ISBN#  magazine (1993-2017)

Flawed Cadaver
ISBN# magazine
v278, December 2017
Internet ISSN 1555-1555, print ISSN 1068-5154

ISBN#  magazine

Table of Contents




(the passionate stuff)

R. N. Taber Christmas, Food for Thought
CEE Virgin Defrauded
The DMV Sucks (Part II of Deux of 2)
Aaron Wilder Everything that Makes Me Human art
CEE Welcome to the Injustice of the Week
Cheryl Townsend Spoog art
Linda M. Crate not your pigeon
a true nightmare, an untrue man
sorry not sorry
there is no deception i’ll receive
the HA!man of South Africa Adam Eve drawing
Charles Hayes Xmas Hunter
Adolf Hitler Your Mother
Drew Marshall Tracking The Lizard King (poem and photograph)
Greg G. Zaino The Attic
Kyle Hemmings Tall photograph
Greg G. Zaino The Rail
David Russell Tortured Soul 1 drawing
Kenneth DiMaggio Ode #2 to a City Whose Young Come of Age
Suckling on a Wild Pit Bull Bitch
Kenneth DiMaggio Ode to a Once Grand Café (Cigar Mike’s)
Michael Ceraolo Cleveland Haiku #249
Cleveland Haiku #250
Cleveland Haiku #253
Marc Livanos a/k/a Panhandle Poet Imagine One People
R. N. Taber Come Harvest Home, Extracts from a Migrant’s Diary
Üzeyir Lokman Çayci 1038 UZEYIR CAYCI 19 NISAN 2016 234FP art
Joshua Copeland Freshman
Janet Kuypers Dilemmas in Gift Giving

performance art


(the 12/3/16 “Akitu” show, Austin)

Janet Kuypers open flame for the celebration
Every Soul Celebrates
endings bring light
Everyone Celebrates Together



(the meat & potatoes stuff)

Kilmo Full
Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz All Creatures Large And Small art
Drew Marshall The Handgun
Wes Heine 11071826 photography
Greg G. Zaino Flawed cadaver
Karly Lake McCullough The Shark Dancer
Nora McDonald In the Dark
Brian Looney Conch Discovered drawing
Marc Livanos a/k/a Panhandle Poet Clouds and Hues
Janet Kuypers quarrel haiku
CAG Kill Mother
Patrick Fealey from Bird Island, Chapter 7: “18”
Chapter 8: The Reformer

lunchtime poll topic


(commentaries on relevant topics)

CEE Peace on You, Too

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Poetry (the passionate stuff)

Christmas, Food for Thought

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

A pet is not just
for Christmas
nor should December
have a monopoly
on spreading peace
and goodwill

Love is not just
for Christmas
nor should celebrating
any religion
mean shutting one
up or out

Caring is not just
for Christmas
nor can token gestures
of goodies
repay neglecting
the real thing

Mind, body, spirit,
have no need
of fairy lights on trees,
or even and being seen
going to prayers

Let’s celebrate
the heart
that’s open all seasons
and all hours,
no one turned away,
no excuses

Virgin Defrauded


That’s not a Stradivarius, Oppenheimer
I know you think you’ll rule eBay,
But the dude you cheated
Cheated you
Out of cheating someone else
It’s a thing called Commerce,
And it goes like this....

Violin and angled bow, clip art

The DMV Sucks (Part II of Deux of 2)


So, what you’re really saying, here, Eustace,
Is that
If a person is a bad teacher
They’re therefore a bad student
And therefore don’t get your dog cookie of
I can make a fake license
I could show you how to do it, too
Because it’s all on software, like the world
And we won’t have to talk

Everything that Makes Me Human, art by Aaron Wilder

Everything that Makes Me Human, art by Aaron Wilder

Welcome to the Injustice of the Week


Me and my
Old fight films
Watching Joey Archer, for example
Get royally horked off
When he loses a decision
He knew damned well he
And my First Love
Should have had my baby
But Fate is crooked
It’s on the take

Spoog, art by Cheryl Townsend

Spoog, art by Cheryl Townsend

not your pigeon

Linda M. Crate

not some starry eyed
pigeon who will gladly follow
you into the cage
or a lamb lead to her own slaughter
i’m a scorpion, wolverine,
wolf, raven, fox, mermaid,
unicorn, faerie, elf, dwarf, moon daughter, hurricane,
forest fire, sun flame,
a bad ass warrior of the light;
i refuse to be inferior or irrelevant
simply because i am
a woman
doesn’t mean i am less than a man
mind your magic, boys, because i have power
of my own;
i will stick a needle in your eye—
dreamers aren’t made to be stopped
we’re made to stop the nightmares in any form
and shape they take so that is what we
and i am made of love and light;
hope and dreams,
cosmos and universes,
laughter and tears,
rage and pain,
and the spirit to overcome—
i am an enduring light that returns again and again
never to fade no matter what they do
because i will always stand no matter how many times
i’ve fallen and i always will.

a true nightmare, an untrue man

Linda M. Crate

never seems long enough
every time you go
because you’re back with another
wound to cut open in me,
and i know you think you did the right thing
even when i told you that it was
i think a part of your knows that you broke
the tapestry when it really needed
more thread
i am done with this narrative—
so stop haunting me
don’t need your ghost pacing the halls at night
or the remembrance of your mouth
upon my body
or your hands or anything else that i can sometimes
feel when i lay down at night
thinking of all the time we spent together
i wasted
because to you i was just a good time
i had been mislead into thinking it were something real,
but the only one that was true was me;
you couldn’t be asked to be anything less than a nightmare
even when we were together.

sorry not sorry

Linda M. Crate

i know
you never cared
actions speak louder than words
your bad intentions
hurt me
worse than you probably intended,
but i would rather be damned by truth
than live in a lie;
i’m glad i know what truly happened
because if i did not
i might again fall under the spell of your
false sincerity and charm
i will not be vulnerable to you twice—
just know that i am not
your victim or martyr
i will not crucify myself for your sake as
an improvement to my beauty as you would say
i’ve never seen someone with eyes
be so blind that even a blind man would laugh
yet there’s you
reckless with hearts and visions
not heeding and uncaring of the dreams he may shatter
so long as his ego is flattered by the attention
garnered in a kiss, in a hand placed on the hip;
i will burn you in the fires of your lust
sorry but i won’t be sorry.

there is no deception i’ll receive

Linda M. Crate

in the company of wolves
there is no sympathy,
and i know that perhaps better than any
who has not loved a wolf;
they turn on you
carry away your heart whilst you’re still breathing
force you to watch as they allow the other
animals to carry off your flesh and bones as if you’ve
never existed—
i could have laid there beneath the snow
he buried me in,
but i could not endure a life without purpose
so i rose again;
the pain was immense and the regrowth was terrifying
it felt like death all over again,
but it was necessary
so that i could bloom into a more radiant dream and flower
than i ever was
so that my fires burned so brightly that they’d never see
ending again—
i am the daughter of summer,
and i will never allow any winter or wolf
deceive me again.

Adam Eve, drawing by the HA!man of South Africa

Adam Eve, drawing by the HA!man of South Africa

Xmas Hunter

Charles Hayes

    A melancholy time, tracers everywhere dress as colored lights, a ruffed grouse snow angel amid deer tracks, leftover beans on the iron stove, and a hope that somehow, someway, a bottle can be bagged to chase the spooks of yesterday.

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.

Kentucky image copyright © 2015-2017 Janet Kuypers

Your Mother

Adolf Hitler

When your mother has grown older,
When her dear, faithful eyes
no longer see life as they once did,
When her feet, grown tired,
No longer want to carry her as she walks –

Then lend her your arm in support,
Escort her with happy pleasure.
The hour will come when, weeping, you
Must accompany her on her final walk.

And if she asks you something,
Then give her an answer.
And if she asks again, then speak!
And if she asks yet again, respond to her,
Not impatiently, but with gentle calm.

And if she cannot understand you properly
Explain all to her happily.
The hour will come, the bitter hour,
When her mouth asks for nothing more.

Tracking The Lizard King

Drew Marshall

Almost an hour had passed, and I was still lost
There were no signposts or directions of any kind
I was alone, with no one else in sight

I thought I should leave the Pere Lachaise cemetery
I’d head back to my hotel room in Pigalle, the red light district
I still had one more day in Paris, before returning to New York

I happened to notice some graffiti writing across a tomb stone
In a bright blood red, it said, THE LIZARD KING
There was an arrow underneath, pointing in the direction to my left

I started on my journey
I would see more graffiti splattered across more headstones
All accompanied by an arrow, pointing the way

It was a few weeks past the tenth anniversary, of Jim Morrison’s death
I noticed cigarette butts on the ground
There were also reefer roaches and an occasional empty wine bottle, littering the path

“Roadhouse Blues” began swimming through the air
The music grew louder as I progressed
I finally reached my destination

Centered atop the rectangular headstone
There sat a beautiful, perfectly chiseled bust of Morrison
The headstone is covered with graffiti, making it difficult to read the name

A small pot of flowers and several loose flowers bookended the bust

A young girl held a flower and stared pensively at the stone
Another young man took hits on a joint, while looking at the bust

A third man in his early thirties, took shots from his wine bottle
He mouthed the words to the song playing on his tape player

I snapped a few photos in rapid succession and sat on a nearby bench
Trinkets and garbage, joints and cigarette butts were scattered throughout

I was the same age as Jim, when he left this planet
I was somewhat amused and pissed off as well
A cemetery was a place of quiet reflection
Not a place to get drunk, stoned or litter

The cemetery staff wanted this grave removed and sent back to the states

photograph by Drew Marshall

The Attic

Greg G. Zaino

He tread cautiously through the doorway,
of a house abandoned ages ago.
but for a trace of bending light,
an ominous, unlit hallway awaited.

Staring up the wooden steps,
an attic room at stairwells crest.
the smell of decay assaulted his senses.

Once upstairs, across the space he walked
to the only source of light.
insects lay dead upon the sill,
as he gazed through a broken window pane,
at the feral yard below.

Sagging remains of a grape arbor.
here and there, puny black clusters of fruit.
beyond; indistinct and defeated,
the rusted artifact, of a once red swing set,
its twisted legs wholly engulfed in thorny vegetation,
a single steel chain sways in the wet wind.

Specters of the dead resided here...

Weak shafts of light illuminated
the place of shelter- sanctuary from the world.
dread shadows were cast across a fly littered floor,
brown stains spot the tattered lace curtains.

Adorning the attic’s corner walls,
indistinct crayon drawings of a child.
standing there in the darkness, he pulled it from the shadows.
scraping across decades; a small desk chair.

He felt the forbidding steps on the approach.
with each clipped footfall, primal dread arose.
turning, with a fear born in yesterdays,
the panic subsides as a face appears.

Turning slowly toward his caller,
he struggles an inhale, pointing to the crayon art.

In whispered words he breathes out.

Tall, photography by Kyle Hemmings

Tall, photography by Kyle Hemmings

The Rail

Greg G. Zaino

Like uneaten fruit left to mold
on an abandoned banquet table
forehead bowed, blank eyes staring
at the space between her canvas sneakers.

Alone in the downtown crowd,
another tired breath follows the last
the blurred world beyond her focus lay siege.
Toni waited on her bus in silence,
concealing the red rash
that assaulted her nail bitten fingers.

Who she was; a fleeting notion;
a nonentity that hadn’t a voice.
detached, suffering the pain of degradation
her sorrow contained.

She had always been the compliant one,
the silent one, a wallflower; married just out of high school
did what was expected and loathed her life.

Vague remembrances of adolescent dreams,
snatched away- an old woman’s sorrows
at age 29,
but it might have gotten better if only...
thoughts of what should have been,
could have been...
something dark was on her mind.

Like an unflinching cat in the shadows,
in silence it crept - a quietude settled deep.
for once in her life, Toni chose for herself.

A smile reached her lips.
_ the resolution; to part company, leave it all behind.
the memories of death and deceit- him- them- all behind.
the way it should be, would be...

A new moon in October, the Portsmouth side of infinity,
the constellations overhead shone like gems.
blown back by strong gusts, her tears slipped away,
carried on an unsympathetic wind.

With a white knuckled grip, Toni, smiled at the irony,
pulled her right leg over the top rail of ultimate decisions
on the Mount Hope Bridge...

Tortured Soul 1, drawing by David Russell

Tortured Soul 1, drawing by David Russell

Ode #2 to a City
Whose Young Come of Age
Suckling on a Wild Pit Bull Bitch

Kenneth DiMaggio

Though some other knuckles
invented it elsewhere
“The Knockout Game” has
its own Hartford flavor where
the 13-or-14 year old wrapped
inside of his hoodie will try
to knock out the driver
foolish enough to leave
her or his window open
at a traffic stop but
in this syringe-size city where
the cops & public school
teachers joke about how
the kids get their milk
from the nipples of a
wild Pitbull
having the shield of
safety-proofed glass will
still not stop a 14-or-15 year
old trying to punch it out with
a busted & lacerated hand that
will soon get fixed & stitched in
time for it to graduate to
carjacking and hopefully after
that the United States Marine Corps
—because she’s real alright

Not in the way no one
has ever seen her but in
how the locals
are always
hunting her

even if they are
the children
who came of age
drinking her milk

Ode to a Once Grand Café (Cigar Mike’s)

Kenneth DiMaggio

Linoleum counter and whose chrome
stools with the red leather caps
were cracked like an old boxer’s glove
which could have once tied around
the fist of the meat-mangler Mike
whose name was always preceded by
“cigar” from the permanent
soggy tobacco stub clenched in
his pit-bull faced pug that still did not
stop 12-year old punks like me
from busting his chops

See: this was a cop hang out
and because my old man was one
I could eat whatever meat Cigar Mike
mangled and put it on his tab
—a note book that also note-tated
sports bets and while this ex-pugilist
educated me with the facts of crime
I educated him on how to turn a classroom
upside down and when the cops entered
including my Dad they tried to teach
everybody about how the brass
got no balls and how some of the folks
they arrested were more honest than
the politicians they served

Oh     this was a grand café
even if it never had a name
and was about the size & looks
of a chicken coop

Cigar Mike’s
was where I learned
that the people you elect
are the biggest crooks
while the criminals
got their jobs to do
just like the cops

Cleveland Haiku #249

Michael Ceraolo

December sky---
slate grayscape
as far as the eye can see

Cleveland Haiku #250

Michael Ceraolo

December snapshot---
pine trees patiently
waiting to die

Cleveland Haiku #253

Michael Ceraolo

December music---
icy wind singing
through broken windows

Imagine One People

Marc Livanos a/k/a Panhandle Poet

White Pride
Black Pride
Gay Pride

“Deconstructing America”
Black Lives Matter
“2017 New Year’s Resolutions for White Guys”

Identity does not justify actions,
create peer groups
or lessens others.

Identify is just one small cog
in one’s character that builds
on the uniqueness of each being.

Identity built on others,
not self-reflection,
is a mirage.

“How to be Black”
fight labels that fuel
bias and superiority.

Before whites, blacks, gays separate,
first ask how can we ever progress
to a society that works together.

2004 Naples Beach gulls in flight at pier, Coptright © 2004-2017 Janet Kuypers

Come Harvest Home,
Extracts from a Migrant’s Diary

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Dreaming of distant lands,
sapphire seas, golden sands, treasures
of mind, body and spirit
equal to none, prize worthy of a poem,
cannot be counted out in coin

Dreaming of distant shores,
where birds sing a welcome in the ear,
reflected in the shy smile
of a passer-by, equal to none for peace
and love, cue for a better life

Dreams of landing on the moon,
peering back through time and space,
seeing how Here and Now
offers so much more than once a place
to call home before crisis-hit

Waking to street sounds roaring
like a pride of hungry lions hunting prey
in a concrete jungle,
no sapphire sea, golden sand, birdsong
a warning, wishing them gone

Waking to damp stains on walls,
courtesy of landlords whose first language
a prose counted out in coin,
invested in one-upmanship, measure
of nouveau custom status

Yet, an unconditional welcome
from skylarks at dawn and late nightingales
where nature sings its songs
of freedom, risen above human graffiti
(silent witness to hate crime)

No picture postcard, this Here and Now,
but a treasure of mind, body, and spirit equal
to none, prize well worthy
of a poem sowing seeds of peace and love;
endgame, harvest home...

1038 UZEYIR CAYCI 19 NISAN 2016 234FP, art by Üzeyir Lokman Çayci

1038 UZEYIR CAYCI 19 NISAN 2016 234FP, art by Üzeyir Lokman Çayci


Joshua Copeland and rinse away the laundry fresh filth.
It still matters to you.
In Southern Gothic, the discussion was over an uppity belle.
You backhanded the air.
A joke, I assumed.
But you had unlearned the girl.
You wrote well, on your knees before Bukowski.
On parole, you combusted A bomb style, eyes bulging,
Squeezing through the bars of your cage.
“This whole class is a joke! All college is a joke!”
A gauntlet tailor made for the diamond studded.
Upending and elbowing the wealthy, white, and dead...
no one can do it.
At the Sod you stood in the cramped kitchen, thirty hours a week,
hunched over under the low ceiling, sizzling hot grease,
cooking your wings,
barbequing yourself into oblivion.
You backhanded the waitress, my friend Jen Miller, over tips.
Gus wouldn’t call the police because they’d revoke you,
and your wings did good business.
And he told Jen if she called, he’d fire her.
She waitressed thirty hours a week to make it through school.
The last time I saw you, you were jogging on 5th, shadowboxing,
your hulking shadow mixing in with shadows of wannabe adults. And finally...
You were alone in the end zone.

Dilemmas in Gift Giving

Janet Kuypers

After a childhood of Christmases
in the Chicago cold and snow,
my construction company father
started a retirement community
in southwest Naples Florida.

After that, for every Christmas
me and sister Sandy, who was
ten years older than me, would fly
from O’hare to Fort Myers
to have two weeks of fun in the sun.
So in my teens, I got used to
warm temperatures for carolers
and no snow for the yuletide season.

And even though not all five
of us kids were there, I was still
the youngest, so on Christmas eve,
when exchanging gifts, I was the one
in charge of handing out presents
from under the tree for people to open.

Now, I have to preface this all
with the fact that I came from
a prudish family; we were
mild-mannered moral people.
I didn’t even drink ‘til I was
away at college. I didn’t even
kiss a boy ‘til I was sixteen.

So once on one Christmas eve,
I think I was fourteen,
after the carolers had come
we all sat near the tree, adorned
with sand dollars and red ribbons,
and I started handing out presents
for everyone to open.

But at one point I handed a red box
to my sister, as a gift
that my mother obviously bought.
She opened the box to see
a very adult set
of a bra and panties.

Now, my sister was twenty-four,
but this was a very forward
gift from my mother.
As I looked to the tree,
I must have had a panicked
look on my face, because
my parents then asked me
what the matter was.

Well, at this point in time
I had never kissed a boy,
I don’t even know if I
was wearing a training bra,
so I said, well, I’m handing
out these presents, and
there’s another box
just like the one she opened
there for me too.
So they told me to open it,
I had to do my best
to not look mortified,
but at least the teddy
my mom chose for me
was very reserved.

You know,
as far as teddies go.


A few years later,
I think I was leaving
for college the next fall,
but at present time
on Christmas eve,
I see a present
addressed to both
me and my sister.
So we opened the gift.
I had no idea what it was,
but the box said, "Epilady."

Mom said it was
something you could use
so you wouldn’t have to
shave your legs.
We opened it up —
the tip looked like
a twisted tiny metal coil,
and mom suggested we try it.

So apparently when
it’s plugged in,
those coils vibrate
and act like mass tweezers,
because when I put
that thing to my leg,
it started yanking out,
en masse, all the hair
it could come near.

I instantly screamed.
And as I said,
I didn’t drink,
but I said, “do they give
a bottle of bourbon
with these? ‘Cause
you’d have to be drunk
to numb the pain...”
I didn’t question
sharing a hair removal
device with my sister
(though really, eiw...),
but I thought,
I’m leaving for college
soon, so I said
to my sister,
you can keep this gift
for yourself.


