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.

cc&d                   cc&d

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

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

Volume 240, January 2013

Internet ISSN 1555-1555, print ISSN 1068-5154

cc&d magazine

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the passionate stuff

When Words Fail

Bruce Matteson

I only have so many words and they are important to me, you know? They are my guns.
They will take care of me if I take care of them and like with any of us, diet and exercise is so important
The poetry game has no off season, so they run for fitness year round
I try to keep them together, but there are so many, and they stray
When it is cold, I even put little sweaters on them but there is always the clown, oh look
Little Nike’s tongue is stuck to a fire hydrant
It’s always something, and you try feeding a whole vocabulary
I do. It isn’t easy when torque and misanthrope won’t eat red meat
And one day, out of the blue, enchantment decides it is vegan
I do want a close and personal relationship with each and every one of them
But there are so many and sometimes I look at one with blank consternation and zero recall
“Are you one of mine?” I ask
Then the tears well up, and is there anything quite so pathetic as a broken hearted word?
Even if I don’t really recognize them, I tend to fake it for their sake
And though I am not always understood, I try to keep my words happy
Even if my readers aren’t, and in my line of work, that is sacrifice
You would expect some kind of loyalty, but I don’t think so
Right in the middle of a piece, one I have called on just quits me, won’t go in
Doesn’t feel like being in one of my stupid carnages on the man’s head
What man? Which man? Don’t be so sexist, don’t be so simplistic, don’t be so vague, the thanks I get
Sometimes I just want to embrace my reactionary roots and tell them all,
In my very best passive aggression
Fine, I was never going to publish anyway

Spark, art by Peter LaBerge

Spark, art by Peter LaBerge

Slaughtering 8,000 Muslims

Fritz Hamilton

Slaughtering 8,000 Muslims is
the Christian thing to do/ give
a Christian a gun, &

we’ll have a crusade/ we
don’t need the Serb’s Mladic/ we
have Bush in Iraq & Obama in

Afghanistan/ they’re
all the same murderer really/ he’s
Hitler & Stalin & Putin/ a

string of ugly faces on the
same tyrant, &
who’s next?/ Idi

Amin?/ the pope?/ all
God’s children get raped to
death to make room for their

progeny to repeat the
comedy again &

AGAIN until
there’s nothing
nothing ...


After Neruda

Bradley Bates

What can I say in response to a love lost
without anything to remain but shards

of memory under the sea? What can I do
but return to you and myself a time with

so many memories and stories so powerful
stars can be seen ending each smile? Who

cast a breath across the latitude of the sea?
Who will take my memories like a hand

and swim to an unknowable depth, and
a breath, a sigh, can filter out of me, like

a small bubble tinier than a pea? Where can
I go to ask nature for a hand in memory

as seconds pass into minutes into hours
at sea unforgettable a touch, a caress can be

to hold you against me for a lifetime?

Dark Reflections, art by Rose E. Grier

Dark Reflections, art by Rose E. Grier

Checked Mates

William Robison

Bicycling Mormons
like the Urim and Thummim
always in pairs
on a mission from God

All in black and white
they look just like chess pieces
bleached bright blouses
with ebony trousers

Helmets to match
footwear coordinated
even bike frames
and balloon tires like jet

Perhaps merely pawns
too youthful to be bishops
king above board
no tabernacle queens

A white squared dark knight
the bane of their existence
but on a bike
where do you put the dog?

William Robison Bio

    William Robison teaches history at Southeastern Louisiana University and has published considerable nonfiction on early modern England, his most recent work being The Tudors in Film and Television (McFarland, 2012), co-authored with Sue Parrill. For more info, see http://www.tudorsonfilm.com.

    He is also a musician and a maker of short films, both which the curious can check out at http://www.myspace.com/562067730.

    Poetry is a newer form of expression for Robison, but recently hwe has had poems accepted by Amethyst Arsenic, amphibi.us, Anemone Sidecar, Apollo’s Lyre, Asinine Poetry, Carcinogenic Poetry, decomP magazinE, Forge, Mayday Magazine, On Spec, and Paddlefish.

