cc&d magazine (1993-2017)

Warrior’s Light
cc&d magazine
v277, November 2017
Internet ISSN 1555-1555, print ISSN 1068-5154

cc&d magazine

Table of Contents




(the passionate stuff)

CEE Of course, turkeys are more frightening
David Russell Swan0001 photography
I.B. Rad The Wisdom of Turkeys
CEE The Broth of Too Many Kooks
Eric Bonholtzer 2237 photography
CEE The Plain, Unvarnished Truther
Aaron Wilder Impressionable and Impulsive art
Linda M. Crate can’t hate you
false prophet
Queen of Spades
warrior’s light
Charles Hayes Town Hall
David J. Thompson Missouri Door photography
Erica Ann Welch Full Metal Jacket
John Yotko Tiananmen Square 0024 photograph
Erica Ann Welch In and Among Statues
Michael Lee Johnson I Edit my Life
R. N. Taber Political Correctness, Precious Bane
Michael Ceraolo Cleveland Haiku #103

performance art


(select poems from the 5/6/17 Austin show
Time to Start the Show”)

Janet Kuypers the Bathroom at the Green Mill
the Battle At Hand
Kick Someone Out
Ladies and Gentemen, Boys and Girls



(the meat & potatoes stuff)

Charles Hayes Ester (A Mother)
Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz Mothers and Daughters art
Kilmo Happy Valley
Wes Heine DSCN0301 art
Eric Burbridge Soldier 333
KC Snow The Arch-Tomato
Kyle Hemmings Fresh Food photography
Patrick Fealey from Bird Island, Chapter 4: Mcjob
Chapter 5: It on the Lawn
Chapter 6: Summer Folk

philosophy monthly


(justify your existence)

Dr. (Ms.) Michael S. Whitt Progressive Education: Revisited in 2000
Dr. Shmooz / Daniel S. Weinberg Who Dat? art

lunchtime poll topic


(commentaries on relevant topics)

CEE The Portrait I Admire Most (Happy Anniversary!)

Note that in the print edition of cc&d magazine, all artwork within the pages of the book appear in black and white.

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Warrior’s Light
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Poetry (the passionate stuff)

Of course, turkeys are more frightening


Never had one childhood disease, so
Strode proudly, right up to the chicken
“A pox upon you!”
Said I
And I shot it

And then the turkey chased me for half a mile

Swan0001, photography by David Russell

Swan0001, photography by David Russell

The Wisdom of Turkeys*

I.B. Rad

A turkey marveled
at his perfect world
gobbling on about
less fortunate wild cousins
having to scrape a living
from hardscrabble fields and forests
and how his astute ancestors
had traded their bogus liberties
such as freedom to be eaten by predators
for the comforts and safety
of a farmyard existence.
For it was his good fortune
to be looked after
by compassionate poultry Gods
who meted out a daily allotment of food,
Inoculated him against illness,
protected him from predators,
and so on, until all he had to do
was gorge, sleep, and grow fat.
Moreover, his Gods
so loved turkeys
that they held a special day of thanks
for their continued fellowship.
And, for that matter,
he could never dream of fleeing
his turkey paradise,
for, even if he was able to guess his fate,
owing to domestication
he couldn’t live separately anyway,
so it’s not surprising
that when Thanksgiving day came
he was nowhere to be found.

Indebted to Taleb’s “turkey problem.” Given its fragility,
    one wonders whether our increasing dependence on
    the internet won’t become an example of a “turkey problem.”

The Broth of Too Many Kooks


If you want to hold actual, free elections
Every time you get more than
One hundred people, in any community,
Plat another one

2237, photography by Eric Bonholtzer

2237, photography by Eric Bonholtzer

The Plain, Unvarnished Truther


I’m the Little Engine That
Belongs to Some
Belong, and longtime
To anything at all...
I Think I Am, I Think I Am
I Think I Can Think I Think I
I, I, I-I uh-I-I...

Impressionable and Impulsive, art by Aaron Wilder

Impressionable and Impulsive, art by Aaron Wilder

can’t hate you

Linda M. Crate

i can’t pretend to hate you
because i’ll always love
it’s one of my greatest flaws
i love too much and i care too hard,
and always i give myself
to all the wrong
never know who to trust
because every bad person has told me
they were a “good” one that wouldn’t
hurt me but that’s not true
they always leave me
always tire of me after a time—
i can’t pretend i don’t still hurt even after
all these years apart
you were my first love and you were
untrue and you didn’t even care
about how you ripped me
to pieces
only cared about your own selfish wants and needs,
and i may never be able to hate you but i do
hate that you couldn’t be a better man;
someone like you didn’t ever
deserve the nakedness of my heart, body, and soul
i was a price that you’d never be able to

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.

false prophet

Linda M. Crate

you can talk the talk,
but you can’t walk the walk;
typical of false prophets
but i wanted to believe your
sincerity was true
even when i had my suspicions
it may not be—
you shattered every dream i had
of you
watched the pearls of pain
roll down my cheeks,
and thought only
of yourself;
you were deceptive and cruel
only thinking of my body and never my
heart and soul,
and my heart was so hungry that i gave you
something i ought not have—
i was starving
for a dream and an adventure and a hope
maybe it wasn’t fair to place you on
a pedestal,
but it wasn’t kind of you to try to crucify
the wild straight out of my bones
simply so i could agree with whatever weird
whim your mother decided was
her truth.

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.

Queen of Spades

Linda M. Crate

i am the queen of spades
will impale you with
your wounds
to keep you away
because every time i open my heart
it only gets shattered,
and so now i stand tall and alone;
everyone thinks i’m lonely
but i’ve always been
love wounds like a frieght train
when it’s not true,
and i would rather have something
real and magical and wait
a thousand years
than have a thousand relationships that
weren’t worth my heart’s sacrifice—
i am a daughter of the moon
wild and fierce
yet vulnerable and soft
my snarkiness and sarcasm are defense mechanisms
to guard the steel fortresses that protect my heart
because all the birds of me are suspicious
of love anymore.

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.

warrior’s light

Linda M. Crate

i wind myself in
wings of chaos
because it feels far
more comfortable
in sorrow
because happiness is so
easily shattered and scattered,
and blows away like petals
in the wind;
sometimes it’s hard to trust my heart
for all the fools she’s fallen for—
and yet my dreams and my hopes and my love
shine brighter than my fears and i am
braving everything i thought
i couldn’t,
and i know i still have a long way to go;
but i am stronger than i used
to be;
evolution of a flower from lily
to thorned rose
i am a warrior of the light
wild and free and i bite back like i was always
too afraid to before
because while tact is necessary so is truth.

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.

Town Hall

Charles Hayes

    I see dead eyes covered w/ platitudes and lies, IE: “...... pass on...go to heaven....access/afford.” Whether it be the eyes of those who attend the grim reaper, or those whose pools cloud when his swing arches on, it’s a sight that etches its way upon the mind.

    A question that in essence asks, “How can you kill me by taking my medicine?”, a man answers with his pretties. They float about his halo like colored motes. Not following the glittery, I hold my eyes to his. Among the many etchings that come forth, are the eyes of a young buck dying at my feet, its pretty doe dancing on.

    I watch a town hall, dying people casting their lots before dead eyes, I have no doubt about what I am really looking at. It is America becoming great again.

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.

Missouri Door, photography by David J. Thompson

Missouri Door, photography by David J. Thompson

Full Metal Jacket

Erica Ann Welch

“This is my gun.
There are many others like it.
But this one is mine.”

Sargent says my gun is my wife.
She makes love to me by blowing away what tries to tear us apart.

I no longer dream of making love to her
Her weak body on top of mine,
pinning me to sweat-stained sheets
with the problems.
Problems she straps to her chest like a full metal jacket.

I have found that if I hold the barrel to my cheek,
It’s just like sleeping on my father’s rounded shoulders.

Tiananmen Square 0024, photography by John Yotko

Tiananmen Square 0024, photography by John Yotko

In and Among Statues

Erica Ann Welch

I find myself in and among statues.

In this world where the adults live
Words laid like concrete fall like heavy stones
Instead of music.

One day I will be one
That decides what is important

But for now I am wet paint,
And you must not touch me
Because too many already have.

Their fingerprints distinctive:
Changing and rearranging me
Into a person that matters.
Another inglorious statue.

imagefromthe Miami Holocaust Memorial, copyright © 2008 - 2017 Janet Kuypers


Erica Ann Welch

See the symphonies in my blood
And the ringing of my ears
Feel the steady pulse of a heart that is filled with anxiety
And find it beautiful.

I Edit my Life

Michael Lee Johnson

I edit my life
clothesline pins & clips
hang to dry,
dirty laundry,
I turn poetic hedonistic
in my early 70’s
reviewing the joys
and the sorrows
of my journey.
I find myself wanting
a new review, a new product,
a new time machine,
a new internet space,
a new planet where
we small, wee creative
creatures can grow.

[‘...Let none admire
That riches grow in Hell; that soil may best
Deserve the precious bane.’

(Milton, Paradise Lost (Book I, lines 690-692)]

Political Correctness, Precious Bane

Copyright R. N. Taber

Once, in another country,
we spoke of love and being gay
in a world where sexuality
has no need of political correctness
to leap to our defence

We lay beneath a willow tree
shedding tears for the likes of us
having to justify even love
in the glare of a political correctness
meant to educate bigots

Oh, but so many excuses
(all perfectly legitimate of course)
playing political correctness
at its own game so none dare criticise
for fear of causing offence

Hypocrisy, no mean weapon
in upholding the various integrities
of socio-cultural traditions
passed off as icons through centuries
of human division and abuse

Ah, but who are we to accuse
those who may accuse us of offending
all they hold dear if only
because it makes them feel secure, safe
from all talk of LGBT rights?

Oh, yes, we may well speak up
where political correctness established
despite all its back-stabbing,
self-styled ‘betters’ fronting and calling
on socio-cultural immunity

As for the world’s higher clerics
seeking handouts even among the poor,
no need for a satirical press
where actions speak louder than words
and both contradict each other

Around the world, ordinary people
whisper behind closed doors of being gay,
in love and free where sexuality
can’t even call on political correctness
to try and put the record straight

Cleveland Haiku #103

Michael Ceraolo

I sit and rock the swing
to the rhythm
of the waves crashing on shore

Performance Art

the bathroom at the Green Mill

Janet Kuypers
Spring 1997

you know, I’m so used to
walking into bathrooms at bars
and seeing “I love Scott” and
“I think I love Paul, but I think I love girls”
scribbled on the stalls in ink
but I went into the bathroom at the
Green Mill on the north side of Chicago
which hosts the Uptown Poetry Slam
while a black woman read poetry
about oppression and plantations and slavery
(which sounded more like a speech,
but I won’t get into that)
and I walked into the bathroom, into
a stall, I closed the door, and I saw
some writing, and I thought, oh,
I bet this writing actually has something
to say, I bet there’s poetry up on these walls

and I sat down, and I started to read
and I saw “I love Scott” and
“I think I love Paul, but I think I love girls”

and I started to think that I’d actually
like to meet the people that write these messages
and I’d like to ask them,
“Hey, are you still with Brian? Because
when it said “Jeanie and Brian Forever”
on the bathroom stall at the Green Mill
I wanted to know if it was really true
if I can still believe everything I read
and if there was a happy ending for you”

and then I put my lipstick on in the
bathroom at the Green Mill in Chicago
heard the black woman’s voice resonating
throughout the bar, thought for a moment
about what was on the walls and walked away

Listen mp3 file to the DMJ Art Connection
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Watch this
YouTube video

Live at the 2009 Poetry Game Show, live in Chicago 04/14/09
the 2009 Poetry Game Show

Or see the complete feature video with Kuypers & 6 readers, w/ 15 poems & prose poems live at the 2009 Poetry Game Show 04/14/09 in Chicago.

This video is w/ the Internet Archive
video footage
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Or view the the 2009 Poetry Game Show mpeg video (from another camera) at
the Internet Archive
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Watch this YouTube video

read live 09/13/11, at the Café open mike she hosts in Chicago
video Watch this YouTube video
video of the introduction to the 09/13/11 weekly poetry open mike she hosts live at the Café in Chicago, & her reading poetry (including this poem) from her ISBN# poetry book Contents Under Pressure
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See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers in her 5/6/17 poetry show “Time to Start the Show” at “Honoring Open Mic Hosts” in Austin reading her poems “the Bathroom at the Green Mill” “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls(this video was filmed from a Lumix camera).
video video
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers in her 5/6/17 poetry show “Time to Start the Show” at “Honoring Open Mic Hosts” in Austin reading her poems “the Bathroom at the Green Mill” “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls(this video was filmed from a Sony camera).
Time to Start the Show - poems from Janet Kuypers Time to Start the Show - poems from Janet Kuypers View or download the free PDF chapbook
Time to Start the Show
of her poems “the Bathroom at he Green Mill” “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls” performed in her 5/6/17 Austin show about hosting poetry open mics.
See YouTube video of Janet KuypersNovember 2017 Book Release Readings 11/1/17 from the cc&d 11/17 book “Warrior’s Light”, with her Time to Start the Show poems “the Bathroom at the Green Mill”, “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls” in Community Poetry (Panasonic Lumix).
See YouTube video of Janet KuypersNovember 2017 Book Release Readings 11/1/17 from the cc&d 11/17 book “Warrior’s Light”, with her Time to Start the Show poems “the Bathroom at the Green Mill”, “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls” in Community Poetry (from a Sony camera).

Click here for the Janet Kuypers bio.

the Battle at Hand

Janet Kuypers
(started July 13) July 14, 2000

I wanted you to know
that I was on a mission when I saw you
and that I was a warrior
and you were just a helpless victim
that couldn’t fight my weaponry

that wouldn’t fight my weaponry

I would come in to town
and pillage and rape
and rape and pillage
depending on how you put it

and rape is such a hard word, you know,
entirely inappropriate for this
because I made sure that you wanted me
before it was all over
because I have a knack for doing that
      when I fight my battles

this is how I care to think of you.
I was on a conquest
and I came fully equipped with ammunition
I had bayonets
I had a rifle
with rounds of bullets in a chain
thrown over my shoulder
I had a .22 caliber magazine loaded hand-gun

I didn’t even need to use the hand-grenade
or the tear gas

even before I started using my tongue as a weapon with a kiss
I used it as a weapon with words
and I knew I had won you won over from the start
you looked at me when I spoke
and I think you might have actually wanted to listen to me

and I would never have to resort to violence
to get what I wanted from you

we seldom had opportunities before
and there wasn’t much of an opportunity here
but we made one
and we somehow made it work

I know I wasn’t ready for a battle before
but I want you to know
that I came ready to fight
and I didn’t care the circumstance
or whether or not we had to be quiet
      because we wouldn’t want anyone to find out
      and no one did

and no, it was not a momentous moment in my life
it was just a moment
a conquest, a battle,
and in my own mind,
I won the war

you still thought I was beautiful
and that I was horny
did I create a little monster in you?
now I’m going to have to re-arm myself
and use my stockade of defenses to push you away

but that is the cost of winning battles all the time, I guess

you thought I would always want you
and you know, I liked winning the battle,
but I’ll have to work again
so that you don’t come back to haunt me
because we weren’t meant to be anything to each other
and you were just a conquest for me
a battle won

people thought we would never get along.
but I know better
I know there is no such thing as NOT getting along with me
and I know I can make anyone like me
as I did with you

you were easy prey, you know.

Order this iTunes track: Janet Kuypers - The Chaotic Collection #01-05 - The Battle At Hand
from the Chaotic Collection

...Or order the entire 5 CD set from iTunes:

CD: Janet Kuypers - Chaotic Elements
India Flux
Listen to this track mp3 file to the DMJ Art Connection, off the CD Indian Flux, or order this off the CD directly from iTunes.
the poetry “Oh.” audio CD”
Order this iTunes track
from the poetry audio CD
“Oh.” audio CD
...Or order
the entire CD set from iTunes:
Janet Kuypers - “Oh.” audio CD
the poetry audio CD set etc.
Order this iTunes track: Janet Kuypers - Etc - The Battle At Hand
from the poetry audio CDetc.
...Or order the entire CD set
from iTunes

CD: Janet Kuypers - Etc
Listen mp3 file to the CD recording from the
CD Rough Mixes, by Pointless Orchestra
Listen real audio Janet Kuypers - Six Eleven - The Battle At Hand to the CD recording for the 06/11/02 performance art show 6/11
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Urbanation (2:48, 02/22/04)
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Watch this YouTube video
(3:33) at the live Jesse Oaks live “UNcorrect” feature 06/21/07
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See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her poem The Battle At Hand, after she introduces the first day of the open mic she hosts in Chicago for over 5 years, live at the Cafe in Chicago 1/12/10.
Listen: (2:30) mp3 file
to this recording from Fusion
from the 6/11 show 06/11/02

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from the Internet Archive
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live at 6/11 in Chicago 06/11/02
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See YouTube video 7/24/16 of Janet Kuypers reading her poems the Battle at Hand, Just By Holding His Hand (extreme 2016 sestina variation), and Only an Observer at the Austin open mic Kick Butt Poetry (Canon P.S.).
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See YouTube video 7/24/16 of Janet Kuypers reading her poems the Battle at Hand, Just By Holding His Hand (extreme 2016 sestina variation), and Only an Observer at the Austin open mic Kick Butt Poetry (Sony camera).
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See YouTube video 11/20/16 of Janet Kuypers reading her poems “Everything is my Home”, “the Battle at Hand” & (C) “Us, Actually Touching”, then Joe & Janet w/ her poem “Under the Sea” @ the Austin’s Kick Butt Poetry open mic.
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See YouTube video 11/20/16 of Janet Kuypers reading her poems “Everything is my Home”, “the Battle at Hand” & (S) “Us, Actually Touching”, then Joe & Janet w/ her poem “Under the Sea” @ the Austin’s Kick Butt Poetry open mic.
video not yet rated
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers in her 5/6/17 poetry show “Time to Start the Show” at “Honoring Open Mic Hosts” in Austin reading her poems “the Bathroom at the Green Mill” “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls(this video was filmed from a Lumix camera).
video video
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers in her 5/6/17 poetry show “Time to Start the Show” at “Honoring Open Mic Hosts” in Austin reading her poems “the Bathroom at the Green Mill” “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls(this video was filmed from a Sony camera).
Time to Start the Show - poems from Janet Kuypers Time to Start the Show - poems from Janet Kuypers View or download the free PDF chapbook
Time to Start the Show
of her poems “the Bathroom at he Green Mill” “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls” performed in her 5/6/17 Austin show about hosting poetry open mics.
See YouTube video of Janet KuypersNovember 2017 Book Release Readings 11/1/17 from the cc&d 11/17 book “Warrior’s Light”, with her Time to Start the Show poems “the Bathroom at the Green Mill”, “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls” in Community Poetry (from a Sony camera).
See YouTube video of Janet KuypersNovember 2017 Book Release Readings 11/1/17 from the cc&d 11/17 book “Warrior’s Light”, with her Time to Start the Show poems “the Bathroom at the Green Mill”, “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls” in Community Poetry (Panasonic Lumix).

Click here for the Janet Kuypers bio.

Kick Someone Out

Janet Kuypers

We saw the man walk inside.
We didn’t know why he was here.
She was divorcing him.
She had a restraining order on him.

I know, I know, she wasn’t there.
But still, he had no place here.
So we confronted him inside,
before he got too comfortable.

“I hate to do this, but
we think it’s best if you go.”

I suppose at times it can be tough
being a poetry open mic host,
because the foundation of our space
was that we welcomed anyone.

So it’s tough when you have to
take a stand and kick someone out
to protect one of your own —
without the enemy ever saying a word.

“Drop the Bomb” 4/30/17 chapbook
View or download the free PDF chapbook
“Drop the Bomb” 4/30/17
of all of the short Janet Kuypers poems she read from her live 4/30/17 reading in Austin’s 2017 Poetry Bomb (plus one bonus poem).
video See YouTube video from 4/30/17 of Janet Kuypers performing her “Drop the Bomb” poems for Austin’s 2017 Poetry Bomb (Sony), with control, earth, enjoy, unbounded, Just Thinking About It, Kick Someone Out, Lades and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Exhaling Toxic Fumes, Jumping from the Mausoleum, Just to be On the Safe Side, Nobody Finds Me, Bored the Night Before 9/11, energy, errors, rescue, This is Only a Test, You, Only Searching, Ugly Babies need the Most Love, Bimbo, Good Escape, Goth Girl Photographer, Koala Porn, Occupy, On a Downtown Chicago Light Pole, On This Ride, Marne Rifle Poem, No Thank You, He makes me Think about These Things, (and you could hold me), & From Words to Wars.
video See Facebook live video on 4/30/17 of the first part of Janet Kuypers’ “Drop the Bomb” poem series she read for Austin’s 2017 Poetry Bomb, with the ending of Kick Someone Out, Lades and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Exhaling Toxic Fumes, Jumping from the Mausoleum, Just to be On the Safe Side, Nobody Finds Me, Bored the Night Before 9/11, energy, errors, rescue, This is Only a Test, You, Only Searching, Ugly Babies need the Most Love, Bimbo, Good Escape, Goth Girl Photographer, Koala Porn, Occupy, On a Downtown Chicago Light Pole, On This Ride, and Marne Rifle Poem (from a Samsung Galaxy S7 smart phone).
video See YouTube video on 4/30/17 of the first part of Janet Kuypers’ “Drop the Bomb” poem series she read for Austin’s 2017 Poetry Bomb, with the ending of Kick Someone Out, Lades and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Exhaling Toxic Fumes, Jumping from the Mausoleum, Just to be On the Safe Side, Nobody Finds Me, Bored the Night Before 9/11, energy, errors, rescue, This is Only a Test, You, Only Searching, Ugly Babies need the Most Love, Bimbo, Good Escape, Goth Girl Photographer, Koala Porn, Occupy, On a Downtown Chicago Light Pole, On This Ride, and Marne Rifle Poem (facebook live video with a Threshold filter).
video not yet rated
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers in her 5/6/17 poetry show “Time to Start the Show” at “Honoring Open Mic Hosts” in Austin reading her poems “the Bathroom at the Green Mill” “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls(this video was filmed from a Lumix camera).
video video
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers in her 5/6/17 poetry show “Time to Start the Show” at “Honoring Open Mic Hosts” in Austin reading her poems “the Bathroom at the Green Mill” “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls(this video was filmed from a Sony camera).
Time to Start the Show - poems from Janet Kuypers Time to Start the Show - poems from Janet Kuypers View or download the free PDF chapbook
Time to Start the Show
of her poems “the Bathroom at he Green Mill” “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls” performed in her 5/6/17 Austin show about hosting poetry open mics.
See YouTube video of Janet KuypersNovember 2017 Book Release Readings 11/1/17 from the cc&d 11/17 book “Warrior’s Light”, with her Time to Start the Show poems “the Bathroom at the Green Mill”, “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls” in Community Poetry (Panasonic Lumix).
See YouTube video of Janet KuypersNovember 2017 Book Release Readings 11/1/17 from the cc&d 11/17 book “Warrior’s Light”, with her Time to Start the Show poems “the Bathroom at the Green Mill”, “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls” in Community Poetry (from a Sony camera).

Click here for the Janet Kuypers bio.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls

Janet Kuypers

Running a poetry open mic for years,
I started every open mic by saying
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls —”
because everyone was welcome at the café.

Even after my Chicago open mic
moved to a bar with a stage
and anyone under 21 wasn’t allowed,
I still started every open mic with

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls —”
because I believe to this day
that sharing your poetry, sharing your art
can bring out the kid in all of us.

Creativity’s on our side,
so it takes us to a mindset
that although we may be small,
we can still take on the world.

