re-lit the stove. Although the temperatures rose to the low 80’s during the day, they fell into the 20’s nightly. The two went back to sleep until 7:30. Amanda and Michael dressed, ate breakfast at the dining hall, and headed for Snow Creek.
    The previous day they discovered the Meadow’s floor was soft enough to lie on without clothing. The two of them shed their clothes behind the rocks and lay on the ground for a while enjoying its softness. Then they explored the Meadows. Around the brook Amanda discovered a tiny garter snake. They picked a bouquet of wild flowers to decorate the tent-cabin. Their experience in this place brought further bonding and a poem. Called “Tuolumne Meadows,” its final lines punctuate the meaning of their time here:

In those beautiful meadows it was our superb fate to be
A Man and a Woman in Love—Naked, Unashamed, and Free

    That night by the warmth of the wood burning stove and blankets, they made love and snuggled with a much deeper sense of erotic connection. They left after another day; they could have stayed until the first snows drove them out, but did not want to miss Sequoia National Park. Sequoia had pleasant rustic cabins. Their second day there they found a rocky ledge which was positioned for a good view of the sunset. When they arrived their hearts sank, “Oh Amanda look at all of those people.”
    “I wish we have ordered a private showing of the sunset courtesy of Mother Earth and Father Sky,” Amanda sighed. In a few minutes the sun slipped below the horizon, and to their astonishment, all those folks left en masse. “Michael, am I dreaming? Don’t those people know that 99% of the best is yet to come?”
    “I’m glad we’re alone, but isn’t that ignorance sad?”
    “Yes. There were at least seventy people here while ago.”
    Michael and Amanda wandered around the ledge. As light began to fade, the colors they beheld were the most beautiful ever. When they became intense, the pair sat quietly ‘drinking’ them in. Pinks, purples, crimsons, wines, golds and other hues interplayed across the sky. At times they were so beautiful they brought tears to their eyes. The changing colors seemed to go on forever and caused wonderful feelings. Amanda was inspired to write a poem about this incredible sunset experience:

While on holiday in Sequoia National park one time
My love and I witnessed a sunset beautiful and sublime
We felt we’d burst with Love & Joy & Happiness
Pinks, purples, crimsons, golds, and many other hues
Danced across the sacred sky in a divine play that did renew
On and on the heavens those marvelous colors graced.
The minutes stretched forever as several eternities raced
Mother Earth and Father Sky united that evening
To give us quite a show
We are forever thankful for the depth-charging thrill
Of those gorgeous colors all aglow

    Toward dark Amanda noticed Michael looking to their right.
    “What is it?”
    “Come with me, Amanda. I want to show you something I learned as a child when we lived in New Mexico.” They walked for several feet. Michael picked up a few pebbles. “Watch this,” he said, and hurled a pebble into the air. He paused for a few seconds and then asked, “Did you see something dive at my pebble?”
    “Yes! What was it?”
    “A bat. I love them.”
    “That’s wonderful.” Amanda had another Big Nature show to enjoy this golden day. She threw a pebble or two. What was true of Cloudland Canyon was true of these spots. With the meadows, sunset, and bat show, the process of becoming soul mates was well on its way. Not that a good relationship is ever finished. It must remain open to novelties and embrace individual growth and expansion. It has been and will be renewed countless times during the years that they have together Michael’s shyness all but disappeared after these experiences along with his egotism. He wrote several poems which expressed his love for Amanda. All of them were beautiful and touching.

I was searching . . .
And amid the rush of the world
You came to me.
I am thankful for the mingling of our lives.
It causes a sweet smiling song in my heart.

I am thankful that I found you.
Flower of my life,
Amanda of my soul.
I love you.

    After they returned from California, the couple wrote companion papers which they presented in a general session at an academic meeting. These were later published in the journal sponsoring the conference. This was the first of many articles published in prestigious journals and papers presented at academic meetings. Amanda had the best publication record in the department, but her productivity increased with her soul mate there to encourage and criticize. With her help, Michael wrote a fine doctoral dissertation in which he pulled together much material with which they were working. All this led to a co-authored book.
    Each of them was a socio-economic and political progressive. Progressives see that society’s institutions are in constant need of reconstruction. If this does not occur, they become stale, arid, and rigid. They fail to serve the growth needs of their citizens. Before they bonded in Big Nature, it never occurred to them to get involved together in progressive causes. Afterwards, various causes received some of the energies they gained in Big Nature. In turn, being involved in these causes bonded them closer to environmental problems engaged them in efforts to keep the local ecology clean and balanced. ‘Think globally, act locally’ was a good motto for these efforts. They cleaned the litter off creek banks with the Campus Young Democrats, which Amanda sponsored. They reestablished the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, and lobbied at the state capital for women’s rights and other constitutional issues. They supported all measures that defended or expanded Roe v Wade, and opposed those which threatened it. Another constitutional issue for which they lobbied was opposing making ‘scientific creationism’ a part of the science curriculum. Those who took this position saw this as a violation of the church/state separation principle. Protests against Reagan’s foreign policy, especially with respect to Latin America, were other shared activities. Michael and Amanda participated in several local demonstrations. In July, 1983 they traveled by bus to Washington, D.C. to march with 20,000 other progressives to protest Reagan’s policies in El Salvador.

