cc&d magazine (1993-2017)

the Statue
cc&d magazine
v270, April 2017
Internet ISSN 1555-1555, print ISSN 1068-5154

Table of Contents




(the passionate stuff)

Jeffrey Zable No Longer Caring
Aaron Wilder Amends Two art
Jeffrey Zable On New Montgomery Street
Cheryl Townsend Fence art
R. N. Taber Awake, Asleep or an Everyman’s
     Compendium of Mind Games
Kyle Hemmings Diner art
ayaz daryl nielsen always
Rose E. Grier Hope art
Carl “Papa” Palmer Darwin Award a True Handstand art
Eric Obame Specter of Reality
Peter LaBerge Little Bit Longer art
Ani Keaten Girls Night Out
Linda M. Crate judgment against death
not my genesis
morsels of regret
suffer & writhe
Charles Hayes The Dancing Man
Eric Bonholtzer 4781 art
Drew Marshall Choke Mirror
Dr. Shmooz, a.k.a. Daniel S. Weinberg Doctors are Not Clowns art
I.B. Rad Atmospherics
Dark Matter
Üzeyir Lokman Çayci ÜZEYIR CAYCI 29.05.2010 1BK art
Dan Fitzgerald Blind
Brian Looney Second Sight art
Michael Lee Johnson Lion in my Heart (V2)
Janet Kuypers Without Religion

performance art


(poem & song set from the 9/3/16 Austin show “How Music is Poetic”)

Janet Kuypers What We Need In Life
Fantastic Car Crash
Made Any Difference

performance art


(1 poem from the 6/4/16 Austin women’s issues show “Obey”)

Janet Kuypers Viewing the Woman in a 19th Century Photograph



(the meat & potatoes stuff)

Charles Hayes Leaving Appalachia—A Memoir
David Russell Ice II0001 art
Paul Bowman A Visit
Wes Heine 10464043 art
Patrick Roberts Girl from 3rd Street
Patrick Fealey Nefertiti art
Arich Herrmann The Statue
Roy Haymond Double O and Vestal
Janet Kuypers groove haiku
Donal Mahoney Internment Camps in the United States
An Old Flame Flickers
Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz a Flight of Fancy art
Eric Obame Wraith, Chapter 1: Summer
Kyle Hemmings Bike art
Carl “Papa” Palmer Making Allowance
Poached Egg
The Shootist
Matthew McAyeal Current Affairs
Janet Kuypers love
Don Maurer Sing a Sad Song for Science

lunchtime poll topic


(commentaries on relevant topics)

CEE “Personulism” (My Own Private Kansas)

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the passionate stuff

No Longer Caring

Jeffrey Zable

I’m riding a stationary bike at my gym
flipping through Entertainment Weekly
when I realize that of the 100 or so faces
that my eyes took in, I recognized only 4 or 5,
and with that I reflect that this says something positive
in that I no longer waste my time trying to keep up
with the latest singers, actors, and television personalities—
that I don’t care if I ever see their movies,
watch their television programs,
or listen to their songs.
And as I continue to peddle, I drop the magazine to the floor,
realizing later that some beads of sweat have fallen onto the cover.

Jeffrey Zable Bio

    Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro Cuban Folkloric music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Recent writing in Serving House Journal, Sick Lit, Unscooped Bagel, Mocking Heart Review, Kairos, Dead King, Ink In Thirds, Tigershark, Weirderary, DogPlotz, Vending Machine Press, Third Wednesday, Kairos, Beachwood Review, Bookends Review, The Vein, Revolution John and many others.

Amends Two, art by Aaron Wilder

Amends Two, art by Aaron Wilder

On New Montgomery Street

Jeffrey Zable

I stop to watch this homeless guy lying down
with his back against a garbage can on the sidewalk
of one of the busiest areas in downtown San Francisco.
Alternating between forefingers, he picks out boogers
which he proceeds to wipe on the sidewalk. The expression
on his face is almost orgasmic. His eyes are half closed
and his lips seem to be offering gentle kisses to some
imaginary goddess. I continue to watch him while trying
to imagine what it must feel like to no longer care what other
people think, or for that matter even be aware of their presence.
After cleaning out what appears to be all that remained
inside his nose he completely shuts his eyes, and making
himself as comfortable as possible, he now appears ready
for a nap. He looks completely at peace with himself,
unlike most of us passing by who have some place
that we have to be—but don’t really want to be there...

Jeffrey Zable Bio

    Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro Cuban Folkloric music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Recent writing in Serving House Journal, Sick Lit, Unscooped Bagel, Mocking Heart Review, Kairos, Dead King, Ink In Thirds, Tigershark, Weirderary, DogPlotz, Vending Machine Press, Third Wednesday, Kairos, Beachwood Review, Bookends Review, The Vein, Revolution John and many others.

Fence, art by Cheryl Townsend

Fence, art by Cheryl Townsend

Awake, Asleep or
an Everyman’s Compendium
    of Mind Games

Copyright R. N. Taber

As I walked into a crowded room,
everyone stopped talking,
stared at me as if I were a stranger
and had no right to be there,
an uninvited guest, gate crasher, someone
sure to disturb their peace

I approached someone I once knew
to kick-start a conversation,
cue for everyone to start blowing
pretty bubbles of words
that hit the ceiling, burst, spilling questions
on each and every one of us

&8216;Tell me, how are things in your world
since last we got together?
Why must Time so hoard its past
as if it were a collector gathering evidence
to prove some point or other,
as if world history isn&8217;t always reminding
of our hits and misses, successes
and failures, well-intentioned interference
in other people&8217;s affairs as likely
to end in tears as assumptions all well laid
plans of mice and men will see
the cold light of day as tall tales written
into custom furniture and fittings?&8217;

Silences tickling my ears, like no-answers
to a single question dripping me
like raindrops, leaving puddles in my wake
as I negotiate paths opening up
to let me pass, courtesy of people I&8217;d loved,
let slip away or simply forgotten

No welcome hugs, kisses on each cheek,
only looks probing my thoughts
from bubble faces soaking me in memories,
half memories, pretend memories
for all I know, pulling at lesser heartstrings,
sleepwalking me into other selves

Diner, art by Kyle Hemmings

Diner, art by Kyle Hemmings


ayaz daryl nielsen

hollow as a wind
the sheer edges
of my uncertainty
always unfolding

about ayaz daryl nielsen

    ayaz daryl nielsen, veteran, former hospice nurse, ex-roughneck (as on oil rigs) lives in Longmont, Colorado. Editor of bear creek haiku (26+ years/135+ issues) with poetry published worldwide, he also is online when you search for bear creek haiku - poetry, poems and info.

Hope, art by Rose E. Grier

Hope, art by Rose E. Grier

Darwin Award

Carl “Papa” Palmer

man with a footed fish tattoo
files for workers compensation
claims injury an act of God

Author Bio

    Carl “Papa” Palmer of Old Mill Road in Ridgeway VA now lives in University Place WA.
    He has a 2015 Seattle Metro contest winning poem riding buses somewhere in Emerald City.
    Carl, president of The Tacoma Writers Club is a Pushcart Prize and Micro Award nominee.
    MOTTO: Long Weekends Forever

A True Handstand, art from

A True Handstand, art from

Specter of Reality

Eric Obame

A shiver on a hot summer night
Footsteps on the second floor when I’m alone
My television powering up on its own
Lights I turned off back on, my furniture moved
The burners on high when I come home
Loud knocks in my walls, exploding light bulbs
A voice in my ear when I’m trying to sleep
You switched on the TV in my bedroom
When I was walking down the hallway with my mom
You raised the volume all the way up
But when I looked for you, you were gone
I hear you, and then you leave me alone
What do you want from me?
Following me, making everyone think I’m imagining things
I have mental problems
I have mental problems?
I heard you singing in my dream, when I was sick, when I was weak

I’ll bring you to our side
When all your love has died
Shaped by hate, nursed by death, taught by pain
Raised in Hell, I was made in Hell’s flames
When you’re lost, and you feel like crying
When you’re tired, and you have stopped trying
When you’re lonely, and you feel like dying
When you’re hungry, I’ll make you smile
Made in Hell, I was raised in Hell’s fires
I’ll cheer for you
I’ll care for you
Through your hardest times
And make you mine

I will not let my conscience die
Hand me alcohol as if it were water
Feed me pain
Blind me with blood
Slap me with fire
Drown me in rain
I will not let my conscience die
Come to me when I’m asleep, burning and shivering
Sneak into my dreams and link with me
Show me death
Show me torture, tears and terrified faces
Like a movie of misery projected onto the screen of my mind
Make me turn, fall out of bed and scream when I awaken
I will not let my conscience die
You’re a shadow in my world of light
Go away
There is nothing for you here

A moment of clarity?
Am I evil?
I’m all alone
The voice has gone away
In the comfort of my home
Lying on the couch, I close my eyes exhausted
I’m finally all alone
I’m so lonely
Words like teeth ripping my flesh
I was dying within its breath
I’m finally all alone
Stranded, sinking
I can’t do this
When I die, will I see God?
Will it stumble to its knees and cry?
Will it beg for my forgiveness?
Why am I doing this to myself?
In all of us a demon hides
I will not let my conscience die
I will not let my conscience die
I will not let my conscience die
God, how long will I have to fight?

Why fight?

I hear you whispering in my ear
I feel you caressing the side of my face

I’ll bring you to our side
When all your love has died
Shaped by hate, nursed by death, taught by pain
Raised in Hell, I was made in Hell’s flames
When the rage inside you eats you away
And you need a way to lose the loser you portray
You see them every day, how they laugh—they play—they’re sane
Their contentment is your shame

I am not a game
Dead end
You see the sign, but there is no turning back
The road of your life stops here

Little Bit Longer, art by Peter LaBerge

Little Bit Longer, art by Peter LaBerge

Girls Night Out

Ani Keaten

church girls party like
a point to prove.

never got to be crazy,
now a wild flower child.
shrooms or lsd?
shrooms or lsd?
shots shots shots!

consent spontaneity is sexy,
dance on a stranger,
penises for everyone!
ask the waiter if he’ll strip,
take the waiter home!

freshly 21,
drinking bloody mary
in public—gasp—
not like the closet drinkers.

what the hell is uber?
everyone came together,
the dd will stop drinking

I kissed a girl
and I liked it.
don’t twat swat me bitch!

married women got game
so why not play it?
piggy back around the bar,BR> screaming
can we get free drinks?

Ani Keaten Bio

    Ani Keaten is a poet grown in the desert mountains of Idaho. She writes about daily life. @anikeaten

judgment against death

Linda M. Crate

you’re like the little
brown bat that
visited me
this summer
unwanted and unwelcome
hissing at me
when all i want is a moment’s
peace and some sanity
always demanding
to be seen and felt and known
when sometimes i wanted
to forget the curvature of your face,
and always trying to manipulate
me and my emotions and insisting that
you knew so much better than me
all the things of the world;
i could tell you a place where you could
shove your unwanted advice
but that would mean speaking to you once more—
i will wear this silence well
because it’s better than the chaos of your name
judgment day has come
i will not speak to you ever again
because your negativity grates in my ears like
a screeching banshee,
and where you were always darkness
i was always light
life and death cannot dance together
as i once thought.

Linda M. Crate Bio

    Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has three published chapbooks: A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press - June 2013) and Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon - January 2014), and If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016). Her fantasy novel Blood & Magic was published in March 2015. The second novel of this series Dragons & Magic was published in October 2015. Her third novel Centaurs & Magic was published November 2016.

not my genesis

Linda M. Crate

it will echo forth
now and forever
all of your
towards women friends
or foe,
and i hope it pays you handsomely
for your unkindness
karma that is;
i know you are my genesis
and not my
i should leave the past in the past,
but i can’t let go—
i thought i had forgiven you,
but new waves of anger
have riddled me
i am saltier than the ocean when i learned
that you married the girl you cheated
on me with;
even though they tell me
that she isn’t pretty and she’s matronly and that
you weren’t looking for a companion but
a mother
i just want to drown you both to drown in
despair and misery
all of your days
you deserve nothing less for all the ways you demolished
the sacred bonds of honesty and
loyalty and love.

Linda M. Crate Bio

    Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has three published chapbooks: A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press - June 2013) and Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon - January 2014), and If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016). Her fantasy novel Blood & Magic was published in March 2015. The second novel of this series Dragons & Magic was published in October 2015. Her third novel Centaurs & Magic was published November 2016.

morsels of regret

Linda M. Crate

my tears meant
nothing to you
so yours will mean
nothing to me
my scarred heart
still trembles at the sound
of your name,
and i thought i would be
okay at ashley’s
but my knees shook and my
courage failed me when
i saw your face
rage faded away into anxiety
i fled before returning
reminding myself
that past echoes would only yield
results of the past
i am not the same person i once was—
my strength has raised leaps
and bounds,
but i cannot help it;
you will always be my weakness until you’re
gone and i know this to be true
you always remember your genesis
even if they are not your revelation—
all my flowers
i gave you,
but you couldn’t even afford the price
of my naked soul;
and i regret ever giving you anything
including all my kind words.

Linda M. Crate Bio

    Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has three published chapbooks: A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press - June 2013) and Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon - January 2014), and If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016). Her fantasy novel Blood & Magic was published in March 2015. The second novel of this series Dragons & Magic was published in October 2015. Her third novel Centaurs & Magic was published November 2016.

suffer & writhe

Linda M. Crate

you always want to play the hero,
but you are the villain
of this story;
wayward and sick as a starving wolf
you snap and bite at everyone
friend or foe—
you tell yourself you’re a good person,
but you’re a maggot because
disgusting as you are
you could never be a cockroach
for they have the bravery of wings and braveness
is something you’ll never have;
weak and fragile as a worm
you writhe in the
face of danger
i hear that you’re a good hand puppet
for your wife—
i would have thought that maybe a woman would
want something more than a spineless coward,
but perhaps this is the beginning of karma
maybe she’ll shatter your heart
like you did mine;
maybe it’s wrong to hope it
but i want you to suffer
as i did.

Linda M. Crate Bio

    Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has three published chapbooks: A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press - June 2013) and Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon - January 2014), and If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016). Her fantasy novel Blood & Magic was published in March 2015. The second novel of this series Dragons & Magic was published in October 2015. Her third novel Centaurs & Magic was published November 2016.

The Dancing Man

Charles Hayes

    Bo Jangles on the ties: a one, a two, a hop to the rail, on down the tracks of time. White water calls the beat and sidelights of leafy green splash from the walls of steep timber. Soft-shoes on lines of dusted steel kick high. Suddenly a flash douses the spot, sweeping rivers and roads to dead flats, time hooks to nowhere, and high kicks shrivel to torn sneakers atop a trash pile. Mood becomes fickle, an independent push. And the beat is the simple thumping of my heart.
    Children with smooth lidded eyes over flashes of alabaster dip and bump black winged gargoyles above the muddy Mekong. A little one runs to catch up, a broken and tailless kite swirling in her draft. Stopping, she holds her kite to me, dark eyes saying, “You can do it, you can make big people die. This is only a toy, fix it.” Pushing away the rags and bamboo, their smell of nuoc mam shooting slivers up my nose, I walk on.
    Turkey Vultures lift from the rails, offal trailing from their beaks. Like kites they soar, hovering high while their radar feathers my skin. The pushback of a mashed eyeless carcass, nested in thick bone colored snakes, looks up at me from under foot. Locked by its haunt, I am suddenly jarred back by a blare. Leaping aside, I wash in the coal dust with the opossum’s severed head, draining down to the clack of steel wheels.
    In the canyons of the yard the walls of ebony blocks shiver and screech, protesting my steps across their sooty plain. Slag piles give up their ghosts and morph to the dirge, a lazy waltz for one.
    Smoking rags hanging from blistered lumps of wet red beg, “Kill me, it will be fine. Please.” A phantom screams over as waves of melting wax run purple down the waving engineer’s face, his locomotive throwing spears of color from its tumbling canisters of sunshine.


    From the stage Lucy says, “About time you got here. We’re missing Joe, Jane will take his lines. You’ll do the same ole same ole. Where you been? You were supposed to be here an hour ago.”
    Looking to the steep hardwoods rising sharply all about, I feel more at home in this small amphitheater. Like a bit of colored glass in a bowl of jewels. Sometimes I think it would be nice to just stay here and put on faces.
    Planting her fists on her hips, Lucy loudly cues, “Well are you going to answer me or not?”
    “I took the tracks,” I reply. “It’s been a while. Just wanted to pass that neck of the woods.”
    “Well, I’m glad you made it. Nobody else can do that part like you. Hard to believe that you’re not even a veteran. How’d you ever miss that one?”
    “Just lucky, I guess.”
    “Well get on backstage and suit up. They’ll start arriving soon.”
    Heading around back, thinking that life is but a stage, I am pulled up again before I can exit. “Oh! And one more thing. You missed the run through. We’re going to pull it back a little tonight. You know, like no big deal, got it?”
    “I got it, no big deal.”

Charles Hayes bio

    Charles Hayes, a multiple 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, Scarlet Leaf Publishing House, Burning Word Journal, eFiction India, and others.

art (4781) by Eric Bonholtzer

art (4781) by Eric Bonholtzer

Choke Choke Mirror

Drew Marshall

I was alone in my apartment eating dinner
I looked down at the ground while swallowing
A cockroach was scurrying across the floor

Something was now stuck in my throat
I could breathe but it hurt when I swallowed
I rushed to the sink and drank a glass of warm water

The substance was still lodged in my throat
I headed for the hospital emergency room
A good half mile away

What ensued was a very bad comedy skit
Talking irritated my condition
I had to answer hundreds of questions

I could barely spit out any answers
There were no seats available
I leaned against the wall by a vending machine

Eventually I was wheeled into another section
The right foot rest was missing from the wheelchair
I sat for several hours

After the X-Rays, I found myself alone in a small office
A few decades had passed before someone entered with the results
There was nothing in my throat

I probably scratched it and I would be fine in a day or two
If not, call my primary care physician
I arrived home after midnight and went straight to bed

As my head hit the pillow the particle moved
I had trouble breathing and could not swallow
My body was retching

I barely made it into the bathroom
I held onto the sink as my knees buckled
I saw myself turning blue in the mirror

This is the end, I’m dead
The second I finished that thought
I coughed up the culprit

A chickpea

I breathed a sigh of relief
Most of us have had close calls with death
Few watch themselves dying in the mirror

Doctors are Not Clowns, art by Dr. Shmooz, a.k.a. Daniel S. Weinberg

Doctors are Not Clowns, art by Dr. Shmooz, a.k.a. Daniel S. Weinberg


I.B. Rad

Some say
the world to come
will function
on wind or solar,
others nuclear,
still others, natural gas...,
I say it’s gas
for the world ever has
and always will
run on hot air and flatulence.
Truly, if “money’s the mother’s milk of politics,”
mendacity’s its oxygen
and whether misinformation’s propelled
by paper, TV, radio, blog, or tweet,
passing gas is passing gas,
so no matter how it’s framed
it smells
just the same.

Dark Matter

I.B. Rad

As with the physical cosmos,
what matters
in our political universe
works unobserved,
it’s irresistible gravity
able to shatter
stellar bodies,
even to interdict
our brightest cultural lights.
Small wonder
media’s reportorial stars
obediently orbiting
these dark luminaries
prudently let them remain

ÜZEYIR CAYCI 29.05.2010 1BK, art by Üzeyir Lokman Çayci

ÜZEYIR CAYCI 29.05.2010 1BK, art by Üzeyir Lokman Çayci


Dan Fitzgerald

I watch here,
unblinking in this place
devoid of light or darkness.
All I see now are memories-
trees, grass, sky, faces, city streets,
clouds, colors.
I am afraid,
afraid to move or touch,
to speak, even listen.
Afraid that if I do,
other senses will disappear and be gone
leaving me in this place
where light does not speak,
darkness does not listen,
the scents of places known
no longer linger,
and colors become as untouchable
as a memory.

