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.

Volume 215, December 2010

The Unreligious, Non-Family-Oriented Literary and Art Magazine
Internet ISSN 1555-1555, print ISSN 1068-5154

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

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the passionate stuff

kalifornia christmass


    merry fuckin christmass drowning in our excess. presents candy and booze. some of us take an eternal snooze. we take a gun and blow our head off we have no family just a bottle of smirnoff. so when you open your presents remember the peasants who are dyin in the gutter. when you put butter on your bread someone is blowin of their head. happy birthday asshole thanx for all the hassle. thanx for creating a day when in order to receive love you have to pay for a present that you can’t afford. you’ll get nothing from me cause are’nt my lord but just this once i’ll make a wish that your dead and gone and sleep with the fish cause then we’ll be rid of this day and all over this country we’ll be able to say. no longer is it your birthday but just another day

Smokin Jesus


     liquified organs go down the drain i must refrain from violence and keep my silence keep my hand in my pocket in my fist i squeeze her locket i took her eye out of it’s socket while she was still alive and had a snack then made her spine crack virgin mary give me a fuckin break that bitch would suck cock for a piece of cake out came jesus to fuck things up i’d slit his throat and fill my cup if he was alive but he’s dead you hear me? dead you can search your heart but you won’t find him but if i find his bones i’ll grind’em put’em in a bowl and take a hit now i have his soul inside me and i’m gonna sell it to the devil and get rich so take a hit cause now satans runnin shit have a drink and get hell to pay your not goin to hell your already here now take a hit of jesus it’s your turn if you don’t you’ll go to heaven and fuckin burn

Christ Before Plymouth Rock


Ecce Terrorist
Me No Like Him Look Like Arab
I’ll take the Aryan Christ
It may not be an accurate depiction
But He looks wimpy (what a relief)
I’d buy a used car from Him
Because I know I could get my money back if I wanted
Because He looks wimpy
He wore sandals, you know
Which figures

Janet Kuypers reading the CEE poem
Christ Before Plymouth Rock
read from cc&d magazine from Scars Publications, in the 12/10 v215 issue, which was also released as the 6" x 9" ISBN# book Entering the Ice Age
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of this poem read by Janet Kuypers (cc&d magazine editor) 12/07/10, live at the Café in Chicago

You don’t base Truth
on what makes you “feel” good


The original Santa
Was a sadistic bastard
Him and Black Peter
Making him “nice”,
Doesn’t “make” him nice
If Santa was a sadistic bastard
And, if Santa’s real,
And, barring being kidnapped by Drew Pinsky
(And, Dr. Drew has Never released such a statement),
Then, Santa’s still a-layin’ for ya, bad kid
He’s gonna gitch-ye
We don’t tell kids that, anymore
We don’t beat the snot out of them, either
I have no idea Why Not
Life’s just gonna hurt ‘em, anyway.

Hearts Amidst Canons


They are playing gods
Dropping rains of fire from the skies,
Unleashing bullets east and west
Brothers and fathers in fatigues
Fall down like toy soldiers
The dust settles, another sun rises,
Another threat to keep aware of
I am no spy assigned to your camp,
Just a human who happen to be in love,
Letting my guard down
In a dangerous world segregated
By selfish agenda, the ultimate murderer;
Ego and pride, as well, the source
Of conflict and destruction
Future will ask why there was much hatred -
Deafening bombings, lives taken for granted,
Killing of people, the innocent, their own kind
You & I, culturally different, like sun & moon,
Waiting for the sweet total eclipse;
Amidst guns and canons, battling to prove
That genuine love survives timelessly
I am not sleeping with the enemy
Take off uniforms. Remove flags & territiories
All is the same. All is capable to love

in the bathtub

John Thompson
author of ‘black petal rose’

pushing, she
sobbed, trying to prevent

the baby came soundless;
a rubber ball
filled with liquid.

the head slumped
as the eyes were withdrawn.

the hands
never held the fingers
of the mother.

the smile
laid placid on the face
that god colored gray.

the world was never prepared
for the stillborn.

Time, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz

Time, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz

The Pendulum 2

Eric Obame

Time is such a subtle thing
Another year starts and I am still here
Still young, but older still
Time is such a subtle thing
Not really seen until grey hairs appear
Not worthy of notice until one strains
To perform movements once easily accomplished
Time is such a subtle thing
Another year starts and I am still struggling
Time passes and I am still the same
But I am still here, so I keep going

Janet Kuypers reading the Eric Obame poem
the Pendulumm 2
read from cc&d magazine from Scars Publications, in the 12/10 v215 issue, which was also released as the 6" x 9" ISBN# book Entering the Ice Age
video not yet rated
Watch this YouTube video
of this poem read by Janet Kuypers (cc&d magazine editor) 12/07/10, live at the Café in Chicago

Rune Tune for Writing

Tom (WordWulf) Sterner

Turn the music down
give me a city of words
& a chord of death

Singing Leaves Him Sad

Tom (WordWulf) Sterner

A blue jean poet
sings lost love & green tree blues
Sun rises & sets

Sleeping Earth Bible

Tom (WordWulf) Sterner

Cherokee proverb:
the hunt is not a killing
it is a prayer

Janet Kuypers reading the Tom (WordWulf) Sterner poem
Sleeping Earth Bible
read from cc&d magazine from Scars Publications, in the 12/10 v215 issue, which was also released as the 6" x 9" ISBN# book Entering the Ice Age
video not yet rated
Watch this YouTube video
of this poem read by Janet Kuypers (cc&d magazine editor) 12/07/10, live at the Café in Chicago

Tom {WordWulf} Sterner Bio

    Tom {WordWulf} Sterner, lives in Redding, California and Arvada, Colorado. He has been published in magazines and on the internet, including Howling Dog Press/Omega, Skyline Literary Review, The Storyteller, and Flashquake. He is winner of the Marija Cerjak Award for Avant-Garde/Experimental Writing and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2006 and 2008. He edited the English translation of Hameed Al-Qaed’s ‘Noise of Whisper’, edited and wrote the forward for the Arabic to English translation of the poets of Bahrain, ‘Pearl, Dreams of Shell’ published in 2007. Published work includes two novels, Madman Chronicles: The Warrior and Momma’s Rain.

“All depends on the preponderance
of good deeds.” - Rabbi Akiva

Fritz Hamilton

Who we talking about? Hitler? Karl Rove? Stalin?
Good deeds depend on who you’re talking to/ Jesoo
thinks his Daddy’s forsaking him, but all good Christians think

nailing Jesoo to the wood is just wonderful, &
who can believe the silly myth that they
take sweet Jesoo off the cross & put him in a

cave to stink to high Heaven?/ How
blissfully we treat the King of the Jews for his
"preponderance of good deeds", & to prove their faith, his

fanatical followers happily sacrifice themselves to the lions, as
the Romans laugh & rejoice at the show &
pack themselves into the coliseum for the next carnage/ O

happy are the Christians to be so devoured, &
excited are the Romans to observe it/ not until the Holocaust will
people be that entertained again, as

Mel Gibson drunkenly shrieks his antisemitic banalities, &
the police treat him kindly/ after all he is a
superstar & needs his freedom to make another

rave party about the glory of Christ,
fa la la ...

I wish I were Mel Gibson’s woman, so

Fritz Hamilton

I wish I were Mel Gibson’s woman, so
he’d hit me in the mouth while screaming
racist & anitsemitic epithets, while

making movies of Jesoo just as violent &
ridiculous as drunken Mel himself/ he’s
the reason Jesoo stays home/ he fears Mel

will hit him in the mouth if he tries a
2nd Coming/ he knows that Mel will scream
with antisemitic blatherings because

Jesoo is King of the Jews/ Roger Ebert will
add to the lunacy by praising Mel’s movie: “Now
I finally know what Jesoo felt like.”/ but

Jesoo’s afraid to face Mel, for fear he’ll
hit the Jewish bastard in the face/ &
when he does, the Malibu police will

let sweet Mel off easy, because
he might be a violent drunk, but he’s a
big celebrity to be coddled gently, &

the Christian community idolizes Mel like
Jesoo himself/ how Mel’s passionate
Christ suffers at the hands of the Jews/ if

there’s any love in Mel’s porno flick, it’s
not revealed, only suffering, suffering,
suffering! & if Jesoo, the

King of the Jews, doesn’t like it, Mel
will slug him in the mouth like
the next mother of his child ...


Man vs Woman: A Brief Sexual History

Changming Yuan

No man is perfect to begin with
Yet every man wants women to be perfect
So, their feet used to be bound
Their private parts used to be locked
And now their faces surgically shaped and reshaped
Their eyelids doubled
Their breasts raised
Their skin ironed and chemically treated
Their subcutaneous fat removed from their bellies or waists
Their legs made longer on high-heeled shoes
Their entire bodies perfumed, clad and decorated with all fashions
As if they were full-sized dolls

Just as god made man in his image
So man has been making women after his likeness

Changming Yuan Bio

    Changming Yuan, two-time Pushcart nominee and author of Chansons of a Chinaman (2009) and Politics and Poetics (2009), who grew up in rural China and published several books before moving to Canada, currently teaches writing in Vancouver and has had poetry appearing in Barrow Street, Best Canadian Poetry, CC&D, Exquisite Corpse, London Magazine and 270 other literary publications worldwide.

Spook, art by the HA!man of South Africa

Spook, art by the HA!man of South Africa

The Fixer

Mel Waldman

The hypnotic man
sells hope; he is the fixer;
we follow blindly;

his magnetic voice
feeds us peace, love, and dreams till
he takes us to Hell.

Janet Kuypers reading the Mel Waldman poem
The Fixer
read from cc&d magazine from Scars Publications, in the 12/10 v215 issue, which was also released as the 6" x 9" ISBN# book Entering the Ice Age
videonot yet rated
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of this poem read by Janet Kuypers (cc&d magazine editor) 12/07/10, live at the Café in Chicago


Mel Waldman, Ph. D.

Dr. Mel Waldman is a licensed New York State psychologist and a candidate in Psychoanalysis at the Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies (CMPS). He is also a poet, writer, artist, and singer/songwriter. After 9/11, he wrote 4 songs, including “Our Song,” which addresses the tragedy. His stories have appeared in numerous literary reviews and commercial magazines including HAPPY, SWEET ANNIE PRESS, CHILDREN, CHURCHES AND DADDIES and DOWN IN THE DIRT (SCARS PUBLICATIONS), NEW THOUGHT JOURNAL, THE BROOKLYN LITERARY REVIEW, HARDBOILED, HARDBOILED DETECTIVE, DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE, ESPIONAGE, and THE SAINT. He is a past winner of the literary GRADIVA AWARD in Psychoanalysis and was nominated for a PUSHCART PRIZE in literature. Periodically, he has given poetry and prose readings and has appeared on national T.V. and cable T.V. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Private Eye Writers of America, American Mensa, Ltd., and the American Psychological Association. He is currently working on a mystery novel inspired by Freud’s case studies. Who Killed the Heartbreak Kid?, a mystery novel, was published by iUniverse in February 2006. It can be purchased at www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/, www.bn.com, at /www.amazon.com, and other online bookstores or through local bookstores. Recently, some of his poems have appeared online in THE JERUSALEM POST. Dark Soul of the Millennium, a collection of plays and poetry, was published by World Audience, Inc. in January 2007. It can be purchased at www.worldaudience.org, www.bn.com, at /www.amazon.com, and other online bookstores or through local bookstores. A 7-volume short story collection was published by World Audience, Inc. in June 2007 and can also be purchased online at the above-mentioned sites.

89 Dodge, art by Nick Brazinsky

89 Dodge, art by Nick Brazinsky

Crazy Math

Terry-Hamilton Poore

My youngest is learning to use the toilet.
He perches happily on that open oval,
the skin of his bottom nearly as white
as the plastic seat.
“Tell me about my intestines,” he demands--
the same thing every time, and so I recite
like a parent at a Seder this particular story of passage,
of the journey taking place in those miles of transit lines
compressed, slippery-pink inside his tiny belly.
I am as fascinated as he that everything about him works.
All the cells that keep multiplying by dividing
over and over, yet never losing track of what to become—
toenail or corpuscle, cornea or dendrite
or, of course, intestine.

At his age I loved the anatomy floor
of the Museum of Science and Industry.
Umbilicaled babies in bottles with their transparent eyelids.
Paper-thin cross-sections of people pressed between glass,
colorful as a preschooler’s melted crayon creation.

I can’t go there now. All I see in those bottles
is the loss at the other end of those floating cords;
I look at the giant slides and hear the clinical hum
of a circular saw turning what was once whole
and alive into this slice, fixed and dyed.

But here the freckled legs are drumming
against the porcelain. His body having done its work
he leaps from the seat to assess the results.
A quick flush and he’s out the door—
his cells still multiplying by dividing over and over—

and everything reductive and isolated in my life gives way
to his wild expansion, drawing me into this crazy math,
this giddy science, where there is no dissection or subtraction,
just and, and, and.

Bob Rashkow reading the Terry-Hamilton Poore poem
Crazy Math
read from cc&d magazine (that Janet Kuypers is the editor of) from Scars Publications, in the 12/10 v215 issue, which was also released as the 6" x 9" ISBN# book Entering the Ice Age
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of this poem read by Bob Rashkow
12/07/10, live at the Café in Chicago

the Enemy is Generous

Lana Santorelli

sky torn
with splintered dreams
sun concealed
by lace curtains
no light to color
her days

quiet child
with black coal eyes
waiting for space ships
to carry her off
mouth wide open
to walk away

Bob Rashkow reading the Lana Santorelli poem
the Enemy is Generous
read from cc&d magazine (that Janet Kuypers is the editor of) from Scars Publications, in the 12/10 v215 issue, which was also released as the 6" x 9" ISBN# book Entering the Ice Age
videonot yet rated
Watch this YouTube video
of this poem read by Bob Rashkow
12/07/10, live at the Café in Chicago


Janet Kuypers

so the hotel I was in
didn’t have a continental breakfast
so i looked for a diner
for a bagel for breakfast

so i pulled into some dive
and i just sat there

i kept me head down
i don’t like looking at strangers
so i kept my head down
looking at my writings

and i didn’t even notice
my head was buried in my words
but the lady walked over
and dropped the bomb

of liquid into the coffee cup
into my upturned glass

i watched this black mass
sloshing around, contained but violent
as she walked away

i don’t like coffee, you see
and i could have stopped her
said no thanks

but this was my fault
as much as it was hers

so there i was
staring at this coffee
that i don’t even like

so i’ve got this bailey’s flask in my pocket
i guess that tells you something about me
if i’m going to have coffee
i’ll sweeten it with anything

so my eyes dart right, then left
then right again
make sure no one’s watching me
so i open the flask
under the table


slowly drizzle in the creme

i watch it form a mushroom cloud

from within that contained bomb

i try to remember where i am
where i’ve been

i didn’t know
that on the other side of the country
you just died

i just looked at my coffee
that i don’t even like
and wondered if i should drink

previously published in Heavy Hands Ink

“So” performed live
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Watch this YouTube video
11/06/10 from the TV camera in Lake Villa at Swing State, live in her show Sexism and other stories
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Watch this YouTube video
11/06/10 in Lake Villa at Swing State, live in her “Visual Nonsense” show Sexism and other stories
video Watch this YouTube video
a live 09/18/10 reading of this poem at Vittorio Carli’s Pilsen open mic at Cafe Mestizo
video Watch this YouTube video

read from cc&d magazine from Scars Publications, in the 12/10 v215 issue, which was also released as the 6" x 9" ISBN# book Entering the Ice Age, live 12/07/10, live at the Café in Chicago