Years later,
after living on my own
and getting used to
those cold Chicago
winters again,
I was driving
to by parent’s
Chicago home,
and while stopped
at an intersection
I was struck
by two cars
and almost died.

After I started to
recover, that
semed to be
a good occasion
to get the kids
together again
for Christmas.

And after all
these years
we learned
our lesson,
went to a photo
studio and took
pictures of us girls
as a gift for
our parents.
Maybe it took
the possibility
of part of the family
falling apart
for us to remember
what these presents
are really for.
Because I didn’t
keep the teddy,
and I’m sure
my sister
didn’t revere
the S&M hair
removal device,
but those photos,
I think they
will last
a lifetime.

video videonot yet rated

See YouTube video 12/11/16 of Janet Kuypers reading her poem “Dilemmas in Gift Giving” at the Austin open mic Kick Butt Poetry (video filmed from a Canon Power Shot camera).
video video
See 12/11/16 YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her poems “Dilemmas in Gift Giving”, and “Helping Men in Public Places” at the Austin open mic Kick Butt Poetry (video filmed from a Canon Power Shot camera).
video not yet rated
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her poems “Dilemmas in Gift Giving”, “everyday objects equal performance art” and “Just By Holding His Hand (extreme 2016 sestina variation)” from her book “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 poems” 8/6/17 at Austin’s “Recycled Reads” open mic (Sony).
video video
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her poems “Dilemmas in Gift Giving”, “everyday objects equal performance art” and “Just By Holding His Hand (extreme 2016 sestina variation)” from her book “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 poems” 8/6/17 at Austin’s “Recycled Reads” open mic (Lumix).

View the Janet Kuypers bio.

Performance Art

open flame for the celebration

Janet Kuypers

Every year as the festival approached,
I would go to the grounds to celebrate.
I can still remember riding my roller skates
down the streets after the afternoon shower,
and running my skates through the puddles
in the middle of the street. This

was a time to celebrate, and when
the big day came all the families
would come together, bring food for the feast.
Someone would roast a beast on a spit
to spin over the open flame as more and more
people would join in the festivities. And

I would wear a light dress, skip down the street
until it was time to come together to celebrate.
And what a celebration it would be,
it was the one chance everyone came together
to be grateful for our abundance,
to honor a higher power, and just to be happy

that we all had the chance to be together again.

See YouTube video 12/3/16 with Janet Kuypers in her show “Akitu” at Expressions: Festive Seasons in Austin reading her poems “open flame for the celebration”, “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together” to live electric bass w/ bow (Sony camera).
See YouTube video 12/3/16 with Janet Kuypers in her show “Akitu” at Expressions: Festive Seasons in Austin reading her poems “open flame for the celebration”, “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together” to live electric bass w/ bow (Canon Power Shot).
Akitu chapbook Akitu chapbook View or download the free PDF chapbook
with “open flame for the celebration” “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, & “Everyone Celebrates Together”.
video not yet rated
See YouTube video of Janet KuypersDecember 2017 Book Release Readings 12/6/17 from the cc&d 12/17 book “Flawed Cadaver”, with her Akitu poems “open flame for the celebration”, “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together” in Community Poetry (from a Panasonic Lumix T56 camera).
video video
See YouTube video of Janet KuypersDecember 2017 Book Release Readings 12/6/17 from the cc&d 12/17 book “Flawed Cadaver”, with her Akitu poems “open flame for the celebration”, “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together” in Community Poetry (from a Panasonic Lumix 2500 camera).

See 252 photos online in a Facebook photo album of
the editor reading from the book “Flawed Cadaver”.

View the Janet Kuypers bio.

Every Soul Celebrates

Janet Kuypers

A poet once described Saturn mythology.
“Saturn, it says, devours it’s children.
Yes, it’s true, I know it.”*

But I never paid attention to that mythology,
I love a gas giant planet with moons
like our Earth at it’s creation,

a celestial giant with some moon that
couldn’t come together, that
formed a nebulous sheet

of rings instead. ‘Cause even though science
isn’t mythology, it is truly beautiful.
I’ve always said that,

until I heard of the stories of Saturnalia...
When you think of a celebration,
you might think Mardi Gras

or the New Year’s ball drop in New York City.
You might even think of the decadence
of Brazil’s Carnival,

but none of that matches the chance
for people to get together,
from rich to slaves,

and be treated as equals, to celebrate the crops
and share the abundance of the year.
Because during Saturnalia

this ancient Roman festival honored Saturn
as a deity, a god of agriculture,
liberation, and time.

So it only seemed fitting after annual harvest
that during this dinner festival,
all slaves would be first

served, as if they were the masters of the house.
This was a time to celebrate prosperity,
after the crops were good —

and because Saturnalia was a holiday, businesses
and government offices were closed,
and no war was declared

on this day. Roman poet Catullus called Saturnalia
“the best of days”, and the
Augustan poet Horace

called this supreme (and decadent) liberty
a “December liberty”, a leisure
“free of grievous ambition.”**

And as the end of the year approaches,
isn’t that what we all look for?
We’ve worked so long,

we’ve accomplished so much, maybe now
we should remind ourselves
that sometimes

we have to stop to switch things up a bit.
Because if Saturn rules agriculture,
liberation and time,

then let’s use this time to liberate ourselves,
and celebrate our fortunes in any form
with every soul we see.


* Ai, “The Good Shepherd”
** “Horace and the Didactic of Freedom”

See YouTube video 12/3/16 with Janet Kuypers in her show “Akitu” at Expressions: Festive Seasons in Austin reading her poems “open flame for the celebration”, “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together” to live electric bass w/ bow (Canon Power Shot).
See YouTube video 12/3/16 with Janet Kuypers in her show “Akitu” at Expressions: Festive Seasons in Austin reading her poems “open flame for the celebration”, “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together” to live electric bass w/ bow (Sony camera).
Akitu chapbook Akitu chapbook View or download the free PDF chapbook
with “open flame for the celebration” “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, & “Everyone Celebrates Together”.
video videonot yet rated

See YouTube video from 5/27/17 of Janet Kuypers reading her poems “yearning to break free”, “Every Soul Celebrates” and “Stairs” in the “Poetry Aloud” open mic at the Georgetown Public Library (from a Lumix camera).
video videonot yet rated

See YouTube video from 5/27/17 of Janet Kuypers reading her poems “yearning to break free”, “Every Soul Celebrates” and “Stairs” in the “Poetry Aloud” open mic at the Georgetown Public Library (from a Sony camera).
video not yet rated
See YouTube video of Janet KuypersDecember 2017 Book Release Readings 12/6/17 from the cc&d 12/17 book “Flawed Cadaver”, with her Akitu poems “open flame for the celebration”, “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together” in Community Poetry (from a Panasonic Lumix T56 camera).
video video
See YouTube video of Janet KuypersDecember 2017 Book Release Readings 12/6/17 from the cc&d 12/17 book “Flawed Cadaver”, with her Akitu poems “open flame for the celebration”, “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together” in Community Poetry (from a Panasonic Lumix 2500 camera).

See 252 photos online in a Facebook photo album of
the editor reading from the book “Flawed Cadaver”.

View the Janet Kuypers bio.

endings bring light

Janet Kuypers

Not that you care,
but my birthday
falls on June
twenty second.
The day after
the summer solstice.

That means it’s
just about the
longest day
of the year,
which also means
it’s the shortest night.

But I remember
those summer
nights near
my birthday,
savoring dusk
at 9 pm...

The days
might be long,
but they come
with a peace
that makes
you happy
to be a part of it.

But that’s a
summer solstice,
flip the year around
to right about now
and enjoy
the long nights.

Right before
Christmas, this
is when everyone,
no matter
what religion,
all gets along.

And this
December Solstice
marks “the
turning of
the Sun,”
because after

the sun
is out more,
and the days
only get longer.

The Ancient Incas
held a festival
for their Sun god
on this day,
as we still celebrate
the rebirth of the Sun.

All I know is that
any December
solstice celebration
translates only
to sharing,
to giving, to loving.

And after a long year
of struggles
and strains,
and you think
of the year
coming to an end,

remembering caring,
giving and sharing,
makes it worth
knowing future days
can only lead
to more light.

See YouTube video 12/3/16 with Janet Kuypers in her show “Akitu” at Expressions: Festive Seasons in Austin reading her poems “open flame for the celebration”, “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together” to live electric bass w/ bow (Canon Power Shot).
See YouTube video 12/3/16 with Janet Kuypers in her show “Akitu” at Expressions: Festive Seasons in Austin reading her poems “open flame for the celebration”, “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together” to live electric bass w/ bow (Sony camera).
Akitu chapbook Akitu chapbook View or download the free PDF chapbook
with “open flame for the celebration” “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, & “Everyone Celebrates Together”.
Hear SoundCloud audio of Janet Kuypers sharing her poetry from her two JanetJanet books, “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 poems” and “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 show poems” (w/ her poems “Ultimate Connectivity: a bird in the hand”, “Original Snowbirds”, “Earth was Crying”, “Just Thinking About It”, “Political Merry-Go-Round”, “Ernesto”, “Endings Bring Light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together”) in her Chicago 88.3 FM WZRD Radio interview 8/26/17, Part 1.
See YouTube video of part 1 of the Janet Kuypers interview on video WZRD 88.3 FM Chicago Radio 8/24/17, with her reading poetry from her two books “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 poems” and “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 show poems”, including “Ultimate Connectivity: a bird in the hand”, “Original Snowbirds”, “Earth was Crying”, “Just Thinking About It”, “Political Merry-Go-Round”, “Ernesto”, “Endings Bring Light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together(this video was filmed in studio from a Sony camera).
See YouTube video of part 1 of the Janet Kuypers interview on video WZRD 88.3 FM Chicago Radio 8/24/17, with her reading poetry from her two books “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 poems” and “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 show poems”, including “Ultimate Connectivity: a bird in the hand”, “Original Snowbirds”, “Earth was Crying”, “Just Thinking About It”, “Political Merry-Go-Round”, “Ernesto”, “Endings Bring Light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together(video filmed from a Panasonic Lumix camera).
video not yet rated
See YouTube video of Janet KuypersDecember 2017 Book Release Readings 12/6/17 from the cc&d 12/17 book “Flawed Cadaver”, with her Akitu poems “open flame for the celebration”, “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together” in Community Poetry (from a Panasonic Lumix T56 camera).
video video
See YouTube video of Janet KuypersDecember 2017 Book Release Readings 12/6/17 from the cc&d 12/17 book “Flawed Cadaver”, with her Akitu poems “open flame for the celebration”, “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together” in Community Poetry (from a Panasonic Lumix 2500 camera).

See 252 photos online in a Facebook photo album of
the editor reading from the book “Flawed Cadaver”.

View the Janet Kuypers bio.

Everyone Celebrates Together

Janet Kuypers

I’ve always been the one to plan everything.
And I knew I wanted to celebrate on new year’s eve...

It’s weird to think that ancient calendars
used to begin at the vernal equinox, in March,

and it’s weirder to think that this celebrating started
in 2000 BC in Mesopotamia — Iraq.

But even though other cultures use different calendars
and celebrate the new year on different days —

Ethiopians celebrate the rain on September 11th.
Thai new year? People splash blessing water on April 13th.

The Chinese New Year varies with the lunar calendar,
with lion and dragon dances, drums, fireworks and more —

all in red for good luck for the next year. Some countries
celebrate by running into water — freezing cold water.

I saw this new year’s Polar Bear Plunge repeatedly,
topped with remembering the past & celebrating the new.


So yeah, I usually plan everything, so one December
I said, “I’m tired of coming up with a plan for New Year’s.”

And I told someone else to come up with a plan.
Being a mid-westerner, someone looked at me and said,

“Let’s watch the ball drop in New York City.”
He didn’t have a plan of where to stay, he just said it.

And my first impulse was to think this was ludicrous,
it’s too far away, we have no place to stay.

But then I gave it a second thought:
salespeople at my company sell in New York,

maybe I could float the idea their way, and maybe
we could actually pull this off. After I mentioned it

to just one saleswoman I’ve never met in person,
they invited us to their home in Connecticut

so we could train to the city with her son and his friends
to celebrate the New Year. One phone call was all it took,

and the next thing I knew we were road tripping
to New York to watch the ball drop in Times Square.


And in times like this, in times where we celebrate,
everyone is instantly your friend. My coworker

brought me to the Chrysler Building so I could see
the view from our company’s Manhattan office.

And that’s the only time I took a photograph
of the World Trade Center Towers, buildings

you never really think about unless the news is bad.
But no, this was a time for sight seeing... And you know,

people complain about the traffic in New York,
but it didn’t seem much different from Chicago,

and on this one trip the roads were my friends
and we got along just fine. But forget the car

on New Year’s Eve, my coworker’s son, his name
was Trip, and he took me on a trip on a train,

with new friends, in a new town, until we found
a perfect place for a perfect view on the street.

And on this one night, we all screamed together,
we all celebrated together, and we all stuck together,

even leaning on each other for a nap on the ride home
on the train. Because maybe it’s worth it

to work on that bucket list — even if you don’t have one —
if one of the things only comes from an off-the-cuff

suggestion to try something you’ve never tried before.
It might amount to meeting tons of new people,

for moments you’ll never forget. And remember, with
these festivities, everyone, can celebrate — together.

See YouTube video 12/3/16 with Janet Kuypers in her show “Akitu” at Expressions: Festive Seasons in Austin reading her poems “open flame for the celebration”, “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together” to live electric bass w/ bow (Canon Power Shot).
See YouTube video 12/3/16 with Janet Kuypers in her show “Akitu” at Expressions: Festive Seasons in Austin reading her poems “open flame for the celebration”, “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together” to live electric bass w/ bow (Sony camera).
Akitu chapbook Akitu chapbook View or download the free PDF chapbook
with “open flame for the celebration” “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, & “Everyone Celebrates Together”.
Hear SoundCloud audio of Janet Kuypers sharing her poetry from her two JanetJanet books, “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 poems” and “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 show poems” (w/ her poems “Ultimate Connectivity: a bird in the hand”, “Original Snowbirds”, “Earth was Crying”, “Just Thinking About It”, “Political Merry-Go-Round”, “Ernesto”, “Endings Bring Light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together”) in her Chicago 88.3 FM WZRD Radio interview 8/26/17, Part 1.
See YouTube video of part 1 of the Janet Kuypers interview on video WZRD 88.3 FM Chicago Radio 8/24/17, with her reading poetry from her two books “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 poems” and “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 show poems”, including “Ultimate Connectivity: a bird in the hand”, “Original Snowbirds”, “Earth was Crying”, “Just Thinking About It”, “Political Merry-Go-Round”, “Ernesto”, “Endings Bring Light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together(this video was filmed in studio from a Sony camera).
See YouTube video of part 1 of the Janet Kuypers interview on video WZRD 88.3 FM Chicago Radio 8/24/17, with her reading poetry from her two books “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 poems” and “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 show poems”, including “Ultimate Connectivity: a bird in the hand”, “Original Snowbirds”, “Earth was Crying”, “Just Thinking About It”, “Political Merry-Go-Round”, “Ernesto”, “Endings Bring Light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together(video filmed from a Panasonic Lumix camera).
video not yet rated
See YouTube video of Janet KuypersDecember 2017 Book Release Readings 12/6/17 from the cc&d 12/17 book “Flawed Cadaver”, with her Akitu poems “open flame for the celebration”, “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together” in Community Poetry (from a Panasonic Lumix T56 camera).
video video
See YouTube video of Janet KuypersDecember 2017 Book Release Readings 12/6/17 from the cc&d 12/17 book “Flawed Cadaver”, with her Akitu poems “open flame for the celebration”, “Every Soul Celebrates”, “endings bring light”, and “Everyone Celebrates Together” in Community Poetry (from a Panasonic Lumix 2500 camera).

See 252 photos online in a Facebook photo album of
the editor reading from the book “Flawed Cadaver”.

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)



    ‘Watch where you’re going Jerone.’
    The car swerved to the left, bouncing round another bend on springs that sounded more rust than metal. When Mikeli looked behind he couldn’t see so much as a pothole in the road there was that much smoke in it.
    ‘Quit complaining, if you hadn’t nicked the worst banger on the island we’d be there already.’
    ‘How was I to know the gasket was gone? It looked good when it was parked.’
    ‘To you maybe.’
    Mikeli eyed a wheel hub as it span into the abyss and decided to keep his mouth shut, they’d be there in a minute or two.
    ‘You paying attention Gas? This is it.’
    ‘You think he’s going to be pissed off?’
    ‘No, the last load we brought him no one saw him for a week.’
    The car screeched round the last bend losing a few more bolts from the bumper as it scraped a furrow along a wall and came to a halt.
    ‘How you doing boss? We got here as quick as we could.’
    The man leaning against the wall was silent for a moment silently shaking his head as the rest of the gang climbed from the car. When he spoke, his eyes were hidden by the sun going down.
    ‘I was happy with the last bit of work you did for me. You did well.’ He shrugged and pushed his trilby back with a forefinger, ‘But, you need to learn to treat the past with more respect. It has lessons to teach. I’ve something a little more unusual for you this time.’
    ‘What is it? Kidnapping? Extortion? Counterfeiting? ...Tourism? I love it when we scam those bastards.’
    ‘None of those exactly. Mikeli.’ There’s been something I’ve wanted to try for a while; I’ve just been waiting for the right person. Now, I think I’ve the man.’
    ‘Who boss?’
    ‘You know that Jew’s down in the village; the one with the moustache?’
    ‘Of course, but I haven’t seen him in a while.’
    It might have been Jerone’s imagination, but the boss seemed to step back a little then; like he wanted them to get an extra good look at the curtains he’d had imported from Chile. They looked like leather stretched over the cabin windows like that and there was just enough sunlight left to turn them a little pink like the skin of a pig.
    ‘He had to leave.’ The Capo smiled, and the setting sun finally found his eyes then. Jerone had seen wolves on the mainland look like that once or twice, but whatever the boss really was it wasn’t a wolf.
    ‘What do you want us to do?’
    ‘There’s a machine out back. It’s been gathering dust in the barn since gramps passed on.’
    ‘God rest his soul.’
    Mikeli raised his eyes to heaven as Gas clapped his hands together, ‘Is it one of his party tricks? I love those things.’
    ‘Control yourself Gas, remember who you’re talking to.’
    ‘No problem Jerone, your boy’s Ok. But, it isn’t, the last one took too long to clean up. It’s one of my father’s old projects. I think he adapted it from something he found on the farm.’
    There was that smile again, Jerone had once seen the boss gut a man with the exact same expression on his face.
    ‘Where is he?’
    El Capo pointed toward the valley bottom.
    ‘The kid will be down there. Should be in the synagogue about now.