Second Sight, art by Brian Looney

Second Sight, art by Brian Looney

Lion in my Heart (V2)

Michael Lee Johnson

There is a heart embedded inside this male lion, I swear.
I eat leaves and underbrush, foliage of the forest, I belch.
Then I fall in love with birds, strangers and wild women.
Tears fall into the lush forest green below,
like Chinese crystal glass beads, shatter.
Then I realize it’s not the jungle, but I that am alone.
In the morning when the bed squeaks, both alarm clocks erupt,
I realize I’m alone in my jungle.
I hear the calls of the wild-
the streetcars, and the metro trains,
wake me in my sleep in my jungle alone,
let me belch in my belly with my Tums,
let me dream in my aloneness I swell.
There is a heart embedded inside this male lion,
I swear jungle man, lion lover, and city dweller.

lion photograph copyright 2005-2017 Janet Kuypers

Michael Lee Johnson bio

    Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. He is a Canadian and USA citizen. Today he is a poet, editor, publisher, freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, Illinois. He has been published in more than 915 small press magazines in 27 countries, and he edits 10 poetry sites. Author’s website Michael is the author of The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom (136 page book) ISBN: 978-0-595-46091-5, several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems. He also has over 101 poetry videos on YouTube as of 2015: Michael Lee Johnson, Itasca, IL. nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015 & Best of the Net 2016. Visit his Facebook Poetry Group and join He is also the editor/publisher of anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze:

Without Religion

Janet Kuypers

God doesn’t make sense

there are other, more rational, possibilities
prove to me to make me believe
be provable

morals, virtues, values
are not based on religion
people see no consequence to being “good”
unless the consequence is a God

people are afraid to face death
people really don’t want to believe
death is an end
       it is an end
you simply cease to exist

people claim to have beliefs
but don’t live by them
they’re not beliefs
they lack a belief system they understand

God is your answer
to all of your questions
not the right answer
but an answer

“But God loves you“

If love is unconditional
there is no value in it
it is not earned, it is not chosen
it is not a value, it possesses no worth

Gods have been created
by people throughout the ages
to answer the unanswerable

rain gods explained the weather
people created gods for harvests
gods reflected the stars and planets
God explained how the world began
                                how to live well
what will happen after our lives end
gods reflected the image of man and earth

but they were all created

take responsibility
        and credit
for what you do

joy comes from within
you can’t find joy from within
so you find it in your God

for great minds to prosper
they have to follow reason

I do what I set my mind to
I use the best tools I have
        my mind
I succeed
I accomplish my goals

knowing that
believing in my abilities
gives me the drive
makes me truly happy

it is my mind
        my mind, my abilities, my power
        not some God
that makes my life complete
I have complete dominion over my life
I’m the one I answer to

I fill my own void
without religion
I am whole

video videonot yet rated

See YouTube video from 8/28/16 of Janet Kuypers reading her 3 poems “Excuses for Skipping Work”, “Without Religion” and “Perversion” @ Austin’s open mic Kick Butt Poetry (filmed with a Canon Power Shot camera).
video videonot yet rated

See YouTube video from 8/28/16 of Janet Kuypers reading her 3 poems “Excuses for Skipping Work”, “Without Religion” and “Perversion” @ Austin’s open mic Kick Butt Poetry (this video was filmed with a Sony camera).

Read the Janet Kuypers bio.


performance art
(poem & song set from the 9/3/16 Austin show “How Music is Poetic”)

What We Need in Life

Janet Kuypers

I don’t know where this road is taking me anymore     and
I don’t know the right lines to say
I don’t feel the things that you’re feeling
               down deep inside of you     but
I know this ain’t the way

nothing ventured
nothing gained
nothing changes
nothing stays the same

but you go your way
and I’ll go mine
maybe one day
we will find

what we need in life

what we need in life

I watch the ashes from your cigarette
               fall to the ground     and
I think this fire will die down
I think I now see what is happening here
               between us     and
I have to say good bye

nothing ventured
nothing gained
nothing changes
nothing stays the same

so you go your way
and I’ll go mine
maybe one day
we will find

what we need in life

what we need in life

I can’t stay bitter and lonely and restless anymore     and
I can’t be here with you
I see the red in your eyes and it scares me half to death     and
I’ll take this road alone

nothing ventured
nothing gained
nothing changes
nothing stays the same

you go your way
and and I’ll go mine
maybe one day
we will find

what we need in life

what we need in life

Read the Janet Kuypers bio.

Fantastic Car Crash

Janet Kuypers

and our life is one big road trip now
and we set the cruise control
and make our way down the expressway.

and most of the time we’re just moving
in a straight line, and the scenery
blurs. there’s nothing to see

but I know what’s inside you and I
know what you’re made of. I know
there’s no such thing as a calm with you

you are a fantastic car crash. you stop
traffic in both directions as the gapers gawk and
the delay grows and they slow down and stare

everything shatters with you, you know.
it’s a spectacular explosion. I try
to duck and cover as metal flies

through the air. and every time you leave
the scene of the accident
I am left picking up the shards of glass

from the windows. you know, the glass breaks
into such tiny little pieces. they look like
ice. it takes so long to pick up the pieces

even though I’m careful
I’m still picking up the pieces
and I’m still on my knees

and the glass cuts into my hands
and the blood drips down to the street.
think of it as my contribution

to this fantastic car crash
that is you, that is me, that is us
as I pull the glass from my hands

and I wave my hand to the line of traffic:
go ahead, keep driving, this happens
all the time, there’s nothing to see here

Read the Janet Kuypers bio.


Janet Kuypers
from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#050, Sn)
4/2/13 (sung to a beat)

If I only had a brain

if I only had a brain

I’d get out from under
this bent tin roof
that covers me
as I sleep at night

tin metal sheets
keep the rain away
but the wind

but the wind

if I only had a brain

I wouldn’t use
my old tin cup
to stand and face east
at Canal and Randolph
and ask for change

I wait for commuters
to cross the Chicago river
to get to their train

you see, I wait
at the other side
and the ones with the money
have to walk right by

that’s when I rattle
my old tin cup
give them doe eyes
say “God bless”

but if I only had a brain
I wouldn’t rattle
my tin cup
and ask for tin change
I’d get myself up

if I only had a brain

I’d have a lot of money
I’d eat at fancy restaurants
I’d wear the plastic bib

if I only had a brain
I wouldn’t be poor
tin cans of Fanta
soup from a tin can
on Tin pan alley

if I only had a brain

you might bend me
but I just won’t break
‘cause if I had a brain
then I’d be great

Read the Janet Kuypers bio.

Made Any Difference

Janet Kuypers

So I’m at my bar
I just overheard

that another guy
in the past few months

now, this is grapevine
but I need to see him

he went out for a smoke
I walked up to him

I reached my hand out
he offered me a new one

then holding his smoke
I spoke of his wife

and I don’t want to
but we care for him

he said I was right
then holding his smoke

handed me his smoke

I stood there a while
wondering if I

my favorite hang-out
from people talking

who’s always here
has had a few strokes

I just heard snippets
put in my two cents

and even though I don’t
after he lit up

toward his cigarette
but... I wanted his

I told him I heard
asked about his kids

get on a high horse here
we want him happy

he’ll take some time off
said that he should quit

and then walked away

sucking nicotine
made any difference

Read the Janet Kuypers bio.


performance art
(1 poem from the 6/4/16 Austin women’s issues show “Obey”)

Viewing the Woman
in a 19th Century Photograph

Janet Kuypers
5/31/16 edit of the 1991 poem “Photograph, 19th Century

I see the woman in the picture,
I see their depiction of beauty —

of something
that couldn’t work
that can’t work...

I see the sepia toning,
but I also see the dependency,
and I see the degradation.

My mind has been cluttered.
I can’t see the women,
I see the adornments of beauty
the preposterous impractical way
she has been made to be seen
and not heard.

She was forced with this image...
And it most be a shame
because now I’ve been tainted
with the knowledge of society,
with the knowledge of it’s motives.
And now I can’t even see the beauty.
I can only see the oppression.

“Oh, it’s not like that anymore” they say.
as I wipe the make-up off my eyelids
and wonder who I’m trying to impress.

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 in the free chapbook
6/4/16 at Expressions 2016: June is a Woman! show in Austin
not yet rated
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers saying her twitter-length poem “Juxtaposition, or Irony?” in conversation, then reading her poems “Protect Ourselves from Ourselves” and “Viewing the Woman in a 19th Century Photograph” 9/10/16 at “Poetry Aloud” open mic at the Georgetown Public Library (Cps).
video video
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers saying her twitter-length poem “Juxtaposition, or Irony?” in conversation, then reading her poems “Protect Ourselves from Ourselves” and “Viewing the Woman in a 19th Century Photograph” 9/10/16 at “Poetry Aloud” open mic at the Georgetown Public Library (Sony).

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.


the meat and potatoes stuff

Leaving Appalachia—A Memoir

Charles Hayes

    Sitting halfway up a wooded hillside, looking down at my shack, and the creek that flows by it, I know that this hollow is more of who I am than the possibilities that come through these hills from the outside. The things that threaten me are mostly rooted in my guts. They will follow wherever I go. But the poverty and isolation are starting to weigh heavy and my best years are gone. If I am to go on I must find a way to leave this place.
    It can’t deteriorated much more. The little work that I can get is a thing of the past and my drinking is at a level that kills most others. Amazingly my body allows it to continue. Maybe it is the life that I live without the benefit of wheels. The struggle of getting from place to place puts demands upon my body that most people only read about in stories of bygone eras. Maybe this way of life, combined with a strong constitution, stands me up. Thinking that society can have their concrete trails to obesity and heart disease, I try to act like less is more. But most times, especially during bad weather, it is cold comfort. And a bitterness that is not only from the biting cold plays upon my mind. It unsettles the bit of peace that can be had by more space. Yet the anger keeps me going. And it squashes the fear. The thought of sickness has no room to dance.
    I am perceived in this small mountain community as not much. Most don’t find their grapes as sour as I find mine. Romance is dead and few women will tolerate me. Some refuse to condemn but the majority hold me low. This bothers me but, like in the war, I reject the troublesome thoughts with the mantra of Vietnam, “Fuck it, it don’t mean nothing.”
    This little hollow of Fox Run had once belonged to me, like the Hole In The Wall had belonged to the gang. But those days have passed on. And the law is as aware of Fox Run as it was of the Hole In The Wall. My grip on it is slipping.

    Fox Run is the only real home that I have ever known. Had it not been for it, I probably would not have made it. Close by my shack are buried all the dogs that I loved and that loved me. To the winds on the ridge, my mother’s ashes are scattered. But the neighbors hate me and the land has changed. It is not as free. My mother will understand, and the dogs that she also loved will stay with her. Deep down in its soul Fox Run will keep it’s integrity and ignore the assholes who climb all over it. And in doing that it will take good care of my loved ones.

    The logging trail switches back and forth among the leafy green hardwoods as it ascends to beyond where the waters of Fox Run bubble from the earth. The drone of the locusts have died off and I can smell the coming of colder weather. Near the last switchback a white tailed deer bolts down the steep wooded terrain, the white underside of its tail starched skyward. Excited chatter of squirrels broadcast my intrusion into their territory.
    I will say goodbye to my mother and the Appalachians that have helped me weather the failures of my life. Reaching the summit of the logging trail, I take in the magnificent view and feel like I am losing my last haunt.
    Speaking with my mother and contemplating life away from all that is before me, I try to leave something of relevance before starting back down the mountain. It is a hard thing to do among this landscape of isolation, its back always turned, rooted in the ages. Not looking back, I start the steep decline. The little that I have to begin another life does not allow me to imagine my return. I will be lucky to just get by wherever I end up. I am 44 years old.


    The Vietnamese woman setting beside me on the bus is heading to Minneapolis. Her conversation excites me as I learn that she once worked as a nurse for Dr. Tom Dooley in Vietnam. I read Dr. Dooley’s book about his humanitarian and anti-communist work during the late 1950s in Vietnam. That was long before I set foot there but I remember the black slab and the early deaths from that period recorded on it at the memorial in DC. Recalling the pictures in his book, I recognize the woman beside me from her much younger days, smiling happily. Now she seems sad and tired and is not doing well in the Minnesota area. For her, Vietnam was a war zone as well. She helped save lives and I helped Uncle Sam take them. It does not escape me that we both got rewarded with a bunch of shit. For myself I can understand, but it seems tremendously unfair to this women that helped do the same work that Kennedy later based his founding of the Peace Corps upon.
    She has a certain anger that she tries to cover but I can see it. I can also see that, like myself, she doesn’t cotton much to social conservation but, for some reason, is making an exception with me. Probably because I exhibit some respect for her and say that the country of her birth is beautiful. I am flattered that she seems to allow me to get inside her social screen. We never talk about it but I know what has brought her to where she is in life. She was someone loved and respected for her gifts a long time ago. Young and idealistic, she had evaded the communist uprising by coming to America when Dr. Dooley passed on from cancer. But once here, with the doctor gone, she got a good taste of racism, and how it played in her chances of having a life on par with the Americans. Disillusioned and obviously struggling to get back to Minneapolis after a long bus trip to try to better her lot, she is carrying back to Minneapolis another failed attempt to overcome the status quo. Again she has seen an America that the flowery speeches of people like Kennedy didn‘t reveal. Maybe her run from her country to the “freedom” of America haunts her.
    Reaching Minneapolis, I have to change buses. I walk with her into the terminal and notice that no one is there to meet her. Her face is hard but she summons up enough kindness to say goodbye and good luck.
    Gone in the crowd, a lonely woman on the down side of what was a heroic beginning. Guilt is left in her wake for me. I saw some of the things that I did reflected in her eyes as she occasionally looked at me during our exchanges. She saw those same things done by others like me, thought then that they were necessary, but now she knows better. She is hurt.

    All across the country the different buses make rest stops at meal times so passengers can buy something to eat and have a smoke. I have peanut butter and crackers, a few sandwiches. I do not buy food. I notice a woman and her little girl that also do not buy anything to eat. Finally, after many hours, they ask me for food. Maybe they are running from something and were in too much of a hurry to plan their provisions. Or maybe they just don’t have the means. I don’t have much to give but I share what I can. The woman eats only a bite and lets her daughter eat the rest. Their appreciation makes me feel privileged to actually encounter and relate to other human beings. I was in the woods a long time and this is different. This bus trip is doing things to me that I didn’t expect. All the buses are long haul so most of the people are leaving something or going to something. Or, like myself, both.
    I cross the Rockies and go across the panhandle of Idaho into Washington State and enter Spokane. I will change buses in Spokane for the last time. It is pushing my third day and by the time I cross Washington to Seattle it will be a full three days.

    In the Spokane bus terminal a prostitute is working the crowd. I occupy myself with observing her action. Walking over to my waiting area, she takes a proudly defiant stance and looks the area over, judging the quality of her potential clients. She is young, about 25, dressed in high heels with a strap around each ankle and a short pink skirt that reveals nice legs. Atop her head, over pretty blue eyes, and a well proportioned face, is a pile of red hair. Wearing a thin cashmere sweater with a low neckline that hints of a ripe body below, her only flaw is a small barely noticeable paunch. It is the kind of little tale tell sign on a young person that indicates that they don’t get enough exercise. She catches the eye of a young dark haired man sitting across from me and flashes a smile that shows nice even white teeth. Quickly, as he smiles back, she occupies the seat beside him, fires up a cigarette, and crosses her legs, giving me a view that washes away the travel fatigue. She and her John smoke and talk a while, smiling frequently. About five minutes on they get up and leave together, her close on his arm. Wondering where they go late at night in the city center, I realize just how much I miss a woman’s company.
    In a short while they return and, while the John melts in his seat, the girl’s roving eye picks up mine. She smiles and I catch myself, almost smiling back. She gets this and just turns the pretty smile off. It is gone like it never was, replaced by the roving business eye. It is purely the act of the deal. She takes no offense. She knows people like to watch her because she is good. This is old hat. She has business to take care of while the night is on. And she does. Leaving and returning with young men, her take is brisk. Much like a scene in a movie being shot over again, her night plays on and she does well. As the day breaks and she retires, I climb on my last bus to wind across Washington to Seattle and its Puget Sound.


    In less than a week I am working in Ballard, a Seattle neighborhood, at a plastics manufacturer running some of the same machines I operated many years before, making and repairing pumps for the mining industry. A Scandinavian working class neighborhood, Ballard also harbors the Northwest fishing fleet. My boss is a hard ass Norwegian who thinks that the world is full of shit and ignorance except for him. Many times before me, he drove the hired help away.
    Always in my face ranting and raving about something, the little bald headed Norwegian is trying to put me through the wringer as well. I want to smack the shit out of him but I hold on without being demeaned by pretending that his behavior is amusing. It works for a while but when I become interested in an office worker that he, though married, also seems to like, it gets really bad. He is trying to push me into quitting. I know that I will have to go but I am not going to give the son of bitch the satisfaction of driving me away like a cowed dog. I have survived much worse than this ass hole. I will make the son of bitch fire me. When I leave I want to make sure that he can’t say that I quit, thereby saving him from any responsibility in my leaving. The whole shop and probably even his friend, the owner, know his nature. Almost all despise it. I want it to begin to weigh a little more in his life. It is my only way to take something out of this situation. I am biding time.

    Running a very complicated machine that only the Norwegian completely knows how to run, I have learned it’s operation some and am progressing in my skill with it. Going slow so as not to damage the part and ruin hours of work, I am interrupted when the Norwegian comes running over. Jumping in between me and my work, he yells, “Good God damn Hayes, what is taking you so long!!?
    My blood boils but I throw my gut switch to calm.
    “Don’t get all hysterical, boss, these things just take a little time.”
    The Norwegian freezes for an instant and squares on me. Red faced and wide eyed, he begins to stutter.
    “Wha...wha...what did you say?”
    Taking a slightly wider stance, I smile and fold my arms.
    “Stop acting like a girl, boss. I’ll get it done. It takes time.”
    The Norwegian stands there a moment, his mouth slightly open, trying to control himself. But the smirk on my face is too much for him, he continues his rant as soon as he can regroup.
    “You’re too slow and don’t deserve this job. Time is money. If you can’t go any faster you better find something else to do. You will not cut it here.”
    He is starting to twitch a little and I know that it is time to walk but I have to get fired first. With a mask of calm and a voice that can not be pegged one way or another, I let it go.
    “Just take it easy before you have an accident. It’ll get done but I’m going as fast as I can and you little tantrums will not move me faster.”
    He starts pacing back and forth, his hands trying to grasp a bald scalp.
    “Aheeeee I can’t stand it! You’re no good! You’re too slow! You don’t belong here! You’ll never listen to me.................get out of here!!!”
    Tossing my hand rag to the work bench, I walk off.
    I will hear later that he rues this day. Because no one will stay in this job, it is eliminated, leaving him to do the work. My only regret is that I don’t get to see it.

    John Haverly, a co-worker at my new job in a group home, is about 10 years younger than me. He is also single, liberal minded, and likes the outdoors. Born and raised in Seattle and up on the Northwest and what it has to offer, John teaches me a lot about the Puget Sound region and its people. And I, in turn, expose him to some of the culture of Appalachia.

    During one of the coldest snaps in Seattle’s history I get kicked out of my living quarters for getting on a drunk. The city is at a standstill because of several feet of snow. Nothing I’m not used to where I come from, but here people are dying...and I am suddenly homeless. John Haverly takes me in and gives me a place to stay until I am able to find a studio apartment on Capitol Hill, just above downtown Seattle.
    Here, for the first time, I see men kissing men. The gay community is everywhere. I have always been liberally inclined but life here on the hill is exposing me to just how liberal things can get. Living in such an environment takes some getting used to, but I manage to work, mind my own business, and stay out of trouble within the anonymity of the city.


    In the spring as I prepare to leave Seattle for back East I start drinking and can’t stop. Taking a large bottle of Vodka, I leave anyway, sticking to the interstates and, except for a few hours of revelry with the locals of some East Oregon town, I drive straight through to Twin Falls, Idaho and crash at the home of a friend I know from my younger years back East.

    Moving on a couple of days later after taking a quick, but painful cure, I drive a used diesel VW rabbit. I have to go under the rabbit sometimes to tighten the fan belt that keeps the battery charged. In Kansas the assembly connector that I have tightened so many times breaks, forcing me into a roadside auto shop to get it wielded. Not taking it kindly when I decline to have the shop reassemble it, the owner frowns and charges me $19 for a half inch wield that would have cost $10 most places. He stuffs the twenty I give him in his pocket and offers no change. Lying in the rain, I put the piece back on the engine and continue on across middle America to the Appalachian foothills. Turning South through Tennessee, I cross the Smoky Mountains into Asheville, North Carolina.
    Checking in to an old time boarding house, I quickly land a job doing the same type of work that I left in Seattle. But it isn’t long before the authority figures that I have tried to dodge in my post war life start rubbing me in ways that smart. As the only male and “un-motherly” employee of the agency I guess it is easy to let me go when I don’t fit the mold. Consequently, I throw it in for North Carolina and hit the road again, heading up the east coast to Delaware.