Build Your Own Cross

Janet Kuypers
07/24/10 edited 07/25/10

why be a carpenter
and build your own cross
when Walmart
can do it for you

selling mass produced
2' tall
wooden crosses
with glued plastic flowers
to hammer into dirt
at roadsides
for accident victims

why be a carpenter

why build your own cross

when Walmart can do it for you

previously published in Heavy Hands Ink

the Janet Kuypers poem
Build Your Own Cross
read from cc&d magazine from Scars Publications, in the 12/10 v215 issue, which was also released as the 6" x 9" ISBN# book Entering the Ice Age
video Watch this YouTube video

read from cc&d magazine from Scars Publications, in the 12/10 v215 issue, which was also released as the 6" x 9" ISBN# book Entering the Ice Age, live 12/07/10, live at the Café in Chicago
the Janet Kuypers twitter-length poem (in 3 “tweets”)
Build Your Own Cross
video videonot yet rated
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live at the Café in Chicago 07/27/10

Teaching Our Children

Janet Kuypers

he hears a father & son
@ a public restroom
after the kid goes
2 wash his hands
dad says
“you don’t need to do that”

THIS teaches our children?

the Janet Kuypers poem
Teaching Our Children
read from cc&d magazine from Scars Publications, in the 12/10 v215 issue, which was also released as the 6" x 9" ISBN# book Entering the Ice Age
video Watch this YouTube video

read from cc&d magazine from Scars Publications, in the 12/10 v215 issue, which was also released as the 6" x 9" ISBN# book Entering the Ice Age, live 12/07/10, live at the Café in Chicago

be free of you

Janet Kuypers

I want to pull off my face
and remove that part of my brain
that stores the memory
of what you did to me

I want to be free of you

the Janet Kuypers poem
Be Free of You
read from cc&d magazine from Scars Publications, in the 12/10 v215 issue, which was also released as the 6" x 9" ISBN# book Entering the Ice Age
video Watch this YouTube video

read from cc&d magazine from Scars Publications, in the 12/10 v215 issue, which was also released as the 6" x 9" ISBN# book Entering the Ice Age, live 12/07/10, live at the Café in Chicago

Untitled (amber/embers)

Jane Stuart

An early evening wind
full of amber light
turns the meadow gold

Brightly, the rising sun
wakens birds asleep in nests
under the owls’ roost

The cicada is still.
Last night’s glowing fire
fades into embers

art by Eric Bonholtzer

art by Eric Bonholtzer


Emmanuel Jakpa For Venie and Emma

It a special privilege, you said, to have seen
your daughter grow to where she is now,
at marriage’s verge, career as a psychologist.
There is something so accurate in that,
turns my soul into a river, endless and deep,
seeking to remember all the human bonds,
the passage of our numinous life, the moon
between mother and daughter, parent, child,
seeking to connect here, now, and beyond,
and I’m part of this, and I speak of all of this.

Emmanuel Jakpa Bio

    Oritsegbemi Emmanuel Jakpa was born in Warri, Nigeria, and currently lives in Ireland. His poetry has been published widely, including The Diagram, Landing Places, Echoing Years, Barnwood, and Edison Literary Review. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes three times, and he received the 2008 Yeat’s Pierce Loughran Award.

US_101_1955, art by Jay Marvin

US_101_1955, art by Jay Marvin

Destruction Begins

Carol Garth

I want to break your heart.
I want to demolish the walls around it—brick by brick, board by board—until they are impossible to reassemble. I want to break your heart completely.
I want to see you devastated, on your bloody hands and raw shredded knees, with bowed head, howling in your agony.
I want to break your heart into infinitesimal pieces.
I want to take those infinitesimal pieces and splice them together with threads of love and stem cells that will become the original organ. Before all the hurt and damage and distrust etched the scars into your heart and made it into mere muscle, only capable of pumping blood but feeling no true emotion.
I want to break your heart once and for all, forever.
I want your newly reconstructed heart to be trusting and loving and caring. All the emotions and feelings that your old marbleized heart had beaten and bleached out of it oh so many years ago. Perhaps from birth.
I want to break your heart.
I want to see open ground around your heart, with grassy meadows and to hear all the delightful serene sounds of nature.
I want to break your heart completely.
I want to see you rise up, to stand tall and proud and healed, your head held high in pride and happiness. I want you off the bloody hands and raw shredded knees, where you have been in your mind for so long. I want the silent howl of unbearaable agony to be a discernible soft murmur of love.
I want to break your heart into infinitesimal pieces.
I want those infinitesimal pieces to be so very, very tiny—invisible to the naked eye—for a greater chance of success, of inception, of a new heart for you. A heart that could never be achieved by a simple physical surgical transplant.
I want to break your heart, once and for all, forever.
I want your old heart to be destroyed. It is not even suitable and whole enough to be used in a transplant for a dying person. It is not and cannot sustain true life, though you have lived with if for, sadly, too long.
I want to break your heart.
I want you to feel love and joy and peace and completeness, all the things that you yearn for in silence, not even admitting it to yourself. Never letting anyone inside anything but a foyer, distant from the walls, always pushing possibilities away. I see. I see with my heart. All these can be possible for you if only I have my wish.
I want to break your heart.

Construction ends

When I entered the Room

John Grey

I did not touch her
and yet she turned as if I’d hit her hard.
A thousand objects in that room
but she was fixed on me.
The red to her eyes was deeper than blood,
her face as pale as wax.
Blame me.
My own body not enough
I was infiltrating hers,
undoing her stately color scheme.
I drained her cheeks,
sucked dry those lips,
parched the forehead to a desert white.
And all by being in a room,
standing by the sofa and the Tiffany lamp,
and saying not one word.
Too much scarlet for any man,
this intruder tipped the overflow into her eyes.
Lack of sleep had nothing to do with it.
Hellish tears were not to blame.
There never was two separate people.
I was part of her, a hack artist,
with a restless palette.
She was in me, a failed pugilist,
pounding fists against my heart.
All I did was enter a room.
I had to. I was there already.

Keys to the Kingdom

Maxwell Baumbach

the key
to being a
is being
cryptic enough
that no one
what you are saying
while also being
coherent enough
that your words
can still be

Maxwell Baumbach Bio

    Maxwell Baumbach is a writer from Elmhurst, Illinois. You can see him at www.youtube.com/MaxwellThePoet. He is also the editor of the new publication Heavy Hands Ink. His work has appeared in Opium Poetry 2.0, The Cynic Online Magazine, Thunderclap!, Record Magazine, Black-Listed Magazine, and Five Fishes Journal. It is upcoming in vox poetica, Yes, Poetry, Clutching at Straws, and The Shine Journal. He enjoys watching pro wrestling, which is totally real, as well as reading obscene amounts of poetry.

Tending the Flock, art by Brian Hosey and Lauren Braden

Tending the Flock, art by Brian Hosey and Lauren Braden

Our Lady of Mustang

Hank Sosnowski

Curiosity drove me here
wondering who would be
worshipping at this temple
on the Lord’s day.

Church lot is full
here at the shrine.
Ranch girls are busy
plying love’s trade
with Sunday morning horn dogs.

I sit parked and scribbling
in the lot between heaven’s gate
and the souvenir shack
which is painted pink
as the sea of flesh
that undulates inside.
Outside, wild mustangs roam.
Inside, wild fillies buck Bronco Billies.

Back at home
mom’s set up
Sunday School.
Here, ten minutes drive east
of all that praying
other prayers are voiced,
“Oh God,
Yes! YES!”


Henry Sosnowski

Henry “Hank” Sosnowski, South Chicago born Polish-American followed his gypsy heart across America from Alaska’s Aleutian Islands to North Carolina’s shore. Following Brecht’s edict that an artist must “First feed the face, then talk right and wrong,” Sosnowski worked as a newsboy, caddy, fry cook, steel worker, blues musician, pipefitter, pool hustler/card shark, landscaper, railroad brakeman, auto part salesman, actor, warehouse manager, woman’s clothing rep, waiter, missionary, writer, Alaskan game warden, book store manager, morning DJ, corporate VP, marketing director, dishwasher, factory worker, car salesman, handyman, customer service rep, janitor, teacher, hot rod show promoter.

Sosnowski currently lives and teaches in Reno, Nevada, inspiration for his one-man traveling show: “Write Before Your Eyes! Hank the Revelator - Live on Stage 24/7!” For one week, Sosnowski comes to town to write/perform/live on an outdoor stage replica of a 1930s writer’s; garret, melding written, spoken and performance art.

Sosnowski is the winner of the 2006 Sierra Arts Foundation Writer’s Grant.


Safe Words

Brooke Bailey

I help you with the heavier pieces of equipment, hold the camera
while you figure out the angling, ready to document the infliction
of pain, waist training, rooms being transformed into dungeons.
I want to stop you and point out that in your books on fetish,
women are stretched out in their leather, awaiting instruction—
you don’t see them being held up by the throats, faces red
from strangulation.

I remember being hit in the bedroom, and so did my jaw
for days afterward. I didn’t have any bruises but
remembered all the women I’d known who had, women I let
walk away without asking about them. I asked to be hit
but I know they hadn’t. I remember how much it hurt my partner
to hit me, how it hurt him when I flinched almost
every time I looked at him.

After the rape I wanted to be hit, if I had to have sex, I wanted
to be reminded that sex was poisonous. I wonder, now, how many women
into BDSM have really enjoyed having someone hurt them.

I would have never stood for zippers made of clothes pins being
ripped from my flesh, or being flogged with studded leather but
I didn’t realize that until we tried to work through our pain together,
your hand around my neck, my mouth around your manhood
while bile rose up in my throat like hate

and I realized I couldn’t do any of it. My mind was wrapped
around abuse and your mind was wrapped around fetish
and my body fell back on the bed, angry and tired
of being forced to act out all the things that caused me mental anguish.

I’m only here today to help you, to try to remember that once
I loved you as a friend and as an artist
but looking at the content of your photographs, looking at these women

my body wants to break the equipment,
my body wants to protest.

A Day in the Life of an Ordinary Joe

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

On a long, long road

Clouds, gathering
for a storm

People, clutching rolled umbrellas
as if for dear life

Children, forgotten
how to play

Parents, frightened
of failing

Sunlight, persuading ghosts to write
a Book of Shadows

Thin, polluted air
up the nose

Sounds of battle
in the ears

World leaders playing cat and mouse
with private lives

Senility Prayer

Hank Threadgill

I’m told that when
you tell a story you’re
not remembering the moment
itself but a memory of the
last time you told it.
So this is the last time
I’ll tell you how
I grew up Southern
Baptist & never went to
Catholic Mass until
Suzanne Crowley asked me to
sometime around 1933.
All that Latin downright
put me to sleep & I thought
I heard the preacher say:
Our Father, ROT IN HEAVEN.
This, of course, jarred me awake
& I had trouble sleeping for days.
Now, in my wintering age
I often mishear the
Serenity Prayer, familiar
to any recovering alcoholic:
Lord, give me the strength
to crawl into bed with
any of these old women,
the courage to accept
my coming incontinence,
& the wisdom to smile
when certain savory
combinations of T-Bone
steak, cranberry juice, pecans,
walnuts & Fruit Roll-Ups
result in a 3 days of
somewhat controllable

Hank Threadgill bio

    Hank Threadgill was raised near the Fort Worth stockyards in North Texas, in a neighborhood they used to call “Hell’s Half Acre.” A former musical instrument salesman and the son of a Southern Baptist preacher, Hank relocated to Arlington, TX in the late 1940s, where he has slowly seen open fields turn into parking lots. He was born in 1922, the same year as Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Kerouac, and Howard Zinn, though he rarely esteems himself worthy of such marvelous company. His poetry has appeared sporadically over the years in many journals that are now defunct, such as: Backboard Quarterly, Sign Waves, The Hemlock Review, Time & Again, Gone Fishing, Glossolalia, Fail Swoop, The Vicambulist, and Zero Ducats.

The Only Four Poems

Louie Crew

Nature is gorgeous.
War is hell.
I love you.
All die.

Janet Kuypers reading the Louie Crew poem
The Only Four Poems
read from cc&d magazine from Scars Publications, in the 12/10 v215 issue, which was also released as the 6" x 9" ISBN# book Entering the Ice Age
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Watch this YouTube video
of this poem read by Janet Kuypers (cc&d magazine editor) 12/07/10, live at the Café in Chicago

Louie Crew Bio

    Louie Crew (a.k.a. Li Min Hua), 73, an Alabama native, is an emeritus professor at Rutgers. He lives in East Orange, NJ, with Ernest Clay, his husband of 36+ years.

    As of today, editors have published 1,987 of Crew’s poems and essays. Crew has edited special issues of College English and Margins. He has written four poetry volumes Sunspots (Lotus Press, Detroit, 1976) Midnight Lessons (Samisdat, 1987), Lutibelle’s Pew (Dragon Disks, 1990), and Queers! for Christ’s Sake! (Dragon Disks, 2003).

    The University of Michigan collects Crew’s papers.

art by John Yotko

art by John Yotko (Puerto Rico)



the meat and potatoes stuff

London in the Evening

Natascha Tallowin

    What a lark, to be sitting here, watching, sitting here on one’s own in the café of a bookshop, surrounded by these clusters of new and crisp smelling books, tea and cake. Tea and cake! On a Sunday afternoon.
    She watched him enter.
    He was like a bird for speed, a broken arrow for directness with a quick dark glance, to his unsteady facial features, his eyes were somewhere else. Looking around the room for his source of favoured distraction – she could feel herself watching, over the rim of her tea cup (such nice tea it was, how nice it was to be out in London alone, with no one to talk to) he shifted his weight in his seat.
    Through the parting of her hair (she thought of forests – she’d never been to one before, only seen them. At least she thought that they had been forests, she had never been too sure how to tell if the cluster of trees she was busy romanticising was a forest, or merely a wood.)
    He flicked a match, twice, three times, dipped his head, and his pipe to the dancing orange flame, long hair, not cropped, not decent. That’s all he has eyes for right now. He hated this place, as much as she adored it, he hated it. His mind was blank from searching for the right words to describe his hatred for this place, this London, her London. For a moment he caught the eye of the woman opposite him, he hated her too.
    He spilt the milk for his tea. Thoughts of Tibbs, the large brown cat mewing at him at home. Did she have to be wearing that hat? He curled his toes in his shoes, the woman’s hat making him cross.
    She straightened her back, remembering her posture, her dress must look it’s best, she was hoping to impress him with her hat (A mock French flourish, she had allowed herself this hat – he would understand) She smiled at him from the rim of her tea cup, a cheerful smile, a smile from the inside of a happy child’s head, she thought, if ever there were such things.
    Did it have to be, did she have to be so vulgar? He realised his thoughts were becoming confused with a half forgotten film or play. A vague idea of someone irately wearing an expensive hat. It made him cross again.
    All cubist angles and pre-Raphaelite grace, tainting his memories of just a few minutes ago when he had been happy in the park, with the mint green grass and the trees. Now his smoke trails traced the cracks in the ceiling.
    She took another sip from her tea cup, pondering his frown, had he seen her smile? A monochrome vision of happiness before it rains, she tries a smile again and straightens her back, perhaps he hadn’t seen. Perhaps he hadn’t noticed her smiling at him.
    The dampness sunk into his head again. Why was she smiling at him? How he complained in the rain.
    He hadn’t noticed. She couldn’t smile again, she’d feel a fool, like an intruder on his thoughts.
    His eyes glazed over the menu, hand-written in a font he detested, if he had written it, it would look far better, and although it has been some hours since he took the pen out from behind his ear, he still has a faint phantom impression of a pen there, pressing against his skull. He would be happier in the park. He could like her more in the park he thought.
    He got up from his seat, taking her by surprise. He was leaving, he was leaving and he hadn’t noticed her hat or seen her smile.
    He opened the door to the cafe he hated, and left. He was gone, and he hadn’t noticed her hat.

Natascha Tallowin Bio

    Natascha Tallowin is a writer and poet from Suffolk, England. Whilst most of her time is spent writing poetry and sitting in patches of sunlight on the floor listening to David Bowie, she is also working on a magic-realism novel entitled ‘Guylian’s Magic’.