    ‘Stop that; you keep struggling you’ll only make it worse.’
    Gas dropped the sack he’d been carrying over one shoulder and took a step back after giving it a few boots for good measure. It had been his turn to do the dirty work, and he was nursing the beginnings of a savage black eye.
    ‘Looks like he gave you some trouble.’
    ‘Nothing we couldn’t handle.’
    ‘Then we can begin.’
    The Boss stepped from the shadows where he’d been listening to the cicadas sing. ‘Bring him to the barn,’ He ground his cigarette out with the heel of a boot and the gang scurried to follow dragging the sack over the ground to the sound of muffled screams.
    ‘They say the Jews make the best soap. I’m going to find out.’
    The gang eyed each other nervously; last time the boss had decided to get his hands dirty they’d been mopping up corpses for a week.
    ‘You sure you want to do this, boss? They might come looking.’
    Mikeli had just finished a stint inside, he wasn’t in a hurry to go through it again.
    ‘Just do what I tell you, that’s what you’re paid for. That thing’s been sitting in the barn since I was a kid. I want to see what it can do.’
    El Capo kicked the door open and gestured at the mass of wooden joists sat in the middle. None of the gang had been inside before, and they tried to avoid looking too long at what was hanging on the walls. They valued their sleep.
    ‘Put him in.’
    The thing the boss was pulling a sheet off reminded Mikeli of the organo they had in Church.
    ‘Been in the family for generations, back when this place was all wolves; and worse.’
    The Boss ran his hands lovingly over the contraptions sides giving its cogs an experimental turn.
    ‘What’s your name boy?’
    The voice from the bag sounded like it was missing a few teeth. Gas tried to shuffle his boots behind his back.
    Well Vissenta, we’re going to try a little something on you. Make as much noise as you like. I buried the neighbours out back when I was sixteen.
    The sun was just coming up when the barn doors burst open, and they ran out.
    ‘Jesus Christ and all the sacred angels I didn’t think he’d ever stop screaming.’
    Jerone was as white as the flints you found in the fields.
    ‘There was a lot of him.’ That was Mikeli in between retches as he lost what was left of his dinner.
    ‘These are my best clothes.’
    ‘What are you doing wearing them on a job for then?’ Jerone gave Gas a clip round the ear, ‘You should know better.’
    ‘He’s coming; get ready.’
    El Capo stepped into the dawn light mopping at his face with a handkerchief. Mikeli was surprised he thought it would make any difference seeing as the thing was so saturated with blood it dripped on the floor.
    ‘That was messier than I expected.’ The boss grinned letting the light catch his teeth. ‘I didn’t think there’d be so much to take out.’
    He was still looking at them when the pitch fork appeared through his chest. That would have been bad enough thought Mikeli, even after what they’d seen, but what was behind him was far worse.
    ‘Hey, take it easy Vissenta. We were only having a little fun.’
    Mikeli knew the words sounded stupid when you were addressing something that looked like an empty paper bag. But, what else was he supposed to say? The kid was bound to be annoyed now most of him was in a heap on the floor. Vissenta threw what was left of the boss off the end of the fork and got to work on Gas and Jerone without stopping to say a word. Mikeli had gotten as far as the car before the tines pinned his face to the door.
    Vissenta slumped back, in fact, he did a lot more than that. He was as boneless as a jellyfish, and he couldn’t see anymore; his eyes had been one of the first things to go. When they’d got started in on the bones, he’d given up fighting. There wasn’t much you could do when you were strapped down anyway, so he’d concentrated on screaming instead. He vomited up what was left of his spleen and let it dribble off his chest. He had to get out of there. The Capo was bad, but his wife was a lot worse.
    He could still move though, so he flopped and rolled until he was tumbling down the mountainside before anyone turned up to finish the job. As he fell through the woods getting torn and scratched to smithereens he had time to think it could be worse; there could have been something left inside him to damage.
    That was where Crina found him, torn and bloody by the roadside; looking about as human as road kill. She pulled her Bimmer to a halt and got out cursing God the weather and everything within a hundred mile radius. Crina knew how to curse; she’d been born two-thirds Romanian, and she was proud of it.
    ‘What the hell are you?’
    She prodded the bloody rags lying in the road with her stick and took a step back half expecting them to swarm up it. Crina pulled her carpet tight around her shoulders. It was cold out here this close to winter.
    ‘I get a feeling you were a man.’ She bent down a little closer rubbing her forefinger and thumb over the skin, avoiding the stump of something that looked suspiciously like a tongue. ‘It’s a fine pelt, though, could come in useful, there’s always the market.’
    She flicked it up on the end of her stick and used the central locking to pop the boot of her car. One of the family could clean it out later. As she shut the lid she heard what sounded like a whimper.
    ‘Quiet in there.’
    She slammed her arse down on the lid enough times the Bimmer was in danger of bouncing off the road. Whatever it was it was clearly better under lock and key until she’d gotten to the bottom of it.
    ‘Strange, if I didn’t know better I’d be sure it was trying to speak.’
    She drove the rest of the way home listening to Wagner’s ‘Flight of The Valkyries’ as she hummed to herself. They’d finished putting the gold plastic lions on her gates yesterday, and the sprinklers made them cry tears.
    ‘Home sweet home.’
    A girl appeared out of the nest of caravans lugging some steps so she could get out without getting mud on her shoes. Crina tapped a little ash on her head and ignored her; making sure the gold rings she’d bought in town clanked loudly.
    ‘Take what’s in the boot to the laundry. I’ll be along as soon as I’ve found a hammer and nails.’
    It was broad daylight by the time she finished attaching the skin to the post that normally held one end of her washing. Crina dug about for some tobacco and tamped a generous wedge into her pipe before sitting back in her favourite chair to think. Everyone knew an empty skin was fine when the sun was up; after nightfall it was a different matter.
    ‘Normally, I’d just let the kids have you.’
    She squinted at the thing hanging limply from its peg. There were some Roman letters on one shoulder, and one of them was upside down.
    ‘I know who you are. You’re that lad that let Teresa practice on you. Oi, you.’ She poked the skin in the side with the end of her long handled pipe. ‘Don’t pretend you can’t hear me; I can hear you breathing.’
    ‘It’s the wind.’
    ‘It isn’t; you’re that Jew down in the village’s son aren’t you? What’s left of him anyway, what happened?’
    ‘The Capo’s men came. I think he killed my father.’
    There was a muffled sob.
    ‘I told him he should have known better. Now, listen there are two ways this can go. One is I have to perform some very complicated rituals, and sacrifice a chicken or two. The other is you listen to me and do what I tell you. I have a job offer for you.’
    ‘What is it?’
    ‘Well, you’re dead. That’s normally not a problem; most people that have had their insides pulled out decide it’s time to vacate the building so to speak. You’re the other sort, but there’s no way you’re going to be any use in this world without a little help, trust me.’
    ‘I’m not dead; I can still move, I can still talk.’
    Crina shook her head.
    ‘That’s where you’re wrong son. The only way you’re moving is if I let you. You’re sat on valuable real estate. I reckon you could fit forty, maybe fifty packages inside you at a pinch.’
    ‘So what do you want me to do?’
    ‘Simple,’ said Crina with the widest smile she’d got. ‘I’m into storage, long term, short term. You name it I’ll look after it. My problem is I’ve run out of room; she waved a hand at the caravans. You, however, have plenty. We’ll start with something small.’
    She grabbed a cat that had been winding round her legs and stuffed it into Vissenta’s mouth, watching as the bump slid toward its stomach like a boa constrictor being fed a goat.
    ‘How’d you feel?’
    The skin burped, and Crina stepped back a pace.
    ‘It’s a bit uncomfortable.’
    She watched the bulge chase itself round the skins midriff before replying.
    ‘Thought you might feel like that. What’s your name kid?’
    ‘Vissenta’ said the skin as Crina hurried to get something else to feed it. She was thinking a dog would do, of course, the pair would chase each other half to death down there, but it was bound to get a bit of weight inside him. She didn’t want him floating off, and the shadows spreading from the trees wouldn’t like the racket.
    It was when she got to the child that Vissenta decided he’d had enough.
    ‘I’m not eating that.’
    By now the skin was pretty bloated, and she’d had to plug the rents in its hide with corks. It’s voice sounded like it was bubbling from the bottom of a sewer too, but there was no denying Vissenta really was having none of it.
    ‘Why not? No one’s going to miss her. I got her from one of my nieces. They’ve got loads to spare. I can’t count how many are back there; not these days.’
    The kid looked down at her feet as if she was about to get a hiding and Vissenta began to thrashed about as he tried to tear himself off the nails.
    ‘Stop that; you’ll hurt yourself.’
    ‘More than now? I feel like I’ve eaten half the farmyard.’
    ‘You have.’
    They listened to the silence; not even the birds were tweeting anymore. Vissenta gave what he hoped was a decorous burp, and continued.
    ‘She’s too big; she’ll get stuck.’
    ‘Try making me.’
    That was like waving a red rag at bull, but Vissenta didn’t care. It had been a rough night and even rougher day. He changed his mind not long after she got the hammer out though.
    ‘If you don’t eat her I’m going to make you.’
    With a sigh he let what was left of his jaw drop open.
    ‘There’s always room for one more, I suppose.’
    ‘Off you go honey.’
    Crina gave the kid a kick in the small of her back that sent her flying straight into Vissenta’s gob with her pigtails going flipper flap like the wings of a bird. He snapped his mouth shut and they looked at her shoes standing their sweet and pungent where Crina’s foot had launched their owner through the air.
    ‘Well, she won’t be coming back from that in a hurry.’
    After that, it was all business, although she let Vissenta stay nailed to the post for a day or two so his food could go down. When she came back, she had something behind her back and sweat on her brow.
    ‘Open wide.’
    ‘What is it?’
    ‘Stop blubbering, you’re in my yard. Now open up.’
    Vissenta would have protested more, but there wasn’t much he could do now he was just a skin. The gypsy woman’s fingers were stronger than bear traps as she forced his mouth open and dropped the anchor in.
    ‘Heads up below.’
    The echoes as Crina finished bellowing were so loud the ringing went on until he heard a car starting up. He didn’t even have time to struggle before the anchor chain went whip tight and there was a whine as the engine revved and a dog popped out clinging on for dear life. It wasn’t long before a cat, and half a cow followed (he’d had to digest something after all). Then finally out came the kid. She was a little grey around the gills and the colour of day-old meat, but she was still breathing nonetheless.
    Crina reappeared as the motor cut off and the contents of Vissenta’s stomach lay gasping on the floor.
    ‘Now, there’s work that needs doing. I have half a dozen Syrians on the run from Russia’s FSB and a party of vampires from Brussels to hide.’
    After that Vissenta hardly had a moment to stop and think as people started appearing all over Crina’s farm. There was every nationality under the sun, from Albanians to Japanese, and they all disappeared inside him one by one. Soon he was the size of a whale and Crina had to take some of the corks she’d put in him out to let the air escape. It worked, though, after a while they had the cops round flat footing it about the yard; pocking their noses into caravans and hay bales, complaining about the noise. But, they never found a thing. No one wanted to ask the overweight man sat at the centre of proceedings to open wide, and if one or two of them noticed the odd bulge in Vissenta’s side, they didn’t say a thing. Instead, they just looked at him oddly and made the sign of the cross.
    It was the little girl that ruined everything.


    ‘What do you want?’
    It was after dark, but the moon was shining so bright it might as well have been the middle of the day.
    Vissenta frowned and let a bit of Albanian fall onto the grass. The Eastern Europeans were kicking up a fuss again and he didn’t need the aggravation.
    ‘Buzz off, I’m trying to sleep.’
    ‘But, I want to know where they all go. They can’t all disappear inside you.’
    Vissenta wobbled menacingly, but the child wouldn’t budge. She just stood there picking her nose
    ‘Don’t do that. It’s unsanitary.’
    The girl reached out a finger to play with one of the corks in Vissenta’s side instead.
    ‘Watch it, you don’t know what you’re doing.’
    Vissenta was pretty sure that particular cork was the only thing stopping the Javanese Witch Doctors from escaping, but that was the least of his worries. If she dislodged one, who knew where it would end? When the pop came, and the girl disappeared into a haystack head first he wasn’t that surprised.
    ‘I bloody told you.’
    Cork after cork began to zhing through the night, and the people trapped inside him really started kicking off as Vissenta blundered into the trees trailing everything from Nigerian to Kazakh. He had to be at least twenty stone lighter in minutes and dropping fast. Pretty soon his feet only skimmed the earth, and a storm was picking up. It was exactly what Crina hadn’t wanted.
    ‘Got you, now where do you think you’re going?’
    She landed on his shoulders with a thump that pushed the last of her clients from his mouth hard enough to lose teeth if he’d had any left, and for the first time in months, he really felt Ok. The only problem was the gypsy. She was holding a pair of scissors the size of shears, and she had an evil little grin on her face.
    ‘Sorry, my love. You’ve too many holes in you now to be much use, but I’ve something else you can do.’
    Vissenta didn’t have time to scream as she got to work snipping and slicing like she was cutting a cake.
    ‘There, that’ll do. About time I went for a different style.’
    Crina’s carpet lay discarded on the floor doing its multi-coloured best to pretend it had been through worse as its owner finished shrugging her way into her new Vissenta.
    ‘Now, I wonder where I’ll get the next one.’

All Creatures Large And Small, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz

All Creatures Large And Small, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz

The Handgun

Drew Marshall

    During the nineteen eighties, I worked at a law firm in the Wall Street area of lower Manhattan.
    I also started doing cocaine. It was in abundance and always available. Friends and coworkers were always offering me some, as it was the drug of choice. I also bought a gram or two every week for myself.
    Scoring blow in Manhattan was never a problem. I lived in the borough of Queens. My apartment was located in a quiet, residential neighborhood.
    An acquaintance of mine happened to know someone who dealt coke in my area. Arrangements were made and one Friday after work, I stopped off to meet my new connection at his home. He lived on a clean, tree lined street, in a middle class neighborhood, similar to mine.
    George greeted me at the doorway of his two-story private house. He was friendly and welcomed me as if we were old friends. We were both in our late twenties. The two of us were about the same size and weight. He and I even looked alike. I sported a beard and he was clean shaven. We stopped off in the kitchen and he introduced me to his mother. He then escorted me up the stairs to the bedroom.
    I immediately noticed several handguns mounted on the wall. George walked over towards them and started bragging about his collection. He was quite proud of what he owned. I had little interest in guns. I simply wanted to obtain my nose candy and split.
    I knew I had better humor him about his weapons, before we could get down to business. I complemented him on one of the semiautomatics. George took it down and started rambling on about its history, and how he came to obtain it.
    He handed it to me. “Try it on for size.”

Doug as Dick Tracy, Copyright © 1990-2017 Janet Kuypers

    The gun was sturdy, light weight, and fit my hand like a glove. I don’t know what possessed me, but with my hand on the trigger, I put the gun to his head. I jokingly said, “Give me your money!” I was playing at being a robber.
    He turned several shades past pale. His eyebrows flew up to the ceiling as his eyes bulged out of their sockets. His expression was one of extreme fear. The young man started stuttering, barely able to speak.
    “Please, take the gun away from my head. It’s loaded. The safety is off!
    It took several seconds for what he said to register, before I slowly complied with his plea.
    I pointed the gun towards the floor. With extreme caution, I took my finger off of the gun’s trigger. With both hands, I gently placed it onto the dresser.
    His expression evolved into anger. He threw a look of contempt at me for a few seconds and then opened the bottom dresser drawer. He took out a black shoebox & pulled out a small plastic bag. It contained the gram of powder that I had come here for.
    I gave him the one hundred dollars in cash and he handed me the bag. Transaction completed.
    “Tell Joey I’m not selling snow anymore.” He was still seething with resentment. I half expected him to grab the gun and put it to my head. Without another word between us, he quickly escorted me back down the stairs. His mother smiled at me as we walked past her. George slammed the door behind me.
    I was relieved to get the hell out of there. I suddenly became very angry as I headed home.
    He was an imbecile. Nobody gives a stranger a loaded gun with the safety off, and doesn’t say anything about it.
    Once home, I showered, changed my clothes and grabbed a quick bite. I tooted a few lines and headed back to Manhattan for my film class.
Doug as Dick Tracy, Copyright © 1990-2017 Janet Kuypers     The following weekend, I thought about the incident at George’s house.
    My direct experience with guns had been limited. While in grade school, I spent three summers at a sleep away camp in Pennsylvania. Pistol practice and rifelry were scheduled activities, several times a week.
    Doctors still made house calls during my teenage years. Doctor Venner was a real character. He was six feet four, broad shouldered and weighed in at two hundred and fifty pounds. Even with his thick rimmed, Buddy Holly type glasses, he cast an intimidating presence.
    He packed a semi-automatic in a shoulder holster. His mantra was; “I’ll treat anyone, anywhere, anytime. But I don’t travel anywhere without my gun.”
    No one enjoys being sick, but I looked forward to his visits. He would remove the magazine clip from the gun along with the bullets. He let me handle them while explaining various facts about guns and ammo.
    Like most boys growing up, we had romantic and masculine notions about firearms. We played cops and robbers, cowboys, and then spies.
    We were James Bond. 007 had a license to kill.

    I would never forget the look on that kid’s face. I had the power of life and death, over another human being.
     In a split second, someone who existed could abruptly and violently, cease to be alive.
    The incident at George’s home could have turned out much differently. I could have blown a hole in his ceiling, or his head. He could have wound up a vegetable, or dead. I could be writing this from prison. I was now imagining the worst case scenario, as I sat alone in my apartment.
    The police arrive and start questioning me.

    “How long did you know the deceased?”
     “We just met.”
    “What was the purpose of your visit?”
    “To buy cocaine.”
    I plead involuntary manslaughter at the trial. I am convicted of murder.
    I never looked at guns in the same way after that experience.

11071826, photography by Wes Heine

11071826, photography by Wes Heine

Flawed cadaver

Greg G. Zaino

    Bobby was fond of beer and Irish whiskey; courted it with enthusiasm, and puffed cigarettes by the handful. We shared years of the drink and laughter. The thing in the box, my old amigo’s carcass, was sleeping, speechless. My friend, stilled as silence- was used up at his own sendoff.
    They said it was him; the flawed cadaver in the box; my old friend from childhood on, but it wasn’t. The substitute didn’t utter a single, “fuck- shit, or asshole.” But blasphemy by no means his thing. No, Bobby was Irish catholic, respected the cloth- never took god, the father’s name in vain. I was amused with his stance on drawing the line with when it came to religion. We didn’t share any common ground on matters involving schizophrenic creators, so we two agreed to not spoke about it.
    The dead do not speak- not in words. Bobby had something to tell everybody, but I doubt any were listening. There was no need to query about Bobby’s end. It was hard enough bearing the weight of his death. It was irritating the fuck out of me to hear folks whisper on about inevitability and of course, his choice of employing the use of nylon rope.
    The queer sat up front- lip quivering, weeping, eyes leaking. His anguish seemed genuine enough- dabbing at runaway tears with tissue. I’m standing there mystified, watching the drama unfold. Listening to Bobby’s bereaved family members, the same ones who had disowned him 11 years prior, I felt like running from the chapel. Hearing all the counterfeit sorrow and boasts of past affection for the dear, decaying departed, just pissed me the fuck off. I wanted to throw up.
    The greeters at the door to the chapel were ever ready, so helpful- fright night butlers, solemnity, their mask. I witnessed a theatrical performance with ghastly actors playing morbid parts in a play of death, all the while passing out scented Kleenex and nifty little bookmarks made with the dead man’s obituary and sealed in plastic. Who were they kidding? Part time work for an easy buck is more like it. Their true aspirations lay elsewhere.
    The mortician was pale like death and had a nasal sound to his voice. He was a gruesome looking creature and I speculated whether he ever screwed a corpse. His skin had a waxy sheen to it- made him look like a dope sick junkie with hepatitis. He was in the service of death incorporated and looked the part.
    The queer dropped to his knees beside the casket and vibrated. Bobby looked ten years younger without his beard, long oily hair, and open pores on his nose. Make-up did wonders. Best I’d seen him in years, never saw the man in a suit and tie. Borrowed, I assumed. The gay’s head swiveled side to side in disbelief, given to hugging as he shook hands with the few that approached him, me included. If that was Bobby’s choice, so be it. I had no gripe.
    The tears I saw around me were questionable. I was surprised to see more than a dozen left behinds attending and became sickened by their grave manner. Perhaps money was involved. I saw folks nodding and pointing to the gay. Bobby’s ex wife, no longer the combatant, also watched him with something like suspicion. Uncomfortable and sitting close to one another, Bobby’s three girls locked teenage hands, dissolved into one another and kept silent. For the last time, the dead man’s progeny stared at their father. An unpleasant truth being revealed that wouldn’t hit them for some time to come. In the pew in back of me, was hushed talk and suspicion about my dead friend’s odd behavior these past months. I heard one voice whisper about a certain immune system deficiency.