The Blind Eye

Patrick Fealey

    The Blind Eye or DROWNING IN ARTISTRY, THE GRINNING EGOTIST TURNS A BLIND EYE FROM HIS SOUL SO THAT HE CAN PLAY VAPID WORD GAMES. America, your writer: Danny Anthony. He is five foot five inches and is a rational self-promoter. He wears a leather jacket and motorcycle boots. He has never ridden a motorcycle. His writing is a meticulous assembly of words at the expense of drift. He is logical and he thinks a lot. He really tries to take the man out of art. His triumph is hiding. He really puts effort into his one paragraph a day regimen. Danny really tries. Comparisons with Whitman are absurd, but one writer named Jocko made one. Whitman said, “The words of my book nothing, the drift everything.” Danny has no drift and I doubt Whitman ever abused a woman or anyone else.
    Buddha says “Our lives are thought, but our thoughts are not our lives.” He poses that we must break through thought to be fully alive. Vision lives beyond the tenacity of thought, a place where we become barely involved. Barely involved, light takes over, leaving one in the position of channel and observer. Bare. Art’s job is to capture and express that life which Buddha describes. It’s the realm of magic, chance, and quiet things, a journey to the other side, the invisible land, outside the perimeter, where we must surrender.
    It all started in San Francisco. My girlfriend Jess worked with a girl who’s boyfriend was a writer. The women hoped that uniting us would save them. Danny’s stories were published in several magazines, including the one his girlfriend Sheryl edited. This is how they had met. Jess brought home a copy so I could read Danny’s story. Another one of the editors was famous. Charlotte Dagwood. I avoided her books. She was renowned for ponderously obscurifying life.
    Danny read simple and definitive. He was very funny. He was a comic, an avoider. His sentences were spare and he heard his characters. I needed this in a writer. But there was no suggestion or mystery. He was an intellect asserting itself and so confined himself to a spider hole. There was no mystery between the lines. If he didn’t know it, it didn’t exist. There was no ex-foliation. The words were not more than the sum of their parts. There was nothing sublime about him because he didn’t allow life to reveal itself. He had a fatal blind spot, ego. There was craft and he was a technical master, but his ego ran across the page, chasing off the unknown and what he feared. I didn’t need this from anybody. The individual, the man, the living and suffering man behind the typewriter was nowhere to be seen. He was hiding behind artistry. The technician was everywhere. I was dazzled by the ice, but I was more interested in blood and humility than bright punctuation. Danny was thinking through things, out of things, putting himself above things, above pain and suffering. In saying “not me,” he was creating the biggest me.
    I imagined the girls at the office: “My boyfriend, or the guy I live with, is, or so he says he is, is a writer. He is something. He types.”
    “Does yours drink a lot?”
    I was expected to send a story his way. Problem was, I didn’t have a story. I had a first novel underway about a street musician, but it was still a jumbled collection of sketches. I had never written a true short story. So my first real short story was forced by two women at a water cooler. I typed on the floor for two mornings. The girls were waiting. I typed in the dark living room, loosened up by whiskey from the nights before. Out came this tale about jumping a train with my college roommate, high on Scotch in Humboldt. We made great efforts to find and jump this train and it wound up running for a mile, where we were caught. Jess couriered the pages to her girlfriend, Sheryl. That night the buzzer went off sometime after dinner. I went out and found a guy at the bottom of the steps, shaking the bars. I assumed I knew him, but who? And then Sheryl came into the light and said “Hi” like it was his idea to drop by. I’d met Sheryl at Jess’ office once, another sexy Jew. Never too many. The man smiling behind the bars was Danny.
    Jess had told me Sheryl’s stories about Danny. And the characters in his story had given me the idea of a big guy with an untucked shirt draped over a quarter keg and a shave he could converse with. But Danny was lean and clean, like his writing style. He had brown hair and was wearing a leather jacket and black Levi’s. He wore motorcycle boots and his feet stomped through the oriental rug in the living room. He was enthusiastic and talked. He was assertive, and he took the center, which was okay with me. But I was not into enthusiasm and I was wary of his positivism, which usually meant self-inflation and arid going. I was glad he liked my story, but I didn’t know if I was being invited to a birthday party or a suicide. Enthusiasts choose their pains. They construct myths which fall on other people’s heads. Enthusiasm is not warmth.
    I did not call him after this night, as the girls had hoped.
    Danny was ahead of me when it came to putting words together. I would learn from him. Our paths crossed thanks to the women and their parties and seminars. Danny and I drank free Scotch in Carmel and drove in silence to Henry Miller’s place in Big Sur. We began corresponding after Jess and I moved back East. We didn’t talk often. I saw Danny and Sheryl again in New York, where he was doing a reading on the lower east side. I was surprised by the mob. Danny had a following of friends and fans. I turned out to be one of them, but Danny and Sheryl didn’t make me feel like I was a part of the mob in New York. The three of us sat pretty on a lower east side curb. Bicycles chained to signposts starred. And Mars and Jupiter, jobless, lassoing cabs and kisses on the mouth. Sitting pretty on an east side curb, the night was a garden.
    After New York, Danny distanced himself. He wrote, but it was not the same. I was treated like a fan. His letters became generic. He’d write something personal at the top of the letter and ended it with a personal line. The middle read like a press release. I got the feeling he was writing form letters to many people. I should have accepted my unworthiness, but I typed him an impersonal letter, leaving the top and bottom blank. I scrawled updated, personalized parts in pencil at the top and bottom of the letter. I mailed it. The next letter to arrive was all personal in content. I wasn’t ready to give up on him because he had talent and someday something somewhere somehow was going to bust his ego down to dust. He would die to himself. He would surrender to life. Then he would become an artist. Ego is blindness. It’s a universe constructed in a corner. You find the same words again and again.
    A year later, in San Francisco, Danny and Sheryl let me sleep on their couch for two months. Danny and I talked very little during this time, but he seemed patient. I spent a lot of time with Sheryl and he said he was glad to get her off his back. Danny knew many people. The phone rang constantly and each afternoon he brought up a pile of mail. He told me all these friends brought him no joy.
    Danny is monstrously empathetic, like a priest. His empathy is both his trouble and his tool. Danny is an attractive personality who collects people because they make him feel bigger. The joylessness comes when he chooses the hell of other people over the unknown, over the road less traveled, over silence and solitude. I am not as fond of people who collect people as they are of themselves. He did not like being alone. Collecting friends is a cynic’s hobby. He was stretched and compromised. He wanted in because he thought he needed them for his career. He sometimes thought about getting away, but he couldn’t do it, or wouldn’t. He lived in the hell of other people because people made him feel bigger. He liked feeling big; who would not? The truth was people make a nice solvent. That is why it burned. If he got bigger, it was as a spreading vapor. The man was diffused. I observed this as a withdrawn part of his affliction. There was no joy in these friends because he was erasing himself. How did he look upon these people, who he used and disliked? Were they suckers? If the capacity for suffering indicated a capacity for love, there could be love someday. But his joylessness said he endured us because he needed to be needed, and because he wanted the pain, because he wanted the inflation pain caused. In many ways he was like a corrupt messiah who resented the flock. He needed the people to be the savior, but he didn’t love them or like them.
    On Danny’s website is a story from his hometown newspaper. A reporter calls him an “icon of the underground.” Years before, there were signs that he knew. Danny was wearing custom shirts which cost a lot of money. The characters he wrote about were broke and were lucky to own a clean t-shirt. Danny had one pricey shirt for each day of the week. They were very stylish, hip, hand-made on Haight Street. “I fear that I am becoming a character,” he said. Under seige by admirers, hurrying down the streets of San Francisco in motorcycle boots and a $200 shiny red shirt, Danny believes in cocaine and coverage. He burns a camel and slips behind the wheel: “I don’t know what I have made of myself, but I know what I’m going to show you.”
    The New Yorker arrives every week, looking for writers scared shitless of the abstract, willing to deny that man has never been more self-conscious. Danny is their man. At bottom, he is conservative.
    Danny is the type of person who must insist upon his position. Always catching up to the front, striving to lead. Very sane, courting pain, lacking humility. In contrast to a man upon whom genius is thrust, a man bowed by the weight. Danny’s bright dissolution and warm disguise are more human and beloved than the shadow of silent suffering.
    I stopped writing to Danny when I realized I could say nothing true. He was dedicated to preserving his constructs. He was an icon now, degrading himself to greater acclaim. He was amused by this. He gave us his hoax and acted like a fool. Privately, he laughed in superiority, proud to be described as “a souve fuck-you.” And he was no charlatan, he was too intelligent and thoughtful, premeditated. He might be saying “Watch me while I prostrate who you think I am before you.”
    It’s funny how egocentricity makes you want to be someone else. Danny was assembling this artist in whose shoes he wished to walk. That is his game. Image before the man. As long as he gets the image right, it doesn’t matter how much misery he causes himself. He is creating his own destiny, or the destiny of the man he is creating. It is against nature, an appetite for suicide. It is about rejecting and hiding, popular pastimes for the human race. The character Danny puts forward is like a walking press release and he is ready to deflect and neutralize anything that challenges it. It is the same conscious wrenchings one finds in his writing. It is the ego at work. Danny has gotten rid of Danny. Danny extends to us his creation, ultimately his emptiness. He has needed our help to remove himself. The consenting and unwitting are used once and used again. They helped cause it, they believe in it. They believe in his bright dissolution, one of the most disingenuous suicides imaginable.
    I lost Danny in the spread of doctors, lawyers, and salmon. He was around. My Scotch had turned to water, so I went to the bar, got us each a Johnnie Walker Black on the rocks, doubles. I walked around, a drink in each hand. I didn’t see him. All I saw were medical insurance executives, more doctors, and more lawyers. We had followed our women to this party where I did not identify with anyone. I wandered back to the area of the bar. He was not at the bar. I turned and we stood face to face. In his hands were two Johnnie Walker Blacks, doubles. Then Sheryl appeared to say we were leaving to have dinner with a lawyer friend of hers. Get ready. We drank twice as much, twice as fast, leaving our glasses on tables on the way out of the hotel. I never noticed Danny drunk that night and I can say this because I never noticed myself drunk.
    I recently came across some notes written during my stay with Danny and Sheryl five years after I met them. A lot of disappointment scrawled on café napkins. He’d published his own novel and was enjoying the attention, but I’m not sure if it was the book or his life which had turned him into a loud, furious, megalomaniacal bore. He was drinking and snorting coke. He was very opinionated and contentious. He could back himself up with enthusiasm and eloquence and conviction. Like he was a jester. He was tough to walk with. I couldn’t walk beside Danny anywhere. He wouldn’t walk with me. It was a race. He walked in front. He always walked faster than me, though I walk faster than him. It made me smile, irritated. Danny could not be second. He had a neurotic need to be in front. The few times he could not be in front, it was as if he had retreated. I stayed with them for two months and more and more I realized I was in the presence of an absolute asshole whose redemption was a book shelf full of jokes. He wanted something out of those books and now he was getting it. A light snowfall atop the mountain he had climbed. Why should I give a fuck? If he’s slipped on his ass? I didn’t, but I did because I had envisioned him better. I knew if he had more balls, he’d keep to himself more. If he was less needy, he wouldn’t scream at his wife. If he had balls, he wouldn’t afflict himself on others and let them afflict themselves on him. He seemed like a joyless misanthrope who was acting out a performance his ego needed to see. He was very conscious of the need for drama in the life of the famous author he would be or was. You could witness him watching himself doing things, gauging what the effect might be and whether he could use it in a book or movie. He was not natural. There was always a con and camera running.
    He was very preoccupied with verbally beating up on his wife. His fear was the arrival of true beauty and nobility of soul and it came. It was tough, because I was living on the guy’s couch. During the day, we kept our distance and maintained ourselves with few words. I realized he was a self-elevated asshole, but I needed a bed. Once, he apologized for his distance, said “I have ethereal problems I cannot discuss, lest they become real.” At night, we raced the streets of San Francsico, Danny screaming drunk out cab windows on the way to score coke. This was the only time we got along. I found myself in the middle of a marriage disintegrating under Danny’s egomania and self-destruction. Whiskey, cocaine, screaming, every day. It was almost comic, but it was a bore. And his poor wife Sheryl was on the other end. It was hard to watch him wear her to the bone. She was much less sure of herself than she had been a couple years before. She was almost stuttering and unable to hold a line of thought. She was beaten down, or, in a more clinical term, abused to the limit. She had lost 30 pounds she didn’t have to spare.Danny wrecked her and wrecked himself, hung-over and in bed, missing work. Sheryl vacillated from nursing him to wanting a divorce. He used these self-induced nightmares as stamps on his claim to mental illness. His jealousy of my manic-depression was peculiar. If there is such a thing as sane, Danny is there; he was just a drug addict and alcoholic. He told me he felt no joy without coke. He felt no joy drinking. He felt no joy from all his friends. I asked, “Then why do it?” He didn’t answer. He couldn’t. Danny couldn’t find joy anywhere he turned. Maybe it was in the turning.
    Sheryl told me a story. They were at her folks’ for dinner and her father disclosed that he had cancer and was dying. Danny’s first words when they got outside the house were, “Now I’ll never fucking get to New York!” It’s illustrative of how he thinks and of how he leads himself into guilty feelings later. Danny is self-centered, a thorn in his own present. When he writes, he treats his wrongs. He deals in wrongs which should have never happened. He says to me he is plagued by guilt. And he writes like it. The way I see it, his never-ending wallowing is a way to punish himself without confronting a true change in character. He has not changed. He creates and enjoys new guilt all the time. He acts in bad faith and uses the guilt. It is his intent to suffer, to make himself bigger. Average suffering is insufficient. He equates pain with size. The more pain, the bigger he is. The suffering he causes and guilts over is one more way to access pain. But it’s artificially created pain and it brings down others. There is only one way to act and everything else is a con. There is real pain available if he could be still. He is a man fixing problems he created to fix. And he is unable to fix them. There were moments while I was staying with him, maybe twice, when he broke down for a few seconds. He broke down into someone humble. But it was pathetic because it was against his will. He didn’t want to be humble. Something had gone wrong. He looked shattered and his eyes searched mine, wandering sickly. It was the same sickening egomaniac, crippled, looking to me like I had the answer. At times like this he would say that he was “jealous” and “envied” the simple and truthful way that I wrote and the ease with which it came to me. I played it down: “Yeah, well . . . you know . . . only you can be yourself . . .” And a few seconds later he would shift back to the guy who could not be quiet, the guy who could not stop posturing, the guy who said: “That short story of mine is the greatest story I’ve ever written. No, in fact, it’s the greatest story I’ve ever read.”


Janet Kuypers
haiku 2/17/14

see her do a flip,
walk the tight rope. This is the
greatest show on earth.

twitter 4 jk twitter 4 jk Visit the Kuypers Twitter page for short poems— join
video videonot yet rated
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her twitter-length haiku greatest live 4/23/14 at the open mic the Café Gallery in Chicago (C)
video videonot yet rated
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her twitter-length haiku greatest live 4/23/14 at the open mic the Café Gallery in Chicago (S)
video See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers in her 6/4/16 show “Obey” at Expressions 2016: June is a Woman! in Austin (Sony), first reading her haiku poems progress, extend, falling, civil, and greatest, then reading her poems Earth is a Topiary (her 1st of 2 poems where she used a voice modulator to reads parts of her poem in a male voice), On Becoming a Woman (an editing and expansion of her 1999 poem Becoming a Woman), Viewing the Woman in a 19th Century Photograph (an editing of her 1991 poem Photograph, Nineteenth Century and her 2nd of 2 poems where she used a voice modulator to reads parts of her poem in a male voice), Content With Inferior Men, portions of her poem In The Air with slightly altered wording, and Oh, She Was a Woman (an editing of her 1997 poem She Was a Woman).
video See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers in her 6/4/16 show “Obey” at Expressions 2016: June is a Woman! in Austin (Cps), first reading her haiku poems progress, extend, falling, civil, and greatest, then reading her poems Earth is a Topiary (her 1st of 2 poems where she used a voice modulator to reads parts of her poem in a male voice), On Becoming a Woman (an editing and expansion of her 1999 poem Becoming a Woman), Viewing the Woman in a 19th Century Photograph (an editing of her 1991 poem Photograph, Nineteenth Century and her 2nd of 2 poems where she used a voice modulator to reads parts of her poem in a male voice), Content With Inferior Men, portions of her poem In The Air with slightly altered wording, and Oh, She Was a Woman (an editing of her 1997 poem She Was a Woman).
the “Obey” 6/4/16 chapbook
Download all of the show poems (including this haiku) in the free downloadable PDF file chapbook
from her 6/4/16 show at Expressions 2016: June is a Woman! show in Austin.

Click here to read the Janet Kuypers bio.

Three Days in Banknock

Lisa Gray<

    “Three days in Bangkok! That’s fabulous! You’re so lucky to have a boyfriend who would arrange that for you!”
    Alice gazed at me wistfully, her own small list of unsuitable suitors swimming before her shocked sea-green eyes.
    Three days before I’d have said to her she was better off single. And to stop chasing after men. They were a waste of space.
    But that was three days ago.
    Before Brad had booked this.
    Now Brad had moved from Mordred to King Arthur in my estimation.
    “He must have seen that competition entry on the television. You know the one. Where you text the answer any ass would know, they deduct an enormous amount of money from your cell and you never hear any more!” I said.
    “Don’t tell me you did that?” said Alice, looking at me as if I were an alien.
    “Three days ago I’d have done anything to get away from Brad,” I said.
    Alice looked at me pitifully, unable to comprehend why a woman who has a boyfriend would want to get rid of him.
    “It’s not all roses, Alice,” I tried to tell her, but I could see my sentence was lost in Avalon. “Brad had let me down one time too many.”
    I thought of the long list of disappointments, let-downs and general disregard for my welfare that Brad had shown over the three years we’d been together. But like a lot of women, I’d thought a bad boyfriend was better than none. And I’d had Alice as a friend to confirm that belief for me.
    Not that I was proud of it. I’d always thought of myself as strong and independent. But being with Brad had taught me one thing about myself. I was weak. That was probably why I attracted weak men. When I attracted any. I hadn’t been the sort of girl men were attracted to. And it had never bothered me initially. Men, to me, had seemed an alien species, only interested in food, drink, sex, money, their mothers and fast cars. I, vainly, liked to think I was in touch with higher things. I really couldn’t see why any species with such earthly expectations, who were so easily influenced by outer appearances, should come from behind, rapidly overtake and appear, now, to be in charge. I decided men were weak, unable to stand on their own and full of fear of women. Gathering together in groups. Perpetually putting-down the partners they owed their success to. And patronising any poor, plain looking female who had the courage to ignore them. And women were to blame. Giving away their power for a peaceful, pleasant life. So I was having none of it. And I was quite happy with that. Or so, I convinced myself. Then I’d met Brad. And I became the very thing I’d despised.
    Not that I realised that at the beginning. Someone was attracted to me. I just couldn’t believe my luck. Moreover, he seemed strong. Assertive. In command. And I’d fallen into the cosy comfort of being happy to relinquish responsibility. And I’d become weaker. Lost any powerful potency I’d had through continual put-downs. Isolated myself through his ignorance of me. And sacrificed all my self- assurance. And I’d only realised this three days ago. Three days ago. After that final, fatal comment.
    “You should have been a boy!” he said. “Then you could do what you like!”
    “What makes you think men have the prerogative to do what they like?” I’d retaliated, angry at his announcement that he’d spent the last three weekends, which I’d spent alone and bored beyond belief, travelling the length of the country, tracking the trajectory of the latest unidentified flying object. “Because that’s what it’s like being a man. A man has to be free. Free to pursue his hobbies.”
    “Hobbies!” I said scornfully. “Following fictitious, flying objects in the sky!”
    “Just because you don’t believe in aliens!” Brad broke in.
    “The only alien around here is you!” I said. “You’re not a man!”
    “You’re just jealous you’re not one!” he said.
    “An alien?” I scoffed, though I knew exactly what he meant.
    “No, a boy!” said Brad.
    While I contemplated which misguided, moronic mother had failed to correct this fault in her selfish son, I said, “No, I’m not! Why would I want to be a boy? It’s good to be a girl!”
    Before I’d met Brad I’d always thought so but even to my ears it sounded less than convincing.
    That was when I decided to break up with him. Three days ago. Three days ago. When I’d have said he was a selfish, inconsiderate ass. And I’d wasted three years of my life with him.
    But that was three days ago.
    “This has definitely made up for the rest,” I said to Alice, my eyes shining.
    “I should think so, too,” said Alice. “Three days in Bangkok. What wouldn’t I give for that?”
    “I’ll phone you when I get there and tell you all about it?” I said.
    “Oh, do!” said Alice. “I can’t wait to hear all about it!”
    “I can’t wait to get there!” I said. “Travel’s so exciting, isn’t it?”<