The Dishes

Brian Looney

And it piles up I know. A very heaping mountain. I’ve let it go for several days. And
the food is growing sour. And the standing waters incubate.
The worse it gets the less my will. Such that it’s tougher now to clean it. But when I
can’t ignore it, I gravely muster up. I sally forth and scrub.
And it piles up I know. Every time I walk on past, every time it draws my eye. And
every time I put it off. And the standing waters incubate.

Janet Kuypers reads the Brian Looney poem
the Dishes
from v240 cc&d magazine live in Chicago
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of magazine editor Janet Kuypers reading this Brian Looney v240 cc&d magazine poem 1/2/13 at the Café Gallery poetry open mic she hosts in Chicago (from the Canon camera)

Coffee Cup, painting by Brian Forrest

Coffee Cup, painting by Brian Forrest

Modern Olympian Ode #1 (1936):
An Invented ‘Tradition’

Michael Ceraolo

Take two unrelated
ancient rites that,
when conflated,
produce an invented ‘tradition’
There had been a flame in one of the temples at Olympia,
and there had been torch relay races at Athens,
but the two had nothing to do with each other
No matter:
on July 20, 1936,
at exactly noon local time,
a fake-pagan ritual was created
Fake priestesses in fake-ancient costumes
used the sun’s heat, focused through
a German-made optical device,
to light a magnesium torch,
“in far-away Germany the Olympic idea
is celebrating its most glorious reawakening”
and over three thousand runners
would cover over three thousand kilometers
in twelve days so that a flame would be lit
in the Olympic stadium in Berlin on August 1st

Goebbels would murmur that
“the use of the Olympic flame
for political purposes
is exceptionally regrettable”
but that statement was belied by the fact
that the stainless steel torch holders
had been made by, and bore the logo, of
a clue to the host country’s future intentions
for those who were paying attention

And the Nazi enablers
who ran the International Olympic Committee
fell in love with the fake authenticity,
and their successors are still in love
in the twenty-first century

JK running awa from Audley, copyright &#@169; 2002-212 Janet Kuypers

A Failing Mind

CK Baker

Who are you
And why have you come?
You, yes you
Firm and
In those grass roots
And tie die
Are you listening?
Don’t you know
These sterile walls
And linoleum floors
Aren’t safe
For anyone?

You really do
Look familiar
Did you come
From the farm?
Or way down south?
Either way
I’ve nothing
To give
They took it all
At the induction
Left me standing here
With nothing but
A cold green frock
Do you think
It’s deserving?

Surely there’s no use
In pretending
Like I told
The fellow before you
(And the one before him)
Standing around
With steely eyes and
Sweaty palms
Will only
Bring on the heat
No use in laying
Down promises
One cannot keep

I’m tired
And up to here
With these
New admittances
Ripe with their
Tall tales
Nothing left to do but
The glass panes
(or jimmy
the lock and ride
the drain)
I just gotta
Get out of here
What did you say your name was?

Look around
These antiseptic halls
And vacant rooms
Are squeezing the life
Out of me
And these people
Don’t you see them?
They’ve all lost their minds
It’s in the food
And meds
And way they treat us
I just don’t know
Who to talk to about it

A tall man
In a black suit
Shuffles in
Speaking softly
Of condolence
And arrangement
Standing high
With Gable chin
And gurney
The people in the hall
Are switching their attention
To Giddha dance
And have no questions
Or comment

Thank you for listening
Dear Sir
I do feel better

Memory Screen

Andrew H. Oerke

The window that had cataracts of frost on it
can see when you rub on it and then it’s clear
until your breath coats the transparency sheath once more.

I can still close my eyes and Mulligan back
to those times at the leafy tailspin end of autumn when
I climbed into the rowboat and stitched the ruffles of waves
together in the wake after the prow scissored the waffling
reflections apart, and I am still a kid huddled
in my heart’s old projection booth, the celluloid
creaking and cranking away as if the reel were read
but would need splicing at any moment and then
the spell would be broken and the bubble’d burst;
or maybe the bubble’d swell & crisp to the crystal ball
I imagine I’m now in as in a paperweight looking out
at the crazy little kid looking in at what he’s become,
and which one of us is more here & now I wonder.