    The priest who presided over the whole affair involving my flawed amigo, waved over the audience, and but for occasional sniffling, silence fell over the room. The Robe thanked everyone for attending the get-together and proceeded to carry on about fellowship and what a fine father Bobby was. The language was as rancid as old diner grease. Bobby was a prick to most everyone.
    Funerals suck. I said my early goodbyes to those that mattered, didn’t want to go to the drinking party that would follow. I needed to get the fuck out there before I lost my cool, have a smoke, and grab a beer. To our old familiar haunt, an obscure, smoky little bar in the west end, we went.
    Just me and Bobby- like old times.

The Shark Dancer

Karly Lake McCullough

    For as long as she could remember, Nia had dreamed about sea monsters. Sometimes they were hideous, misshapen fish that crawled out of the lake in her parents’ back yard, a lake that had suddenly become deeper and wilder, storm-tossed and flooding its banks, bringing the fish into her bedroom in a rising seep of water. Sometimes the creatures were beautiful, sleek plesiosaurs whose size made them visible as she watched from a mountaintop, arching and gliding beneath distant clear waters. But most often the sea monsters were completely unseen. She had dreams of swimming at ease, never struggling, though she knew the water was endless and impossibly deep, and sensing something coming towards her, something massive, something that made the whole ocean tingle with its electrical charge.
    She understood the word awe from an early age, as the feeling in those dreams. It didn’t mean rosy lights in church and the angels singing. It meant confronting something outside her reality, outside her very element of breathable air, and facing it beyond fear. People accused her of being an adrenalin junkie: they didn’t understand half of it.
    The water was cold but the sun above was August-hot, shimmering through the sea in an illusion of warmth. It created a beautiful scene, illuminating the crystal depths which were half of Isla Guadalupe’s fame. The other half was present also, circling slowly around Nia where she hovered just above the silty floor of the inlet. There were two of them at the moment, one mid-sized, about four meters long, the other a big sister at six meters. They were calm, just as Nia was calm.
    There was no faking it with white sharks. They could sense the rate of a person’s heart and respiration, they could smell sweat and adrenalin. But this particular inlet was far away from the seal colonies and the commercial cage-diving operations that poured cow blood into the water, and Nia felt like she held both her visitors in her own semi-meditative state.
    She used a rebreather, the only way to swim with whites. The bubbles of scuba equipment were either distracting or downright enticing, reminding them of an animal in distress. She chose relatively shallow locations, twenty or so meters deep, and she stayed near the bottom, the position of power in relation to a hunter that attacked from below. Holding out her hand, she invited the small shark to come closer, stroking a gloved hand along her pectoral fin. The larger white was somewhere behind, and Nia turned, not surprised to find her closer than expected, and gently pushed her snout away, the deceptive comical grin passing within inches of Nia’s face.
    As the white swam past, Nia caught the upper ridge of the animal’s tail, letting herself be pulled behind. The shark didn’t mind; she was a gracious lady, and Nia’s forty-three kilos hardly slowed her down. They swam like that for a while, no longer antagonists but simply observing the ocean together. Nia let go the shark’s tail and, on another turn about, caught her dorsal fin.
    Somewhere overhead Rodrigo hung in his steel cage, filming. Nia caught a glimpse of him as the shark rose through the water and pirouetted gracefully. Rodrigo always wanted her to get away from the bottom, giving him a background of blue water instead of silt, so she rode along for a few more moments, then let go and let herself drift, the boat’s shadow overhead, giving the shark time to lose interest and go about her business. One swim was enough, a few minutes of connection to that immense force. It was never appropriate to demand the shark’s attention.
    The lady was preparing to make her departure, Nia could tell by the returning laziness in her body language. The smaller sister had already left. Then suddenly, the shark’s demeanor changed, becoming almost a territorial display, diving lower in the water, flicking her tail stiffly.
    Nia suppressed her own unease, swimming downward away from the boat, not wanting to get trapped with nowhere to go but up. Usually she felt quite safe with the big ones; they were at the top of the food chain and nothing disturbed them.
    Except the rare bigger fish. A charcoal shadow took shape out of the haze, seven meters at least, swimming in like it meant business, focused on the boat and the steel cage. Rodrigo was oblivious, still filming the retreating lady, and Nia watched as the newcomer rammed the cage with enough force to knock it sideways against the boat hull, a screech that carried through the water and set the boat’s anchor-chain swaying. Rodrigo was thrown against the bars closest to the shark, thoroughly rattled, arms flailing, trying to propel himself away and not stick a hand or a foot through the bars. The shark spun back, twisting its body in a lithe knot that belayed its size, and hit the cage from below, biting into a corner and shaking the metal viciously before letting go.
    She’d never seen a white act like that when there wasn’t bait in the water. She was glad she’d gotten away from the boat. She wondered if this was evidence of over-commercialization of cage diving; the shark had learned to equate the cage with food. Except there was no smell of blood or fish in the water, nothing to precipitate such an attack.
    She put Rodrigo out of her mind — he knew how to handle himself. She had absolutely no intention of leaving the safety of the bottom. She wished she had a video camera of her own; sharks attacking cages were nothing new, but she would have liked to document the lack of chum and lack of other frenzied sharks.
    Also the animal’s size. The swinging cage and the boat hull provided ideal perspective, showing how truly massive he was. The consensus was that males did not grow into the seven-meter range. Nia was fascinated despite her predicament.
    She stayed alert for the sister’s return; sharks did unexpected things and appeared from unexpected vectors. But her main attention was focused upward, where the white had apparently made his point to Rodrigo and the cage, and now circled the boat itself, occasionally bumping it with his snout. After a moment he paused, and Nia wondered if he would leave, perhaps following the female.
    Instead he turned in a smooth arc and dove, following the line of the anchor chain as if it was a beam of light pointing straight at Nia. She’d seen sharks scoop seals off the bottom, though it wasn’t their usual hunting tactic. She watched him come, following the electrical twitches of her heartbeat, straight toward her like he had approached the cage. She was ready, drifting in that timeless space of her dreams, knowing that her only choice was to try or not to try, so she waited until he was right on top of her and she ducked to the side and punched his eye and shoved her elbow into his gills.
    The shark recoiled, thrashing his tail, more surprised than hurt. Her fist had hit solidly, but white sharks hunted squid and they had a nictating membrane to protect their eyes. He would be more cautious now. She stayed still and waited for him to come back around, and this time his momentum was less and she was able to punch him on the tip of the nose. That was the locus of his specialized sensory receptors, and he tossed his body to the side, scraping against the rocky bottom, his bulk hindering his maneuverability.
    She got a glimpse straight into his eye as he rolled, a surprising shock of awareness beyond the dark mirrored surface. When he swam away with a massive flick of the tail, stirring up clouds of silt, it was not because he had to but because he had decided to.
    Nia waited on the bottom, as long as her filters would allow. After nearly thirty minutes she saw the smaller fish return, and then a few large jacks, and she swam up to the boat, imagining shapes in the blue haze behind her.


    She watched Rodrigo’s footage obsessively as evening darkened the rocky massif of Isla Guadalupe. He had never stopped filming, even when the shark was busy putting some noteworthy dents in the steel cage, and his footage afterwards, of the animal diving down, circling Nia, and being driven off, was in some ways more unsettling than her own memories.
    Hal Leonard was not going to lend her the boat again. He’d made that clear. He and his crew were here to tag white sharks, not swim with them, and he would allow no more extracurricular use of his skiff. The ruined shark cage would come out of Nia’s paycheck.
    Finally she forced herself away from the laptop and left her cabin. The big ship was called Nueva Luna, and it took up half the harbor at Campo Oeste. Campo was the right word for the place; it was not a town. Home to 213 souls, fishermen and their families, it demonstrated the marginal nature of life above water on the island. She was looking at the few lit windows across the harbor when Hal came up on deck, his southern drawl unmistakable, a beer bottle in his hand.
    There was a stranger with him, a broad-shouldered, big-chested man who moved like a professional athlete. There was something strange about his face, a narrow face for such a muscular build, with a prominent nose and slightly receding jaw line. His razor-short hair did nothing to soften his features. Nia didn’t like him. She didn’t know where Hal had found him, but she hoped he would go back there soon.
    “Eight thousand dollars a piece,” Hal was saying, talking about his GPS tags. “They don’t just ping locational data, they measure depth and water temperature. The only thing better would be a video cam. We’re working with some people in California. Maybe next season. We’ll turn the sharks into stars in their own movie.”
    “Should attach something like that to Angelina Jolie,” the man said, a soft low voice that caught Nia’s attention with its sarcasm.
    Hal didn’t seem to understand. He laughed and said, “Wouldn’t we all want to see into her bedroom?”
    “How would that help science?”
    “Ha,” Hal said, “Well, the more we know about the sharks’ habits, the better we can protect them.”
    “Will having a camera on Angelina Jolie day and night protect her? Or will it just give everyone a front-row seat when some crazy person harasses her? You want to protect the sharks, enforce the treaties that already exist on climate change, long-line fishing, by-catch, gill-nets.”
    Nia realized that, while she might not like the strange man, Hal must like him even less.
    “Ah,” Hal said. “Here’s Nia Gallegos. She’s our own personal shark-whisperer, as well as the prettiest girl on the crew. The only girl on the crew. Nia, this is Seth Fisher, he’s building a house here on the island. What did you say you do for a living, Seth?”
    “I dive for pearls,” the man said. His voice hid a smile, Nia thought. She could hear it in the way he pronounced vowels. She still didn’t like his face. He looked at her, something remote but appraising in his expression, and did not offer his hand.
    “Here?” Nia asked in spite of herself. “Not this time of year though.”
    The smile touched his lips. “You think you’re the only one who gets in the water?”
    Hal laughed again, with a brittle edge. “She doesn’t get in the water. Where’d you hear that? But, hey, you must have some shark stories of your own. We’ll have to reminisce over another beer sometime. We’ll be here all week. You know where to find us.”
    “Hum,” Seth Fisher said, his smile growing. He shook hands with Hal and stepped over to the rail, brushing past Nia on the way. He leaned close for the briefest of moments, ducking his head. She heard the inhale of his breath, like he was smelling her hair. “I do,” he murmured. “Tough girl.”
    Then he was gone, swinging a long leg over the rail and half-sliding down the metal ladder with practiced ease. She watched him cross the wharf and climb into an old pickup truck. “Met him at that tiny poor excuse for a bar,” Hal said. “Who would’ve thought, an American building a house on this damn island. Pearl diving, my ass.”
    “He has a diver’s lungs,” Nia said. “And a diver’s haircut.”
    “Or a gangster’s. You dive, and you don’t shave your hair. For which I’m grateful, by the way, pretty girl.”
    She’d rather be tough than pretty. She shivered all over, remembering the way he’d smelled her and said he knew where to find her. Probably drugs and gangs after all. Who knew what he might be on?


    The pole-mounted camera, aimed down beneath the skiff’s hull, showed nothing but blue. The ocean here was deep, the bottom completely lost to sight and all perspective gone amid the vastness. There was no way to tell if the faint smudge was a fish or a seal or a moat of dust, until it resolved into a shape of gray and white and pink gaping mouth, and then it was too late. The last image from the camera was the teeth and the throat.
    “Fucker,” Rodrigo shouted, as the skiff rocked and the metal pole crashed out of its clip and went over the side.
    “Keep him close,” Hall was yelling to the intern whose job it was to trail the rubber seal decoy alongside the skiff, luring sharks close enough to tag. “I’m almost on him...”
    Hal lunged with the tagging gaff, just as the water boiled and broke and the intern let go of the cable attached to the dummy before it could peel his hands raw.
    Nia watched from the video monitor in the cabin, which was her station since she’d been demoted from more active work. Hal was still mad at her over the shark cage, though he was gaining a first-hand understanding of how truly attitudinal Nia’s shark was.
    That was what the crew were calling him: Nia’s shark. They had long since identified him by the two scars just above his right pectoral fin, and now they could watch him on video after video, sometimes just cruising past, sometimes attacking boat, decoy, or camera with the same ire he had directed at the shark cage. Nia was waiting for Hal to admit that the cage hadn’t been Nia’s fault any more than the lost cameras were his, but he did not spare the words.
    “Put on gloves,” he barked at the intern. “Throw out another decoy, I’m sure he’s still around. We’ll get him.”
    But the big male had vanished. That was his habit. He often put in an appearance, but he never lingered. The afternoon was darkening early, clouds moving in from the west, flashing with lightning.
    “It’s not going to rain,” Hal muttered. “It never rains during the dry season on Isla Guadalupe.”
    But Rodrigo was in a bad mood after the loss of his camera, and the wind was picking up, smelling of rain despite the weather forecast, and eventually Hal relented and ordered an early return to harbor.
    The rain caught them on the way, the miracle of fresh water, and Nia did not let Hal’s disapproval or Rodrigo’s temper handicap her enjoyment. She privately thought her days on the crew might be numbered. Finish this trip, then look for a different berth. Somewhere away from Isla Guadalupe. South Africa, maybe.
    She’d taken to spending her evenings at Donna Encarnacion’s tiny shack of a bar, not because she wanted to drink, but because she enjoyed the Spanish and the soccer on the tiny TV and the chance to get away from Hal, who now called her Shark Whisperer in front of the crew. Some evenings it was only her and Encarnacion, sometimes a crowd of three or five fishermen. Twice she’d seen Seth Fisher, though he never stayed long. He had some business going with Encarnacion’s husband, something about his house or his boat or his drug deals, Nia didn’t pay attention.
    The rain was heavy but brief, a summer squall that blew through on a stiff west wind. But it left the air clean and the decks washed of salt, and it made the island seem beautiful as they came into harbor under the lowering sun.


    Encarnacion’s place was full as she had never seen it. Gone was the miasma of drought and dust and the sad half-heard radio. Tonight the music was loud and brassy, and everyone inside was dancing. Nia watched, marveling at this culture that embraced sensuality in all its forms, all its shapes and sizes and ages. Fat Donatella, she of the full-cheeked scowl, was not scowling tonight, but danced like the most beautiful woman in the world. Gabriella the baker twisted her wrists above her head in a flamenco move, without reservation or censorship, another goddess of the evening. And the toothless old fishermen watched, delighted, clapping in time with the music, while their younger counterparts danced through the throng of women, confident of their machismo and their appeal.
    She sipped tequila and watched the sunset through the open door, endless ocean to the west, unbroken between here and Fiji. Seth Fisher blocked the sun right at the moment when she might have seen the green flash, slipping in his quiet liquid way past the old men at the door and through the room of dancers like they weren’t there. No one bumped him, no one spilled their cerveza on his shoes. Magdalena tried to dance with him, swaying her hips and tilting her chin, and he dipped his head to smell her hair, but kept going.
    He gestured with two fingers at the bar, and Encarnacion filled a salty glass and added a slice of lime, and he turned and leaned against the bar, sipping the drink, not looking at Nia.
    She didn’t look at him either. She knew what she’d see. To think that a week ago she hadn’t liked his face. Ha. She didn’t want to look at him; she wanted to feel him, that subtle hair-raising draw getting closer.
    “Care to dance?” he asked after a few minutes.
    If the fishermen’s wives could channel Aphrodite for the evening, she could too. She said, “Yes,” and reached forward when he held out his hand.
    But instead of joining the crowd, he led her behind him back through the door and into the breezy dusk and across the harbor road to his pickup.
    She had maybe thirty seconds to change her mind. She wasn’t reluctant so much as shocked. She’d expected a bit more awkwardness and back-and-forth. But, she thought as the moment passed and she perched beside him on the bench seat, it was trademark Seth. He did not do the expected thing, but he did it with such confidence that a person almost failed to notice.
    He turned off whatever music he’d had playing in the old truck, and they drove around the edge of the island in silence, and down the steep drive to his house, where the lights were on and the stereo was playing as if he’d left in the middle of a thought. Down in the sheltered cove, the palmetto fronds and hibiscus danced against the wall, and water bubbled from a small fountain by his front door.
    It was entrancing. Nia didn’t know what she’d been expecting, a modular trailer with beer cans thrown out the front door. But the little house was hand built, the windows with their storm-shutters letting an inviting glow out into the night. The music was entrancing also, “The Girl from Ipanema.”
    He was dancing before they were even inside, turning towards her and holding out both hands, and it was more intoxicating than ten shots of tequila. She looked at him now, looked at his face, the sharp plane of his nose and his dark eyes and his expressive mouth, which at the moment was playing with a speculative smile. His hands were warm and calloused, enfolding hers and drawing her close. But not touching. Their hands remained the only point of contact; he moved just beyond the field of her body, turning and swaying and pulling her farther into the house, leaning forward to smell her neck and her hair as he had the first day they met, but never touching anything but her hands.
    They danced that way for the length of several songs, old-time calypso and reggae, and Nia took in glimpses of the house. It was one room, with an alcove for the small kitchen and a jog in the wall concealing the bed. The walls were wood-paneled, bare, the many windows letting in the breeze and the restless ever-present sound of the ocean. After a while she stopped looking at the house and went back to looking at his face, half-shadowed in the dim kerosene light.
    She found her back pressed against the wall, his hands entwined with hers raising her arms above her head. He leaned forward and kissed her, gently, tentative small kisses that left her standing on her toes and craning her neck for more. When he pulled away he was breathing fast and shallow, his pupils dilated, his lips parted in an expression of such longing that Nia felt it in her own gut like a fist.
    This was serious, she realized. This was no casual tryst for him. He was holding nothing back, at least right at this moment. She didn’t know what would happen if she failed to reciprocate, or if she demanded something different than what he was offering. She had to be careful, she thought, because that expression was vulnerable and open and hungry and she held his need in her hand like a living thing. It was in her power to either nurture or abuse it, and she felt as wondering and protective as if she held a perfect, glistening shell drawn up from the tide pool.
    She freed her hands and traced her fingers up the back of his neck, cupping the stubbly round of his head and drawing him down once more and kissing him, teasing his mouth open with her tongue, feeling the strong ridges of his teeth, biting his lip gently. He leaned with his forearms against the wall, holding himself slightly away from her. She ran her hands down his chest and torso, feeling the tautness of his body beneath his shirt, and he followed her movements with his head, burying his face in her hair, nuzzling her neck as she pulled the hem of his shirt free and traced the muscles of his abdomen.
    “I’ll take care of you,” she heard herself whispering, the first words either of them had spoken since leaving the bar. She didn’t know if she could, but she wanted to more than she’d wanted anything in a long time.
    His response was a sigh that stirred the hair on the nape of her neck, and he raised up his arms so she could pull off his shirt. His chest was broad and full, encasing the powerful lungs and heart of a professional diver, and he had a strange tattoo on his right bicep, two slashing parallel lines. Her mouth was at a level with his nipple, and she traced it with her tongue while unfastening his belt. The skin of his waist was warm and smooth under her fingers. Hard and smooth farther down, she discovered, sliding her hand into his boxers and earning another sigh.
    He stayed completely still while she knelt to pull off his shoes and socks, strong broad tanned feet underneath. Still kneeling, she worked off his jeans and boxers and finally reached up to cup and stroke him, feeling again that power and the necessity of using it wisely.
    His skin was salty in her mouth, the wild bitter salt of the ocean, and she closed her eyes and listened to the waves outside, the tide rising and crashing on steep sandstone cliffs. There was nothing but this, reaching up with one hand between his legs to cup his buttock and pull him even deeper into her throat, her forehead pressed against his abdomen.
    She’d never touched a man this way before, so confident that what he wanted was what she wanted. Her own excitement made her tremble, made her feel like she was floating or swimming, like in her underwater dreams where she was surrounded by strangeness but unafraid. And he was the dark body she always sensed just out of sight, the sense of awe and danger that accompanied the weightlessness and the powerful strokes of her arms and legs as she sped through the water.
    His hand was on the back of her neck, tangling through her hair, pulling her away. “Nia,” he said, the first time he’d ever spoken her name, and he knelt down in front of her and pulled her into his arms and kissed her deeply, his tongue in her mouth, tasting his own sweat.
    After a moment he stood up and pulled her up with him and lead her around the dividing wall to his bed. Her clothes went much faster than his, kicked off, and she laid down and let him look at her, his head turned slightly aside and an artery pulsing along his neck. She held out her hands, inviting, and he came to her and buried himself within her. She lost herself to his rhythm and that of the waves outside, aware dimly of one person crying out — that was her — and another person moaning deeply and scoring her shoulder with his teeth.
    His fingers kneaded and gripped and held her even as he thrust, his face buried against her shoulder, his body trembling beneath her hands. She came back from the ocean in a moment of sharp clarity, not drifting anymore but solidly present for a few breaths before the room went dark and her body went rigid and then, spasming, released in breaking waves.
    He was there with her, even with her vision black and her ears ringing, riding waves of his own and then coming down hard, his full weight on her, anchoring her, pressing her back into her own body. She held him tightly, her shoulder damp with tears or sweat, she couldn’t tell which, feeling his heart rate return to normal against her chest.
    After a while he got up and went around the house turning off the kerosene lanterns. He brought her a glass of water and settled back into bed, wrapping the blankets up around her shoulders against the cool nighttime wind.
    “Good night, little shark dancer,” he murmured into her hair.