“Drop the Bomb” 4/30/17 chapbook
View or download the free PDF chapbook
“Drop the Bomb” 4/30/17
of all of the short Janet Kuypers poems she read from her live 4/30/17 reading in Austin’s 2017 Poetry Bomb (plus one bonus poem).
video See YouTube video from 4/30/17 of Janet Kuypers performing her “Drop the Bomb” poems for Austin’s 2017 Poetry Bomb (Sony), with control, earth, enjoy, unbounded, Just Thinking About It, Kick Someone Out, Lades and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Exhaling Toxic Fumes, Jumping from the Mausoleum, Just to be On the Safe Side, Nobody Finds Me, Bored the Night Before 9/11, energy, errors, rescue, This is Only a Test, You, Only Searching, Ugly Babies need the Most Love, Bimbo, Good Escape, Goth Girl Photographer, Koala Porn, Occupy, On a Downtown Chicago Light Pole, On This Ride, Marne Rifle Poem, No Thank You, He makes me Think about These Things, (and you could hold me), & From Words to Wars.
video See Facebook live video on 4/30/17 of the first part of Janet Kuypers’ “Drop the Bomb” poem series she read for Austin’s 2017 Poetry Bomb, with the ending of Kick Someone Out, Lades and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Exhaling Toxic Fumes, Jumping from the Mausoleum, Just to be On the Safe Side, Nobody Finds Me, Bored the Night Before 9/11, energy, errors, rescue, This is Only a Test, You, Only Searching, Ugly Babies need the Most Love, Bimbo, Good Escape, Goth Girl Photographer, Koala Porn, Occupy, On a Downtown Chicago Light Pole, On This Ride, and Marne Rifle Poem (from a Samsung Galaxy S7 smart phone).
video See YouTube video on 4/30/17 of the first part of Janet Kuypers’ “Drop the Bomb” poem series she read for Austin’s 2017 Poetry Bomb, with the ending of Kick Someone Out, Lades and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Exhaling Toxic Fumes, Jumping from the Mausoleum, Just to be On the Safe Side, Nobody Finds Me, Bored the Night Before 9/11, energy, errors, rescue, This is Only a Test, You, Only Searching, Ugly Babies need the Most Love, Bimbo, Good Escape, Goth Girl Photographer, Koala Porn, Occupy, On a Downtown Chicago Light Pole, On This Ride, and Marne Rifle Poem (facebook live video with a Threshold filter).
video videonot yet rated

See YouTube video 4/30/17 of Janet Kuypers reading her new poem “Lades and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls at “Kick Butt Poetry” in Austin as a teaser for her 5/6/17 “Let’s Start the Show” feature (Sony).
video videonot yet rated

See YouTube video 4/30/17 of Janet Kuypers reading her new poem “Lades and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls at “Kick Butt Poetry” in Austin as a teaser for her 5/6/17 “Let’s Start the Show” act (Lumix).
video not yet rated
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers in her 5/6/17 poetry show “Time to Start the Show” at “Honoring Open Mic Hosts” in Austin reading her poems “the Bathroom at the Green Mill” “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls(this video was filmed from a Lumix camera).
video video
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers in her 5/6/17 poetry show “Time to Start the Show” at “Honoring Open Mic Hosts” in Austin reading her poems “the Bathroom at the Green Mill” “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls(this video was filmed from a Sony camera).
Time to Start the Show - poems from Janet Kuypers Time to Start the Show - poems from Janet Kuypers View or download the free PDF chapbook
Time to Start the Show
of her poems “the Bathroom at he Green Mill” “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls” performed in her 5/6/17 Austin show about hosting poetry open mics.
See YouTube video of Janet KuypersNovember 2017 Book Release Readings 11/1/17 from the cc&d 11/17 book “Warrior’s Light”, with her Time to Start the Show poems “the Bathroom at the Green Mill”, “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls” in Community Poetry (Panasonic Lumix).
See YouTube video of Janet KuypersNovember 2017 Book Release Readings 11/1/17 from the cc&d 11/17 book “Warrior’s Light”, with her Time to Start the Show poems “the Bathroom at the Green Mill”, “Frozen Together”, “the Battle at Hand”, “On Ashes”, “Kick Someone Out” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls” in Community Poetry (from a Sony camera).

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 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. Starting at this time Kuypers released a large number of CD releases currently available for sale at iTunes or amazon, including “Across the Pond”(a 3 CD set of poems by Oz Hardwick and Janet Kuypers with assorted vocals read to acoustic guitar of both Blues music and stylized Contemporary English Folk music), “Made Any Difference” (CD single of poem reading with multiple musicians), “Letting It All Out”, “What we Need in Life” (CD single by Janet Kuypers in Mom’s Favorite Vase of “What we Need in Life”, plus in guitarist Warren Peterson’s honor live recordings literally around the globe with guitarist John Yotko), “hmmm” (4 CD set), “Dobro Veče” (4 CD set), “the Stories of Women”, “Sexism and Other Stories”, “40”, “Live” (14 CD set), “an American Portrait” (Janet Kuypers/Kiki poetry to music from Jake & Haystack in Nashville), “Screeching to a Halt” (2008 CD EP of music from 5D/5D with Janet Kuypers poetry), “2 for the Price of 1” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from Peter Bartels), “the Evolution of Performance Art” (13 CD set), “Burn Through Me” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from The HA!Man of South Africa), “Seeing a Psychiatrist” (3 CD set), “The Things They Did To You” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from the DMJ Art Connection), “Hope Chest in the Attic” (audio CD set), “St. Paul’s” (3 CD set), “the 2009 Poetry Game Show” (3 CD set), “Fusion” (Janet Kuypers poetry in multi CD set with Madison, WI jazz music from the Bastard Trio, the JoAnne Pow!ers Trio, and Paul Baker), “Chaos In Motion” (tracks from Internet radio shows on Chaotic Radio), “Chaotic Elements” (audio CD set for the poetry collection book and supplemental chapbooks for The Elements), “etc.” audio CD set, “Manic Depressive or Something” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from the DMJ Art Connection), “Singular”, “Indian Flux” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from the DMJ Art Connection), “The Chaotic Collection #01-05”, “The DMJ Art Connection Disc 1” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from the DMJ Art Connection), “Oh.” audio CD, “Live At the Café” (3 CD set), “String Theory” (Janet Kuypers reading other people's poetry, with music from “the DMJ Art Connection), “Scars Presents WZRD radio” (2 CD set), “SIN - Scars Internet News”, “Questions in a World Without Answers”, “Conflict • Contact • Control”, “How Do I Get There?”, “Sing Your Life”, “Dreams”, “Changing Gears”, “The Other Side”, “Death Comes in Threes”, “the final”, “Moving Performances”, “Seeing Things Differently”, “Live At Cafe Aloha”, “the Demo Tapes” (Mom’s Favorite Vase), “Something Is Sweating” (the Second Axing), “Live In Alaska” EP (the Second Axing), “the Entropy Project”, “Tick Tock” (with 5D/5D), “Six Eleven” “Stop. Look. Listen.”, “Stop. Look. Listen to the Music” (a compilation CD from the three bands “Mom’s Favorite Vase”, “Weeds & Flowers” and “The Second Axing”), and “Change Rearrange” (the performance art poetry CD with sampled music).
    From 2010 through 2015 Kuypers also hosted the Chicago poetry open mic the Café Gallery, while also broadcasting weekly feature and open mic podcasts that were also released as YouTube videos.
    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 ISBN# 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# ISBN# 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. 2017, after hr October 2015 move to Austin Texas, also witnessed the release of 2 Janet Kuypers book of poetry written in Austin, “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 poems” and a book of poetry written for her poetry features and show, “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 show poems” (and both pheromemes books are available from two printers).

Prose (the meat and potatoes stuff)

Ester (A Mother)

Charles Hayes

    The years following World War II were a time of beginnings. Peace was beginning, families were beginning, and America was beginning to take a new shape. It was expected that people would try new things and go new places. But among the ancient mountains, known as the Appalachians, things did not take on change like the rest of the country. Few roads were built through the mountainous hardwood forest of this rugged area. Life held on to those things that could provide the most relief from an isolated existence. In the areas where coal was found, men mined it, lived by it, grew old and died by it. Their women raised their children and provided the men with what they could as the trains and trucks carried the product of their labors and most of the money out beyond the mountains to the growing cities of the Northeast.
    Some of that coal began its journey near the little town of Matoka, West Virginia. Located along the train tracks that carried much of the traffic, Matoka was the home of a family of merchants that owned and ran the town’s only feed store and a small movie theater. Of that family was Ester Williams and her two older sisters. There had been an older brother but he had gone down in a bomber during the war. Ester’s father was also deceased but her mother still lived and managed the two small businesses. They were an industrious family that knew the value of money. Ester, however, was the least business oriented among the family. Instead, she was more interested in music and loved to play the piano and sing, leaving the matters of business to the rest of the family. Her family supported her in this and considered her to be more or less their contribution to the arts. Consequently, she became quite good. In the tough environment of the coal fields such an individual could hold a place that was, while rather different, respected and sometimes admired. The struggle of mining life sometimes required a softening of the hard edges that necessarily developed. Music could do that.
    Ester was unusual in more ways than just her avocation. She was a twice married single mother. Many years earlier, she had eloped with her high school sweetheart, a handsome but penniless boy named Ben.


    During the heights of the great depression Ester and Ben returned to Matoka after marrying. Neither had any way to earn a living. Ester’s family had enough to help them out some but Ben came from a poor family who didn’t have enough to even pay off their debts at the coal company store. Plus Ben hated coal mining and could not hold a mining job. Mining was tough.
    It wasn’t long before Ben, whose character strengths did not match his good looks, succumbed to depression, borrowed a gun, and shot himself.
    He was buried following a small funeral with only his mother and father and the Williams family in attendance, his prior popularity having vanished among the staunch conservative community. Ester’s family paid for the funeral and burial. The expenses were never discussed between the two families nor did they stay in contact. It was like nature had annulled the marriage between Ester and Ben. Ester returned to her music and the rest of the family continued their trade while Ben’s little family, now childless, returned to their life in the coal camp. The great depression was no respecter of persons—life was luck and it must go on.


    Sitting on the front porch of the family home in an old rocker, Ester recalls the days of her marriage to Ben and wonders if they played a part in her leaving Buddy, her second husband and the father of her two year old son. Determined to let the past be the past, she quickly tries to dismiss this thought. But Buddy is her son’s father and that is different. It will never be the past.
    She can’t help but remember the day that she left Mathews, Virginia for good, Or the letter and phone calls from Buddy begging her to come back. She felt sorry for him but told him that it was over. Did she do the right thing? Like a film in her mother’s movie house, it plays in her mind, different parts and times flashing forth like a Picasso.

    A naked baby boy barely able to walk, struggles toward the ocean waves, falls face first into the sand, giggles, and rights himself. The brilliant blue and white mixes with the wind and sounds of surf to flood his senses. As he nears the froth of the receding surf Ester suddenly runs to the water’s edge and grabs him. Ester is a stoutly built woman wearing a modest bathing suit of the post World War II era and the child is Charles, her son. Telling herself that she had better keep a close eye on him, she looks to the sky and determines that the sun will soon be too hot. Holding Charles, Ester bends down and picks up the little shovel and bucket and carries them to the grassy top of the sand dune where a little red wagon sits. Putting them and her belongings in the wagon, she pulls on a smock, puts cover on her boy, and pulls the wagon along a sandy street that runs through the seaside fishing and farming community of Mathews, Virginia.

    Ester and Buddy, a fisherman jack of all trades met after the war at a USO social in Bluefield, West Virginia where Buddy was awaiting military discharge. Ester had wanted a child beyond all else. And Buddy in his Merchant Marine uniform seemed like a God send to a young unmarried woman from a small town. Both were in their thirties and looking for a place to enjoy the expected peace and prosperity that would come. Times were giddy and, though they were from different backgrounds, they married quickly and headed to the Virginia shore where Buddy was from. However the good times never really had a chance because Buddy was prone to drink and many times the money that was needed to make ends meet was spent in the local fishermen’s bars. Plus the crab boat that Ester’s family bought them for a wedding present was hardly broken in before Buddy got drunk and sold it for far less than it was worth. Even though she was granted her wish and became pregnant, that sale broke Ester’s will to keep the marriage going. She left Buddy and went back to Matoka to have Charles.
    Buddy, a father removed, kept phoning and pleading for her to come back until, against the advice of her family, she carried Charles back to Mathews and tried once again to make a life for them. But Buddy seemed little different than before except that his drinking was more confined to the local area and seldom did he stay out more than one night.
    Buddy had been medically discharged from the Merchant Marines because he had fallen from a mast and burst his skull. A metal plate was inserted to replace part of the bone and it was said that this contributed to his behavior. His family tried to make allowances for him but they were just able to make ends meet themselves. But he was one of their own so most of them tried to keep Ester on board for his sake. This proved to be hardly enough for Ester. She had made sacrifices in order to return to Mathews. She had liked watching her baby, studying music, and playing her mother’s piano. In Mathews they could barely afford the rent for the little shack that they lived in, let alone a piano. Or even a good record player. But she had wanted to prove to her parents that they could make it so she tried to endure. It was not long though until she decided that their life could not go on like that. They were on borrowed time. This cast a feeling of melancholia over their relationship and the resulting resentment prevented both of them from honestly trying to come to grips with the situation. Frequently they would exchange guilty looks and quietly drift farther apart, each seeing their own vision of a doomed relationship.

    Walking along the rutted beach road, pulling the wagon and Charles behind, Ester thinks about what will be waiting for them when they get home. When they left for the beach they saw Buddy by the station house talking with a large black man in fishing boots. The station house is a favorite place for those who like to pass a bottle around while discussing fishing or the hog prices over at the farmers auction. As Ester nears the place where the beach road joins the regular street she hears laughter coming from the direction of the station house and decides to bypass it, hoping to avoid seeing Buddy drunk.

    Evening is quiet and Ester remains anxious when Buddy fails to come home for dinner. She and Charles listen to the radio until it is his bedtime and Ester tucks him in.
    Suddenly a loud crashing sound comes from the front stoop.
    “God Damn it Ester, how many times have I told you to keep the fucking toys out of the doorway!”
    Ester hurries to the entrance and helps Buddy regain his feet. He had tripped over the wagon, knocking out one of the door panels.
    “My God Buddy, the doorway is plainly clear enough for anyone who can walk straight. You smell like a brewery, serves you right. I suppose you drank up the money we were going to pay the rent with.”
    “Fuck the rent we’re going to move anyway,” replies Buddy as he lurches across the room and flops down in his favorite piece of furniture, a huge pink arm chair.
    Ester’s eyes fill with tears.
    “Just where to. We don’t have any money and the last time I checked there are no places around here that are rent free. It’s just another one of your moves because you drank up the money. I told you Buddy I can’t keep moving. It’s not good for Charles and it’s not good for us. We need a place we can count on.”
    “Hell Ester, don’t start that got to get ahead bull shit again. We can take that little garden cottage behind John’s. He says that I can work on his boat to make it up plus a little extra money besides.”
    John is Buddy’s older brother. He fishes for anything that he can sell off his truck over in Gloucester, mostly crab. He needs help setting and retrieving crab pots—it is hard work bringing them up and setting them from the back of his small boat. And Ester knows that Buddy can’t do it.
    “You can’t stick to that. You’ve tried it and Lord knows you can’t. Besides that cottage doesn’t even have a bathroom. I told you when I came back here that I would not live like that and you promised that we could have our own place. You said it would be different. They don’t even like me. They think I’m stuck up. Buddy listen to me—I won’t do it!”
    Ester is crying.
    Buddy stands up, pointing his finger.
    “You are stuck up and you’ll God damned do what I tell you to do!”
    Ester, rushes over to Buddy and grabs him.
    “Please, Buddy, please don’t do this. I won’t do it...I can’t do it...I’ll leave you, I’ll take Charles and I’ll leave. And this time I won’t come back. Can’t you see that?”
    There it is, the unspoken thought that inhabits their lives, finally said out loud.
    Buddy looks down at her as she clings to him and for a moment they hold each other’s gaze. As if to terminate any tie that holds them together, Buddy pushes her away.
    “Go on and leave then! You never belonged here anyway...too high and mighty for the likes of me...go on, leave, I’m tired of never being able to please you! Take the kid with you...going to turn out to be nothing but a momma’s boy anyhow... you wanted a you got one. Call it my contribution, go on, leave.”
    Ester stumbles backwards and falls over a foot stool, landing with a loud thud as her bottom hits the floor. Lowering her head into her hands, her soft sobs are broken by the sound of another louder cry. In the bedroom door stands Charles, his big teary eyes searching first the face of his father and then that of his mother’s.
    Ester quickly stands and takes Charles back into the bedroom while Buddy, looking bewildered and lost, slowly walks out the front door. Looking at the light coming through the broken door panel, Buddy mutters, “Oh what’s the use,” shoves his hands in his pockets, and makes his way toward the station house.

    Ester knows that the greyhound bus to Richmond will pass through shortly. She also knows that this has been a long time coming so it may as well be now. She will take Charles and return to her family with the money she received from them earlier and hid away. It was enough to get them on the bus to Richmond. Enough will be leftover to go by train from there into West Virginia. She doesn’t know the train schedule but she knows that the major coalfields of Southern West Virginia call for much rail traffic. And that includes some passenger trains that bring the big coal company executives, their families, and the coal business in and out of the region. Along with the rich in their sleepers, there will be room for the poor in coach. They might have to spend a night in the station but that is nothing she and Charles have not done before.
    There is not much to pack—a small cardboard suitcase and a small bag of toys along with a jar of peanut butter and half a loaf of bread. Ester places the food and toys, along with Charles, in the little red wagon and pulls them behind her as she carries the suitcase.
    The bus stop is about a mile away and it takes her about 30 minutes to walk the distance to the shelter and bench beside the highway. She doesn’t have long to wait before she sees large headlights in the distance. It has to be the bus. Nothing else that big runs through here. Stepping near the edge of the road and waving, Ester watches the bus slow and pull over.
    The driver gets out and looks over at Charles setting in the wagon.
    “Heading toward Richmond,” he asks, “just you and the kid?”
    “Yes,” replys Ester, “we have a train to catch.”
    “You’re not going all the way into downtown Richmond,” the driver asks, “want me to drop you at the train station?”
    “Yes, please. That would save us some trouble making the connection and it would be much appreciated.” Ester is glad that the driver is willing to do this. She can’t spare cab fare.
    “No problem at all,” the driver says as he stows the suitcase under the bus and looks at the red wagon.
    “Sorry I can’t take the wagon without charging you extra. The company is very strict about that. Want me to load it as well?”
    “Just leave it,” replies Ester.
    She feels a moment of sorrow but immediately pushes it away. The wagon had served them well and Charles had few toys, she will have to get him another one. Or maybe something a little more complicated like one of those toy cars that you can pedal.
    Lifting Charles and their few belongings from the wagon, Ester pushes the wagon to the side of the shelter and hopes that someone will make use of it. She pays the driver and learns that Charles can ride free as long as he is carried aboard.
    Finding a seat not too far from the front of the bus and getting situated, Ester hears the swooshing sound as the driver closes the door and pulls back on the highway. A family of three is once again only two, starting a journey that is as unclear as the dark countryside beyond their window. Holding Charles in her lap as he falls asleep, Ester wonders what she can do once they reach Matoka. Her family will of course take them in but they will also expect her to find something to do with herself. Ester thinks of her music and how she might use that to make a life. Maybe she can teach.

    At the station house Buddy sees the bus in the distance slow down and stop for a few minutes before continuing on. Maybe someday he can take his family on that bus to Richmond and they can have a real holiday—eat in a good restaurant, and stay in a nice hotel. Ester has complained and threatened before. One time she even left him, but she had come back fast enough. He knows it is hard for her but she will just have to give him a chance to prove to her that he can handle it. Just a little more time is needed. A man has to sometimes do things that people don’t understand. That takes time. What things those are, Buddy can’t quite figure. He loses his train of thought and doesn’t remember where he started. Looking around and suddenly realizing that he is the only one left on the platform, Buddy gingerly slides from atop a large barrel and stumbles toward home hoping Ester will be in bed. He doesn’t feel like arguing tonight. It will all get straightened out tomorrow.
    As Buddy nears home he sees that the lights are on and tries to ready himself for more complaints. Noticing the broken door but not remembering how it got that way, he goes inside. It is all too quiet. Why has Ester not turned off the lights before going to bed? Only the bedroom is dark. He goes into the bedroom and switches on the light to find the bed and the old makeshift crib empty. The drawer where Ester keeps her clothes is open and empty. And the shelf where she keeps the few things for Charles is bare. A knot slowly begins to form in the pit of Buddy’s stomach and he begins to feel sick—a wild kind of scared sick. He looks all around, panic in his eyes. He even runs outside and looks under the house to see if they might be hiding there. Coming back inside, he notices that the wagon is gone. Maybe they are just walking around somewhere but why would they do that. The unusual stop of the Greyhound bus suddenly dawns upon him. In a full panic, he half runs, half walks to the bus stop to find no one there. Nothing.
    As Buddy is bending over to catch his breath he sees a flicker of light in the shadow of the shelter and draws closer to see what it was. At first only the handle bar lying in the dust is visible. But the whole thing becomes visible as Buddy further examines the object. It is a child’s red wagon. The realization that while he was getting drunk he had watched Ester and Charles leave him hits him hard. Moaning from deep inside, he slowly sinks to the bench, curls like a fetus, and cries until he is unconscious.


    Slowly rocking back and forth, again aware of the quiet Matoka street that she overlooked, Ester closed her review of the past and looked to her child playing along the porch nearby. She had done the right thing and she would prove it. With a resolve as hardy as her love of music, she set her jaw and swore to herself that, even if it killed her, she would make a life for herself and her son.

    Ester Williams Hayes enrolled in a nearby teachers college and studied music. Through many years of moving around to substitute teach during the school year, while completing her teaching certificate during the summer months, Ester raised Charles as a single mother and lead many a school band as its conductor.
    It was not easy. Away trips for state High School band competitions had Charles, still very young, donning his small band uniform and marching in the ranks, pretending to be the smallest music maker. There was no money to do it any other way and Charles played his part well enough that no concerns were raised. The travel and mix of older people stretched him in ways that were not so obvious at first. Later they led to a more liberal leaning in his nature. A fact that sometimes puzzled the more conservative Ester.
    Charles’ father was no longer in the picture, but when Charles graduated high school Ester loaned him her car to go back to the Chesapeake Bay area and look for him. Finding only his father’s brother, Charles learned that Buddy had faded from even his own family’s picture. The last anybody knew about him was that he was in an old soldier’s home somewhere. It seemed that not much had changed through those years. Fishing and hard work left little time to keep up with those beyond the immediate family.
    Charles returned to West Virginia and, as Ester grew older, went forth carrying those obscure parts of his father that would bedevil him and Ester throughout life. They were the products of the hard rocks of Appalachia. Where coal was king.

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.