The boy gives the glass globe a good shake to see if the snowflakes
might fall in more fortunate fashion for a finer fate
this time. No such luck; it’s only me
when I thought I might mutate like a fruit fly
under evolution’s fortuitous microscope so fine-focused,
or inside God’s lunar telescope just for the hell of it,
but here I am in the same old crystal bauble of NOW
and the future of myself is still myself and me
thinking I’m still a kid trying to go home again
in this old shabbyshack shelter of a poem.


David Michael Schmidt

facts can be twisted and then called truths
minds can be manipulated and influenced
we search for hope
we need hope
we have wonderful imaginations
anything can exist in the world of our minds
parents love to tell stories to children
make believe
we spin folk lore, myths, legends and sometimes call it truth
there is a tooth fairy
there is a Santa Claus
there are angels, gods, demons, goblins, imps, fairies, monsters
some of us grow up to see the truth
some of us continue to tell lies and believe lies
some of us live lies and label it as gospel
amid costumes and smoke and cathedral spires
we spin the yarns and disregard the evidence
the mind must have hope
and will pay any price to get it

Untitled (graves)

Simon Perchik

These graves listen to you
though they lean too far
half side to side, half

taking hold your spine, blinded
in front by sunlight, in back
by its endless bending down

as if together these bones
would steady you, in time
your limp disappear

already the small stones
buried here, there, in the open
to tell you what happened.

Janet Kuypers reads the Simon Perchik poem
Untitled (graves)
from v240 cc&d magazine live in Chicago
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Andy, sitting by a tombstone, photograph copyright © 1988 - 2012 Janet Kuypers

The Check Is In the Mail

Linda Webb Aceto

Shouldn’tMother Love trump
the venom,
nurture through fear?

Still memories

Janet Kuypers reads the Linda Webb Aceto poem
the Check is in the Mail
from v240 cc&d magazine live in Chicago
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Ferocious, art by Cheryl Townsend

Ferocious, art by Cheryl Townsend

Butterfly Kiss Switchblade


He held it to my throat
Not like an 80’s movie
Which, you know why 80’s movies rocked
So well, it’s ‘cause they came out in the
No, it was point first, do you have
The least idea
There was enough kackaine in the house
To fill a sandbox
There was enough ammo in the house
To stock Republic Steel, 100 years ago
There were enough open warrants
Walking around the house
To still have some locked up in
Buck Rogers’ time
And there was a Korean steel toothpick
Considering my larynx
I said the right things, didn’t blink
He said Get Out, I did
Barefoot with the clothes on my back
Snow was belting out “Informer”
As I got out, amid the snow, into the snow...

I’m gonna skip a lot of details
I’m a better person, Today
I’m wrecked by my Youth, though
Free of it
I’m on SpaceFace, now, these buttons are neat

a Family Connection

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

One day I visited a churchyard
looking for a gravestone;
I found it, but only after hours
foraging among weeds;
I knelt down and cleared away
years of moss and grime;
in time, I could even make out
a legend, dates, a name

I felt cold, cheated, no feelings
of compassion for the dead;
here lay a stranger of my family
line, that was all;
it filled a box on the family tree;
the rest, but photographs,
letters, and a diary with pages
faded or missing

I’d found what I was looking for
so why linger there?
I tried to leave. My legs refused
to do as I wanted;
I couldn’t move, even after a few
drops of rain,
then the stone opened like a door
and I needed no telling

I entered, began feeling my way
along a gloomy tunnel;
in a light at the end stood a man,
his features obscured;
as I closed in, he spoke. I strained
to hear a choked voice
saying it was ages since anyone
had sought him out

He said I had the family likeness
and it meant a lot to see,
then he was gone and I was left
staring at a gravestone;
that day I visited a churchyard
looking for family,
I found it, and was infinitely

glad I’d come

Andy crouching aty a set play, photograph copyright © 1998 - 2012 Janet Kuypers

Me and My Father
at the Riviera Casino

Ryan Peeters

Trying to bond on my thirty-fifth birthday,
we walked into the modest back entrance
past dark theatres and closed refreshment stands
on dingy fifty year old carpet. My dad said,
“I been here before; this used to be a nice place.”
I told him, “This place is a hell hole, destined
for dynamite.” The casino floor was nearly empty of people;
it was only half full of slots, too,
all others were removed, leaving
impressions like scars: round carpet patches
loosely covered holes in the floor.
This was where action used to pay off
in quarters, dimes, and nickels.
Only ten table games remained, two dealers working.