    “Are you all packed?”
    Brad’s voice on the phone was impatient.
    He can’t wait to get me to Bangkok! I thought.
    I pictured the exotic hotel. The luxurious room. The champagne. The chocolate cake. The strawberries. And Brad. How could I have been so wrong about him?
    Still, I thought, I was big enough to admit when I was wrong. Being a girl definitely had some advantages. And Brad now, for the first time, appreciated that.
    I was surprised when he picked me up by car.
    “Aren’t we taking a cab to the airport?” I said, lifting my own suitcase into the boot of the car while Brad sat at the wheel like a rally driver on the briefest of pit stops.
    “The airport!” said Brad, surprised. “What makes you think we’re going to the airport?”
    “Well, that’s where you usually catch a plane to Bangkok!” I said, sarcastically.
    Brad’s voice was raised.
    “Whatever makes you think we’re going to Bangkok?”
    I turned and looked at his side profile. He was good-looking. I had to admit that. Fair, wavy hair, blue eyes like the Mediterranean, a firm jaw. A fine specimen of white, Anglo-Saxon manhood. If I did think it myself.
    “That’s what you said over the telephone.”
    His laugh was rough, raucous.
    “Not Bangkok! Banknock!”
    I couldn’t hide the shock in my voice.
    “Is that near Bangkok?” I hastened to add.
    He laughed even louder.
    There was no need to laugh at my ignorance, I thought.
    “Hardly!” he said. “Banknock is a village about a hundred miles from here. Near Bonnybridge. Between Falkirk and Glasgow.”
    “You mean we’re staying in Scotland!”
    The exotic hotel faded like a distant mirage.
    And a dried up waterhole muttered.
    “Banknock? I’ve never heard of it! What’s there?”
    “UFOs,” he said. “What else?”
    “UFOs! You mean you’re taking me to spot UFOs!”
    I couldn’t believe it myself. How could he be so selfish? I must have misunderstood him.
    He turned those fantastically evenly proportioned features full face to me.
    “This is no ordinary place to spot UFOs!” he said, like I should try to understand. “This is the area to spot them in Scotland!”
    “I don’t care about UFOs!” I said. “And I don’t want to go to Banknock! I want to go to Bangkok!”
    “In your dreams, sweetheart!” said Brad with the bold brashness of a boy who believed in himself.
    But did I believe in him? Did I believe in boys?
    That was the question.<


    “You should dump him!” said Alice.
    She had surprised me.
    Alice had never been one to advocate dumping a man before.
    “He’s let you down!” she continued. “Again!”
    I cuddled the cell-phone closer to my ear. I didn’t want the other occupants of the washroom cubicles to hear what I was saying.
    “Maybe,” I said. “But then again, maybe not. Maybe it was my fault! I misunderstood what he said on the phone.”
    “I can’t believe you’re making excuses for him!”
    I didn’t want to fallout with Alice. I shouldn’t have phoned her from the gas station washroom.
    If Brad found out he’d be furious. He likened Alice to an insufferable suffragette.
    If only he’d known that she would have thrown herself under a horse for a husband!
    “I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt,” I said. “After all, he’s booked this. So it can’t be all bad!”
    I’d live to regret those words.
    “What’s all that stuff on the roof of the car?” I ventured as I crossed the gas station forecourt and opened the door of the car.
    “That’s the camping equipment!” Brad said.
    “Camping equipment! I thought we were staying in a hotel!”
    My voice sounded shocked even to me.
    “A hotel! Why would we stay in a hotel?” enquired Brad like he’d never heard of such a thing.
    “Because that’s where people usually stay on a holiday!” I replied.
    “This is not a holiday!” said Brad.
    I could see that already.
    “U.F.O. spotters have to stay where they can spot U.F.Os,” said Brad monosyllabically.
    I guess he thought I was an alien who found such things impossible to comprehend.
    “And in a tent I can do that easily. Just nip out and spot the sky. At night-time. Course, during the day, I’ll be at the conference in Bonnybridge.”
    “The conference!” I said, wondering where I’d be.
    “The UFO Conference!”
    He looked at me pitifully.
    “And where will I be?”
    I voiced my thoughts out loud.
    “You can go and do your girly things!” he said with a brush of his hand. Like anything women did was of little consequence.
    I didn’t communicate with him the rest of the journey.
    How do you communicate with an alien?
    I helped him set up the tent on the edge of the village. But only because I didn’t fancy spending the night with no cover. I wondered how Brad would take my refusal of his advances. But I needn’t have concerned myself.
    “I’m knackered!” he said, rolled on his side and promptly fell asleep.
    I awoke the next morning to find him gone, a hastily scratched letter lying where he had been sleeping.
    “See you this evening! Have left you something to read!”
    How kind of him! I thought.
    I was surprised he thought girls could read.
    I picked up the crumpled edition of yesterday’s local newspaper that Brad had picked up at the gas station and began leafing through the pages, wondering what the hell I was going to do all day. I’d already spotted the fact that the village was nowhere near a town of any decent size. And besides which, I had no transportation . I knew without looking outside the tent that Brad had taken the car. I had two options. Explore the village. Or hunt out a bus stop.
    It was a tiny article on page three of the paper that made me go for the first option.
    I read on.
    Now I didn’t really believe in such things but the article made fascinating reading. And I was still mad at Brad.
    Two can play his game, I thought. Imagine how annoyed he’d be if I spotted a UFO before him! He’d have to respect women more, at the very least.
    I wondered if Brad had left the article on purpose for me to read. But the newspaper hadn’t been open at that page and the article was small. I’d almost missed it. Besides, I knew Brad’s opinion of women’s intelligence.
    I pitied any alien he approached.
    It didn’t take me long to track down the house of the man in the article. It was a small village, the street name had been inopportunely mentioned by some rookie reporter and the house itself could be easily identified from the picture of the man standing outside it.
    For a person who usually tells the truth, it was a good lie.
    “Hi, I’m from the London Tribune. I’d like to do an article in our newspaper on your recent sighting of a UFO.”
    The man looked sceptical. No, downright suspicious.
    “I’ve already been interviewed about it,” he said.
    “I know. But that was only a local paper. We think the story is of a significant kind and should get national coverage.”
    “You don’t sound English!”
    The man was a difficult convert.
    “I’m Scottish,” I said but I live in London.”
    The lie was taking off as speedily as a spacecraft.
    “Well, you’d better come in,” he said.
    I felt like E.T. must have when he found a friendly face.
    “You did what!” said Brad when I told him that evening what I’d done.
    I thought he’d be impressed.
    “How dare you interfere in my sphere of interest?” he said.
    “I was just trying to help,” I blustered. “Let you see I was interested in what you were doing. Let you see what women were capable of.”
    “Capable of interfering. Capable of lying. That’s all women are capable of!”
    I wondered if Brad had got his bad opinion of women from his mother. Though I knew she was dead, he never spoke of her. Or was it his father? I’d never met him either in three years..
    “Well, if that’s all the thanks I get for being able to show you the spot where he saw the UFO, I may as well go home now. But I warn you, if I do, we’re finished!”
    The strangest psychic feeling that we were, anyway, descended on me like a disc.
    “You mean you can take me to the very spot!”
    Brad’s voice was unusually excited.
    “Yes. But we have to do it tonight,” I said.
    I could see I and women in general had taken a considerable leap in Brad’s estimation.
    That’s why Brad and I were to be found on a hilltop overlooking the village later that night.
    “It was here!”
    I nodded. I was quite excited myself. But whether it was at the prospect of seeing a UFO or the prospect of all the attention I would be receiving from Brad, I wasn’t too sure.
    “An orange light you say,” Brad said, his eyes never leaving the starless sky.
    Perhaps the prospect of attention was a little premature, I surmised.
    By early morning, as the sun slowly rose, I was right. Neither the attention I was seeking nor a saucer had appeared.
    And Brad wasn’t amused.
    “I think you lied. I think you made that story all up! You didn’t go and interview that man!” he said.
    “I didn’t lie! I did interview the man!”
    That much was true, anyway.
    But I don’t think Brad believed me because he bared his back to me the whole night and the next morning he was gone again.
    Things didn’t improve the next evening, even when I produced the man I’d interviewed and he accompanied us up the hill to point out the spot he’d seen the object. The fact all three of us sat there the whole evening and saw nothing didn’t help.
    “He’s lying!” said Brad. “He’s only after attention. They’re all at it! Lying through their teeth so they can get attention from the media!”
    “And you’re the only one in the world telling the truth!” I said sarcastically.
    “In any form of communication, you should always tell the truth,” he said.
    Someone in space must have heard him.
    The third day was as thrilling as the other two had been. Brad was at the conference in Bonnybridge. I contemplated a whole day alone again.
    Why? I thought. Why am I alone? I could join Brad at the conference. So I took the local bus into Bonnybridge, thinking how delighted Brad would be to see me. To see me taking an interest in his hobby.
    It was an insignificant little town. A town like hundreds of others throughout the country. Small, ordinary, safe, secure. A town that, like the others, made up the unassuming backbone of the country. Nothing out of the ordinary about it. Nothing that would indicate extra-terrestrial excitement.
    Which is more than I can say for Brad.
    His reaction was definitely out-of-body.
    “What are you doing here?” he said, his face turning Mars orange. If I’d been from there, he’d have made me more welcome, I’m sure.
    “I thought you’d be pleased to see me. To know I was taking an interest in what you’re doing,” I said lamely, feeling like an alien who’d accidentally accessed Area 51.
    He was spared from answering. Another voice cut him off.
    “So this is what you’ve been hiding!”
    The broad beam of a sunny smile lit up the space in front of me.
    “This your partner, Brad?” said the amiable, American voice.
    “No!” There was a pause. Brad looked at me. “Yes.”
    Which is it? I thought
    But somehow I cared less than usual.
    “Buried in Banknock!” the carefree Californian voice crooned.
    Then those light green eyes looked at me more seriously. Like I was important. Like I knew what I was doing.
    “Best place to be,” he said. “I bet you’ve not been wasting any time there.”
    I looked at Brad. I guessed I’d better keep something secret.
    “I did some interviewing,” I said.
    “Did you now?” he said, sounding generally interested.
    “Any results?”
    It was as if he’d read my mind.
    “Not yet,” I said.
    “And we looked for UFO’s,” I added.
    Something about him made me want to communicate that with him.
    I disregarded Brad’s belligerent face.
    “How about I join you tonight?” he said.
    He addressed Brad but somehow I knew he meant me.
    “Nothing to check out, Chuck,” he said. “You’d be wasting a wonderful evening!”
    “Maybe not!” Chuck said, lowering his eyes to look at me.
    Brad was oblivious.
    And so, on that third evening, three of us stood on the top of the hill, looking for lights in the sky.
    We didn’t see any but the evening had been bright in my eyes. And in Chuck’s.
    “Told you it was a waste of time!” said Brad as the darkness started slipping away.
    “I’d better head back to Bonnybridge,” said Chuck, smiling at me. “But the evening’s been anything but wasted.”
    Chuck handed Brad and me a card each.
    “Give me a call if anything transpires,” he said.
    And then he was gone.
    “I guess we’d better head back to the tent too,” I said, the night suddenly losing its nicety.
    “No,” said Brad.
    I looked at him.
    “I just said that to get him to go. We’ll give it a few more hours.”
    I was tired. I wanted to go home. But Brad didn’t care.
    “I thought you said you didn’t lie,” I said.
    But Brad had no time to respond. A bright orange light lit up the sky and something slowly descended into the forest at the bottom of the hill.
    “Oh, my God! Quick!” said Brad and started running downhill, in the direction of the forest. Without me.
    I ran at his heels. As usual.
    That’s when we saw them. In the forest. They were standing in front of a silver disc that had landed in a clearing. But they weren’t silver. They were green.
    I don’t remember much. I just remember one of them pointing at me. And the most terrible, frightening vibration in the world.
    “Boy?” he said.
    I slowly shook my head, the feeling of fear far worse than any I had ever felt before.
    He looked at Brad.
    “Boy?” he repeated.
    Brad shook his head and raised a finger. He pointed it deliberately at me.
    I shook my head. But somehow I knew the creature knew Brad was lying.
    There was a flash of white light. For a second I was blinded. But all I felt was the ferociousness of fear.
    Then everything went black.
    I found myself on the ground. And when I got up Brad was gone. And so was the spaceship.
    Of course, I phoned Chuck. I didn’t tell him exactly what happened. But I didn’t lie either. That’s one thing I learnt from my relationship with Brad.
    “In any communication, you should always tell the truth.”
    I will tell Chuck.
    In the future. Once I learn a bit more
    But right now it’s good being a girl.
    I’m free to pursue my hobby. You’ll never guess what it is.
    It’s UFO’s.
    Chuck and a few others asked where Brad was.
    I said, “He’s gone off UFO spotting.”
    Brad always liked to do his own thing,” they said. “But he really should have taken better care of you. Why don’t you join us at the conference?”
    I couldn’t refuse. I had to find out more. Now that I had personal experience.
    It’s finished now. but Chuck and I are going back next year. And Alice has agreed to join us. I’ve convinced her that not all men are a waste of space. After all boys aren’t always free to do what they like. Look at Brad.
    No one’s heard from him. I hope wherever he is he’s telling the truth. I’d hate to think what might happen to him if he doesn’t.
    So boys, remember. Always communicate truthfully. Communication is vital. In any relationship. And girls, never feel bad about being a girl. Feel good. There are definitely some plus points.
    Like champagne. Chocolate cake. And strawberries.
    I’m having the lot when I go.
    Three days in Bangkok. Not Banknock. Bangkok. Thailand.
    With Chuck.
    Travel’s so exciting, isn’t it?
    I wonder if Brad agrees.