Mothers and Daughters, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz

Mothers and Daughters, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz

Happy Valley


    Gear was starting to worry. He’d done his best to glue the pack in place. But they were climbing into the hills along the old interstate, and half the time the truck was bouncing so much he was in the air.
    ‘You’re never gonna do it you wait any more.’
    He flicked the switch taped where the guards wouldn’t see it, and waited for the dust to clear. When it had half a dozen trucks were stopped nose to tail in his mirrors.
    ‘What went wrong? We’re carrying spares ten back if you need ‘em.’
    Morgue had appeared at the window with that grin stretched so wide it looked like it should be bleeding. All the first to be scrubbed looked like that.
    ‘Don’t know. I’ll miss extraction hour, probably be here the rest of the day.’
    ‘Alright, we can’t stay; you know that. I ain’t so sure these days there’s nothing out here to bother you, but...’
    Gear watched as Morgue raced to his cab pumping his fist for the others to mount up and listened to the engine. For a crew boss he was better than most; it was just the smile was a little off putting.
    ‘Be careful with that attitude Morgue they’ll scrub it from you next cycle if they catch you.’
    He shouted as the convoy began inching past with its passenger’s faces staring down from the grills cut in the container sides, ignoring the middle finger from the carb.
    ‘Too late heroes.’
    He was kind of pleased the cargo had already had their ears shot to pieces by snap shells.
    It was the quickest diff problem Gear had ever not fixed in his whole life, he thought to himself as he finished kicking debris away from the wheels. He glanced in the Frontiers direction where it looked like someone was trying to stitch the sky to the ground. He was only a few miles away now and the air was filled with the crump of exploding shells. These days there had to be entire zones camped along the fence. The guard posts worked twenty four seven just to keep the kill zones clean. Gear arrived just before dawn.
    ‘Quiet, now I said I’d get here didn’t I?’
    When the shouting had died down on the other side of the grid had died down a man with ribs that looked like they were in danger of bursting through his suit stepped forward.
    ‘You’re the first not to run.’
    ‘Don’t tempt me.’
    The spokesman must have carried water with him in his back like a camel, because he could still spit. Gear watched the flare as it fried into steam.
    ‘I don’t know how much longer we can last,’ The old man’s face twisted, ‘Our kids shouldn’t suffer like this.’
    Gear pointed at the grid, ‘Time to do what you promised then.’
    Something must have disrupted the flow further up the line, because the pylons were crackling everywhere he looked. The breach attempts doubled every week now.
    ‘Then watch, and remember what we did if you ever thinking about changing your mind.
    Gear had been expecting some sort of homemade bomb; maybe something clever with ropes and grapples, but he saw what it was they were going to do as soon as they joined hands.
    ‘Not like this.’
    ‘Tell the Therapist we made our own way through.’
    ‘The who?’
    ‘Goodbye companero.’
    ‘No wait.’
    Gear’s voice died as the crowd started to sing and his eyes went wide. It wasn’t long before he was wishing they were louder as the first ranks began to pop like seeds in a pan. Beams sizzled, and sliced, but they couldn’t stop the men and women pushing through as the refugees used their bodies to tear a hole in the fence.
    The Mills offspring arriving stopped that.
    ‘Hurry...for god’s sake.’
    Gear knew as well as anyone else in the crowd what those things up in the sky meant as the railguns opened up. Agony brought the Mills attention faster than flies to shit these days. But as the rounds hit home he breathed a little easier, anything was better than watching another hundred wailing mothers get their faces crisped like butter frying.
    He drove the rig as close as he could without attracting fire, back when it had been built they’d tried driving through, until what it cost in lives made them stop. No matter how much explosives you used none of them ever got more than a few feet the other side. He revved the engine as the first kids ran toward him.
    ‘Get up here now.’
    ‘Mi Madre.’
    ‘Mi Padre...’
    ‘I’m not arguing with you. Get in, or stay with what’s left of them.’
    They grew up fast in the zones. Gear had that to be thankful for. In fact they grew up fast pretty much everywhere these days now they had to watch their parent’s backs. Still half of them stayed to watch their families get torn apart. As far as he was concerned that was fine. He’d been paid already.
    By the time the gambling conurb’s ruins appeared in the windscreen he was rattling too much to drive further. Most people had had discomfort and annoyance stripped from them, along with love and lust and pretty much anything else. Gear popped the cap on another bottle and spilt as many of his pills into his mouth as he could. The truck and its contents would stand out like a sore thumb. Maybe the patrols looking for malcontents trying to fan even the smallest flame of adrenaline were elsewhere.
    ‘You OK in there?’
    He jumped out and pulled the pin letting his cargo blink in the sunlight as they replied. ‘Dame aqua senor.’
    ‘We need water.’
    The speaker was a boy, wide eyed and determined with pupils like metal. A girl next to him burst into tears.
    ‘You let them see you doing that and you’ll be dead.’
    He’d put an arm round the girl although he kept the rest of his attention on Gear.
    ‘He’s right,’ said Gear, ‘They can sniff you losing control from miles away. Come here sweetheart.’
    The bawling slowed to a snivel; those who couldn’t keep themselves in check had been cut from the pack long before they got to the fences outposts.
    ‘Where are we going? Why aren’t we there yet?’
    ‘You’re not worried about your people?’
    ‘I lost mine a long time ago.’ His scowl deepened, ‘You haven’t answered my question.’
    ‘We’re going to the undergroves, unless you want go get out here? The kids looked out the door at the broken slot machines and shattered neon. Gear grinned, ‘Thought not, they’ll be able to hide you there; for a while at any rate.’
    ‘Why are you doing this?’
    Gear was impressed; he liked it when they could think.
    ‘Because I get to play both ends against the middle... reminds me I’m still alive.’
    He’d let his contact explain how short their lives were likely to be. He’d been paid to get them to the groves not recruit them.
    ‘Be quiet this last stretch. Even the rats are careful where they tread.’


    Usher was waiting when they got there. Gear ground the rig into neutral and let it come to a halt.
    ‘What took you so long?’ The man with burn marks on his face flicked his eyes over the container checking for damage, ‘We were expecting you months back.’
    ‘Pining for your new recruits? I thought ops we’re going well? It’s not like they can get to you with those everywhere.’
    Gear pointed to a tree that had nudged its way from the top of a hole cut into the ground near their feet. You could smell the citrus from the genegeneered wood even up here.
    ‘How many now?’
    ‘Ten hundred maybe more,’ said Usher the wrinkles round his mouth deepening for a moment, ‘some of the tunnellers went a little loopy after so long digging. We had to stop.’
    ‘Then the area’s covered.’
    ‘Dunno if covered’s the right word; even the tallest only sticks out above ground an inch or two, but it’s not bad. It’s too hot for anything more right now.’
    ‘It works, that’s all I care about. No one’s seen a nightmare in months. The trees swallow them same as rain.’
    Gear looked at the rubbery leaves. If you didn’t know what lay below you’d have thought it was just another desert bush.
    ‘You going to tell them yet? They’re smoke Usher; at least half of them are more skin than bones.’
    ‘That’s the problem, we need them calm. We can deal with the machines, but that nth dimension shit is still way beyond us.’
    ‘Well, I’ve the cargo’s ready for the schools. They should give your fighters a chance.’
    ‘It’ll stop them shooting themselves before they go up top at any rate. Where are they?’
    Gear gestured at the container standing in the sun.
    ‘I’d let them out, but a signature that big is going to be picked up for sure. Even here with all the interference.’
    ‘I’ll have one of the lads come up and get them.’
    ‘Ok, but first tell me why I’ve never heard of the Therapist before.’
    ‘He’s the architect, one of the last. He designed the Mill; before the regime killed his comrades.’ Ushers grin got wider. ‘You shouldn’t worry so much. Last I heard he emigrated somewhere nice off world. The kids will be fed here at least and we don’t send them out to do the fighting until they can handle it.’
    ‘What do you mean?’
    Usher looked at him with cold eyes, but all he said was, ‘we don’t turn them into vegetables anymore.’


    When the Therapist clicked off the screen; the fence and its outposts played out their tricks behind his eyes well after he’d leant back into the dark.
    ‘It wasn’t supposed to be like this.’
    He rubbed his knuckles in his sockets and grimaced. He wasn’t supposed to be in a prison uniform either. Except you didn’t have a lot of choice when empty faced men knocked on your door in the middle of the night. That had only been part of the journey that had brought him to station 400. He’d never gotten to see his baby blossom, all that had been done by remote, but through the cameras he’d left behind he’d seen what it did to people.
    ‘The New World Order. We did it.’
    The Therapist switched on another display letting static wash over him.
    ‘Built to last, and it took two hundred lives in as many days.’ He said with a paternal smile on his face, ‘that thing stands on enough blood to fill a sea.’
    A grin flickered about his lips as another convoy headed toward the Mill. The view was one of his best. He stared, hypnotised, as the Mills fans cut arcs across the screen. It was hard to imagine he’d ever tried to hurt it.
    ‘You worked too well though didn’t you? Got us all, well all except me.’
    That had been a close run thing though. Its servants hadn’t wasted any time removing him once they’d turned the power on, and the result was plane to see. There hadn’t been so much as a bar fight in the territories since then, hardly a child born either. There wasn’t much call for it when all most people could be bothered to do was get up and work.
    The Therapist cocked his head listening to the hiss from the blades he’d built as they put the first of the POW’s into cages.
    ‘Not long now. Then all your problems will be over.’
    He shook himself. He should be worrying about himself. They’d get round to him eventually even here right on the frontier amongst the other traitors.


    ‘Must have stuck a tracker on me back at the fence.’
    Gear held up his hat and watched a dozen rounds punch holes through it.’
    ‘Bit late for that.’
    They were lying against one of the catacombs trees waiting for enough cordite to accumulate for them to make a move.
    ‘How many did you count?’
    ‘Twenty, the kid with half its face hanging off is the worst.’
    ‘That was the first. They must have got to them en-route while they slept.’
    More bullets tore a crevasse in the wall opposite and Gear felt wood shudder against his back as they mined their way towards its heart.
    ‘This isn’t going to protect us much longer. We need to get out of here, they won’t stop till they’re killed everything with a heartbeat.’
    ‘And run where? Up above isn’t going to be any better if the groves are dead.’
    ‘Not if we do what we aren’t supposed to.’
    ‘The Usher turned bloodshot eyes on Gear.
    ‘We can’t; there’s nowhere near enough of us; especially after this.’
    ‘There doesn’t have to be, we’re not coming back.’
    ‘What do you mean we?’
    ‘You’ve seen what they brought out of the zones.’
    Gear would have like not to. The footage the boy had given him had been out of focus half the time. But he’d seen the numbers. The valley must be filled to overflowing by now whoever the Therapist was he was important enough for someone to drag that information from the zones. He’d be out there now somewhere amongst the graves and girders.
    ‘It’s time we talked to the traitors.’
    ‘You mean the border ghouls? They hate us almost as much as we hate them.’
    ‘Maybe so, but they’ll help us for a real chance at knocking out there employers.’
    ‘I never understand why they don’t just leave?’
    ‘Neural inhibitors, the regime put some of their best surgeons on it. They can look at the border, but they can’t cross it.’
    There was a crump as machinery blew deeper in the tunnels. The Usher noted Gears expression, ‘They’d have found a way to get to us eventually; you were a tool that’s all.
    In the end the desert swallowed ten rigs as a storm blew up. Ten trucks against an army.


    ‘Proximity alert; targets approaching.’
    The Therapist frowned; the windows were rattling.
    ‘Another breach?’
    He’d watched a hundred die last night; scrabbling for a piece of the freedom they thought lay behind the wire.
    ‘No, targets are moving at approximately sixty miles an hour.’
    Data scrolled down the monitors in front of him.
    ‘What do they want?’
    ‘Establishing contact.’
    The voice fell silent until a burst of noise brought the Therapists hands to his ears.
    ‘This the Therapist?’
    ‘We’ve been wanting to talk to you.’
    Engine roar blatted back and forth across the stations dirt yard, you could hear them even above the noise from the fence.
    ‘What do you want? You’re not welcome here. In ten minutes your vehicles will activate limpet mines, a few seconds after that you and them will be so much flying junk.’
    The Therapists boots hit the ground as he reached the bottom of the ladder, and the convoy’s systems locked on; pretty soon he had more sights zeroed on him than a coyote in hunting season.
    ‘Your mines are already dead.’
    A man was standing by one of the trucks and a light clicked on in the cab illuminating a kid with a control pad in his lap and a nasty grin eating its way over his face.
    ‘We need something we can use against that thing you built.’
    The Therapist was quiet a moment.
    ‘And that would be?’
    ‘Codes, a virus, a back door at least.’
    ‘Assuming I’m the man you want, why would I help you?’
    ‘Because it’ll bring the border down if we remove it.’
    ‘I already know that. Can’t be done unless...unless you use what you’ve got in those trucks. We can implant codeware in them, terminal scrap sequences. Yes, little viruses aren’t they? That will fuck with it enough to shut it down.’
    ‘Get in.’
    The Therapist was headed in their direction when the first searchlight found him.
    ‘You are in breach of patrol. No permission was given for visitors.’
    A round burst through his shoulder before he’d even opened his mouth to scream. Gear was running back to the trucks in moments dragging the man with him as round after round spattered dirt against his heels. Usher began to pump fire into the nearest drone’s body. Gear could hardly hear himself speak, but this was too important to let die with an old man.
    ‘Get them to the Mill. Switch it off,’ the wrinkled thing in front of him grimaced, ‘It should never have been built. We thought we knew what we were doing. Let it try with kids.’ Bloody bubbles popped from the Therapists lips as he began to laugh. He was still doing it when the Drones finished zeroing in.
    Gear was fast, but he only just made it out of their LOS in time wiping the blood of his face with the back of his hand. When he reached the nearest truck the bullets were bouncing off its roof like hail.
    An explosion made him look up. The Usher was standing on top of the truck SAM planted on one shoulder with the flames of the first drone turning his face red.
    ‘We need to get to the Mill.’
    ‘Thought you said you didn’t want to do that without help?’
    The Usher was opening his mouth to reply when the shell took his jaw off.
    But Gear was talking to empty space as the rounds churned the man into mist. When someone slammed into his side he didn’t resist as he was bundled into the nearest truck.


    ‘Mr? You have to look where we’re going. We’ve never been this far in before.’
    Gear listened to the sound of pebbles bouncing off the trucks chassis. At least it wasn’t the rattle of expended ammunition.
    ‘Who are you?’
    ‘You look about sixteen.’
    ‘Seventeen Mr, ready to rock and roll.’
    The kid gave him a salute that looked like he’d been practicing it in the mirror. To his credit he only looked a little startled when Gear laughed.
    ‘You shouldn’t even be out of training.’
    ‘Don’t think it matters. We all heard the man.’
    The kid gestured at the dash monitors; every one of them was on and he could hear the garbled mass of voices as the drivers kept themselves awake. The sound of the Mills rotors was close now. He had to be the only one not to have been scrubbed clean as slate to have gotten this near since they’d switched the thing on.
    He was still thinking about what that meant when they stopped on a ridge and saw what lay below. From up here it looked like a welder was using a human being as a rod. The figure in its cage guttered to a husk in seconds.
    ‘They still alive after that Mr?’
    ‘They can still walk about, but ‘alive’ means something a little different.’
    The kid was silent for a moment, and he didn’t look at Gear when he spoke next.
    ‘When do we move in?’
    The trucks starting up must have sounded like an avalanche breaking free to the crowd below, but not one of them turned around. Gear doubted they could even if they’d wanted to. There was so much to look at as the Mills fan’s went round, and round, never stopping, never pausing. By the time the trucks reached it Gear had lost count of how many bodies he’d heard bounce under their bumpers.
    ‘What’s up with you?’
    He grabbed the nearest kid as they leapt from the trucks back. It was Mind, and his eyes looked like they were starting from his head.
    ‘It’s Ok.’
    ‘Jesus, what’s happened to you?’
    Mind laughed, ‘Nothing that can’t be fixed.’
    He had the hand of the girl that had talked to Gear back at the undergroves buried in his fist, and they were headed toward sparks tearing men and women into scraps.
    ‘Wait, don’t...’
    Gear didn’t know why he cared so much, it wasn’t his life he was throwing away. The Mill had to be destroyed. Maybe the kids walking toward it would clog its arteries; make the life bleed from it like pus.
    ‘Go then; see if you like what’s in there.’
    He stared as the fans beat through the air skimming the hairs off the figures that had begun to appear from round its base. The crowd of scrubbed began to fall to their knees and Gear barely had time to realise what was happening before the Mill trembled.
    A sphere had punched a hole through the crowd and there was the imprint of two small shadows at its heart, a boy, and a girl, flaring like sunspots bursting amongst the flames.
    There’d been something Usher had said before they’d left the undergroves. Right at the end before they’d pushed the last of kids onto the trucks.
    ‘They’ll never take it all from us Gear. They don’t know how.’
    The Mill chased itself across the rock as its fans met the ground one by one.

DSCN0301, art by Wes Heine

DSCN0301, art by Wes Heine

Soldier 333

Eric Burbridge

    Twenty-five rounds, twenty-five .50 caliber rounds and he’d put everyone to use, non-lethal use. Solider 333 was that good. Asad Mitchell Wong only heard his former number from General Jerry Antov who hated him. The intruders, he and his lifelong friend Willy, had their sights on the mercenaries. He bet Jolly Jerry’s mercs. Asad focused the cross hairs on the crouched merc while he relieved himself. He fanned flies and mosquitoes, inserted the cartridge, adjusted for the wind and waited for the guy to pull up his pants. “I got a surprise for you big guy.” Asad’s arthritic finger rested on the trigger. The merc reached...Asad squeezed; the bullet shot between his legs and ricocheted off the boulder. He jumped and slid in it. Asad laughed. If only he could upload it.
    Time to move.
    He maneuvered his crawler behind a fallen tree twenty meters away and refocused his sight. Here it comes. The merc screamed and spray bullets in Asad’s direction.
    Spray on, asshole, spray on!
    He couldn’t wait to tell Willy. A flare shot skyward. Ten seconds later intense sporadic gunfire and RPG blast. Willy had engaged the enemy. Several trees toppled a hundred meters to his west. Willy destroyed that set of loud speakers. The enhanced ear aching call of the cicadas stopped. He stood enough to see the bush waiver.
    Willy’s wide track crawler designed to cut through the heaviest of the genetically modified underbrush, aka, badass bush burst through and crossed the pathway. Before Asad opened his mouth Willy shouted with joy, “Did you see that? They scattered like roaches.”
    “Stay down.” Asad gestured. “They’re scanning everywhere by now.” They crawled behind a pile of rotted tree trunks. Bullets cut through the bush tops from the east. “They’ll stop in a few seconds.”
    “Right.” Willy said, gasping for air.
    “They got a chunk of your leg. You okay?” Willy nodded. “I got a spare.” Asad giggled.
    “I caught a merc taking a dump and I...I put a round past his balls.” Asad laughed so hard tears formed in his eyes. “When he jumped he slipped and fell in it.” They cracked up.
    “You lying.”
    “No, I’m not. I know he’s embarrassed, but anyway I’ll continue along the river’s edge and meet you later.”
    Cat and mouse wasn’t his game, direct fire in the enemies face gave him goose bumps. Be careful you ain’t young anymore. Those mercs across the gorge used guerilla tactics for the past few days. Appear and disappear. Bullets whistled past his head the enemy attempted to calculate the movement of the bush. Another shot, they missed. Asad stopped crawling and extended a rod and shook the bush two meters to his right. No shots. Good. He retracted the seat on the crawler and continued. The bush got shorter the closer he got to the rock formation that lead to a path down to a small creek.
    Where was the shooter?
    His nerves were on edge. Enhanced audio receptors (EARS) worked in the bush, why he didn’t know, but his vehicle was designed to make natural sounds of animals moving. Laying flat bothered his stomach while he maneuvered over clumps of dirt, broken twigs and branches. He slowed at the rocks and turned off the power.
    Had they seen him?
    He crawled and peeked between two small boulders. Nothing but tree tops that lined the drop off to the still waters below.
    Where did they go?
    He strained to see through the foliage. Nothing...natural movement. They could’ve followed the creek further east or dropped back into the forest and left altogether. He focused his binoculars and panned left and right. Nothing Time to leave this spot and finish his little romantic project. He’d return later, but he did have to report strange activity.


    He hacked his way through thick bush off the normal to get here. Aching fingers and palm was worth it. He pushed the blade of his bayonet over the smooth surface of the honing stone with the even rhythm of the song he couldn’t get out of his head on an old cassette recording to keep him company. He rubbed his hand over peeling bark to find the ideal spot to carve his name. Found it and he stabbed at the wood with passion. The humidity was intense and sweat trickled through the wrinkles in his face. Too bad Lily couldn’t be here to see this after thirty-five years of marriage cancer got her. An hour later he finished and blew away the excess chips.
    Asad Mitchell Wong and Lily Wong were inside a heart.
    Silly, but it warmed his heart. His comlink read; 0750. Time to check in at 8:00 one of the more humiliating changes he tolerated to stay here. General Jerry Antov objected to the program that allowed Medal of Honor recipients access to any section of the DMZ regardless of the activity in the region.
    Asad loved to poke fun at the short brawny with the hooked nose that wiggled with every word he spoke. Antov refused to address Asad by his name, instead he called his number; Soldier 333. Asad concentrated on the brush and prairie grass his vehicle pushed aside on the way back home.


    Nestled between several fallen rotting trees Soldier 333 brushed back the interference foliage to the area he called home. Camouflaged domed windows protruded out the bunkers side which gave him a view of the river valley. Badass bush was a GMO marvel; it grew and changed colors with the season and it covered, in patches, the entire length of the hundred miles demilitarized zones. Satellites and other electronic scans couldn’t penetrate it and locate your position. If the enemy needed Intel it had to be up close and personal like being a tunnel rat. Drones were used on occasion, but they were easy targets even in stealth or chameleon mode. Asad’s hermit like life style wasn’t without the luxuries he felt necessary to enhance his creativity. He didn’t watch too much TV instead he read a variety of books and wrote stories of various lengths. If only Lily could critique his latest manuscripts. How did he maintain his fine mental edge at 80 they asked? Eat your heart out. They hated that answer. He was a conceited old bastard, so what. He smiled at Lily’s portrait and plugged the phone into its jack. “Time to check in, Jolly Jerry.” After that he’d rendezvous with Little Willy, his place was more spacious and camouflaged the same. Willy jokingly gave himself that nickname from having lost both legs to diabetes, but he kept the latest prosthetics. Asad needed to visit more often for spiritual comfort and listen to his endless collection of jazz albums from the late fifties to two thousand.
    Nothing changed in thirty days, two rings and “Code Please,” a flat male voice asked.
    “Wong, DMZ.”
    “Hold on.” This was what he hated. The last time he held for ten minutes.
    “This is General Antov, Wong or should I say Soldier 333?” Antov asked that stupid question in his usual unique brand of disdain.
    Wong sighed. “Asad Mitchell Wong would be appropriate, but I know who much you hate Islam so Soldier 333 will do for the umpteen time, General Antov.”
    “Good, good. What do you have to report?”
    “Nothing as usual...peace, quiet and the badass bush swaying in the gentle warm breeze. The thing a retired special ops soldier loves.” Asad chuckled slightly, loud enough to irritate Antov. “Not just retired, but a retired triple three a privileged position as you well know.” He felt Antov’s rage seep through the receiver. “See what a medal of honor gets you even if it was fifty years ago. I’m eighty, so that happened when I was thirty and you’re fifty, so that means when I fought at the Nicaraguan Canal you were still swimming around in your old man’s nuts.” Silence, the kind he loved while his nemesis gathered his thoughts. “Why carry your Dad’s anger about special ops missions during that war because his unit didn’t get the credit? But you love it, so enjoy.”
    “So what, soldier!”
    “A reminder about respect for the elders.” He was sick of the same crap, was this recording or what? “Remember I was an officer too.” Silence.
    “Nothing to report, Wong out.” That lie would piss him off while he and Willy played cat and mouse with the mercs he probably hired for whatever reason. He started to slam the receiver, but why damage a beautiful black rotary dial antique. Amazing something that old still functioned; Made in America by Western Electric. He ran a piece of terry cloth over it and placed it back in its case.