Parking Lot Tree, art by Cheryl Townsend

Parking Lot Tree, art by Cheryl Townsend

The Hundred Dollar Bill

Anne Turner Taub

        Penny Anderson loved browsing in thrift shops. Her friend Marlee laughed at her and claimed that was her way of getting therapy cheaply. Penny grinned as she let it slide off her back and went merrily on thrift-shopping whenever she had the opportunity.
    Today, she was looking at children’s books, not that Scott, her ll-year old, ever interrupted the serious occupation of watching television cartoons to read a book. But hope springs eternal in the heart of every mother of a pre-teen.
    While she was skimming through titles, she spotted an illustrated book based on an interesting idea—what the author imagined Jesus was like as an 8-year old. Well, that was intriguing but a little young for Scott or her l3-year old daughter, Melanie. She began looking at other books, but something drew her back to the book on Jesus. The picture on the cover was really tastefully done—8-year old Jesus holding a dove with a broken wing—but it just wouldn’t do for her children. Again she turned away, and again she found her gaze slowly turning back to the book. She was not very religious—true, she went to church on holidays, or when she needed a favor from God—but she did not understand why she was being drawn back to that children’s book.
    Oh well, she thought, it might be interesting to look at it anyway. She opened the book, and on the flyleaf was a written inscription, “To Mark and Matthew on Your Eighth Birthday. Enjoy This Book. You will find it rewarding in many ways. Love, Aunt Sally.”
    Penny smiled wistfully—it was dated twenty years earlier! These boys had obviously been twins. What had life been like for them all these years? Had the book really turned out to be rewarding? It really was a lovely gift. Maybe she should buy it and save it until an 8-year old appeared on the horizon. She looked through the pages slowly. She had to admit the drawings were beautifully illustrated—and then, she received a sudden shock. She literally could not believe her eyes. In the middle of the book was a very flattened out $l00 bill. At first she thought it was play money, but no, it was a very real, very old $l00 bill.
    When Penny had recovered from the surprise, she could pretty well guess what had happened. The boys had never even opened their birthday present, and the bill had just lain there all these years.
    Well, what should she do with the $l00? Whom did it rightfully belong to? There was no address. And twenty years had gone by. Whom could she contact? She decided to buy the book—that was the least she could do. And since it was now hers, she would treat herself to something wonderful. There was a dress she was dying to purchase but she had always felt it was too expensive. They needed so much money for other things—the house and their living expenses, not counting saving up for college for the children.
     But this was something special. And it should be spent on something special, very special. She would buy that dress!
    When she got home, she called her friend Marlee to tell her the good news. Marlee was thrilled with her find, and asked Penny whom she would give it to.
    “I’m not giving it to anyone. It’s mine.” Penny became fretful. She was entitled to this. She loved Marlee. She felt Marlee was the kindest, most giving person in the world, but she was very religious, and sometimes her total devotion to “brotherly love” really got to Penny.
    “Don’t you see?” said Marlee, “You found it in a children’s book on Jesus. You have to use it to help children.”
    “No, I don’t,” Penny squirmed. Sometimes she found herself becoming very annoyed with Marlee when she got all moralistic like this. “I save constantly. All the money we have goes for living expenses and for the children. I think I am entitled to something for myself.”
    “But this would be doing something for yourself, don’t you see that? You would love yourself for helping a child have a better life.”
    “Goodbye, Marlee.” Penny hung up abruptly. Why did people always have to rain on her parade?
    She went to the dress shop and bought the dress. The saleswoman commented on how well it looked on her. I am not going to let Marlee spoil this for me, Penny thought, as she admired herself in the mirror.
    When she got home, her husband Tom was already back from work, reading a newspaper. She put on the new dress, and said, “Honey, how do you like it?”
    Tom looked up, took off his glasses, “Like what?”
    “My new dress. Do you like it?”
    “Yes, it’s very nice, but don’t you have another one just like it?” He went back to reading.
    A little disappointed, Penny went into the den, where her daughter Melanie was watching a sit-com. “How do you like my new dress, Melanie?”
    Melanie answered without taking her eyes off the screen, “It’s nice. I like your blue one a lot better.”
    “Do you really mean that? You didn’t even look at it.”
    “Yes, I did. I saw it when you came in the room. It’s very nice. I just think you could have done better. By the way, Susie Bardis just had a baby.”
    The change of thought put Penny into a double-take whirl, but when she recovered, she said, “Susie? She’s only a child herself.”
    “She is not a child. She’s l3, just like me, except she’s a week and two days older. And she’s a slut.”
    “Please do not use that word. It’s a terrible word and I am sure it’s not true.”
    “Well, she looks like one. She only wears clothes that are raggedy hand-me-downs, and they are either too big or too small. Besides, half the time she looks like she’s been beaten with a coal shovel.”
    “You mean, she actually comes to school with bruises on her body? Who would do that to her?”
    “Mom, don’t you know anything? Her parents are dead and she lives with her stepfather who drinks like a fish 99.9% of the time. When he’s plastered, watch out. He’ll smash anything or anybody that’s in his way.”
    “Melanie, your language has gotten atrocious. Watch yourself, young lady.”
    “All right, Mom, but I am right in the middle of a good part, and I want to see this. Anyway, he threw her out when she had the baby.” Her eyes were once again riveted to the screen.
    Penny was appalled. “Where did she go? Who is taking care of her and the baby?”
    “Mom, please have some mercy. I am missing the best part.”
    Pausing for a commercial, she deigned to continue, “She’s living in that shelter place, you know, over on Wilson and Harcross.”
    “Oh, you mean the Baylor Home for Unwed Mothers.”
    No answer. The “best part” was on again.
    The next day Penny “accidentally” walked past the Baylor Home several times, hoping to run into Susie. Marlee will be proud of me, she was thinking, I am going to do a good deed.
    Finally, she spotted Susie, holding her baby tightly, and running towards the Home. Penny caught up with them just as Susie had her foot on the first step.
    “Hi, Susie, Melanie told me you have a new baby. I have a fine baby carriage left over from when Scott was born. I’d love you to have it. It’s in excellent condition.” Penny felt very pleased with herself.
    Susie turned on her. “I don’t need no pity and no charity from nobody. I live at this shelter now, but as soon as I can get a job I’m going to pay them back.” With that she fled up the stairs.
    Penny was totally stunned. Where did a child with her background and miserable home life get the pride and integrity to feel that way? A wave of insight washed over her.
    That afternoon, Penny returned the dress, and sent the money anonymously to Susie, in care of the Baylor Home, with the stipulation that it could only be spent on something new.
    Penny somehow suddenly found herself getting very involved as a volunteer in the church’s activities helping needy children. She never told Marlee what she had done with the $l00 bill. For some reason which she herself did not understand, she just felt it would be too embarrassing.
    A few days later, Susie’s stepfather had a little too much to drink beyond the little too much to drink he normally had. He tried to start a fight with the front of a trailer truck, but the truck won the argument. The next day Susie and her baby daughter, wearing brand new matching outfits, came to the funeral. People commented on how cute they looked together.

Some Assimilation Required, art by Aaron Wilder

Some Assimilation Required, art by Aaron Wilder


Marco Bisaccia

    Just throw out the guilt, she said, throw it away. It’s no good to you. You don’t need it.
    I turned away from Connie and got up, switching off the alarm clock so it wouldn’t start blaring while I was in the shower.
    I went down the stairs to the porch, then to the sidewalk where the bus stopped. I went to work. So what if Franklin was dead.
    After getting off the bus I stopped at the coffee shop. Eric handed me my coffee and bagel, said hello with a quick smile and turned away as he handed me the change. In the elevator Clara and Walter muttered hello and looked at the floor.

    The road had been wet that night. We left the party feeling all right. Connie wanted to get home and go to bed. She rode with Franklin’s wife so they could talk. Franklin rode with me in the van. I drove. I asked him to wear his seat belt but Franklin said he didn’t believe in those things.
    We were going up Williams Street in the rainy dark when a car jumped out of a driveway right in front of us. I hit the brakes and cut the wheel. We missed the car, but the van swerved all over the place until we hit a tree. I broke two ribs. When they pulled Franklin out he was limp. He died in the ambulance. The van was totaled.
    We went to the funeral. There were about 250 people. I got a lot of nice notes and cards in the mail, some from people I didn’t know. But what if the other driver had never pulled out? What if I’d hit the car instead of the tree?
    Franklin was playing poker with me and some of the guys at the party. Most of the gang just wanted to play nickel-ante straight poker. But I kept pushing for jacks-or-better progressive, so we played that way. Then I started pushing the bets. Franklin quietly asked me to lay off, but I became stubborn; I still don’t know why. By the end of the night some of the pots went over a hundred dollars.
    Jeff, the host, won a couple big hands and Franklin won a few twenty-dollar ones. I went on a winning streak before I lost it all and more, but it really didn’t matter. What was life without a little risk?

    I got out of bed every morning and went to work. At the office I tried not to think about it. I edited the newsletter. Nobody said much to me. Sometimes I solicited information from colleagues for articles, otherwise I minded my own business — unless we had a meeting and someone asked me a question. Franklin was dead. Nothing I did would change it.
    On the weekends I slept till noon, got up, fed the dog and read the paper. Later I would walk the dog once around the block. Usually I didn’t leave the house for anything else. Connie bought the groceries and ran the errands. We didn’t talk too much. We played Scrabble on a few nights, but usually just watched TV or read. Come on, she would say, let’s go to a movie or something. Sometimes I went.

    One Monday I was finishing the weekly newsletter when the phone rang. It was Detective MacCauley. You’ll be happy to know, he said, that we won’t be filing charges against you for the accident; your insurance company isn’t even accepting liability. The papers will be processed in the next week but I wanted to let you know as soon as we reached a conclusion.
    I thanked him.
    That night Connie held me tight and said, it’s going to be okay.
    I turned off the light.
    We just need some time, she said. You’ll see, you’ll hit your stride.
    The next Saturday I walked about a mile from our house to the railroad bridge. The sun was bright and the wind blew dead leaves from the yards. I walked on the inner part of the sidewalk, away from traffic. It was the first time in a month I’d gone beyond shouting distance of the house except to go to work.
    We were invited to my parents house for Sunday dinner. I hadn’t been in a car since the accident. Connie said she’d drive us in the old Pontiac she found a week earlier. It was only a twenty minute drive anyway. But I couldn’t get in the car. Don’t worry, she said, it’ll be over before you know it.
    I know, I know, but I don’t think I can stand it.
    I know it’s hard. It’s not easy for me either, but you have to get back to where you were sooner or later.
    I winced.
    Try the back seat, she said.
    I laid on the back seat with my eyes closed the whole way.
    When we got to my parents’ I was shaking but got it under control before going inside.
    My mother served leg of lamb and potatoes and vegetables, I think. I don’t remember how the meal tasted. We drank white wine after the meal and Connie talked with my parents about life in the city and whether we were going to have kids. I didn’t say much.
    On the way home I sat in the front passenger seat with the seat belt buckled and a baseball cap pulled over my eyes.
    A few months passed. I stopped waking up all sweaty in the middle of the night. We started going out to dinner twice a week: once with friends, once just us.
    Connie got tired of doing all the driving and begged me to snap out of it, get behind the wheel again. Time to be my own driver. I tried one day while she was out. When I got behind the wheel I just shook and shook. I couldn’t raise my head to look through the windshield.

    That night I woke up at two o’clock. It felt like Connie had kicked me. I turned to her and called but she didn’t answer. One arm covered her face; the striped nightgown rose and fell steadily. The moon, peering through the curtains, lit up her hair. I put my head back on the pillow.
    Connie whispered to me that she’d had a bad dream. She was crying.
    I hugged her and told her it was over. She’d be fine.
    But it was exactly like back then, she said.
    In ninth grade, when you liked to play pranks. Remember?
    Yeah, like the Ex-lax in the soft serve ice cream machine.
    In the dream you, Franklin and Joey Martin were playing the fire drill prank. You snuck into the classroom and hid everyone’s stuff while they were outside.
    I’d almost forgotten that one.
    But the dream was horrible. I couldn’t stop screaming at Franklin.
    He let Joey pin the whole thing on you. Joey said the prank was your idea. You told me. Franklin never said a word to the principal, just kept shaking his head.
    I shook her by the arm. It was a dream, I told her, the three of us played a prank, went to the office, got punished. It was a long time ago.
    Connie went on like I wasn’t there. Miss Miller’s grade book was missing, she said. I kept screaming and I wanted to kick Franklin, but you held me back. I knew he stole the grade book and let you hang so he wouldn’t get punished.
    Honey, it was a nightmare. Franklin wouldn’t take anything if you gave it to him.
    She seemed to relax a little.
    Try to sleep, I said, you’ll feel better.

    I got bored one night. Connie slept in front of the TV. There was nothing on and the VCR was broken. I’d read all the good books in the house. The library was nearby but it closed at eight. I had to have something to read. Anything but the newspaper. The bookstore at the mall closed at ten. Maybe a friend could give me a ride. But I couldn’t pick up the phone. The keys were on the counter by the door. I watched them for a while.

    The engine turned right over. I squinted and looked over the dash. A few cars were parked on the street but no one was around. The wind blew and the leafless branches bent toward the pavement.
    I drove down Vauxhall Street, arms stiff, hands clamped to the wheel. I made it through the first intersection okay. At the first red light a police car pulled into the lane next to mine. Surely the cop had seen my craziness and was there to arrest me. The light turned green and he took a right.
    It got easier. By the time I reached the mall I felt almost relaxed. Connie would be amazed.
    Just before the store closed I found the book I wanted: “Airplanes: From the Wright Brothers to the Stealth Bomber.” Leaving the parking lot was no problem. I turned onto the boulevard with grace and elegance. As I approached the railroad bridge I wondered what could be so difficult about it all. Little droplets started to pepper the windshield. I turned the wipers on.