Love your Fellow Man?

Nora McDonald

    Valentine’s Day is over. It’s the time of year to replace one love with another kind. The higher kind. Love your fellow man. I try to. I really do. But sometimes it’s downright difficult. It’s as Mother Theresa said, “The Lord never sends me more troubles than I can deal with. I just wish he didn’t have so much faith in me”.
    I know how she felt. I attract trouble too. In the most harmless of places. Because I’m a woman.
    The trouble is all those around me seem to attract it along with me. Because they’re female? Surely not, you say. I leave you to judge.
    Take holidays. For most people they’re relaxing, stressless, enjoyable. Mine are filled with challenges and conflict. Me. The most harmless, amenable, easygoing person. That’s how I used to regard myself. Lately I’ve begun to wonder.
    Take eating out. What should be a pleasant, relaxing experience. Go in a restaurant, sit down, order a delicious meal. What could possibly prevent that, you say?
    In some countries nothing. In continental Europe there might be a problem. Particularly if you’re a woman.
    Take the seating. Pick a nice spot and sit down. Simple, you say. Wrong. In some countries they don’t like it. They want to seat you. I’m flexible. I can defer to local custom. When abroad etcera. But if you’re a couple you get an intimate table, nicely situated. If you’re a woman or two women, you get a table by a pillar, in the centre of the restaurant, so everyone can stare at you and know you’re not a heterosexual couple.
    Request a change of table, you say.
    You’d be better off asking for a change of sex. You get that false, deferential, patronising smile that indicates you are a lesser form of the human species.
    “Signora. You can see. We all full.”
    The waiter waves his hand around all the empty tables, stifling your protestations with a “Reservations, signora.” and a wave of his hand as he departs for the depths of Hades.
    Change your table, you say. A simple thing. I’ve tried that. We, two women, moved to another table and settled ourselves comfortably.
    For hours. That’s how long we were ignored. Never served. Despite hailing our waiter several times.
    “In a moment, ladies,” was the never-ending reply as he served every man and partner in the establishment, skilfully avoiding our table at all times.
    “I work for one of the major airlines! I’ll make sure I tell everyone there not to eat at this restaurant!” said my daughter, angrily, as we finally got the message and decided to leave.
    The arrogant smirks of a swarm of lesser species, gathered at the till, were our reward.
    What was their problem?
    Did they have a mother who had been powerless themselves? Did they have a mother who thought men were superior and should not be accountable? Did they belong to some belief system that demeaned and subjugated women? Or were they just arrogant assholes?
    Try another restaurant, you say?
    I did. In another country. In Europe. With another woman.
    Had to be better?
    Not if you’re me.
    The restaurant was deserted. The weather was perfect for sitting outdoors. I tried hailing a waiter. He stopped laying a table on the other side of the restaurant. My hopes were high. I might have known better. He headed for the confines of the kitchen with a benevolent wave of his hand. He’d come back, I told myself.
    He did. After a family, man included, appeared and seated themselves within location of the restaurant door. And served them. I could feel my blood slowly boiling. Still, calm yourself, I told myself. He’ll serve you next. To make sure I raised my hand. His wave was more dismissive this time. Forays to the kitchen must have numbered four. The family couldn’t have solicited better service.
    My wave was getting wilder. He skilfully avoided eye contact.
    On one of his forays into the furnace beneath, a couple sauntered into the forecourt and seated themselves at the next table to me. The waiter appeared almost instantaneously and headed in the direction of their table.
    I’m too old for this kind of crap, I thought.
    Time to raise a scene.
    My hand shot up like a Nazi salute.
    “Por favour!” I exclaimed like a Spanish bullfighter challenging a bull. “We were here first!”
    A shocked look crossed the faces of the waiter and the couple at the next table.
    “Everyone get served in good time, senora,” said the waiter shrugging his shoulders, as if I were being unreasonable.
    “Now is a good time,” I say, dogmatically, pointing at my absent plate.
    He can’t refuse. He doesn’t want a scene. He takes our order, shuffles about us solicitously, while serving, like a bug on hot bricks, I, all the time wondering if he’s added anything unsavoury to our ambrosia.
    I’m glad to depart, digestion disturbed and disgruntled.
    The hotel’s a better bet, I tell myself. A quiet drink in the bar should settle my nerves.
    Who am I kidding?
    The bar’s deserted. And so is the counter. When the barman eventually appears, he waves his hand at the seating and bids us sit down.
    It’s not a good start.
    A couple stroll into the bar, smiling, relaxed with happy holiday faces and take up a table in close proximity to the counter. For some reason I keep thinking of Groundhog Day.
    Sure enough, our waiter appears and assiduously sets about serving them. I stifle a sigh.
    The bar begins to fill up and waiters appear like hidden woodworm. Everyone seems to be getting served. Everyone but me!
    There’s only one thing for it! I await my moment. The waiter heads towards the couple foolish enough to sit next to me. He’s doing a magnificent job of showing me his backside.
    “Excuse me,” I say, in a loud voice that booms out across the bar. “I saw what you were doing. You’ve served every man in this bar. Now it’s my turn!”
    He shrugs a less than apologetic shoulder at me but comes and takes my order. The shocked faces of the tourists in the bar subsides.
    We drink our drinks and beat a hasty retreat feeling it’s all our fault.
    Who am I after all? To venture such opinions on the state of the world.
    A woman. One of half of all the population of the world. An ordinary person. But perhaps it’s time ordinary people did voice their opinions and bring pressure to bear. For while my own experiences, personal and private, may be small, petty and totally unworthy of committing to paper in the grand scheme of things, the recent attack on women in Germany only highlights the same underlying problem worldwide.
    A problem the politicians, the police and the judiciary (many of whom are men) are failing to address.
    What can the ordinary person do, I hear you ask? Plenty.
    Speak out. Write. Stop putting up with crap.
    We made politicians, the police and the judiciary. Just as we made the media. We made the heads of film studios, producers, directors and actors who need to think about their own personal treatment and portrayal of women in a film media with worldwide distribution instead of thinking about making a fast buck. We can unmake them if they do something we don’t like.
    We can stay away from their films.
    But before we do that we need to look at our own conduct. For until men stop treating women as sex objects or acquisitions necessary for success in life and women stop treating men like a superior species, necessary for a meal ticket to an easy life, making excuses for their behaviour then the future won’t be safe for our daughters sisters and mothers. While men with money and power and women in scanty clothes are attractive, with the United States Elections and Mothers’ Day fast approaching, perhaps we should look beyond the surface and see exactly what they stand for.
    After all, politicians, the police, the judiciary and media moguls had mothers too. Perhaps every man, woman and child in the world should make it their responsibility to ask themselves, before perpetrating anything, “Would my mother approve?”
    Maybe then politicians, the police and the judiciary would hand out harder punishments and sentences to such sex predators as perpetrated the recent attacks in Germany and force heads of studios, producers, directors and actors in the media to question and be accountable for their portrayal of and actions towards women.
    Love my fellow man?
    Children, women and men. In that order. Unless something changes. The children are the key to the future. But I love anyone who hasn’t lost sight of the priorities in this world and who doesn’t promote a culture of fear for our young people to grow up in. It’s not about worshipping power, success, celebrity or money.
    It’s about the little things.
    I take comfort from the little things. The male taxi driver who tells my daughter I’m a nice lady. (I’ve been doubting it.) The female hairdresser who thinks I’m normal (I’ve been seriously doubting that!) and the children who I meet on a daily basis who think I’m some help to them.
    Maybe that’s what we all need to do these difficult days.
    Just think and help.
    Children have always been wiser than us.
    Trouble? Attract trouble? Maybe we all need to. To stop those who abuse our kindness. To change things. For the better. In a small scale way or in the wider world. We don’t have to be rich, powerful or famous to do that. We can do it in our own neighbourhood. In our own lives.
    Valentine’s Day may be over. But you can replace that love with a higher kind. By doing something. Saying something. Writing something.
    Maybe it’s not that difficult after all. It’s easy. Not as easy as doing nothing. But a whole lot more satisfying. At least I can say I’ve tried. I really have. And I’m not about to give up. Despite all the difficulties. I’m really not. And neither should you.
    Sure I’m a woman. You may be one too. Or not. It shouldn’t make the slightest difference. I want a better world for my daughters and the girls of the future. Not to mention the men and boys.
    Don’t you?

Kind Woman, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz

Kind Woman, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz

Around Goes What?