    Antov slammed the receiver into its cradle. His staff got out the way of the brawny officer when he stormed out of the command center. He slammed the door of his, way too small for a two star general, office and stopped at the mini-bar. No alcohol that early in the morning a cold bottle of nutrient water instead of the booze. The seal cracked, fluid dripped between his massive fingers and he gulped down half the bottle and sat in his chair.
    He sighed, damn he hated 333’s especially the types like Wong; a European, Arab, Asian mix like dogs and that Economic Growth Commission who made dumb and questionable decisions. Their influence in Washington circles convinced administrations to leave too much authority to the states before back to back super hurricanes packing 300 mph winds virtually wiped out the east coast. The minimal federal military response gave way to chaos and the formation of militia’s that ignored the National Guards. Several states combined to form provinces. Mass migration wasn’t received well and with the help of the media the government downed played the firefights. Things really got nasty after the flood water receded. Civil unrest was actually Civil War. When the country heard the Eastern Bloc nations navies were headed west repelling an invasion became paramount. True or not in a matter of days there was a national cease fire and the threat subsided that left DMZ’s all over the country, most stretched north to south west of Appalachia and east of the Mississippi. And, now the EGC found that land invaluable.
    Antov’s superiors chose him to be the liaison with the 333’s DMZ’s in the Ohio Valley area. After he met the CEO, Maurice Cavanaugh, his career depended on a good relationship with the well connected wasp whose head was well up his superior’s asses. Certain DMZ’s were granted to the 333’s and other DNA coded groups. Over several years Antov watched the progression of the EGC’s move toward the Ohio Valley. He didn’t understand why spend that kind of money on that portion of the DMZ? The bush and other anti-personnel measures would take forever to remove, but Antov wanted more then ten percent commission. The first stage of whatever Cavanaugh’s plans was dependent on his cooperation, but there was more he wasn’t sharing.
    “Major Joyner.” The short and wide expectant mother snapped to attention when he walked out of his office. “Call Maurice Cavanaugh’s secretary. I’m on my way and I’ll wait if he’s not there.”


    Cavanaugh wasn’t a big fan of DNA classification, but people wanted to know where they came from, what country or region. You’re still White, Black, Latino or whatever. If you had more of one another he’d never heard of it improving their bottom line. Those DNA findings caused trouble for the weak minded. The military used it for psychological experimental purposes, but unofficially they used it as a joke in certain units. Triple 1’s, pure whatever, triple 2’s, mixed and triple 333’s a third whatever. Stupid...but it stuck. Those issues reared its ugly head for all to see after the mid twenty-first century. Everyone had a pie chart on file accessible by authorities, but a few wore it as a badge of honor. What difference did it make if your genetic makeup was from East, West Africa, Asia and a percentage from Europe, light with straight hair or bright colored eyes you were still whatever.
    You still die!
    But, he used bigotry in corporate espionage and acquisitions to earn his place in the billionaires club. And, he’d been taught since childhood his pure White (111 status) heritage put him at an advantage. His height, wide square shoulders, sharp features and high strong cheek bones oozed self confidence. Veterans Affairs guard the disabled and retired elite forces jealously with laws that populated certain DMZ’s with 333’s. That sacred decree wouldn’t stop him. The trick; greed and lust. If a few politicians look the other accident or an innocent mistake that would be nice.
    He sat in his favorite relaxed position legs and arms crossed naked on the patio of his high rise condo. The sun beamed down warming his closed eyelids. Meditation was good for body and soul. Time to solve the problem.
    He offered his first obstacle Representative Jonah Peters, a seat and a drink. Peters wore his lengthy blonde hair in a bun and didn’t shave often. He was basically hairless by nature or hormonal treatment with keen figures and a petite frame. He worshipped young boys or men, if you wanted to call them that, which were of age, but appeared childlike and found several in Bangkok, investigated their backgrounds and made arrangements for their immigration. Cavanaugh convinced a master forger to produce documents that said otherwise. Accusations of being a child molester would ruin him. He understood Peters’ attraction to the young being the youngest looking guy in Congress. Peters remained calm despite a drastic change in color from normal WASP to sheet white when he heard Cavanaugh’s proposal. “Quietly, but sternly support reclamation of the 333’s area along the DMZ.” Cavanaugh admired Peters’ sexy stride as he stormed out his condo.
    One down!


    Lucas Lomax planned for his second term in Congress to be productive. What congressman didn’t? Veteran Affairs had priority that’s why he was chosen to sit on the VA committee. What did Cavanaugh want? He scared the crap out his secretary. Did someone die or what? Lucas dabbed make up on the razor slash that for years marred his otherwise perfect complexion. Hollywood makeup artist experience served him well. That scar was a constant reminder of envy and jealousy and how few people can accept rejection. He twirled his comb through his thick black hair and snapped on his gold/diamond studded earrings. He smiled, ran his tongue over a perfect set of teeth and adjusted his panties then zipped up his one piece suit. “This shouldn’t take long right, Cavanaugh, I got to get back to press my newest outfit for a date and he demands his ladies be punctual.” Lucas said in his most sexy female voice. He kissed himself in the mirror and hurried to the heliport. At 5'6" he was the shortest and most influential guy on the committee.
    Lucas ran from under the chopper’s blade to an elevator bank that led directly to Cavanaugh’s office. The silver haired elderly woman cracked a quick phony smile and handed him an electronically sealed envelope. “The boss suggested you open it at home, Lomax.” She snapped. “The chopper is waiting.”
    Lucas wrapped his legs under him on the round king size bed and scanned the barcode according to the text from Cavanaugh. He took the antiquated flash drive to a special unhackable, untraceable system he installed and programmed himself. A click of the mouse and a blue silk g-string between a big set of tanned cheeks rotated by a bearded redneck. The beautiful woman twisted and turned on the bar to burlesque music grabbing and fondling her breasts. Lucas slammed the laptop. A cross dresser would not be accepted by his by ultra conservative constituents. His cell rang. “Representative Lomax, how are you today? Sorry I couldn’t meet you I got called away on an emergency.”
    “What do you want, Cavanaugh?”
    “A favor when I call about a change in DMZ policy, that’s all. And, FYI I got this video myself I’m a pretty good detective. I figured you had an alter ego.” Cavanaugh chuckled. “It’s safe with me, good bye.”
    Two down! Any others who opposed would fall in line easily.


    Instinctively Antov straightened his uniform and brushed his sandy thinning hair. The minute adjusted his tie the door opened.
    “General Antov, it’s good to see you.”
    “Good to see you too, Maurice.” Cavanaugh stood more than a foot taller with muscular hands like catchers’ mitts. Antov always hid the pain of his hand shake. He sat on the sofa before being offered a seat. Rude, but so what.
    “You know Cavanaugh, I’ve been privy to other economic growth project of your company and friends, but this one is the most ambitious and profitable.” Antov crossed his legs. “But, I want more of a percentage. It wasn’t the easiest thing to get a group together to do installations in that part of the DMZ, but I’m sure you’ll give me a hefty bonus with an additional ten percent. I paid those guys a lot extra to forget getting shot at and then leave this part of the country.” They stared at each other. “And, all of them haven’t got out yet. Those elderly 333’s are putting up a helluva fight. Why? I assume they don’t want it a group of seniors gave them a fight. Pride can be dangerous...a few of those guys might not go easily. Fuck the money. Miraculously nobodies been hurt, but with every passing day those odds increase. This harassment plan you purchased concerns me.” Antov walked around the office and admired the collection of photos of music legends of the past hundred years. “I can’t help but think it might have something to do with the old timer’s music festival held a few click from the DMZ.”
    Cavanaugh watched the general glided his fingers tips on the glass. “Beautiful aren’t they? Many of those are the original not replicas. That group photo taken in Harlem of a then, not so famous, group of musicians is one of the most sought after shots of Miles Davis with Dizzy Gillespie and others. They’d been up all night partying at that hotel and in the morning somebody invited them out on the street for a photo shoot. You see that White guy on the far right?”
    “Yeah, the one with that big Black lady nibbling on his ear?”
    “That was my great granddaddy.”
    “Jazz...Black music in general has a special place in my heart. My dad played the horn and sax; he loved Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck Winton Marcellus and others. He tried to get me to play, but I didn’t have the gift, but I love to listen. Come and have a seat, Antov and I’ll tell you all about it.”
    Antov smiled and turned in a circle. “All this and no bar, shame on you, Maurice.”
    “Drinks this early?”
    “Why not, I have the feeling I’m going to need one if not several.”
    “Ok. And, I’ll have to join you.” A panel opened on the opposite side of the room. “What do you like, a popular wine or one hundred year old scotch or everything between?”
    “A cold beer to start.” They laughed and Cavanaugh opened the frig and tossed a bottle.
    “We at the EGC came to the conclusion that the idea of DMZ’s on American soil was a vessel for negative propaganda against our ideals and values. And, we all know they will disappear in time.” Cavanaugh poured two fingers of scotch. He didn’t have Antov’s attention like he wanted, that was about to change. “But, you know that. Well my interest in the Ohio area DMZ is simple. Both sides, militia versus police departments destroyed the Rock and Roll Museum. While other important buildings and landmarks were burned or blown up none have the memories of a truly American institution imitated worldwide.” The enthusiasm in his voice lit up Antov’s eyes. Now he had his attention. “Everybody loves jazz and R&B. You know my interests are in rebuilding starting with the museum with a stronger emphasis on jazz.”
    “Sounds good to me, could sound better if you.” Antov finished his beer and gently sat it on the cocktail table. “If you pay me more, Cavanaugh, this shit is getting expensive.”
    “I got your money and percentage. I didn’t like the other one, but I couldn’t do anything about it and now this opportunity will enable it to be built away from the city. You’re wondering about Congress on the set aside for the 333’s, but that’s been taken care of my friend.”
    “What about Pentron, Inc? They’ve been eyeing that area for years? Rumor has it members of the Congressional Committee are in their pocket.”
    Cavanaugh’s heart skipped a beat. Be careful not to show concern. “Oh really...don’t listen to that crap.” He crossed his legs and hoped the general didn’t notice his body language. Fuckin’ Pentron, he hated those pricks. If those politicians double cross him their dead.
    “But, I’ll keep that in mind. Need another beer I want to show you something?”
    “No, a shot of scotch will do.”
    Cavanaugh uncorked the decanter and poured. “Now follow me.” They walked through an opaque sliding glass door. “Lights.” In the center of a converted bedroom a huge scale model of what use to be the area of the Ohio DMZ Cavanaugh was interested. Antov could tell by the sudden drop of a river into a valley the rapids were shallow that moved slowly since there wasn’t a steep waterfall ahead. Along the banks were a series of ultra contemporary energy absorbing and reflective glass paneled buildings connected by walkways and people movers. The landscaping was a combination of rock gardens, ponds, strips of forest preserves and golf course like grass and sand traps. “What do you think, Antov?”
    “It’s beautiful.” Antov walked around the model. “Such magnificent detail, how much land do you need?”
    “A square mile, give or take a few acres to be safe.” Cavanaugh smiled. “Guess what...I designed and built this myself.”
    “Damn, you’re good...real good. I take it, from the satellite photos those areas around the forest are where the badass bush used to be, right?”
    “Right.” Cavanaugh picked up a laser pointer and adjusted it.
    “That will cost a fortune to remove that shit. What will you use, napalm?”
    “Exactly, but in small controlled quantities.” The red beam circled the scale buildings. “See the area around the forest?” Antov nodded. “All that by the hills and rocks leading down to the river banks and ravines will be burnt to a crisp and the toxins released will be minimal.”
    “Ok, what else aren’t you telling me, Cavanaugh?”
    “Pentron, Inc. is working like hell to beat us to the punch. They want this area as part of a collateral package for trillions in previous loans or it’s to spite the EGC for previous losses like that big project associated with the gates for the Nicaraguan Canal.”
    “That’s a stretch, but if you say so. What about those elderly soldiers. or could you say hermits — what will become of them?”
    Cavanaugh shrugged. “You think I’m a bully, don’t you?”
    “Um... I don’t know.”
    “Well, I’m not the reason for the harassment; one of them anyway, if they leave that would make it easier to convince Congress to put it up for bid. And, do you remember the big party the 333’s have annually with all the old R&B, house music and jazz?” Antov nodded. “Well, they use a lot of turntables, speakers, mixing equipment and other antiquated stuff things that will go into the museum. Just think if they would sell it to us and if we could offer to buy back looted items from the old museum. That would be great.”
    “ do you know if it’s in the area? They might have it warehoused outside the DMZ?”
    “Well, Antov, I didn’t get to be CEO without a vision.” Cavanaugh pointed at the general’s glass. “Another?”
    “Yeah, that scotch is smooth.”
    He poured and returned it. “I’ve had every storage house and warehouse of every checked for a hundred miles. Nothing. That means it has to be in the DMZ somewhere.
    “Sounds good.”
    “I set up an anonymous website to sell back what was stolen without fear of prosecution, but one of the main items I’m looking for hasn’t turned up yet.”
    “And what’s that?”
    “My granddad’s horn, it was bent similar to the great Dizzy Gillespie’s. What I wouldn’t give for it, within reason of course, but that damn Harvey Sugimoto is and was in my way.” Cavanaugh slammed on the table hard enough for scotch to jump out the glass. “That asshole will not get that part of the DMZ...over my dead body.”
    “Now, that I didn’t know. I thought that obsession of yours, if you don’t mind me saying so, was a local matter. Is it Pentron or Sugimoto that want the DMZ?”
    Cavanaugh could’ve kicked himself for mentioning Sugimoto. He sighed and took a sip. “It’s Sugimoto.” He lied. “He wants, allegedly, to do a hotel or something like that.”
    “Sounds like rumor to me.” Antov said.
    “Whatever it is it’s in your, our best interest, right?” Antov nodded. “Sounds like you’re on board for the duration.” Antov nodded again. “Good, we’ll work out the details later. Be right back we need some food.”


    “I got a surprised for you, Cavanaugh.” The general sat his glass down. “I cannot be seen tipsy this early. I’m getting ready to contact my team.” He took a phone out of his pocket. “They’ll pull back to make contact.” He hit the speaker button. “Hello, friend, how are you?”
    They strained to make out, “Questionable” through the static. Antov adjusted the phones position on the table. “Speak up I can hardly hear you.” Antov heard gun fire. “You under attack or what?”
    “There’s been a misunderstanding since we arrived.” Friend said.
    Code for what Antov feared could happen. They weren’t supposed to start a fuckin’ firefight, but be discrete in setting up the incentives to vacate the area.
    “Anybody on lunch now?” Code for; any death or injury.
    “Goddamn water moccasins all over the place, no bites. The landscaping plan will work in time, but it could be costly.” Code for; the longer they stay the operation could be exposed.
    “What’s going on, Antov?” Cavanaugh asked. Antov held a finger to his lips.
    “Hold on please. Quiet, they don’t know who you are, as far as they know this is my op. I’ll get the details later, but they went in with non-lethal stuff; active denial systems, invisible pain fences and skin irritation sonic rays. My guess those 333’s unleashed sniper equipment and the like. You there friend?”
    “The contract has expired; good work.”
    “Copy that, on our way, but got important info will contact you shortly.”
    “Shit, I don’t like the way that sounds.”
    “I don’t either.” Cavanaugh said. “They sound exhausted and in a hurry. I just know a few seniors, elderly seniors at that could give young guys a problem.”
    Antov grunted and poured a drink. “I got an opinion you might not like, but it is something you need to hear.”
    “Speak freely just don’t talk about my momma,” Cavanaugh chuckled. The smile Antov cracked wasn’t reassuring what he was about to say would solve the problem. And, the 333’s weren’t leaving yet. No sooner than the general’s lips parted his phone rang.
    “Hello friend, so what happened?” Antov signaled Cavanaugh to be quiet. “I’m putting you on speaker I’m moving around.”
    The young guy with the baritone voice cleared his throat. “Well I think they expected us or they saw us first from the time we pulled up I felt eyes on us.”
    “Of course, friend, observation bunkers line that edge of the river.”
    “When we set up the loudspeakers we ducked sniper fire as soon as we tested the equipment. Fifty caliber rounds ricocheted off trees and rock formations. Those guys know what they are doing. They forced us back to the wetlands. Fuckin’ snakes everywhere! They could’ve hit us but they didn’t. We sent mini-drones up and they shot them down. We played cat and mouse for a few days until it was apparent who were the mice. My guys are pissed a couple of old guys are fuckin’ with them like that...”
    “They’re what’s left of the 333 program,” Antov interrupted.
    “I heard something about that...that was years ago wasn’t it?”
    “Yeah, decades ago. Did you get to use the audio tapes?”
    “Extremely loud nature sounds didn’t bother them either, but more money will help their/our wounded pride.” Friend said. “Maybe the backup team you sent will do better.”
    “Back up team...what back up team?” They looked at each other dumbfounded. “I sent no team, Friend.”
    “It was seven Asian guys dressed in landscaping clothes, whatever happened to diversity. They laid back about a half a mile or so. I signaled them, but no response, more reason to get out. We left no traces behind, don’t worry about that.”
    Cavanaugh gave the thumbs up. “Understood and accepted for the usual channels for payment.” Antov said.
    “Friend, out.”
    A red faced Cavanaugh said. “Back-up team my ass that was Sugimoto’s people. How did they know we’d be there?”
    “They probably didn’t, Cavanaugh, it’s a coincidence.”
    He sighed and sat down. “Man this is one helluva way to start the day. You had something to say?” Antov nodded. “Okay say it.”
    “If you want that property and other stuff from those guys why don’t you do it the old fashion way? Ask them, they don’t bite it won’t hurt to get off that corporate high horse. That’s what Sugimoto will do. If the people agree without all that harassment it’s better. Cavanaugh, those old timers don’t give a damn about the bureaucrats. Hell I wouldn’t either, they’re in their eighties. You heard ‘friend’. they had them on the run, pinned down one minute and terrorized the next. I can imagine the types of booby traps. Those hermits are having the time of their lives. Go ring their bell and introduce yourself. And, guess what?”
    “They still get mail.” Antov laughed.


    Cavanaugh cursed every time his ATV hit a pothole and the rocking back and forth turned his stomach. Sunlight burnt through the early morning misty humidity
    Why in the hell did let a grunt general talk him into visiting a 333 in the DMZ? Desperation that’s why. Beat Sugimoto at his own game or else. The ten foot bush, the weird foliage mixed in and the insect noise made his skin crawl. His ear drums begged for relief and he’d forgotten the earplugs recommended by Antov. “It gets really noisy in parts of the DMZ especially closer to the river’s edge.” The road dipped and twisted forcing him to slow down. All he saw in the rear view mirror, dust. He passed several roads that led to residences. The directional landmark should be close. “You can’t miss his place you’ll see a mailbox with a scarecrow standing next to it.
    A scarecrow by a mailbox!
    Another sharp turn and there it was...a six foot scarecrow and a mailbox with a rickety wooden staircase leading up an embankment. He parked and dusted off his camouflaged overalls. At the top was a foliage covered concrete structure surrounded by suburbia type landscaping, no shrubbery and colored stone patterns were embedded in the sidewalk. A reinforced steel door opened before he rang and a fragrant cool breeze hit him in the face. The elderly medium built Asad stood erect about six feet tall. He smiled and squinted shading his eyes from the sunlight. “Good morning, Mr. Cavanaugh, come in.”
    “Well thanks, good morning yourself, Mr. Wong, it’s really humid out here.” Cavanaugh stepped into a foyer and was surprised at the contemporary chrome and stainless steel sculptures along the wall.
    “Follow me.” They walked through a long hallway to a large open room separated by book cases and what appeared to be large entertainment centers that displayed various types of electronics; receivers, turntables, tape decks, speakers and TV’s. “Are you a jazz fan or country music man?” Mr. Cavanaugh.
    The CEO was speechless while he walked over to touch a huge reel to reel tape deck. All the equipment was museum quality. He figured they had it, well not all it, but enough for a start to restock several exhibits in the new facility. “Mr. Wong, this is impressive to say the least. Jesus, you are a man after my own heart.”
    “Again, Mr. Cavanaugh, jazz, country or whatever?” Asad turned on the tape deck and the reels spun.
    “Jazz...Miles Davis is one of my favorites.”
    “Miles, it is, Mr. Cavanaugh.”
    “Forget the formalities call me, Maurice.” He didn’t expect the curious look he got from the old guy.
    The crisp clear sounds of Davis echoed from every corner of the room.”I’m surprised old 333’s like me are regarded worthy of someone of your stature...Maurice. Can I get something to drink, water or orange juice? I’m not a drinker of anything else, bad for the liver.”
    “Water’s fine. I like what you did to this bunker. They say the places in the DMZ especially this close to the Ohio are trash. Good to know that’s a lie.”
    “Thank you.” Asad handed him a bottle.
    “Mr. Wong, I’m not one of those that agree with DNA classifications or however that goes.”
    “Call me, Asad, Maurice.” They shook. “Have a seat. Glad we got that out of the way. Now what can I do for you?”
    Cavanaugh got right to his redevelopment of the DMZ’s back to private enterprise. The war or whatever they wanted to, call it was over. He exercised caution in his wording not to aggravate past tensions between the classes. After all the rich started the shit, unbridled capitalism damn near destroyed the Western World. Asad Mitchell Wong was a charming likable guy, but not being a blue blood added certain challenges to the conversation. Cavanaugh couldn’t relax like he did and he dare not smoke, but he removed his shoes until Asad offered him a tour of his back yard that covered a quarter mile in each direction along the edge of the river. Asad’s eyes lit up when he asked about the annual retro music festival his fellow veterans had for the area. And for the next hour they talked about various artists from the late twentieth to the mid twenty-first centuries. Asad spread out picture albums of events he attended with family and a friend that included military memorabilia and that’s when Cavanaugh saw it. A legal document size envelope with Pentron, Inc. on it.
    Harry Sugimoto had been there!
    Now what did he do?
    He had to counter whatever offer he’d made, but first he had to go formulate a plan. How or did Sugimoto know Congress will change the law about DMZ’s? The committee dare not cross him. He thanked Asad for the chance to talk and they scheduled another meeting later in the week. Cavanaugh left pissed. He’d seen enough, the old timer had plenty museum pieces that worked. Why buy them...send someone to steal. That was the thinking Antov suggested he change. He’d noticed a door that probably led to a sub basement where he stored the real good stuff. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if he had his granddaddy’s horn? He didn’t believe in miracles, but that would be one, but before he left he asked about an old horn that was bent similar to Dizzy’s. The look on Wong’s face said he knew something.


    Asad struggled to hold back the tears when he laid his hand on Willy’s flag draped coffin. They were like brothers who couldn’t be in the same room twenty minutes without arguing, but they loved each other. Willy didn’t want a fancy send off. What was the point? He had no kids and no living relatives. “Cremate me and be done with it.” But, before he took his last breath he said, “We gave those mercs the blues didn’t we, Asad?” And they did, but Willy tripped, cracked a rib and started internal bleeding that proved to be fatal. Later he got a call from the VA Hospital and rushed to his side.
    Maurice Cavanaugh wanted to sit and talk, joke and probe his mind like he was a friend playing psychologist. What an asshole. You think I’m stupid like the rest of the people in the area you want for yourself and other billionaires. You want to move us around like pieces on a game board. “Well, Maurice, you can go to hell!” Asad shouted. Eminent domain will win in the long run, but perhaps he could put some shit in the game. Asad saw Cavanaugh spot the envelope from Pentron and his whole persona changed even though he tried to conceal it. “That’s right; Cavanaugh the old man can still discern bullshit.” Further thought was required before action was taken. But, first he’d tell Lily.
    The room had been virtually sealed for months, the mildew said it all. He hit the exhaust fan switch and it roared to life. The electronic candle lights flickered around his late wife’s portrait while a song by Sarah Vaughn played. Her memorial needed dusting, but there weren’t any cobwebs or mouse droppings. He sat in the recliner and the lyrics took him back to time and places he wished he could relive. A half smoked joint in the ashtray next to her picture called his name. He didn’t like weed it made him absent-minded, but Lily did and on occasion he’d share one. He lit it, inhaled deeply and let it out slow. “I’m back Lily with news...those rich assholes are fuckin’ with us again, but me and Willy gave them hell. But, I’m too old babe and a decision will be made. I know you’d understand. Love you much.” He cut her picture out of the wooden frame, rolled it up and turned out the lights.
    For the next two weeks Asad studied the proposals by the competing corporate giants for the rights to the DMZ. What threat could a bunch of old 333’s be to the powers that be?
    None, but there could be pain.
    The kind of pain that irritated the egos of the CEOs
    What was Sugimoto’s angle other than pure greed?
    The EGC was an American nationalist corporation and further intrusion into the country from foreigners bothered them. He was convinced Cavanaugh’s interest in his antiquated equipment and huge collection of music was the driving force to push out the 333’s.
    Ok, Maurice, have it your way.
    After several calls to the CEOs secretaries Asad said he’d contact them in a couple of weeks. They sounded disappointed but he explained he needed time. “A sentimental thing I hope you understand.” And, if they didn’t so what. His neighbors had been approached about selling, but not as aggressively as he and Willy. But, all of them were part of the festival with huge music collections. That further empowered him to invite a few neighbors and probe their minds. A week after the party Asad conference called the CEOs.
    “Good morning, gentlemen, how are you this sunny hot day?”
    “Fine, Mr. Wong.” Harry said. It was clear he was busy having sex and a massage.
    “Good to hear from you, Asad.” Cavanaugh said. Asad couldn’t tell what he was doing.
    “I’ll get to the point. Mr. Sugimoto I’ve decided we cannot do business, thanks for the generous offer and enjoy the rest of the day.” The screen went blank. “Congrats Maurice, EGC is the winner. Yea for you.” Asad laughed at the confused expression on his unshaven face. “I or should I say, we didn’t appreciate those fuckin’ mercs harassing us, but you probably heard we fought back. But loudspeakers Maurice, is that the best you can do?” Asad waited for a response, but got silence. “Anyway, I decided to distribute my equipment and albums to my neighbors. If you want it for whatever reason talk to them. Being so powerful you’ll find a way to get whatever. And, before I forget that horn you talked about I think I found it going through Willy’s things. A neighbor who plays the trumpet found it interesting. She’s getting married again at eighty-five. Amazing ain’t it? Where they plan to honeymoon they didn’t say, but I’m sure you can find out.” Asad giggled while rage crept into the EGC’s CEO face. “I’m checking into a nice fancy assisted living facility. I’ll have my attorney contact you concerning the particulars. Aren’t you happy for me? That look says it all. I’m excited about getting back in mental shape learning to play well with others again. Good bye, Maurice.”