    Grant and Kinesse Livson, my old neighbors from the mountains above me on Fox Run, live with their four daughters and a son on a large tract of land in lower Delaware. Back near the D.C. area where they are originally from, they are a staunch conservative family of evangelical Christians that have built a new life. Back when we first met they had lived in a candle factory by the railroad tracks in Wilcox, the nearest town to Fox Run. Then it was just Kinesse as a single mother of a young daughter and Grant as a roustabout hippie who settled there to drop out and make candles. However it wasn’t long before Grant and Kinesse were out of the candle factory and living on the mountain in a log cabin as crude as the shack that I lived in except that they didn’t even have electricity. But they did have hundreds of very peaceful and quiet mountain top acres. I enjoyed visiting them from time to time when I roamed the mountains.
    Like a blast from the past, I blow in on them and get put up in an old dilapidated camper on the back of their property. No bathroom or even an outhouse but plenty of woods.
    Like hundreds of times before, I quickly, and painfully, dry out and take a job as a laborer laying pipe for a new housing development. Grant is the foreman and the crew are all younger and in better shape than me. Most work atop backhoes and other heavy machinery while I hump with a shovel at their call. The only day that I do not almost collapse, I flag on the highway.
    My last day on the job I clear brush all morning and am on constant demand in the afternoon. It is the only job that I have been on that does not supply water for the laborers. The others carry water on their machines.
    It is a particularly hot and humid day and I get pulled from the brush detail by the young owner of the company who is running a backhoe. He tells me to get at it with a shovel and expects me to keep up with the fine digging behind the rough cut of the backhoe. There is no way, and I know that if I don’t pace myself I will never make it through the day. Seeing me lag behind, the owner jumps from his machine, where he has been sitting all day, and snatches the shovel from my hands while telling me that I am slower than his grandmother. His tone is angry and insulting as if I am lacking because of some moral flaw. It really pisses me off and if I wasn’t so exhausted I might take it to another level. But that would make it bad for Grant as well so I just curtly reply, “Yeah, but I’m almost as old as your grandmother too.”
    His eyes blaze as we stare at each other. I think he is going to hit me but he just stews for a moment, climbs back on his machine and motors off.
    That evening on the long ride home, Grant tells me that I have to go.

    I learn of Point Man Ministries, a Christian based organization that helps combat veterans in need. Started in 1984 by a Seattle Police Officer who had served in Vietnam, Point Man has chapters spread over the United States. I call the number of the vet currently running it and he quickly sends me a copy of his book and encourages me to seek help from the Point Man Organization when I return to Seattle. The book arrives right before I shove off from Delaware. I read it straight through. His story starts out in a place like Fox Run with a couple of guys who are like me and tells what it is like coming back from Vietnam. Many times during the reading it seems to be a story about me. Not since the movie “Platoon” have I been captured by another’s similar war experiences. Packing the book with the rest of my gear, I feel like I have a place to go.
    With very little money—not enough to get a place to live—and no friends except John Haverly, I thank the Livsons and set off, putting the miles behind me as I again head West. November is winding down and I expect bad weather further West. Plus the glow plugs for my diesel engine are not working properly. After shutting down the engine it will not restart. I need assistance getting started in South Dakota and again in Sundance Wyoming after a snowstorm forces me into town for the night.
    A couple of young locals push me to get the car started and I do not shut the engine down for the rest of the trip. Crossing the continental divide late at night and during another snowstorm, I drive by referencing the reflector posts along the road that stand higher than the snow. Everything else is white and it is the only way to tell where the road is. Dropping down into Washington not long after that and pushing across the arid lands of Eastern Washington, I summit the Cascades. They are also covered by snow but the VW Rabbit’s front wheel drive barely keeps me going. Fishtailing around other cars that are spinning out, I am lucky to get across the Snoqualmie Pass and drop down into the Puget Sound region, back to where I started only months before.

    Point Man, over a period of a couple years, gets me rehabilitated enough to keep on keepin on. They also open my eyes to what can happen when one finally makes a stand someplace where people have an idea of who you are. There will be many rough times ahead but here among the worn trails of others like me, the way on is not so ill defined. I manage to get old and remember.

Charles Hayes bio

    Charles Hayes, a multiple 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, Scarlet Leaf Publishing House, Burning Word Journal, eFiction India, and others.

Ice II0001, art by David Russell

Ice II0001, art by David Russell

A Visit

Paul Bowman

    “Hi, Mom. I’m glad you could make it.”
    The mother looked at her son. Her face was grieving already.
    “You didn’t have to come,” he added. “I would understand.”
    They were seated in chairs that had chrome legs and seats and backs of hard plastic. The room was fairly large. They were alone except for a man who stood at the door and watched them from time to time. He was waiting also.
    “Mom, you’ve been eating ok?”
    He was concerned. His mother did not look well. She looked older since the last visit. Her face wasn’t the same. The eyes were puffy. Her throat had more wrinkles. Her hair had lost its normal sheen. It was flat. Dull. She should try a different shampoo. A better conditioner. And her breath had an odor. He could smell it. Had she forgotten to brush her teeth this morning?
    He needed to cheer her up. He would try his best to get her to smile. To get her to forget.
    “I’ve been putting on weight, Mom. All those years I stayed at one ninety five. Now I’m two hundred ten. I’ve got a little beer belly.” He pinched his abdomen. “I should go on a diet.”
    He laughed. His mother was silent. He stopped his laugh. The joke wasn’t that funny, considering the circumstances. He looked down at the tile floor. Their talk wasn’t going the way he wanted. He wanted them to be talking a mile a minute, each interrupting the other, eager to share news, gossip, laughs, memories. He needed to forget too. He wished he could smoke. He needed a cigarette bad.
    “How are Erin’s kids doing?”
    “Good,” his mother whispered.
    “The oldest, uh, Todd, is he headed off to school yet?”
    His mother nodded yes. “School started two months ago.”
    “Is he liking it? All I ever remember about school is either hating it, sleeping in English class, or cutting school after lunch.” He laughed.
    His mother’s eyes said: I remember. I know.
    “Todd’s have a little trouble adjusting. His teacher says he is disruptive,” said his mother.
    “If he keeps up that crap Erin should give him good whipping. His no-account father ought to be the doing the discipline but that ain’t going to happen seeing as Erin has succeeded in running another man off.”
    “There’s been enough of beatings and whippings in this family,” said his mother. “I don’t see where it has done a bit of good.”
    The son raised his eyebrows. “Dad sure whupped my ass plenty of times. One time he hit me right in the jaw and I thought I saw a star explode right in front of my eyes. Whooeee.”
    “And a lot of good that did you.” Her quick words interrupted and stopped his laugh and smile.
    Mother and son were silent. He looked away from her. His face was warm. He could not believe they were fighting. At this time. During a visit. It was stupid to rehash the past. It was over. Over and done with. Crap down the toilet. All the mistakes he made. What could he do about it now? Not a damn thing. The past was a hundred miles down the road. A thousand miles more like it. Why even think about it? He’d made a bunch of bad decisions, sure. Did he regret them? Sure. Who didn’t regret the past? If he could do things differently, you know, go back in time and do things the way he should have done them, well, his life would certainly be a hell of a lot more pleasant now.
    He just did not want his mother to be upset with him. Not now. It was a good thing Dad had kicked the bucket ten years ago. He would have been truly pissed to know that things turned out so terrible.
    “Have you been to Dad’s grave?”
    “Not in awhile,” said his mother. “I guess I’ll go tomorrow.”
    “That will be good.”
    Another silence grew between them. Why couldn’t he have a cigarette? What kind of stupid rule was that? He was getting a case of the nerves. There was a knot in his stomach. He rubbed a thumb against a forefinger. He should be hungry. He had skipped breakfast, but that knot in his stomach killed all appetite. He looked at the walls for a clock which was an idiot thing to do. The last thing he needed to know was the time.
    His mother looked so old, so small, so worn out from living and worrying.
    He thought he heard marching footsteps in the hallway. The steps were far away. Far away. He was running out of time. He had to say something to her.
    “Mom, I’m sorry.”
    She looked up.
    “I’m sorry for everything.”
    Her eyes became teary. “I said I wasn’t going to cry. I was going to be brave for you.”
    “It’s ok, Mom.” His voice was hoarse.
    There were definitely people in the hallway. He could hear them.
    “I love you, Mom. You know that.”
    The door opened. The man who had been watching him stepped aside to let four men enter. Their faces were somber.
    “It’s time, Jacob,” announced one of the men.
    “No.” His mother reached for his arms. She held his forearms with a painful grip. “No. No. No.”
    The son lowered his head toward his mother. His lips quivered. He sniffled. He wasn’t going to cry. He wasn’t! NO!
    The guards came to Jacob. Two of them gently lifted him up and away from his mother. She sank to the floor, too exhausted from grief and worry to watch her son, his head down, surrounded by the four guards, shuffle out of the visitor room and go slowly, slowly to the white room that had the table with the restraint straps, the large observation window, and the two IV poles that held clear bags of liquid poison that would soon flow into his veins and kill him.

10464043, art by Wes Heine

10464043, art by Wes Heine

Girl from 3rd Street

Patrick Roberts

    He found her sleeping it off under the 3rd Street Bridge, clad in a dirty T-shirt and overalls. She smelled of alcohol and worse, and she dribbled spit and slurred her words. The girl didn’t mind being carried to his car; she was probably used to it. He had noticed her hanging around 3rd Street, hustling the guys in front of the mom-and-pop stores. She had even bummed a cigarette from him the day before yesterday.
    Then it hit him. Fate was knocking at his door. She was cute and street-smart, and he needed help working the congressman, who was known for his philandering. Funny how smart but stupid politicians could be, all in the same day. Tony was going to feel her out, dirty as she was. Cinderella was sleeping in his bed. If she was trainable, he could lose the muscle and put a twist on the score involving the politician.
    The dark-haired Italian from Frisco went to work. He fed, clothed, and smooth-talked her into staying—day after day, week after week—until he bathed the street smell from her nymph-like body. She was feminine and willing; she really thought her knight in shining armor had arrived. “I told you, Star, don’t overplay it,” Tony told her. “Cute is not sexy. These guys want sluts in Gucci shoes.” Tony drilled the lessons into the gorgeous makeover. She really was the real deal.
    Two months passed. He could see Star had come from a good family, probably well off. When they drove up California Street, she would point out different places. “Look, the rich and famous.” The wise guy was gaining confidence in the petite brunette. Day after day he instructed her in etiquette, dress, and manners. She might have lived on the streets but there was a polish to her, and where it came from Tony Anello didn’t give a damn. He was happy with the way it was going.
    That Monday, he received a phone call. The congressman had just checked in to the Fairmont Hotel. The lessons and long hours were about to pay off. The Italian from North Beach was ready. He just prayed she was—the snotty-nosed kid from 3rd Street who was now a Star.
    Congressman Richards carried his own bags into the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel. He was low-key but anxious for his weekend of fun and games in a town notorious for discreet encounters. He checked into a modest suite with a view, using an assumed name, of course. The knock on the door was the bell captain. He was expected, but nobody knew it was really Tony, dressed in a red and white uniform. It had cost him plenty to bribe the real bellman. “Mr. Collins, sir, I’m sure your stay will be a pleasant one,” Tony said. The two men spoke kind obscenities while the congressman reached for his billfold. “Thank you, sir. You won’t be sorry—trust me. She’s tops on my list, Mr. Collins.”
    Tony left the room. He paid the informant waiting near the elevators two thou for his pound of flesh. This was the guy who knew the politician’s moves in the city. Without him, there would be no score. There was another knock on the door to suite 6. It was Star, draped in a smart Anne Klein dress and wearing Channel No. 5. Richards opened the door. His jaw dropped in awe of her sex appeal. Then he noticed a strange expression on the girl’s face, like she had seen a ghost.
    She almost fainted, then made an excuse about walking up the flights of stairs. Star was staring into the face of her uncle on her mother’s side. Was it a test?, she thought. Maybe something went way wrong. “Well, you’re everything I expected, dear,” the congressman said. “May I offer you a drink?” What Star needed was a snort of coke from her old connection. Still trying to make sense of it, she apologized. “I’m sorry, I’m catching my breath, but I forgot to pay my driver. I’ll only be a minute. The pretty teenager made her way downstairs to the rear lobby. Tony was waiting. “Are you fucking kidding me?” he said. “What do you mean, Uncle Jerry?”
    The Italian couldn’t believe his ears. “Did he recognize you?” She laughed crazily. “What a question from a man like you! No, he didn’t recognize me. I wouldn’t be here now if he knew it was me.”
    Tina respected the wise guy; he’d turned her life around. As it turns out, she was from an influential family. They argued, ranted, and then laughed it off. What a cute little criminal she turned out to be. It was on to plan B, which meant an even bigger pay-off. Life under the 3rd Street Bridge just got richer, and Star, after saying no four times, agreed to fuck her uncle, literally, out of—eventually—a cool mill. It wasn’t like she hadn’t sat on his lap as a child, wondering what was poking her on her thighs.
    The man cried out in ecstasy—God, Mary, and everyone else in his filthy mind—a fantasy played out for hours with Star. He felt ten years younger and a big dick taller. The best piece of ass he’d had in years. The arrogant fool didn’t know what hit him. He walked the girl to the elevators. Star pocketed cab fare. “You know, you look familiar,” he said. “Oh, well, must be the city—everyone here looks alike.”
    She entered the cab at the stand in the parkway and told the cabby to blast the song on his radio: “Big wheels keep on turnin’.” She reached in her purse for the camera. Star and the uncle were caught on tape in six different positions, including some unheard of. Damn, she thought. They were doing remarkable things with technology these days. The cab pulled up to the Mexican joint where Tony was waiting. He too was smiling. He could tell by the look on her face that she had videotaped every turn of the head, pardon the pun. It wouldn’t be long before they cashed in on the dirty politician.
    It was Taco Tuesday, but they didn’t serve Mexican food on the French Riviera, just Crystal Champagne and strawberries. The two crooks sat on the white sands of the Riviera, kissed, and held hands. Each pinky finger sported a two-karat diamond. “Tony, did you notice the prime minister is spread across the headlines?” She sipped the Crystal. “Fuck me, Jesus, I created a monster. Your uncle’s body isn’t even cold yet. Hand me the damned newspaper.” Tony smiled with that dago charm. “Anything you say, Mr. Anello. Nice weather we’re having.”
    The debutante from Tuscan was no longer clad in a dirty T-shirt and overalls.

Nefertiti, painting by Patrick Fealey

Nefertiti, painting by Patrick Fealey

The Statue

Arich Herrmann

    Clouds hung in the sky. Their dry pastel colors trundled slowly along. Specks of light poked through. Charles looked down as his chisel fell to the floor accompanying the clatter of water dripping down the gutter with perfect harmony. Finally realizing what he needed to do he left his shop walking in a daze like a man who just read the winning lottery numbers on the T.V., looked down at his ticket, and realized they were the same.
     Opening the door to the house he half expected to hear the echo of his daughters’ footsteps running through the halls. Sarah must have taken them to the park, maybe shopping he thought. Then he remembered they were gone.
    After two years of watching him slowly kill himself—searching for inspiration as he liked to call it—through drinking, Sarah had called it quits.
     His mind ran over the details of their final fight. Plates were thrown, statues smashed, and things were said that could never be taken back. Her voice echoed through his mind, “you’re a has-been and that’s all you’ll ever be if you don’t stop drinking.”
    She hadn’t left him for lack of money. Before his “has-been” phase he’d sculpted seven statues for the Public Works department of Glenview Heights. He brought to life wolves chasing deer, squirrels guarding piles of acorns, a bat flying out of Marsh cave, and his favorite; a man painting by the lake with a fishing rod lying next to him.
    Three fish swam, near the man, strung along a line. One was jumping out of the water. Droplets of water connected by a thin steel line hung in midair arcing towards the painting. He’d deliberated for a long time over the expression to put on the man’s face. In the end he’d settled on a smile. It’s better to laugh at the little things.
    Those sculptures blazed the trail to his success. Not long after their placement throughout Glenview Heights he received a letter from Barb Dunn. Her husband Mark had died years ago leaving her the sole owner of their vast fortune of fields. She sold the farm equipment and began renting out the acres. Sarah found the letter when shredding through junk mail. She opened the letter and read the following:
    Dear Charles,
    May I call you Charlie when we meet? I saw your sculpture of the wolf crouching behind the deer and absolutely loved it. I want to commission you for a sculpture. Let’s meet at Whitney’s around three on the tenth to hash out the details.
    Best Regards,
    Barb Dunn
    There’s no need to write back if you agree. I’ll take your silence as a yes and save you a stamp.
    Charles showed up at Whitney’s at 2:30 and ordered a coffee. He sat taking in the atmosphere losing himself in the sound of hammers and swinging jazz tunes coming from the theater room where the set of the upcoming play was being constructed. He thought of how Whitney theatre had almost been run out of business. Not to competition but to uninterest.
    Then they turned their intermission lobby in to a coffee shop with regular hours. People trickled in and soon the place was full every morning with people warming themselves from the frigid Minnesotan winter. People also warmed to the idea of visiting the theater. When Barb came in he was in a good mood. When she left he was in an even better mood.
    They discussed his future. He told her he wasn’t sure if Glenview Heights was the place for him. It was a small town. He thought he’d have better luck finding his fortune up in Minneapolis. It was less than a two hour drive away and it had much better options for schooling. Elise would be entering kindergarten next year and he wanted her to have options.
     Barb scoffed at the idea. She had been raised in Glenview heights and so had Mark. If it was good enough for them it was good enough for anybody. She told him she wanted him to make a sculpture of Mark in his combine with their dog Buster running alongside it.
    She was willing to offer two million dollars for it on the condition that he would stay in Glenview Heights to make necessary repairs on the statue for the remainder of his life. Then added, “This town needs more artists. It wouldn’t hurt to have you around showing the kids that there’s something out there besides milking cows”. He agreed and drove home to tell Sarah the good news. They celebrated by drinking champagne. Neither of them liked the taste but the buzz lasted them through three rounds of rolling in the sheets.
     Charles twisted off the cap, setting it on the table, and took a pull of Black Velvet. He couldn’t remember why he’d come inside. He walked back outside pausing by the shed’s light switch.
    It was completely illuminated in the shed. Light poured through the glass ceiling. He grabbed his tools laying them down on the table as one would place a baby in a bed, and set out to work. In his mind he saw exactly what he was going to make.
    A block of cloudy marble stood in front of him. He traced and chipped roughing out the general shape of the piece with his chisel. The sound echoed throughout the shed steadying his shaking hands. Why hadn’t he done this sooner? Once he got started the work seemed to fly by. The shapes emerged like faceless beings being brought in to existence. Time passed by and the sun dropped lower in the sky.
    He went over to the light switch passed by it and headed towards the house. Inside he grabbed the bottle and pointed it upwards swishing the liquid around in his mouth before swallowing. The brown liquid sloshed just below his hand as he walked back to the shed and flicked on the light.
    The sun rose and fell. He didn’t notice. He was no longer a has-been. He was working again. The piece in front of him was coming to life. He looked down at his work. Sarah sat on a bench watching Elise and Nora hunched over a checkers board. He was standing by the lake, rod in hand. The line was tight showing that he had caught a fish but his gaze was on his family.
    Their faces were marked with smiles. His was still blank yet to be carved. He picked up the chisel raising it towards his marble face. His heart sank as his vision grew cloudy. A tear fell on to the table and was absorbed by the wood.
    He lowered the chisel plunging it in to his marble heart. Realizing what he had done he took a pull from the bottle. He set back to work plunging holes in to each of their hearts. “How fitting,” he muttered. He looked at his daughters smiling faces then down at their empty hearts.
    This wasn’t how he wanted to see them. He set back to work hollowing through each of the tiny bodies. He strung a single Christmas light through each one. White light poked through the marble giving his family a life-like glow. Looking at his work Charles smiled. It was good. Sarah would love it. Love him.