    She didn’t dream. The night passed deeply and it was gray when she woke up, the waves loud in the predawn hush. Seth was leaning against the dividing wall watching her, in jeans but shirtless, holding a cup of fragrant coffee.
    She smiled; she couldn’t help it. She was happy. And embarrassed, remembering the night before. She felt a blush warming her face.
    He smiled too, and gave her his cup of coffee, going back to the kitchen for a replacement. “Still and flat this morning,” he said over his shoulder. “Satellite shows us right in the middle of a high pressure ridge.”
    “Hal’s going to want to go out,” Nia said, tasting the smooth bitterness. “Now that the storm’s past.”
    “What if you didn’t go with him?”
    “That would be the last straw, I think. There’s a never-ending line of marine biology graduates looking for summer work.”
    Seth came back from the kitchen with more coffee and a cold tortilla, which he ate standing up, in two bites. “Is that all he thinks you are?”
    She looked at him, looking into his eyes, unreadable in the dim light. “That is all I am,” she said.
    He snorted and shrugged and said, “Hurry then. We have to book it if we’re going to get you back to the marina by sunrise.”
    That wasn’t cold, Nia told herself. It was realistic. And he’d given her his coffee. That had to betoken some sort of emotional involvement. She got out of bed and was gathering up her strewn clothes when she stopped and threw them back to the floor. Naked, she went into the main part of the house, but Seth had vanished. She went out the front door, barefoot on the sandy driveway, and found him teasing the old pickup to life.
    “What if I didn’t go with him?” she yelled, raising her voice over the spluttering ignition.
    He turned and looked at her, his smile threatening to become a real honest grin. Leaving the truck, he scooped her up and carried her back inside. “Well,” he said, “We could go for a swim.”


    They watched the sun rise over the Baja Peninsula, invisible over the horizon to the east. The ocean was calm and windless. Seth’s little boat rocked gently, sheltered by steep basalt cliffs on three sides. This place was clear around the edge of Isla Guadalupe, some tiny unnamed cove, no plants, no seals, just the rock and the water and the peach-colored first rays of the sun.
    They had a real breakfast, a jack that Seth caught effortlessly and cooked in olive oil over a tiny burner in the cabin.
    “I barely know you, and I’m losing my job because of you,” Nia said, sitting cross-legged on the deck, the sizzling pan of fish between her and Seth, who was leaning against the hull with his legs stretched out.
    “Is that really what you want to talk about?”
    “What do you want to talk about?”
    He paused, apparently thinking. Or maybe he just wouldn’t answer. He didn’t seem to be much of a talker on any subject. Finally he said, “All this science that Hal does. How important is that to you?”
    “It’s a way to earn a living doing what I love.”
    “But the science isn’t what you love? The crew and the gear and — tagging the sharks?” He spat out the last words like they left a bad taste in his mouth.
    “What I love is swimming with the sharks.”
    “And if no one saw you? If you didn’t have your pet cameraman to put you on Discovery Channel?”
    “Are you asking me to live with you?” She listened to him laugh quietly. He refused to look up from the skillet of fish bones. “You are,” Nia said after a moment. “Why?”
    “You have no idea how unique you are. You didn’t answer my question.”
    “I don’t care if anyone films me. I don’t want to be on TV.”
    He took the oily pan to the cabin, and when he came back he was carrying an old can of chewing tobacco. Wordlessly, he handed it to her. Inside were twenty or so large pearls. Some were shimmering gray, some white, some faintly rosy, and four were pitch black. They were perfect in their imperfections and subtle unconformity, worth a small fortune. Nia looked at them in silence, and when she tried to give the tin back, Seth waved her hand away.
    “Those,” he said, “Are your getaway plan. If you decide in an hour or a day or a week that you want to go back to the mainland.”
    “I thought you ran drugs,” Nia confessed, earning another soft burst of laughter.
    He pulled her to her feet and pulled her into his arms, against his chest, listening to his strong heartbeat. “Little Nia,” he murmured. “Would you believe me if I said I’d take care of you?”
    She didn’t know what he was asking, but she knew it was important, vitally important to him. “I trust you,” she said.
    “Then let’s go for that swim.”
    “I don’t have my wetsuit.”
    “Sun’s hot. You’ll warm back up.” With that he stripped out of his jeans and dove smoothly over the side, leaving the boat rocking.
    “Fuck,” Nia breathed, looking down, the water inky with the low sun angle. She waited for him to come back up, realizing it might be a while. He could probably hold his breath for a good four minutes. In the meantime she pulled off her clothes, piece by piece, steeling herself for the cold and the dark.
    The boat rocked again, something bumping against the port side. She crossed the deck and looked down in time to see a massive black shadow glide beneath the hull. Running to the opposite rail, she saw it emerge, lose itself in the early-morning reflections, then turn, roiling the surface of the water ever so slightly, and come back around. This time she saw its head, its pectoral fins, the two characteristic scars on its shoulder. Just like Seth’s tattoo, she thought. He’d acted like it would be hard to believe, that he’d take care of her.
    It wasn’t, actually. Something about the crystal morning made her believe that more was possible today than yesterday or ever before. She climbed onto the boat’s rail, swinging her legs over the side, and lowered herself into the water.
    She was half-expecting the blunt slam that shark attack survivors described. But it didn’t come. Instead she felt the water swirl by her feet, the ripple of something huge passing, and that was all. She forced herself to breathe deeply, filling her lungs, and she let the water close over her head, opening her eyes to teal shadows dancing down from the ripples, the water not black after all but lit subtly in hues of jade and emerald. The shark was there, swimming slowly, coming close but never touching.
    He didn’t need to. They’d been touching for hours already. Her whole body was alive in his senses, and he was larger-than-life in hers, making her skin tingle and her vision sharpen despite the stinging salt. It was, she thought, a dream come true.

Janet swimming to white-tipped sharks at th Galapagos Islands, copyright 2008-2017 Janet Kuypers

In the Dark

Nora McDonald

    I’ve never liked water. Not in big quantities. Even the bath I only fill halfway. I blame the dream. That’s what made my decision so strange. I was moving halfway across the world to an island surrounded by it. Near the equator. From an island already surrounded by it. This island. A dark island. For five months of the year.
    It had all started when I went on holiday there. For the first time. It was the light that hit me as I opened the shutters that first morning after a late, dark arrival. But I didn’t realise how strong it was until I looked in the mirror beside the open shutter and saw my face for the first time. Except it didn’t look like my face. More like a totally unexplored Martian landscape with previously unseen craters and unexplained protrusions. I was a stranger to myself. I was another person.
    I only realised I wanted to be another person when summer hit this island of mine. Not autumn when the light customarily began to fade as the days get depressed. But summer. A summer characterised by sullen, sunless days and granite, grey skies with a troglodyte light level.
    I was in the dark. Literally and figuratively. Day after day. Five months in the dark I could tolerate. Eight was more than I could stand.
    I would not live the rest of my life in the dark.
    Not that I hadn’t spent my whole life in the dark. I’d been in the dark over which career to choose. I’d been in the dark when it came to men and I’d been in the dark when it came to going back to single after twelve years of marriage.
    It was time for the light.
    I should have remembered the dream. But it had been a long time since I’d had it. It had usually come on when I was stressed. I’d wake up sweating, the memory of being in a hut on a beach, the window with the water level rising slowly up it, the blackness and the fear that followed it lingering more than normal.
    “Maybe you drowned in a previous life!” said my friend Lynn when I told her.
    “Previous life!” I scoffed. “Don’t tell me you believe all that guff! Isn’t one life bad enough for you?”
    “I don’t know,” she said slowly. “How else do you explain irrational fears? Couldn’t they be carried over from a previous life? You never learned to swim, did you?”
    “Well, there’s my point exactly,” I said. “If I’d drowned in a previous life, I’d have learnt to swim, wouldn’t I?”
    I soused the recollection of my first sojourn into a swimming pool at the age of eleven. The bubbling waves of water, the others all around jumping and splashing, washing over me sending me to the bottom of the pool.
    “Maybe you were too scared!” she said.
    I didn’t like her reading my thoughts.
    “I nearly learnt!” I retaliated. “When I lived abroad!”
    I thought of the three feet of unruffled water that even the red mullet of the Mediterranean couldn’t bring themselves to rumple. I thought of the flippers and goggles I had donned like some Bond bombshell from a movie as I kicked off from the soft sandy bottom of the sea bed. I was older then. More confident. Until one over-zealous kick sent me sideways, my flapping flippers stirring up the sand as my head sank into the muggy murk of the Mediterranean.
    That was my last attempt at learning to swim.
    “Nearly is not actually learning!” sneered Lynn.
    “I don’t need to,” I said. “I never go in the water!”
    “Don’t you think you’ll need to when you move?” she said. “One hour on a roasting hot beach and you’ll be glad to go in the water!”
    Her words came back to me as I lay on that roasting hot beach. My top lip like a pool about to overflow, my eyes streams of water running rivulets down the side of my face.
    She was right. I would have to go in the water to cool off. I picked my way gingerly through the throng on the beach and placed a tentative toe in the water. It was rough but exciting. I ventured a little further, only to be the target of a frontal attack of small fishes nibbling my feet. I tried to retreat, backing away without looking, but was hit by someone behind me who sent me like a flying fish floundering into the Atlantic.
    My head was about to go under when I felt someone grip my hand. They say water and electricity don’t mix. It isn’t true. A shot of electricity rushed up my arm leaving me gasping. I’ve never experienced it before or since and a voice said, “Are you all right?”
    If I’d drowned at that moment, I’d have drowned happy, hearing that voice. It was almost like it was familiar to me. But I didn’t drown. My head cleared the water and I felt myself lifted clear into an upright position. He wasn’t familiar. I’d never seen him before.
    “That’s not a good way to swim,” he said, smiling.
    He wasn’t handsome. Small to average height with sandy coloured hair but that smile lit up his eyes like sunrise slowly surfacing.
    “I wasn’t,” I spluttered. “I can’t.”
    “I can see that!” he laughed.
    The nerve of the man, I thought. Laughing.
    “You nearly drowned me!” I retaliated.
    “Maybe you needed a push to learn to swim!” he said.
    His arrogance was annoying me.
    I disengaged my hand from his. The circuit was cut. I felt myself again.
    “I don’t like pushy people,” I said.
    A hurt expression seemed to hover momentarily in his eyes then move off on some far journey.
    “Look, I’m sorry. It was my fault, knocking you into the water like that. The least I can do is take you for a drink of some sort so you can get over the shock.”
    I was about to refuse. But then I would have been no better than him. Besides I felt in need of a sit down somewhere.
    “All right,” I said somewhat ungratefully. “I’ll need to throw something over this wet swimsuit.”
    I pointed at my sunbed. He put a hand under my elbow and steered me to the sunbed. I wished he hadn’t for the current of electricity ran up my arm.
    “I can manage,” I said, pulling away from him and grabbing my beach cover-up.
    “I’m glad I haven’t done any permanent damage,” he said.
    But I knew he had. Not to my body. But to something else. My soul.
    I wondered if he had felt it too.
    We had a drink at the beachside café then lunch. He told me he was on holiday. That he worked as a physical education teacher back in the United Kingdom but he’d had to give it up for family commitments.
    “Family commitments?” I queried.
    A sadness suffused his face.
    “I care for a sick relative,” he said.
    I should have inquired more but I didn’t like to. It was obviously a painful subject.
    “I live here,” I said, to change the subject. I moved here because I didn’t want to spend my life in the dark.”
    “We’re all in the dark in some way,” he said. “That’s why I got away too.”
     He smiled as if to smother dark thoughts.
    “Now we’re both in the light,” he said, raising his glass so that it sparkled in the sunshine, “and isn’t it wonderful?”
    And it was for two weeks.
    We visited hilltop villages, sampled local wines, climbed the volcano and went shopping at the local market. At night we sampled the local drinks and delicacies. His arrogance and my antipathy dissolved like rust, unable to form in a dry climate.
    The inevitable happened. It had to. We were so similar in every way.
    “God,” he said, one night rolling over on his back. “It’s a once in a lifetime————————.”
    His voice tailed away with emotion.
    Now I knew he felt the same. My happiness was complete.
    The next day we took a walk along the sea front where we’d first met. A man was distributing leaflets. I walked straight by but he stopped and seemed to have got in conversation with the man. I turned back.
    “I’ve lived here for twenty years, said the man.
    “I’ve just moved here,” I said.
    “You’ll not have experienced the tsunami warnings then, “said the man.
    “Tsunami warnings?” I replied, a strange foreshadow darkening my day.
    “Yes, we get them all the time,” he said.
    I was glad to walk on. Nothing must spoil my happiness.
    But the day continued to darken. He’d never mentioned swimming since we’d met. I wondered why he brought it up at lunch. On that day. Maybe it was the man. Or maybe he knew.
    “You really should learn to swim, you know,” he said over lunch. “I could teach you.”
    I’d have agreed to anything at that point. I loved him so.
    “There’s changing huts further along the beach, “he said. “How about now?”
    “Why now?” I said.
    “I have to go back tonight,” he said.
    “Back?” I said, time having had no meaning for me for two weeks.
    “Back to the U.K.”
    “You can’t!” I said.
    He looked sad.
    “No, I can’t” he said. “I love you.”
    He took my hand and we strolled down to the beach huts. I went inside one and changed into my swimming costume. He had so much to teach me. I couldn’t let him down.
    I emerged from the hut. He was already standing on the beach in his swimming shorts.
    “You look beautiful,” he said.
    It sounded like goodbye.
    “There’s something I have to tell you before we go in the water,” he said. “I’m married!”
    It was a howl from the heart.
    “Don’t think badly of me,” he said. “She’s been sick a long time. You understand. I can’t leave her. Though I want to. You know that. Could you——————————————?”
    His voice tailed off.
    I knew what he was asking of me. I couldn’t.
    “I can’t!” I said.
    I was angry.
    “You should have told me before!” I said.
    Before? Before what? Before his hand had grabbed my arm?
    “I’m sorry,” he said. “See you in the next life.”
    I hardly heard his words as I ran up the beach. Away from him.
    I simmered for an hour. The nerve of the man. Expecting me to hang around for him. Then I knew. I knew I couldn’t leave him.
    I had to go back. Maybe he’d still be there. Where I left him. I had to tell him I’d changed my mind.
    I ran all the way back to the beach. The expanse of sand seemed bigger than I’d remembered. Wider. The sea further away. There were few people about. I flung open the door of the changing hut.
    He wasn’t there.
    Lying on the bench was a note. I picked it up and read it.
    “If you read this, you’ll know I’m on my way to the airport. Find me. I miss you already.”
    I would have. But a roaring noise distracted me. It was as the first of the 300 feet waves hit the hut and I saw the water rising rapidly up the window that I remembered the dream.
    I’m not in the dark any longer. I’m in the light. He’s not here. But that’s all right. For I know I’ll find him again. He may be a stranger. I may not recognise him. But I’ll know as soon as he touches me.
    I guess he made it over twenty miles inland to the airport. And safety. He was needed after all.
    I’m not a stranger to myself now. I’m another person. I’ve accepted everything. I’ve accepted the fact I needed to experience love. Painful though it can be. I’ve accepted the fact that he needed to receive love. He’d already been giving it for years.
    I’m already planning the next life. In case I miss him up here. With a little help, of course. I know they have my best interests at heart.
    Even though I may return to the dark at some point, somehow I think things will be a little clearer next time. I’m already clear about one thing.
    The first thing I’ll do is learn to swim.