The Arch-Tomato

KC Snow

    Two inches was the safe distance. Two pickle spears provided a wall. Two sides: edible and inedible. Her long, delicate fingers had precisely picked pesky plants from the bun. Once satisfied, she looked at the primitively handsome man sitting across the table; dark hair, dark eyes, and dark chest fur climbing out of his shirt collar.
    “You all set?” Tuck said with a gentle smile. He cocked his head as he spotted a strand of hair that had settled atop her eggplant sandwich. He rested his head in his hands and parked an elbow on each side of his plate and pointed to her sandwich.
    She looked down, worried there was some stray contaminate. An onion? Tomato? Green pepper? It was difficult to eradicate all the diced intruders. She saw nothing and looked up, her face crinkled.
    Tuck reached across the table and pinched the hair from the sandwich. It was long, dark, and curly. “One of yours, I suspect.” He held it in the air for inspection. Convinced, he dropped it to the floor.
    Sara, a gesticular speaker, dramatically pushed herself back into the chair and shook her head. “It’s just hair!” She laughed.
    “So, hair’s okay, but lettuce is poison?” They had been together for five seasons. Of her, he had no doubts. But what was...this thing all about? He had wanted to ask for so long.
    She was aghast at the question. The connotation. The gall. She didn’t ask him why he did...things. Plus, a person isn’t supposed to point out something, like this. Especially in public. She squinted her eyes into a noose around Tuck, “What, exactly, is your question?”
    Tuck realized immediately his query was snarky. Childish even. However, he would stand his ground. He was convinced the food thing was directly related to her ability to sleep fourteen hours a day, her reluctance to ever admit she wasn’t happy, or her inability to talk about anything that wasn’t precariously positive.
    “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to talk down to you. You know how much I love you. I support you and your feelings. I just...”
    “You just want, what, to point out some flaw? You’re trying to change me? Who I am?” She crossed her arms. She wanted to eat, not talk about her, thing.
    “No, no. You’re not flawed. I have zero interest in changing who you are. I’m only curious. That’s all. I would really like to know you better. Understand you.” Tuck’s eyes were kind, forgiving, and apologetic. For a big guy—a big hairy guy—he wasn’t threatening. Nor a wuss. Soft but still formidable.
    “Understand what? Just because I’m, I don’t know, picky, doesn’t mean there’s some big mystery about me. I mean, I’m a picky eater. So what?” Now, Sara felt she had control again. What a silly conversation she thought. Duh. He’s the one that’s, that’s weird. Asking such a strange question. What was he, some sort of anthropologist?
    “Sara, four-year olds are picky. You’re thirty-two. I just think maybe you should just, I don’t know. Try?” His upper body rounded, he had made himself smaller.
    “That’s not true.” Sara huffed. “Patty won’t eat anything that even touched a raw onion. Mitch is grossed out by cooked spinach. And Doug, he doesn’t like green peppers, onions, celery, or potatoes. I mean come on, that’s really weird. How does someone not like potatoes? But you’ve never mentioned them.” She was sure her sandwich was getting cold and the bun was getting too moist—soaking up liquid from the eggplant and grease from the breading. She considered this for a moment.
    “Well, first, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with Doug. And second he doesn’t like those things, but he’ll still eat them. It’s a dislike, not a phobia.” He tried to keep eye contact with Sara.
    “Whatever. I don’t really understand. Phobic?” She rolled her eyes and wriggled her head forward. “Come on. I just really don’t like certain foods. I wasn’t always picky.” She gazed at Tuck with satisfaction.
    “Really? When did you start? I mean, I wouldn’t eat crust on bread until I was like, I don’t know, thirteen.” Tuck laughed. He saw the waiter approaching out of the corner of his eye and coyly waved him off, thus halting interruptions.
    She glanced at her sandwich. It would be cold, soggy, and ultimately inedible in minutes. “Yeah, I never cared much either way on the whole childhood-crust-debate. But when I was little, I mean, I ate anything. Everything. I don’t know, guess I was...” She paused and did a mental tabulation. “Seven. I think seven? First grade.” She nodded enthusiastically.
    “Okay. Seven. What happened? Did you eat something particularly gross? I know the first time I bit into a cherry tomato I was pretty creeped out, thought it would feel more like a grape, but it exploded violently in my mouth when I popped it with my teeth. You know? It took me awhile to get used to that.” His honesty was hypnotic. But he made a mistake. He leaned towards her.
    “What is this? An interrogation?” Sara pushed herself back. Her sandwich was ruined.
    Tuck slowly leaned away, moving his hands entreatingly on the table. “I’m sorry. I just love hearing you talk. I was just curious, It’s kind of, you know, a thing? So what instigated this thing, this persnickety eating habit?”
    “Yeah, well my thing is...I ate something nasty. Well, it tasted good. But it made me sick.” Sara shook her head in disgust. “I barely made it to the bathroom. Maybe I didn’t?” She concentrated on the memory. “No, I totally did. Barfed on the floor though.” She shrugged innocently.
    “Wait, you barfed right after you ate it? Like immediately? That’s crazy.”
    “No, like an hour or so afterwards. It was my favorite sandwich. I called it The Before and After sub. It was mustard, mayo, sprouts, spinach, cucumbers, and pickles. Get it?” Her smile was mischievous. She scooched her chair up close the table and leaned in. “See, cucumbers are the before and pickles are the after.” She threw her head back and cackled.
    Tuck chuckled, he’d never seen her this engaged in a childhood story. “We should buy the ingredients and make one over the weekend.”
    “I can’t. I mean, back then it was the mayo, obviously. At least nowadays you can find mayo that isn’t, you know, made outta eggs. Way less kid-vomiting I suspect.” Sara was discouraged.
    “Okay, well I still want to try a Before and After. How about that?” He shrugged and finally started on his portabella mushroom burger.
    She was visibly disturbed by Tuck’s food. Mushroom, lettuce, onion, tomato, avocado, and sprouts all smashed together. Together choking on BBQ sauce. It wasn’t okay. Plus, it was cold. Soggy. Gross. She shook her head to herself.
    “Aren’t you gonna eat?” Tuck asked, mouth full, overfull. Sauce on his cheeks, a piece of lettuce on the corner of his mouth moved up and down as he chewed.
    “No.” She picked the lid off her eggplant with the very tips of her fingers as if it were possibly explosive. She shuttered. “No.”
    “Oh, I’m sorry babe. Did it get cold?” He was genuinely concerned. “I’ll get you another.”
    “No, no. I’m fine. I’ll just. I don’t know. Get dessert.” She cheered back up immediately.
    He put his sandwich down and with his big, furry hand, he snatched the napkin from his lap and delicately wiped the corners of his mouth.
    She smiled. “You’re a garbage disposal.”
    “So, it was the throwing up that freaked you out? Have you, I don’t know, considered just trying to eat the stuff you don’t like? Teach your brain that you won’t throw up if you eat it?” He grabbed up his sandwich again for another bite.
    “Oh, no.” She threw her hands at him, “I mean, I don’t want to hurl or anything. But I’m not scared of food poisoning. I couldn’t eat out if I were. Right?” Her eyes scanned the room. “But I just, I don’t know. I’m good. I don’t need all that other stuff. I mean I’m healthy, I’m fine. All that.” She pointed a finger at the sandwich stuffed into Tuck’s face. “Those, veggies. I just don’t need ‘em.” She shrugged.
    “But you are a vegetarian. We’re vegetarian. Don’t you, I don’t know, need to eat vegetables?” His mouth was full, but he had parked his bite on the right side of his mouth causing a huge protrusion.
    “Well, I don’t know. I mean. I figure I haven’t eaten meat since I was a kid, no one really gives me shit about that. So why give me shit about the other stuff?” She was confused.
    “I think most people totally get the I don’t eat animals thing. I mean, come on. But to say you’re a vegetarian that doesn’t actually eat vegetation seems a little. I don’t know. Extreme.” He had a sandwich in one hand and a napkin in the other.
    “I eat vegetables. This...” she pointed at her sandwich, “ a vegetable. You’re misrepresenting me here.”
    “Yes, of course. You eat some veggies. But I wish you would just try. I don’t know. A tomato.”
    She squirmed, “No thank you.”
    He put his sandwich down. Slowly wiped his hands and face clean of debris. He moved closer but lowered down as to not intimidate, “But why? You eat tomato sauce and ketchup. I don’t understand why you won’t eat olives. Onions I get. A lot of people hate onions. But what’s wrong with zucchini? What about asparagus? Avocados are amazing. You have to try guacamole. I just. I don’t know Sara. I don’t want you to miss out. I feel like you’re missing out.” His voice had lowered there at the end. Tuck didn’t know how he thought he could figure her out. She was a locked box. He had to be okay with that.
    “I think. I can’t really. I don’t know what to tell you Tuck. I really don’t. It all scares me. But tomatoes in forms other than themselves are do I put it...less threatening.” She didn’t think that was the right description. Her eyes stared through him, considering exactly what she meant. “It’s just the way I deal with things. It’s the way I can make sense of it all. It’s predictable.”
    “This from the girl that had sex with me in a public restroom yesterday.” He raised an eyebrow. “Predictable?”
    “That’s different. That was fun. Eating isn’t fun. It’s just something we all have to do. You know?” She paused, “I feel weird.” She looked down at her plate. She examined the pile of chopped onions, diced tomatoes, and various greens. Was that an olive, she wondered? She leaned over and inspected the pile of inedibles behind her pickle wall.
    Taken back, Tuck perked up a bit, “What do you mean weird? Sick? We should get you something to eat.” He said this as he too examined her plate. The pile of food. The sad looking sandwich that had been picked clean of anything fun or nutritious.
    “I don’t know how to answer your questions. I don’t know how I really feel or think about any of this. I don’t understand how you are the first person to ask me any of this. The first person ever. In all my years of stacking vegetables on my plate, making long ‘no’ lists to waitstaff, and even just skipping meals because getting it right just seemed too, I don’t know, stressful, not one person said to me, ‘Hey, why not just eat food like a normal person?’” She shook her head and seemed to deflate. Her eyes looked down. Straight down in her lap.
    Tuck felt guilty for even bringing it up. “You’re normal. You’re better than normal. You are you and that Sara, is exactly who you should be.” He reached across the table and pulled one of her arms loose and held her hand willing her to bring her eyes up.
    He kissed her hand, “Give me a minute.”
    She wouldn’t allow these emotions. This weird feeling. What was it? Anger she thought. Embarrassment. Yep. That too. It was that inherited denial she was struggling with. She looked behind her shoulder and saw Tuck handing over his credit card to someone on staff. Not their waiter. Maybe a manager.
    When he reappeared at the table, he offered a bouquet of french fries and a to-go slice of cherry pie. “Come on, let’s go sit in the park.” He was all smiles.
    Sara snatched a french fry and popped it in her mouth. But she refused the automatic happy look that wanted to conceal her feelings. She stared down her uneaten sandwich. “Tuck. Can I tell you something? Actually, can I show you something? No, let’s do something.” She worked that out, aloud.
    “Whatever you want, boss.” He didn’t recognize this mood. This reflection that seemed to be happening for her. But he was intrigued. His mind returned to the public restroom yesterday. He smiled, to himself.
    Sara stood up. She looked tiny next to Tuck. She looked at him. “You’re thinking about yesterday aren’t you?”
    With his eyes glazed over, smiling, he nodded.
    Sara grabbed his hand as he shuffled the pie under his other arm, and she marched them out of the restaurant.
    They walked four blocks in silence, then she guided him into an alley littered with broken glass that twinkled in the sunlight. But as they strolled a few more blocks, the sparkling debris just looked like garbage—shadowed by tall buildings on three sides. A dead end.
    “Stay here.” She let go of Tuck’s hand and sprinted away, out of sight.

    Tuck had inadvertently eaten the french fries and the cherry pie while sitting on a discarded nightstand that rested in front of a dumpster, which too was overflowing. His hands were sticky from the pie, and he looked around perplexed as to how to clean them. Finally, he decided he had to lick them clean and then wipe furiously on his jeans. As he was inspecting the end result, Sara returned with her arms weighed down by a few reusable grocery bags.
    “I ate all your food,” he said in a full admission of guilt, refusing to make eye contact.
    She dropped the three bags at his feet. “Fuck it. I need some help though.”
    He saw the contents of the bags: two filled to the brim with big, bloated, overly-managed, overly-bred, and overly-modified tomatoes and one filled with plastic containers of cherry tomatoes. Though some containers were labeled cherry tomatoes and some grape tomatoes—both looked exactly the same. Tuck contorted his face trying to figure out what this was. This. “You probably shouldn’t eat those. I mean, not to be the hipster douchebag that won’t touch anything but an urban farmed, organic, humanely raised tomato. But I can promise you, those tomatoes taste like shit. Not a good, what do you call it, entry-tomato?” He was talking to the bags, still refusing his guilty eyes.
    “These, are not for eating.” She brought one of the cherry tomato packages up to eye level and carefully examined the contents.
    “Okay,” his eyes raised to hers, “you’ve piqued my interest. What’s the plan here?”
    Sara grabbed a big tomato and hurled it at a brick wall ten feet away. It splattered and stuck to the wall. “I guess we’re feeding the rats?” She shrugged.
    “I thought you hated sports.”
    “Is tomato splatting a sport?” She lobbed two more.
    He stood up and grabbed one in each hand and chucked them hard at the wall in unison. “This. It’s good. Right?” He wasn’t sure.
    “It’s good Tuck. You’re good. I’m not so good. I’m terrible. I’m really, really fucked up. But I get it. Isn’t that. I don’t know, good?” She grabbed a handful of cherry tomatoes and threw them at the wall. They just bounced. “Huh, hadn’t considered that.” She walked forward to pick them up and try again.
    Tuck had already pitched his next tomato. “Oh shit!” It hit her in the back, right between the shoulder blades. Gore everywhere.
    She threw her hands into the air, spun in a circle, and fell to the ground in a dramatic fashion. “Uh, you got me, Tuck. I’m, I’m not gonna make it.” And she pretended to die, right there on the filthy, glass-strewn alley.
    “Oh no! I must, I must hide the body.” Tuck quickly buried Sara under a pile of the remaining tomatoes. “They’ll never suspect this tomato-phobic to be here, covered by the enemy.” He smiled.
    She sat up. She was laughing. She was also crying. She was covered in tomatoes. “My arch-nemesis has finally gotten me.”
    Tuck didn’t know what to do. He’d never seen her cry. Though he thought so often she really needed to. He had cried a bunch. A few sad movies. That one YouTube video of a cat—wait, there were like ten that have teared him up. Crying was normal, healthy. He wasn’t a crybaby. But Sara was freed from that emotion. But free wasn’t the right word. She was restrained from it. She was missing out on it. Sadness. Tearful happiness. Tears of anger. She had been left out. But at that moment, she was feeling it. She was feeling something, and he got to see it.
    “You’re crying. Again,” Sara said as she looked up at him.
    “I know. I’m just so happy.” He knelt down and hugged her.
    She grabbed a huge, flavorless tomato and smashed it into his chest. Laughing. Crying.
    “It wasn’t The Before and After. It was him. ‘Asshole.’ The only thing I could control. The only thing he couldn’t force was what I ate. So I made that part hard to accommodate. It was my only weapon as a kid. Then it just became this thing. The thing. I don’t know. Like if I went back, if I just ate anything, he would win. Somehow.” She sat there, a river of tomato juice running between them. Feeling defeated.
    “But doesn’t he win? Doesn’t he control you when you have this thing, this eating habit now at thirty-two because of him?” Tuck didn’t know the full story of this man from her childhood. He just knew he was bad and that Sara had always refused to acknowledge the wounds.
    Chest covered in tomato guts, he joined her on the ground.
    She grabbed a tomato and turned it round and round in her hand. “Did you ever consider, when someone has a thing, maybe it’s the only thing holding them together?”
    “No. But I was worried that’s what you thought.” Together, they sat in the pool of blood.

Fresh Food, photography by Kyle Hemmings

Fresh Food, photography by Kyle Hemmings

Bird Island
Chapter 4

Patrick Fealey

    Wawp is out here with the DONALDFISH. Bird glides from the lightpost: “DONALDFISH!”
    “With extra tartar sauce. Got it, Bird. Here, you better eat before those seagulls get any ideas.”
    The white ones glide in and settle.
    Wawp puts the fish on the hood of the car.
    The fish is warm and soft and without bones.
    “Eat my mother’s car while your at it, you little bastard. Your first sound was a howl for food. It was one long word that lasted months. Your mouth was a pit. I threw more sardines and fish sticks down that red throat than anyone would believe. Dog food. Crickets. Worms. All you did was eat and shit. Every 20 minutes. You were a punishing infant. I didn’t know what I was getting into the day I nabbed you. You looked so innocent and cute – in an ugly sort of way.”
    “HOT DAWG!”
    “those too.”
    The DONALDFISH is gone.

    A car pulls in beside Wawp and Bird. Humans get out.
    “Lunch break, huh?” It says to Wawp.
    “Your bird?”
    “Cool,” says one of the small humans.
    “Does it bite?” says the other.
    “No, not usually. Unless you’re a fish.”
    “Can I pet him?”
    “That’s up to him. Let’s see.”
    Wawp puts out Wawp’s finger. Bird climbs onto it. Wawp lowers Bird near a small human face and another small human. “It’s okay,” Wawp says.
    The small human raises its hand to Bird and touches Bird’s back. It pulls away. The other small human puts its small hand on Bird’s head and strokes.
    “He’s soft.”
    “Is he yours?”
    “We’re attached. I brought him to work with me, but he’s free. I raised him and he hasn’t left.”
    “His eyes are brown,” says the the small human petting Bird. “No, they’re kinda grey. What’s his name?”
    “He’s cool.”
    “He’s disgusting,” says a big human. “C’mon boys. Let’s wash our hands.”
    “But Mom . . .”

    “You’re good with kids, Bird, but I don’t see you attracting many chicks. And the only person you ever bit hard was Steve, my best friend. That was a case of instant dislike. Maybe you were jealous. Or maybe it took me a lot longer to figure out.”
    “No it’s not. Shut up.”
    “I’ve got like 20 minutes. I say when it’s over. Twenty more whole minutes of freedom from hell. When I look at those golden arches I think of the first rainbow after the apocalypse. You will probably survive that. You’ve been here for tens of millions of years. What a feast the apocalypse will be. The only reason I have this job is Liz. You have to take a girl out. You wouldn’t know because you’re . . . Maybe you are a chick and that’s my problem.”
    “Yeah. When I go back in there, there’ll be a dead and frozen kingdom boiling away in vats of oil. If life is one big food chain, you and I are not doing so bad, Bird. Maybe someday there will be a crow vat and a human vat. Donaldsfish have their own unique beeper sound, a slow, high-pitched pulse. The fries, burgers, nuggets, pies, all of it, they make so much noise it’s almost overwhelming.”
    “You ate yours. Now you’re going to wait three hours for me. I’ll bring you out another one, but you’re going to stay out of trouble. Don’t talk to strangers. I’ll be the guy covered in grease.”
    “You’ve been brainwashed. Why don’t you go catch a real fish?”
    “HOT DAWG!”
    “We don’t have ‘em. I cook 18 hamburgers at a time with the help of a computer. Is that survival? It is mine. Every time I am told to put six burgers down, I have to reply with a ‘thank you.’ ‘Thank you’ is the code the guys at corporate headquarters made up. Whenever a manager tells you to do something, you say, ‘Thank you.’ It lets him know you heard the request and are on it. It’s a verbal confirmation you are kissing ass against your will. The customers hear it and think, ‘What a pleasant place.”
    The humans return to the car. One of the small humans approaches carrying a small bag. It has food.
    “Does he eat french fries?”
    “Yeah. He’ll eat gypsy moths. He’s jumped into flames after a steak. French fries fall within his range.”
    Bird is standing on the car. Bird hops onto its shoulder. The small human laughs. It feeds Bird. Bird bites and shakes and breaks the fries before swallowing. Some fall to the ground. Bird jumps down.
    “Thanks,” Wawp says.
    The humans get inside the car. The small human bends down and touches Bird’s head while Bird is eating.
    “Bye, Bird.”

    “Bird, you have the life. I’m going to go back in there to count pickles. Two per burger, no more, no less. Somebody’s figured it out to the tenth of a cent. But I have confessions. This is my first job and I hate it. I use as many pickles as I want. Sometimes I put three, four, five, even six pickles on one burger. I’m going to cost them millions in the end. Things happen back there you wouldn’t want to know about. Well, maybe you would . . . Sometimes when you are transferring cooked burgers from the grill to the prepared buns, one slips. Nine times out of ten, it lands on the floor. They are slippery with grease and move fast. When a burger hits the red tile floor, you are in a dilemma. It’s lying there in its grease and you’re thinking ‘Fuck.’ Common sense tells you to throw it away, forget about it and cook another one. Cooking another one will take only three minutes. But three minutes? That’s a long time in the fast food business. The manager is up front waiting for six burgers, not five, now. You know if you send up five there will be questions, bitchings, maybe a report. There is one missing. Where is it? At the very least you’ll be punished. He’ll ask you to go sweep the dining room and empty all the trash cans. That’s where you undoubtedly run into everyone you know from high school. So, in the two seconds you have to think about the fallen burger, you weigh the consequences. And then, in a moment of stealth in which you convince yourself the floor is actually clean, and the burger is so greasy it did not actually touch the floor, you bend down and sweep up the burger. You deliver it to its pickles and bun and then you send them all six up together on a tray. ‘Six up!’ Nobody knows the difference and everyone is happy.”
    The car is burning Bird’s feet. Bird flies to Wawp’s shoulder.
    “You understand. We’re getting a new job, Bird, outside. You’ll like it. I want to be a lifeguard. You’ll be closer to the fish and I’ll be closer to the women.”

Bird Island
Chapter 5
It on the Lawn

Patrick Fealey

    The old it in the white breaks up the dirt and hides the seeds. It takes off its straw hat, puts a white cloth to its head and leaves. Bird comes in over the black roof of its house and lands in its field of soil, damp and mixed with cows. Bird uncovers the corn it has hidden for Bird.