art by David Thompson

art by David Thompson

Doris Day’s Hat

Derek V. Hunter

     “What do you think of this one?’ a quick and forceful female voice demanded while the owner of the voice, Linda, held up a one-piece swimsuit.
    “Funny.” Cynthia, the pale-skinned, tall yet small-framed brunette shot back with a quick, forceful voice of her own.
    “Never understood why you choose to live in L.A. when you hate the sun so much.”
    “I was born here.”
    “You can move.”
    “Why? I love L.A.”
    The two continued to chat, about Roger, Cynthia’s boyfriend, and his reluctance to go to Cynthia’s mother’s best friend’s 60th birthday party. It was a serious affair, as was the next conversation about a friend of theirs, Amanda, who was choosing to cut her beautiful bangs.
    The two women were slicing through the garments at “Olive and Oleander” on Melrose Ave. The boutique was a small, quaint but by no means mediocre shop on the hipster fashion strip. It was fortunately less populated than most places on Melrose. Cynthia and Linda loved going there because of its de-populated environment and choice selections of fabric. Women who knew their clothes went to “Olive and Oleander.” Despite low sales numbers, the owner of the store, ‘70’s actress Lizzy Meridian, could keep it going, year after year, with her husband’s money.
    “These three and this slip for me. How about you?” Linda asked Cynthia while holding three summer 100% cotton Ferlani dresses and one Tortelli nightgown.
    “Nothing for me here today.”
    “You can’t do that to Lizzy.”
    “You’re right, what am I thinking? I’ll take this Argentinean straw hat.” Cynthia said while taking off her current hat to replace it with the “Argentinean” one.
    They both laughed at her calling the hat Argentinean when it was from Spain, and “straw” when it was leather.
    “You’re such a hat whore.” Linda poked while they went to the cashier.
    Even walking just fifteen feet, Linda’s breasts lead the way. The natural protrusion of her chest seemed to pull the rest of her body forward, often making Linda walk in front of her friends. Cynthia’s shoulders, on the other hand, hunched over, making her already small breasts even smaller.
    “Can you blame me with my skin?” Cynthia responded as they reached the cashier.
    “Let me treat you to lunch. Your 30th Birthday lunch with little ol’ Linda. Just a you and me celebration at ‘Lucinda’s’.”
    Cynthia was indeed turning 30, next week in fact. It was a dreaded age, Cynthia believed, the first dreaded turning point in a downhill slide of progressively worse decade-turning ... Next it would be 40, then 50, then 60 and so on and so on. Perhaps she’d be lucky and die before she hit 60. At least women usually retained some hint of youth in their 50’s these days. But 60’s, forget it.
    And the haughtiness and arrogance in Linda’s tone, being the 28 year old she was. Linda was always excessive with her abundance. Abundance in youth, abundance in breasts, abundance in womanly form. Men always turned to look at her ass. Cynthia was a tall twig. Pale skin, flat chest. Perhaps Linda’s question as to why she lived in L.A. was implying that Cynthia belonged in some state like Washington or Oregon.
    After the birthday lunch at Lucinda’s, and while Cynthia was driving to her West Hollywood home near Crescent Heights and Fountain, she thought that must be it. Linda must think she didn’t belong in L.A. Cynthia did this kind of logical thinking often. In the midst of her fun, quick, stimulating chatter with friends, she was caught up in it. Later, a comment made here, a comment made there, would come back to haunt her. Linda was the worst perpetrator of them all.
    Back at her $8,500 a month, three bedroom condo was her Prince in Shining Armor, Roger. He was on the phone while preparing what seemed like a three course lunch, consisting of a Viennese salad, Alaskan oysters, and thinly sliced roast beef with macaroni and long beans. This was not for him, but for her. He quickly got off the phone and rushed to his love.
    “Hello, beautiful.” He said while embracing her.
    “Hey. Let me put my things down.”
    As she put her shopping bags down – she and Linda went to other stores besides Olive and Oleander – she eyed the three-course lunch in the dining room. She didn’t want to tell him she just had lunch for two reasons: one) she only ate a third of her dish at Lucinda’s and two) perhaps he made something worthwhile. Once she saw the roast beef, she wished she ate more at Lucinda’s.
    “Babe, you didn’t have to.” She remarked.
    “You know it’s a pleasure for me, and besides, there’s something to celebrate.” He said as he went back to finish setting up the meal.
    “No, please keep my birthday celebrations to a minimum.”
    “It’s something else, actually.”
    “Ok, but ... I thought you knew I can’t eat roast beef.”
    “Shit, I didn’t remember. Are you allergic?”
    “No, I just can’t eat roast beef. It feels like I’m eating a live animal.”
    “I’m sorry, honey. So, did you want to hear the good news?”
    He didn’t even offer to make a tuna sandwich, she thought.
    “Sure, babe, what is it?”
    “HBO’s accepted the show!”
    So he made this lunch for me because HBO’s taking his show, Cynthia thought while saying, “That’s great, honey” and giving him a hug. That made no sense. Celebrating something for yourself by doing something for someone else. Her birthday was coming up after all.
    Roger soon left to meet with his agent and partner, to discuss the details for the show he’d produce for HBO. Cynthia thought, like always, leaving me alone, as she went to work on organizing her latest shopping acquisitions. The “Argentinean straw hat” from Olive and Oleander belonged on the hat display (she hated calling it a “rack”) in her own, separate room. Having a three bedroom condominium enabled Roger and her to have an extra room each. Roger’s room was a straightforward and efficient office with the latest home office appliances and equipment with desk, chair, computer, cabinets and so on. Cynthia’s room, on the other hand, was an extravaganza of shopping conquests.
    As soon as anyone walked into this room – anyone, that is, that didn’t know Cynthia – they’d immediately get jolted by the fetishist nature of the person who owned it. “Fetishist” not for anything kinky, but for it’s sheer obsessiveness. Shopping was a lust for Cynthia, pure and simple, and a grandiose lust at that. Normally a clean and organized person, she was not so in regards to this room. Shoes, dresses, pants, hats, blouses, bags, purses, sunglasses, slips, shirts, lingerie, yoga mats, socks, bras, panties, jackets, hats, hats, and more hats were everywhere in the large room. Shopping Chaos Reigned.
    That evening Cynthia’s friends took her to the Beverly Center Mall for a night out on the town. It was quite a common affair, frequent actually (usually five times a month). But this night was different. Each friend – all five of them – would buy three items for Cynthia. It was a Birthday Buying Bash. Cynthia made a charitable demand: no one should spend more than $900. The demand was accepted.
    The night was Cynthia’s. It belonged completely to her and her friends obliged her. Every store they went to, every snippet of conversation they had, the restaurant they went to for dinner, was chosen and managed by her. While finishing dinner at the exquisite “Ricardo’s” on La Cienega blvd., just north of Beverly, the discussion focused on Roger. How could he make such a fuss about his show for HBO?
    “Imagine the expectations that went into such a deal. He’d been waiting to hear HBO’s answer for months, right?” Linda said coolly.
    “You’re not defending him, are you?” Cynthia light-heartedly responded with a friendly smile.
    “No, it’s not a matter of defense.”
    “You’re being his defense attorney actually.”
    “Cynthia, you do have a tendency to read into people’s behavior.” Rachel, another friend at the dinner table, added. “I can’t think of a more devoted and loving boyfriend than Roger.”
    “You got that right.” Amanda, one more friend there, chimed in.
    “I certainly would love to have Roger as my boyfriend, to be quite blunt.” Linda said simply.
    “Would you now?” Cynthia responded.
    “I mean, out of everyone here, I think we can all agree who’s the luckiest in that department.”
    “‘Luckiest’? That’s a nice way to put it. You sure are showing your true colors today.”
    “I started to suspect earlier, at Olive and Oleander. You think I’m too old, too pale, too unattractive, for this town, for my friends, for Roger!”
    “What’re you talking about?” Linda said with a flabbergasted laugh.
    “Cynthia, please, stop with this kind of melodrama.” Amanda said with a light laugh. “You’re being silly.”
    “Yes, you are.” Linda added as she looked at the other people in the restaurant who turned to check out the conflict.
    Linda and the other friends gave reassuring smiles to the people.
    “Fine. Treat me this way for my birthday celebration. I’ve always been your punching bag, haven’t I?” Cynthia said as she got up to leave, gathering all the shopping bags with her.
    “Cynthia ...” Rachel began to plead but couldn’t find the words.
    “I imagine none of you will mind if I don’t help pay for the bill?” Cynthia said as she struggled out of the booth with her huge load of shopping bags.
    While rushing away from the table, Cynthia didn’t last eight steps before dropping the shopping bags to the floor.
    “God damn it!”
    Most of the people in the restaurant began to stare at Cynthia. She broke down in tears, covering her face and attempting to make her sobs as quiet as possible.
    “I think we should go help with her bags.” Linda suggested quietly to the others at the table. They agreed and got up.
    Before heading back to the condo, Cynthia went with her friends to St. Nick’s bar and had a few drinks. It was a rough day, after all, with all that commotion. A couple glasses of Mercussi white wine would do her good. The alcohol made it easier to make up with her friends and anyway, she was celebrating her birthday.
    As she slipped into her queen sized bed, under the silk covers with Roger, she noticed he was talking in his sleep. He did this most nights, and it always annoyed her. But this time she wouldn’t put her ear plugs in. She’d listen to what he’d say, out of curiosity.
    “... yes, right ... Locations New York, Vegas, Boston ... no, never been Boston ... gambling not fun ... roast beef ... like beef ... all meat used be live animals ... She loves New York steak ... it’s good thing I close to her father ... her father’s help ... HBO loves him ... HBO loves Cynthia ...”
    What? Her father? What is this about HBO loving her father? Could this be it? Roger’s true colors coming through in his mumbling while asleep? It couldn’t be. Roger really did love her for her, not for whatever connections her dad had in show business. Didn’t he? He must. This was just nonsense.
    Over the next week, an almost daily celebration for Cynthia’s 30th took place. A lunch here, a brunch there, a dinner somewhere, a party here and there and somewhere. She was a popular gal, for being a “tall twig” of a brunette and for being a neurotic mess perhaps. To many of her friends (and she did have many) her neurosis was charming. “Oh, that’s Cynthia for you,” people would say. She deserved a sitcom show where Cynthia played Cynthia. The irony that her father was one of the producers for “Sex and the City” and “Friends” and other sitcoms with neurotic women in them, was not missed by many people.
    Once the birthday celebrations began to settle down – a couple weeks after her 30th birthday – Cynthia decided she was due for a day of shopping with her closest friends Linda, Rachel, and Amanda. They decided to go on an adventure: shop at Target on La Brea and Santa Monica blvd. They were going to “The Hood.” The La Brea and Santa Monica intersection had changed quite a bit the last couple years, ever since the large multi-store megaplex (which included Target) opened. Still, it was The Hood for them, as trannies and other street folk could still be spotted in the neighborhood. Just not anywhere near the multi-store megaplex.
    Linda had to do something before, so arrived at Target later than the others. She walked up to Cynthia, Amanda, and Rachel as they were in the hat section.
    “Hello.” Linda said calmly yet triumphantly.
    Cynthia turned and saw something she thought was impossible to see: a 1963 bright yellow Doris Day hat, sitting on Linda’s head. They didn’t make those hats anymore. Doris Day had introduced them into the market in ’63, only to have them immediately removed because of legal entanglements involving a movie Day did in the ‘50’s. Doris Day had been known to wear the hat defiantly off and on through the ‘60’s, a symbol of what could have been. Somehow, in the ‘70’s, Day lost all remaining hats, and no one in her estate had any idea what happened to them. Some people believed they were stolen. Whatever happened, there were rumors that some could be found scattered all over the world, although most people believed they were just completely lost. Doris Day herself refused to take part in the matter. It was a painful affair, and something to be forgotten.
    Now, Cynthia was no sucker for celebrities. She was third generation Hollywood after all. She was so unaffected by the “celebrity” industry that she chose not to work in it even. In fact, she chose not to work at all. But anyways, Cynthia was no celebrity whore. Doris Day was different. Doris Day was beyond being only a celebrity. She was a living Icon (she was still alive, wasn’t she? People always wondered). “Que Sera, Sera” was as timeless as they get. And here was Linda, wearing Doris Day’s yellow 1963 hat. Where the hell did she get it?
    “Can’t tell.” Linda responded.
    She smiled devilishly sweet. She knew of Cynthia’s obsession.
    “Let me see.” Cynthia demanded. “I’m sure it’s a replica.”
    “It’s not.” Linda said as she took off the hat and gave it to her.
    “Well, let me decide.” Cynthia said as she inspected the hat.
    It was indeed the real thing. The inseam, the fabric, the contours, the right shade of yellow (even after 40 years), the label had the 1963 Doris Day signature on it. Everything was legit. Cynthia’s eyes lit up like a fire god.
    “How the hell did you get this and where?” Cynthia almost exploded.
    “Can’t tell.”
    “Ha. Funny.”
    Cynthia waited for Linda to fess up, but she wouldn’t. Cynthia waited until the mood there got suddenly much darker. Then she asked again.
    “I’m not telling.” Linda resisted, still with a smile.
    “Come on, Linda.” Amanda now got involved. “Just tell her. You know how much she loves Doris Day and that hat.”
    “Let’s just say I’m not telling as punishment for Cynthia thinking I have a crush on Roger.”
    “Now you’re really making me think you do have a crush on him. In fact, you two are probably even having an affair.”
    “Cynthia!” Amanda and Rachel exclaimed quietly in unison. “How can you say that?” They continued in unison.
    “I wouldn’t put it pass either of them. I’ll find out soon enough. As for the hat, fine. Don’t tell me where you got it from. I’ll find out about that, as well.”
    And with that, Cynthia stormed out of Target, not even buying the aqua blue cheap hat, and leaving her friends behind to wonder. What was Cynthia going to do? She wasn’t going to confront Roger about some silly idea of an affair, was she? No. Most pressing was the hat. She was going to find Doris Day’s hat, no matter what. Linda wanted to challenge her? So be it.
    Cynthia would go on a quest, putting all other concerns to the side. Sure, she would still go to Bellamonte’s weekly Sunday sale on the Sunset Strip, but everything else must go. No Thursday brunch with her mother, no Friday nights at Castille’s, no Saturday night out clubbing, no Sunday dinner with the family, no Monday lunch with Amanda, no Tuesday breakfast with Rachel, and not even the Wednesday sacrilegious mid-week check-in romance dinner with Roger.
    Roger would never hear the allegation of an affair. She would confirm with him her hunt, though. He was surprised to hear of the hat’s existence. She’d told him numerous times it was basically impossible to find. Now they knew differently.
    Before she took a step out of her condo, Cynthia would first research the web. Maybe there was a clue, even an answer, on the Internet. She took out her Mac Book, knowing the possible hours spent on the Internet and not wanting to hog Roger’s computer.
    First, she spent hours reading information she already knew, sites dedicated to Doris Day which included the “hat controversy.” There was even one site that dealt exclusively with the hat controversy. Actually, two. But none of these sites either mentioned they knew the whereabouts of any remaining hats nor said it would be possible to find them. Cynthia sent e-mail inquiries to the people running the sites, just in case. She then went to sites focusing on ‘60’s memorabilia, Hollywood hats memorabilia, ‘50’s and ‘60’s Hollywood legal battles, ‘50’s and ‘60’s Hollywood legal controversies. She e-mailed all the people running these sites, as well. She spent hours conversing with bloggers from all over the world. She went to sites dedicated to hunting down hard to find ‘50’s and ‘60’s items. Most of these detectives were upfront with Cynthia: it was impossible to find Doris Day’s hats. When she mentioned her friend had the hat, they had no answers. Out of the five who said they could find the hat, one met her at a diner to show a phony hat, and the other four never returned her calls.
    Two weeks went by with hours and hours of on-line research, e-mails, and phone calls, with no results. Then she received an e-mail, sender unknown, in response to her inquiry. The message said there was a high probability there were 5 remaining hats in California. They said the source was confirmed as a good one, even though they couldn’t specify what city nor even what part of California the hats were in. But this was it, it had to be it. Cynthia had to go on this. She had nothing else.
    Where could these hats be? Were they together in one place, or were they scattered all over the state? Where should she start? Being in Los Angeles, she would start there.
    She went to all the vintage and non-vintage clothing shops on Melrose, going from La Cienega blvd. to Highland blvd. The vintage didn’t have to be ‘50’s or ‘60’s specific, the hat could be anywhere. No luck. She then went up and down Highland and La Brea, then Hollywood blvd., Sunset blvd., back and forth, all the way on Sunset to the Pacific Palisades then East to where Sunset turns into Caesar Chavez blvd. in Downtown L.A. Then around Echo Park, Silverlake, and Los Feliz. Down Franklin Ave. in Hollywood, to some other areas in Hollywood. Still no luck. Then back to Downtown on Wilshire blvd., then back West on Wilshire, again all the way to the coast, to Santa Monica, going through Korea Town, Mid-Wilshire, Fairfax District, Beverly Hills, Century City, to Westwood blvd., up and down Westwood blvd. from Beverly Glenn to Westwood, then back down Wilshire and on West through West L.A. to Santa Monica. No Luck.
    She went down Main Street in Santa Monica to Venice, going through every single shop. Onto Marina Del Rey and Mar Vista next, down Lincoln blvd. towards LAX, and on to the South Bay. Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach, and inwards to Torrance, Inglewood, Hawthorne, then onto San Pedro. She went everywhere, and into the Valley, and no luck. She went beyond “Greater Los Angeles” and no luck. Weeks went by of continual driving and looking, every single day, and no luck. She eventually went to San Diego, to Santa Barbara, to San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland even.
    She went further north to Sacramento. No luck. She went up and down the coast. She put thousands and thousands of miles on her car. Months went by. People began to worry. Friends, family, and Roger began to worry. What was happening to their Cynthia? When she finally gave up her search, she slept for days, never leaving her condo. Roger stood watch over her, postponing meetings with HBO in New York. He fed her, bathed her, treated her like his baby while she was in her deep slumber of dejected depression.
    Ten days later, Roger and Cynthia’s friends and family pushed her to at least go out and have lunch. She conceded and decided to have lunch at Ricardo’s with Amanda, Rachel, and Linda. She hadn’t seen any of them for a long time, and Linda not since that fateful day at Target. They all were “poor Cynthia that, poor Cynthia this.” Even Linda, although she had restraint. While in the midst of eating their delicate dishes, “the search” was put into question.
    “I never meant for you to go on such a gargantuan quest. It was just a little tease.” Linda said.
    There was an awkward silence, very awkward, especially since these four never had awkward silences. Drama yes, but never awkward silences. Amanda and Rachel almost wanted to cry out of awkwardness. The darkness that hung over Cynthia in her defeated sleep for days had crept back into her. She was impenetrable darkness as she stared down Linda.
    “Cynthia, stop looking at me like that. You’re almost scaring me.” Linda said with an uncomfortable yet defiant laugh. “You know, I thought about not telling you something but, being your friend, I felt I should be honest with you. I do have a mischievous side to me, just not so scandalous as to have an affair with Roger.”
    “Linda, come on now. Don’t say anything you’ll regret later.” Amanda butted in.
    “This mischievous side did take a little pleasure in seeing you suffer while on your mad quest. I just never thought you’d go as far as you did. I mean, wow.”
    “Just tell me what you’re going to say.” Cynthia said while holding onto the table.
    “I was the one who sent that e-mail to you.”
    They all knew which e-mail Linda was referring to. Whatever awkwardness there was before now grew to unthinkable proportions ... to the point where –
    “You fucking bitch!” Cynthia snapped as she grabbed the steak knife and began to stab Linda in the side of her neck.
    “Oh my God, oh my God ...” Amanda and Rachel said in unison as they jumped out of the booth in fright.
    Linda was screaming in agony and trying to fight off Cynthia ... but it was too late. Cynthia’s stabs began to puncture deep into her neck ... blood splattered all over Cynthia, all over her New York steak, the New England mashed potatoes, Argentinean long beans, fine Italian silver ware, Spanish leather seats in the booth, and the silky smooth French table cloth ... it was a mess.
    Linda’s dead body soon slumped underneath the table. Cynthia dropped the steak knife and broke down in anguish. Amanda and Rachel were shaking in terrible shock as they both were thinking, in unison, “ ... should never have let Linda sit next to Cynthia ...