Bernard Otto

    Detective Charlie Barwicki took pride in being disciplined and his survival depended on it being a cop. He had it in his finances, his marriage and his emotions. But, he broke an unwritten rule.
    Don’t sleep or fall in love with your partner!
    Sheila Gomez made detective first and his promotion wasn’t far behind. When they first met they felt the magnetism. But, his discipline kicked in when they became partners. Sheila wasn’t a beauty queen, but she had personality and a flawless tan complexion accented with premature grey streaks blended in a short hair style. Her smooth sexy voice was perfect for radio not police work, but it went from soothing to menacing in a micro second. When the coroner pulled back the covers and revealed her shattered remains Barwicki covered his mouth, but puke still shot between his fingers. One of the staff handed the disciplined detective a towel. He apologized while he wiped his mouth. He flopped in the nearest chair and struggled to hold back the tears.
    Jesus! What hit her, a semi?
    The neighborhood vermin had run through her pockets while she lay in the gutter. They took her gun and shield. He knew those jungle bunnies saw something. The EMTs scraped her off the street like a dog. They didn’t know she was a cop until the guard at the morgue recognized her. How he did that with her skull crushed was anybody’s guess. God help whoever did this! He took a calming deep breath and his heart rate slowed. The blue light cameras in that district had a history of malfunctioning, a well kept secret. Not that it mattered, they ignored them anyway. The department spokesperson would contact her family in Wyoming. He’d met her parents once who retired from the Air Force and they were only Latinos who stayed in the area.
    What to do about this...what to do?
    He sprung out the chair and walked over to a sink and splashed water on his face. He needed a shave and the bags under his eyes made him look forty-five instead of thirty-five. His thin moustache begged to be trimmed and his green eyes were blood shot. He massaged the stubbles on his shaved head. You look terrible, Charlie.
    His second year on the force he lost a partner, but he wasn’t screwin’ her. He could kick himself for breaking the rule drinking that goddamn gin. “Gin make you sin.” They said. No shit. When they kissed they paused and stared into each other’s eyes. “We shouldn’t do this.” While they peeled their clothes off. They became addicted to each other. But, they maintained discipline once a week, only.
    It worked, now this.
    Re-check Sheila’s clothing they bagged them somewhere. The stench of death seeped through the tissue he’d stuffed in his nostrils. He beckoned for the tall lanky assistant Medical Examiner working on another cadaver. He came in the room and retracted the plastic shield that covered his face. “What do you need, Detective Barwicki?” Barwicki remembered this sneaky guy. He heard he reported them to IAB for alleged leaning on the old guy for a favorable finding for the department.
    “I need Det. Gomez’s belongings.” The doctor gave him a dirty look and he followed him to a locker in the refrigerator section.
    “Here we go.”
    “Thanks, doctor.” He suppressed the urge to grab him for tossing the bag on the table. He slipped on his gloves, opened the bag and dumped the contents on a body length silver metal table. Her clothing had been sliced off in sections and ripped in others. He started with her favorite leather jacket, nothing in her pockets, but he felt something hard under the lapels. He flipped it. What was that?
    A bug...a goddamn bug!
    His thoughts swirled. Did she know she was wired? He franticly inspected every piece of clothing inside and out, shoes too. If there was anything on her body would the doctor have said so? Other cops didn’t show up until later and he didn’t see IAB yet. Who else would be looking for the bug? Leave it or what? His thoughts swirled.
    Sit and relax a second.
    When did she start wearing it? Before they became lovers or after when they pulled the stash house heist? Was she IAB? IAB tries everybody, was it his turn? Did he pass or fail? Was it their money and not a couple of corrupt cops? If she was they would have popped him by now. Or, if she was, she didn’t pass up an opportunity to line her pockets outside an investigation.
    He had stumbled on Harrison and Lomax’s plan by accident. It turned out to be so simple it had to be a setup. Those two idiots hated him since the academy. Barwicki called them “The little salt and pepper shakers,” always starting trouble. And, ten years later the wannabe interracial comedy team was inseparable; bald and skinny they looked like meth heads, but vice loved their arrest record. He overheard them in the locker room mention a place they’d staked out. He thought nothing of it and went and showered, but a few days later he and Sheila were searching for a suspect and saw them leave a vacant building. Curiosity got the best of him. They waited a while and went inside. They were careful not to disturb anything during their search. Bingo!
    Behind a hall under a few floor boards a hundred grand in cash and a kilo of coke. That was too easy. Sheila argued the simple solution was usually the right one. Maybe. That was six months ago. Those knuckleheads never suspected them, but he remembered a couple of hypes got shot a few days later. Poor things. Well they added that windfall to their retirement packages.
    Barwicki’s discipline kicked in. He made his way through the crowd of horrified cops who expressed their condolences. He controlled his teary eyes and left the morgue and headed for Sheila’s favorite watering hole.


    “Dr. Brimley, the cops have a rush they want checked out.” My newest assistant, Paula, a young overweight woman with a cheerful demeanor said. I released the coroner’s microphone, wiped my hands and examined the request form. I glanced at the illegible signature.
    “OK, whatever they want, they get, right? Screw everybody else.” Paula chuckled. It appeared the female victim’s leg protruded upward like she’d been stuffed in the bag. I ripped it open. Whatever hit her ran over her mid torso. Rigor set in quick; I pushed her legs down and snapped them back in place. Whoever the detective was she had good muscle tone. I started to draw the curtain since the crowd in the observation room didn’t need to see. They expressed their disapproval.
    Like I care, the first cut and half of them will faint. It won’t take long, blunt force trauma to everywhere. I sat at the computer than it hit me. I’d forgotten my little scheme to stir up trouble among a few cops. I hated they intimidated my boss and mentor to falsify reports and results to cover up their brutality and abuse and murder. It hurt to see, especially Black and Latino people view the bodies of their loved ones after being murdered by the police. Many shot in the back or point blank in the head. Dr. Saperstein, the chief Medical Examiner, was old and forgetful, but I wasn’t. I had to be careful rocking the police boat; it could be costly if not fatal. One of the first cops I saw after they brought her in, Barwicki, a real asshole. He allegedly shot a teen in the back. The cops and the DA spun it. It was an accident and the story faded away. I remember when the EMTs wheeled him in it didn’t appear they worked on him at the ER. They brought him straight to the morgue.
    Is this a blessing or what?
    I thought of several scenarios on causing confusion amongst the common cop or detective. Mistrust, confusion and paranoia were best. If you want to upset cops make them think there’s an Internal Affairs rat in their midst. Several months ago I paid a former bed buddy, who after studying pre-med through college couldn’t cut her first year of medical school, but she was a genius in other respects. She ended up in the electronics division of the department. I told her I wanted to play a gag on my former wife. I wanted to bug her apartment; not for real, but make her think it. Helen laughed, “If you’d married me you wouldn’t have those problems. Shame on you, but Ok.” She handed me two small devices that weren’t inventoried. “These are outdated and don’t work, but wear gloves these things pickup prints easily.” She emphasized. That favor cost me two nights at the Hilton on the lake front. I loved every minute and it reminded me why I was scared of her. Helen was a tall big woman, not fat, but big with perfect skin and a pliable body that bent like a pretzel. That encounter was a year ago, I kept my distance for fear of another heart break and she knew it. I decided not to use them; my ex would’ve figured I did it. But, I finally got over her and moved on.
    I thought about Helen when I attached the electronic device under the lapel of the cop’s jacket. Would that asshole find it? He’s not a good detective if he doesn’t.
     I’d love to take his picture when he sees it. I instructed Paula to close up a Jane Doe, my shift ended. I ratchet down my anger and finally I packed my box of personal belongings after a six month wait for the boss to approve my request for a yearlong leave of absence. Now, for a well deserved rest from the dead and time to pursue my passion; cooking.
    After hours being around dead people I made it my business to return home to an aromatic environment via the crock pot. Growing up I watched my grandparents cook for the church. It rubbed off and trial and error gave birth to my famous, among friends and family, chili and pot roast. I was destined for culinary fame, but ended up in medical school, first. I didn’t acknowledge my Medical Examiner status; MD is fine for my culinary piers. The ones with morbid imaginations could create a ton of BS. Why be a chef and ME? No...I’m not a cannibalistic serial killer like in the movies. The one time I shared my culinary expertise with my morgue co-workers they teased me to death. The jokes were stomach turning.
    People have tried to duplicate my recipes with no success. My secret, keep it simple. My ex-wife tried after we met at a church cookout and failed. After we divorced I maintained a professional relationship with them. I’m not a true believer of religion, but I’m tolerant of any organization that improves the community.
    The church was the largest on the Southside and held various events by organizations from all over the county. It has a huge dining room with a state of the art kitchen. Several months ago the head chef offered me a full time position. Now that I’m available we got down to business. My pot roast would be offered with all dinner packages and the chili on smaller menus. Flattery got them everything. I brought out the big guns; with chicken recipes that increased business by twenty percent.
    The stench and misery associated with the ME’s office wore off in several weeks. I felt good.


    For three weeks Detective Barwicki buried himself in paperwork. The big boys didn’t have enough faith in him to be affective on the street; post traumatic lose of a partner. Who the fuck do they think they are? On the bright side that gave him the opportunity to get in every bodies business. His main objective, why was Sheila wearing a bug? His strategy, for a week or so sit at his desk and sulk like a heart broken teen and gradually start to open up after his colleagues console him. It started to work, but heavy drinking after work left him with a daily handover. His suspicions forced him to drink with people he couldn’t stand. Detective Bob Smith was a health nut who thought he was God’s gift to the department and everybody in it. He hadn’t solved a case on his own in years. He slapped everybody on the back and laughed excessively. His partner, Lindsey Martin was a tall horny zipper watcher with man sized hands and feet. Det. Ross had a peanut shaped head; he reeked of cologne that didn’t cover that alcohol sweat. Barwicki stared at the reflections of Detectives Harrison and Lomax in the mirror lined wall who he’d ruled out for such a devious move on Sheila. He sipped his beer and swirled his shot glass of scotch. Elaine cracked a fresh bottle, but it was still bar whisky. Damn shame a cop practiced such deception. “Elaine, hit the breaker for that damn jukebox, rap music in a cop bar. You’ll lose your license.” She flipped him the bird and continued filling a glass. “I love you too.”
    “You should, you ain’t paid your tab in a month.”
    “Touché.” He and everybody else wanted to screw Elaine. Her sassy attitude and porno body gave a guy a hard-on. He pushed his glass toward her. “When you get a chance.” She nodded. All the whiskey in the world couldn’t ease his mind. This shit was eating a hole in his gut. His wife said his discipline persona had faded. Elaine leaned over showing her cleavage and filled his glass, “Slow down honey, they’ll catch who hit Sheila.” God bless Elaine she didn’t have to worry about his BS. Did he have to worry? Sheila might have been the target not him, she might be involved in other shit. He’d lifted a partial off the bug and either he misplaced it or lost it. He barely got time with people scurrying around. Get bold and ask Internal Affairs was she under investigation.
    Those assholes would love that!
    He scratched that thought and finished his boilermaker.
    After he followed several co-workers on occasions and checking their financials, no red flags, not even for Harrison and Lomax.
    Elaine removed his empty glasses. “You look like shit, Barwicki. Go talk to the shrink, you’ll feel better.”
    “It shows that bad?”
    “Yeah, that bad.”
    “Were you in love with her? And, if you weren’t you better stop looking like it, your wife will notice if she hasn’t already.”
    He shrugged. “Got it, thanks. Another shot and I’m done.” He peeled off two fifties. “That should cover the tab.”
    She held them up to the light. “Good” and poured his last drink. Self imposed stress would kill him if he kept worrying. He’d take one last look for the partial print. If he found it good, if not, fuck it. Elaine had a point, get it together.


    The phone rang and announced Pastor Amos. “Hello...good morning, Pastor Amos, what can I do you for this early?” I put emphasis on early.
    “Sorry to wake you, Dr. Brimley or should I say Chef Brimley, but something important has come up.” Pastor Amos said, in a joyful voice that replaced his usual authoritative tone. Whatever the reason dollars were attached.
    I didn’t want to be bothered. “That’s OK; I’m an early riser on occasion.”
    “I talked to Maurice and I need to see the kitchen staff an hour early in my office at 10:00am.
    “OK, I’ll be there, Pastor.”
    Pastor Amos’ office reflected the success of the largest church on the south side. He stood at the typical mile long boardroom type table dressed in casual jeans and a T-shirt. I could smell the new leather chairs. His ego was displayed along the wood paneled walls with plaques, certificates and photos with various VIP’s and local politicians.
    “Ladies and gentlemen.” A broad smile covered his round face. “I have good news.” He opened a folder and held up a piece of paper. “I got this fax requesting us to host a dinner for the Police Department’s Annual Lieutenants Association.” He waited for a response. We clapped a light, so what, clap. “Well, this is good for the church and the community. And, even though we don’t serve alcohol they still want to have their event here. And, they want to have the pot roast and chili worked into the menu.” The pastor smiled. “Somebody told them about your food, Doctor, I mean, Chef Brimley. They clapped and I was embarrassed, but flattered. “We have a week people, God bless you.”