Conch Discovered, drawing by Brian Looney

Conch Discovered, drawing by Brian Looney

Clouds and Hues

Marc Livanos a/k/a Panhandle Poet

    I had been at sea for over a week headed towards the Panama Canal. I needed to be away for at least a few days to forget the pretty girls and strange places before succumbing to her solitude. The sea became a friend to share intimacies and sorrows. Listening to the ship pound, I picture places once known and people loved till eventually submitting to her lyrical whims. I feel safe in her routine.
    My tenth day out was like most others in the doldrums; hot and muggy. As usual, the sea glittered with rays of sun dancing on the waves. The boatswain of the SS AUSTRAL PILOT was sweeping chipped pieces of paint into small piles. The men around him were eagerly talking-up the latest baseball scores. Heat slowed their rate of work to the point of being minimal.
    I was a few yards away, painting the ladder to the forecastle. I did not care to get involved in their conversation. Being depressed from not having eaten breakfast, hunger made my memory start working. It took me to an office filled with boys in naval uniforms. I was glad to be away from the United States Merchant Marine Academy. No longer having to contend with six classes a day, cramming for exams and a strict military system. I was more than ready to start my sea year of practical experience.
    I was rising from my seat with the rest of the cadets, when a glimpse of a khaki uniform caught my peripheral vision. Captain Truman beckoned a good morning and called us into his office as a group. He assigned us according to ship and route. I ended up with the run to Australia – the most sought after by cadets. A long day ensued with my going to the steamship company, taking a medical exam and signing foreign articles with the U.S. Coast Guard.
    When I finally got to see the AUSTRAL PILOT, it was at Todd Drydock in Brooklyn. The ship was an impressive 540 feet long with a bulbous bow and cruiser stern. There was a look of defiance, as it sat squatting on keel blocks dressed in a new coat of black and white paint on her hull and superstructure.
    My cabin – long, narrow and grey – looked like the inside of an empty shoe box. It was located at the furthest point aft, behind the baggage locker, medicine closet, hospital and ship’s office. The only porthole gave a view of container number INTU 275779. The trip from New York to Sydney would be twenty-one days.
    Stirring the paint, I moved to the other side of the ladder to escape the sun’s oppressive grip.
    The trip to Panama was unmarked by storm. Even our passage off Hatteras went unnoticed. The same was true for Rum Cay, Long Island, Crooked Island Passage and the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti. I remember the laughter aboard ship at the sight of a bearded water skier coming out of the bay. We joked it was Castro out to greet us personally.
    Basically, the entire passage was easy. I spent much of the time on the bridge piloting and navigating. The nights were spent on my school’s sea-year project. I knew it had to be completed before reaching Sydney. Once in port, I’d spend my evening seeing the three things it was noted for – girls, beaches and beer. I felt no need to be confined to the seamen’s bars. The world had become smaller and friendlier, especially with the world debut of the Beatles. There were advances in everything from electric guitars to television shows on how to do the twist. President Kennedy had pointed to the moon and said let’s go there. We did that in 1969. Even the AUSTRAL PILOT’S voyage from Brooklyn to Sydney in three weeks made anything look possible.
    The approach to Sydney was beautiful. The sun had already set, leaving much of the harbor shadowed. However, the darkness did not distract from its beauty. I have always enjoyed helping take a vessel into a foreign port under the blanket of darkness. The ever-present fear of going aground lies within every officer. Piloting through foreign waters using radar, fathometers, lighted buoys and harbor sights allows for proper course changes and maneuvers. Everyone on the bridge knows his job and executes it with speed and efficiency.
    The first night in Sydney was a disappointment. I expected too much from this host country. “Scuttlebutt” told by the crew had me imagining streets lined with pretty girls waiting to see Americans. With these impressions in my mind, I inwardly yelled “Australia! Here I am and will be for a week.” Australia never answered the call. With the hope of hitching a ride, I decided to walk towards town. It was a long walk. I passed the town hall, library, university and City Hall before finding that the action was located at Kings Cross.
    I decided to go to the discotheque, Whiskey-A-Go-Go, I soon realized that dates had to be brought into that club. Without a date, I was told to move on. Getting my head around that thought, the first night ended with nothing but tired feet.
    The next morning, I worked cargo. As a cadet officer, I was given the responsibility of the officer-on-deck. Calling the boatswain to change cargo gear, aiding the deck maintenance man in removing obstructions, shifting ballast as containers are off-loaded, taking the draft, checking the stowage plans and accepting cargoes was the routine.
    The seamen’s nearby laughter startled me. They were laughing at the boatswain’s remarks on the Mets winning the Pennant. I worked a little higher on the ladder, hoping not to be brought into the conversation. They did not notice that I had already sank back into my thoughts.
    All that walking on my first night ashore, left me with a problem – a hole in my shoe. I found a shoe store just as it was getting ready to close. After telling the cobbler I was a cadet on an American vessel, he fixed it for free. Happy that the shoe was fixed, I decided to do some more walking. The streets were jammed with people and cars heading for home. In less than an hour, those streets were nearly deserted. I was walking slowly through the city’s maze trying to find my directions, when a crewmember with two young girls appeared. I quickened my pace toward them.
    The girls were asking him for two “bob.” He did not have any change and walked away. Giving them the twenty cents, I asked if they would like some coffee. Agreeing, we walked back to a café. They said their names were Morene and Linda. Neither of them looked much over eighteen. Linda looked like the type of high school girl who would be popular at any party. Morene looked like the singer Cher. Their appearances were wild and sexy with short yellow dress, matching leggings and low heels. After seeing through their cover of clothing, I was surprised to find down to earth girls.
    My train of thought was distracted by the boatswain’s sharp remark on where the green paint was stored. Without stopping work, “The green paint is in the after-paint locker. The boatswain brushed passed me headed for the stern. Looking down, I noticed that the level of paint in my bucket was good and continued brushing the ship’s ladder. With each stroke of the brush, my mind wondered back to Morene.
    The café was deserted with the exception of an elderly waitress. We ordered tea and a type of pastry that turned out to be a Yodel, a cream-filled cake made by Drake’s. The waitress brought the tea over. It looked like milk with a light brown color. “Excuse me,” I said facing the waitress, “Ah, what is this?” “What do you think it is? Tea” “May I have a cup of black tea?” The waitress returned shortly with a cup of plain black tea. “Thank you. Taa,” we all said in chorus.
    The girls laughed, mocking the way the waitress answered. They were having fun too. “What’s there to do?” “Nothing much,” said Linda, we just try different places.” “Do you girls live nearby?” “In a flat,” replied Linda. Morene’s eyes dropped solemnly and gazing at her clasped hands in a sullen voice said, “My stepfather came home really drunk one night and told me to get out.” She talked no more in the café. “I worked in a cafeteria first,” said Linda. “I met Morene there and she let me room with her. I’m saving money now to travel.” “How much do you make a week?” “Less than AUS $25.”
    We made small talk for an hour. They were more nervous than I was by the way they kept playing with the salt and pepper shaker, spilling them out on the table. I told them they better cool it. Sure enough, the waitress asked who made the mess. To my surprise, they were not concerned and answered her rudely. The waitress let us be. As time progressed, I began to feel more at ease with them. Throughout the night, they refused my efforts to pay for their drinks, even paying for some of mine.
    The girls were talking to each other. “I wonder what this bloke thinks of us? said Morene. “Probably thinks we’re crazy by the way we kept spilling the salt. As we finished our drinks, I asked Morene, if I could meet her after work tomorrow. She gave me her address and said to come by for tea.
    I could not wait. The next day’s routine of loading containers full of frozen mutton took my mind off what I hoped would be a good time. After knocking off work, I walked to Morene’s home and knocked on the door. She answered looking real good. She had on the shortest mini-skirt I had ever seen. I asked where Linda was. “She’s putting the wash on the clothes line. She will be back soon.” Morene offered beers, as I came in and looked around. Later, Linda brought out some silverware and put it on the table. Morene started talking about designs they had for different rooms. As she talked about colors and what looked like graffiti on the walls, I couldn’t keep my mind off her long legs. I asked if we were going to go out. Morene said that by asking me to come by for tea, she meant supper. I had some learning to catch up on Australian ways.
    Anyway, the food smelled ready – maybe too ready. The girls brought out plates with the meat and vegetables already spooned out. The vegetables were great but the meat was overdone. The girls were waiting for me to take a piece. It took some effort to cut off a piece and went down taking a piece of my throat with it. I said something about the food being really good.
    They turned the TV on and we sat round an electric heater. There was only one channel and it was the news. I turned off the volume and laughed at the serous faces trying to give accounts of politicians, death and war. We laughed a lot. Trying to keep things moving, I started a pantomime game, but they weren’t interested. I asked Morene, if she wanted to go out. “I have to get up early,” said Morene, “What do you want to do tomorrow?” I said it was really hard for seamen to meet real people, “I’d like to meet-up with you.” “How about seven thirty at the London Bar in King’s Cross?” Before I could accept, Linda said better make it seven. “Wait and I’ll call you a cab.” In the cab, all I could do was think about her. She too was probably talking about me with Linda.

    The next evening, I headed for the London Bar. The Club was stacked three levels high with the most luxurious on top. The people there looked like young executives. I bought a pitcher of beer and waited. The disappointment at first sharp, slid to a steady dullness. The pitcher was finished before I left.
    While walking home alone, feeling angry that she had set me up, I kept thinking why Morene played me, or had she. It was a good bar with plenty of opportunity to meet other girls. I walked back to the ship with that thought pulsating through my mind. I knew by morning, I’d get over my predicament as the ship’s routine took its hold over me. By evening, the Master posted departure time to coincide with high tide.
    Lost in thought, the boatswain’s shadow interrupted the mindless routine. “No spots missed,” he bellowed, but before I could smile, he added “Next time, do it ten times faster.” Pointing me to the next ladder that needed painting, I drifted off again.
    I licked the sea spray from my lips and thought how the AUSTRAL PILOT could do twenty-two knots through the doldrums. She passed through them for five years without a scar. Her youth and tenacity reminded me of mine. We both knew the drill of sailing on a container ship – one or two days in port followed by a long voyage.

Janet at Naples Beach, copyright © 1988-2017 Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

through choppy waters
quarrel through life’s twists and turns
‘til it’s smooth sailing

video videonot yet rated
See YouTube video 5/14/17 of Janet Kuypers reading her haiku poems “xeric”, “quarrel” and “Poem About This” in the intro performance to “Kick Butt Poetry” in Austin (Sony).
video videonot yet rated
See YouTube video 5/14/17 of Janet Kuypers reading her haiku poems “xeric”, “quarrel” and “Poem About This” in the intro performance to “Kick Butt Poetry” in Austin (Lumix).

View the Janet Kuypers bio.

Kill Mother

    “Pain cannot adequately be taught. To articulate it with clarity, it needs be experienced”


    Such a surprise. Over the past three years I learned that losing one’s grip on reality is seldom a sudden occurrence; rather it is sly, insidious and subtle. Not at all like pulling a light cord from a convenient wall socket, one moment on, the next off. No, no, it is gradual, not an immediate transition from light to darkness.
    Certainly not as I expected.
    It gains a foothold with enticing kaleidoscope rainbow colors, while life stretches the sanity membrane like a soft string of taffy. Finally thin and pliable it makes that irreversible turn at the corner of lucidity. Once around that fateful bend it is them, ‘all the world’ which changes. ‘They’ become the threat.
    This then became my haven of in—sanity. Deep within is brilliance turned inside out, raw as searing white hot pain, the sound of screaming without a voice, while drowning in this sea of air, everyone is staring, but nothing to be heard.
    Much like the hapless traveler alighting from a Tokyo airport tram in dead of night who finds he is deposited amongst beings with whom he cannot communicate. All directional signs are unintelligible characters, and he is the only person without black hair. He has landed in an alien world with no discernable rules, a world of unfathomable yet hysterical madness.

. . . . . . . . .

    You knew it . . . earlier tonight I should have gone straight home to bed. Rainy night, drip, drippity-drop on the roof top. Rainy nights always the best to fall asleep dreaming of strangling my cat. Feline, female . . . all the same.
    Besides, it had been an exhausting second week with my new employer, a job I landed with a local defense contractor. Actually the first ‘real job’ I’d been able to secure since graduating USC over three years ago. For me, tonight was another Thank God It’s Friday.

. . . . . . . . .

    Yet here we sit in the living room, listening to rain, swirling in gusts against the window pane.
    Less than an hour ago I cooked our dinner and we finished eating her favorite . . . spaghetti. My dear little sweetie turned three just two weeks ago, and sitting opposite me that little joy with those chubby legs sits bouncing in her chair, her light blue dress nearly matching her beautiful blue eyes, while engrossed in her picture book.
    “Daddy, what’s this,” she asked, and I got up to look over and reply.
    “A green alligator sweetie, but they live far away across the country in a Florida swamp, maybe not here with us.”

. . . . . . . . .

    Finishing work late this afternoon I succumbed to an incessant compulsion, the one I could not put to rest; go pick my daughter up from preschool. The compulsion brought on by that ‘God Damn’ judges restraining order yesterday. Think about it. Her first three years I . . . I had been both mom and her dad . . . I her only one. Now at all cost I needed to assert myself, as my manhood lay shattered, all in wreckage.
    I accomplished my mission before my wife could arrive there from USC’s Med Center across town. Driving in this drizzly weather I could not forget she always was a cautious driver, especially on rain wet streets.
    Surely the preschool headmaster did not give a second thought. He who was faced with the crush of parents arriving all at once, as rain began in earnest. And how quickly he recognized me, waving ‘hallo’ at the familiar face of her father, as she flew into my arms crying ‘Daddy - daddy’.
    With a broad triumphant grin, off we drove.
    Of course headmaster was not yet aware of the court restraining order. The order requiring me to stay away from both of them. Best of all, yesh best of all, her mom had no idea where I lived, she knew not of our whereabouts. We were totally isolated from her authority.
    Yeaahhh! . . . chalk one up for me, I beat her on this one.
    Yes, yesh.

. . . . . . . . .

    Barbara, Barbara, mother’s name. Why my wife named our little daughter after mother, when the most casual observer would have concluded they were not friends? No surprise. Mother seldom came to visit, and we had never visited her here at home . . . that is before her commitment to the psycho ward. Did jealousy drive her there?
    Yet tonight . . . everything so familiar. I feel her presence. Mother’s photo smiling down from the mantel. Her thrift-store perfume in the air, or perhaps my memory.
    And now . . . sweetie and I have the house, ‘all to ourselves’.
    Must be an ‘Amber Alert’ on every freeway overpasses describing my silver BMW.
When I parked in the garage I even left my cell in the car. Now its constant pinging can only respond taking messages.
    A feeling of satisfaction settled over me, one of sexual arousal, of mastering my own destiny. A feeling of finally, finally getting even with that son—, or ‘daughter-of-a-bitch’. Three years of psychological dominance and sexual deprivation. But now I had her. Let her experience my agony. Yes, yesh the thought of her horrified face looking . . . looking, frantically seeking but nothing to see, it put a smile in my minds eye and one on my face.
    But how did I ever come to be married, and have such a beautiful child of my own?
    A mystery I could never unravel.
    Think mon, think.
    No, no more memories. Hadn’t I suffered enough at the hands of insanity?

. . . . . . . . .

    My wife, God bless her shriveled soul, obtained her masters in psychotherapy.
    We met right here in L.A. during our respective masters programs at the University of Southern California, she in psychology and mine in physics. She was the cutest friend I’d made in a long while, and perhaps with my tall dark brooding appearance and skewed perspective of women, I presented a challenge. She had certainly ratcheted up my sexual desires with her free adventuresome spirit. Upon graduation her application was accepted into a residency program at USC’s Med Center. And once we discovered she was pregnant, off we sped to Vegas for a quickie wedding. All while I still sought employment that never came. There was an oversupply of graduates with my same degree, and my grades were less than spectacular, I was at the bottom of my class; no distinction.
     Before I realized what happened, I was house-mom, and my wife our bread winner. It wasn’t long before this became a discarded cold damp condom on our relationship. Nights spent sleeping next to the warm flesh of a live female, yet one with constant nightly headaches, only inflamed my desires as I caught the scent of her sex spot.

. . . . . . . . .

    Glancing at our daughter across the room I thought, her mom must be going crazy-nuts with worry by now, and a smile creased my face, followed by uncontrollable and hysterical laughter booming throughout the house. I hadn’t laughed so hard since I set my cousin Margie’s hair on fire. With the back of my hand swiping tears from my cheek, I further loosening my shirt and tie. Stretching out my legs my tired head lolled back on the couch. I began drifting off, a solid erection building in my slacks with the thought of her mom’s terrified face.

. . . . . . . . .

    Childish laughter roused me . . . at first not recognizing. Where am I?
    In my drowsy state I had seen myself, aged fifteen again invited into mom’s bedroom just down the hall from where we sit tonight. Mother would ever so slowly and seductively undress dropping her skirt, blouse, bra, and panties, until my awareness was protruding through my underwear.
    “Wow, look at you,” she’d exclaim with a sly impish grin.
    “Now go on back to your own room sweety, before we’re both in trouble.”
    For her, I was ‘sweety’, and she shooed me back to my own room. Closing my door I stepped out of my under shorts and admired my full erection in the wall mirror.
    Using the hand-dance passed down by males over the last one hundred-thousand years, I brought myself to exhausted satisfaction. Tho on many occasions her cunning smile peeked around my bedroom door, checking to see I was still awake, and with a broad wink of one eye she’d tiptoe in to performed her striptease until stark naked. Then throwing my covers aside to see my erection producing a sheet tent, she’d reach beneath wrapping her hand around her sweety’s hardness. She’d perform an up and down motion of pure ecstasy until I was totally relieved. Thanks mother.

. . . . . . . . .

    Whhaaat . . . fully waking . . . what was my little sweetie laughing about?
    It was my fish tank. The one mother bought me years back.
    Since two months old, ‘my sweetie’ was fascinated by my multicolored collection of tropical fish. She could spend long moments watching them dart here and there, laughing at their seriousness.
    Can’t let those nasty boys put their filthy hands on her, their desperate drooling mouths and lustful eyes, as she lets them run their dirty fingers up her legs beneath her dress to where legs meet her soft wet spot.

. . . . . . . . .

    Again dozing off I thought, where was the beginning of it all?
    Shortly after my sixth birthday father suddenly died leaving us with a house, a car, some money in the bank, and mother seven months pregnant with my sis. When she was born, sis never had had a chance to know our dad, but as she lay so helpless in her baby crib I thought to myself, now being man of the house, her six year old big brother will be her father/protector.
    For our benefit, it should have been our mother who died and our father who survived.
    Each Friday night she drove my sister and I to be deposited in the inner-city with our grandmother where her alcoholic and abusive brother lived. She did this so that with no handicap she could go out and screw everyone in sight that she could dredge up over a weekend, all under the pretense of finding a father for her two fatherless kids. Irony was that most of them were just this side of qualifying ‘skid-row homeless’, and without exception hated kids. Mother never sold herself, she gave it away to all comers, she had become the truest meaning of the word ‘whore’.
    For sis and I, our young existence was a ripe garbage dump, the contents of a stinking sewer, but as kids will do we survived.

. . . . . . . . .

    Remembering back . . . one night riding our bikes through darkened neighborhood streets, my buddy Timothy and I were out ‘Peeping Tom’ at lighted bathroom windows, hoping to spy a lady in the tub or shower. No such luck tonight, so with school the next day we split up.
    Had to be not much later than ten when I stepped upon our front porch and inserting my key in the door lock I walked in as I’d done on hundreds of past occasions. There on the couch was mother with her dress scrunched up around her neck and her latest boyfriend’s pants at his ankles as they went at it.
    Of course they jumped up and blamed me for barging in.
    What? I hadn’t done anything different than on any other night or day.
    But by then all respect for mom was long dead, she had become an insult to the memory of our father. Seeds of sickness were nurtured, festering, lurking in my subconscious . . . Kill Mother.

. . . . . . . . .

    Outside our windows the storm persisted, with a lightning bolt strike so close — immediately followed by a clap of thunder shaking those same windows.
    All lights went out and sweetie rushed to my arms in the sudden dark crying
    “Daddy - Daddy!”
     I could not see her.
    What were my fingers grasping?
    “Barbara? . . . mother — is that you?”
    Grabbing her soft throat squeezing, squeezing, squeezing so hard my thumbs could feel my fingers at the back of her neck. Those bad boys won’t ever get to touch you.
    “Mother . . . motherrrrrrr”, still squeezing so hard my orgasm came and my shaky legs felt warm wetness inside my pants.
    Another lightning flash and her blue eyes popped like ripe grapes.
    Her struggling stopped as she stilled in my shaking arms.
    “Now sweetie, see what? I’ve saved us both, you’ll never lose your virginity.”
    Yech, what stinks?
    Her panties. Dirty!
    What to do?
    Have to get rid of it.
    I tossed away this limp blue rag still in my quaking grasp.
    “Yesh!” The fish . . . the fish!
    Outside under the sewer manhole cover in the middle of our street the storm drain led to the ocean and the fish she loved so much.
    As kids we’d try and pry it open to drop in dead kittens, but for kids, that iron cover lay wayyy too heavy.
    In the dark feeling my way to the back door, I rushed out through pouring rain to the garage and my Beemer. I could see my cell lying on the front seat its blinking red dot alerting me to voice mail. Hah-ha, forget it. Opening the drivers door I needed to pop the trunk lid and grab my tire iron.
    Intense rain was coming in sheets as I slogged back to reentered the house, dripping, shaking and soaking wet. With my heel kicking the door shut behind I felt my way in darkness to reach mother’s now silent living room.
    Where was it? Did I trip over something at my feet? A crumpled throw rug?
    Where had she gotten to? I dropped to my knees searching the darkness.
    Another flash of lightning reflected in her protruding blue eyes as she awkwardly leaned towards me on the floor, propped against the couch where I had tossed her.
    I jumped away.
    Scrambling to my feet with tire-iron grasped in one hand, I grabbed up this soiled limp rag-doll, dangling it by one plump leg and went out the front door slamming it closed.
    The sewer manhole cover wasn’t directly in front, but lay in the center of our street just before the rise. Jamming my tire-iron into the notch on the edge of the shiny wet cover I pried it open a foot or more. Deep inside I could hear rushing storm waters.
    Lowering my sweetie, then dropping plop, for her to flush to the fishies far at sea.
    Can’t wait to tell her mom ‘go fishing’; and see if she can reel her back in.

. . . . . . . . .

    Whaaa . . . ? an oncoming car splashing towards me.
    Turning I began to stand just as my right foot slipped on the wet steel rim and the iron cover crashed down trapping my ankle. Over the rise in the roadway headlights and flashing red were barreling down through torrential rain. Staggering up on my one free leg, arms flailing, my right foot still held pinned in the jaws of the sewer cover. The police car with mom inside had no time to react, the impact so severe it wrenched me out of my steel trap, sending me sailing across the roadway. Last sound was the man-hole cover clanking solidly back into place, as my head smashed into the corner light standard like a splattering egg.
    Bye-bye sweetie, bye sweety.