Double O and Vestal
From 3 Tweeners – Men Between Wives

Roy Haymond

    Purvis Melton pulled into the middle-school parking lot at 7:30 and backed his station wagon up to the front of the ancient but functional auditorium. The early hour permitted him to set up his display in the choicest spot in the lobby for the county teacher’s meeting in the afternoon. The janitor, no doubt remembering the generous tip from the last visit, was quickly on hand to assist.
    The first order of business was his taking a coffee urn to the teacher’s lounge, plugging it in and placing sugar, sweeteners and creamers on the table with it. From another trip to the wagon he placed several dozen multi-flavored doughnuts on another table.
    By then the janitor had brought in all the lightweight tables and the boxes of books and the flip-flops. In a very few minutes he had assembled an attractive display in the center of the lobby of the auditorium.
    With this completed, he returned to the teacher’s lounge to glad-hand various teachers as they came in, especially Nita Schwartz, whom he had met at last year’s state convention, a newly married but obviously on-the-make neat redhead in her late twenties.
    The teachers drifted into the lounge and Purvis imparted his usual good cheer. But this only lasted until the bell sounded for morning classes, which left Purvis with some dead time. He read the morning paper, did the crossword, and then fidgeted until the teachers had their 10:45 break. Nita sat with him and had a chocolate curl with her coffee. The heat of this lady’s sumptuous hips disturbed him somewhat.
    With the teacher’s break over, the possibility of lunch in a school cafeteria led him to a plan that had been in the back of his mind all along: some thirty miles away was the famous Missolou Manor, a stately ante-bellum mansion renowned as a Northern Virginia tourist attraction, and even more so for its lunch-time buffet. Since the teachers meeting wouldn’t commence until 3:30, he decided to take lunch there and see if the place lived up to its reputation.
    It was just a little after eleven when he drove up to the palatial mansion. A placard out front said “Luncheon from 11:45 until 2:00”. He went through the mahogany double doors and was greeted by a hostess in a hoop skirt.
    “Luncheon is not ready yet. Would you like to sit in one of our cozy rooms and wait? We have all the up-to-date news magazines and several daily papers. Would you like a drink while you are waiting?”
    Purvis ordered a beer and then took a seat in a large over-stuffed chair in a little nook. A svelte girl of twenty in a granny gown brought him his beer and he began looking over Sports Illustrated.
    He became vaguely aware of some soft organ music in the background. The tune was Just One of Those Things. And as he flipped through a few pages of the magazine, with the organ shifting to The Lady is a Tramp, Purvis noted that the player had good rhythm and an unusual style.
    It was when the player got to Body and Soul that Purvis said out aloud, “Double O!”
    Taking the beer he’d hardly touched, he wandered through several of the many rooms before he found the organ.
    The slightly pudgy but quite distinguished-looking fellow at the organ still had the appearance of an English gentleman, complete with sparse, pomaded hair, pale complexion, a waxed moustache, and, of course, a tweed jacket.
    Purvis, looking over the man’s shoulder, said, “Double O, I thought you was dead!”
    The fellow didn’t look around – looking around wouldn’t have affected his playing, but he simply had to maintain an aloof manner. “Not hardly, John Wayne. To whom am I speaking – and my name is not Double O!”
    Oscar Owens, the organist, the man who hated the Double O label, made short work of Body and Soul, then turned to face Purvis.
    “Well, bless my soul, it’s P.M.! I never did decide what that stood for. You could be Prime Minister, or Pall Mall, or could it be Post Mortem? Good to see you, kid. What are you doing these days?”
    “I’m a representative for a textbook firm. There’s a county teacher’s meeting down the road; I got there early to set up an exhibit and I’d always heard about this place...and, of course, I had no idea I’d run into...”
    “Don’t say it, kid, don’t say it! Nobody around here knows me as...ugh...Oscar...”
    “What’s your current alias?”
    “Here I’m known as Owen Owensby...hell, I have monogrammed linen, so my scope is rather limited. Look, when do you have to get back to whatever?”
    “Oh, about three...”
    “Then why don’t you take a seat and have a couple of beers...I quit at two...we can eat together and have a chat...”
    Without waiting for any answer from Purvis, Oscar Owens, or Olin Onslow, or Owen Owensby, or whatever designation suited him, was deep into That Old Black Magic.
    In another comfortable chair not far from the organ, Purvis watched Double O. And he also noticed the way the star-struck young waitress, the same one who had brought Purvis his beer, looked at the organist as she brought him drinks.
    He’s what now? At least forty-five? And still has to have a nymphet? A leopard never changes his spots, thought Purvis.
    It was impossible not to drift back into those times years ago when he, Purvis, had been associated with Double O for a couple of summers.
    Purvis was quite proficient on clarinet even in elementary school. In high school he got himself and alto and a tenor saxophones and made a little money with local dance bands. Graduating from high school at seventeen, he was registered for the fall term in a little college where he was to major in music. And he was slated to work in his uncle’s lumber business during the summer.
    Then he got a surprising and flattering call from Kit Carson, who led a traveling dance/show band, one well known in that part of the country.
    “Purvis? Heard all about you...they say you can read and that you double on alto and tenor sax...”
    “Yes, Sir.”
    “Clarinet, too?”
    “Yes, Sir.”
    So, over his parents’ objections, he joined Kit Carson and his ten-piece orchestra, featuring Owen at the Organ, a four-act floorshow, and vocals by Lovely Frances Middleton. And the tour was made on a not-too-new bus.
    He found the music not really challenging. And he preferred alto sax, but his book called more for tenor. But he enjoyed riding on the bus with the others, listening to their stories, especially those who could cite anecdotes about musicians who were “big time”.
    He was by far the youngest member of the group, and some of the members were even in their forties.
    His roommate and the closest thing he had to a friend for the summer was a twenty-five-year-old trumpet player named Vinnie. In time, the two of them would take in movies, shoot pool and unsuccessfully chase girls.
    On his second night of the tour, Vinnie said to him, “Kid, would you like to make an extra five bucks a week?”
    Thereafter the two of them got to the bandstand early to unload the organ from the trailer hitched to a Cadillac and then move it to the band setup. Then they would reload it onto the trailer the instant the night’s performance was over.
    The man who played the organ seemed always to remain unseen until the playing began for the evening. And he never spoke to the sidemen on the bandstand, including the leader. Then he seemed to vanish as the night’s performance concluded, only to drive away in the Cadillac as soon as the organ was loaded onto the trailer.
    “This fellow Owen? What’s the rest of his name?” asked Purvis.
    “His name, really, is Oscar Owens, but to his back we call him Double O.”
    “What do you call him to his face?”

    A week or so into the tour, the band members loaded themselves and their gear onto the bus after an engagement only to find Frances, the striking thirty-year-old female vocalist, on the bus with her luggage.
    The leader asked, “You’re not with Double O?”
    “The son of a bitch dumped me...some little jail-bait is riding with him. Anyway, I was tired of the prissy bastard...”
    Purvis then began to study this phantom organist more closely.
    The hair had the look of a Continental cut and his moustache was waxed. His shirts had ruffled fronts, and there were O’s on his tie pin and cuff links, Regular sidemen wore light blue jackets; but the organist’s was dark blue, and even this was changed to English tweed the second the organist played his last note.
    Hardly a night after Frances was demoted to bus riding, a slender dark-haired girl of about eighteen could be seen sitting near the bandstand eyeing Double O for a few nights.

    Two events a year apart got Purvis closer to this anomaly at the organ.
    In the first, Purvis and Vinnie attended an informal jam session in an after-hours club in a Southern Virginia town. Purvis had brought along his alto sax and he sat in with the half-dozen fellows who were improvising on standard tunes.
    Double O and a young woman, not the same one he’d ditched Frances for, were sitting at a table near the bandstand. Someone asked him to play, but he refused – playing free of charge was anathema to him. But he and the woman stayed at the session for a couple of hours.
    To a surprised Purvis, the man actually spoke. “Those your initials on your horn case? P.M.? What does that stand for? Maybe you can be Prime Minister...Anyway, you seem to know a lot of a tenor sax? Can you play tunes on it like you can on alto?”
    “Yes, Sir. I like the alto better...but I can fake all the tunes on tenor...”
    That ended the conversation and Purvis thought no more about it for a time.
    Then after an engagement on the Third of July, the troop loaded up and rode to a little North Carolina town. They checked into a motel in the middle of the night.
    It was around nine in the morning when Purvis was shaken awake. Double O was standing over him.
    “What was that name? Post Mortem? Anyway, get dressed and get some breakfast. I’ll pick you up in an hour...and bring your tenor sax...don’t fool with the alto or the clarinet...”
    What Purvis learned then was that Double O often went ahead of the band and booked himself as organist for luncheons and matinees.
    On this Fourth of July, he had lined up an afternoon bash that lasted three hours. Purvis and Carson’s bass man were along.
    “Let’s see: what was your name? How about Pall Mall? Look, kid, you can try some jazz when you play those free sessions. Here, it’s strictly business. Stick to the melody. On ballads, hold the notes out full value, and add a little vibrato...Understand?”
    Several more such gigs turned up during that long ago summer.
    The suave Double O, in conservative tailored suits, complete with pin and cuff links with O on each, was aloof to any crowd he played for, but this only seemed to add dignity to the affair. And he would almost always have an admiring female along, usually one quite young.

    Purvis left the Carson group in August to enter college. In a matter of weeks the whole advent of the summer was just bittersweet memory – he had enjoyed some of the experiences, but he had vowed never to get involved in a travel venture again.

    Reminiscing, with Double O’s organ in the background, Purvis finished his second beer. It was twelve-thirty and he decided he must not follow the schedule laid out by the man at the organ. He did want to talk to the man some more, but perhaps waiting until two to have his lunch and then rushing back to the school auditorium would be too much of a squeeze.
    He nixed the third beer and helped himself to a buffet lunch.

    The year at college after his stint on the road had been less than satisfying for a variety of reasons. Moreover, the idea of attending summer school was odious, and so was the prospect of the summer job that was staring him in the face.
    Then in the spring he got a call from Double O.
    “Prime Meridian? Got a gig starting in travel. We play six nights a week, a matinee once in a while. Give you something to do over the summer, and the pay is good. You stay in a tourist’s owned by some relatives of the Vestal Virgin.”
    “Vestal Virgin?”
    “Wife. Old line Tidewater. ‘Shabby Genteel’. Lots of property and deeds and family connections, but not too much ready cash...Anyway, we’re staying in this tourist court and she does what she does and I do what I do. And, look, I’ll want you on tenor sax exclusively, but a group of kids get together for a couple of late-night things most can play your other horns there...if you’re still of a mind to play free of charge...”

    Purvis arrived in the little village in the middle of the afternoon. Double O picked him up at the bus stop, drove him to the tourist court and let him out in front of a small cabin.
    “That’s yours. Go settle in and I’ll pick you up about six-thirty. Be dressed and bring your tenor sax...”
    The cabin was furnished with a single bed and a sitting chair with a lamp. There was a sink for washing his hands, but other functions would be handled in a bathhouse. He put down his gear, which included his clothes, his horns, a 45RPM record player, and a stack of books that were selected from the parallel list of sophomore literature classes. Then he went to the bathhouse to take a shower.
    From the tourist court Double O drove him to a lake a half-mile away. The lake was crystal-clear and surrounded by sandy beaches. Around it were concession stands, an arcade, a small fair, a movie theater, a pool hall and a bistro. He and Double O had a leisurely supper in the bistro. They sat for a long time afterward while Double O had a long cigar. Very few words passed between them.
    From there, with Purvis carrying his sax in its case, they walked beside the lake to a pavilion. After an hour, Purvis was playing with the trio, something he would do for six nights a week throughout the summer.

    This summer was certainly superior to the last one. The work was perhaps a bit more monotonous, but hardly taxing. And there was not the drudgery of the bus rides.
    Mornings were spent at the lake, swimming, playing volleyball or whatever. Three or four afternoons each week were spent at the movie theater and he often shot pool. Meals he took at the bistro by the lake.
    On Friday and Saturday nights he’d take his alto sax to a little roadhouse and jam with younger musicians for hours. And there was a girl, Melissa, who took him to church.
    When there was nothing to do on nights after work, he’d go to his cabin and read himself to sleep.
    Purvis had only been there a few days before he was confronted by Virginia Randolph Owens. He had been on the beach all morning and had returned to his cabin to change before his walk to the bistro for lunch. He found her standing before his door.
    She was not at all what he had imagined – from the curt references to her by his employer, he’d come to expect a stylishly slender, elegant, sophisticated chairwoman of a charity fund.
    She was tall and going to plump – the jeans she wore over white sneakers gave a hint of being at least a size too small, and the threads of her cotton shirt fairly strained over her full bosom. Her face was oval, the eyes were blue, and she was free of cosmetics. The hair, no doubt blonde, was hidden under a red kerchief.
    She was about thirty, maybe a year or so older than Double O, and she was smoking a long cigarette. She was neither smiling nor scowling.
    “Junior, I need some help...put on some pants and come along with me.”
    Purvis obeyed. He got into a pickup truck and rode with her to a run-down mansion some five miles away. There, the two of them loaded an antique china cabinet into the truck and transported it to a barn beside the tourist court.
    When this task was completed, she said, “Go wash your hands, Junior. Then I’ll feed you.”
    Her quarters were more expansive than his own narrow room. Hers had a kitchenette, a small den, a private bath, and two small bedrooms.
    She seated Purvis in the kitchenette and handed him an opened can of Pabst as she busied herself at the kitchen range.
    “I think he said you were in college. How did you get mixed up with Oscar?”
    “On the road last summer. He gave me some work...”
    “So you’re out of school for the summer and he called you?”
    “Yes, Maam.”
    “You’re foolish to get mixed up with such an ass...”
    “I don’t understand...”
    “Well, he is an ass, isn’t he? Look at him: he just doesn’t get it!”
    “Get what?”
    “The Tidewater business...we were brought up in it, of course. A ten-county enclave of families that can’t help clinging to the old Colonial idea of aristocracy...we hang on to moribund properties and have our dated socials...and we feed on one another. That’s a given with us. But Oscar? No, he just doesn’t get the hang of it...”
    “...we will both eventually inherit some property. I already have. I have a farm and a mansion...and both came with huge mortgages, so I rent them out...just to meet the payments. In short, Junior, we’re broke. We’re running this place for Aunt Martha...she’s in a nursing home and we get the property outright when she dies. This place gives us a roof and a little bit of income. But to Oscar? He’s still the Colonial Squire...a balance sheet means nothing to him...”
    “...notice his clothes! Everything has to be tailored just so...his shoes have to be recognized brands...his cigars have to be imported...has to drive a Cadillac. And he thinks that pittance he makes with that damned organ takes care of all of it...”
    “...He’s even indignant about living here...not a proper place for one of his heritage. He forgets that the world outside our little enclave of inner-bred snobs – like me – doesn’t give a damned about his brand of aristocracy...”
    “ last year he packed up and left with his organ. He really thinks of himself as casting pearls before swine. And with skinny little boppers thinking he’s an English gentleman...and any money he made was surely spent before he came back here...”
    She brought over plates of meat loaf and cabbage and sat at the table with Purvis.
    “...He may even net a little from the pavilion thing this summer. But that will be over by fall...that’s the social season. We’ll be at every ball, every drop-in...and he just loves to put on that monkey suit of his and ride after foxes...”
    She hushed for a while and began to eat in earnest.
    That she was an “older woman”, that she was dressed in such a functional way, that she was really demeaning the man Purvis worked for – all this was trivial. For even in her now sweaty clothes, she smelled like a woman. And Purvis blushed – he was finding her voluptuous.
    “That Oscar! I really went on, didn’t I? Well, anyway, thank you for helping me out. I’ll be calling on you again.”
    “Sure. And I had almost forgotten that his name is Oscar.”
    “Ha! Yes, it is, and he hates it! And he makes up all kinds of names...but he won’t buy new accessories, so he has to stick with O’s.”
    Purvis left, embarrassed by the way the woman affected him.
    That night at the pavilion Double O said, “See she got you into her great enterprise, P.M. You’re in for it now. She hates to hire anybody, so she’ll be coming after you...every time she gets a check from one of her estates, she buys more junk...says it will be valuable one day. I don’t know about that...but what the hell.”
    And, indeed, “Junior” was drafted for duty at least a couple of times a week.
    The tourist court was near enough to the pavilion for Purvis to walk to his cabin in a few minutes after work. If Double O happened to be staying in for the night he’d give Purvis a ride.
    On a particular night some weeks into the summer, Double O insisted on giving Purvis a ride home. Purvis sat in the back seat – there was a girl on the front seat with Double O.
    When the car arrived at the tourist court, Double O said, “Look, Post Mortem, I have to go probably won’t see Vestal, but if you do, just tell her I’m at a poker game. Understand?”
    Purvis went directly to his cabin. In a few moments there was a knock at his door.
    “Junior, do you know where Oscar is?” she asked through the closed door.
    “No, Maam. He said something about a poker game.”
    “The son of a bitch doesn’t play poker...”
    She left and Purvis began to undress for bed.
    But, again, there was a knock at the door. “Junior, I have a candlelight supper...come join me...”
    “Junior” did as he was told. He found her dressed in an elegant gown and with a gardenia in her hair. Her perfume was intoxicating.
    “Welcome to my anniversary, Junior! Nothing like a romantic supper at home with one’s husband. But it seems he has an important poker game...probably with a blonde under twenty...”
    She poured them glasses of champagne and then she served leg-of-lamb, with asparagus and new potatoes, followed by strawberry shortcake. Purvis had no trouble eating the solids, but he found the champagne distasteful.
    Purvis spent an hour in her company. As he was leaving, she offered her cheek, which he dutifully kissed.
    He knew he’d be unable to sleep, so he put some Paul Desmond on his machine and opened a volume of Byron, Shelly and Keats.
    Again there was a tapping at his door. She stood there holding a bottle of champagne and a can of beer. She was in a robe and the gardenia was still in her hair.
    “I noticed that you didn’t drink your champagne, so I brought you a beer. What’s that you’re listening to?”
    “Paul Desmond. He’s my favorite sax player...”
    “May I come in? Do you have anything we could dance to? My anniversary, you know.”
    Purvis slipped on an extended play of Jackie Gleason: slow ballads, strings with Bobby Hackett on trumpet.
    The dancing led to some sloppy kissing and then the two of them flopped on the bed.
    She whispered, “Have you ever had a girl before? Don’t fib; no; it’s nothing to be ashamed of...I’ll just take charge and everything will be all right...”
    She left him at dawn.
    A few nights later she was back. “Oscar is off getting a piece of ass. It never crosses his mind that I might want one, too...”
    And on the Sunday of his last week before leaving for school, she took him to a little cottage in the country.

    At exactly two o’clock, Double O switched off the organ. Purvis followed him into a little room where they sat at a small table. Momentarily, the same little waitress brought him scotch on the rocks.
    “How about it, P.M.? Want some scotch? Another beer?”
    “No, thank you. I will face an auditorium full of teachers in a while. I’ve already had my lunch, but I can stay a few more minutes...”
    “Good. Good. Been wondering what had become of you. Finish college?”
    “Yes, but I didn’t major in music.”
    “No. I still play the horn...gigs on the weekend...but more for fun...I just didn’t want to do that for a living...”
    “So what do you do?”
    “Taught history for a while. Assistant principal. Now I’m a sales rep...more money, less pressure...”
    Double O finished his scotch and almost instantly the smiling waitress appeared with another.
    “Give me time to finish this one, okay sweetheart?”
    There was thinly veiled lust in her answering smile.
    “Let’s see, now: last time I saw you, P.M., was that miserable summer at Varney Lake...”
    “That’s right,, Owen. A long lifetime ago.”
    “You married?”
    “Was. We split up. She kept our two kids...I’m better off single...”
    “Aren’t we all? But you know we Tidewater types never go in for divorces. Take me: would have left the Vestal Virgin after a couple of years...too damned stingy...didn’t know how to live. You saw her...running her aunt’s damned tourist court, for crying out loud! Of course, it paid off. She sold the property, made a killing. And now we got her family place, and all she has to do is dabble in antiques...”
    “...Now, what you wouldn’t believe is this: I am a doting father! That’s right. Me, a father!”
    “Well, congratulations! How old is the child?”
    “The child is Randolph at William and Mary, like his dad...going into law...but, damn, I’m proud of him...”
    “...Of course, he was an accident...sure as hell didn’t plan on it. Tell the truth, I don’t even remember it happening. You know these Tidewater women don’t believe in copulation...and my Vestal Virgin is the staunchest of the lot...even before she caught me with that little bimbo next door in Hampton. Hell, you saw it...back at that tourist court...I didn’t spend a dozen nights in that crummy little cabin...we even had separate bedrooms. But I guess the Vestal let her guard down sometime during that summer, though I don’t know why I would have...she let herself get old and fat...Aw, I don’t hold that against’s just that Tidewater women are short on hormones...”
    Purvis suddenly remembered something he had to attend to at the school auditorium thirty miles away.
    And Double O made no real protest over Purvis’s departure, since the little waitress brought him a plate from the buffet table, and one for herself.


Janet Kuypers
haiku 2/28/14

to you I’m vinyl —
Your needle’s been in my grooves;
through every ridge, pore.

twitter 4 jk twitter 4 jk Visit the Kuypers Twitter page for short poems— join
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See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading (C) her poem groove from her “Partial Nudity” book release feature live 6/18/14 at Chicago’s open mic the Café Gallery
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See a Vine video of Janet Kuypers reading her twitter-length poem “groove” from Scars’ 2016 collection book “the Chamber” as a looping JKPoetryVine video 1/1/17 (filmed in Austin Texas from a Samsung Galaxy S7).
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Read the Janet Kuypers bio.