Geronimo Does Walmart

John Duncklee

    I was spending time up around the Gila River in Apache Spirit World when an old warrior friend of mine approached me with a large smile on his face. He told me about a recent trip he had made to a city in southern New Mexico, not too far from where we were having our conversation. He told me about a large store that could provide shelter for damn near the entire Apache Nation all under one roof. It also had a parking lot that was full most of the time. This friend of mine highly recommended that I make the same trip to visit what he said the White Eyes called “A Big Box Store”.
    I was not too keen on this idea because when I had taken other trips to see what had happened to the country I always came back with a very sour taste in my mouth and lots of anger in my heart toward what the White Eye had done to a once beautiful land. Just when I was about to quit thinking about that my friend’s spirit appeared again and before he was through I had agreed to do as he had suggested. After all it wasn’t as if I had to walk all the way down to fifty miles from the Mexican Border, I just had to move my spirit southward and I would arrive in a matter of seconds, not even minutes. I also figured that I could return to Apache Spirit World in the same amount of time and in the same exact manner.
    I overshot my landing a bit, but that turned out to be beneficial because I got to walk down the sidewalk that overlooked the roof of this “Big Box”. The roof had more skylights in it than I wanted to stop and count, and when I looked at the size of this monster I could understand why my warrior friend said it could hold almost the entire Apache Nation under its roof. Another amazing thing was the road into this behemoth was named “Walton Boulevard” after the company’s founder, Sam Walton, the man who contrived it all into WalMart.
    After lofting into the parking lot and carefully watching for moving cars, I saw the front of this huge building. Across the front there was large signage. One announced WALMART and the other promised “Save Money Live better”. I wondered why they hadn’t painted, “Spend your money, enrich our stockholders”.
    I had heard a bunch of things about the behemoth from all sorts of Apache Spirits, but I discovered that I had to go in and give a look-see before I believed all the stuff. Inside this giant wickiup I saw more stuff than I thought the entire world could produce. And, when I looked at the labels on the clothes I saw that the entire world had made it. China dominated the foreigners, but Pakistan and a couple of Latin American countries were represented. Someone referred this as “Out-sourcing” jobs from the U.S. to foreign countries. I had heard about some recession, so when I saw all those foreign labels it was obvious what had had a part in causing it.
    However, when I gave the situation more thought and learned about how WalMart had been responsible and remained responsible for the closing of small family businesses that could not possibly compete and the subsequent layoffs of their employees, I had to conclude that WalMart was a huge factor in causing that economic slowdown. I tried to think about a greater reality and these thought began germinating in my mind like new pine seeds germinate in the forest when conditions are right. This huge store hoping to have people part with their money is just one part of the bigness that is happening these days. When I was alive before the White Eyes arrived, we hunted for our food and we used the things that the earth provided for our wickiups. When the White Eyes killed off the buffalo and other game that we depended on for food, we had to begin raiding in order to live. Now we are no longer that threat and sadly we have joined in their material things and we have lost much of our old way of life. But, at the same time, they have also changed and no longer use horses to farm their crops or pull wagons to go from one place to another. There are many other changes, too. Perhaps the entire earth is in a state of transition, of drastic change. Some accept. Some reject. And, the old ones witness.
    I sent my thoughts back to those terrible days when the White Eyes came with their ideas that they owned the earth and could occupy any or all parts just be doing away with those of us who had lived on the earth for many generations. Perhaps we were not always at peace with one another, but we never attempted to annihilate a culture and its people. We never moved entire nations to make room for our people to occupy more land and have more game available. We never killed off the buffalo in order to starve anyone to rid them from the earth. At times I wonder why we faced such punishment just because we lived with the earth.
    As I looked at the labels on all that merchandise from all over the world, from places I had no idea existed, I got the feeling of being so tiny a being on the face of the earth that all those years of fighting for our rights to just exist were so futile that we might have been better off surrendering at the beginning or moving completely out of their way. But, then there is that strong feeling that still persists that we have our territory that was given us by our earth. And, we have our pride that keeps us defending what we must defend regardless of the odds against us.
    Then, after seeing more and more places on the labels I began to realize that there are different peoples all over earth’s face, and that they are all beginning to become global in their perspective. The thought also occurs that even though this behemoth called WalMart may drive small family businesses into what the White Eyes call “bankruptcy” it is all in that process that I called evolution. The explosion of human population in itself changes the path of evolution. As we humans become more and more able to travel over earth’s face quickly and efficiently, almost like I am able to think myself to places of my choosing because I am in spirit form, the peoples of the earth will mingle closer and become better acquainted with one another’s cultures and customs.
    I must be on a long tangent of thought. I return to the tons of what I call crap piled high on shelves and even on the floor of this giant wickiup, and wonder why these sometimes bulbous White Eyes spend their coins and paper money in order to bring it all home, only to tire of it and throw it away in a short time. Or, do they toss it out because it does not last. And, the material, the plastic, the cheap cloth with flimsy stitching. The particles of sawdust glued together, only to disintegrate.
    Yes, this behemoth is an accurate reflection of the White Eyes’ society. The really sad thing is when I loft my way to the reservations where my people have lived in what some call poverty, I see the same junk that is displayed in this behemoth wickiup scattered around their particle board houses, and I feel very happy that I was alive when I was alive, and became a spirit when I became a spirit. Therefore, I do not have to walk through that space where the sign says “Cashier”.

DESEN 360 KUCUK, art by Üzeyir Lokman ÇAYCI

DESEN 360 KUCUK, art by Üzeyir Lokman ÇAYCI

The Indian Curse

ArunPrakash Dn.

    He quivered in the frost French cold, under the thick down-comforter filled with fluffy bird feathers, even as the bedroom heater murmured with its golden coils, nearby. It was stark dark and chilly outside, and he needed more than just the warmth that he savored under the blanket to keep off from the frigidity. He shook more, thinking it would help shiver the cold off him; and it did. He was getting a hold of the warmth surging through his body, while the Angel beneath him quivered along, in pleasure, helping him to culminate in the place, he wanted to achieve. Slight shrieks and gasps of delectation added flavor to the moist air and Natasha’s face showed expressions of extreme pleasure. “Séduisant”, as they would call in the Romantic Language, was the right word to describe the environment Jake was in - Frosty dark night with snow fringed glass windows, chilly atmosphere with a cozy fake-fireplace, the faint hum of the electrical heater which looked out furtively from within the hearth, the stardust French architecture with a mix of contemporary and medieval modernism, and the luscious English woman wanting him more every second, under the quilt. Natasha was a frequenter, and was known for her throbbing lips, amongst Jake’s associates. “You could even bargain your life for her kiss.” Arthur had said ogling at her, back in La Piscine - The Swimming Pool - that morning. “Do your job!” Jake had dismissed strictly, except his eyes still glued, till she entered the bath. ‘Her lips are mine, now!’ And when Jake saw it parting with another gush of delight, he muzzled, helping her deliberately to breathe in his breath.

    Tyler, a Voodoo practitioner in his early forties, with gray strands already sprouting from his head, had four PhDs in his backpack. This rare mix of mysticism and science projected him exceptionally in the Indian neighborhood. He started studying this arcane art, since a year before Jake, to research on the craft, when he fell in love with it - with the power it pledged. Tyler was just another regular megalomaniac who wanted power in his hands, men beneath his legs, and the women between them.
    “Notice the girl in the yellow sari.” Tyler nudged Jake as they entered the small thatched mud-hut where the man who taught Tyler - his Guru - practiced. The hut was daubed on the inside, with a sticky powder of low-grade limestone - a typical whitewash - which prevented Jake from leaning over. There were frequent visitors from all the distant villages and Tyler’s master was well famed for his craft.
    Jake concentrated on the girl. She was petite and cute, clad in Indian sari, of the holy color – yellow. With long pleated black hair, the girl swayed devotionally along with Tyler’s master. “What’s with her?” Jake responded. He realized that it was a part of the teachings, as Tyler had promised.
    “Notice the lemon in her hands.” Tyler whispered as Jake followed his command. Sure to Tyler’s words, Jake marked that the girl had a large lemon tightly clutched between her palms, but never rolling it.
    “Yea, what’s with it?” Jake whispered back, questioning.
    “Not now...” Tyler hissed. “...I’ll tell you in the night.”
    Jake focused his attention on the hands of all the people who followed - through the noon, the afternoon, and even when the sunset and twilight overlapped with a faint description of an evening, and through the dusk - till the night: Apart from the petite girl, the lemon was not given to any other.
    “What about the lemon?” Jake asked when he met Tyler again, that night.
    “You’ll see!” Tyler grinned. It appeared as if he was pleased to mention those words. Jake saw as the voodooist take out the lemon from where he had dropped it that morning - near a closed brass cup - and placed it as the cynosure, before him, over the plastered floor on which some weird geometrical shapes were strewn over, drawn. The man in his usual attire, a saffron robe - another color which was considered holy in the country - chanted some words in some Indian language - which Jake later learnt from Tyler, was Sanskrit - in his own lilt, and slowly, the man’s apprentices, all clad in the same saffron clothing exited the hut, in a single file, leaving Tyler and Jake alone with their cantillating master.
    “What’s he doing?” Jake hissed, unable to withstand his curiosity.
    “He’s going to use the lemon to seduce the girl.” Tyler whispered back.
    “What?” Jake shrieked, making the disturbed voodooist turn at them in an angry glower. Tyler perspired instantly, and silently walked out of the cottage, pulling Jake with him.

    For thirty-three year old Jake Foster, getting Natasha into bed was like a piece of emblazoned Dacquoise from the La Boulangerie Française. All he needed was the meshed locks of thin dark-brown hair, entangled between the pointed cotton strands of the soft bath towel, that she had left after her hot shower. Actually, he just needed a tiny chip for the DNA. Every night, the Demon within him demanded an Angelic beauty to devour, and Jake had to deliver. Success in anything demands a sacrifice, and Jake had to lose his picturesque future, for his concupiscent present - a result of his ghastly past. He now had the power of control over them - the power to attract women and to enslave - a rich souvenir from the putatively poor India. His Theological studies in various countries gave him nothing less than awe. But his knowledge on the Indian Voodoo transformed his life, endlessly. Two years back, in the last few months of his course at the Theosophical Society of India, he visited the suburbs of the Holy Indian places, where voodoo was still practiced. That was where he met Tyler.

    “I... I’m sorry about that.” Jake confessed, when they were outdoors.
    “Ah! Toss it, Jake. You saw what you wanted to. He was going to push us out in sometime, anyways.” Tyler eased him, as they walked out to the deserted street. Within a vast number of tiny conterminous cottages on either side, touching each other by only a streak of small space, the narrow street looked like an alleyway without walls. “Ever heard of biometrics, Jake? The ones they use to identify a person uniquely?”
    “Right! Fingerprints, Iris patterns, DNA... of the sort.”
    “The lemon is the ancient Indian way of doing it - identifying a person.” Tyler chuckled, as he began to feed Jake with stuff that he longed for. He was so proud that he explained a native, a foreign theory, in a native language. “When the lemon was given to the girl, today morning, it was given with a volition. He had decided to have her on bed tonight.” Tyler explained.
    “Really?” Jake spluttered innocently. He hadn’t known how to react. “I thought it was always with the sacred words these people chant, which makes the magic work.” He scratched his head. It was his theological way of thought.
    “Well, not completely! That was how I used to think...” Tyler laughed. “...until I did a research on it.”
    “So, what’s it, really?”
    “The magic is not in his words. But on the tune his words make - the cantillation.”
    “I... I don’t get it.”
    “Ah! Let me explain it to you. Come!” Tyler guided him to a nearby heavy lump of sand, gathered together with a preconception of a sand-seat. It was right below the rustic yellow streetlight, where the flat mud-way bulged suddenly to a huge rift, at one corner. Jake had seen the huge rift serving as the visitor’s waiting area in the daylight. Now it took the form of their little chat area. Tyler sat over, and Jake followed. “These magical words that this voodoo man spells, though it possesses some meanings, doesn’t make any sense at a larger scale. Because, the end results of these chants are mere sound vibrations, triggered by his lilt – the rhythm. This acts as the spell or the curse or whatever you call to seduce the girl. But how do you identify on whom your spell should work on?”
    Too much of knowledge blocks the brain, and Jake felt it. He felt numb. “Le... Lemon??” Jake replied in dubiety.
    “Precisely! The lemon fills the space. When the girl is given the lemon, she is asked to clutch it tightly between her palms. As she perspires in the mud-hut’s hot atmosphere, her sweat covers the lemon as a thin layer. So, the lemon just acts as a device for storing your biometric information, temporarily.” Tyler declared.
    Jake nodded. He felt a sudden sense of satisfaction. A mystery, demystified. A sudden crackling sound in the silent night-light, startled them, and they both whirled back. It was a remote village and even the footpaths to the mud-huts were covered with dry thatches - apart from the ones overhead - which broke with a crackle when people walked over it.
    “There goes my guru’s dinner...” Tyler dragged as he poked Jake. Jake noticed the faint figure of the petite girl in yellow sari, now in what appeared to be a a pink night dress, walking like a zombie, approaching the wooden door - the hut’s entrance. The door creaked open and Jake saw the dark hands of the voodooist pull the girl by her waist.
    “Shut!” the door closed.