Bird Island
Chapter 7

Patrick Fealey

    Bird sees how it fears Bird, the mother who leads its little ones onto the sand. Bird watches the box the little human drags across the sand and it is true to look at Bird, but Bird will not go to the food if the humans are with it.

    Bird pulls at the hair on Wawp’s lip. Wawp strokes it and strokes it. Wawp’s nose is white and wet and Bird doesn’t like it. Wawp and Bird are sitting in the sun. This is one of the stillest things Wawp does. But there is food here and the one Wawp calls “Amy.” Bird hops onto her leg and pulls on Amy’s fine blonde hairs. Amy laughs.

    Amy swims out while Wawp sits. Amy comes back.

    “See that toddler on the edge of the water,” Wawp says. “If I wasn’t here, he’d have already drowned twice. I’m a hero.”
    “Tommy, you’re cooking,” Amy says. “Put on your hat.”
    Bird flies to Wawp’s shoulder.
    Bird and Wawp are high in the white chair and Bird watches the box of food. The small humans open it and close it. The small humans have drinks. A white gull lands nearby.
    “See the rubber raft on the roof of that car,” Wawp says. “There’s an argument about town ordinances.”
    “I’ll handle it,” Amy says.
    “You’re the lawyer. And that yacht cruising into the mouth of the cove? It’s going to run over a swimmer.”
    Amy says, “We also must look out for open alcohol, kids climbing on lifeguard chairs, people trying to sneak onto the beach for free, broken glass, Man-O-War jellyfish floating in the waves, dogs crapping in the sand, electrical storms, and kites that could fall from the sky and impale innocent sunbathers – or lifeguards. Chill out.”

    The small humans with the food box are by the water sticking their hands into the sand and throwing it. Their white bodies are spotted with black mud. The smaller small human squats in the sand near the water, scooping mud while the other shouts at it, its clenched fists leaking mud down its wrists.
    “Those kids are going to blind one another,” Amy says.
    “What are you, a nihilist?”
    “You told me to chill.”
    “You want to see one of them get hurt?”
    “No, I want to see all of them go home.”
    “I’m blowing the whistle,” Amy says.
    “That’s what they want. Outlaw status.”
    “Where did they find you?”
    “How come I never met you?”
    “Different generations?”
    “I’m only four years older than you.”
    The small humans run into the water and fall on one another. The small humans come apart and throw water at one another and into the air. The mother lies in the sun on its stomach, its head up with papers flapping in front of it. The box sits in the sand. The white gull stands with its head up, watching.
    “Have you read Poe?” Amy asks.
    “I like him, but do people think you’re weird?”
    “Bird, are we weird?”
    “HOT DAWG!”
    “Does he understand what he’s saying?” Amy asks.
    “Right now he’s hungry, but I’ll tell you, yes. He started young. One time he was on my mother’s clothesline, one of his favorite spots, and she wanted to hang some clothes. She told him to get off. He was only a couple months old. She shook the line, yelling at him to get off . He said to her, clear as day, ‘NO.’ He probably learned that off us kids. He understands what he hears and ravens, which are bigger, have the largest vocabulary of any animal on earth. Sometimes Bird talks in some funky language that is the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard, really complicated and beautiful. There are words he can’t say because there are physical limitations. It’s not his language. And of course he reads what’s going on without words. I don’t know what or how he thinks, but he thinks.”
    “He’s funny,” Amy says. “And smart, and gentle.”

    “Do you mind if I read?” Amy says.
    “Go ahead.”
    “Tommy, you ever read this?” Amy says.
    “What is it?”
    “The Sun Also Rises.”
    “He’s a great writer.”
    “He is.”
    “But I don’t like how he portrays women,” Amy says.
    “I’ve heard that before,” Wawp says.
    “What do you think? Do you think he portrays women the way they are?”
    “I don’t know much about women. Maybe he thought he was supposed to like them.”
    “I think he’s a sexist,” Amy says. “And you’re a sexist.”
    “And a nihilist, don’t forget.”
    “And what are you? A beautiful waitress who’s going to law school in September?”
    “I’m here to make sure nobody drowns.”

    A human is coming toward our perch, a yellow-head in white shorts, the one who was here some other time Bird was sitting with Wawp and Amy. A skinny human with an unbuttoned white shirt, no hair on its chest. The yellow hair on its head hangs into its eyes, over the shiny black glasses. It throws its head back. It wants to mate with Amy. Wawp does not like it and it does not like Wawp. Last time Wawp did not talk to it as it did not talk to Wawp, who it does not want there. Bird smells food in its brown bag, again.
    “Hey Amy!”
    “Hi,” Amy says.
    It stops. Looks up at Amy. “How you been?” Its voice is high, the yellow-headed songbird.
    “Great. You?”
    “Fan-tas-tic,” it says.
    “Dave, this is Tommy.”
    “And that’s Bird,” it says. “We met last week.”
    “Oh yeah. My head is all mixed up from two jobs, studying, and no sleep.”
    “Heard it was busy last night,” it says. “It was busy the other night too.”
    “Dave is a waiter,” Amy says.
    “I brought you something from the restaurant,” it says. “Are you hungry?”
    “Starving,” Amy says.
    “Fantastic. C’mon down and eat.”
    Bird lofts to the sand and walks over. The sand is hot. Amy climbs down while Wawp watches the ocean. “What did you bring me?” Amy says.
    The yellow-head attracts her. It pulls a bag of green grapes from the brown bag. Then a long loaf of bread. Then white paper with something of meat wrapped inside. “Think goose,” it says. Amy puts her nose to the paper.
    “You got it.”
    Bird lands on Amy’s shoulder to be noticed. She likes Bird. It gives Bird a grape. Bird holds it in Bird’s throat and waits and it gives Bird another grape, and another grape. Bird’s throat full, Bird flies up to Wawp’s shoulder. Bird brings up a grape and pushes it on Wawp’s mouth. Bird pushes it against Wawp’s teeth. Wawp makes a noise at Bird, then accepts it. Bird swallows the other grapes and glides down for the meat.
    “Now the pate is for us,” it says. “You wouldn’t want to eat one of your own.”
    “Sure he would,” Wawp says.
    “‘The Raven’ can eat Mother Goose for lunch,” Amy says.

    Amy walks down to the water and bends, puts Amy’s hands in, cups water and splashes Amy’s arms. Amy splashes Amy’s legs, rubs Amy’s legs. Amy brings water to Amy’s face.
    Wawp says, “Bird, she’s the most beautiful woman I have ever known. The most beautiful woman I have ever really talked to. Notice her voice? It’s like velvet on sandpaper. She’s sharp. Cody was telling me all about her body, her long legs, her dirty blonde hair. It’s all true, but that I get to look into her sunny green eyes every day . . . That has given me reason to think my life has turned some corner.”
    Amy climbs back to be with Wawp and Bird and says, “You didn’t eat. You should have some food.”
    “I’m gonna get one of those gaggers,” Wawp says.
    “A little mustard, a little onions, they taste like . . . Like hot dogs.”
    “HOT DAWG!”
    “See, Bird approves.”
    “Bird would eat a dead skunk. You two oughta come over my house for dinner some night,” Amy says. “Do you like swordfish?”
    “I love swordfish”
    “It’s not Donaldfish, Bird.”
    “I get my schedule tomorrow. I’ll cook you dinner one night next week.”
    “Really? Okay. Yeah.”
    “What do you think of Dave?” Amy asks.
    “I mean, do you like him?”
    “I don’t know. For you, you mean?”
    “Dave? He’s nice.”
    “He is. But I don’t know if I’m into these hyper-sensitive types. Do you know what I mean?”
    “You mean like the pate?”
    Amy laughs. “Yeah, the pate.”
    “I don’t know either,” Wawp says.
    “Do you have a girlfriend?” Amy says.
    “Well, it’s summer and anything can happen.”

    The sky moves before the sun. The day goes out and the beach is grey. The wind comes up fast off the water, taking sand and putting it into Bird’s eyes. The water sprays the sand. Amy pulls on soft gray pants. Wawp and Amy put on their orange coats. The wind blows the humans into their cars. The last mother herds its small humans toward the car, dragging the food box behind. It is Bird with Wawp and Amy, perched in the wind and cold, watching the water jump white.

    A big blue car comes up and stops with its front in the sand hill. Three humans get out and slam doors. The humans look toward Bird and Wawp. “Idiots,” Wawp says. “Bet you they want directions to the lighthouse.”
    “Or they want to walk a cat, because this beach is one giant litter box,” Amy says.
    One of the humans comes close and calls out Wawp’s other name, “Tommy!”
    “Billy?” Wawp climbs down.
    The human is big and has red spots. He looks at Bird.
    “You have a Bird on your shoulder, dude,” it says.
    “Bird’s a crow. The Bird is Bird. This is Billy, Bird.”
    “Those things scare me. Don’t they bite?”
    “It’s the peck you gotta be afraid of. But Bird is one of us.”
    “He’s one of you.”
    “Is that Jones you got over there?” Wawp says.
    “Yep, and I got Michelle over there too, if you wanna see her.”
    “Michelle who?” Wawp says.
    “Your Michelle.”
    “Michelle?” Wawp looks to the car. Wawp follows red spots over to the two humans standing at the blue car. A yellow-head female and a tall human with long arms and coiled black hair. The yellow-head is smiling and Wawp’s neck is tight. It has big blue eyes and Bird knows Michelle. It was Wawp’s mate and it is smiling again. Wawp and Michelle press against one another and Michelle’s hair is in Bird’s eyes. Michelle smells like a mate. Bird blinks and twists. Wawp lets Michelle go and the humans and Michelle stand looking at Wawp.
    “Still have him,” Michelle says.
    “Yep. He follows me to school every day.”
    “You’re the only guy I know.”
    “What are you guys doing on the island?”
    “Just driving around,” red spots says.
    “Just driving around,” the tall human says.
    “We heard you got yourself a government job,” red spots says.
    “I didn’t know you could swim,” the tall human says.
    “I took a course in it.”
    “I don’t know if I would swim here,” the tall human says.
    “The sewage pipe discharges over a quarter mile out,” Wawp says.
    “You want to go for a walk?” Michelle says. “I want to go for a walk.”
    “No,” red spots says.
    “We just stopped to say hi,” the tall human says.
    “I want to go for a walk,” Michelle says. “Do you want to go, Tommy?”
    “You’re going to desert us?” The tall human says.
    “Just like that?” the tall human says.
    Michelle smiles.

    Wawp and Michelle walk the sand. Bird follows the feet. Bird has followed Wawp and Michelle in the sand before. The sand is fine and with stones. Bird finds more plastic tubes and glass. Bird hops along, close to the water, looking for crabs and fish. Waves come in flat and rushed by the wind. Wawp and Michelle stop and Michelle takes off Michelle’s shoes. Michelle’s white feet are wrinkled and Michelle’s toes shine red.
    Wawp, Michelle, and Bird go along the water. Michelle walks in the water. Wawp looks back. Amy is sitting in the perch alone. Amy is looking away. A wave rolls up Michelle’s legs and Michelle laughs.
    “It’s cold!”
    “I’ve thought about you,” Wawp says.
    “I’ve thought about you too. I’ve missed you.”
    “How’s school?” Wawp says.
    “More than I thought, but they help us.”
    “The Ivy League way.”
    “Shut up,” Michelle says.
    “I’ve dropped out of pre-med. I’ve been writing for the school paper and doing coke.”
    “It’s all about finding your way. I’m lucky. I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was a kid.”
    The sand stops where the smooth flat rocks and big dark rocks are piled in the waterline. Wawp helps Michelle up and they move slowly from rock to rock. Bird flies from rock to rock. Wawp and Michelle talk. Wawp and Michelle climb down to the water and Bird follows. Together crouched on a rock, looking into a pool. Barnacles wave and hermit crabs walk by under the other Wawp and Michelle. Bird sees a black bird on the water and sees Bird.
    “Bird, who’s that?”
    Bird turns.
    Wawp and Michelle laugh.
    “Shouldn’t you get back?” Michelle says.
    “It’s okay. Amy is cool. There’s no one to watch. Except you.”
    Wawp leans into Michelle and puts Wawp’s face to Michelle’s.
    Wawp and Michelle hop to another rock. Wawp and Michelle climb up the side of the high rock and stand on it. Bird flies to Wawp’s shoulder. Wawp is looking toward the beach, a narrow band of sand across the cove where Amy is an orange seagull, small and with nobody else.
    “I have to get back,” Wawp says. Wawp sounds like something is wrong.
    “Okay,” Michelle says.
    Wawp and Michelle touch faces and Wawp leans into Michelle. Bird glides away from Wawp and Michelle. Wawp puts his hand on Michelle’s back and his hand on Michelle’s front. Michelle puts Michelle’s hands on Wawp’s back. Wawp and Michelle stand on the high rock like mates.
    Wawp and Michelle climb down the rock toward Bird. Wawp and Michelle move fast, jumping from rock to rock. Wawp and Michelle run across the flat ones.
    “What are you doing tonight?” Wawp says.
    “I don’t have any plans,” Michelle says.
    “You want to do something?”
    “Me and you?” Michelle says. “Sure.”

    The blue car shakes. The noise hurts as the glass goes down and red spots looks out. The noise goes down. Bird sees the tall human past red spots. He is stiff while red spots looks at Wawp and Michelle. Michelle says, “You guys can go. I’m staying.”
    “Whatever,” red spots says. The tall human stares at the water.
    Wawp stands.
    The noise comes up. The black tires spin, kicking white sand into the wind.
    The blue car is gone.
    “You can wait in my car,” Wawp says.
    “I have to get back to work.”
    Michelle follows Bird and Wawp to the pale red car and Wawp opens the door for Michelle and Michelle gets in. Wawp gives Michelle the ring of shiny keys Bird wants.
    “I might use the radio,” Michelle says.

    Wawp walks back to Amy. Amy’s hood is pulled around Amy’s face on the ground at the bottom of the white perch. Amy’s face is behind the black glasses and deep inside the hood. Wawp sits beside Amy. Wawp and Amy, Bird’s friends, do not talk. Bird hops from Wawp’s shoulder to his leg to get out of the wind.
    “Where the hell did you go?” Amy says. “No! Don’t tell me! What do you think this is? You think you can just take off and go screw what’s-her-name and leave me here alone?”
    “Was it stressful?” Wawp says.
    “ . . .”
    Amy smiles. “No, it wasn’t stressful. There was no one here, except Dave, again.”
    “I’m sorry.”
    “Who is she anyway?”
    “Her name is Michelle and we didn’t screw.”
    “Is she an old girlfriend?”
    “Do you still like her?”
    “I don’t know.”

Bird Island
Chapter 8
The Reformer

Patrick Fealey

    The meat. Bird flies up when the sun is high to see if the screen is open. The humans live here who park cars behind Wawp’s house. It is the highest roof. Bird stands on the hot roof and looks through the window screen where the meat comes from. The humans here do not feed Bird.

    The round one is in there. It opens a can of fish and dumps it into a bowl. It sticks a spoon into a white glass and shakes it into the bowl. It bangs the bowl with the spoon. It reaches for bread at the top of the big white box. It puts bread into the shiny metal box and they go away. It sticks its finger into the bowl and then its mouth.

    The shiny metal box makes a noise: the bread. The round one goes over and grabs the bread. It spoons fish onto the bread. It covers the fish with bread and eats into it. It sits at the table. It eats. It does not see Bird. The fish is gone. It stands up with the spoon and makes the water.

    It takes the fish can to the pile where the meat is and drops it on top. The can rolls and falls. It is on the floor.


    It bends over. It pushes the can into the top of the pile. It walks out of the food room.


    Bird stands on the roof outside the window where there is meat.

    The round one walks into the food room. Its face wrinkles. “Fucking slobs.” It goes to the big white box and the light comes and it drinks from a paper box and puts it back into the white box and closes the door. It walks out, shaking its head.


    The screen. Bird watches the round one eat from a bowl at the table. Bird smells milk. Bird smells the meat pile. Sometimes it looks at the pile, leaning high against the wall. Bird comes to the house, but always the screen. “Shit,” the round one says, standing. It goes over to the pile and puts its face to it. “Unbelievable. We have maggots. Not under god in whom we do not believe, communism has failed because all men are not created equal. But I am not going to be the one to take out the goddamned garbage again.”
    It stands up. It throws the bowl into the water hole. It walks out.


    Fish. Apple. Meat. Beer.

    “They’re growing fat on our laziness,” the round one says.
    A female human walks into the kitchen. It is dressed in black and white.
    “Isn’t it disgusting?” it says. “Makes me want to vomit.”
    It goes to the big white box and bends into it. The round one watches it. It stands and says, “I can’t believe no one has taken it out yet.”
    “Yeah. I know what you mean. I’m not taking it out because I do enough around this place. Vaccuum, bring in the mail. If you slobs want to live with maggots . . . “
    “At least it’s November. Pretty soon it’ll be too cold for flies.”


    In Bird’s tree Bird sits on Bird’s feet until the sun breaks the cold. The day is not the birds that were here yesterday.

    Bird can hear the sound coming from the house. The air through the screen is warm and dusty. Meat, worms, and worm shit. The screen blocks Bird.

    The round one walks into the food room. Its hair is wet and flat. It reaches for the bread on top of the big white box, goes to the table, takes two pieces of bread to the shiny box and makes them disappear. It looks at the pile against the wall. There is a shiny can on the floor. A box stands beside the pile. Small pale yellow worms cling to the shiny green bags. The round one comes to the window and raises its arms and grabs the glass window and pushes it up. It sees Bird sitting outside the screen. It stops. Bird is ready to fly. “Jesus Christ! Now we have vultures!”

    The round one is eating at the table. It is looking across at the wall above the pile. It is staring. It stiffens with its food in its hands. Something is moving on the wall. It is the worms. The worms are crawling up the wall. It stands up and goes to the worms.
    “Maggots! You’re cold! Go ‘til you hit the ceiling, you fuckers. This is appalling, absolutely the saddest fucking day.”


    The round one works on the pile. It makes sounds and words at it. It takes bags out of the food room and puts them into the back of a truck. Bird watches and waits. It comes back and leans over the pool on the floor with a stick and pushes until it is gone. It blows flowers from a can. It looks up at the worms running away. It’s neck bends. “You may be warm, maggots, but you have only each other for food.”


    A new smell and the flowers from the round one’s can, but no meat or fish or worms. The round one has taken the kill. The round one is in the food room with a white sheet. It is putting it over the big white food box. There are sheets on the floor with black. A human walks into the food room and says “Hi” to the round one. It looks at the big white box. The round one stands beside it.
    “Can I get in there?”
    “You know what happened with the garbage?” the round one says.
    “Well, there’s a new house rule that says there’s no more community garbage. From now on, keep it in your room.”
    “What kind of rule is that? What? How are we supposed to cook? Who says?”
    “The landlord,” the round one says.
    “You told him?”
    “There were thousands of maggots in this kitchen because the assholes who live here are too lazy to take out the trash.”
    “I don’t support it.”
    “You don’t have any choice. You’re one of the assholes.”
    “Our rooms? What are you, a fascist?”
    “I’d rather have maggots.”
    “As long as you keep them in your own room, you can call me Mussolini.”


    The round one is in the food room on a metal tree, scratching the wall high. The worms have no smell. The skins crumble and fall to the floor as dust without insides. It stops scratching and looks at the worms. It scratches slowly. Worm, stopping. Worm . . .
    A human comes into the food room.
    “Not yet.”
    “The place needs it.”
    “I’m scraping maggots off the wall.”
    “You’re kidding.”
    “No. They went up the wall to escape the cold.”
    “That’s gross.”
    “I’m thinking about leaving some, at least one.”
    “Because new tenants will never be able to understand why we have no community garbage. I am going to leave one maggot, as a matter of fact. I’ll paint around it. Leave it here, yellow and dried and stuck to the fucking wall, so when the next asshole communist complains and swears he’ll take out the garbage, I can show it to him: This is how bad things had gotten. This is what your promises are worth. It will be a maggot to end all maggots.”