When I was young, I saw my father only every other weekend.
Once he took me to Vegas and left me in a day care
where I pretended to sleep, bored. Was he here?

We waited in line for the Crazy Girls show.
A woman came along selling tobacco.
On the walls inside hung the old black-n-white photos
of Liberace, Neil Sedaka, Elvis, and others
in the days when this place mattered.
We waited in line with impatient New Yorkers,
business men from India, and a couple from Iowa.

The host came out and announced
that the show was having its twenty-fourth anniversary.
The only rule: no masturbating in the theatre.
This was apparently necessary to say twice.
Then seven showgirls in blonde wigs formed a chorus line;
most had small frames and fake breasts.
I wonder if he was looking at these women like he once did
my mother? His visits to me became more
infrequent, and he never brought a girlfriend along.
Those showgirls stripped topless
lip synching to various suggestive songs.
There was one lesbian sex scene, simulated.

We finally left and made the long, slightly horny,
walk, and contemplated the tawdriness of the entire
spectacle. The parking garages were small
and separated from the vintage casino in pseudo-ruins
where we were parked, driving in separate cars.


Dana Stamps, II

Going for a two week stay, flying to visit my real father,
I left LAX no problem, arrived in Pittsburg
for an hour layover before Ohio, tired
because I hadn’t slept in 40 or so hours: could not relax
on an airplane
                        and anxious about seeing my father. Love
never stamped out the fear of his judgment,

and I discovered that I was a stowaway. My father
had gotten the bartered-for-tickets
from an employee of TWA, and according
to the Pennsylvanians, only employees themselves
were allowed to use
said tickets, and I shouldn’t have been
let on the plane in Los Angeles in the first place.
They would fly me back to California
because they could see the point that it clearly
was not my fault, but would not fly me to Dayton International

Airport and its adjacent museum where, as a boy, I
had posed for a photo with my blue-eyed father
in front of a decommissioned WWII bomber
called Strawberry Bitch, which could have dropped Fat Man
but didn’t.
                So I called collect, cashless
as I always seemed to be, though I had had enough money
to buy Jim Beam on the flight, and I told my father
about my failure to not have problems.

He listened carefully, and then advised
me to “threaten to break the guy’s jaw” who wouldn’t let me
connect to where the Wright Brothers lived, to Orville
and Wilber dead in their graves in town, who I thought were still
partially to blame for this. I said, “Dad,

if I do that, they will put me in jail,” not the truth, that I
might lose because I wasn’t a fighter, not like my pop
who was the toughest kid
at Northridge High School, not like pop
who had all sorts of stories he’d often told
about kicking ass. I had never
kicked anyone’s ass. My father said, “You’d be surprised,
most people are cowards. Take my word for it,
you’ll be on the next plane pronto, just as soon
as they can get rid of you.” This was his legal advice, too.
My father was a lawyer, successful.

I took the Greyhound, and I arrived in Dayton
in shame, a kind of prodigal son not appropriately returning,
a deserter of the family pride, sleepless, punished
by my father, who refused to talk to me on the drive
to Vandalia which passed right by Wright-Patterson Air
Force Base,
                    on the peaceful hour ride back to his place
from the bus station. So I slept, finally safe.

Uneven Ground
Beneath my Feet

Janet Kuypers

Was it an estate sale?
Was it a flea market?
I can’t remember

but all I remember
was that it was sunny outside
and I passed huge tables

filled with everything
under the sun for sale,
when I saw this thin,

four-stringed musical
instrument, and I think
it had a tag for only 4 bucks,

so I took it and
walked inside. I think
at another point

I saw a glowing globe
phone for kids, and
it wasn’t even an accurate

globe, but it lit up
and it related to the
whole world, but I

didn’t even know if
the phone works, or
if it still lights up.