    Jake felt a spasm near his waist and his face tightened. He looked below on Natasha. She looked like she was about to cry. Her beautiful wrinkle-less faced crumbled to a thousand marks of desire, and Jake loved it. He had seen many faces through his nights, but Natasha’s topped them all. Her lips were the icing on her gorgeous face, and Arthur had said it right. ‘You could even bargain your life for her kiss.’ As the Demon within him pounced out, Jake forced him in her, making Natasha squeal in both pain and pleasure. When he saw her lips part, Jake did the same thing he loved doing: he covered her with his lips, thereby feeding and feeling the short pressurized gasps in the inner walls of his mouth. With her last gasp, Jake felt his nerves twist as he released Natasha from his clutches, and tumbled down from her soft body, lying there, beside her, in crude satisfaction, as the Demon within him smiled from within his eyes, for the scrumptious meal.
    “I’m going to meet her soon.” He declared as frames of a cute little girl, in her tightly stitched gown flashed before him, blinding the satisfied Demon within, with a ribbon of heart-felt emotions. “I’ll meet her this week.” He grinned, still lying on the bed, beside the sleeping beauty. “My daughter... my baby... my Catherine...” Jake jumped off, leaving Natasha alone to continue her numb sleep, and walked over to the fireplace mantel. With his night trousers on, he fell back on the single-couch which was already warm, by virtue of the heater, holding a small framed portrait in his hands. It had an image of him, younger by just six months, the image of a lady in her late twenties and a little blonde girl, who looked like she was two or three years old. He outlined the image of the girl with his fingers, pulled it closer, and kissed the portrait. “I’ll see you in no time, baby...” he kissed again, and held the portrait close near his heart.

    “Catherine...” Patricia called out, and a little moving doll came jumping before her with a stuffed teddy in her hand.
    “Mommy! Look... Ted doesn’t want to speak with me!” she held the pink colored teddy in her tiny hands and displayed it gracefully before Patricia.
    “Oh honey! I don’t have time for this. Now, be a sweet little girl and have your dinner. Here...” she pulled the little girl over to the table, in the dining hall. “Have your bread and drink your milk, now. Mommy will be back in a jiffy.” Patricia rushed to check on all the doors and windows - to check whether they were tightly sealed - as if she expected someone unwanted. She sped back to check on Catherine, and saw the little girl dozing off on the table, with the last morsels of bread still on her plate, and the last few drops of milk still in the thin glass. “I’m sorry baby.” She confessed to the sleeping kid, and carried her to her bed. “I’ll finish it off today, dear. I promise!” She kissed the drugged little girl, good night.
    There was a sharp electric buzz and Patricia whirled, from within Catherine’s room. “Jake! Is that you?” she trembled as she walked out slowly from the small room, into the hallway, towards the front door.
    “Yea! Open up.” Jake demanded.
    On hearing his voice, Patricia stopped, and her face turned red. She stirred as her heart melted; she juddered and sobbed. “Go away Jake! Go away...” she sniveled.
    “Open the door, will you?” Jake challenged.
    “Get lost Jake!” she wailed. “I don’t want you to harm my baby. Get lost!” Weeping desperate tears, she ran back and cuddled herself on the bed. Jake never knocked again, and Patricia heard him start the engine and whir off slowly, his whinges muted in the engine sound.
    Patricia heard a sudden thump, and blared open her eyes. Her bed jiggled, and the corner of her eyes grasped the faint light of the morning twilight from the window. She had fell asleep crying, only to get disturbed again by a heavy painful thump. She tried turning, but her neck muscles failed. The more she tried, the more it pained. Puzzled, she tried getting up, but could not. It was like the body beneath her head, dissented to obey her commands. Rolling her eyes downward to check what stopped her, Patricia was alarmed to see a shining thick iron, with a wooden handle, hindering her vision. She understood what stopped her. She understood who stopped her.
    “I just asked my girl!” Jake’s face bulged in before her terror-stricken eyes. He was the terror who struck her. Jake smiled at her pale face expectantly, and ducked down on her, muffling tightly the last puffs of her life, with his demented lips, sucking away the only existence from within her. The live head was dead; and Jake pulled the iron axe from the late Patricia’s neck - late by only a few seconds - thus separating the head from rest of her body.
    “Catherine... O... Catherine... Baby... Where are you?” Jake crooned, as he lurched gingerly towards Catherine’s room, and opened the door. “Oh there you are... Sleeping as usual... My sweetchums...” his sweet-talk faded as the door behind him closed with a soft click.

    Jake squinted as the healthy sun’s rays lighted his face, through the window. Composing himself that he had slept on the single-couch the earlier night, he stretched his limbs out, and in the unmindful act, the small portrait he withheld, all through the night, glided down, hit the floor, and toppled till it came to a stop, touching slightly a small closed brass cup placed near the hearth. In effect, the brass cup jolted and the reddish-brown liquid within the closed container oozed through the capped brim. Trickling over the smooth semi-golden structure, two drops of human blood touched the stark brown wooden floor, thereby tracing a semi-circle of the cup’s base on the laminated flooring. Jake carefully replaced his precious portrait over the mantel, atop the fireplace, and turned to his bed, disregardful of the small brass cylinder or the red trace. He noticed the bed empty, and smiled. Natasha had already gone; the trance lasts only till an additional few hours after midnight, after which the target recoups herself with a confused mind, straight back to her home. The voodoo seduction was foolproof and safe as nobody gets harmed; almost.
    Dawdling over the chill wooden floor, Jake walked to the dining room, through the hallway, and reached his new target - the refrigerator. Pulling the door open by the hard white plastic handle, he drew a bottle of fresh milk, kissed its mouth tightly, and gulped the contents voraciously, till the bottle surrendered all its contents unto him.
    “Ah!” he exclaimed, as he stopped till only few ounces of milk remained. “That’s it! That’s the girl I’ll have for tonight.”

    “So, the girl just goes back without even knowing that she was ravaged?” Jake enquired. From the time Tyler had explained how Voodoo works scientifically, Jake was inclined to rake more.
    “Yup! That’s the beauty of the Indian Voodoo. No harm whatsoever!” Tyler grinned with pride. He was merely advertising for the craft, but felt as if he was the creator.
    “So.. So...” Jake stuttered. “All you need is to know the chanting words, and some DNA samples?” he was probing Tyler for even the last piece of information he possessed. He was now changing to another megalomaniac, thanks to Tyler. Also, it was still human to take the less resistant path to achieve difficult things, and Jake was no exception.
    Tyler primmed. “That is where alchemy plays an important role.”
    “Alchemy?” Jake looked flustered.
    “Yea, like the chemical which turns lead to gold?”
    “I know... I know... But why here?”
    “Have you ever noticed the small brass container before him?” Tyler queried. Jake nodded in reply. “That is the storehouse of the energy, and is the most important entity in the whole process. It is the one, responsible for transforming the chanted vibrations into magical radiations. So, in order for the voodoo to work, the seducer had to fill it.”
    “Fill it? With what?”
    “With four ounces of his blood. And that too, right from the heart.”
    “What the...?? How can that happen? I mean... a person cannot live after shedding four ounces of blood from his heart. Even if you manage to get it, it’d cause an seizure.”
    “Exactly! That’s right! You can’t.”
    “Then how?” Jake was already in the edge of sanity.
    “If it’s not your blood, then it’s blood from your blood.” Tyler grinned at his own witticism. It was wicked, and Jake’s blood ran out; he turned pale.
    “That... That means...” he gulped. “...the blood of your... your...”
    “...your child!”

    “Ah!” Jake declared. “That’s it! That’s the girl I’ll have for tonight.”
    “Patricia!” he said. “Patricia Rose! The girl from the University!” he shouted excitedly.
    “Wait a minute, do I know that name?”
    “Who?” a fresh English accent replied, and Jake twirled as he saw the image of a crude English man, with silvery hair, in a beige Mackinaw coat and a black suitcase, standing before him. “Welcome, welcome my Guru! You’re late today.”
    Tyler grinned as usual. “So, what’s on your plate today, Jake?” he winked.
    “Patricia!” Jake blurted out, as he bent over to place the milk bottle, with the last few drops, back into the refrigerator.
    “Sorry, who?” Tyler’s eyes bulged out and his face shrunk in daze.
    “Patricia Rose! The girl from the university! Weird, the name sounds so familiar.” Jake voice echoed as he arranged the bottles within the cooler, still stooped, with his head inside the chilly doors.
    “Oh that... that hot brunette! G-Great Jake! I must admit you have some good taste in selecting women.” Tyler tried to smile, but managed to open up a small crack. “How was Natasha, by the way?” he questioned deliberately, trying to cover his reaction, while wiping the sweat droplets on his face, which had oozed out even in the chilly weather, moments back.
    “One word – awesome!” Jake beamed, as he closed the door. “Just as you said!”
    Tyler chuckled. “I’m happy if you’re happy! Look, I’ve to go now. It’s getting late.”
    “Gimme five minutes, Tyler. I’ll freshen up, and join you.” Jake yelled as he walked back into his room, to the bath. After a crisp five minutes, Jake noticed Tyler, in his room, before the hearth, staring at the small portrait of Catherine.
    “She’s a doll! Isn’t she?” Jake spoke over, and Tyler fumbled, as he turned to see Jake with a white towel around his waist.
    “Y-Yea! She’s cute.”
    “Hey! I’m meeting her this weekend. She stays with her granny, downtown. Wanna accompany me?” Jake offered.
    “N-No thanks! Eh... Jake, it’s really getting late for me! Shall I take leave?” Tyler maintained a low note.
    “Man, Tyler! You just stay in the next room and you can’t even wake me up at the right time. Then you just hop in suddenly, and urge me to get ready.” Jake whined. “You carry on! I’ll take the bus today.” Jake replied reluctantly.
    “Well, o-ok! À bientôt!” Tyler receded, and backed out through the door. An engine jumped alive outside, while Jake resumed putting on his dress.
    Back in his car, Tyler couldn’t stop from hiding his reactions. It was not a shock, it was neither sadness; it was a derisive smile. He adjusted the rear-view mirror to face him, and looked at himself. He smirked continuously, as pleasurably as he could, while his Indian Master’s words resonated his ears. “This is not a boon. It’s a curse! To get women, you must lose your family... You’ll never know that your family existed... The curse makes you forget who your family was... You cannot get everything in life at the same time...”
    “Well, I can!” he grinned, as his eyes met itself in the mirror before. “I still have my wife and children living safely at London, while I have my own job and a servant who looks after my carnal desires!” he chuckled.
    “Till midnight, the girls are his! But after twelve, they are mine... all mine...” he guffawed amusedly, as his car veneered through the snowplowed streets. “But it was indeed a curse to you, my Guru!” he pouted. “If not, why would you lose your life in the hands of your own student?” he simpered. “I’m sorry, dear Guru! Had you agreed, when I forced you to lure Jake to kill his child, things would’ve turned different. But you never gave me a chance, and I had to place my Javanese dagger on your throat to make you lure him.” Tyler gave a dissatisfied pout. “You had to do it. After which, I had to do it - kill you - because I wanted to maintain my reputation, you know?” There was a red signal and Tyler screeched to a heavy stop.
    “But how does he still remember Catherine?” Tyler wondered. “The curse must’ve made him forget his family, just as he forgot Patricia!” he clarified himself.
    “Ah! He must’ve loved her so much.” Tyler shrugged. The signal went green.


Margaret Karmazin

    It was the damn heartburn again - that ulcer must be back. Then suddenly, surprisingly, he vomited. As he sank to the floor, he realized he was dripping with sweat. He saw Paula’s legs by his head before blacking out. He came to in the hospital, hooked up to monitors, an IV taped to his arm and numerous people hovering.
    Paula said to someone, “Maybe it came on from last night’s dinner.”
    “What do you mean?” said a young male voice, some intern Marshall supposed.
    She sighed. “Our son and daughter-in-law were over for dinner. They got in a fight, like always.”
    “Who, your son and his wife?”
    “No, Marshall and Darren. They disagree on just about everything. Marshall is religious and...” she hesitated...“conservative, while Jerry and his wife are...you know, the other way around. Marshall gets so worked up. I tell him not to discuss politics, but he won’t listen and look at him now. I knew this would happen eventually!”
    “Mr. Wright, we’re going to check your blood now. This might pinch.”
    Holy shit, did it pinch. Pinch wasn’t the word. What was the idiot doing, trying to dig a hole in his arm?
    Suddenly, he was moving, ceiling tiles and lights flashing above him. He was dizzy even though lying down.
    A young man was in his face. “Mr. Wright, your enzymes are high. It appears that you’ve had a heart attack. We’re going to do a cath, gotta see what’s going on in there.”
    Everything was a blur and where was Paula? Why the hell was she leaving him to this all by himself? They shot him up with something and were poking him in the leg. Time seemed to slow, then race.
    “Four blockages, Mr. Wright,” someone said. “We’re going to need to do a bypass. We’ve got you scheduled for tomorrow morning.”
    “You’ve got no choice,” Paula said from somewhere far off. He didn’t give a damn. What did he have to live for anyway with a son like that, an effete, pseudo-intellectual. How had he, Marshall, from a long line of men proud to be men, who’d risked their lives defending their country, ended up with offspring like that? It was Paula’s genes, that’s how. Wasn’t her brother mental? A “sensitive,” pencil necked geek who studied butterflies, for crap sake? Hadn’t her father supported Kennedy?
    If he had to do it all over, would he even have married Paula? She’d been a good wife, he supposed, but namby-pamby like her son. Just remembering last night’s dinner make him feel he might choke.
    “Mr. Wright, your face is turning red,” said a nurse. “Are you holding your breath? I think you need to give him something more to calm him down, Doctor.”
    The subject had been gays in the military, to start with. From there, it evolved into the stupid gay marriage issue, abortion and illegal aliens, then back to the Iraq war and eventually to those ridiculous conspiracy theories about 9/11 being an inside job. What would Darren who’d never even been near a military recruiting office know how it would feel to have some queer watching you undress on a daily basis? In there in the shower while you’re washing your private parts? And did Darren want us to just lie back and take more and more Muslim terrorists coming over here pissing on our way of lie? If Marshall had his way, he’d nuke the whole mess over there, turn the whole damned place into a parking lot! And “women’s right to choose,” don’t get him started...
    “Doctor? Maybe Mr. Wright needs that bypass sooner than tomorrow!”
    Suddenly another team surrounded him and Paula fluttered somewhere ineffectively. The next thing Marshall knew, he was being scooted down hallways again. Was he going to die? Was this it? A great blob of despair welled up inside him, threatening to burst from his mouth in a never ending flow.
    Everything appeared to move in a mist that cleared now and then. Why did he feel nothing but irritation with Paula? Shouldn’t he be teary with love for her when indeed he could be dying? He suspected her of being on Darren’s side, that was it. Of sympathizing with what the boy had been saying, with his revolting ideas, ideas that if put into motion would ruin the very country he so took for granted. These soft, spoiled, marshmallow young people who’ve always had mommy and daddy to serve their needs, who’ve never had to defend their lives, never understood the world is full of danger and meanness, pure evil constantly waiting to wrest from you your very life.
    “Mr. Wright,” said one of the nurses, “Dr. Sajadi has come in and assembled a team. We’re going to do the bypass tonight. It’s for the best.”
     He understood without her saying it that it was possible he might die. Surely, he should feeling nostalgia for his life, possibly sorrow for his sins? He did not. Instead, he was impotently enraged and infinitely sad. What he was sad about, he could not definitely say. It was a kind of universal sadness he had never felt before.
    “Mr. Wright, we’re giving you something to help you relax.” Someone turned him and a needle jabbed into his butt.
    Paula’s face appeared over his own. “Honey,” she said, “relax now. I’ll be praying. Everyone is praying for you. I love you. We all love you.”
    But he knew, as the drug washed over him, that that was not true. Maybe Paula loved him, but other people did not. Because Marshall stood for what he knew was right, his own son did not love him. Did he love Darren? He didn’t know anymore. By now though, in spite of this knowledge, he was feeling quite good - a synthetic druggy good. If they killed, him, so what?
    They wheeled him into the operating room, which was freezing and attached the IV. He counted down and was out by eighty-eight.