Lunchtime Poll Topic (commentaries on relevant topics)

Peace on You, Too


I know that’s what people would like to hear. Forgive and forget.
But I’d be shuckin’ you if I told you that.

—from Smokin’ Joe, by Joe Frazier (1996; MACMILLAN)

    My mother, the older she grew, communicated increasingly in ritual. In the case of Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, this was by way of “Dear Abby” columns, or happy crappy tortures like each naming something we were thankful, for. I’ll begin my ending for auld lang ‘17, by telling you I’m thankful for this opportunity granted by Scars, to carpetbomb you with what I know. With my voice. Which would be saying I’m thankful for my voice, and I am, but, no. It’s the publisher, and grace and boons granted. Many of those who have led us to Fitzgerald and led us to Faulkner and led us to Tennessee Williams, are supposed to be gatekeepers, but are often censors. Some, proceed from agendaism and others, from plain, naked fear. I’m glad to have been given way for a time, through the venue and by the wisdom of a Boss Lady who cares, as I do, about what is right and righteous—in the universe of Scars, “right” being to openly say, then hope for reaction as action itself, or even contention, as someone or group of someones, made to think for themselves, will fight ahead, into mists of the Future. In short, statements undoctored, ideas or dismissal as written blows, are provocative. Scars Publications, lets it be written, so in the end, whatever it be, something gets done.

    As we did last year, let’s go to my CEE mailbag for a mini-cornucopia of response. I’ve said, whatever riceball of “holidays” you’re into, should be your focus, not a single topic mauled obsessive, like I’m a cat with a roll of paper towels. So. we’ll dig right in...and...this first, has the branding of Standard Oil of Indiana on the envelope, and the small note inside, very tasteful stationary, is signed by one “Oysters Rockefeller”. Woah, and Ms. Rockefeller says, “Interested in your take on alternate energy sources, since you’re so fatalistic, re: the future of this planet.”

    Uh, well, your own sentence sums it for you, unless I go for laughs, and I don’t pretend to be joking. I won’t sit here and claim my doom-centered prose is kidfriendly or that it has a toy prize inside. The things I know, I simply know. Much of my information, I’ve compiled from sources who would in person, turn off lights in my home whilst they scolded, or remove junk I was munching from my very hands, before they drew back a nub. What I myself tell you, is far more parrot than Jimmy Olsen. The information is out there, it has been out there. Eventually, math comprises all reality. We’re fucked, even if we all wake up in Mao jackets and bare feet, tomorrow! I don’t say that as the son of a man who made his postwar fortune in auto parts. I say it as an informational masochist drawn too often to words he hates. Hate, of course, doesn’t correct malignancies, but neither does Love. Totalitarian control does, but no one wants that yoke. Orwellian society, I’d add, seldom hugs earth and sky.
    However, if we spin the Hypothetical Universe roulette wheel, you need to know, for example, your electric chair of a WATCHMENmobile, is no savior. ‘Flix or otherwise rent the brief Lone Gunmen spinoff of The X-Files. There’s a terrific episode centering around the legendary “car that runs on a water pill” (the one I heard Tucker died for). The payoff logic, is grim: water-fueled automobiles were avoided, because scratching gas still left you with a monster requiring oil for almost every other working part...and the expense of gasoline dispensed with, cars, much cheaper, would be 12x the number we see on the road, today. Those who play the Angry Young Game, don’t think this stuff through. We can’t just push a button. This isn’t Shift-Return, Alt-Delete, then be happy we cared for a time. Half-measures, shallow “S”-turns, hanging in there for a season, no chance. And, to do without, to really suffer? For how long? Decades? The few cheerleaders for that, will be the first humans burned for fuel! Get it straight, there will be humans burned for fuel. If losing an election or an NCAA championship nets reprise of Chicago, 1968, the warmth of the many outweighs the lifeforce of the few.
    I could play into the hands of those who find me a throwback, sing “gimme that Old Time Propulsion”, but why bother? I condemn windmills for the same reason I don’t eat quiche, but fill our nation with them, hell!, and lend me some wooden shoes, besides! Good luck, good luck with that. The dikes have sprung leaks multiplicative. Human, is drag-foot asshole, and Science Itself admits It can’t save us. We are condemned, not by grumpy opinions, but by the PNR of the calendar. Whether I think solar panels are anything but eyesores, is really a moot point. By the way, Nelson was a fake Vice President. You don’t appoint anyone, to within a heartbeat of the throne. Thank you for writing.

    I specifically set this next one aside, it’s from a Prof. Wesley Muntz. I’ll share that his field is Sociology, but will censor the name of the university, because it isn’t a Big Ten School... Prof. Muntz, has this to say: “While I enjoy your ironic take and skewed viewpoint, it has come to my attention you avoid issues of gender warfare, inequalities, injustices, etc. I understand you speak almost entirely in rhetoric, but find this point a bit suspicious, after thorough perusal of your columns. You all but grey out the war on women and(or) their struggles upward, even 98 years after the 19th Amendment. Are you even interested in bringing light, to this particular elephant in the room?”

    I’m interested in “what works”, Professor. Everything else, is a holdy-handsie healing group. Everyone cries; few, want to dry Others’, bottom line first, why I barely cruise gender issues: You’d have had to lived my life, to know why I believe what I believe...and one thing I believe utterly, is that Louis CK has the right of this much, that “sexism ain’t goin’ anywhere!” Gender division is in reality, what many would like to make of the heavy minority influx, e.g. “you took our jobs!” Gender equality in all but lip service, is seen even silently, to play as zero sum—in effect, what food is on the table, is there for those who grab and gorge, and if you think this is Musical Chairs with “rules” involved, get to your corner, Cinderella! You don’t “ask”, because no one’s going to ask you. Not with a shred of sincerity.
    I believe people not only love to talk about themselves, it’s pretty much the driving force of their every interest, else you’d not have self-help sorts admonishing “listen, don’t just be formulating a reply”. In my book, the so-called “self-interested person” is, but for timidity or lack of confidence or bowing to stronger personalities, All of Us. And this would mean, if one has something to share, be it about themselves, their experiences, something they’re proud of or have accomplished, a dear memory or unforgettable character, a bit of wisdom or bon mot...then no one, not coworker, not date, not lover, not friend, should have to worm it out of them. Conversation, is only an art form in pyramid schemes or lobbying. If you have pride or a point to make, if there’s something bursting your seams, Say It! I may like you, love you or think you’re the Pieta. I’m not a prospector and you’re no mountain. Speak up! I can assure you, I’ll do the same.
    How this dovetails with marches, movements and angry ideology in singsong, is that—and I’d think you’d peep to this, by now—There Is Only A Vast Collection of Parts, No Whole, other than by vote or arms. There’s certainly no realized “sum”, other than by simple count. If, as an anarchist friend had it in 1986, “people are becoming individuals and not ‘parts of things’, anymore”, then, SURPRISE! Self-separatism, therefore includes a separating away from all other individuals. And you have, presto change-o, eliminated “movements” of any kind, for any group, as each is to her own focus and facet and POV. Unions, are at least fists for focus of leadership, so if you’re in harmony in part with the shop steward, you benefit...organizational disputes, can be handled with ease, if desired, as they are a meatloaf mix of mechanical dealings and greed...but, the seeking human? A something-vital-but-terribly-general-in common-group wanting Other to ‘see’ them, Our Town? I think the last time that made deep impact, was the UFW march, in 1967...and they bore the most holy Madonna to their column’s front, not the one who ironically had a Number One Hit with “Papa Don’t Preach”. You have to get in peoples’ faces, then never back away. You have to speak up in conversation, make it All About You, whether flirting or courting or fighting for legislation. No one will see you, if you don’t. And you have to keep doing that, perpetual motion, because Freud nailed it. Anyone past Kindergarten is going to default to Self, in the next ten seconds.
    In 1977, XX as united front tried, in congress of discussion, to come to accord. FAIL. As for the System Politick, it is marbled, mystery meat with its corruption. And don’t pin hopes on a Mr. Smith or a Ms., either, as, handed all possibility as power, it’s too easy to turn. Sweet-talking allies, end of day, throw only bones, and cold enemies throw them in your face...and word to the wise, burning shit is a cinch to make at least a handful disappear, puffasmoke, for headlines and no gain. Again, it goes back to my “Captain Whackencracker” poem, about becoming what you despise, that you might triumph. Nobility, honor, higher principles, look majestic in oil paintings. Dirty soldiers, a number of whom die, are who win the world.

    All right...this one comes from Please Help Me I’m Scared I’m Scared All These THINGS Are In The Air, They’re Demons They’re Screaming Please HELP US PLEASE, in...Bangor, Maine, nooo...let’s just hide that under these bills... Another...all right, this is signed, “from Dooley, in Atlanta” and Dooley’s question, is “What is the purpose of social media, given the Twitter lockdown, etc., on ‘being hurtful’? Can there now exist any online repartee which is not plastic, limp, lame, or just spam and screaming trolls?”

    As I always say, goddam feelings, again. I’m so sick of this kid glove bullshit. It’s nothing more than B.F. Skinneresque fascism with an aim toward human mechs. However, since every little chimpanzee can’t seem to live without thumbing like they’re hitting an Orgasm button, I guess you can’t starve out the fever of social media...although, ‘They’ aren’t winning hearts and minds quite as successfully, these days, with their rotating phaser frequency of “typing on a screen”. The penpal love of email in 2000, became the Facecrap Thumb People of 2008-09, and by 2015, Evelyn Wood Speed Human had crunched to the tweedly-deets of Twitting. No one likes hearing that nothing remains the same, not me with my magnetic tape, not you with your crapapps...but I’ll offer personal experience, and hope it speaks to Dooley’s Q:
    I won’t give my username, nor any details of page or date, but formerly, I slummed, editing for opinionpedia. I never offered anything great, as no encyclopedia has ever majored in “great”. The strictly informational, in main, precludes a flair of any sort—if you impart facts, you just impart them. For anyone unfamiliar with The Peter Principle, things like opinionpedia exist to define those for whom said Principle was created. Anyway, I dabbled. The novelty wore off like a June frost prior to the birth of Albert Gore, Jr.
    One morning, I noticed I’d had my latest entry removed. The culprit was a stranger to me, one of those “editors” whose “editing” consisted of removing anything he didn’t like, then wagging a finger at those who’d actually contributed, explaining ‘why’ they were bad. I felt nauseous, as I knew the drill at the ‘pedia, i.e. “assholes playing ninja, are automatically correct”. I didn’t know until that day, why so. I never read site rules, y’see. It’s a waste of my time. And your internal response to that thinking, is partly why the waste. Turns out the ‘pedia dictate upon their diodes of stone, was, per anOther back-shooting your prose, “Assume good faith.” I need explain to no one, not even CEE newbies, what’s antithetical, re: that rule. Or why I am no longer granted the freedom to call it certain words. One, especially. Let’s just say kneejerking “Other operates in good faith”, is a differently-abled logic which has special needs. Mostly, to be drowned in a bucket.
    I looked up the ninja’s contentious history (banned more than once and fought with admin over it, etc.), then hoped against hope as I reverted him, admin would compare my track record versus his. Nope. Math is mean. Reality is asshole. We gonna have us a pink bunny Earth, li’ah babies! All people are ice cream! Let’s us hug our diaper bags and dance with them ‘round a mulberry bush, as we feel sad we had to be hurtful to anyone...even the contributor who erased every (unread) remark made to him, refilling the space with the dark and dangerous light of “What People Are”. General Custer to the final retreat point, I made my stand over a whole day, until I’d been banned, indefinitely. Even then, the cupcakes, dumplin’s and all finalists in the Kids in the Hall “Gavin Seem-alike Contest”, never locked me out (does ANYONE know ANY winning move?). Should CEEastwood ever return, unbanned, I’ll merely revert, again, then fire another round. I expect the same results, FYI, so stow your Dr. Drew ripoff of Einstein. Right is right. It’s the only hill worth dying on.
    Keep in mind, Dooley ol’ bud, that mods, monitors and contrived muckety-mucks of microcosms, have only their “can’t live without” crumb of authority. They are Not, in fact, representative of any real, true, actual authority. Me, I believe Mankind is composed of demons in skin suits. The only time you should ever kneel to anOther, is when physically forced, with a movie-ending rifle cartridge next to come. What those who have access to buttons which Block, Ban or otherwise “make you” are doing, they require like food or water. It’s weakness intrinsic, post-postmodern Great and Powerful Oz. Hamstrung, one must tell them what they are, then walk away. If you ever meet one on the road, assume he’s The Buddha and go for it.

    Finally, we have this, handed me in person by a local homeless man named, “Martel”...I couldn’t get further identification, as he was running from a caseworker who was chasing him, waving a sandwich... Martel asks: “Every major shooting that makes the headlines, gets thrown back at mental illness and how to help or corral the deranged. Isn’t it mentally ill to blow people away in the first place, and what’s supposed to correct the problem, if a person’s brain is causing it?”

    You know as well as me that up to now, there’s been no truly effective way, to police a human mind; be thankful, as it’s not something we want. But, I have some thoughts, and not jolly ones. I’d like to bracket them with quotations from a long-since failed (2000) series, an attempt at a “mental illness” ER, titled, Wonderland. Only 8 episodes were made. The permanently befuddled, were made somewhat less than recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, and advocate groups as well as masses who’d always equated strange behavior with Ed Gein, rose up like Cain and stove in the concept.
    In a scene where a doctor must break news of his marital separation to his mother, he explains, “We stopped being happy, Ma.” Her reply, sings existential choruses: “What is ‘happy’, Bobby?”
    It doesn’t slice better than that, not a Ginsu through a work boot, nothin’. What is ‘happy’? Well, to start, it’s individual. And some never realize it, as they don’t know, can’t fathom or reason how to get there...and can’t experience or process it, if once they get there. Tragic? Yeah...but, not being in one’s right mind (or not having a “right mind” from GO), has too much elastic in common understanding, too much give. There are Very Bad People out there, assisted by a different kind of Bad Person. Phrases like “the rulebook says”, are too often, defenseless. For liars, any port in a storm! And, who is disturbed enough according to whom? Certainly, a sliding scale of YOU MUST BE THIS SICK, is preposterous. Justice, cannot be a ride at Disneyland. It’s enough of a kiddie train wreck, as things stand.
    Law, is humanist religion. Humanists pretty well projectile spit on religion, therefore don’t want one of their own. So, ways are constantly examined, to supermarket broom offenders into the shadows, but not go so far as to result in a dotcom version headline/pic of the New York Daily News’ Holy Grail, wealthy murderess Ruth Snyder, hooded, frying in The Chair: “DEAD!” No, we just wish Boo Radley to go away, or be quietly escorted away. A whisper of a fucking off, and life is again smiles and expectations and 16 tons and duty, peace in The Machine, once more. As Sandy Hook and Orlando and the abortion clinic dude who looked amazingly like abolitionist John Brown, etc., etc., 15 or 20 other examples, b’blahblah show us, pop up object lesson stubborn as a goddam talking tub of Parkay, those deeply bent act fast, unexpected, and as extreme as personal planning permits. They do so, as it takes genuine thought control, to stop such enterprise...and the greater society would have to be sure, so, that means controlling everyone not holding/up for or spoken for by someone in/running for elective office. The math, here, is “some beans and some beans” meets Spock’s Brain. Footnote: There’ll be no ‘delight’.
    So, arbitrary waivers and dope horizontal every sucker you don’t book “coach” into Arkham Asylum...or treat every level of sanity exactly the same, i.e. if the act is on video (almost everything is, wake up), and if so much as one death, sovereign state laws regarding such, are implemented, whatever they may be. I’m certain various executioners and their assistants, will upchuck, weep, wail and have identity crises. As will their loved ones. Life contains a lot of horror and abject sadness, often the kind which sticks to you like whatever you stepped in, to your shoe. Live with it, or join the ranks of those beyond your reach. I believe in fully realized personal freedom and as well in The State Always Wins. Those who have always lived on edge, Daniel, deserve to go out in like with happiness as pursued. It’s a Jeffersonian ideal you can’t abide, but it passes the litmus test. It’s as American as Mel and his stinky Rev buddies bushwacking Redcoats who had loving mothers and sons. Drugging those who paint outside the lines is playing footsie with hopes unreal, but making life less pesky for coldly controlled assholes who, commuter, keep walking straight ahead. You’re wanting cold storage, very much like the nursing care system, another convenient fantasy-and-disposal double burger. Bad choices, including those which maim or harm, cripple, kill or destroy, are (put down your num num candy) The Natural Order of Things. Unless you crave being a human marionette jacked in dances by power elite, random individuals will indeed bounce about, free radicals. And, The Court has to stop being, IF caught/foiled/taken down/ apprehended and IF Still Alive, whether they know what 100 – 7 equals or can discern “a stitch in time, saves nine”, is no more relevant, than if they think they’re Napoleon Bonaparte. Not even if they have the hat and everything. Bonaparte, technically, was a mass murderer.
    Robin Williams as Sy in One Hour Photo, is spot on, when he lists the flat, unimpressive, vaguely sickening images “which make up the true picture of our lives”. “People don’t take pictures of these things.” That’s right. We want Happy. Harder asses and bowing, scraping conformers, will rattle off their recordings, re: “balance”, or some version of “we can’t know joy, if we’ve never known despair”...but we really only want Happy, and more so, the apparatus, real or logical construct, which, Venus Fly Trap, snares it. A control-thing, again, hello. We Want Happy, and by God...! Which, I’d be fine with. But everyone lies. Lies and selfjustifies. I got tired of nodding to the beat of Others’ verbs, long ago. Push your chips, nonfriend. Whatever mindset, I’m for you! But, you know what you’re doing. It matters not a jot, if you can communicate that fact. Since I was a callow youth, it’s been crystal: Human Persons, Selfjustify. This as hypocrisy alone, is irritating, having to maintain polite reserve while wanting to punch The Church Lady or Arnold Rimmer in the face; as gross, gory harm playing out “I get a pass”, it’s touchoff for really shitty-bad “I’m Spartacus!” behavior...and that, is intolerable. You’re guilty, and it’s a good day to die. I can handle you not confessing. I’ll accept the silence which gives assent. I refuse to kiss it better...and, that’s my concluding quote from Wonderland, Jeremy Piven as a bipolar standup, arguing against being medicated...when the doctor handling his case asserts drugs can make one ‘better’, Piven’s edgy reply, is champion fencing: “They don’t make you better, they make you different. Whether uncaring or caring, that’s what those who won’t cop to Hammurabi, desire. A less-personally-annoying “different” involving a very real “STFU”, so all can keep walking, shuffling, mindless Fritz Lang-workmen, straight ahead. The mentally ill, are in the way. Society, from top to bottom, says this very kindly, in 11-syllable words and sentences twice as long as mine...but, that’s what they say. Because that’s what they mean. Just put ‘em to bed, and the old folks and all the wounded, close the door softly, then get back to work. That’s “Love”, nonfriends, and Merry Christmas. Would you like a pony to go with that?

    Y’know, the first theater movie Mom took me to see (that I sat through) was Old Yeller. I can’t imagine it’s a spoiler to reveal the boy killed his dog, dearest friend become rabid, out of Love. That’s Love, too. As are so many fucked up, contradictory things. Eventually, if true, core meaning you wish, them’s just words, so the-Hell with everything. Roses are Love, Violets are Love, Sugar is Love and So are You. I assume such chaos represents what it means to have a place at the Human table.

    Thanks, No. Allergies. I’ll just have water.

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 ISBN# , April 2011)
ISBN# 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. ISBN# 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.

ISBN#          ISBN#

    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)

    ISBN# 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 ISBN# 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 ISBN# 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 ISBN# 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 ISBN# crammed into one book. And you can have either one of these things at just five bucks a pop if you just contact us and tell us you saw this ad space. It’s an offer you can’t refuse...

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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