Internment Camps in the United States

Donal Mahoney

    Miyuki is old enough to have been a child during World War II. Indeed, some of her students are that old as well but they are eager to learn and listen to her carefully.
    She is a teacher of floral arrangements in the Japanese style of Ikenobo but her face always seems sadder than the flowers in the beautiful arrangements she makes. Her life has been a mixture of grief and joy.
    Her parents emigrated to the United States from Japan before World War II and Miyuki was born in Seattle. Her parents owned a newspaper there but it was confiscated by the government when they and their children were sent to an internment camp during the war.
    After the war Miyuki’s parents did not get their newspaper back nor were they compensated for it. But they found another way to make a living. They opened a flower shop and their daughter Miyuki dealt with customers after school. Bilingual by then, she spoke beautiful English.
    Between customers she would watch her parents make arrangements and in time learned the art of Ikenobo, arranging flowers in the spartan Japanese style that proves less can certainly be more. She has been teaching Ikenobo now in America for more than 50 years. She is certified as a professor of Ikenobo by the society that overseas the Ikenobo school in Japan.
    Every once in a while Miyuki pauses in her classes to discuss different aspects of Japanese culture with her mostly Caucasian students, ladies of similar age and above-average means. They seem to enjoy these interjections as much as learning how to arrange flowers in the Ikenobo style.
    One day Miyuki took time to explain that because she was born in America to Japanese immigrants she is classified in the Japanese community as Nisei. Her children, born here as well, are classified as Sansei and her grandchildren as Yonsei. She did not say much more about that but her students realize that she is often as spartan in her comments about Japanese-American life as she is in the Ikenobo arrangements she makes on her table in front of the class.
    Some of her American students were children as Miyuki was during the war with Japan. They have a vague memory of President Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Many think Truman did the right thing, a few think it was a mistake, and the rest aren’t sure.
    But many of them wonder if putting Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II had any merit. Perhaps they think about it even more now as the tumult in America grows over the conflict with ISIS and its verbal threats toward America.
    In the aftermath of Nine Eleven, everyone remains wary. What next? But so far, there has been no talk of internment camps for Muslim Americans, which in effect would be an encore of what happened to Japanese Americans during World War II.
    Perhaps some day a student will ask Miyuki what she would think as an American citizen about establishing internment camps for Muslims in America should the conflict with ISIS continue to grow and begin to present a very real threat to the United States. She might have mixed feelings as many of her students do now when they think about not only the atomic bombs dropped on Japan but also the disruption in the lives of Japanese Americans during and after the war.
    It’s obvious this small group of people interested in learning how to make beautiful flower arrangements has much to think about regarding what has happened in the past, what is happening now and what may happen in the future. In this respect they are no different than every other citizen in the United States today.

Donal Mahoney bio

    Nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, Donal Mahoney, a product of Chicago, lives in exile now 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 Christian Science Monitor, The Chicago Tribune and Commonweal. Some of his online work can be found at

rows of roses 4, copyright 2011-2017 Janet Kuypers

An Old Flame Flickers

Donal Mahoney

    They had things in common, Paul and June, at an age when most boys and girls don’t and maybe that’s why they were the only couple in sixth grade dating, if you can call it that. This was the early Fifties when dating didn’t begin until senior year of high school, if then, and that was because you had to find someone to go with to the senior prom.
    Back then, maybe two families on the block had a black and white TV. Arthur Godfrey played his ukulele on his show and Bishop Sheen had a show almost as popular as Arthur Godfrey, only the bishop always talked about matters involving Heaven and Hell. Nevertheless, people watched Bishop Sheen and one year he had more viewers than Milton Berle.
    Paul and June were dating if you can call walking six long blocks to and from school together dating. They didn’t call it that but their classmates did. The young couple later found out they were the subject of unwarranted gossip although they had never done anything to violate the Ten Commandments except kiss each other on June’s enclosed front porch. And that didn’t happen too often.
    One thing Paul and June had in common is June wore braces all day and Paul had a special set he had to wear only at night. He got to know June when he told her about his braces because she seemed nervous about hers. She didn’t smile much but when a smile appeared inadvertently, she covered it quickly.
    What Paul and June really had in common was that June came from a broken home and Paul from a home that probably should have been broken but his parents stayed together, sometimes fighting long into the night. Fighting couples who stayed together were not uncommon in 1950. A broken home, on the other hand, was very uncommon. It was avoided and feared almost as much as polio which was the scourge of America at the time.
    Walking to school or anywhere else, Paul and June never talked about their parents. He knew she had a stepfather which made matters worse because after a divorce, uncommon as well in 1950, her mother, a Catholic woman, couldn’t remarry without an annulment of her first marriage and although annulments are common now they were literally unheard of back then.
    June never asked about or met Paul’s parents. He never asked about hers and never officially met them although he locked eyes with June’s mother once when unexpectedly she came into the enclosed front porch when the young couple was saying good night. That was not an auspicious meeting.
    Paul and June kept company, if you don’t mind that term, all though sixth, seventh and eight grade and well into the summer before high school. They were both lucky enough to be accepted by good high schools for the following September. As was the norm in 1950 for Catholic high schools, Paul’s was an all boys school and June’s was all girls.
    Something happened, however, just before school started. Now some 65 years later Paul had been reminded of that. June’s cousin, Martha, got in touch with him about plans for a class reunion and memories came flooding back, not that Paul wanted them. He had never thought about June after that summer before high school. What had happened was painful enough at the time and Paul had forgotten all about June. He had been married many years and was a father, grandfather and soon he would be a great-grandfather. He still had all his marbles and could remember all the names.
    What happened just before high school was June’s mother and stepfather took June, an only child, and moved to California. Her cousin, Martha, with whom Paul has been communicating about the class reunion, was the one who told Paul back then about the departure. Although that was 65 years ago, Paul can still see Martha’s face as she rolled out the details despite Paul’s obvious sadness. She seemed to enjoy his grief.
    Martha was a lovely girl, no braces, but she hadn’t been allowed to date. Most girls in the early Fifties, especially if they attended Catholic schools, were protected by their parents. It’s possible she resented her cousin having a boyfriend when she could not.
    What bothered Paul even more is that he had seen June the night before she and her parents took that plane to California. June had never said a word about leaving. He can’t recall what they talked about that evening. In fact he can’t recall anything they ever talked about. But for three years they had walked to school together and some evenings they came home from the library together and kissed each other good night if June’s enclosed porch seemed safe.
    Passion was not involved because Paul knew June went to daily Mass and Communion and he really didn’t think about sex when it came to her. He liked her, how much he never thought about, but up until that point he had never liked anyone else. He’s not even sure if he liked his own parents at the time, what with all their fighting, and he saw no sign from June that she was close to her mother or stepfather. But he thought they knew each other well enough for June to tell him she was going to California with her parents and never coming back. And that, of course, is exactly what happened. It hurt to be dumped at so young an age.
    So when Paul heard about the class reunion and received an email from her cousin, he could sense as the emails progressed that Martha was waiting for him to ask about June. But Paul didn’t have to ask, thanks to Google and the Internet. Once he got that first email, he found June on the Internet and may have learned more about her life then than Martha knew because the two cousins were never close. June was a black sheep in the family, what with braces and seeing the same boy for three years in grammar school, even though she went to Mass and Communion every day.
    The class reunion went well but there was no mention of June. Paul’s still in touch with Martha now who, it turns out, has had a nice life of her own and seems to be a nice person.
    Some day Paul may mention June to Martha and simply say that he hopes things in California turned out well for her. After all June is 79 now and still married to a man from Finland who’s 83. She’s had almost as many children as Paul if the Internet isn’t lying. And he figures neither he nor June wears braces anymore.

Donal Mahoney bio

    Nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, Donal Mahoney, a product of Chicago, lives in exile now 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 Christian Science Monitor, The Chicago Tribune and Commonweal. Some of his online work can be found at

a Flight of Fancy, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz

a Flight of Fancy, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz

Chapter 1: Summer

Eric Obame

    Derrick Treavers, a shy type, black thirteen year old, floats over a maximum security prison as a wandering soul. His body is in bed asleep. It is just after 4 on the clock on his bedside table. His dream this morning is different than any he has had before. He has superpowers, and he is using them. A chubby white guard on a break lights up a cigarette in the courtyard, and Derrick seizes the moment. He focuses, and the lighter shoots out of the guard’s hand.
    “Whhhaaa,” the guard says, watching his lighter rise, then disappear over the roof.
    But for a few clouds, the moon and stars brighten the night unhindered. An angry wind tries to push everything around, but it passes through Derrick like moonlight. There is a ventilation shaft nearby, and Derrick uses it to sneak the lighter into the Supermax. He then slips the lighter through a food port and into a cell with two sleeping convicts. Lying on bunk beds, both men snore like roaring lions.
    Not waking each other up? I’m here. Don’t know them, or what they’ve done, doesn’t matter. No one is in a Supermax for snatching a woman’s purse.
    He has the lighter in hand. He can set them on fire. Still, Derrick hesitates. There is something about burning criminals he finds morally questionable.
    Drug lords, rapists, murderers, pedophiles, murdering pedophiles, serial killers. Predators, rabid animals not people, don’t care who they hurt.
    He flames up the lighter, floats to the end of the bottom bed, and sets the sheets on fire. As the flame spreads over Bottom Convict’s feet, Derrick lights up the top bunk. Fire feasts on cotton.
    So light them up up up, light them up up up, light them up up up. Three hundred and forty-eight to go.
    Derrick exits the cell, opens the food port, and brings the lighter out through it. At that moment, screams erupt in the cell, and Derrick wakes up from his nightmare. His sheets are wet from sweat. He sits up and rubs his head, his buzz cut allowing him full access. He is hot, but he doesn’t know why. He went to bed an hour ago tired and dry. Adjusted to darkness, his puzzled eyes take in his quiet room.
    What was that?
    He doesn’t remember watching a movie or a TV show recently, where someone burned down a prison. He doesn’t know anyone in jail. He has never been a crime victim. He lives in Potomac Maryland—the suburbs. He doesn’t understand what inspired that nightmare.
    Burned them?
    Even if they were bad guys and it wasn’t real, he feels strange having murdered people. Go back to sleep, or play video games? Fall classes start next week, so he can do either.
    Great, have to change clothes, sheets.
    He grabs his remote control, turns on his TV, grabs his controller, and restarts his game. He then gets out of bed to change.


    Derrick, William Brooks, a white, nerdy cute thirteen year old, and Markus Riley, a raven-haired, fifteen year old jock, ride their bikes home from the mall. It is Friday evening and the weather is warm and sunny, a perfect time for bike riding. Derrick and William though would prefer to be a duo, having little in common with Markus. By coincidence they happened to meet him at the mall today, and now they are going back to his house to play video games.
    “There’s your chance, Derrick,” Markus says, spotting two familiar girls on the sidewalk ahead.
    Derrick slows down, while Markus and William maintain their pace. With Markus around, Derrick isn’t sure what will happen. Markus is older and popular, whereas he and William mostly hang out with each other.
    “Come on,” William looks back and tells Derrick.
    Still, Derrick hesitates. He has a crush on one of the joggers, Jessica Yates, a somewhat plain but could be prettier if she worked at it, amber-eyed red-head. She is a year older, but like Markus in the same grade, so he figures he has a shot. Yet he isn’t ready to ask her out, and he fears Markus might expose him.
    Hey Jess, Derrick has a crush on you, but he’s chicken. Put him out of his misery, go on a date with him. No? Sorry Derrick, I tried. Looking like a bitch, slowing down. Giving him ammo.
    Recognizing that Jessica and her jogging partner, Lillian, a cute, sixteen year old light-skinned girl, will intercept them in seconds, Derrick speeds up to avoid looking like a wimp. The only reason he and William are hanging out with Markus is because most of Markus’ friends aren’t back from vacation. Normally, they would have been able to pass him in the mall without acknowledgement.
    “Hey Jess, Lillian,” Markus says, as he rolls to the sidewalk and brakes.
    Derrick parks beside him, wondering why a typical ride to the mall with his best friend is turning into a class reunion.
    “Hi guys,” Jessica says, as she stops. “Markus, I saw your mom’s new car. It’s nice.”
    “Yeah, thanks. Are you busy later?”
    “Why?” Lillian asks.
    Derrick looks over at William, not believing what he just heard. It seems Markus is trying to hook up with his dream girl.
    Are you busy later? What’s he doing?
    Something will happen in the next few seconds he won’t like, Derrick senses, and he looks around. He wants to escape before the blow to his ego comes. He wants to back away from the sidewalk, Jessica, Markus and Lillian, and tell William “let’s go”, but he doesn’t have the guts to do so.
    “Kevin is back. I’m meeting him tonight. His aunt gave him four tickets for this movie premiere in D.C, and he asked me to bring a couple of girls,” Markus explains.
    “Sounds cool,” Jessica says. “Lily?”
    “Yeah, sure.”
    “Great. Dress up, you’ve got three hours. My mom will drop us off. See you later,” Markus tells the girls, as he backs away from the sidewalk.
    “Bye Derrick, bye Will,” Jessica says, before she and Lillian run off.
    Though Markus continues the ride to his house, Derrick and William don’t move. “What are you waiting for?” he shouts.
    “Don’t you have to get ready?” William asks.
    “Only girls need three hours. Come on, let’s go,” Markus answers, and he pedals away.
    Derrick stays put, not liking being a tagalong. He can count on one hand the times he has played video games with Markus. With what just happened, he wants to hit him not hangout.
    Join him, I’m his bitch. He tells me to come, I come. He flirts with her, I take it.
    Still, he wants answers. He needs to know why a date between Markus and his potential girlfriend got made, and worse in front of him. Curiosity trumps pride, and he turns his bike to follow the older boy he thought he was cool with, and William then does the same.


    A minute later, they reach Markus’ street just two blocks away from their neighborhood. Markus leads them past the familiar upper-middle class homes with their recently mowed lawns decorated with various summer flowers and trees. In a backyard, someone barbecues. The smell of meat cooking over a charcoal flame fills the boys’ nostrils.
    “Why didn’t you ask her out?” Markus says.
     “Oh, I don’t know, because you’re already going out with her,” Derrick answers.
    “She’s not my girlfriend. If you keep waiting, it’s never gonna happen. You’ll just keep looking at her from far away. Everyone sees that shit, dude. It’s pathetic. Ask her out. The worst that happens is you get rejected.”
    “Yeah right.”
    “You’re scared of her...You can do it now, or when school starts and you have to see her everyday if she says no, your choice.”
    Markus is right. Try as he might, Derrick can’t come up with a counter. He and William have known Jessica three years now.
    She probably won’t laugh. Maybe she’ll let me down easy. Can’t look in her eyes, she’s out of my league. Just a fool to believe I have anything she needs. She’s like the wind. Or not.
    It’s worth a try, he decides. The benefits outweigh the risks, but he isn’t sure when to do it. Jessica is with Markus tonight, and he guesses asking her to go out with him tomorrow won’t work.
    Might have plans, not enough time. Monday, make a move?
    Stores close early on Sunday, so he doesn’t want to do that either. He can go out with her Labor Day, he thinks. He will have to ask her out during the week, and hope she and her parents stay in that weekend.
    Do I call her? I call her. And if she says no? No rush, gonna be busy Monday, the whole week really.
    With school starting, he better wait and see how everything goes with his class schedule before he asks her out, he reconsiders.
    “Shit,” Markus says seeing his father’s Mazda in the driveway. “Dad wants to run drills. I thought... He was supposed to be home later.”
    “So?” Derrick asks.
    “So fun time is over. I’ll see you guys around, alright?”
    Without hesitation, Markus rides up his driveway alone. Without a look back at Derrick and William, he drops his bike beside his garage, and walks to the front of his white brick two story house with the American flag above the front door.
    Derrick shakes his head. This is why he and William left the mall? This is why they gave up their afternoon plans?
    “Let’s go,” William says, and he pedals away.
    Derrick does the same a second later, vowing never to let this happen again. He and William are not dogs to be played with and sent away on command.


    Something is definitely wrong. There is plenty Derrick wants to scream about, but apparently William doesn’t feel the same way. William isn’t looking at him or giving him any hint he wants to cut off Markus.
     Hasn’t said more than ten words since we left the mall, was acting weird when we were watching TV.
    As he rewinds the day in his mind, Derrick visualizes all the clues he ignored that something was bothering William: smiles that seemed forced, blank stares, William letting him initiate every conversation, hesitation. “What’s up?” he asks.
    “You’re somewhere else and you’ve been there all day,” Derrick says, expecting William to open up. Yet William stays quiet. “Is it your dad again?”
    “Then what?” Derrick presses, as he and William reach their street.
    “How to form a sentence, lesson one. Start with a subject like I, follow it with a verb like want, then add an object, an adjective, an adverb or a noun, like I want a complete answer
    “He’s right, you know. If you keep waiting, it’s not gonna happen.”
    “That’s your problem... Will?”
    “I’ll tell you later,” William says, as they arrive at 11602 and 11603 Evergreen Lane, and brake. The pressure is too much, however, and he can’t take it. He has a secret, and he wants to reveal it to his best friend, even though he is worried it will scare him away. “I’m gay.”
    Error—unable to process this information, Derrick freezes for a few seconds. “Dude, that’s not funny,” he then says, but William isn’t smiling.
    He’s not kidding. He’s serious. What?
    He thought he knew William better than anyone. William is the only person he trusts with his secrets. They have been together twelve years, ever since the Brooks moved into the neighborhood. William is more than a friend. The two of them are similar in so many ways, it must be fate they ended up neighbors. Yet he didn’t see this. He has a lot of songs in his head, from different decades given his parent’s tastes in music. He has an easy memory for TV shows, music and movies—a media mind, but he hasn’t heard a song fitting this moment. A massive earthquake ruptures his world. A mile long asteroid crashes into his Earth and destroys it. Derrick’s reality turns inside out and upside down, and he doesn’t know what to do.
    “I’ll see you tomorrow,” William mumbles, before he turns and rides up the driveway of his grey brick two-story house.
    Without a sound or movement, Derrick watches new William open his garage door, get inside, and disappear as the door comes down.

Bike, art by Kyle Hemmings

Bike, art by Kyle Hemmings

Making Allowance

Carl “Papa” Palmer

    Pleased with my brand new door lock knobs, chrome, smooth, tapered, anti-theft, no ridge to grasp with a coat hanger, I swing shut the door to my truck with the keys dangling from the ignition. Knowing the doors are locked, I check both sides anyway. Looking through the windows, I pull both handles once more.
    Noticing the driver side window slightly down, I snake in a straightened coat hanger. The knob works as advertised.
    Tapping the glass with a bumper jack handle, preparing to break the window and file an insurance vandalism claim, my 10 year old daughter steps into the garage. “Kathy, stand back.”
    After sharing with her my dilemma, I listen as my little girl speaks, “I have an idea, Dad.”
    I watch as she snakes an arm length of nylon fishing line through the opening to touch the knob. She squeezes super glue to bubble down the string to form a glob seal between the two.
    We wait the prescribed drying time of one minute, and one to grow on, before she slowly pulls the string to pop the knob and me right out of my predicament.
    “Wow! That was terrific! Thanks, Kathy”
    “That’s all right, Dad, could I please have a dollar advance on my allowance?”
    I give her the dollar, and one to grow on.

Author Bio

    Carl “Papa” Palmer of Old Mill Road in Ridgeway VA now lives in University Place WA.
    He has a 2015 Seattle Metro contest winning poem riding buses somewhere in Emerald City.
    Carl, president of The Tacoma Writers Club is a Pushcart Prize and Micro Award nominee.
    MOTTO: Long Weekends Forever

Poached Egg

Carl “Papa” Palmer

    Part of Larry’s 200 hours of community service was to help relocate the Henry County Museum. On his third trip he helped himself by relocating a fossilized egg from the dinosaur exhibit.
    He planned to sell the artifact at his brother Matt’s yard sale that weekend at the Kitty Ranch on Old Mill Road. What didn’t sell on Matt’s table of garage and attic clutter, to include Larry’s egg, was advertised on eBay.
    The egg sold immediately as an ostrich egg to an Oklahoma emu rancher hoping to create a new breed of the other white meat.
    Ronnie, the emu rancher, realized this was not an ostrich immediately upon hatching. The reptilian beast, being docile enough, grew to be a part of the Pryor, Oklahoma community, home of Okie Stout Beer.
    Ronnie made national headlines when he allowed his daughter, little Tina, and her prehistoric pet, Fluffy, to appear as a live parade float in a local television commercial for the new beer of Pryor, T. Rex Ale.
    The publicity led to a paper trail back to Larry, who is once again working off his hours of community service, however this time not in a museum.

Author Bio

    Carl “Papa” Palmer of Old Mill Road in Ridgeway VA now lives in University Place WA.
    He has a 2015 Seattle Metro contest winning poem riding buses somewhere in Emerald City.
    Carl, president of The Tacoma Writers Club is a Pushcart Prize and Micro Award nominee.
    MOTTO: Long Weekends Forever

The Shootist

Carl “Papa” Palmer

    My brother asks if I would put his old momma cat out of her misery, handing me a rifle.