    There followed, though the state he was in, he couldn’t determine if anything followed anything, a faint beeping, a feeling of being swaddled, the sensation of something in his nose and someone speaking with an Hispanic accent - that particular tilt to the voice, a woman’s voice. Someone not far. Where was he?
    As if in answer, he heard a similar, not exactly the same female pleading. He saw a doorway covered in chipped mint green paint, the small chubby hand of a child as it disappeared around the jamb, then high pitched wailing. The wailing abruptly stopped and a woman walked into view, holding the child whose lower lip still trembled. The woman, stocky with large black eyes and honey smooth skin was looking at him with a mixture of rage and love.
    “You go,” she spat, “and you won’t come back! I know you, I know how it goes! Don’t tell me your lies even if you think you mean them now, don’t insult me, Lujano.”
    “Nidia, please,” he was saying, “I must go. It is either that or our lives will be wasted. You want to end up like everyone else on this street, living in these rat holes, do you? Do you?”
    He was speaking Spanish; he understood it perfectly. This was a dream then? He wasn’t certain. How did he know Spanish?
    “Don’t you understand, Lujano? If you are dead, that is no help to us whatsoever. Better to be poor as dirt, better to worry every day where the food and rent will come from, but to be alive! Think what will happen to us if you are dead!”
    “I am thinking of Elena. I am thinking of Jaciento. You know we have produced a genius; the teachers have told us. So what will happen to him, Nidia? You want our genius to end up running drugs and die, murdered in his twenties? Because that is how he will end up, if I do not do this, if I do not get us money.”
    Nidia is sobbing, which sets off the child again. “Don’t cry, Elena,” he says, leaning to kiss the damp little face.
    “How many die, crossing the desert, Lujano? Thousands, that’s how many. Remember Fernando, Elias, Duke, you remember them? Your own friends, lost now, probably with their eyes picked out by vultures. Useless to their wives, their children. How helpful was what they did?”
    He hardens inside. “I am going. There will be no more argument. I am going to cross and I am going to make money and I am going to return alive and well. You will see, Nidia, you will see.”
    In his heart, he is afraid. The stories are terrifying, the men suffocating in boiling, airless vans; the stories of mistreatment and hiding in terror once there, of being hated, spit at, vilified with nothing and no one to protect you should you be injured, maimed or sick. But there is nothing for him here. A father can not sit by and watch his family degenerate. A father has to do it.
    His chest tightens, his gut clenches and for a moment, he thinks he might disappear into the panic.

    Marshall again heard a woman’s voice with the Hispanic accent, not Nidia, that same someone else, but now she seemed to move further away and disappeared into a fog of faint noise.
    “Mr. Wright, are we waking up?”
    Who was this now? A man’s voice, but not quite a man. A homosexual voice - it reminded him of his neighbor’s son, that over dramatic disappointment to his entire family. How did that kid get in here? What was that beeping?
    How is it he suddenly finds himself in San Francisco, for that is where he apparently is, sitting in some seafood joint close enough to the sea that he can smell it. He glances down at his hands and they’re dark skinned! What the-?
    A woman sits across from him talking. She looks Italian and kind of tough, like one of those athletic girls he remembers from school. He hears her speak in a low, almost threatening tone, though he feels no actual threat issuing from her. Whoever she’s directing the anger to is not present. Though she’s seated, he somehow knows she is of medium height and compact and muscular for a woman though not anything like those female weight lifters, nothing like that. She has a tribal tattoo around one bare arm and on the other a USMC emblem. She keeps shaking her head.
    “My whole life up to now down the tubes. What am I going to do, Richie? What? Soon as I was out of school, I became a Marine. I was a Marine morning, noon and night. I thought, ate, pissed, shit and fucked Marine.”
    “Well, that was your trouble, girl,” says Richie. “If you’d just been able to put a zip on it!” Marshall wonders at the voice, the precise articulation, the exaggeration. “Don’t think I’m not on your side though, honey. I still think you should get a civilian lawyer and fight it. Take it to the news, 60 Minutes, whatever. Don’t mess around, go to the top!”
    She shakes her head. “Useless. Look at the women who get raped in there. What do they do about it? Nothing. I personally know six raped females, two by officers. You think the higher ups care? One got some action because her father is a Captain. They threw the book at the piece of shit, but the rest? Nothing. Like it doesn’t matter a whit if some prick spikes your drink, then he and his buddies do a job on you. Even when your own rank is higher. That’s how it is for women, gay or straight.”
    “Well, Lisha,” says Richie, “that’s not the issue now. The issue is you.”
    She stabs a shrimp, looks at it and sets the fork down. “I read that 12,500 service members have been discharged since that don’t ask-don’t tell shit started. They’re so fucking stupid they throw away good people who risk their lives for this country! Look what I did myself, and I’m just one of many. Like when insurgents detonated a roadside bomb on our convoy while I was delivering a generator. I shielded the medic who was treating the wounded while we were fired at from a mosque. I’m not bragging here, Richie, but if I hadn’t been there, that medic and those soldiers might be dead now. Yet, they kick me out, like none of that mattered. And why? Because I kissed a woman? I didn’t even have sex with her, I kissed her. Now tell me this world isn’t a fucked up mess.”
    Richie shrugs. “Anyone with intelligence knows it’s a fucked up mess. That leaves quite a few people. Hey, it’s their loss. Bunch of pea-brained, muscle head morons running that show, too dimwitted to know gold when they see it. How about me? My best friend in all the world is laying there in some Wisconsin long term care home and I can’t hold his hand. We weren’t even lovers, but his rod-up-the-ass parents and that holier-than-thou sister of his won’t let me near him! Like somehow I contaminated him, gave him cancer! My best friend for twenty years and I can’t see him! Bastards!” He spits.
    Lisha shakes her head. “I don’t know, Richie. What can I say? Jay Sweeney’s family did the same thing to Jay’s partner when he was dying from the accident, you remember? It was even mentioned in an article in that magazine, what was it?”
    “Rolling Stone,” says Richie.
    “I have my application in to five police departments,” she says, “but with that kind of discharge, I’m probably screwed. I’ll be flipping burgers the rest of my life? All my training and experience gone just like that (she snaps her fingers) because of one kiss, because I was born gay and don’t tell me I wasn’t, I know what I was! I didn’t choose to be that way, like those churchy hypocrites think.”
    The veins in her neck stand out. He hates to see her so worked up.
    Richie says, “I was putting on my mom’s makeup at three. We all know the score, Lisha. It’s all the morons out there who don’t.”
    “Yeah,” she says, “but it’s the morons who run things, isn’t it? It’s them who ruin the rest of our lives!”

    The male nurse, if that’s who that was, must have left. Marshall couldn’t seem to work up the energy to open his eyes, though he could discern light and dark, know when someone leaned over him, when they were gone.
    Some distance to his left, he thought he heard a young woman. Who was she talking to? She sounded slightly hysterical.
    “Oh God, don’t die on me. Justin, please. I’m pregnant, I was just going to tell you and then you had to go buy that stupid bike, oh why did you do it, Justin, why? Don’t leave me alone with this kid, don’t you dare. I won’t, I won’t-”
    She didn’t finish.
    There were other people in in this room then? Besides that nurse? He seemed to sense their presence. What was that infernal beeping?
    Is Marshall a she, how can that be? And why is it suddenly so damn cold? The wind outside his (her?) window is howling, snow flying past almost horizontally, the window itself streaked, a blue sun catcher dangling from a nail inside it. On the sill sits a wilted plant.
    She is curled up sideways on a bed, a cell phone in one hand, a wad of kleenex in the other. She’s been sobbing so hard, her sinuses are aching. Her face feels burny hot, her eyes are swollen. Her life is down the tubes, utterly. Once again, she pushes in Danny’s number, once again it rings and rings. He always answers unless he is fucking. So...either he’s fucking someone or he’s not answering because he sees it is she who is calling.
    She should have known he would leave. Hadn’t he left Karen, his first wife? Not for her, no, she hadn’t known him then. But she should have taken note of the fact that he’d left Karen alone with a toddler to raise. Why would she imagine he would never do the same to her, that somehow she was special? Big mistake thinking you’re special.
    She’s been religious about using her diaphragm, religious. Always, no matter how spur of the moment their passion, she has always excused herself to insert it. So, what kind of hideous kismet is it for her to get pregnant again? With two in school and Danny having left? How did it happen?
    Here’s how: from all the damn stress, she’s lost twenty pounds. No one, including the doctor, had thought to tell her that when you get skinnier, your insides down there get larger. Less fat, a wider hole and you need a new diaphragm fitted. Who would even think of it?
    So here she is with a seven and nine year old, Danny having run off to be with his second cousin Tiffany (“they’d really always been in love”), she already holding down two jobs to make ends meet and Danny notorious for “forgetting” his child support payments to the ex. So what could she herself expect on that score? And now she’s pregnant on top of it all.
    She sits up in the bed, looks around blinking and feels another rush of tears. How did that unfold, her getting knocked up? Danny came over to get more of this stuff, all that electronic crap, and asked for a beer and then she had one herself. She helped him lug the stuff down and then they were hungry and she offered to make sandwiches. The kids were at school and Thursday was her one day off; she worked the other six, mixing two jobs, one as a paralegal and the other as a bartender.
    Why on earth did she have sex with him? She still loved him, that’s why. He was, after all, her husband. Was it guile that had her mix up that pitcher of Long Island Iced Tea? But what is the difference between guile and doing her best to win back what is hers in the first place? He screwed her all right, then got up and left, leaving her to feel like scum. And then to see that her diaphragm was half out and when she went to the doctor, he explained about the losing weight. She cried then, just like now, for hours.
    Sometimes she has to leave the kids home alone; Mrs. Dooley could only watch them three days a week. The paralegal job nets her $2,000 a month and bartending about $650. If she wants to keep the house, she’ll have to buy Danny out, but with what? The mortgage is $1,367, food $400, utilities $145, gas $150, health insurance now that her job doesn’t cover one hundred percent $440 for all of them and we’re up to $2062 not yet counting clothing, car insurance. doctor visits, school supplies and other stuff. Now she’s in the negative. And toss in a new baby? How the hell is she going to do that? She has no relatives to help.
    Well, she knows what she has to do, and she’ll have to come up with the money for that too. She snorts a bitter laugh. All those “pro-life” fanatics, where are they after you keep the kid with no way to take care of it? And how is she supposed to carry it to term and take time off to have it even if she gives it up? Any of those fanatics lining up to help her out, watch the other kids, clean the house, keep things running while she does it? Talk her boss out of firing her? Where are all the big mouths then?
    Beep, beep, Marshall is back to himself. At least he thinks so because he recognizes Paula’s voice. “Honey?” she says, in that quiet, persistent way that usually annoys him, but now maybe not. Maybe not. He opens his eyes.
    “Marshall, do you know where you are? Oh, what am I doing? You can’t answer anyway on the ventilator.”
    He thought he had spoken, but apparently not. Maybe she’d know what was confusing him so.
    “They think you’re hallucinating. It’s the drugs. It’ll wear off...”
     Why did she lie to him?
    “Marshall...” she paused and didn’t finish.
    He seemed to float in space, hearing someone speaking in another foreign accent, some man talking with a woman. “Dr. Sajadi, have you heard from your brother?”
    A sigh. “Nothing. The last I heard, he was hoping to leave Kandahar. We’ve tried to call, but...nothing. Everyone is very worried.”
    “I’m so sorry,” murmured the woman.
    Marshall felt himself moving softly, then at great speed.
    Again, a woman. Again, she is sobbing. Her name is Huma. Somehow he is Huma, but he does not fight it now. It doesn’t matter who he is anymore.
    She wails in some style he is not accustomed to and rocks back and forth. Women and their crying, he thinks, but it is he who is doing the crying.
    “Shaya, Shaya,” she cries, every so often, as if to punctuate her rocking.
    He sees with her eyes, sees what she is mourning.
    Shaya is the son who’s been mutilated by a mine, half a leg and two fingers blown off and the left side of his face raw meat. He, along with his sister Mahsa and Huma’s mother-in-law Badria are all that Huma has left. They killed her husband. That was two years ago, the last time she saw Fariad, his dear face smiling, that one missing tooth. How was she to know that he would be dead by noon, blown to bits by a roadside bomb? This man who treated her with respect and equality, something few women enjoyed in Afghanistan, this man among millions, this gem of her heart?
    She doubles over in a gripping pain, unconscious of her surroundings. She doesn’t know which tears her apart more, the ruin of Shaya or life without Fariad. Though she is a devoted mother, she admits to herself that it is probably Fariad she most mourns. It is not something she would tell anyone else. Mothers are supposed to love their children most, but many of them have unkind husbands. Fariad was the whole and is now the end of her world. She can not explain this even to his own mother.
    Badria walks in the door and sets down her jug of water. She is stooped, old and half toothless. Huma has seen American and European movie stars the same age as her mother-in-law, forty-eight years, who look like young, beautiful women. How is that possible? Badria looks like she is their mother.
    Huma knows Fariad’s mother was once beautiful. She has seen photos. Those photos may no longer exist since the family had to pick up and move when the Americans dropped their bombs. The house they once occupied may be nothing but rubble.
    “I could not find an onion anywhere,” says Badria, “but I did find some mung beans. We can use the rice that is left and then try to get more tomorrow.”
    “That is the last of it,” says Huma, drying her eyes with her sleeve. She notices that the heel of her shoe is coming loose. It is the only pair she has.
    “We will go see Shaya, if they will let us,” says Badria, “and then look for rice.”
    “The market has not opened for two weeks,” says Huma, her eyes filling up again.
    “If we must walk to Daman, then that is what we will do,” says Badria. “We will take Mahsa with us.”
    “She is too small to walk that far.”
    “We can’t leave her here alone,” Badria replies. She is right.
    There is a long pause before Huma comments. “What hope is there for us, Mor? The Taliban reduces us to less than dogs, the Americans kill us? What is the use, I ask you?”
    Badria shakes her head. “I know nothing,” she says. “I have lived decades, but everything that happens cancels everything I have learned.”
    Huma allows herself one more comforting rock back and forth, before she drags herself up and prepares to follow Badria. She knows that whatever pleasures she once enjoyed - they are over. Her sole mission now is to save her children.

    He opened his eyes. A male nurse appeared above him, smiling. “Mr. Wright, how good to see you awake!”
    His voice was familiar, a chirpy, effeminate voice that was comforting. “You’re coming off the ventilator as soon as Dr. Sajadi arrives. You were on some pretty heavy drugs, but those are coming down now. Then you can tell me all your stories. I’m a very good listener.”
    Marshall felt as if he were wrapped in a cocoon, numb and safe. Though he suspected that pain would be coming. He understood that the drugs held that off. He didn’t care about pain though; part of him was elated. He realized that he would love to tell stories to this nurse. Would the man like to hear about the dreams?
    But Marshall was not sure those experiences were dreams.
    “Dr. Sajadi,” said a woman. It was Paula, his Paula. “Are you taking out the vent now?”
    “Let’s check him over first,” said the foreign voice.
    Marshall wanted to ask the doctor about his missing brother. He actually wanted to know.
    The vent was out, a rather painful procedure, and he was free. It took a few tries and his voice came out in a croak. “I love you,” he said to anyone listening. He realized it didn’t matter to whom he said it.

Shrine for a Soldier, art by Mark Graham

Shrine for a Soldier, art by Mark Graham


Billie Louise Jones

    Winter in New Orleans is miserable. It is a grey, damp cold that seeps into the marrow and stays there. A tropical city looks shabby in the winter.
    Two men huddled in a recessed doorway. There were some empty bottles of cheap wine beside them. A third man sat on the sidewalk backed up against the stoop. He was younger than the others, early twenties; but the streetlight showed a wasted face. His life had drawn the lines of a much older man in his face. It was not a bad face, just a wasted face; and his black hair and beard were growing shaggy. He pulled the collar of his denim jacket higher. Denim and boots were not enough against the permeating damp cold.
    Three men walked up from the other end of the block and stopped a few doors away. Two of them seemed to be indicating to the third, but he saw already. He touched their shoulders, a man’s gesture of thanks. He walked on by himself and knelt by the man crouched against the stoop. He was bulkier than the wasted man, but in the streetlight their bearded faces resembled. They could even be brothers.
    The big man talked. The bend of his head and the way his hand reached out spelled earnestness. The other man twisted from side to side, backed up against the stoop. His shoulders and hips, his features, looked delicate.
    “Leave me alone!” he shouted. “Go away!”
    He pushed the other man’s hands away. He got to his feet and started off down the street. Yet at the corner he seemed to pause. He did not look back, but something in the line of his back called to the other, wanting to be followed.
    The big man followed him, talking. He stood with his head bent. The big man came beside him and touched his shoulders. He shook his head desperately and moved off, but only a few steps. The other followed. They went like that, starting and stopping, then seeming to walk together around the corner and out of sight.