    An award winning chandelier covered twenty percent of the vaulted ceiling of the church dining room. It required hand assembly and when lit a certain way displayed alternating light patterns on the guest. We substituted chili for the soup as part of the appetizer. They loved it. I did my job well and the boss decided to leave early. The thing about Chef Maurice he epitomized average; average height, average weight, average build and complexion. You’d miss him if you weren’t careful. I watched him move along the wall and mingle with the crowd and then he disappeared before I could ask a question about schedule. I stepped out the kitchen door to see if he’d left the building. I forgot I had my hat on and the present speaker complimented the cooks for an excellent meal. I broke out in a sweat and waved to the crowd. I hate crowds.
    I finished taking a leak and splashed water on my face when the bathroom door shot open. It hit the stop with a loud thud. Barwicki stumbled over the threshold cover. Where in the hell did he come from? I thought and hoped I’d never see that asshole again. This was one helluva coincidence. I never thought that classless SOB would attend anything but a KKK meeting or a drunken brawl. He turned and stared down at it and then me. He appeared to be drunk. “What’s up, Doc?” He had that sickening expression on his face. “The bathroom in this place is spotless, sign of a clean restaurant.”
    I ignored the compliment. “What’s up, Doc? Really, Detective.” I washed my hands and rotated them under the dryer. “This is a little classy for you, Barwicki, a lieutenant’s dinner...right?”
    “I never thought I’d see an M.E. being a chef or whatever at a church. Jesus, that’s fucked up, right?”
    “Why? You think because we split open dead cops we don’t like food, Detective?” That wiped that shit eating grin off his pitted face. “Get a warrant and see if you find human remains in the chili.” He jerked and cursed. He almost zipped the wrong thing. “Be careful, don’t hurt yourself.”
    “Fuck you.” He grabbed my arm and blocked the exit. “By the way who inventories a person’s clothing when they bring them into the morgue?”
    He needed mouth wash. “It all depends everybody has done it.” I stared at the sleeve of his cheap suit. “Do you mind, Detective.” I hurried back to the kitchen. That asshole suspected me. I must’ve touched something, I don’t remember touching the bug. There was no video in the room. Did he sweat Helen into saying something? But, that would be career suicide. No, that wasn’t it, she was smarted then that. I shook the negative thoughts and got back to work.
    The banquet ended with all parties happy. “They’ll be back,” Pastor Amos said. He credited the pot roast. I didn’t eat any; I stopped at McDonald’s on the way home.
    I stared at the ceiling fan rotate. What ideas would stir in my head about that damn cop? Something happened to him. He’d lost weight, bags under his eyes and jaundice skin and eyes. Hepatitis or alcohol or stress; stress and alcohol was my diagnosis. Did my plan work? That dirty look said it did. He deserved it; worry yourself to death you dirty SOB. I hated the way those gangsters with badges intimidated my mentor. Dr. Saperstein suffered from early dementia and they took advantage to cover their friends tracked with that blue wall of silence. Rumors circulated that the number of cops on psyche meds increased ten percent last year. Good, but bad for the masses that deserve and pay for their protection. I closed my eyes and went to sleep.


    Barwicki took advantage of the unseasonably warm spring temperature to clean his deck. While scraped wood splinters several steaks grilled. The neighbors placed an order he didn’t mind filling. He sipped a scotch on the rocks with a beer chaser as he waved the leaf blower back and forth. This season he didn’t have any equipment tune-up. Now, time to eat and drink, more. Milo Smith, his favorite three hundred pound neighbor, held out his platter and gazed at the two medium well porterhouses. “Well, Milo, don’t eat them both save Shirley one, I’d hate to have to arrest her for murder.” They laughed and he placed foil over the meal.
    “You’re right about that. You sure you don’t want to join us?”
    “Yeah, thanks, but I got a lot of shit on my mind. Enjoy.” His neighbor waddled down the stairs and went inside. “Honey, the food’s ready.”
    “OK, be right there.”
    He flopped in his recliner and hit the remote. He’d seen everything from the DVR and the basketball game didn’t interest him. Two weeks of “Fuck the world” leave lead to nothing but boredom. Boredom meant nothing, he told himself often in his career. He’d hit a brick wall. The partial prints he lifted belonged to that tall lanky Dr. Brimley and Helen, the newest intern, said the rest was smudged. More than likely they undressed Sheila. He downed another scotch. Whoever bugged his partner wanted her.
    Fuck it, Charlie if they wanted you you’d know it by now. He’d been racking his mind for shit that didn’t exist. The disciplined Detective Charles Barwicki had taken a back seat to a lush life full of doubt and paranoia.
    Mary mentioned his heartache.
    He denied it. The barmaid said that would happen. Time to snap out of it.
    Mary Barwicki fell in love with the church the association chose for the dinner. “It’s diversity should be an example for all, especially now with all the problems of the department,” she said. She told her friends and they decided to attend the services one Sunday. Barwicki would be there too...his being distant ends now.


    Every Sunday for the past month Detective Barwicki made it his business to stick his head I n the dining and he made sure I saw him. He’d smile and wave, “What’s on the menu,” he’d ask. The staff would reply in a nice manner, but I ignored him. I didn’t trust the smiling asshole. But, he did look better...sober with healthy color. Bully for him.
    A couple of my co workers invited me to Friday night prayer. I accepted because an attractive evangelist led the group in prayer and bible study. We’d made positive eye contact on occasions and now it was time to make my move. Seated in the first row from the pulpit, Barwicki. I hoped he didn’t see me, but he did. “How are you, doc or should I say chef?”
    “Chef is fine.”
    “I know you don’t like cops...”
    “Who does? I don’t like you, Barwicki.” I interrupted and smiled inward at the frown on his face.
    “I’m trying to be nice here, help me out.”
    Those dead eyes of his spoke the truth. “Um...OK, I’ll start. What do you want?” The people in front shifted in their seats and adjusted my tone to a whisper. “Sorry.”
    “Since both of us deal with the public at the extreme levels.” Barwicki said.
    “English please. What are extreme levels?”
    I couldn’t help but grin at his frustration. “You deal with death, or you did, I deal with the living.”
    “Get to the point,” I snapped.
    “You want to join the Brotherhood in prayer in room 300?”
    Jesus! What’s wrong with him? Is it a miracle or what? A beer-bellied skinhead detective praying? I could see him now. God, please kill all those niggers and spicks. I had to see that. “OK, let’s go, but first you hate niggers—“
    “No, I don’t!” Barwicki snapped and turned red when people turned around.
    “Yeah, you do, I got to see this.” I chuckled while we walked to the elevator.


    I attended several weeks of prayer with the brotherhood. It was enlightening and informative. It could rival any AA type gathering. Unfortunately, the female I desired revealed she continued to struggle with her past and it do more harm if we started a relationship. I agreed. Drugs and the street life ended up on the cadaver table. Barwicki of all people poured his heart out about his feelings for his late partner that crossed a line. But, he was hurt when she didn’t confide in him about an investigation.
    Bam! Maybe, my plan worked. It scared the crap out of him.
    But, every meeting he’s there with that smug, I know what you did, grin on his face. When he talked to the others he’d look my way. What was he saying about me? Did they listen to him? Why listen to that guy, he’d only been at the church a few months? Church people...I didn’t get it. After all this time if he knows or thinks he knows, so what. The best way to deal with Barwicki, kill him before he gets you. You’d never be a suspect. Wait! That’s crazy, they’re killers not you.
    But, the more I thought about it, it worked against me. I worried many a night. The dirty tricks stuff wasn’t for me. Exposure to the brotherhood softened my heart in other matters, but I still had a hard time being around Barwicki. Dr. Saperstein’s condition worsened and that lead to his resignation and after that he gave up the fight. All the prayer in the world didn’t change the fact I hated Barwicki and his kind.
    The solution to that problem, I left the church and found a job in an upscale restaurant. They say time is a healer. If and when I receive the gift of faith I’ll return.

A Disgusting Thing

Donal Mahoney

    It’s a disgusting thing but Paddy Gilhooley, who knew better as a child, had begun farting in church very early in life. He started in grammar school, many decades ago, long before the nuns selected him in fourth grade to be an altar boy to serve Mass.
    The Mass was then said in Latin with the altar boys’ responses also said in Latin. The nuns picked Paddy because he was tall and was able to memorize things rapidly. By training him in fourth grade, the nuns believed Paddy would be able to serve Mass for the next four years till he graduated from grammar school.
    Paddy was less than thrilled to be singled out for this honor. He had nothing against God or the Mass but he knew that fourth-grade altar boys were always assigned to serve the Mass at 6:30 a.m., way too early in the day for Paddy.
    Being selected to be an altar boy, however, helped Paddy’s grades even if more than once the nuns had to summon his father to the school about some aspect of his behavior that did not live up to the code at St. Nicholas of Tolentine School.
    St. Nick’s was a fine school whose mission was to educate the children of immigrants whose fathers had jobs good enough to buy small bungalows in the neighborhood known as Chicago Lawn. This was back in the 1940s when food was cheap, houses were cheap and salaries were commensurately low.
    Most of the immigrants were from European countries—Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Italy and Ireland. Parents were interested in their children getting an education good enough for them to pass the entrance exam at one of the parochial high schools in Chicago. These high schools were renowned for offering college preparatory curricula. Tuition was around $250 a year. That was a big sum in those days but Paddy Gilhooley’s father, an electrician, and a non-drinking Irishman, had already saved the $1,000 required for Paddy’s four years of high school. Now Mr. Gilhooley was saving to send Paddy to college.
    Paddy’s father wanted the best for his son. Once he had enough money put aside for Paddy’s college education, he planned to save more money to put him through law school. Mr. Gilhooley didn’t emigrate from Ireland to have his son work with his hands. No sir, his son would go to law school and work with his mind. That much was settled.
    Paddy, however, was a bit of a scamp when no one was looking. He discovered early on, for example, that one way to square the score with the nuns who required good behavior at all times was to fart in church, preferably in serial fashion, one missile after another, silent but, as his classmates aways said, deadly.
    He started doing this in first grade when he had to sit with his classmates in one of the first three rows in church. These were the pews reserved for the first-graders at the Children’s Mass. Right behind the first graders were three rows of second graders. And behind them, three rows of third graders—and so on. The procession continued, three rows at a time, all the way back to the eighth graders who occupied their own three rows in the rear.
    The eighth graders were monitored carefully by the nuns. One false move and any miscreant child would be led by the ear out into the foyer of the church, where he—and it was always a boy—was dealt with summarily by the principal, usually the toughest nun in the convent at the time and always an immigrant from Ireland. In fact, the whole convent consisted of 16 nuns imported from Ireland to deal with these children of immigrants who were not, by any means, a refined group. Quite the contrary.
    Paddy realized the nuns were only doing their job—trying to maintain order in God’s House. But he enjoyed getting involved in devilment and looked forward to being in eighth grade when he’d be able to sit in the rear of the church where the nuns kept a close eye on boys like Paddy, most of them feisty to a fault, ready to do anything at times to create a little commotion.
    In first grade Wally learned early on that farting in church was especially troublesome to his classmates, especially the girls who seldom if ever misbehaved. It took awhile for the nuns to identify which child was stinking up the first three pews at the Children’s Mass. But when several little girls sitting behind Paddy began pointing at him, the jig, so to speak, was up. Sister Mary Lorraine led Paddy down the aisle by the ear and placed him in the custody of the principal, Sister Marie Patrick, a stout bullet of a woman who did not suffer misbehavior happily.
    “Why did you do that, Paddy, at Mass, especially? Surely, you must know better. Your parents will not be happy when I tell them.”
    Paddy, though only seven years old, had learned to keep a straight face and deny anything he was accused of. But it didn’t help that despite great efforts by his mother, there was no way to comb his hair since it featured seven cowlicks—the barber had counted them for his curious mother. She had tried gobs of the most popular hair tonic of the day, Wildroot Creme Oil, but the cowlicks always popped up, often in the middle of Mass and just about the time Paddy would let the first of several farts fly.
    “Sister, I didn’t do nothin’ at all,” Paddy finally said. “I think it must have been Stanley. He eats Polish sausage and sauerkraut. Ask him.”
    But Sister Marie Patrick knew better so she led Paddy into the little office in the back of the church until Mass was over. Then she waited by the doorway to see Paddy’s parents after Mass so she could discuss the problem with them. She really didn’t know what to say to them but she figured it out by the time Mass was over.
    Upon hearing of the charge against Paddy, Mr. Gilhooley, in his best suit and tie, was outraged. How could anyone, especially a nun from Ireland, say a thing like that about Paddy, who was going to law school in a few years.
    Paddy himself, standing off to the side and watching the proceedings, enjoyed everything immensely but kept a stoic face. Even at this age, with his spectacles always slightly askew, he looked a little like a very young James Joyce or maybe George Bernard Shaw.
    He never smiled or laughed when he was in the vicinity of people of authority, especially his father or the nuns. His mother had seen him smile several times and had told his father that Paddy was not as serious a child as his father thought a lawyer-to-be should be.
    Finally, however, Sr. Marie Patrick, after mentioning to Mr. Gilhooley that she was from the same county in Ireland that he was, convinced him that indeed Paddy had been stinking up the front of the church during Mass.
    “Where did he learn such behavior,” Sister asked Mr. Gilhooley, who said he had no idea and looked at Mrs. Gilhooley, who knew full well that young Paddy had grown up in a home where his father not only farted with bravado but also used to sing, after each fart, an old ditty that was famous in the neighborhood:
    “Beans, beans, the musical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot.”
    Mr. Gilhooley was especially apt to fart and sing on Saturday afternoons while listening to the radio as Notre Dame stomped on some lesser foe in a football game. The more points Notre Dame would score, the more Mr. Gihooley would fart and sing.
    And when Paddy’s mother would complain that her husband was setting a bad example for Paddy, Mr. Gilhooley would explain once again how many farting matches he had won as a young man in Ireland. As the story would have it, Mr. Gilhooley would show up at the pub for the matches held late on a Saturday night. His presence was frowned upon because he didn’t drink anything stronger than ginger ale.
    Finally, Mr. Gilhooley decided to agree with Sr. Marie Patrick that young Paddy was guilty of what might not be a mortal sin but certainly qualified as a venial sin at the very least. He was also afraid his wife, an innocent woman if ever there was one, might pipe up and say Paddy had learned to fart from his father while they listened to Notre Dame games on the big console radio in the living room.
    “Sister, I tell you this,” Mr. Gihooley said. “If Paddy ever farts in church again, you smack him with that ruler of yours right across his keister and don’t stop till the little bugger starts crying. Then you call me about it and when he gets home, I’ll wallop him again. You and I will put a stop to this once and for all. Paddy is going to be a lawyer and no Irish lawyer farts in church.”
    Sr. Marie Patrick appeared mollified and released Paddy to his parents. His father led him out of the church by the ear for the long walk home. Paddy knew what he was in for once they got there. His father would take him to the attic door and open it and show him the big black belt that hung drooping from a hook. Mr. Gilhooley had even spliced the end of the belt so it would look like a serpent’s tongue.
    Whenever Paddy acted up around the house, Mr. Gilhooley would take the belt off the hook, wrap it around his fist and smack the tongue of the belt against his palm while telling Paddy if he ever did it again—whatever it was the boy had done on that occasion—the belt would be applied to his keister till he couldn’t sit for a month. Paddy would immediately show sheer terror and say that he would never do whatever it was again.
    Years later, Paddy, now a retired attorney, could laugh about all this as he told the story to his grandchildren. It was especially funny to Paddy because his father never hit him with the belt even though Sr. Marie Patrick had called his father several times to report that Paddy had continued to fart, albeit in the classroom and not in church.
    Notre Dame in those years won several national football championships. As a result, Mr. Gilhooley continued to fart proudly and sing his heart out on many Saturday afternoons in autumn.
    In eighth grade, Paddy was allowed to join in the farting himself but he would never join in the singing. His mother would never have allowed it. The poor woman couldn’t tell one fart from another so she knew nothing about Paddy’s participation at that level. But she always told neighbors that when you compared Paddy and his father, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