Why would you ask me to do that?
You like shooting animals, don’t you?

You shot the neighbor’s dog.
It was in the pack killing Dad’s chickens.

You were always shooting rabbits, squirrels and even a deer you shot down by Smitty’s buzzard barn that I helped you drag home through the woods.
All meat for our dinner table.

You’re in the Army. There’s a war, people getting shot.
Aren’t you shooting people over there?
I’m a missile systems technician, not a soldier.
I carry test equipment, not a weapon.

What about when you shot Daddy’s cat?
We all saw you do that...


    It was 1971. I was on military leave at the family homestead on Old Mill Road in Virginia for a few days before sending my baby, Kathy and my wife, Judy to stay with her folks in Germany while on my assignment to Korea for a thirteen month tour of duty.
    Too nice to stay indoors, the whole family gathers in the front yard shade of the locust trees watching our toddler play on a blanket spread across the ground.
    Dad has this stray cat he carried home from the factory yard where he works as night watchman. It’s black other than the white scars around its nose and mouth, no front teeth causing it to drool through its split lip, one milky blind eye and only half a left ear. Dad walks up petting the ugly animal and sets it on the blanket beside Kathy.
    No one is happy about that move. With everyone looking at me, I say, “Get that damn thing away from here right now! If it scratches Kathy, it’s dead!”
    “She’s a good little kitty, she wouldn’t hurt anyone.” Almost immediately Kathy screams. My baby is scratched.
    I pick up the cat, take a shotgun from the house and walk out the back door. Everyone hears the blast from behind the barn. I put the shotgun back in the house and return to my seat at the side of the blanket. No one says anything, looking between me and Dad.
    I wait until that night as Dad is getting ready to leave for work and let him know the cat is locked in one of his chicken coops behind the barn.
    I didn’t shoot Matt’s momma cat, either.

Author Bio

    Carl “Papa” Palmer of Old Mill Road in Ridgeway VA now lives in University Place WA.
    He has a 2015 Seattle Metro contest winning poem riding buses somewhere in Emerald City.
    Carl, president of The Tacoma Writers Club is a Pushcart Prize and Micro Award nominee.
    MOTTO: Long Weekends Forever

Current Affairs

Matthew McAyeal

    “Hey, where’s my book?!” screamed Mary Brown. In an instant, her angry shriek brought tension and headache to the otherwise tranquil spring day in April.
    By “my book” she meant her copy of Gone with the Wind. Margaret Mitchell’s story of the Old South was practically the most popular book in the world and few loved it more than fourteen-year-old Mary Brown. She planned to reread it over and over again, enough to absorb every detail, before the movie came out. But now her copy had vanished. She knew she hadn’t misplaced it. She knew where she kept it. Someone else had moved it.
    Mary marched out to the living room only to see her parents were completely unconcerned by her beloved book’s disappearance. “Where’s my book?!” she repeated loudly.
    “Your book has been put away,” said Mrs. Brown.
    “What?!” asked Mary, outraged. “Put away? Put away where? What have you done with it?!”
    “Your book has been put away until your grades improve,” said Mrs. Brown.
    “But I need that book!” Mary protested. “I need to have it when the movie comes out!”
    “That’s not until later this year. You have plenty of time.”
    “December fifteenth, to be exact,” said Mary. She had the date memorized, obviously.
    “If your grades then are like they are now,” said Mrs. Brown, “you might not be seeing the movie at all.”
    These words made Mary so angry that she couldn’t even speak! How could she be banned from seeing the movie? Oh, how she hated the calm voice her mother had said it in, as though it were the most reasonable and sensible thing in the world! Mary wanted to hit something and hit it hard. Some part of her knew it wasn’t rational to get so angry about this, but she loved Gone with the Wind so very much. She simply had to see the movie!
    “Father, do something!” she yelled eventually.
    “Listen to your mother, Mary dear,” said Mr. Brown, resting in his armchair with the newspaper and not paying much attention.
    “Thanks a lot!” she yelled back at him.
    “Mary, do you realize how ungrateful you’re being?” asked Mrs. Brown reproachfully. “Look around you. You have a roof over your head, decent clothes on your body, and food in your stomach every night. Do you not see the people living in the Hoovervilles? What do you think any of them would give to be living your life right now?”
    Mary knew her mother was right. She didn’t think of the Hooverville inhabitants she had seen in her boring real life, but instead of the part in Gone with the Wind when Scarlett O’Hara returned to Tara only to find her mother dead, her sisters sick with typhoid, and her home looted by enemy soldiers. Facing complete destitution, Scarlett had vowed that she would never be hungry again. There did seem a disconnect between Mary reading about people teetering on the edge of starvation for entertainment and then considering it an outrage when she wasn’t allowed to see a movie. Of course, she was still mad at her mother and didn’t want to admit to being wrong, so she said nothing.
    “If you improve your grades,” Mrs. Brown continued, “you can see the movie and get your book back too. You know our family rules – you can go to the cinema only so long as you keep your grades decent and the picture doesn’t have Mae West in it.”
    “But it’s too hard!” Mary objected. “I’m just not a smart girl like Margaret or Ethel!” Not that Mary would want to be like Margaret or Ethel anyway since she hated them.
    “You could always take an after-school elective class,” said Mrs. Brown.
    “But that would cut into my free time!”
    “Do you want your book back or not?”
    Mary sighed in resignation. She knew she had no choice. What good would free time be if she couldn’t have Gone with the Wind in it?

    Later that day, Mary was in the local soda parlor with Miriam Schubert, her newest and best friend. Miriam’s family had only moved to America from Europe the previous November, but she already spoke excellent English. She had learned through hers and Mary’s common interest — American movies. Mary found it a bit surreal that movies from her country were apparently so popular over in Europe. After all, she didn’t know any non-American movies.
    The jukebox was playing Benny Goodman as Mary and Miriam looked over the options for after-school classes. It was a good thing Mrs. Brown wasn’t there. She would have asked how Mary could concentrate with that “modern noise” in the background and demanded that it be shut off even though Mary could concentrate just fine. Although the goal was to select an after-school class for Mary, she and Miriam found time to talk about other things.
    “Do you think Mickey Rooney would ever marry me?” asked Mary.
    “Sure,” said Miriam. “Right before you two adopt Shirley Temple.”
    “Come on! What does Ann Rutherford have that I don’t?”
    “A role in Gone with the Wind?”
    “Shut up!” said Mary playfully.
    It was at that moment that the door to the soda shop opened. Mary looked over and was happy to see George Baker entering. George was a very cute boy from Mary’s school and her second choice of husband should Mickey Rooney happen to turn her down. Unfortunately, George was accompanied by his know-it-all cousin Margaret as well as Margaret’s friend Ethel. Mary had several classes at school with insufferable Margaret, but none with George. Oh, how she wished that situation were reversed!
    Margaret acted like she hadn’t noticed Mary, but that didn’t stop her from leading George and Ethel unmistakably in Mary’s direction. Mary decided to return the favor by pretending she hadn’t noticed Margaret and busied herself with her milkshake. As the group reached Mary and Miriam’s booth, Margaret acted as though she had just noticed Mary there.
    “Oh hello, Mary,” she said dismissively. “We were just discussing the impact of last year’s Republican congressional victories on President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs.” Margaret said it importantly, in the voice of someone who wanted it known that she regularly talked about sophisticated, adult things.
    “Sounds very boring,” said Mary.
    “You have a civic responsibility to know what’s going on in the world,” said Margaret superiorly. “Women have had the vote for almost twenty years in this country. You’re going to have to know what’s going on if you want to be able to make responsible decisions at the ballot box.”
    “But I’m not twenty-one yet,” Mary pointed out. “I won’t have to become boring like you for another seven years.”
    Margaret narrowed her eyes.
    “Actually, we were talking about it for our current affairs class,” said George cheerfully.
    “Current affairs?” asked Mary. “Is that an after-school elective?”
    “Yes,” said Margaret. “Of course, that wouldn’t interest you. After all, you wouldn’t want to become boring like me, would you?”
    Mary breathed a sigh. She looked down at the list. As she thought over what to do, the jukebox switched to a Louis Armstrong song, but she paid no attention. At the moment, the music was in the background and in the back of her mind. Eventually, Mary made her decision and circled “current affairs”. There was no way she was going to throw away the chance to be in the same class as George!
    “What’s the matter, Mary?” taunted Margaret. “Not failing enough classes already? I’ll bet you don’t even listen to the news on the radio!”
    “Why should I?” asked Mary. “How do I know it isn’t Orson Welles again?”
    “Because it’s not Halloween?” suggested Ethel.
    “He could strike on a different day,” said Mary. “Besides, I know about plenty of things that are going on in the world. For example, that singing girl from Love Finds Andy Hardy will be starring in a movie based on The Wizard of Oz.”
    “How about what’s going on in the real world?” said Margaret, rolling her eyes.
    “Hollywood is part of the real world.”
    “No, it’s not,” said Margaret contemptuously.

    “I hope you really want to take that class,” said Miriam as she and Mary left the soda parlor together. “I kind of feel like you only took it because you felt that Margaret was challenging you and you couldn’t back down.”
    “No, no, I really want it!” Mary insisted. “It has George in it!” She and Miriam both had crushes on George. How that would work out if he ever became interested in them she didn’t know, but for now he was another common interest for them to bond over.
    “Okay, so long as you really want it,” said Miriam a bit uncertainly.
    “Let’s talk about something else,” suggested Mary. “Do you think Vivien Leigh will be any good as Scarlett O’Hara?”
    “I should hope so!” exclaimed Miriam. “They certainly went to enough trouble finding her!”
    Mary laughed. “My grandmother was born in 1853,” she said, “so she remembers the ‘60s. I hope she’ll watch the movie with us so she can tell us how accurate it is. I’ve been trying to get her to read the book.”
    “How do you think we’ll refer to the ‘60s when we get to the 1960s?” asked Miriam thoughtfully.
    “The 1960s?!” said Mary with a laugh. “That’s so far off! We’ll probably all have flying cars by then!” By this point, they had reached Miriam’s house and came to a stop in front of it.
    “Well, goodbye then,” said Mary. “I wish I could see more of you. What church does your family go to?”
    “We – we don’t go to a church.”
    “What?!” asked Mary in surprise. She hadn’t meant to sound so aghast, but she just didn’t know what to think. Did Miriam’s family not believe in God?
    “We’re Jewish,” explained Miriam. “We go to a synagogue.”
    “Oh, I didn’t know that,” said Mary a bit guiltily, feeling that she should have known this about her best friend.
    “Don’t worry, you wouldn’t know,” Miriam said quickly. “I don’t normally talk about it. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow!” She sped up to the porch and in the door of her house.

    It was Thursday the twenty-seventh when Mary, not sure what to expect, walked into her first current affairs class. She took a seat between Clarence and Lois, the only two people there she knew and liked, although they were only casual acquaintances. She would’ve preferred to sit near George, of course, but he was too near Margaret and Ethel for her tastes.
    “Welcome to current affairs,” said the teacher, a middle-aged woman. “For those of you who are new, I’m Mrs. Gregory. Today, we’re going to play a little game of sorts. I’m sure you’ve all been following the recent events in Europe.” Mary hadn’t been, but decided to keep that to herself. Margaret’s hand, however, shot up.
    “I have, Mrs. Gregory!” Margaret boasted. “I could explain it!”
    “Very well, go ahead then,” said Mrs. Gregory.
    “Well,” Margaret began rather smugly, “the German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, demanded that the Sudetenland – that’s the German-speaking part of Czechoslovakia – be incorporated into Germany. Britain and France were supposed to protect Czechoslovakia, but they agreed to let Germany have the Sudetenland in order to prevent a war. Now, of course, Hitler has gone far beyond that agreement and taken over all of Czechoslovakia.”
    Oh, how Mary hated Margaret’s know-it-all attitude! She thought she was just so smart for knowing all about some far-off events taking place in Europe. Well, it wasn’t like those distant European events could ever affect Mary’s life in the United States.
    “Yes, very good,” said Mrs. Gregory. “This comes just a year after Hitler incorporated Austria into the German Reich and now he’s clamoring for the Polish Corridor between Germany proper and East Prussia. Meanwhile, General Franco has won the civil war in Spain and the Japanese invasion of China is still ongoing. In short, there’s a lot of trouble in the world nowadays. In our game, we’ll see how the world’s problems would be handled by you, the new generation. You’ll each be given a country and we’ll see how you can try to achieve world peace while fulfilling your country’s interests.”
    “Mrs. Gregory, I don’t think Mary should participate in this,” said Margaret, raising her hand but not waiting to be called on. “She’s just not smart enough for it. Either that or she should be given some inconsequential country which will never matter, like Cuba or Afghanistan.”
    “You shut your big mouth!” shouted Mary.
    “Both of you, stop it!” said Mrs. Gregory harshly. “This is no way for young ladies to behave in school!” Mary thought of asking sarcastically where the appropriate place for young ladies to behave like this was, but decided she would rather not get into trouble on her first day in this class.
    Mrs. Gregory said that Mary would participate like any other member of the class. Each student was called up to reach into a hat and pull out a strip of paper with the name of a country on it. Ethel got France, Margaret got Great Britain, Lois got China, Clarence got the United States, and George got the Soviet Union. When it was her turn, Mary mechanically reached into the hat and, not caring much which country she got, grabbed the first strip of paper her hand touched. As she walked back to her seat, Mary unfolded the piece of paper. It read: “Germany”.
    Once everyone had their country, Mrs. Gregory got them to rearrange their desks into a circle so that they could all talk to each other.
    “So, I’m Germany,” said Mary. “Apparently, I want to take over Poland or something.” She knew nothing about the country other than what Mrs. Gregory had said at the beginning of class.
    “The Polish Corridor,” Margaret corrected her superiorly. “Though knowing Hitler, he probably wants all of Poland in the long run.”
    “This’ll be difficult,” said Ethel. “Hitler has broken every treaty he’s ever made. Somehow, we’ll have to come up with an agreement which Germany will have no choice but to keep.”
    “I don’t think that will be necessary,” said Margaret smugly. “In fact, I believe this situation is already resolved. Germany cannot invade Poland without getting into a war with Soviet Russia. If Germany and the Soviet Union went to war with each other, we could just sit back and watch two of our enemies destroy each other. The British Empire’s dominance over the world would remain unquestioned and our two primary foes would be severely weakened.”
    “Thanks a lot, Britain!” commented George.
    “Sorry, George, but it’s just politics,” said Margaret. “Herr Hitler has shown a real expansionist streak in the past, but I’m afraid he’s now expanded as far as he dare.”
    Mary didn’t really think. She just knew that she hated Margaret’s haughty voice, liked George, and noticed a common enemy.
    “Hey, Russia!” she said to George. “How about we ally against Britain? We can invade Poland together and divide it in half between ourselves.”
    “You can’t do that!” sneered Margaret. “Germany is fascist and Russia is communist! They would never work together!” But George was considering it.
    “Sure,” he said eventually.
    “Mrs. Gregory, Mary is ruining the game!” yelled Ethel. “She’s making it completely unrealistic!”
    “Mary, I don’t think you understand just how opposed to communism the new Germany is,” said Margaret. “The Nazis accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being a communist, and then they put them in camps. A pact between Germany and the Soviet Union would never happen!”
    “Well, it’s happening now,” replied Mary. “And you can’t do anything about it unless you want to go to war with Germany and Russia.”
    “And Italy!” declared Donald. “We’re joining in too!”
    “You and Germany are both supposed to be in the Anti-Comintern Pact!” yelled Ethel.
    “Gee, I guess we have no choice but to surrender,” said Walter, who was playing the part of Poland.
    “No, don’t you play along with their nonsense!” shrieked Margaret.
    “There’s no way Poland could defeat the combined armies of Germany and the Soviet Union,” Walter explained. “Britain and France didn’t come to the rescue of Czechoslovakia, so why should I think they’ll come to the rescue of us?”
    “All right, Britain and France declare war on Germany!” said Margaret and Ethel nodded in agreement.
    “What about Russia?” asked Mary. “They’re invading Poland too.”
    “We declare war on Germany!” Margaret repeated, affixing Mary with a glare.
    “Too late!” declared Mary. “Poland is gone!”
    “This is getting too silly,” said Ethel. “I quit.”
    “By ‘quit’ do you mean surrender to the German armies?” asked Mary.
    “Sure, why not?” said Ethel disinterestedly.
    “What?!” shouted Margaret. “Ethel, you know that France is one of the world’s great powers. They would never surrender to Germany just like that. The Maginot Line is impenetrable!”
    “Why don’t you surrender too?” asked Mary, who was quite enjoying this. She really loved seeing Margaret losing her cool.
    “Never!” declared Margaret. “We’ll defend our island at any cost! We’ll fight on the beaches and in the streets if we have to! And even if you could subject our island or part of it, our Empire would carry on the fight! We will never surrender to you!”
    “Hey, Germany!” said Ralph suddenly. He had been talking with Clarence and Lois, but had evidently been listening to what Mary was doing with Europe.
    “Yes?” said Mary. “What country are you?”
    “Japan,” he said. “We’re in the, um, Anti-Comintern Pact with you. Since you control France, can we have French Indochina?”
    “Sure,” said Mary gleefully. “Take Britain’s colonies too!”
    “Mary, you’ve completely ruined what this exercise is supposed to be about!” Margaret snarled. “We’re supposed to be trying to find a way to achieve world peace!”
    “Mrs. Gregory didn’t say anything about how we should achieve world peace, did she?” asked Mary. “World peace will be achieved once the entire world is ruled by Germany and Japan.”
    “And Italy!” declared Donald. “Don’t forget Italy!”
    And so, the game continued. After a while, Mary had taken over most of Europe and was moving into North Africa. But even as Margaret went on denouncing the direction of the game as stupid, she refused to surrender Britain and seemed to become ever more emotionally invested in seeing Mary’s Germany beaten.
    “What about Soviet Russia?” said Margaret at one point. “Are you going to stay allied to them forever? You oppose everything they stand for! Shouldn’t you stab them in the back at some point?”
    “Why should I do that?” asked Mary. “We would be at war with the British in the west and the Russians in the east. That sounds pretty pointless to me.”
    Some time later, a new war broke out between the ever-expanding Japanese Empire and the United States for control of the Pacific Ocean.
    “Aren’t you going to declare war on the United States?” asked Margaret, gesturing towards Clarence. “Now that they’re at war with your ally Japan?”
    “I don’t think so, Britain,” said Mary. “You’re just trying to bring more countries onto your side of our dispute. It didn’t work with Soviet Russia, and me going to war with America would be even more pointless. If I do nothing, America will just stay away from Europe and focus on Japan.”
    Eventually, Margaret was forced to admit that Britain wouldn’t be able to hold out against the combined forces of Germany and Russia, at least not without support from the United States. Mary was just about to launch an invasion of Canada to destroy the British government-in-exile when the class ended. As she walked out of the classroom, Mary was feeling amazed at how fast the time had flown. If this class was going to be this fun on a regular basis, it might not be such a chore after all!
    As she headed out of the school building, she found Miriam dutifully waiting for her. Mary smiled, happy to see her. They usually walked home together, but she hadn’t been sure if Miriam would wait around so long after school just for that.
    “I actually had a swell time!” said Mary without preamble as they turned to walk down the road together. “We played this game where Mrs. Gregory assigned each of us a country. You’ll be happy to know that I got your home country Germany and practically conquered the world!”
    Mary instantly had the feeling that she had said something wrong because Miriam became very quiet. As they walked on in uncomfortable silence, Mary wondered if she should say something, but it was Miriam who spoke up first.
    “Do you know why my family left Germany?” she said eventually.
    “No,” said Mary, feeling very awkward about the sudden air of seriousness. Miriam took a deep breath.
    “Early last November,” she began, “I was lying in my bed one night when a brick flew in through the window. I heard shouting outside. I peeked outside and I saw our neighbors. There were people I thought were our friends and they were throwing bricks and rocks at our house! The police were there too, but they were just standing there and letting it happen. I was scared! I ran for my parents, but the people outside broke down our door and came into our house! They started smashing all our things! I thought they were going to kill me!”
    “Why would they do that?” asked Mary, slightly dazed by this story.
    “Because we’re Jews, that’s why!” shouted Miriam, tears shining in her eyes. “Everyone knows that Jews aren’t real people! You can do whatever you want to us and no one will care!”
    “But why would they hate Jews so much?” asked Mary, not understanding.
    “They say we’re responsible for everything bad in Germany,” said Miriam. “They say it was the Jews who overthrew the Kaiser and made us lose the World War. They say it was the Jews running the banks who caused the Depression.”
    “But you didn’t do any of those things!” objected Mary. “I don’t know if Jews did, but I know you certainly didn’t! You’re just a kid! Why should they take it out on you?”
    “It doesn’t matter,” said Miriam, her voice shaking. “I’m a Jew and we’re all the same to them. Germany was also my country. Why would I want it to be miserable? I had to live there too. My family suffered in the Depression like everybody else. Why would we do that to ourselves?”
    “I don’t know,” replied Mary, unable to think of anything else to say. They walked on for a bit before Mary remembered about the recent events in Europe and decided to ask Miriam about them. “You know Germany has taken over Austria and Czechoslovakia?” she said.
    “Yes,” said Miriam. “Bad news for the Jews living there. Bad news for everyone living there, but especially for the Jews. You don’t know how lucky we were to get visas to the United States. So many more of us are still trapped in Germany. We can’t live there anymore, but there’s nowhere for us to go to. Other countries don’t want to let too many of us in. They don’t care about what Germany is doing to us. They don’t want us either. No one cares about Jews.”
    “I care!” said Mary. “Well, I care about you. I don’t know if I care about Jews in general...”
    “I thought I had friends who cared about me in Germany,” Miriam said quietly. “They were good friends too, but the Party changed them. Now they proudly march in parades with BDM uniforms. How do I know it couldn’t happen here too? This country isn’t immune. I’ve seen the way Negroes are already treated here, and I’ve heard the kind of things Henry Ford and Father Coughlin say about Jews.”
    Mary didn’t know what to say. She wanted to say that she would never abandon Miriam like that, but she wondered if Miriam’s old friends might have once said the same thing. That would make her seem even more like them. But what could she say instead? Before she could think of anything, they reached Miriam’s house.
    “I’m sorry,” said Miriam as they came to a stop, “I don’t think I should have told you about that. Your life here is so far removed from what I went through in Germany, and maybe it should be that way. I don’t want to think about the past. I just want to live a normal life here with a friend like you and talk about normal things and go to movies and things like that.” She paused, but Mary didn’t say anything. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Mary,” Miriam added and she turned to walk to her house.
    As Mary continued home, she was mentally hitting herself for having not replied. She should have said that she wanted their friendship to be about normal things too, but she hadn’t. Oh well, she could tell Miriam that tomorrow. But why did she seem to feel guilty? Mary told herself that what was happening to the Jews in Germany wasn’t something which concerned her, but how could she not care about that and care about Miriam at the same time?
    That night, Mary lay wide-awake in bed. She tried closing her eyes several times, but she just couldn’t get to sleep. She kept imagining a brick flying in through her window. She couldn’t stop thinking of what Miriam must have felt as she ran from the angry mob invading her home. It hit Mary that Miriam had almost certainly been wearing nothing but a nightgown at the time, just as Mary was now. A few times, Mary sat up to look out her window and verify that there was no angry mob outside. Each time, she lay back down again, thinking of how stupid she was. She wasn’t Jewish and she didn’t live in Germany, but anything seemed possible in the dark.
    The next morning at breakfast, Mary continued to wonder why she had been so upset. It wasn’t that she hadn’t heard about horrible things happening to people before. Horrible things had occurred in the books she read, the radio shows she listened to, and the movies she watched. Was it because this time she knew it was something which really happened? Was it because it happened to someone she cared about? Was it because she wondered how Miriam, who had had the actual experience, could sleep at night feeling safe? Did Miriam have trouble sleeping? She seemed pretty cheerful to Mary. Did Miriam have sleeping trouble at one point and overcome it later? How did Mary not know the answer to any of these questions about her best friend?
    While she was in the middle of these thoughts, Mary caught a mention of Germany on the radio. She had previously been treating the morning news as background noise like she always did, but now, for the first time in her life, she found herself actually paying attention to the news.
    “Speaking before the Reichstag today,” said the radio announcer, “Chancellor Adolf Hitler responded to President Roosevelt’s peace proposal, thoroughly rejecting each and every point. During the course of the two-hour speech, Hitler further told his puppet parliament that he was no longer bound by Germany’s naval agreement with Britain or her non-aggression pact with Poland.”
    A shiver went down Mary’s spine. It had all just been a game, hadn’t it? Margaret had said that Germany couldn’t invade Poland without getting into a war with Russia. Mary had gotten around that by making an alliance with Russia. Might the real Germany do the same? Mary reminded herself that Margaret seemed to find that ridiculous, and Margaret probably knew what she was talking about.
    Still, the actions of their game translated to the real world would practically amount to a second World War. Mary looked around at her surroundings in the Brown dining room. The peacefulness almost pounded in her ears. She couldn’t imagine the world at war! She had been born almost seven years after the end of the World War, after all. But she had experienced the Civil War through the words of Gone with the Wind and it seemed pretty horrible. She couldn’t imagine the sorts of war horrors she read about in Gone with the Wind happening in her actual life!
    And speaking of Gone with the Wind...
    “Mary,” said Mrs. Brown suddenly, “I’m sure you’ll get a passing grade once your new class is factored in. Therefore, I’ve decided to give you your book back early. I know how much it means to you.” With that, she held out Mary’s copy of Gone with the Wind. The book itself looked just as it had when Mary saw it last, as if it had never been gone.
    “Oh... thanks,” said Mary dumbly as she took it in her hands. She was happy to have her book back, of course, but now all she could think about was how, if their game had been real, her actions would have been spreading horror and terror across Europe — horror and terror to people like Miriam.