    The old it makes it fast. It hides the corn so Bird can walk along. Bird sees where the ground is touched and pushes the soil to see the yellow seed. Large black birds come to the field of dirt to eat the corn. The black birds fly away when the old human with the white shirt comes out of its house carrying a stick that reflects the sun.

    The old human walks toward Bird.
    “Why don’t you fly with your friends? Do you think I won’t shoot you?”
    The old human moves its stick. It walks toward Bird.
    “You don’t look injured. You eat like a horse.”
    It stops. It has a white head with shining blue eyes. “You’re not afraid.” It steps toward Bird. Bird hops away from it. “There you go. Keep going, bird.”
    It knows Bird? Bird stops. But Bird doesn’t know it.
    “What is it now? I’m trying to give you a chance at life.”

    The sound pushes Bird flat into the dirt. The black birds fly. Bird stands with Bird’s head above the seedlings. The old human with the white shirt is coming down the slope carrying the loud stick that reflects the sun. It is the old human who knows Bird’s name and who has allowed Bird to eat its corn. It is talking.
    “You again? Do you want to die? Can’t you see how much work I put into this garden? No, you can’t. It looks like a supermarket to you, doesn’t it? This is all a big game to you and your friends, isn’t it? When I shoot this thing you are supposed to fly away, but no, you want to turn this into the Alamo. My wife wants me to make an example outa one of you birds, hang you up for the rest to see. Are you volunteering? . . . Damn, I never noticed one of you up close before. Your feathers are purple in the sun, shining . . . And green. You act like you’re listening, but I know all you’re thinking about is corn. You thieving little tramp.”
    The old human turns and walks back up to its house. It goes up the stairs to the deck and takes its stick inside. Bird flies up and lands on the edge of the roof. The island spreads out and the blue comes in. It walks back out on the deck and stands below Bird. Its hair is white with a small circle of tan skin on back. It does not see Bird. It is looking at the yard and down the hill at the corn dirt. Bird is not there. There is a rusted wire fence at the bottom of the hill where the trees are. The wire comes up the sides of the field.
    A voice comes from inside the house. Its mate: “You should have killed it. You need an example.”
    “There is no use in killing one crow,” the old human says.
    “How do you know if you don’t try?”
    “I know because they are too hungry to be fooled with.”
    “We’ll see who the hungry fool is.”
    “We don’t need this garden to live. And I’m not going to shoot that crow. I’m not going to blow away a bird with a 12 guage at six feet. What do you think I am?”
    “You’re no farmer.”
    “Maybe not. And that’s no crow. He might be somebody’s pet or something, for all I know. He isn’t afraid of me and he seems healthy. He comes and goes.”
    “How do you know he isn’t sick?”
    “I don’t for sure, but he flies like a bird and eats like a horse.”
    “Maybe he’s got mental problems.”
    “If this wasn’t for pleasure, I’d be harder. But I wouldn’t shoot that bird first. I don’t know what he is, but I’ve looked him in the eyes and they’re as bright and clear as anybody’s I’ve ever met.”
    “Fortunately, not everyone’s as sympathetic as you. Have you seen the lawn lately?”
    “I’m letting it grow. I want to cut you a good outline of where the pool will go. It’s only spring and it feels like August.”
    “That’s an expense.”
    “Last time I checked we could afford our own island.”
    “You’ve been talking about that for years.”
    “This is pool weather.”
    “It’s a hole in the yard.”
    “It’s an oasis.”
    “You know I don’t swim.”
    “The grandchildren do.”
    “We live on an island. They can go to the beach.”
    “This just struck you?”
    “I was born in the city. The ocean is of only aesthetic interest to me.”
    “Unlike your DAR meetings.”
    “I don’t force you to go.”
    “No. You just can’t drive.”
    The old human shakes his head and looks at the yard.
    “This is a big lawn for an old man to cut with a push-mower, Dorothy. Most people with lawns this size have riders or Mexicans. If my corn ever survives the ravages of these crows, you could call our property a farm. Yes, a John Deere is an expense. But the doctor told me not to push myself. In fact, he said to get a rider before this season.”
    “ . . .”
    “You reading that genealogy - again? How can you people be so interested in these dead people and not in people who are here, now, alive? People like your grandchildren, or like your husband?”
    “Are you judging or merely criticizing? The past is who we are.”
    “Whatever those dead people gave me is mine, now.”
    “What do you want for lunch?”
    “You have to eat.”
    “A rider is a tool for work and you don’t seem to have anything against work.”
    “Did you take your medicine?”

    The old human with the white shirt pulls the grass machine out of the little house. It pushes it into the sun. It goes back and comes out with a can and pours stinking water into the machine. Bird smells the bad water where Bird stands on the barbed wire. It stands and pulls a white cloth from its back pocket and wipes the front of its head.

    It looks at Bird.

    Bird looks at it.

    It looks at the grass machine and leans into it. It pulls fast and it growls and is silent. It pulls again and it barks and bites. The barbed wire trembles in bird’s feet. Smoke blows away from the loud grass machine. The old human pushes the machine into its field. The sound is softened by the grass. Grasshoppers fly ahead of its mouth as it spits out clumps of green smelling field. Bird stays where Bird is.

    The air is dust and flies. The old human goes to the back of its field and pushes the machine from east to north to west to south to east. It continues inside these four sunken lines and corners, its mouth speaking to this ground. It is cutting a field next to its corn field.

    Will it dig up the earth and hide corn for Bird?

    It is quiet.

    The old human walks from the machine to the end of the field it has just made. It stands with its feet at the edge of the cut grass and moves its head up and down. It looks at Bird on the barbed wire, watching it. It smiles. It jumps up and down. It steps backward, and again. It looks straight out ahead. Fast, it takes three steps and both feet hit the ground together at the edge of the new field: its arms are above its head and it bounces into the air and falls fast with a bad sound. It hits the ground and rests on its stomach and face. It does not move. The old human in the white shirt lay still in the grass. Bird flies over. Bird lands near the old human and walks to it. What has happened? The old human who knows Bird has it bad. Bird walks in circles. Bird flaps Bird’s wings and cries out. Bird is unable, Bird’s friend.
    The white head moves and Bird is caught in the blue eyes. Bird jumps back.
    It laughs.
    “I’m not tryna fly, bird. I’m only tryna swim.”

Bird Island
Chapter 6
Summer Folk

Patrick Fealey

    Green beans.

    The ground one holds summer in its hands and chews it as fast as it grows. Its shiny black eyes watch the house on which Bird sits.

    Bird glides down to the garden and lands near the ground one. It stands high with a green bean in its black hands. It admits Bird to its feast by feeding in the bean and watching the hill. Bird goes at a bean on the ground.

    The humans are gathered below in the garden. Wawp rides down from the road and past the house to the garden and drops Wawp’s bike in the grass by the fence. Wawp says “Hi” to the humans, Wawp’s mates. The white head is walking the fence while its mate kneels in the garden and pulls at stalks. It shakes its head and makes talk in that talk only it speaks that Wawp says is Italian. It’s head is wrapped.
    “Whoever they are,” it says, “they don’t like Swiss chard or hot peppers.”
    “They’re getting through the fence somewhere,” the white head says, “but I don’t see where.”
    “Who?” Wawp asks.
    “Groundhogs,” Wawp’s mate says.
    “You mean woodchucks?”
    “They’re eating our vegetables during the week.”
    “How do you know?”
    “Look at the beans,” the mate says. “Her garden always grows.”
    The younger mate walks up from the water which fills the trees below the garden and says, “I found the hole.”
    Wawp follows the white head and the mates down to the water. They climb down and they turn and look back into the side of the land.
    “It’s the right size,” the white head says. “He’s dug it horizontally into the clay.”
    “This is where he lives,” the younger mate says.
    The father looks into the hole.
    “We have those traps in the basement,” the older mate says.
    “Leg traps?” the white head says.
    “Two of them.”
    The white head moves, climbs the embankment. Wawp and the mates follow it.
    “If we set one of those, we’ll get him, dad,” says the younger mate.
    “If we can be sure the trap is set,” the white head says. “It doesn’t take much to set one of those things off. Sprung, it is worthless. And we’re in Providence all week.”
    The white head turns and looks at Wawp and his mates. He looks at Wawp. “Could you come down here and check the trap for us? To make sure it’s set?”
    “Sure,” Wawp says.
    “Can you come every day?”
    “Okay. We’ll try it.”

    The older mate walks down from the house with rusted chain and metal swinging in its hand. It drops the metal onto the grass and the humans gather. It leans over the chains, lifting and pulling while the others talk. The voices go up and down fast. The mate stands up. It puts its foot on the metal quahog and reaches down. It steps off and says, “Anyone have a stick?” On the grass at the end of the chain sits the open metal quahog. The young mate goes to where the grass meets trees and brings back a short branch and gives it to the older mate. The older mate walks over to the quahog and pokes it with the branch. The quahog snaps, the metal flies into the air with the branch. The mate jumps back. The mates laugh.

    Wawp sees Bird in the tree above the water. “Bird!”
    Bird stays.

    The mates are at the hole where the ground one goes in and comes out. Wawp is swinging a hammer at a ringing metal stick, pushing it into the ground outside the hole. The young mate makes the chain go to the stick. The quahog is on the end. The older mate leans over the quahog and pushes back the sides and stands on it while it fingers the quahog. It slides it into the ground one’s hole with the branch. “He’ll have to be one smart groundhog to get past that,” it says.

    The white head, Wawp’s mates, the wrapped head, get into the car as darkness comes from the woods. The humans leave the house without a light.



    The ground one gnaws and Bird pecks at the green log. The beans were sweeter, but this is a good place. The food is easy and soon the tomatoes will be soft.

    At the sound, Bird flies up to Bird’s tree and the ground one runs for its hole. It is Wawp bouncing on Wawp’s bike across the grass past the garden down to the pond and stopping above where the ground one goes. Wawp drops his bike. Wawp approaches the embankment. Wawp looks over the edge at where the ground one goes in and comes out. The stick and chain are there. Wawp jumps down the hill and looks into the hole. Wawp reaches into it and in Wawp’s hand is the quahog. “He sprung it. With his nose. There’s whiskers.” Wawp bends and pushes at the quahog, Wawp stands on it and uses his hands. Wawp slides the snapping metal quahog back into the hole of the ground one.
    “ . . .”
    “ . . .”

    The morning sun pours white onto the wet garden and Bird goes to it because Bird must. Bird pecks into a low tomato and the juice is sweet. Bird drinks and eats alone.

    Comes Wawp, fast across the wet grass. Bird flies to the roof. Wawp brings up grass and dirt and drops Wawp’s bike. Wawp runs to the embankment and looks down. Bird flies over across the garden and pond and takes a tree near Wawp. Wawp knows Bird is with him, but Wawp is looking at the ground one. The ground one is where it was when the white sun broke through the topmost leaves and it did not come to the garden.

    The ground one is looking at Wawp with shining black eyes. It looks small and in the light by the pond its brown fur is red. The ground one walks on the chain. Wawp steps off the embankment and looks at it. It fears Wawp and draws the chain tight running away. It stops and looks at Wawp again. Wawp is still. Wawp looks at the ground one who cannot run. The mouth of the steel quahog is closed on its small black hand. the ground one is near free. They watch one another. Wawp’s eyes are big. The ground one’s black eyes shine on Wawp.

    Wawp runs up the dirt and grass to the edge of the garden. Wawp looks and Wawp pulls a log out of the tall grass. Wawp carries it down the embankment to the ground one. The ground one watches as Wawp raises the log over Wawp’s head. Wawp lets the log fly. It hits the ground one’s side and it falls. The log rolls away. The ground one stands. It does not try to run. It does not look at Wawp. Wawp picks up the log. Wawp lifts it high and lets it go. It hits the ground one on the head. The ground one falls over. Blood runs out its nose. It lies on its side, its shiny blue belly rising in the sun, nipples swollen. Blood makes red bubbles in its nostrils. Its feet move like it is running. Its front foot shakes the chain. Wawp picks up the log again . . .
    Wawp raises the bloody log until the ground one is still. Wawp runs to Wawp’s bike, crying.

    Bird glides down to the ground one. Bird goes for the eyes first.


Philosophy Monthly (justify your existence)