And at that point
I no longer had that
four dollar four-stringed

instrument, so I was
wondering where I put it,
when you came up to me

with a large tracing paper
note pad that you wanted
to but for me and it was

only fifty cents. And I thought,
that was a good idea,
and then you left. Then I thought,

wait a minute, I don’t even
have time to draw. And where
did that four-stringed instrument go?

Then I wondered,
wait a minute,
I don’t even know

what this thing is called,
and I don’t even know
if you’d want it.

So since you left,
I started searching
for you inside, but I’d go

down an aisle, filled with
knick-knacks for sale,
and I’d take a step

and my one foot would drop
two feet until I reached the
floor. There was that much

stuff, I thought, that I can’t
even see the uneven ground
beneath my feet

to find you.

found poem
from a
New Jersey mom

Janet Kuypers

How is it that my daughter
can fall out of bed,
land 2 feet below
on a hardwood floor,
yet only awaken
when I slowly pick her up
and place her ever so gently
back in bed?!?!?!???!

Hunt the Game

Janet Kuypers
twitter-length poem

Men used to
shoot the deer,
hunt the game.
And now,
they can’t even
find anything
in the fridge.

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Poverty in America

Janet Kuypers

A man competing
for American Ninja Warrior
said at one point
he was so poor
that he lived
out of his car.

He had a car?
I guess it all depends
on what you call poor.

twitter 4 jk twitter 4 jk Visit the Kuypers Twitter page for short poems— join http://twitter.com/janetkuypers.
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Just Saw a Circa

Janet Kuypers

Just saw a circa
three hundred fifty
pound man walk in
wearing eyeglasses
with scotch tape
wrapped around the
bridge of the glasses
and the right arm,
and the right side
of his eyeglasses
were sitting two
inches below his

On Their Way

Janet Kuypers

a man today
with a heavy accent
saw my name tag
and said I looked
like a girl
with a similar name
in Evanston.
I told him,
“Everyone is trying
to look like me,”
and he went
on his way.

A coworker today
asked me if
I was at Walmart
this morning.
I said no.
She said someone
who looked
just like me
was there this
morning. Then
she said
she was glad
she didn’t say hi,
then she went
on her way.

A bartender in Tunica
at a casino
poured me a drink
while I sat.
After I told her
I watched CSI,
she told me
I looked like
an actress
on CSI. But
she’s thinner
than me, and
the gaps in my teeth
aren’t the same
as hers, but
I think she
was saying that
because she
wanted tips.
But this casino bar
gave free drinks
to everyone
there to gamble,
and I didn’t
even have my purse
with me anyway.

And I don’t know
how many times
I’ve been told
like I look like
one particular actress.
One bar owner
even told me she’d
give me the drink
of my choice
if I just acted
one particular part
this actress played
for a little while.

It gets to me
that everyone thinks
I’m someone else.
I’m me.
I’m unique.
Someone notice

Janet Kuypers reads her poem
On Their Way
with live piano music by Gary
Rather read it? Then read the original writing
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of Kuypers reading this poem at the open mike 6/9/12 at Gallery Cabaret’s the Café Gallery in Chicago (W/ by live piano music from Gary) Canon
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Janet Kuypers Bio