    As she entered her current affairs class later that day, Mary had already decided what she would do. Once again, their desks were arranged in a circle so they could wrap up their little game.
    “So, Mary, you’re now in control of Europe and North Africa,” said Margaret contemptuously. “Your improbable alliance with the Soviet Union still stands. What are you going to do now, Germany?”
    “Surrender,” said Mary.
    “Germany surrenders,” Mary repeated. “The war is over — well, the war in Europe at any rate. I suppose there’s still the war with Japan.”
    “Italy changes sides!” chimed in Donald.
    “Well... if you’re serious about this,” said Margaret slowly, “I demand that you restore all the European countries you conquered to their previous governments.” Mary was about to answer that she would when George chimed in.
    “Not so fast,” he said. “Soviet Russia is still in control of Eastern Europe and we’ll be putting those countries under communist governments loyal to Russia. We need a buffer against the West.”
    “Great, now Europe will be split in half between democracy and communism,” Margaret grumbled. “If this doesn’t lead to war, Europe will be divided, from the Baltic to the Adriatic, maybe for decades. All thanks to you, Germany. Who knows how this ‘cold war’ will turn out.”

    After the class ended, Mary was walking outside the building. As on the previous day, Miriam was waiting for her, but this time she was looking rather pale and twisting her hands anxiously. Mary didn’t think that she had ever seen Miriam looking quite so upset. Mary smiled at her.
    “Hello, Miriam,” she said.
    Instantly, a smile broke out across Miriam’s face. She ran forward and threw her arms around Mary, holding her in a vice-like grip.
    “I love you, Mary!” said Miriam. “I love you!”
    It seemed natural to reply with “I love you too”, but Mary had never said those words to anyone outside her family before and the thought of doing so felt too awkward. Instead, she slowly brought her arms up around Miriam so that their hug was no longer one-sided. She held Miriam tightly.
    “Oh, Mary!” said Miriam. “I thought — I knew you would still be my friend, but — but — I never told you I was — was Jewish because of what happened with my friends in Germany. I knew it was different here, but I was scared! Then I not only told you that, but yesterday I told you about things I’d never talked about with anyone! I was just s-s-scared what would happen!”
    “It’s okay,” said Mary as they came apart. “We wrapped up our game today and the first thing I did was surrender Germany.”
    “Oh, I didn’t mean for you to ruin your game on my account,” said Miriam, sounding a little guilty. “I know it’s not real.”
    “No, Margaret was right,” said Mary. “I wasn’t taking it seriously.” A second after the words left her mouth, Mary was struck by the fact that she had never thought the words “Margaret was right” would flow from her lips so effortlessly, but she moved on without giving it a second thought. “I want what you want, Miriam,” she continued. “I don’t want to think about what happened to you in Germany any more than you do. I want everything to be normal.”
    “Actually... Mary,” said Miriam slowly, “I’ve — I’ve thought it over and I kind of do want to talk to you about it. I feel bad asking, but I know I’d feel better if — if I could sh-share with someone. I swear tomorrow we would go back to talking about boys and movies and normal things!”
    “Okay,” said Mary right away. She didn’t know why she agreed so readily, but she knew that she meant it.
    “I’m sorry if I pressured you into it!” said Miriam quickly. “I didn’t mean it like that!”
    “No, I want to hear,” insisted Mary. “I can’t really know you if I don’t know what you’ve been through.” She didn’t know where those words had come from, but she knew immediately that they were right. In fact, they sounded much wiser than anything she thought her brain was capable of thinking up! “Let’s go over to your house,” she added.
    With that, Mary took Miriam’s hand and they turned to walk down the road together.


This was first published in “Danse Macabre”.

(true story haiku)

Janet Kuypers
haiku 4/30/14

Hitler’s first love was
for a young Jewish girl    that
he never spoke to

twitter 4 jk twitter 4 jk Visit the Kuypers Twitter page for short poems— join
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See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading (C) her poem love from her “Partial Nudity” book release feature live 6/18/14 at Chicago’s open mic the Café Gallery
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See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading (S) her poem love from her “Partial Nudity” book release feature live 6/18/14 at Chicago’s open mic the Café Gallery
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See Vine video of Janet Kuypers performing her poem love (originally in her books Partial Nudity and 100 Haikus) live 12/17/14 at Chicago’s open mic the Café Gallery (Canon)
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See Vine video of Janet Kuypers performing her poem love (originally in her books 100 Haikus and Partial Nudity) live 12/17/14 at Chicago’s open mic the Café Gallery (Sony, posterize)

Read the Janet Kuypers bio.

Sing a Sad Song for Science

Don Maurer

    Albert arrived early at their usual meeting place. Looking forward to a round of consummate brain storming with two intellectual giants. “Ironic that Galileo contemplated the priesthood in his youth. His astronomical observations and improvement to telescopes built his reputation as a leading scientist of his time (1600). His views of the Earth’s movement around the sun caused much consternation in philosophical and religious quarters. He’s the Father of modern science.”
    “And Isaac Newton. Sir Isaac Newton if you please. Offered insights into physics, mathematics, natural philosophy, and even alchemy. His publication of the Phlosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica defined the laws of motion challenging scientists for over 300 years. No mean feat for either process. And I get to hobnob with these two distinguished boffins. What did I do to deserve such company.” ... “Over here Isaac.”
    “Galileo’s late again Albert. Thinks he’s still under house arrest. After five centuries you’d think he’d get over it.”
    “Those Dominicans played rough,” Albert said. “Galileo’s lucky he wasn’t starring in an auto da fe.”
    “Isaac can’t you find anything more uplifting to do than changing base metal to gold? I thought you gave alchemy up several centuries ago. All those wickedly smelling so-called transmutations.” Isaac scowled at his colleague before answering.
    “What about you Albert? You’re still trying to reconcile gravity and quantum mechanics when all the really bright, young people are pursuing M and string theory. And that bogus cosmological constant you drummed up to satisfy the cosmologists had to go. You really should be ashamed of yourself.” Before Albert could answer they were joined by Galileo.
    “Gentlemen. You’ll never guess what I did today,” he enthusiastically exclaimed. “Discovered another solar system. Only this time it’s geocentric.”
    “Galileo,” Albert broke in worriedly. “That observation will get the Vatican’s back up again after they finally acknowledged in 1992 that you weren’t guilty of heresy supporting Copernicus’s heliocentric system for our sun.”
    “Anyway guys,” Galileo responded, “there are more important matters to discuss than the activities of three old has-beens.”
    “Well in your case you were a never-was,” Isaac teased him.
    “I’d rather be a has-been than a never-was,” Albert quipped.
    Galileo ignored them. “There’s been a serious erosion in the public’s confidence in U. S. science. A few years ago 47% Americans supported scientific advances among the nation’s top achievements. Support’s declined to 27%. In 2009 40% Americans didn’t trust what scientists say about the environment. This increased from 30% a year and a half ago. A 2011 national test showed some improvement from two years earlier as one third of eighth graders lacked a basic understanding of the physical, life and earth sciences and 27% performed below the basic level in mathematics. International surveys indicated that U. S. teens regularly scored below average in scientific literacy. Research by the National Scientific Board demonstrated that the level of scientific literacy among adults wasn’t very encouraging either.”
    “Just explaining or citing the benefits of scientific research more stridently isn’t enough to reduce science-society tension,” Gallileo continued. “Members of the scientific community generally agree about climate change, evolution and stem cell research, but the public at large has serious questions and legitimate reservations about these issues. Science has to do a better job of listening to, respecting and responding to public concerns.”
    “Galileo I certainly agree about the chasm between science and society, but in all fairness it should go both ways,” Isaac replied. “ It took the church almost five centuries to acquit you. Darwin’s 1859 book On the Origin of Species radically changed man’s perception of himself. It was controversial then and after 150 years it remains so. An international survey of mostly western countries in 2006 showed that the U. S. had the lowest level of support for the theory of evolution. Forty percent of Americans considered the theory false. This from a country consistently producing Nobel Prize Laureates.” The three colleagues were quiet for a moment focusing on the discussion at hand.
    “Gentlemen,” Albert broke the silence. “the great majority of life scientists accept the process of evolution as the fundamental paradigm of their discipline.”
    “Albert is there something science can do to induce a mega-change in attitude about this important issue?” Galileo asked
    “Yes there is. Science must persist to communicate its benefits.”
     “In particular medical science has produced an admirable array of drugs and medical protocols extending life expectancy and improving the quality of life (Fleming-penicillin; Drew-blood transfers; Salk-polio vaccine; deVries-artificial transplant; human genome project; ...). People, who would’ve died earlier without these advances, have enjoyed sustainable health into their senior years. This science was performed under the paradigm of evolution. More recently evidence is mounting concerning stronger resistance of bacteria to anti-biotics. What worked years (50-60 yrs) simply doesn’t do the job any more requiring new drugs or various combinations of older ones.”
    “Galileo and Isaac it may be useful to ease the science-society tension in this matter by emphasizing that supporting evolution is not mutually exclusive with religion. We all know scientists who support evolution and attend the services of their faith.”
    “Be careful,” Isaac dryly cautioned. “Messieurs Dawkins and Hawking might hear you. They’d be all over you for such rationalizing.” Albert who subscribed to his own view of religion smiled knowingly.
    “Now that we’ve convincingly resolved science-society tension over evolution,” Albert archly asserted, “let’s direct our attention to climate change.”
    “Albert since you raised the question and we pre-date the industrial revolution perhaps you’d be in a better position to lead this discussion,” Galileo suggested.
     “Isaac look at the lengths our colleague will go to pass the buck.”
    “No Albert. Galileo’s right. You’re the man!”
    “Surrounded by villains,” Albert amiably replied.
    “You just want us to beg you,” Isaac charged. Albert feigned a hurt look but composed himself to begin.
    “There are a number of issues related to the public’s resistance to climate change/global warming; scientific, economic and political. Science has inadequately explained the phenomenon. In fact the public frequently use weather and climate interchangeably. Moreover psychological studies have showed that people respond differently depending on whether the word climate change or global warming is used. Finally there’s a political bent to the topic where democrats support global warming and republicans don’t.”
    “Scofflaws even cite below average cold winters as prima facies evidence presumably contradicting climate change,” Isaac offered. “And reputable atmospheric scientists believe cyclic sun spot processes may play a role.” Albert and Galileo nodded assent.
    Albert continued. “Major changes in climate have occurred throughout geologic time. More recently our planet experienced the Pleistocene Ice Age between 2-3 million years ago. This period saw the advance and recession of massive continental glaciers. U.S. glaciologists recognize at least four major advances and recessions in North America alone.”
     “Within the past 10-15,000 years the world has entered an interglacial period. As a result global climate has warmed naturally reducing the size and magnitude of continental and mountain glaciers. This occurred well before 1850 the historical starting point of the industrial revolution. While earth and physical scientists accept this, it hasn’t been adequately communicated to the public at large. Huge and rapid climate changes have naturally occurred in the past.”
    “Albert even those who understand the effect of interglacial warming on glacial recession are skeptical about man’s role influencing climate change.” Isaac stated. “In view of these large scale, physical factors influencing this process, the public can’t conceive that man could possibly accelerate this natural heat engine.”
    “Science has to do a better job to convince the public,” Albert answered.
    “Climate change is a fact not speculation. Since 1850 man’s activities have almost doubled the emission of carbon dioxide and other gasses into the atmosphere. These rates are faster than ones predating the industrial revolution.”
    “Galileo not withstanding acceptance of glacial recession by scientists, I think the public has become refractory to the message.”
    “Albert you believe this?”
    “I’m forced to Galileo. Science has to take a different tack. The public doesn’t want to hear about glaciers any more.”
    “That message in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report about Himalayan glaciers melting by 2100 did not help the credibility of the debate,” Isaac charged. “Moreover the revelation about some climate scientists presumably concealing adverse data riled the public up, increasing the resistance of nay-sayers, and probably induced some people neutral on the subject to join the dark side.”
    “Science deserved the criticism Isaac,” Albert offered. “It has to be more aware how harmful inaccurate information can be and purge any attempt to conceal data that doesn’t support the main argument. Science must be more transparent in its mechanics and win back the public’s trust to convince them about this argument. By the way a more recent IPCC report in 2013 is even more adamant about global warming and man’s activities.”
    “All right Albert,” Isaac said. “I’m sure you have some ideas how to address this problem.” Albert vainly tried to hide his smile. Isaac and Galileo outed him and they all laughed.
    “Perhaps focusing on a smaller scale, closer to home would be more convincing,” Albert began. “Large metropolitan areas are warmer than surrounding rural areas. Due to man’s activities the human carbon footprint of the 21st century is radically different than in 1800. Large cities produce heat engines and dust domes influencing weather and in the long run regional climate downwind. So! As Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington expanded, their effects essentially coalesced forming a climatic megalopolis 456 miles (733 KM) along the eastern seaboard and ever widening westwardand southward. Other examples come to mind. San Diego to Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. The Midwest nexus of Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Indianapolis. Coastal Florida. Now we’re talking tens of hundreds/thousands of square km. Other examples of such heat clusters occur throughout the world. Man can certainly directly influence weather and climate at least at the regional level.”
    “Albert. For other reasons man is influencing regional climate,” Galileo added. “Extensive logging in the Amazon Basin and other tropical climes has measurably increased temperature and aridity in the processed areas. Similar effects have been produced in Madagascar. Long before the disastrous Haitian earthquake relentless logging increased temperature and aridity there. ... I like this approach Albert. It demonstrates how real man’s activities have been influencing regional weather and climate and with expanding populations, the effects will become greater.”
    “Thank you Galileo. But science has been remiss focusing on melting glaciers and subsequent sea level rise to the exclusion of other evidence. One rarely sees in any popular accounts sea level rise associated with thermal expansion of the sea surface. Everything appears to hinge on glacial melting when oceanographers inform us that thermal expansion plays a significant role at least under present rates of warming.”
    “Continental regions and higher latitudes are projected to warm more than coastal regions and the tropics,” Albert continued. “Some areas will receive more intense precipitation and increased humidity whereas others will have an increased risk of drought. Southwestern U. S. commonly experiences drought. With climate change drought is predicted more frequently and over a larger area.
    The economic effect on an expanding SW population will be very heavy.”
    “Albert climate warming will alter the timing of important development or behavioral processes in birds, plants, amphibians and insects,” Isaac stated. “The average first flowering date of 385 British plant species has advanced by 4.5 days during the past decade (1990-2000). This may appear to be a miniscule amount in the eyes of the public, but these data reveal a strong biological signal of climatic change. These studies are just the tip of a ...”
    “Don’t say it Isaac,” Albert interrupted, “enough already of ice bergs.”
    “Isaac’s right Albert,” Galileo offered. “Science is already documenting diseases in a variety of biota with climatic links. Examples include butterflies, lions, sea fans to name a few. More importantly any link between climate change and human pathogens is receiving attention, although no correlation with an increase in malaria has been demonstrated from predictive models yet. Still lots of studies out there over and beyond glaciation.”
    “Albert there are a couple of other factors at work related to the public’s dissatisfaction with science in general and resistance to global warming in particular,” Isaac said. “While existing and developing technology are available to reduce the human carbon footprint and its link to climate change, the public believes it will be too costly to resolve the problem. Accordingly if it’s not related to human behavior, there appears to be no immediate need to encumber society with an additional tax burden. Conservation alone which is not always easy to practice would presumably suffice.”
    “Related to this economic argument there is the political one. If the majority plebiscite sees no need to ameliorate conditions reducing climate change, politicians will move slowly or not at all to address this problem. Moreover some people believe governmental action to legislate reducing the use of conventional fuels is simply another effort to promote more governmental control. They are unalterably opposed to unnecessary legislation for that reason alone.”
    The three colleagues were silent for a bit mulling over the provocative discussion just presented. As usual precocious Albert was the first to break the silence.
    “Gentlemen if in the next decade science can retrieve its good name, it may be possible to convince the public that natural forces of global warming are being significantly enhanced by human activities, then science will have accomplished a worthy achievement.”
    “Can’t happen too soon Albert. Eighty-seven % of scientists think that climate change is caused mostly by human activity,” Galileo responded. “Only 50% of the public agrees.
    “Now that we’ve once again convincingly resolved science-society tension over climate change/global warming,” Isaac archly asserted, “let’s direct our attention to one last topic – stem cell research.”
    “I’m wiped out guys,” Albert hurried to reply, “one of you will have to lead this discussion.”
    “Well Isaac since you raised the topic, you introduce it,” Galileo was quick to suggest.
    “If promoting evolution as a valid concept wasn’t challenging enough,” Isaac began, “promoting stem cell research is Mt. Everest.” “The biochemistry and physiology of pluripotent embryonic stem cells permits them to be used to make other kinds of cells from bone to blood to muscles and neurons. The potential for application to human maladies is diverse and multitudinous.”
    “Sounds promising to me,” Galileo responded. “What’s the problem?
    Why the resistance?”
    “The problem dear colleague,” Albert patiently offered, “is that people are concerned about the origin of stem cells. Since embryonic stem cells are preferred for research, the public fears increased harvesting from induced aborted fetuses. This translates to a distrust of medical science and doctor’s to conspire to favor this source.”
    “Isaac. I’m kind of fuzzy on stem cell research. I thought they can also be harvested and developed from adults which clearly circumvents problems associated with embryonic ones.”
    “Your quite right Galileo. This is an active area of research. Moreover life scientists are also presently working with stem cells from other mammals.”
    “Diverse pathways and multiple alternative hypotheses should always be pursued in research,” Albert wisely suggested.
    “Life scientists and medical research will have to provide strong documentation of the successful application of embryonic stem cells to human maladies,” Isaac continued. “At present there have been some breakthroughs. The full potential of this research awaits us. The results of stem cell research have already been applied to cancer patients. Science must be very careful not to promise too much too soon or more than they can honestly deliver. Failure to do so will only increase resistance to these protocols making even documented claims difficult to accept. Moreover, if embryonic stem cells persist as the most effective source for this research, science must make every effort to demonstrate that fetuses naturally aborted are used rather than induced ones.”
    “That’s quite a mouthful my friend,” Albert sympathetically opined. “Much of what you say rings true. If medical science increases the transparency of its protocols and accurately documents successes, then they just may convince the majority that this is the most expeditious way to go. Without the public’s trust and support progress for stem cell application will be slow and very difficult.”
    “Gentlemen,” Galileo said, “scientists will have to spend more time interacting with the public than ever before. If science expects to make their case with the public, it must engage in open, face-to-face dialogue with opinion leaders, policy makers, school boards, the clergy and media. For example 86% of scientists think vaccines should be required for some medical cases whereas only 68% of the public share that same view.”
    “Galileo if there’s any good news in this sad lament we’ve chorused,” Isaac exclaimed, “you may be encouraged to know that the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has lobbied its members to aggressively address science-society tension about the issues we’ve discussed and others. AAAS has outlined several viable approaches coincidentally seeking funding from its members to pursue public engagement with science. This is a major undertaking on the part of U. S. science.”
    “Well then,” Albert sighed. “We’ve done good. Perhaps a dollop of our favorite libation would be in order to help relax from our labors and soothe our thirsty palates. Ale for you Isaac? Some Gallo for you Galileo? No pun intended dear friend.”
    “None accepted meus amicus.”
    “And maybe a fine Riesling for myself. ... Isaac! Away so fast with only one flagon?”
    “Pardon my haste. Must take my leave. Just received a heads up identifying a possible lead on the whereabouts of The Philosopher’s Stone. Simply can’t pass this opportunity up as the definitive protocol for my alchemy experiments.” With that Isaac hustled off.
    “I certainly hope he doesn’t succumb to closet drinking again,” Galileo exclaimed. “One can only imagine the nature of his transmutation experiments. He might be a very different Isaac the next time we meet.”
    “Drink your Gallo my good fellow,” Albert warmly encouraged. “What are you up to?”
    “You were right Albert. Rome’s calling. The church fathers are uneasy about my recent discovery of a new geocentric solar system. Seems they want to talk to me.”
    “Not again Galileo! Sounds ominous. It might mean another five centuries of house arrest before we meet again. Be sure you provide yourself with a competent lawyer’s phone number and a goodly supply of Gallo for whatever fate awaits you.” With that Galileo ambled away.
    “My! This Riesling goes down easy. Just another stein and I’ll be ready to address ... Let me see. Ah yes! M and String Theory.” With that Albert poured one more stein for the road.