Progressive Education: Revisited in 2000

Dr. (Ms.) Michael S. Whitt

    In 2007 twenty-two year old Amanda Rosaleigh Blake began the last semester of her second year teaching high school social studies. She had taught a year and a half in Marion County, Silver Springs’ home. She was excited to begin her first year at one of two high schools in Pompano Beach. This system was more amenable to her progressive views than reactionary Marion. The large urban high school which Amanda was assigned kept the old name, Pompano Beach High School. This school with the other, Florida Atlantic, had five thousand students. The school(s) had been operating on double sessions for nearly five decades. The seniors start school at 7:20. The sophomores and juniors come an hour later. The schedule was intended to give the seniors an advantage in getting after school jobs. This arrangement was common for urban high schools during these decades.
    Amanda’s supervisor came to see her before school began. She was in the social studies wing’s lounge. The teachers were on a break from the many meetings that occurred.
    Dr. Jim Deever stuck his head in the door and said, “I’m looking for Amanda Blake.”
    “Right here,” she replied.
    “Can we talk in a private place about some important curriculum issues? I’m the social studies supervisor, and I have some ideas I need to run by you, Ms. Blake.”
    “Sure, Mr. Supervisor, let’s go to my classroom.”
    When they arrived at the room, Deever stuck out his hand and said, “I’m Dr. Jim Deever, Ms. Blake, or may I call you Amanda?”
    “Amanda is fine, Dr. Deever.”
    “Please call me Jim,” he said. “Forgive the ‘doctor’ in my intro. It has become habitual in some situations and I wasn’t thinking.”
    “Okay, Jim,” Amanda smiled. Amanda sat at her desk, and Jim sat at a table.
    “Amanda, I’m here to ask you if you’d be willing to create and teach a senior level social studies course. We’ve been calling it American institutions to avoid the criticisms of the ‘problems of American democracy’ course. These courses were attacked as lacking academic content and being solely issue oriented. In most counties this interdisciplinary, citizenship oriented course has been eliminated and replaced with single courses like government, sociology, and economics.” Amanda thought, can this really be happening? I know where he’s going and I can’t believe it. She tuned back in to Jim’s comments, “Before I go further, how do you feel about this trend?”
    “I loath it,” Amanda responded without hesitation.
    “Thankfully.” He thought I believe I have a genuine, full fledged progressive here.
    “This trend has been uneven since the 60’s. In a few places the problems of democracy class is still part of the seniors’ curriculum, but the trend toward single discipline courses has for a time temporarily won. I oppose it for an important reason. Without an integrated, interdisciplinary approach, complex issues can’t be viewed in as inclusive manner as possible. I’m referring to issues such as positive developments toward civil rights like those achieved by the ACLU, the civil rights’ and the women’s movements, current threats to civil liberties posed by huge gaps in economic privilege, historical developments like McCarthyism, and like those now occurring in parts of the GOP. Such issues require an integration of subjects like anthropology, sociology, political science, social psychology, and constitutional law. At times literary, artistic, philosophical, and other humanities studies can be helpful.”
    “We agree on the need to use interdisciplinary perspectives to focus on such issues and problems resulting from the transformations which have been occurring in the fabric of our culture since the Civil War. There are many of them. The ones you mentioned immediately suggest others like abortion rights and other specific feminist issues.
    “When this period began 90% of our population lived on self sufficient family farms or in villages that served the farming population. A century later we’d become the most powerful industrial nation on the earth.”
    “And these rapid changes have helped create the problems we’ve been discussing and which we agree should provide important parts of the class’s content.”
    “The single disciplinary trend is part of a reactionary move to focus on knowledge as good in itself. The status quo isn’t criticized, and the few who control our economy and through that nearly everything else, get to continue to mask over their greed. That is tragic as curbing greed is necessary if democracy is ever to have a chance of thriving.
    “Right and we have only a partial democracy now. We’re still in the process of evolving in that department. The greedy don’t want that evolution to take place.”
    “I’d be overjoyed to create and teach this class.”
    Before Amanda knew what was happening, Jim was hugging her saying, “That’s wonderful. You’ve no idea how long I’ve waited for a capable teacher to do this.”
    “It’s hard to express how delightful it is to be able to create in such radically open ways. I admire the work of the progressives in the early twentieth century, especially at Teachers College. I was especially impressed with the incorporation of student into the educative process and the integration and linking of materials from several areas to focus on contemporary issues and problems. I learned about the journal that accompanied the development of progressivism at Columbia when I first began my master’s degree early in 2006. The Social Frontier/Frontiers of Democracy existed from 1934-1943. When the U.S. entered World War II, it was used as an excuse to shut down the courageous journal. The latter was threatening to fascist oriented reactionaries. When I heard about it I ordered the set of eight hard bound volumes, which includes all of the journals issues. They provide progressives with a sense of history regarding current issues. In the early twentieth century, William Randolph Hearst had a fascist structure or two and even visited Hitler. He attacked the Teachers College Professors. These developments were all documented by the journal. Then when the McCarthy holocaust came after the war, which there was no education journal to document them. Later, the John Birch Society and other fascist oriented groups emerged up to the appearance of the contemporary Republicans.”
    Jim replied, “I’ve long intended to order these journals. I’m going to do so before this week is over. You had an excellent education at Florida. I examined your transcripts, and found you made A’s in both semesters of American Institutions and graduated magna cum laude. The thorough and rigorous education fits extremely well with teaching the new class. Several of your courses were in contemporary U.S. history. You are well qualified in anthropology and political science especially national, state, and local U S governments. I thought this is too good to be true. She must have an ant’s personality and weigh three hundred pounds. Yet you have a great personality and you are good looking. How did I get so lucky?”
    “I ask myself the same question. This is a wonderful place to teach. I can already tell you’re a great supervisor. In addition to social science classes, the year long humanities class was helpful in teaching all social studies classes I’ve been assigned so far. The humanities introduced me to philosophy, a method which was new to me. We read Orwell’s 1984, Miller’s All My Sons, Machiavelli’s, The Prince, among others. This course and one in American literature were the most rigorous courses I’ve ever taken. The books assigned in the lit. course were all related to present issues. We read Grapes of Wrath which dealt with the Depression and the problem of the Dust Bowl refugees. More generally, this classic is relevant to the present problems of huge gaps between the haves and the have nots.
    Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun also Rises covers the alienated generation after World War I who went to write in Europe. More broadly, it sheds light upon the alienated attitudes of the ‘baby boomers,’ which were coming of age in large numbers a few decades ago. Three novels and some short stories by William Faulkner provide insight into the problems of racism which still exist to an alarming extent in the U.S.”
    “Be thinking about how you want to organize things, what to include and what to omit. Scan the materials your department has. I’ll do the same at the county office. Later, we can go over the materials.”
    “There is another dimension of the class I believe you’ll find congenial.”
    “What is it? This all sounds good.”
    “I believe students learn best when democratic structures and processes characterize the classroom. Most competent teachers know how to create these conditions. If we’ve prepared students to be committed citizens of a democratic society, public school classrooms should reflect that democracy. Of course moving from authoritarian to democratic relationships don’t involve permissiveness; that would amount to little or no structure. It means creating a structure which balances rights and responsibilities. A way of doing this is by incorporating the dynamics of pupil relationships and interests into the classroom interactions. If the relationships which exist are healthy and supportive of the members’ growth, one is ready to ‘rock and roll.’ If these conditions are lacking, the teacher can steer things in the right direction.”
    Jim smiled, “That’s the most convincing defense of democratic classrooms I’ve ever heard. The passion and deep reflection you’ve put into these matters convinces me you’ll succeed in achieving these classrooms. It’s a shame few teachers deal with this issue anymore.”
    Jim and Amanda continued to have discussions when school started. She introduced the classes as taking the approach of progressive education, which incorporates student’s interests into classroom activities and integrates subject matter from various areas to focus upon important issues. She began substantively with the problems of the haves and the have nots. In all four classes heavy doses of skepticism were expressed that things could be this extreme in the U.S. Amanda got comments like ‘That can’t be, Ms. Blake.’ ‘No way is that possible in the U.S.’ ‘Uh-Uh, I don’t believe that.’ Amanda was glad she had done research on the numbers. When she quoted them some of the brightest students began to believe she spoke the truth. In Amanda’s third period class, Kenneth Jacobs and Katherine Taylor were the first to grasp the reality of these gaps. This class is used for examples because while all of them were lively and interesting, this one was more so.
    Kenneth commented, “I’ve heard my parents speak about this problem, often in the past few years. My folks are quite progressive. They maybe non-violent socialists, not the Russian variety, but the kind they have in the democratic European countries”
    Katherine said, “I had the same experience with my parents. They are democratic European type socialists. They are most concerned with people who don’t have enough money to live on, and they put their money where their mouths are.”
    “Ditto for my parents.”
    Amanda said, “There are commonalities between my views and your parents’. Since I was a sophomore in high school I’ve been either a non-violent, democratic socialist or an intensely progressive social reformist. A social studies teacher from Iowa influenced me. My paternal family background also predisposed me in this way. My teacher was a Viet Nam draftee, who was anti-war. When Russ Teisinger came home, he got employment at a meat packing plant in Waterloo, while he studied, earned an economics degree and a teaching certificate. Upon graduation he moved to Florida, my home state.
    His job gave him union membership experience which he shared with us. When I went to college I was well educated with respect to unions, the Viet Nam War, and democratic socialism contrasted with Marxist socialism. This knowledge was helpful in the American Institutions class I had at Florida. His teaching combined with my father’s heritage helped form my democratic socialist and progressivism principles. These positions were close together and both involved an emphasis on social reform. The type of socialism is totally compatible with our democratic constitutional political system. My great grandparents were born into abolitionists’ families before the Civil War. When they grew up they took these beliefs with them. Their children and grandchildren became committed progressives and a few became democratic socialists. My Great Uncle Ernest, my granddad’s older brother, was one of the latter. I was a democratic socialist for a while. Then I settled back into being an intense progressive democrat. The progressive Era officially spanned the years between 1890 and the early 1940’s. It reaches back earlier to the abolitionists, the Underground Railroad, and public school supporters and forward to the civil rights and renewed feminist movements during the 1950’s through the 1970’s. We now seem to be in the initial phases of a renewed progressive movement, which includes democratic socialism in some minor ways. Bernie Sanders election sometime ago to the Senate is evidence of this as are his aspirations for President. However, there are some dangerous signs of fascism on the horizon. For instance, this fellow named Trumps is a bit loco and also has strong authoritarian tendencies.
    “Ms. Blake, I feel a little stupid, but what is an abolitionist and a socialist?” asked Phyllis Simon, the creative daughter of a Rabbi and a professor. “I have a vague idea about the latter, but I’m sure my perspective is somewhat limited.”
    Amanda smiled saying, “You aren’t stupid and you probably aren’t the only one who needs those questions answered. How about it class?” Some students nodded their heads or raised their hands. “You should have learned about abolitionism, and to some extent socialism, in your American history classes. Shame on your teachers! An abolitionist as I’m using it, is a person who opposed slavery before and during the Civil War. It was an unpopular position even in the north. Many northerners joined the war only to preserve the union. They weren’t opposed to slavery and were often racists. One had to have much courage to be an abolitionist, especially if, like my great grandparents, they worked in the Underground Railroad. This wasn’t literally a railroad. It was a network of persons devoted to helping runaway slaves escape to a safe place in the U.S. or Canada. It included houses, churches, and other places the slaves could get hot meals, one or a few good nights sleep, and food and drink for the road. The murder of these brave souls was not unheard of.
    Progressivism is a broader term than either abolitionism or socialism. To illustrate, abolitionism is a progressive movement, but so are, e. g., woman’s rights, school desegregation, and gay rights. A socialist society is a progressive one, but a society can be progressive without being socialist. A strong civil rights movement can occur in a democratic society politically speaking which has a predominately capitalistic economy.
    With respect to the meaning of socialism, many people mistakenly think that it is a political system. It is not, but actually involves various and related ways of organizing the economy. In a democratic socialist society, the only kind congruent with our democratic political system, one finds a mixed economy in which the areas which are vital to all of the people most all of the time are included in the public domain; those are areas like education, medicine, food, energy, and mental health. Those areas which are vital to fewer than all the people all of the time are handled by capitalist organizations. Those are concerned with our wants; e.g., finer clothing, medium priced to expensive cars, jewelry, building construction businesses, and literary publications.
    Socialist ideas require the people to make certain that none of these private businesses become so large that others are excluded from the field. Small businesses are the rule. Also, safe guards are erected so the greedy cannot amass so much wealth that some families have too little to live on. That is, it includes some protection of the needy against the greedy. If you’ll recall Katherine and Ken’s comments hint at these features of democratic, non-violent socialism. This organization allows the society to avoid the huge gaps in income and the high rate of unemployment we often suffer and enables the people to breakdown the economic oligarchies which prevent small businesses from succeeding.
    Denise Ortega, a Peruvian native, raised her hand. “Ms. Blake, Kathy, and Ken, I’m glad you confided those ideas to us. When I first heard about abolitionism, progressivism, socialism, and feminism, the people who introduced me to them presented them as undesirable. I’m beginning to see if some of our best students and their parents and some of our best teachers are favorable to these positions, they aren’t necessarily undesirable. My mind is opened.”
    “Thanks for the great compliment. It’s is wonderful that your mind has opened to new ideas. A teacher can’t have any greater confirmation. We might get some criticism for giving even democratic socialism thumbs up, the only variation we could approve, but it wouldn’t come from within our school system. We have one of the most progressive central administrations in the nation.”
    Amanda began the discussion the next day with a law relating to Marxian Socialism she considered undesirable, “I can’t follow the law requiring senior social studies teachers to spend six weeks extolling the virtues of U.S. capitalism and condemning the evils of Russian Communism. It would be unprofessional to follow such a biased, and to a large extent distorted, view. Rarely are any human phenomena that clear cut. Tragically, our system has come to be mostly characterized by corporate oligarchy. Except in the small business areas the U.S. has little true capitalism. Competition and the laws of supply and demand are two elements essential to capitalism, but have no place in oligarchies.
    Russian Communism has plenty about which to be critical and I certainly would not recommend it as a democratic system, but it isn’t an unqualified evil. At the economic end it does take care of its citizens to some extent at the level of needs. Like our economic system it’s a mixed bag. However, it has not yet nearly achieved a fully socialized society. They have a bureaucratic dictatorship modified by some socialized aspects. To democratize, the authoritarian state would have to wither away and take a democratic form in which the proletariat or workers gain control of a democratic state and economy. Our public schools are socialized. However, they’re often governed by authoritarian bureaucracies. Even the public universities which used to have a strong tradition of academic freedom often have been taken over by heavy handed administrators at the high levels.”
    Laura Brown, a dark haired beauty from an intellectual family, told the class, “My aunt is a professor at UCLA. We’ve been hearing about this trend from her for some time. The situation is a real shame. Academic freedom as a university tradition goes back to the Middle Ages.”
    Carolyn Johnson, an agile Afro-American cheerleader and athlete agreed, “Yes, persons with a love for the university are hurting. My uncle teaches at Michigan State, and my cousin at Arizona State.” Amanda paused to see if there were other comments. She was hoping more dialogue would occur among the students, so that the structures and processes in the classrooms would become more democratic.
    Amanda responded, “You all are correct about our universities. I plan to teach in them. I fell in love with the university when I went to college. Hearing about this puts me in some serious pain. I feel a little guilty about my plans to leave secondary education after three years. I will have paid off my scholarship. My heart is set on teaching in history or teacher education. Some older teachers are trying to shame me into staying, but I can’t. I tell them I’m leaning toward going into teacher education and that placates them. If any of you are going to Florida, we may meet up there second semester of next year.”
    That afternoon Amanda went home to find her soul-mate there. Michael Demian Randolph, a man with whom she had recently began to live, was tall, dark, and handsome. Amanda was a tall dark headed beauty. The two made a striking couple. They shared a passionate erotic relationship. She met him the summer after she began work on her masters’ degree. After spending two summers together, weekends, and holidays they moved in together. Michael, who graduated a year before Amanda, had been teaching health and biology and coaching track and field at Daytona Beach. This year he got employment at Ft Lauderdale High.
    Michael lived in Gainesville from when he was eleven until he graduated college. His father, Gene Randolph, was a professor. Michael loved the campus and its proximity to cold springs. He frequented the latter and felt drawn to attending the University. He accepted the job at Daytona Beach until he and Amanda moved to Broward County. Michael planned to get his doctorate with Amanda.
    When they embraced each other, their desires pulled them toward an erotic encounter. After an apple and a glass of iced tea, they engaged in one.
    Michael giggled when they were lying together and said, “Amanda darlin’ you take all of the fatigue of the school day away with your exquisite erotic touch.”
    “Thanks much for the lovely compliment, beautiful man; it works both ways. Even with my great students, the day still tires me but I feel super now.”
    “Listen woman, I’m always happy to oblige.”
    That evening they ate the last collards and sweet potatoes from Amanda’s Marion County garden with cornbread and ribs. Afterwards they were sitting in the living room, discussing their day at school when the phone rang. This call from Jim made Amanda’s year and delighted her and Michael. It sent her to school the next day with a huge smile and a full heart.
    Amanda said, “Students we’ll get back to our previous discussions, but first I have some news I hope you’ll find as exciting as I do. My supervisor Jim Deever called me yesterday. He said he thought I should incorporate a sex education unit in my classes. Two major subjects we discussed were the pros and cons of premarital sex and information on STDs.” Amanda could feel excitement rippling among the students.
    “’Splendid’ I exclaimed when he told me the reasons for his call. You’re opening up a teachers’ Eden for me. I have all kinds of ideas on these topics.’”
    “‘Great!’ he said. ‘I’ll be up to see you tomorrow.’”
    When Amanda shared these parts of the conversation with the students, she could feel the excitement rising among them.
    “Is this for real Ms. Blake?” asked Ken.
    “Yes, today when school is out, he’s bringing the progressive director of audio-visual aids, Bernie Waks to PBHS. I met him earlier when he came here to tell me what was available in the AV area. He is a tall slightly chubby Jewish fellow with a heart of gold. He is always smiling or laughing. When we first met, he said, ‘Gosh Amanda, I was prepared for your astonishing creativity and your developed intellect, but no one prepared me for your knock out good looks.’ I was flattered and thanked him for the compliment.
    Jeff Scott, one of her best thinkers, said, “We all know, especially us males, the truth of that statement only we would say it more strongly. You’re one hot woman! Did you know that you are the pin up girl for FAU’s football team?”
    Amanda was at a loss for words momentarily, “I, I— well hell.” The students roared with laughter. “How did that happen?”
    “Do you remember a graduate student who approached you when you were on campus? He asked if he could photograph you. He asked you to wear a Levi outfit that has red, white, and blue figures. The jeans fit beautifully. You wore a blue turtle neck and an open vest that matches the jeans. He told you he loved to photograph beautiful women. When some of the football players saw the pictures, they begged him to make them copies and paid him well. Half of us boys in this school go to sleep fanticizing about you.”
    When Amanda had time to collect herself from the surprise, she joined in the laughter, “This is the first time I’ve blushed in a while. Thanks for the nice compliments. To continue with the guy who started this; Bernie is a reform oriented democrat, and we get along splendidly. He has two excellent films which will kick off our study of human sexuality. One is a non-judgmental film which poses questions regarding the pros and cons of premarital sex. In my view this film is dated. I know few seniors who would vote against having some sexual experience prior to marriage. We don’t have to spend a lot of time there. We can spend more of it on the possible consequences of premarital sexual relations among teens if that is what the class desires.” Eric Nagean de Lestang, a beautiful, progressive young man whose background is Cajun from Louisiana, raised his hand.
    “Ms. Blake, I thoroughly agree with Jeff on your hotness. As a matter of fact I think I’m in love with you.” The students giggled and Amanda smiled.
    “Eric, you remind me of my other lover, Eric Landreneau. Michael and he like each other so there are no bad feelings or tension when he occasionally visits. We all three sleep in the king sized bed together. I hope you all don’t see that as weird.”
    “We could never see you that way, Ms. Blake,” Gordon Ward, a star athlete, excellent student and an African American said. “Don’t you know you’re our heroine? I think I can speak for everyone except for maybe Guy.”
    Guy protested this characterization, “You’re my heroine too. If you do it, I know it’s pure.”
    “Thanks Guy. That’s a wonderful expression, and it tells me you are coming from a loving place. I’m not religious regarding organized religion, but I’m a spiritual person. Eric, we left you hanging.”
    “Right, your view is correct from my perspective. I’m an androgynous male who’s had erotic relations with two beautiful women and a beautiful man. Yet, I don’t think you should assume that everyone has resolved this question. What about it classmates?” Several students shook their heads in agreement.
    “Okay, I stand corrected. Thanks. Your developmental level is impressive. Maybe you could write about that when I assign papers on the important transformations in your lives when we do autobiographies.” Eric gestured a thumbs up and flashed a smile.
    He added, “A woman loving two men could never be weird to me. The opposite view is strange to me, due to the male’s limited sexuality when compared with the females; but as you know, beautiful women, that’s a discussion for another lesson.
    “Indeed,” Amanda replied. “The other film is on Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Herpes, and other sexually transmitted diseases. I don’t know how much you know about these things. If you have been instructed, we could skip this one and go to the consequences of getting these diseases.
    Carolyn said, “Ms. Blake, it’s shameful, but most of us have received no instruction on these matters. In fact, when you mentioned STDs, I didn’t know what that meant until you tied them to Syphilis, Gonorrhea. and Herpes. We need this film.” Heads were nodding in affirmation.
    “I know how to proceed. Keep me informed as the process goes forward.”
    Katherine said, “Ms. Blake thanks so much for this. Tell your supervisor, Dr. Deever, and the wonderful AV man, Dr. Bernie, thanks also.” This brought joyous giggles from the students. Amanda was awed by the intensity and honesty of the students’ responses.
    “The possibilities for harmful emotional experiences and psychological and spiritual growth are explored in the film on premarital sex. The film expresses important messages: There are no right or wrong answers or any exact way of determining one’s maturity level; no final ways of determining whether or not a relationship will bring growth, stagnation, or disaster. Like anything of importance, decisions regarding sex are uncertain and somewhat risky.”
    Before they left the study of socio-economic-political positions, they discussed the emergence of fascist structures in contemporary society and history. The GOP was brought up in this connection. There were evidences of fascist personalities in some of the party members. Several members made comments indicating they didn’t like some of the Party members who seemed to be fascist in their views. There was a rumble of agreement.
    “I understand how you feel as you do. These fascist structures first appeared with intensity in the Salem Witch trials. One of the worst fascist personalities in recent history was the late Wisconsin Republican Congressman, Joe McCarthy. McCarthy finally became so repulsive to his peers in the House, that body censured him, an act which expressed rare, strong condemnation. At the same time, the press exposed some sleazy aspects of his personal and political life. He was a closet alcoholic who misrepresented his contribution to WWII. He was at a safe desk far away from any combat, but had pictures taken which led his constituents to believe that he had been a fighter pilot.”
    Roger Dean asked, “What is the time frame for McCarthy and his antics? My feeling is that they started after World War II ended in the early 60’s.”
    “That’s right. Thanks for asking, Roger. I forgot that information. Soon after the war ended, McCarthy got himself appointed chair of the Congressional Committee on Un-American Activities. The knowledge needed to grasp the McCarthy Era include an integration of anthropological and logical knowledge of propaganda; a grasp of communication theory; social, mass, and depth psychology; political science, sociology, 20the century U.S. history, and constitutional law. He did all he could to convince the American public there was a communist under every bed and another in each closet. His committee’s civil liberties violations were extreme. The playwright Arthur Miller spent nearly a year in jail for refusing to rat on some friends. Soon after that he wrote a play that was ostensibly about the Salem Witch Trials, but involved subtle comparisons with McCarthy’s atrocities. How much instruction did you receive on McCarthy, about the Witch burnings, and other examples of civil liberties violations in your American history and other social studies classes.
    Carol Hollingsworth responded, “We received some instruction, but not nearly enough from what you’re saying about their historical significance.” Other students agreed so Amanda continued to provide information regarding McCarthy and other instances of fascism in American life and history. After the classes finished examining fascist structures, they dealt with the liberal position including some distorted notions in that socio-economic-political position.
    Amanda began by speaking generally of the positive aspects liberals, “They respect the constitution and the laws passed by the people’s representatives. They are in progressive positions with respect to abortion rights, equal pay for equal work regarding genders, for gay rights, and others. They are for radical changes provided they are carried out nonviolently. They are weak with respect to carrying these things out due to some distortions of the liberal position. These have been labeled by a senior scholar in the educational foundations field as ‘liberal optimistic’ fallacies: 1. the wills to freedom and responsibility are inborn and develop naturally as persons become adults. 2. Discernment of civic duty brought about by rational arguments is sufficient to persuade persons to act responsibly. 3. Democratic social structures and their civil liberties are assured by the natural order. 4. Personal identity problems are a part of adolescent development and disappear as persons become adults. 5. The formation of democratic community and authentic human relations isn’t a serious problem within the current social order. These glib and naively optimistic assumptions need to be questioned. They are over simplified explanations of human development and have a too limited view of the human mind. None of these developmental capacities automatically unfold. A more sensible view of human nature for liberals is that, it’s active but requires extensive socialization to give it direction toward the wills to freedom, responsibility, and adequate democratic citizenship and community.”
    Carl Fann, a student with Native American ancestry, commented, “The fascist trend ought to be opposed by all who believe in democracy. Also, it seems obvious that the liberal-optimistic view is oversimplified. If everyone automatically developed the will to freedom and responsibility, we wouldn’t have the terrible behaviors in these areas. People would be more responsible about their civic duties”
    “One can’t argue with that, Carl. It is amazing how many people cling to the position. The socialist views came into prominence in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The two major varieties of socialism, Marxism and democratic socialism have commonalities and differences. The socialist position in all of its forms recognizes the field of mind of which we are characterized and which is much larger than the ego. The liberals do not fully accept the field theory. The field of our minds is partially conscious, but it is also off-conscious and requires work to bring it into fuller consciousness. The latter is never complete and that is good because it shows that the off-conscious area of our minds is more or less indefinite and is the source of our infinite creativity. The radical creativity of human beings demonstrates the priority of forming over form and the constancy of change in the human world. This is our view of the human psyche in human and physical sciences. It is an exciting view to those of us who are artists and intellectuals. Don’t be upset if you do not fully grasp this idea all at once. Understanding is a process taking time. It is among the key ideas around which we’ll build our class experiences all year.”
    Katherine said, “It sounds exciting to me! I can’t wait until it gets fleshed out.”
    “Me either,” Gordon interjected, “To be characterized as radically and infinitely creative is excellent.”
    “Gordon, I couldn’t agree more.”
    “I think it’s important that a scholar with the stature of Dr. Brown embraces the field theory,” Eric commented.
    Amanda replied. “Class, I’m thrilled with your enthusiasm about the ideas which are presented here. You’ve made me feel good about myself as a teacher. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
    Ken responded tearful eyed, “Ms. Blake we have that enthusiasm because our teacher shows it. Thank you, you’re a beautiful woman inside and out.”
    Amanda and several class mates broke down. Shortly, the tears became laughter.
    Amanda said, “It’s as one of my two favorite poets, William Blake, said, ‘Excess of joy weeps;’ This ‘Proverb’ is one among several. In all, he calls them ‘Proverbs from Hell.’ They are contained in a section of his complete works called: ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.’ He adheres to the field theory and Brown uses Blake a good bit in Life Against Death.”
    “Who is your other favorite poet?” Denise asked.
    “The poet of U.S. Democracy, Walt Whitman, another field theorist.” Amanda was glad to find each class was favorable toward Whitman.
    “There are examples of partially socialist societies which remained in the realm of ideas. That is, they were never put into practice. One of the best known of the latter is Plato’s Republic written in five hundred B.C.” As Amanda gave out the portions of Plato’s Republic relevant to the class, she told the students they’d be amazed at the way he deals with the ruling class. “Plato’s Republic is too long to read in total, but I’ve run off those parts which are relevant to the existence of the ruling classes and the status of the other Athenian citizens.”
    “I feel privileged being asked to read one of the first classics of Western Civilization,” Paula Stephens said. Several other students agreed with her.
    “I’m happy you feel that way. We’ll have other classic readings which are an easy read for seniors. I’ll have to make copies of most materials. We only started creating this course during early planning when my supervisor asked me if I would be willing to create and teach it. He had looked for several years for someone who was willing and capable of doing it. I jumped at the chance. I have ten copies of the Republic. I’ll lend one to whoever is interested. Perhaps we can begin discussions on Monday on our class readings.”
    “I’m interested to read about his ideas on group marriage,” Ken said.
    Over the weekend Amanda and Michael focused upon Eros and exercise, i.e., ocean swimming. Later the couple read about the CTA. They wanted to become active in it. Teachers were still fighting for the professionalization of their ranks, although things had gotten better in this area during the last few decades. The literature acquainted them with a local strike sponsored by this organization in fall, l977, which was a huge success for the teachers. Thirty-five hundred went out. A judge settled the strike largely in the teachers’ favor. The board was ordered to give the teachers a five hundred dollar raise since they were unpardonably late with their contracts. These arrived after the teachers struck the second week of school. The board was ordered to bargain in good faith with the teachers while the court order was in effect.
    The following February, 1978 the Florida Education Association called a strike. The local strike worked against the Broward teachers in the statewide strike. It seemed as though the CTA President and his wife misled the teachers with respect to the interpretation of the court order. The president and his wife falsely maintained the court order applied to the teachers independently of the representation of the CTA. Only seventy-two teachers went out in the statewide strike. The strike was not a clear cut victory for either side. The Broward County 72 were fired and had to sue to get their jobs back. This took three years. They were undermined by their conservative colleagues who took over the FEA leadership. The 72 got their jobs back with all of the raises they would have gotten if they had been present the whole time; but for their treacherous colleagues, they might have received back pay for the time they struck and were fired.
    Michael and Amanda joined the professional organizations at all levels—local, state, and national. By this time the integration of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers was nearly complete. The latter is a teachers’ union affiliated with the AFL/CIO. The couple became active in the local CTA serving as board members from their schools.
    On Monday everyone in the classes had finished the readings. Amanda began with some comments on Plato’s general philosophy. She told them some of Plato’s points in his Republic are still relevant. However, there are certain aspects of his view that science and philosophy no longer accept. The findings of the modern versions of both fields have established there are no such entities as ‘absolutes.’ The only constants are energy and change. Both of these are processes and can’t be entities, i.e., absolutes. The latter are substances with solidities. Plato was an idealist. He makes a distinction between an absolute and permanent quality of ideal beauty which he says exists within the reality in which we live. He separates these ideal and permanent absolutes from particular beautiful and impermanent things such as flowers, people, birds, paintings . . .
    He separates the spiritual aspects of our being from the physical ones. We no longer accept this separation of mind and body. Physicists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries began to question the duality of mind and body when they discovered the observer (the mind) and the observed (the body) affected one another in transactions.” After this, Amanda invited the students to give their responses to the Republic’s readings.
    Diana began, “Fellow class members and our heroic teacher, Ms. Amanda Blake, I was astonished when I read Plato’s notion of the group marriages of the guardian class. They lived in a commune, in which all the men were husbands to all of the women, and all women were wives to all of the men. When they had kids they had no idea who fathered them. All of the men were considered their fathers. They did know who their mothers were, um, those are a bit hard to hide.” Giggles rose from her audience.
    “Diana, I had a feeling you were smart and a hoot. That’s a compliment so speak more often. You know laughter is the best medicine.”
    “Thank you Ms. Blake, I will. The women were considered to be mothers of all the children. The guardians had all kinds of leadership and political powers, but no economic powers. They had only the bare necessities economically. They lived an austere existence, but had the political power to run the state. That was a neat way to solve the problem of gaps between the haves and the have nots. They took their meals together cooked by the state’s chefs. And when the women had babies they wouldn’t be burdened with their routine care. They would have wet nurses for those aspects of child care. The female leaders would be too busy guiding the affairs of state to change diapers and the like. That, I think, would be a major advantage to being a guardian.”
    Several of the girls agreed. Paula exclaimed, “Amen to that Sister.”
    Gordon said, “That’s a wonderful summary on the guardians, Diana. Metaphorically, Plato considered these guardians to be of ‘gold’. To him they were the most superior humans in the city-state. The gender roles were equal. Another was that by separating the political and economic power, Plato solved the problem of gaps in economic wealth corrupting the leaders and keeping the poor, but talented out of positions of political power. Even in early Athens gaps in wealth interfered with democracy. They collectively decided all political matters. The actual defense of the state would be carried out by another class of citizens, the soldiers, who were considered the ‘silver’ of the city-state. Am I on the right track, Ms. Blake?”
    “You both are. How was the democracy limited? What would Plato have the rest of the population do?”
    Katherine said, “Only citizens could participate in the assemblies which decided political matters, and these included only a minority of the inhabitants. There was a large slave population which consisted mainly of prisoners of wars with other city-states. They were freer than the U.S.’s slaves. They could earn their freedom in various ways and become citizens. He classifies everyone except the guardians and the defenders as brass. The carpenters, doctors, teachers, plumbers, and others with private occupations fall here. They have no political power, except for a vote if they were citizens, but they held all of the economic power.”
    The discussion continued for the next two days. Amanda was excited about the students’ responses to their first experience with philosophy. The only student who could accept Plato’s theory of absolutes was Guy. He revealed since he believed in God in a certain way, he had to accept that there were absolutes. He only realized that day modern science and philosophy rejected this theory of reality. He was troubled by this. That conflict was encouraging to Amanda. Conflict often precedes a reconstruction, broadening, and deepening of the student’s perspective.
    “It follows from your belief, Guy, in a transcendent God who is out of the realm of human experience that you do accept the theory of absolutes.” She asked the students on the second day of discussions to write a paper on their reading of Plato. They should include what they learned from their readings and if their beliefs were changed by them. She asked them to include their views of the mind/body dualism and of Plato’s theory of absolutes. She asked them how long they thought they would need to complete the paper. They agreed on a week.
    When the class met again, Jacquelyn Tucker asked, “Is it unusual that we’re reading philosophy before we are in college, Ms. Blake?”
    Amanda said, “Yes, Jacquelyn, I didn’t get to read philosophy until I was a college sophomore We had a course they have since eliminated called comprehensive humanities. It has been extremely useful to me. I believe it is a shame that happened. None of us had any experience with philosophy until that time. One thing I quickly learned about philosophy is it’s no harder to read than many other subjects and easier than some.”
    Amanda ended the general socialism study by having the students look at an important difference between Marxist socialism and the European democratic socialism and that accepted by most U.S thinkers. The disagreements between democratic socialism and Russian Communism still exist, even though the Russian variety moved toward democracy after Stalin’s death in the mid twentieth century, and escalated with the rule of Gorbachov. The democratic socialist maintain that the Russian variety is wrong when it’s supporters claim that the ends justify the means in reference to the need for the proletariat to violently overthrow the economic oligarchy and its government. The workers’ goals would be to gain control of their work places and to establish a government which would soon wither away. Although democratic socialists agree with Marx on the matter of workers controlling their work places, they know that the ends cannot justify the means. The two aspects of the historical process can’t be separated. If reformers use violent means to achieve political ends, the consequences will be blood shed and violent actions, which swell out of control. One cannot create a democratic socialistic society by using violent authoritarian means. Once realized, the ends become means for further action. If the ends are violent they remain so when they become means.
    The next class Amanda spoke of the arts’ role in progressive liberal and socialist societies, “They’d have a special place and be generously supported by public funds. Progressives realize they can provide a vision for reform of present conditions. The artists can use their visionary powers to create art which tacitly criticizes the myth that capitalism exists on a large scale in the U.S. By capitalism, I mean a system of businesses small enough to compete according to the laws of supply and demand. A few oligarchic corporations control most areas. The manner through which their control is exercised is sometimes artistically expressed by a metaphor called Moloch. The artist can use this metaphor to attack corporate greed. Have any of you heard of a mythical monster called Moloch?” Ken and Katherine raised their hands.
    “First Katherine and then Ken, what have you all heard about Moloch?”
    “It’s a mean, nasty monster who terrorizes humans by demanding huge sacrifices of human life. I yield to Ken at this point.”
    “When one looks at the huge costs in life, health, education, communication, politics, social life, and ecology of the corporate oligarchies, the metaphor seems well employed.”
    “Excellent responses. Moloch is used by Alan Ginsberg in his poem ‘Howl.’ Have any of you heard of Ginsberg?” A few students raised their hands. “If you haven’t heard of him, you would do well to read the poem and acquaint yourself with him. He’s powerful. Ginsberg’s work is an excellent example of art in the service of social criticism and visions of a better life. Ginsberg was a beatnik; they were the 1950’s precursors of the 60’s and 70’s hippies. I saw him on a TV show after which I read ‘Howl,’ It made quite an impression on me. One of the foundations leaders, Kenneth Benne, uses Moloch in an essay entitled ‘Education for Tragedy: An Essay in Disenchanted Hope for Modern Man.’
    We’ll examine his use of Moloch in terms of the aspects Ken mentioned in his response.” Amanda continued with Benne’s use of the Moloch metaphor remarking that, “He uses three sources to relate the various ways the protagonists of the stories connect to Moloch. These include Heller’s Catch 22, Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Kafka’s The Castle.” Amanda mentioned Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible as another example of art as social criticism. It was written in response to his persecution by McCarthy’s committee. Miller wrote this play after he spent the time in jail. It’s easy to read. We’ll all read it when we get into looking at the fascist trends in detail later. I believe you’ll like this short play.
    I’m thrilled the Field Theory excites many of you. I’ll do my best to make it clear and to, as Katherine aptly puts it, flesh it out. It isn’t an easy idea. I got it from several sources; the one that comes to my mind most clearly is Brown’s book Life Against Death. I discovered it after I received my undergraduate degree. I had to read it twice carefully before I grasped it. The liberal position could be improved by its adoption.”
    Amanda made the copies of The Crucible in the middle of second six weeks. When the students read it, they remarked they were shocked that people in the earlier days of our country could get so ‘torked out of shape,’ they would go around burning people as witches, disciples of Satan, and such.
    She said, “It combines paranoia, fear, and panic” and elaborated on this. After spending two periods talking about the play, they acted it out during the third.
    After the classes finished with The Crucible, Amanda gave them each a pamphlet which included ten landmark Supreme Court cases. The ten cases began with Brown vs. Topeka, the school desegregation case. Also included in these was Gideon vs. the State of Florida, one of several cases which extended the rights guaranteed citizens by the federal government to the state governments through the application of the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause. In the Gideon case the right to an attorney was extended to the state level. One of the most important of the decisions overturned all convictions based upon guilt by association.
    In the next activity the students divided into small groups of five or six people. Each group chose a social problem with which to deal. They chose their topics from a list they had made earlier of the most crucial problems in U.S. society. If there were disagreements the format was that of a debate. If there were none the format was one of discussion. The issues chosen included 1. Abortion rights; 2. The elimination of capital punishment; 3. Juvenile delinquency related to child rearing practices; 4. Open relationships: inside and outside marriage; 5. Use and misuse of computers in secondary education; 6. Feminism in contemporary society: issues and answers. Amanda sat among the students. Ken was on the abortion panel and just as Jim Deever walked in the door he was making an important point.
    He said, “What a person puts in or takes out of their body should be their decision alone.” Jim was trying to listen to Ken while locating Amanda. He finally spotted her and waved.
    After the period ended Amanda ran into her department chair. Catherine Miller motioned for Amanda to come across the hall. When she did the chair told her a great compliment the supervisor had paid her, ‘I wish I had the guts that Blake does.’
    Amanda giggled with delight. Courage was an important virtue to her.
    The panels were followed by studies of anthropological ideas and practices, covering concepts such as cultural relativity, ethnography, ethnocentrism, and culture and community. They looked at their own cultural backgrounds and did comparisons with each others and some Amanda presented. For the paper on this part of the course, Amanda found an account of a marine stationed near an island culture. He became threatened by the differences between this culture and his and acted in ethnocentric ways. The way in which these were manifested was when he got one of the island girls pregnant. He discovered some of the older people throwing dice. He found out it was for the baby he and the woman with whom he was involved were having. These island peoples had a custom that before a woman could marry she had to bear a child. The latter was raffled off to persons who couldn’t have children but wanted one. The meaning of the term, ethnocentrism, refers to instances when a person is in shock due the strangeness of the custom (s) with which they are confronted, and acts in ways defining the strange culture as negative.
    The anthropological studies ended simultaneously with the end of the second six weeks. Teacher and students decided this was the time to deal with the sexuality unit. This study went on for a six weeks. The sharing of these deeply personal views and experiences bonded the students.
    It set the tone for the second semester which included, among other things, more detailed study of socialism and progressivism through looking at famous U.S. socialists and progressives as Eugene V. Debs, a labor organizer and presidential candidate while he was a political prisoner; John Dewey, a famous philosopher and university professor; Woody Guthrie, a folks singer who wrote over one thousand songs in his short life, which was cut short by a rare disease; and Bernie Sanders the current socialist senator from Vermont. Other thoroughly progressive thinkers included were Walt Whitman, poet, Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal, and Lynden Johnson and his Great Society. As examples of liberalism more studies of the liberal-optimistic fallacies were undertaken as they were still extant in our political life as were groups with fascist structures. The classes spent a few days looking into self reflection and applying this by writing their autobiographies. The classes continued to excite and inspire Amanda and the students. Amanda and her students’ creations were adopted as part of the regular curriculum.
    Amanda and Michael began their doctorates the next January. During their first two quarters their colleagues from PBHS sent Amanda several newspaper articles regarding attacks by right wingers on the institutions class. The educators defended the inclusion of the class in the regular curriculum defeating the fascists thoroughly. Amanda, Michael, Jim Deever, Bernie Waks, and many others were delighted.