Donal Mahoney bio>/h2>

    Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, Missouri. His fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Chicago Tribune and Commonweal. Some of his work can be found at


lunchtime poll topic

Ask Not...You Will So Hate the Answer


    By the time this column sees print, we’ll be bearing down on ramming the 45th in a long line of snakes into an overly imbalanced position of power and authority high atop the planet. This person is designed in advance to disappoint us, much the same as any hero, lost love or the original pilot of Happy Days on Love, American Style, where Richie ends up playing chess with the school’s bad girl, rather than throwing the glasses into the fireplace. It won’t matter who wins the Battle Royale (IMO, that’s up to Anonymous, but then again, I don’t believe there have been free elections here, since 1876). The lack of respect and the piranha-like goto, is Amerika, for the rest of our lives.
    We’re going to fear plenty aside from Fear, itself, the word will not go forth from this time and place but be edited, spun, and eaten, probably by Arianna Huffington, just to keep it fair. Half of us will solemnly swear we hate the asshole, the other half will swear a blood oath against anyone who curls a lip. It’s very Orwellian, you realize. Christopher Hitchens said, as early as 2000, “What choice do you have, in what choice you have?” It often comes down to the sad South Park Scylla and Charybdis, of a turd sandwich or a giant douche. There isn’t going to be Truth, Justice, the American way, nor any teeming, brightgold Brotherhood of Man. Just you and all likeminded friends, having a bellyache for four years, or a headache from everyone who annoys you, as they won’t shut up about their bellyache. IOW, the beautiful view of all possibility is marred by The Haters, or said hatemongers have torched it all and now dance around a bonfire together. If, unPavlov, you won’t let go of that live wire of Good Do-Bee “Community “, and this notion that “ya gotta do what ya {ORAL DUNG}...” you deserve to get the shock Sean Connery got in the global domination vid game in Never Say Never Again...and, if you’re within Top 40 Hits of my age yet still cling to the wisdom of the papyri we studied in Dewey Decimal school—not because of deeper truths, but because you think it can be laid across our garbage dump nation as seer stone to solve ills—you win the jolt Stallone as Actual Judge Dredd gave Mean Machine Angel.
    The empty tragedy, is that nothing applies at all, today, but bread and circuses... which, should fill in every other blank in your rebus puzzle of the ‘why’ of the country you’re seeing. No Superman nor Phoenix is going to make it all better. A dull, boring snore of headship, the candidate you find most vapid as caretaker president, is your best and shiniest hope. We stand on ice caps melting, revealing freefall beneath. An Adam West BATMAN cliffhanger that ain’t cinematic. Buck up, strap in, no one controls The Big Picture. And you can’t save your children, they never were your property, let ‘em go. Best we, akin to the buttmunches on the old Cardsharks game show, try not to think a little bit, and once a “7”, freeze. You’re welcome to champion as taunt, or shake a fist at the new scapegoat, but don’t ever get the idea a patch has been found for America’s bugs. One can’t find the least system here, now, but for those bugs, well more in number than in the final scene in Creepshow. Until it’s utterly junked, which may mean no nation of any kind (so bone up on the Mandarin alphabet while there’s time), it’s hold your breath, boil water, zone out and avoid a park bench bed with all your might. No Washington mall crammed suits-full of “new”, is anything but old, so pray to Almighty Cthulhu for a dim bulb. Cross fingers for lifelessness. Take a boring president. Expect nothing. Hope for nothing, embrace tepid as a lover. If you’re truly wise, see it all as the game it is. Not of thrones...rather, Marty McFly endlessly pointing and yelling, “What the Hell is That?!”, computing statistics of how many millions continue to look off, kneejerking into distraction. You’re not cared about, noncitizen. It’s a bad relationship. And it exists for a select group inside the Beltway to oink down all the grape juice and Twinkies they want, comp’d—I would say, by You...but, no. When you pay taxes, the money’s not yours, anymore. Like the power company, or cable. They’re billing you for last month. The rape you obsess over, is the previous one. Spilt milk.
    It’s not an equation much burdened. This truly is about control issues. Not necessarily as the remedial math of 99 guzintah 1, would have you believe. Let’s break down that control, and see just how up for grabs our asses are:
    In a nation of heavily nuanced yet unlayered voters, 2 things present as to how a person tickles our fancy with presidential potential, the Frick and Frack of foreign and domestic. The former, due to our own literal interpretations of high concept words like “freedom”, “liberty”, “rights” and “dignity”, is no longer ours to manipulate. We certainly have no control in the global arena. No longer the bully, we’re just the fat kid. And the reality is, any group of individuals who think they’re a Third World nation, don’t trouble about columns of uniformed control freaks marching in for awhile; that’s been a reality in some of these regions, since Alexander. Time, will march further and longer, far, than Other culture of the moment. They know this, in the East. They know it in Africa. They know it in Europe. “Eventually, this will flip.” The flow of generations, a circle of life rolling along like the Times Square ball treading out the grain, precludes any tinkering which would result in all new default settings. Only Nazi Germany tried to get into the heart of the HD and mess with root. My poem, “Union of South Africa”, in its guts spells out the secret of true global reset:
    “Genocide, flatout
    If you have taken something away
    As intrinsic as Earth and sky,
    Then you are not more evolved
    If you don’t finish the job”
    Effectively, the concentration camps as removing any human creature not Aryan, would so, given WW2 falling the other way, by a few decades, ensure only Aryan remained. The reason behind their proposed world state being named, “Germania”, is clear enough, in this light. Not conquerors digging bootheels. Not billboard for the best and the brightest. Only.
    Wrapped Snuggie in Old Glory, we’re not going to do that. It will never happen. America as Actual Trek’s Horta, says, “No Kill I.” And together with Time and “You, too, Shall Pass”, here endeth any control. And the world, down to all former GasnGulpistans, sneers. We won’t be bringing anyone the holy secret of Fire. If we do, we will be torched with it and eaten. Give it up.
    Which leaves these shores, Seward’s Folly with its dying polar bears, and a smattering of islands who waited ages for us to leave, until they realized tourism had enslaved them for eternity. This place, its 50 states and several territories, is all I, an isolationist, ever gave a damn about. Problem being, we’re entrenched in world affairs, and there is such a thing as a global economy. And, we’ve been making terrible decisions along $-related lines, for a very, Very long time. I said also in a poem, our first banking czar, Nicholas Biddle, is laughing his ass off, in Hell. It’s naive on a drooling level, to allow monies to be held by Others, then believe theft will not occur. But, it doesn’t matter what I think, or what information to which you avail yourself. It doesn’t matter if we will have to, in main, “live poor” all our days, or if checks, as it were, stop coming. There simply and plainly is not enough to go around, even if kids being born slowed to a shuffle. Not and enjoy cool things, which is why unbathed young people growl minimalistic principles. No one gives two shits about such philosophies, when all is flowers and hot, fat sandwiches. Jeremiah as life coach, disappears with fiscal health. In the 80’s, no one heard the stinky prophets over the Thriller album. In the 90’s, no one heard them over lip smacking the new pizza with the cheese in the crust. Now, like a Rotary Club meeting where everyone tries to sell insurance to one another, the threadbare choir preaches poverty, LOUD—but in main, to itself...possibly a wise trick for selfhardening, as poverty, well below shop ‘til you drop, is the first day of the rest of your life. All of You—and your kids, probably worse, let ‘em go, they don’t belong to you—have a “King of Pain” day to day a-comin’, scraping along, no deus ex machinae, no pink cloud gonna-happen day. Every Man a Crachit. The future, though if in fortune the government remains the one inherited from the Constitutional Convention rather than Mao tse-Tung, is survival only. Bare subsistence. Point A to Point B. Ant Community, in full. Thank God I’m dying. Good fuckin’-luck, to the rest of you...
    The grouchy, grinching minimalists, untrue to their own preachings, hold for change and overhaul and Revolution without blood (which is a joke—try that Now, in 2016; it’s an actual, forward move, nonfriend. You’ll get gassed like a Bonus Marcher). Minimalists, even those genuinely poor, don’t want the very reality providing them with Nothing. They want...what? A reality where They too get the big screen TV and the scrub-your-very-back computer with its terabytes and Milky Waybytes and expanding universebytes where old Voyager transmits porn from Alpha Centauri?...or, a reality where You don’t get anything, either, whether you wish it or not? And, shouldn’t wish for it. Let me tell you how to think, there’s one, uniform Way, y’see. This is the new spin, so, en garde position for it, now: “You should not be told what to think, but HOW to think.” These are equivalent. There is in formula, no difference in intended result. The Above POV is mind control and should be shunned. If necessary, balls to the wall, with terminal intensity.
    Still, minimalism, as all philosophy, is but retentive niceties. A mere bag of shells, to quote a retiree in days of my teens. We’re all going to die, we all knew that nugget, it’ll just be badly, now, in terms of filth or violence. Bukowski’s Factotum as mortality. Sitting in unswept grit inside stained walls, without toilet paper and supping thin stew, or feral, in the “worker’s riot” scene from Intolerance, as we bust heads and have ours busted, probably over who gets the last Tickle Me Trump. There isn’t any more money, not the googol-gillions necessary for the system to run, and we refuse to live without it...All of Us. Even those with dirty feet—they, mostly because (I’m told) home grown pot, is shitty. The only close to-quick fix, advancing on Washington, DC and burning it down...only, the same pilot whom Bruce Willis outwitted in the 4th Die Hard, is going to have better luck with your small group of lil’ pissers. Don’t dismiss me. You’re Not in a Foreign Country. And if you succeed in razing the place back to the swamp it is, you level up. Here comes The Peoples’ Army. Marching in, four abreast. There exists no We the People, in a matrix-world. That, too, the notion of democracy, is something you’ve been fed. What The Devil’s Dictionary would classify as “theory”.
    No, ours is a democratic republic, which means the bitches and sons a’ bitches you elect to do battle, do your thinking for you. You agreed to that, by voting at least, by not leaving. Few, ever make good their infantile, “If _______ gets elected, I’m leavin’ the country!” I never made good on my own threats, for there exists no theocracy for me, which is the proper faith. No fooling. I could have lived very happily amid the Plymouth Brethren. It’s my own “50 Shades...”, as Life is Not Fun, nor was meant to be.
    So, no control of the planet and how it spins. I’ve opposed every intervention overseas, from Vietnam, on, btw. We aren’t cruel enough to make a difference, so screw it. No control of our own land, as its fuel is a green dollar bill, said well is dry in any satisfying or rectifying sense, and this is my reason for focusing on only money, re: domestic affairs. Our land is money, and that is all it is. I speak not of the powdered vision, but of how it played. Any other spin on these United States as the next election looms, is whistling past a graveyard. Some grandma-thing you learned to repeat. Boy Scout horseshit. “Now I lay me down to sleep...”
    Reality, an abrasive, is daily life as lived. Try your ideals on Main Street, USA, when you need a ride and don’t have a dime. There are Good Samaritans, yes—they aren’t unicorns. Rather, they drive Tuckers. We’re amazed, when we see them, we yell and point. Like seeing a biplane, even 7 years into a Kevin Costner-Earth. I wrote a scene like that, once. The happiness of those welcoming the small craft. The thrill of again encountering What Had Been. That there existed once a “better”, and it could be touched, if for a moment. The delight. I read this aloud, one night, to a roomful. A dear friend, poopooed it as “not believable”.
    I bet he wouldn’t, now.