lunchtime poll topic

“Personulism” (My Own Private Kansas)


    “But, there are many people who would say, ‘If you let me keep my gun and you stay out of my church, I don’t want any more help from you, thanks. I’d rather live as if the government wasn’t there.’ That’s the point of being an American. They don’t want to hear from Washington. ‘It’s my right to live in this part of Kansas, unmolested.’”

    —Christopher Hitchens, at the Sydney Writers Festival (clip undated)


    I first discovered Christopher Hitchens through Dennis Miller’s HoBO run, in the late 90’s. I have listened to him hold forth, against friends as well as enemies, targeting threats, targeting seemingly personal bugbears of his own, targeting imponderables and unproveables. Targeting piddling trifles. Usually, with an unveiled attitude of “sod the proles, you’re all drooling idiots, I would laugh in your face if I wasn’t so deeply bitter, mmmm, good booze...”. Yet, this column isn’t about Hitch, or about burying him. I wish he hadn’t had to be buried. Of all the assholes on screens and tubes, and no matter he nuke a sacred cow, I never hated him. I never held a grudge. You might know, he’s the one who died early. Rare is the human, who pisses on my worldview—something Hitch did comparatively rarely, FYI—whom I don’t spend at least an occasional quiet moment, weighing odds of killing them and getting away with it. I never wanted to saddle up and ride down Christopher Hitchens. Not once. I’m unsure ‘why’. I want to say it’s that he was British, but, that’s stupid. Bill Maher hosts shitholes from around the world.
    The opening quotation, part of a clip less than 4 minutes long, leads into a “nyaah, nyaah” at the Tea Party, the rise and decline of which, I slept through. I believe in Populism. I am in my thinking, a Populist, but no populist movement succeeds so to dominate, unless it bears its doubled cross before it...and That One, ain’t comin’ back for another century, as I wrote in Gunther. Your greatgrandchildren may well spout vile murder, and wear its uniform. We, Here, Now, may only monitor the Present. As The Great Ellison put it, “nobody can see beyond the veil.” My point made, is that Populism, for Me, is (trumpet fanfare) personal. It’s not a movement as motion, but philosophy in action. POV. CEE’s gestalt. My populism, is mine. And, I don’t live in rural Kansas, but you are not going to molest me. I assure you. Ink that down.

    When my Dad passed and it became clear I as prince had hit The Promised Lotto at last, my fiancee and I embarked on a mad rush to get our dream life jumpstarted, and this included driving hard a hungry realtor, going to the whip as though she hauled us in a rickshaw. There were, as with our choice of new automobile and the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham I never got to own, certain compromises. Where and what neighborhood. You know.
    After conceding a lakeside community, its nearby, Green Acres-town, or indeed moving away from our city At All, I stumped 4th choice, for a bright, wide neighborhood surrounding a Reconstruction-era manse which rose commanding and 19th Century above all humble, low-lying ranches around, dark-feeling and silent-sitting and “I am a Past which will never go away.” Terrifying and wonderful, as Salieri might say. My betrothed, called point of order.
    The mansion, the home of a contemporary, friend (and I daresay mentor) of Lincoln’s, was “protected”. Though the man himself had faded from a culture which glories in its amnesia, his home, before either of us were born, had been acquired by the State...and, as I discovered years later, historic preservationists as a species, don’t just think they own what they own, control what they control, hold sway over great mansions of forgotten Americans, not just those, specific buildings and properties, no. Such people, can tell you when you can’t park in your own driveway. Or what windows you “have to” have. Or why there can be no through traffic or even through foot traffic, during the annual Apple Crap Festival or semi-annual Dancy Crap Shivaree or the monthly meeting of the Daguerreotype Lovers of America, where punch is served and there’s ceramic crap for sale. Or whether you can aim a camera from “yours”, in the direction of “theirs”. And they actually retain lawyers who’ll take their money. And judges don’t laugh them out of the courtroom.
    I couldn’t believe what she was tellin’ me. Any person coming to my door with that load, I said, was going to reacquaint with the door knocker, very quickly. These long years on, I know better, the black pit-horror of intervention. We simply don’t answer our door, anymore. Ever. If the visitor looks unofficial, we blast “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”. Usually, the Bananarama cover.
    My sole rule of brotherhood, comes down to “live and let live, and be allowed to live.” I don’t point fingers. I believe in full bore-accountability. I call myself “a Frank Zappa American”, i.e. “I will walk on the grass, if I want to—I will also Not walk on the grass, if I do not wish to.” I alone, tell Me, and you receive no pass to sweat your small stuff. Not to my face, anyway. I opposed the “V-chip” and subsequent ratings system—devices, I can switch Off or unplug, bingobango. It’s on me, if I focus on poison or come looking for trouble. Just don’t come at me. My personal space is my temple. And if it’s not a felony which gets even occasional serious press, maybe you need to chill out and have a snack.
    That stated, I’m only a soldier if in retreat at Little Big Horn. Aside from staring into the middle distance with darkest thoughts imaginable, I’m not likely to ever put on my Wallabees, shoulder my knapsack and walk out the front door, into history. If even I began to make a list and check it twice, The Enemy, I promise you, is perso(okay, you know this part), not some “pick ‘em” opponent of Lost America. That’d be pretty unsatisfying, IMO. Michael Palin, in “The Argument Clinic” sketch, trapped into diminishing returns of quality conflict. An anarchist-friend said in 1985, “To CEE, if it isn’t personal, it’s meaningless.” Not exactly a surprise, I guess...but, I root for armed revolution, and the lone wolfs, too! I just never grew beyond Bart Simpson jeering Super Bowl halftime, “Aw, this sucks! Come on, snipers, where are you?!” I’m much like our black cat in my fight, a champ in defense, at risk moving forward. As the threatened farmer or usurped property owner, or residents of the Tennesseee Valley’s depths in the 30’s and 40’s, if backed to rock, I’m all in. I’d add (which will lose me the few friends I still have), I’m nothing to do with guns. I’m far more smashing machine than Jesse James. When the eventual collecting up of firearms transforms this nation, I shall be found blameless. Instead, a semi-pro baseball bat of dark wood, bearing the name of our true, undrugged, seasonal home run record holder, one Roger Maris. It’s testament to me as force of nature. This artifact thus far, gathers dust. Though poetic as vision, I have no wish to actually be General Custer. At core, I believe, wish-fulfilment, as Rodney King did, re: “getting along”. So you take care now, Clarice, to extend me the same courtesy...
    Many of you are frustrated to bitch-snipe level, fed to the teeth with my obsessing, stuck tone arm, on the personal...but, it’s hardly just me. That’s populism on Chomsky’s “atomized” level—Dodge City disputes, with the bar set at “Individual”. These, are not even Page Six stories, they’re so common. They happen everywhere, every day, often for little more than peanut butter in chocolate or someone not liking Sara Lee, or not saying, Stepford, the accepted cadence, re: “lives mattering”...every “pick that up”, “let go of the girl”, “you bastard, I’ve always hated you” we’ve crunched popcorn to, all our lives. I keep waiting for incidents like these to kick off a Big Bang of 28 Days Later rage (minus needles or fluids) and overtake the televised map as fast as King’s killer flu, in The Stand. I plan to then set a kitchen timer, gauging speed of the Red Chinese invasion. Except, to mix cultural references, I don’t think the Chinese government gives a damn, about Lebensraum. We don’t represent enough of a fat prize, to be worth the 7 or 8 years of guerilla warfare. Yes, we can be made go away and in droves, every lippy student gone unspanked, every pit-haired prof crying foul, every confident nouveau riche with reservations who stops smiling, when they realize Darth Tse-tung altered the deal. Shot down, beaten to death, tortured to death. Gassed. There are whole websites which show how frail we all are. And “fairness” isn’t fairness, where older cultures have harder peoples. It’s not compassion—it’s the bother. A mop job of that scope? For what? Hybrid grains ala Earl Butts, to rot the bowels? Farmlands drenched in multi-generations of insecticide? Target stores? K-Marts, maybe?
    No, when dawns the morn a Viking rooster crows, it’ll be surgical missiles after all. The East, doesn’t concern itself with winds of dampened, lessened poisons of irradiated things which have blown a long way, and boy, are its toxins tired... Chernobyl, happened over There. The gulags and uranium mining by slave labor, happened over There. Avian shit-diseases, etc. There are millions and more millions being born. The universe, is uncaring. Life is cheap. Make your way, or anOther, will pave his over you.
    The rest of the world, civilized or uncivilized, are amazed at our amazment. Life, to the East, though an holy gift, is that in itself, no more, and not to be over-appreciated. Sacred, is the intrinsic, period, not an ongoing WARHAMMER 40K mutation that nets us freebie raspberries when an opponent makes a miraculous dice throw. We don’t have any special abilities, save those which move us a bit more easily or faster or further on a board we will not lap. Whether Life’s a bitch, the East, certainly power elite, know it’s finite, and that one or a million die, that ten or a billion thrive. Actual Trek’s, “the needs of the many”, in unapologetic, unspun terms. If We as red, white and blue blowhards go away in main, what troubles that a thousand or ten or forty or eighty sicken, perhaps die? If, rubber to road, The Law of Natural Selection is truly The Law of Existence, then...thin the herd. Start with the United States. They’re rude assholes, and won’t shut up.
    Yes. I agree. And Fuck You. Whore. And get off my land. And leave me alone. The acronym from An Enemy of the State (F. Paul Wilson), KYFHO = “Keep Your Fucking Hands Off” the book, certain, remembered neighborhoods. In America, certain locales of certain thought. Yet Law, if federal, if permitted as such, must cut broadly, and no tree of pioneers or field as blessed by Boone or Lewis & Clark, may be spared. The lines, the jots, the tittles and their corollaries, must level the playing field, flat...which, CEE would rubberstamp and salute, but the plan, the map, the outline, theory, concept and visualized structure, is never, evereverever the way it plays. My township, many rains ago, banned all signs of certain types, certain heights, certain intent and(or) nearness to street, in a baby-oink at urban blight—then, following a few respectable rounds of the JEOPARDY! theme, the waivers began to be applied for, and were dutifully granted. Every proclamation as framed, is pitted with holes and lives mocking the very books they’re on, like a bad, sprayed-on tan. Peppery, not solid. As such, flawed and, yes, biased. Useless, to anyone who believes in any sort of absolute. Most, have had their absolutist bone removed, until a neighbor or employer or GoodDoBee group they dislike, is in their face like the Cobra Kai. Somehow, the old “justice nerve”, begins sympathy pains in that moment. Our Spidey-sense of “I am right and righteous.” And in the personal, in conflict with Other Of No Stake, all the agendaite “critical thinking” and Wallie World indoctrination as cheered, will not fix the problem. That societal breakdown could “never” happen sequentially, spread Zika virus of personal freedom, I covered for you, recently. That those who protect and serve, embattled, made the assholes, shot down or driven from jobs and cities for defending them, might choose not to fight such Fuck You-enemies of a Hate State, instead have a beer and watch it on PPV, I allude to, often. As with a masked vigilante I created, in the late 80’s, and an alternate plotline abandoned:

    In my novel, Actions of the Just, the local, star public defender, a confident, charismatic, wellspoken woman, was firm in reaching out to the well-meaning but mad vigilante (my antihero) my original notes, she deplored his reported actions, denounced him publicly as self-appointed judge and jury. Spoke glowingly of reforms, and of the suffering of the poor and undereducated. Spoke of choice, and the ability to change. Near the end of what had been my plotted manuscript, she is attacked, the m.o. being rape, in her offices, after hours. The vigilante is nearby, had come at last to parlay. He sees the perpetrator, blindsides him, threatens him, fully purposed to dispose of this very personal threat to his ethical enemy. The lawyer, committed to principle, rails against the masked gunman to his face, repeats all her platitudes, chants the old bromides. He is silent in the face of this appeal, then answers only, “Well, have convinced me.” He then holsters his pistol and exits, leaving the idealogue to her fate. Which, guess what, nonfans, happens.

    If you remove Hoover Dam, FLOOD. If you remove all Launch On failsafes, NUCLEAR WAR. If you remove capital restrictions as punishable without appeal, RAMPANT CRIME. If you remove those hired to stem the tide of that crime, GANG RULE. At that point of decay, whether or not I shoot a preservationist for pissing about “non-compliant windows”, is not something for which I would be arrested. Or receive a fingershaking, for that matter. The preservationist could then too, throw bricks through my windows, until I installed the “right” kind...but, gee, that’d be violating rules—which, ironically, is itself a violation of No More Rules. It is today, spit-distance close to This: If you do not live as feral being, you are prey, a mute pestilence, and must die. As with Ali daring, ca. 1975, to “fight both Frazier and Foreman on the same night!”, I don’t think much of your chances.
    It’s impossible to not see “Other Populism”, as whiny buttholes overcorrecting, as I’ve met too many with pinched sphincters, who live for clipboards and lists. Such people have bowel movements, over the siding you installed, fair pee the street, at sight of your unraked leaves. They’re fire gods, on your doorstep. Looking down a barrel then into an empty eye, they’re puddles. They exist, to nanny you; they’re no good at defending you. And it isn’t like Man can truly ascend. In Bonanza’s “The Crucible”, a bitter, desperate miner played by Lee Marvin, torments Adam Cartwright throughout the episode, obsessed with proving no man, pushed far enough, is anything but a predatory beast. Adam, driven in the end to temporary insanity, keeps upping the ante through at first stoicism, then by elevating the end, at the point of death, a kind of Christ-figure. Intense, beautiful. Holy, compelling. Not what Man is. Man is neither a weirdo, telling you to rub the lotion on your skin. He’s akin to old, gun-slinging radio, 1) interrupt, 2) insult, 3) hang up, but for the real, blued metal item in his grip, any termination being not of mere, rancid conversation.
    There are no advocates still taking calls, nonfriend, and nearly no hired guns. To quote an anarchist-friend, “Only YOU can protect you.” In this light, the horns of your patticake dilemma, “taking away all guns and killing on the spot, all who resist” or me as Frank Zappa-American removing aggressive voices of nitpicking strangers, as they meet The Rajah before meeting the King of Kings, are clear. This clarity, comes from the Headline truism larger and Lindbergh Baby-LARGER each day, that more and more will not obey, will take what and as they wish and unto death, Attica, Attica, nannananna-booboo. If Marshal Dillon stops this, he must die, and Chester and Festus, too, or take The Walk of Shame as criminals scream for blood. Those killing and taking and swilling the blood of Law, will not sit upon your spread blanket of Peace, and hug and have an epiphany. Beijing, would say you’re a fool for dreaming that up. Maybe send you to a May 4th farm.

    We bought in a different neighborhood altogether, back in ‘99, just to let you know. I was anxious to begin our life together, and certain monies were dragging out in transfer, an old Heinz ketchup commercial with Carly Simon making me grit my teeth. Impatience alone, bought me the time machine in which I sit. I’m here instead of an ‘historic’ neighborhood, by way of “Get on with it!”, not because I believed my new bride. Strangers with no stake and no name on your title can’t direct your life or your legal future, where are you from? No man tells another, sans blue uniform, black robe or shades and lightning-fast ID, and only then, if You Know You Did It before they speak. I don’t give a shit about your Apple Crap Festival. That’s your festival. Your rights stop, one inch from my driveway.
    Shoulder the packs like a good animal, nonmule, or build your very own wall. Hitchens, btw, in the clip cited, went on to say Americans believe Life should be risky. Irrespective of his destination, the man is now dead. That’s why Life is risky. It ends. His did. Yours, will. It’s not up for debate. Screw your opinions. Everyones’. Maybe not mine. They’re useful.

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 address. 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 2017 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 copies 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

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The Burning mini poem books
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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 2017 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.

the Statue