Who Dat?, art by Dr. Shmooz / Daniel S. Weinberg

Who Dat?, art by Dr. Shmooz / Daniel S. Weinberg


Lunchtime Poll Topic (commentaries on relevant topics)

The Portrait I Admire Most (Happy Anniversary!)


    One year ago, there was the Election to end all elections—some said, in process of melting down, literally. And the new, Ruling POV was dubbed “fascism”, and some advised fascists did not part with Power. And we as a People of every shade of grey and its thinking, were told Life as we knew it, had ended. Perhaps, it was prophesied, the End of All Life. If nothing, the decision-making process of each individual voting citizen, their careful, personal inventory on a one-by-one-by-one basis...Self, each Self, as in the moment, deciding for All (a-hen!!), produced a thing as coup, a governing quintessence which would decide Everything and for All, and with nary a whisper permitted, from that day, forward. Effectively, the guaranteed personal freedom of the electorate, utilized as “well, gee, y’know—how do I feel about all this?”, took freedom away, entirely. Self, the “I” of each, made stone soup into a strange brew of the numerical, summoning a Golem-in-Chief. Big Brother had arrived, don’t kid yourselves, kids, and akin to the etching of The Mad Hatter chowin’ down, we were on deck to be gobbled up. No system as safeguarded, would remain. Checks, balances and butterflies, were all toast.
    As one who preaches Self as left hook to the chin of Others “telling you what”, I found the above hysteria, then and now, to be the mixed joy of a dinner with hippie-friends: plenty of rich, natural spices and enough to go around, but with a cut of meat you needed a course in geometry to dodge the marbling. In the emotion of the moment, it was impossible to sort. What in the end made me realize our American “way” as no longer workable, was seeing CEE in it for real.
    As news both real and “fake” (I love that, don’t you? Like a neighborhood kid you once hooted down: “Aww, no, that’s Fake!”), wars and rumors of Israel Under Two Flags made Page Two, beneath president-elect as Conan the Barbarian, tweeting to a marathon of “Rockin’ Robin”, every blurt and insult, terse characterization and callous remark had me not crowing, but rolling—not the text overstatement, but actually on the ground and ass coming loose. “It’s ME!!”, I yelled to Mrs. CEE, convulsing, crying, barely able to breathe. Unbelieving that, End of Day, Self in such like had triumphed and tireless, fought on. “The country elected ME!!” I longed for a rare glimpse of past faces, those chilly enemies of Youth who trod me under, affecting maturity, bright-faced for their mundane Future. If even one saw the connection in memory, it was orgasm, the #POW#-shock of irony in a good Spy vs. Spy. “That asshole. He did it. He rules the world.”
    I kept laughing at my fantasy-in-metaphor, until a string of ‘tubing one day, brought me to the impassioned pleas, pre-election, of pundits and comics I’ll not name, and the frightened sincerity shown, dynamited through my permafrost for just a moment. In the final seconds of one clip, a woman shouted the old, purpose-driven twaddle, “It’s not just about YOU...!”, on the heels of rhetoric of “why we vote”. And I understood a lot of things, in that hour. I understood why I don’t vote, why I will never. I understood why YouTube clip after clip, showed only Michael Moore’s encapsulation of the election’s inevitable result, to crescendo of “...the biggest ‘Fuck You’...”, nothing more. I also realized the System, the Human American Portrait as understood and operable, had indeed changed beyond telling, and after staring into it awhile, I’ll advise that you can hold free elections every year and politicians pass polygraphs every day, and, no. Forget it, nonfriends. What’s Here, Now, is here to stay. Because you really did, and larger than the Oval Office, elect CEE. CEE, in fact, elected CEE. With the help of CEE. Here’s the math:
    I’ve mentioned at least 3 times before, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, had been, as full-blown DISORDER, removed from the new DSM—it’s actually been fragmented, our doctors of the mind very much The Allies carving up the Middle East as they liked, postwar, and all sorts of crumbles and fragments of NPD, have been sprinkled more heavily, into larger, far more inarguable disorders...past this, narcissistic features are used as a determinable “side dish” toward the “J’accuse!” of the recognizable biggies. As I’ve said in each refrain, this is because the general agreement within the medical community is, “narcissism and its resulting behavior/features, are too prevalent in modern society, to label it a ‘disorder’” syphilis in the Civil War, the worst things find their way to the commonplace, as eventually, however malignant, we each are a Self, and little else. Ego, as Reality and its every facet, Id for hot oil fun of really not caring and laughing about it, super ego hip pocket, as gift or favor for a short list, on special occasions. We narcissist-as-natural are thus, it has been deduced, due to the marinating of media steeped in sports assholes, acting assholes and political assholes, in tandem with parents being toe-danglin’ friends with their extra-special lil’ cuddle-bundles of sweetie-beebies who draw on the wall with their shit, burn Gramma’s wedding dress as “what’s this do?”, carve up the car seats for imagined buried treasure and via whom you lost your best college friend because she dared glare at your rude-as-Hell Golden Child! get the idea. No foot up the ass = Automatic Entitlement. High risk of it, anyway. Go with the odds, as if the wager is lost, well, case in point, SJWs and “safe Free Parking w/jackpot, My Very Ownspaces”...but, I’ll drop the hyperbole. Each, special, loved kid, each, entitled Self, each One as Self-Only, and once of voting age, whether asked by pollster or blogger or BFF or coffee group or the television or their Savior Phone or in the wee moments before sleep, they ask themselves, shoots choice of The Vote, ultimately, through prism of...What?
    “I Am a Self. What Does mySelf, want?”
    Very CEEesque, if deficient in followup. Yours truly doesn’t order from menus with nothing but a listing of crap, and will not support a System which died when I was still young. Even if IT’S ALL ABOUT MOI, pesky Others, will wish talk and debate and to have their “peen’yun”, right? As Mrs. CEE told me 20+ years ago, “the political, is personal”, and by me, as usual, that means STFU. By others, it doesn’t, it’s this weird social bonding, some bar fight as “let’s save the world”...but no one is in the booth with you, and no one is truly in your head, and You think the thoughts, You speak the words and You do the actions...and You decided, as you reached for the ballot or toward the touchscreen. A nation Of You, By You and For You. Whether you’re hot shit or you know best or simply that By God, no one else was gonna tell you (therefore they did, in reverse), Self, wasn’t thinking of our nation, its future, its place in that Future, or a great big Thanksgiving with a bowl of Glogg passed around. A right permitted, the right of choice and of decision, that doesn’t make it all about You, nononononono, don’t tell me that, you won’t force it on me, I won’t permit that lie, I decide for Me, because... So many, miss this. And you can’t explain it to them. Like my pal in 12th Grade, ears back, heels dug in, chin out, to the death in Not accepting the square root of 1 = 1. Damn it! Chill out. I don’t believe you’re god or a god or any of us, even for a joke...but Thou Art The Only One Walking This Earth, In Thy Decisions. Occasionally, you include dear loved ones. Here and there, you graciously make a sacrifice. But You decide all inclusion. And then, the detailed ‘how’ of it, and who is on the list at its deb ball. Probably, not the one who preordered chicken.
    And so and so and so. And as everyOne is now only a Self, and this Self has the key and as well the lock, Self decides for Self by rote, because who the-Hell are YOU? And each one does this, separate and apart from any Other. In the end as involves a nation-state, any voting result is then, as they say in gamblers’ parlance, “pick ‘em”. This is assuming everyone, Arsenio, goes, “Hmm...” over things, then allows Self its divine override, or the double reverse of rebellion. Given diversity in reality, the existence of it a priori, and with Self as reactor core for each, the sands of Human, in a whirlwind reaped (if I may), is now each grain blown pixel askew, upon the portrait of Human American. Things like random election results, given such a honkin’ population, result also in polls as determined by the heart, or by a smile or grouse in that minute, the last blog entry which spoke to someone, or whether they got laid or rejected, the night before. In effect, Gallup and all brethren are out of business as legit, as they now may as well be latter day Fred Allen, no longer in the golden “Alley”, encountering postwar whackjobs on the street with his questions. It isn’t that no one tells the truth, or that Man is a liar, nor even Dennis Miller’s label of paranoia in our time, some notion of a Cigarette Smoking Man as game show judge, listening in. The reason decisions at least in a Western nation, if thrown to The People, will henceforth seem a coin flip, is Each is, as Timer told them, “the most important person in the whole, wide world”. So, It Is About (Every) Me. And despite ongoing attempts to curb individuality, each Self is now given license all the way to “identity” as 57 nightmares of Krafft-Ebing. The rare, “swing voter”, that mutation who can yet be convinced, I question how low their numbers. The swing voter, he or she truly “open”, might be as you read, a yeti. Perhaps even Bigfoot. But, what does it matter? Random, rainbow individualism, marbles, even confetti, even dust of human thought scattered Pollock, all over the political spectrum, may result in mud, or gridlock or mediocrity, but whomever it seats in whatever office, it’s low per cent-support and accidental in its happening, the end of an effective system, sad and pointless but of no account. As a televangelist once said to a caller, re: Morton Downey, Jr.’s audience, “They could just as easily be swayed the other way.” There exists no majority, no pattern which remains in a beach of Human all over the road.
    On the portrait of blue as light as cerulean and red as dark as blood, a thousand points of pins of lights and viewpoints as needles signifying nothing, there is what appears to be a stain. It isn’t as small as desired, nor large enough to terrify, and it would appear to anyone but a mathematician who has not forgotten simple integers, to be an aberration. Something pesky. A blot not of Rorschach but with a purpose as furious and primal, if you take me. This stain, if I conjured its design, is—heh—square, and it is the kind which never (yes, I’m saying “never”) changes, also the sort which never goes away. It is not a new stain, nor flaw nor a glitch, it was always part of the Human portrait, and of the Human American portrait. One merely did not discern it, when Human America was Emanuel Leutze, or Robert Onderdonk, or Thomas Hart Benton. Everyone knew of this...thing...but few were concerned and all dismissed it, as Human America coalesced, no matter division, and the more divided, the more the unchangeable block, hid. You kind of knew about it, but couldn’t see it. It’s only now the sand or dirt or thought groupings have spread wide apart to each “I”, that upon our U.S. Pollock of A., there is a thing, square and stygian, the unrepentance of stubborn HATE, a not-too big (but, it’s not tiny, is it?) a, it’s a remaining “group”, kind of. Sort of. That little...well, not little, it’s not that small, but...hey, it won’t rub off. Or lighten. Or spread out, there’s no blending. And cutting it out, harms the canvas. This “block” of unregenerate groupthink, is the final groupthink. And it weights the balances enough, random beach sand in final totaling, will always give it way. The stain, the hardness, though, okay, it isn’t large, not really a bit, but...this minor thing of ink of immutable depth, this “NO”, creates a base-level imbalance which, in truest panorama of All Thought, the voting “Self”, cannot dislodge. It will not go away but through a now-impossible empathy, or past that, by a kind of fire. I do not refer to anything holy.
    The block, this stain, a cohesion of star and diamond and rock and bone, is the last group standing, indeed. I give to it the title of a Eurythmics song: “You Hurt Me, and I Hate You”. The square block, is the collection of the most primal Selves, who vote and decide from an un-unique, pre-Dawn point of revenge. Not a “fuck you”, as Mr. Moore told. “You Hurt Me, and I Hate You.” It’s not a something which goes away. No matter what you were taught at university. Or in church.
    I originally wanted to title this column, “A Bit of Fry, Fried in Garlic”, because I’d been dumb enough to ‘tube Stephen Fry wagging a synapse over Americans insisting on simplicity in Truth. The argument is irritating, as explanation of concept, of construct, of form and framing and substance, is lost on both those who cannot hear and those who will not hear. It should be clear to all but those most huggie-wuggums among you, intellectual purses of great depth, are not to be made out of sow’s ears of fear, or with histories of abuse, or who by your own defs are disordered, or who cannot put a noun against a verb...and none of these have to be deplored, by you or by anyone, but it’s a legendary Darryl Dawkins obliteration of a backboard, slam dunked as God’s finger upon a wall, there exist too many Others, who are unteachable due to minds too empty/too simple/too harmed for too long, they cannot hear you. Incapability, as innate. You’re on cruise control past the old “DEAF CHILD” signpost, and frantically waving, forget it, it’s no good. You in fact are mandated to violate your own principles, by violating their rights. By denying them. By leading them by the hand, careful in explanation as you like, how congenitally stupid they are—which, won’t win points with any purer elements not hands on...but what’s worse, is that Booger Hunt Child already has a buddy helping them cross No Man’s Land, and this would be the other portion of the hard, dark, immutable block: The ones who Will Not hear. And who flip you off. And who fight back. And who control the nosepickers. They are the ones in this United States of Apocalypse whom you have no chance whatever, of convincing, controlling, converting or changing. And direct denial of rights at this break in the timeline, will get you armed insurrection, with snotnoses as footmen...and “a place at the table”, doesn’t cut it, as these want the table recut into a coffin, and you put inside it. These, never mind their mucous-obsessed Renfields, may have begun in many different states of mind or places in the heart, but they are now fueled, souped, galvanized and mutated, via little more than scorn suffered, barbs stung with, the burning of sneers and the reality that All “Attitude”, Is Hatred. In short, and wherever the rejection, exclusion or devaluing originated, it, by way of persons so-fucking sure and gonna tell you what, created enemies who do not dialog, will not dialog, who themselves “know”, and the antithesis, as it means You Are Wrong (categorically, see, it’s YOU in the first place)...and these walking middle fingers, are willing—no kidding around, they welcome the drenching of Earth in fusion nukes, rather than you win, “get your way”, have it as You like, etc. And for I-worked-with-Rowan Atkinson or anyone else, to default to the Avuncular Mug, is just more putting out the Cat People-fire, with gasoline. The subject or crux, may be Truth, it may be Life, it may be “how to think”, read “think as I do”...but, none of these are the point or of importance, to he who sees and hears only The Enemy.
    The purer elements, have in their softer accord, fed you one lie, at least, as we are not all “the same”. And we are not, due to the primary colors of emotion, and the rather negligible imbuing of the secondary. There are children who kill other children, who take lives in a wrongturned moment, and psychology misinterprets their tears as human secondary response, when in fact, it is survival instinct, upon doing the simple, internal math of Lack of Power < (a) justice system; Hence: End of all personal freedom. I make it sound complicated, and medical minds reason it more complicated, before shorthanding it “baby-sad-other-baby-dead”. NO. Man is about himSelf, from the ass slap. Many simply respond to conditioning, and are battened into place by groupthink. However, a not-that-small square of numbers not low, doesn’t, and are not. And with pixels of Pollock-spatter all over the canvas, one relatively small hardness of even slight weighting of math—simple integers, the kind used in counting?—is then a twist on the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. It is the alpha of certainty upon pain of total annihilation as not king, but crowning him. Like a disruptive kid in a classroom project. Except it’s manymany thousands and many thousands more, and only totalitarianism flipped, eventually mass murder, removes the wall built against You, for the rest of your life. You might have been nicer, you know. But years on, some stains created don’t forgive, and they are not cleansed.
    So, CEE as huckster, as puffed chest and “friend of God”, as the Great and Powerful Oz, the Church Lady dancing, Dennis Miller in endless subreference, boy alone in his room dreaming of ruling the world, does. He does, thanks to CEE as “me-me-me-me”, philosophy of Only Self, Everyone a Narcissist, the intrinsic importance of the capital ‘I’ in the middle of the desert in the center of the sky...and CEE was aided in tipping all balances, to continue until the 12th of Never, by, well, CEE. The one the cold Other “knew better”, than. The one at the kindergarten door thunderstruck, at the ants. Eventually, immune to peer pressure, to the point he didn’t know it was occurring. Outlier and outsider. The one who has indeed hit his knees many times, imploring his friend to send the missiles, to soak us all in the richest bath of Uranium possible, happy as a mofo to die, if it means everyone he’s ever known dies, too. None of those three, are nice guys. The third, in fact, is freakier than Hell. But he and the second, gave you the first. Barring any actual Red Phone activity, they’ll keep doing so.
    I warned you in a poem here at Scars, itself, “Truth’s Macbeth, is an elephant (The Captain Whackencracker Show)”, that to fight and defeat a lumbering thing you feared, you needed to first recognize it stood there, then forget any notion of yourselves as more evolved on a conscious level, being willing to cast out Satan with Satan...effectively, I was saying “get over your goddammed ethics and destroy now, what will destroy you”. I further admonished mere humor as laughing asshole at The Enemy, sealed your own fate. So, to take one last rib kick, your brick wall comedians did it to you, again.
    Have some cake. It’s been a year. There’ll be a bunch more. I’m calling that, like Babe Ruth against the Cubs, as I know Me, pretty well.

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

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

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

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

cc&d          cc&d

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

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

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

    Ed Hamilton, writer

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

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

    Jim Maddocks, GLASGOW, via the Internet

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

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

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

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

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

    Mark Blickley, writer

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

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

    I just checked out the site. It looks great.

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

    John Sweet, writer (on chapbook designs)

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

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

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

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

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

    You Have to be Published to be Appreciated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Paul Weinman, Writer (on 1996 Children, Churches and Daddies)

    Wonderful new direction (Children, Churches and Daddies has) taken - great articles, etc. (especially those on AIDS). Great stories - all sorts of hot info!

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

    The magazine Children Churches and Daddies is Copyright © 1993 through 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 sopies of the 1999 book “Rinse and Repeat”, the 2001 book “Survive and Thrive”, the 2001 books “Torture and Triumph” and “(no so) Warm and Fuzzy”,which all have issues of cc&d crammed into one book. And you can have either one of these things at just five bucks a pop if you just contact us and tell us you saw this ad space. It’s an offer you can’t refuse...

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

    Fithian Press, Santa Barbara, CA: Indeed, there’s a healthy balance here between wit and dark vision, romance and reality, just as there’s a good balance between words and graphics. The work shows brave self-exploration, and serves as a reminder of mortality and the fragile beauty of friendship.

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

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

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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.

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