French Quarter Night

Billie Louise Jones

    A sleeping French Quarter street, gold street lights blended down to grey shadows along the shuttered houses, all the striving and noise of the day now hushed, resting; and the bars have turned out their last patrons.
    Out of the stillness, booted feet and a voice that started with bottled up rage and rose – “Motherfuckerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!” – to a wordless primal scream.
    Under the corner streetlight, it was two young men, one white, one black, both in Western gear. The black boy put a hand on the white boy’s shoulder, a steadying gesture; but the white boy slapped it off. He flung himself away and leaned on a door, buckling at the knees.
    “Motherfucker! I’m not your slave!” he shrieked and turned sobbing against the door.
    The black boy stood close behind him, enfolding tenderness in the curve of his back. Whatever he said did not carry. The white boy broke away, slapping his hands around in the air, and ran a few steps down the block.
    “You always want to humiliate me publicly,” he screamed back. He was buckling at the knees and straightening to give his voice more force, hips swaying a little. “You know what you did in the Bar! You always make a public scene!”
    “Man, you be making the scene!”
    The black boy walked forward slowly, holding out his hand. When he was close enough almost to touch, the white boy ran away a few doors. This time their voices could be heard down the street, but the words were not distinct.
    A deep bass voice rumbled from behind a shutter. “For God’s sake, girls, either shut up or tell us all about it! From day one!”
    The white boy covered his face with his hands and ran, bent over in sobs, past the next street light and away.
    The black boy followed slowly.

Love Or Something Like It

Billie Louise Jones

    His grey Peugeot was parked in front of her building, an unpainted brick one with blue shuttered French windows and grapeleaf ironwork. He was not really handsome, but he had the presence that a successful middle-aged man does acquire. He had an expensive tan, and his sports clothes were thrown on just so. He causally tossed a Vuitton bag into the back seat.
    She was still in her golden brown corduroy lounger. She was much younger than he, a pale, pretty blonde with loose hair. Her face showed not only her finely made features but how delicate her soul was. She smiled up at him with love glowing all out of her face. He glanced around, then quickly gave her a kiss. She waved after him from the doorway, all smiles.
    A few minutes later, she stepped out on her balcony to close the shutters, and she was all tears.

Mardi Gras

Billie Louise Jones

    Mardi Gras parades began on impulse, with high-spirited Creole youths riding from house to house for a last celebration before the Lenten fast. Over time, the parades and balls grew into big festivities that possessed the French Quarter. Pagan, no doubt; but wonderful. New Orleans believes in parades and does them better than any other city and, showing its own perspective on value, shuts down business for a parade. The richest men spend lavishly on floats, dream for years of being King for a night, virtually taxing themselves to please the masses, and remain anonymous, merged in their role. And the throws – strings of bright colored beads bestowed and received as largess! These throws, treasures tonight, trash tomorrow, are the vanity of human wishes. The floats became more and more fantastic creations. The parades grew in number and grew literally – the gorgeous floats became too big for the narrow Vieux Carrè streets. So the parades were moved out of the French Quarter to St. Charles and Canal.
    Impulse took over the Quarter again. Neighborhoods and groups of all types, even Hari Krishna, took their own parades to the Quarter to have their day, their floats riding on flatbeds and pickups, their throws, their bands, their official police escort. Some of the groups exist only to celebrate Mardi Gras. There was a special French Quarter parade presided over by jazzman Pete Fountain, one of the exemplars of the Quarter, who rode in a French Quarter mule carriage. All these parades are just as real as the Rex and Comus parades.
    A day care school paraded around the French Quarter on tricycles. Everything stopped for them. It was as much a parade as any of them! They had a policeman to stop traffic for them. They had masks and costumes and throws. Crepe paper ribbons of purple, green, and gold, the Mardi Gras colors, wrapped their handlebars. They had a King, and he had a gold foil crown and a regal cape. And because he was as much a King as any Rex or Comus, he was entitled to the homage of a Mardi Gras crowd, the plea and demand.
    “Throw me something, mister!”


    Ghosts and goblins and clowns, studded leather and rhinestone monokinis, velvet and lace and blue jeans, Elizabethan princesses of any sex, women’s bare tits and men’s bare butts, faces painted humorously dramatically fantastically.
    A man stepped out of the random drift through the streets. He opened a folding chair on the street corner. He was a short, swarthy man with a full black moustache; he wore a battered black fedora and old khakis. He took an accordion out of its case and left the case open on the street. The accordion was not a little squeeze box. It was a big instrument with many keys and buttons, and it was lovingly polished. He pulled out some merry chords. He laughed while he played, and his good nature and the lively music snagged the flow of the crowd. Listeners formed a circle around the musician’s corner.
    His face changed into a sensitivity, almost sadness, that took people unawares. He drew “Begin the Beguin” out of the accordion. The instrument gave it a different sound than what people were used to, a rich sound, full of longing, that made it ring anew. The words sang in the mind.
    A couple stepped out of the crowd and began to dance in the cleared space. They were, maybe, fifty; very thin, very well kept, not finished yet. He was dressed in a top hat and tails, she in a feathered chiffon dress. They were more than graceful in the way they moved together; their bends and dips and changes showed the music, the longing people sang in the minds. As the music came to an end, they drew together in a final pose that distilled the lost illusions and undying hopes in the song. They held it an extra beat into silence.
    People applauded, and they walked away into the crowd.


Billie Louise Jones

    The tan workman’s van was parked with the left wheels on the sidewalk, the way they did it in the narrow, one way French Quarter streets. The van was lettered “Restorations/French Quarter Specialists.”
    The carpenter working on the doorframe had very sure hands, small and deft and sure. She wore sturdy brown carpenter’s overalls with tools in the thigh pockets. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and she had wrapped a red bandanna pirate-style to keep off some of the dust. She stepped back onto the sidewalk to look at the doorframe. She stood with her feet spread, a man’s pose, yet not really masculine, just not thinking about how she looked.
    A carefully kept up woman of about fifty strolled by on light little feet. She wore a peach dressmaker suit; her hair and makeup were careful, becoming, and suitable. The very aura of the woman told that she had been raised to please and that she did please. Never in her life would she have thought about trade union work, competing with men, marching in the streets, equal rights, abortion on demand, right to orgasm, and being anything anyone might deem unpleasant. No doubt she was the apple of her husband’s eye.
    She was almost past, she glanced at the carpenter, she looked again to be sure. Their eyes met. The carpenter smiled wryly at the woman’s surprise. The woman smiled back. Her expression changed slightly. In that subtle cast there was gladness, encouragement, and even somewhere deep inside a sense of vindication. Then she went on her way.

Seize the Day

Billie Louise Jones

    A young man walked through the Quarter; every detail was conscientiously yuppie. He was seen walking through the Quarter most days. Many entry-level professionals in the Central Business District parked their cars in the Quarter to save the parking fee. He saw a girl across the street. She stood by a gate between building, searching in her purse for the key. Though her femininity was well restrained by a dress for success suit, she was pretty, with full, dark hair and Egyptian eyes. He called out a name and quickened his steps, not too much, not to let her think he was eager; but still his smile was anxious.
    “That’s my name, but you’ve made a mistake. I don’t know you.”
    Somehow he kept his smile on his face. “We were talking at a party. Then some of the guys called me over. When I got back – you were gone!”
    “You’ve made a mistake,” she repeated and closed the gate after her.

Summer Evening

Billie Louise Jones

    Summer days are long in the South. Evening light stretches out pleasantly for a long time after supper. A man sat on his front steps reading the Times-Picayune. He was about forty, nicely dressed in casual clothes, well known in the neighborhood for years as a landlord who was a virtual Quarter historian, active in community affairs. There was a zipbag on the step beside him. A man, very presentably groomed, got off the bus after work and stopped by the man on the steps. It was two neighbors visiting. Only, behind the paper there was a quick exchange, money from one, something out of the zipbag from the other.
    If you did not know what was really happening, you would not think a thing about it.

Are You Listening?

Amanda Berthault

    I’m bored as fuck and there’s still four hours until the show. So I’m just out here having a smoke, killing time. You know what I like about this place? This area here, underground, all secret like. We can park our tour bus and unload our gear in peace, you know? That’s how come I can come out here to have a smoke, get some fresh air.
    It’s a nice day, though, isn’t it, with the sun shining through that open area over there? Not too hot, not too cold. See, I’m from California where it’s hot as hell this time of year.
    Anyway, yeah so you like my band, eh? Yeah, we’re pretty awesome. People have been flocking to all our shows so far, sold out crowds, fucking insane crowds. It’s such an awesome rush to see people worship you. They sing along with me, every word I’ve written for every song. Here comes one of those worshippers now.
    No, dude, I don’t sign autographs anymore. Because dumbass collectors sell it all on eBay and shit. Oh, you’re a real fan? Go there and buy one then. My signature’s worth more if it’s rare anyways.
    What a nerd. You see that? Fans are only cool when they’re in the mosh pit screaming their heads off during the shows. You’re alright, though, I’ll give you that, but you know what I mean. You probably think I’m an ass. A lot of people do. That look on your face reminds me of my ex-girlfriend when she threw me out. Went on about what a pompous, insensitive bastard I am, how I treated her like dirt, but she just didn’t understand me. Do you have a girlfriend? Married, eh? Well, good luck with that.
    Anyway, you know what really pisses me off about it all? She accused me of hurting our son. Yeah, I got a kid. Should have mentioned that before. He’s three now. She said I hit him and stuff, which is bull. Okay, I’ll admit I really didn’t want to have a kid. Like, really really didn’t want him. So I stayed away from him as much as possible, ‘cause he’d cry and spit up and shit and be a pain in the ass. Do you got kids? Ah, so I take it you like kids then. Good for you. Anyway, Stacy – that’s my ex-girlfriend – she would get all pissed at me for smoking around him, and swearing, and playing my music loud late at night. That’s why I didn’t want a kid. There’s no freedom, you know?
    Huh? Oh...yeah, his name is Jake. And no, I did not hit him. I’m not that much of a bastard. Do I really look like the kind of guy that would do shit like that? Wait, don’t answer that. Now, I really did love Stacy. She was a special woman, someone who I thought understood me, but as I said before, she clearly didn’t. I miss the days before the kid came along. Things were so much more laid back, just plain great. I’m sure you know what I mean. She never got in the way of the band. She loved the music, in fact. She’d come to almost all our practices and a lot of our shows. It was always great to see her out there as I was singing. Yeah, things were good. Very good.
    Yes, I guess you could say the band is more important. I mean, it is how I make a living. Music is life, man. You agree? Good, ‘cause that’s how it is. Taking this band away from me would be like ripping my heart out and chopping it into little pieces. You have to make sacrifices sometimes, and Stacy throwing me out was one of those. I didn’t argue. I just left.
    Hey. Dude, are you even listening to me? What are you looking at? Wow, a stuffed animal, that’s random. Yeah, maybe someone dropped it. Can I see it? It’s a little dog. Hey, that reminds me of something. Something about Jake.
    I had to baby sit one day, which I did everything to try and get out of, but no dice. The kid was watching TV so I had some time to work on some songs, but then he comes up to me like, “Daddy come here, daddy come see this,” but I told him to go back to watching TV. But he wouldn’t stop, which was weird ‘cause he just never really annoyed me like that before, but finally I got pissed, grabbed him up, sat him down in front of the TV and told him to stay the hell there and shut up. Then he cried, and yeah I felt bad, but the thing of it was, he wasn’t crying because I yelled at him. He cried because there was a commercial on TV for those stuffed battery-operated dogs that do realistic stuff like bark and walk and whatever. He wanted one. I told him forget it. Now that I think about it again, I feel bad. He’s just a kid, and kids want stuff.
    Ah well, all this shit depresses me. I should probably get back inside since sound check is soon. It was nice to meet you dude, thanks for listening to my pointless rambling. Hope you enjoy the show.
    Hey wait. Give me that little dog. Maybe I’ll give it to my son. Yeah. Yeah, I’m gonna give it to him soon as I get home. What do you think?

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?

what is veganism?

A vegan (VEE-gun) is someone who does not consume any animal products. While vegetarians avoid flesh foods, vegans don’t consume dairy or egg products, as well as animal products in clothing and other sources.

why veganism?

This cruelty-free lifestyle provides many benefits, to animals, the environment and to ourselves. The meat and dairy industry abuses billions of animals. Animal agriculture takes an enormous toll on the land. Consumtion of animal products has been linked to heart disease, colon and breast cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and a host of other conditions.

so what is vegan action?

We can succeed in shifting agriculture away from factory farming, saving millions, or even billions of chickens, cows, pigs, sheep turkeys and other animals from cruelty.
We can free up land to restore to wilderness, pollute less water and air, reduce topsoil reosion, and prevent desertification.
We can improve the health and happiness of millions by preventing numerous occurrences od breast and prostate cancer, osteoporosis, and heart attacks, among other major health problems.

A vegan, cruelty-free lifestyle may be the most important step a person can take towards creatin a more just and compassionate society. Contact us for membership information, t-shirt sales or donations.

vegan action
po box 4353, berkeley, ca 94707-0353

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

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

Children, Churches and Daddies no longer distributes free contributor’s copies of issues. In order to receive issues of Children, Churches and Daddies, contact Janet Kuypers at the cc&d e-mail addres. Free electronic subscriptions are available via email. All you need to do is email ccandd@scars.tv... 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 http://scars.tv

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.

MIT Vegetarian Support Group (VSG)

* To show the MIT Food Service that there is a large community of vegetarians at MIT (and other health-conscious people) whom they are alienating with current menus, and to give positive suggestions for change.
* To exchange recipes and names of Boston area veg restaurants
* To provide a resource to people seeking communal vegetarian cooking
* To provide an option for vegetarian freshmen

We also have a discussion group for all issues related to vegetarianism, which currently has about 150 members, many of whom are outside the Boston area. The group is focusing more toward outreach and evolving from what it has been in years past. We welcome new members, as well as the opportunity to inform people about the benefits of vegetarianism, to our health, the environment, animal welfare, and a variety of other issues.

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

I just checked out the site. It looks great.

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

John Sweet, writer (on chapbook designs)

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

The Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology
The Solar Energy Research & Education Foundation (SEREF), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., established on Earth Day 1993 the Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology (CREST) as its central project. CREST’s three principal projects are to provide:
* on-site training and education workshops on the sustainable development interconnections of energy, economics and environment;
* on-line distance learning/training resources on CREST’s SOLSTICE computer, available from 144 countries through email and the Internet;
* on-disc training and educational resources through the use of interactive multimedia applications on CD-ROM computer discs - showcasing current achievements and future opportunities in sustainable energy development.
The CREST staff also does “on the road” presentations, demonstrations, and workshops showcasing its activities and available resources.
For More Information Please Contact: Deborah Anderson
dja@crest.org or (202) 289-0061

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 UNreligions, NONfamily-priented literary and art magazine

The magazine Children Churches and Daddies is Copyright © 1993 through 2010 Scars Publications and Design. The rights of the individual pieces remain with the authors. No material may be reprinted without express permission from the author.


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Children, Churches and Daddies
the unreligious, 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, poery 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, 829 Brian Court, Gurnee, IL 60031-3155 USA; attn: Janet Kuypers. Contact us via snail-mail or e-mail (ccandd96@scars.tv) 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 Copyright © 1993 through 2010 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.