Dusty Dog Reviews
The whole project is hip, anti-academic, the poetry of reluctant grown-ups, picking noses in church. An enjoyable romp! Though also serious.

Nick DiSpoldo, Small Press Review (on Children, Churches and Daddies, April 1997)
Children, Churches and Daddies is eclectic, alive and is as contemporary as tomorrow’s news.

Kenneth DiMaggio (on cc&d, April 2011)
CC&D continues to have an edge with intelligence. It seems like a lot of poetry and small press publications are getting more conservative or just playing it too academically safe. Once in awhile I come across a self-advertized journal on the edge, but the problem is that some of the work just tries to shock you for the hell of it, and only ends up embarrassing you the reader. CC&D has a nice balance; [the] publication takes risks, but can thankfully take them without the juvenile attempt to shock.

from Mike Brennan 12/07/11
I think you are one of the leaders in the indie presses right now and congrats on your dark greatness.

cc&d          cc&d

    Nick DiSpoldo, Small Press Review (on “Children, Churches and Daddies,” April 1997)

    Kuypers is the widely-published poet of particular perspectives and not a little existential rage, but she does not impose her personal or artistic agenda on her magazine. CC+D is a provocative potpourri of news stories, poetry, humor, art and the “dirty underwear” of politics.
    One piece in this issue is “Crazy,” an interview Kuypers conducted with “Madeline,” a murderess who was found insane, and is confined to West Virginia’s Arronsville Correctional Center. Madeline, whose elevator definitely doesn’t go to the top, killed her boyfriend during sex with an ice pick and a chef’s knife, far surpassing the butchery of Elena Bobbitt. Madeline, herself covered with blood, sat beside her lover’s remains for three days, talking to herself, and that is how the police found her. For effect, Kuypers publishes Madeline’s monologue in different-sized type, and the result is something between a sense of Dali’s surrealism and Kafka-like craziness.

Debra Purdy Kong, writer, British Columbia, Canada
I like the magazine a lot. I like the spacious lay-out and the different coloured pages and the variety of writer’s styles. Too many literary magazines read as if everyone graduated from the same course. We need to collect more voices like these and send them everywhere.

    Ed Hamilton, writer

    #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.

Children, Churches and Daddies.
It speaks for itself.
Write to Scars Publications to submit poetry, prose and artwork to Children, Churches and Daddies literary magazine, or to inquire about having your own chapbook, and maybe a few reviews like these.

    Jim Maddocks, GLASGOW, via the Internet

    I’ll be totally honest, of the material in Issue (either 83 or 86 of Children, Churches and Daddies) the only ones I really took to were Kuypers’. TRYING was so simple but most truths are, aren’t they?

    Fithian Press, Santa Barbara, CA
    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.

    C Ra McGuirt, Editor, The Penny Dreadful Review (on Children, Churches and Daddies)

    cc&d is obviously a labor of love ... I just have to smile when I go through it. (Janet Kuypers) uses her space and her poets to best effect, and the illos attest to her skill as a graphic artist.
    I really like (“Writing Your Name”). It’s one of those kind of things where your eye isn’t exactly pulled along, but falls effortlessly down the poem.
I liked “knowledge” for its mix of disgust and acceptance. Janet Kuypers does good little movies, by which I mean her stuff provokes moving imagery for me. Color, no dialogue; the voice of the poem is the narrator over the film.

    Children, Churches and Daddies no longer distributes free contributor’s copies of issues. In order to receive issues of Children, Churches and Daddies, contact Janet Kuypers at the cc&d e-mail addres. Free electronic subscriptions are available via email. All you need to do is email and ask to be added to the free cc+d electronic subscription mailing list. And you can still see issues every month at the Children, Churches and Daddies website, located at

    Mark Blickley, writer

    The precursor to the magazine title (Children, Churches and Daddies) is very moving. “Scars” is also an excellent prose poem. I never really thought about scars as being a form of nostalgia. But in the poem it also represents courage and warmth. I look forward to finishing her book.

    Gary, Editor, The Road Out of Town (on the Children, Churches and Daddies Web Site)

    I just checked out the site. It looks great.

    Dusty Dog Reviews: These poems document a very complicated internal response to the feminine side of social existence. And as the book proceeds the poems become increasingly psychologically complex and, ultimately, fascinating and genuinely rewarding.

    John Sweet, writer (on chapbook designs)

    Visuals were awesome. They’ve got a nice enigmatic quality to them. Front cover reminds me of the Roman sculptures of angels from way back when. Loved the staggered tire lettering, too. Way cool.

    (on “Hope Chest in the Attic”)
    Some excellent writing in “Hope Chest in the Attic.” I thought “Children, Churches and Daddies” and “The Room of the Rape” were particularly powerful pieces.

    Dusty Dog Reviews: She opens with a poem of her own devising, which has that wintry atmosphere demonstrated in the movie version of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago. The atmosphere of wintry white and cold, gloriously murderous cold, stark raging cold, numbing and brutalizing cold, appears almost as a character who announces to his audience, “Wisdom occurs only after a laboriously magnificent disappointment.” Alas, that our Dusty Dog for mat cannot do justice to Ms. Kuypers’ very personal layering of her poem across the page.

    Cheryl Townsend, Editor, Impetus (on Children, Churches and Daddies)

    The new cc&d looks absolutely amazing. It’s a wonderful lay-out, looks really professional - all you need is the glossy pages. Truly impressive AND the calendar, too. Can’t wait to actually start reading all the stuff inside.. Wanted to just say, it looks good so far!!!

    You Have to be Published to be Appreciated.

    Do you want to be heard? Contact Children, Churches and Daddies about book or chapbook publishing. These reviews can be yours. Scars Publications, attention J. Kuypers. We’re only an e-mail away. Write to us.

    Brian B. Braddock, Writer (on 1996 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.

    Mark Blickley, writer
    The precursor to the magazine title (Children, Churches and Daddies) is very moving. “Scars” is also an excellent prose poem. I never really thought about scars as being a form of nostalgia. But in the poem it also represents courage and warmth. I look forward to finishing her book.

    Brian B. Braddock, WrBrian B. Braddock, Writer (on 1996 Children, Churches and Daddies)

    Brian B. Braddock, WrI 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.

    Dorrance Publishing Co., Pittsburgh, PA
    “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.

    want a review like this? contact scars about getting your own book published.

    Paul Weinman, Writer (on 1996 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!

the UN-religions, NON-family oriented literary and art magazine

    The magazine Children Churches and Daddies is Copyright © 1993 through 2016 Scars Publications and Design. The rights of the individual pieces remain with the authors. No material may be reprinted without express permission from the author.


    Okay, nilla wafer. Listen up and listen good. How to save your life. Submit, or I’ll have to kill you.
    Okay, it’s this simple: send me published or unpublished poetry, prose or art work (do not send originals), along with a bio, to us - then sit around and wait... Pretty soon you’ll hear from the happy people at cc&d that says (a) Your work sucks, or (b) This is fancy crap, and we’re gonna print it. It’s that simple!

    Okay, butt-munch. Tough guy. This is how to win the editors over.
    Hope Chest in the Attic is a 200 page, perfect-bound book of 13 years of poetry, prose and art by Janet Kuypers. It’s a really classy thing, if you know what I mean. We also have a few extra sopies of the 1999 book “Rinse and Repeat”, the 2001 book “Survive and Thrive”, the 2001 books “Torture and Triumph” and “(no so) Warm and Fuzzy”,which all have issues of cc&d crammed into one book. And you can have either one of these things at just five bucks a pop if you just contact us and tell us you saw this ad space. It’s an offer you can’t refuse...

    Carlton Press, New York, NY: 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.

    Mark Blickley, writer: The precursor to the magazine title (Children, Churches and Daddies) is very moving. “Scars” is also an excellent prose poem. I never really thought about scars as being a form of nostalgia. But in the poem it also represents courage and warmth. I look forward to finishing the book.

    You Have to be Published to be Appreciated.
    Do you want to be heard? Contact Children, Churches and Daddies about book and chapbook publishing. These reviews can be yours. Scars Publications, attention J. Kuypers - you can write for yourself or you can write for an audience. It’s your call...


    Dorrance Publishing Co., Pittsburgh, PA: “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.


    Dusty Dog Reviews, CA (on knife): These poems document a very complicated internal response to the feminine side of social existence. And as the book proceeds the poems become increasingly psychologically complex and, ultimately, fascinating and genuinely rewarding.
Children, Churches and Daddies. It speaks for itself.


    Dusty Dog Reviews (on Without You): She open with a poem of her own devising, which has that wintry atmosphere demonstrated in the movie version of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago. The atmosphere of wintry white and cold, gloriously murderous cold, stark raging cold, numbing and brutalizing cold, appears almost as a character who announces to his audience, “Wisdom occurs only after a laboriously magnificent disappointment.” Alas, that our Dusty Dog for mat cannot do justice to Ms. Kuypers’ very personal layering of her poem across the page.
    Children, Churches and Daddies. It speaks for itself.

    Debra Purdy Kong, writer, British Columbia, Canada (on Children, Churches and Daddies): I like the magazine a lot. I like the spacious lay-out and the different coloured pages and the variety of writer’s styles. Too many literary magazines read as if everyone graduated from the same course. We need to collect more voices like these and send them everywhere.

    Fithian Press, Santa Barbara, CA: 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.

Children, Churches and Daddies
the UN-religious, NON-family oriented literary and art magazine
Scars Publications and Design

Publishers/Designers Of
Children, Churches and Daddies magazine
cc+d Ezines
The Burning mini poem books
God Eyes mini poem books
The Poetry Wall Calendar
The Poetry Box
The Poetry Sampler
Mom’s Favorite Vase Newsletters
Reverberate Music Magazine
Down In The Dirt magazine
Freedom and Strength Press forum
plus assorted chapbooks and books
music, poetry compact discs
live performances of songs and readings

Sponsors Of
past editions:
Poetry Chapbook Contest, Poetry Book Contest
Prose Chapbook Contest, Prose Book Contest
Poetry Calendar Contest
current editions:
Editor’s Choice Award (writing and web sites)
Collection Volumes

Children, Churches and Daddies (founded 1993) has been written and researched by political groups and writers from the United States, Canada, England, India, Italy, Malta, Norway and Turkey. Regular features provide coverage of environmental, political and social issues (via news and philosophy) as well as fiction and poetry, and act as an information and education source. Children, Churches and Daddies is the leading magazine for this combination of information, education and entertainment.
Children, Churches and Daddies (ISSN 1068-5154) is published quarterly by Scars Publications and Design, attn: Janet Kuypers. Contact us via snail-mail or e-mail ( for subscription rates or prices for annual collection books.
To contributors: No racist, sexist or blatantly homophobic material. No originals; if mailed, include SASE & bio. Work sent on disks or through e-mail preferred. Previously published work accepted. Authors always retain rights to their own work. All magazine rights reserved. Reproduction of Children, Churches and Daddies without publisher permission is forbidden. Children, Churches and Daddies Copyright © 1993 through 2016 Scars Publications and Design, Children, Churches and Daddies, Janet Kuypers. All rights remain with the authors of the individual pieces. No material may be reprinted without express permission.