    Janet Kuypers has a Communications degree in News/Editorial Journalism (starting in computer science engineering studies) from the UIUC. She had the equivalent of a minor in photography and specialized in creative writing. A portrait photographer for years in the early 1990s, she was also an acquaintance rape workshop facilitator, and she started her publishing career as an editor of two literary magazines. Later she was an art director, webmaster and photographer for a few magazines for a publishing company in Chicago, and this Journalism major was even the final featured poetry performer of 15 poets with a 10 minute feature at the 2006 Society of Professional Journalism Expo’s Chicago Poetry Showcase. This certified minister was even the officiant of a wedding in 2006.
    She sang with acoustic bands “Mom’s Favorite Vase”, “Weeds and Flowers” and “the Second Axing”, and does music sampling. Kuypers is published in books, magazines and on the internet around 9,300 times for writing, and over 17,800 times for art work in her professional career, and has been profiled in such magazines as Nation and Discover U, won the award for a Poetry Ambassador and was nominated as Poet of the Year for 2006 by the International Society of Poets. She has also been highlighted on radio stations, including WEFT (90.1FM), WLUW (88.7FM), WSUM (91.7FM), WZRD (88.3FM), WLS (8900AM), the internet radio stations ArtistFirst dot com, chicagopoetry.com’s Poetry World Radio and Scars Internet Radio (SIR), and was even shortly on Q101 FM radio. She has also appeared on television for poetry in Nashville (in 1997), Chicago (in 1997), and northern Illinois (in a few appearances on the show for the Lake County Poets Society in 2006). Kuypers was also interviewed on her art work on Urbana’s WCIA channel 3 10 o’clock news.
    She turned her writing into performance art on her own and with musical groups like Pointless Orchestra, 5D/5D, The DMJ Art Connection, Order From Chaos, Peter Bartels, Jake and Haystack, the Bastard Trio, and the JoAnne Pow!ers Trio, and starting in 2005 Kuypers ran a monthly iPodCast of her work, as well mixed JK Radio — an Internet radio station — into Scars Internet Radio (both radio stations on the Internet air 2005-2009). She even managed the Chaotic Radio show (an hour long Internet radio show 1.5 years, 2006-2007) through BZoO.org and chaoticarts.org. She has performed spoken word and music across the country - in the spring of 1998 she embarked on her first national poetry tour, with featured performances, among other venues, at the Albuquerque Spoken Word Festival during the National Poetry Slam; her bands have had concerts in Chicago and in Alaska; in 2003 she hosted and performed at a weekly poetry and music open mike (called Sing Your Life), and from 2002 through 2005 was a featured performance artist, doing quarterly performance art shows with readings, music and images.
    Since 2010 Kuypers also hosts the Chicago poetry open mic at the Café Gallery, while also broadcasting the Cafés weekly feature podcasts (and where she sometimes also performs impromptu mini-features of poetry or short stories or songs, in addition to other shows she performs live in the Chicago area).
    In addition to being published with Bernadette Miller in the short story collection book Domestic Blisters, as well as in a book of poetry turned to prose with Eric Bonholtzer in the book Duality, Kuypers has had many books of her own published: Hope Chest in the Attic, The Window, Close Cover Before Striking, (woman.) (spiral bound), Autumn Reason (novel in letter form), the Average Guy’s Guide (to Feminism), Contents Under Pressure, etc., and eventually The Key To Believing (2002 650 page novel), Changing Gears (travel journals around the United States), The Other Side (European travel book), The Boss Lady’s Editorials, The Boss Lady’s Editorials (2005 Expanded Edition), Seeing Things Differently, Change/Rearrange, Death Comes in Threes, Moving Performances, Six Eleven, Live at Cafe Aloha, Dreams, Rough Mixes, The Entropy Project, The Other Side (2006 edition), Stop., Sing Your Life, the hardcover art book (with an editorial) in cc&d v165.25, the Kuypers edition of Writings to Honour & Cherish, The Kuypers Edition: Blister and Burn, S&M, cc&d v170.5, cc&d v171.5: Living in Chaos, Tick Tock, cc&d v1273.22: Silent Screams, Taking It All In, It All Comes Down, Rising to the Surface, Galapagos, Chapter 38 (v1 and volume 1), Chapter 38 (v2 and Volume 2), Chapter 38 v3, Finally: Literature for the Snotty and Elite (Volume 1, Volume 2 and part 1 of a 3 part set), A Wake-Up Call From Tradition (part 2 of a 3 part set), (recovery), Dark Matter: the mind of Janet Kuypers , Evolution, Adolph Hitler, O .J. Simpson and U.S. Politics, the one thing the government still has no control over, (tweet), Get Your Buzz On, Janet & Jean Together, po•em, Taking Poetry to the Streets, the Cana-Dixie Chi-town Union, the Written Word, Dual, Prepare Her for This, uncorrect, Living in a Big World (color interior book with art and with “Seeing a Psychiatrist”), Pulled the Trigger (part 3 of a 3 part set), Venture to the Unknown (select writings with extensive color NASA/Huubble Space Telescope images), Janet Kuypers: Enriched, She’s an Open Book, “40”, Sexism and Other Stories, the Stories of Women, Prominent Pen (Kuypers edition), Elemental, the paperback book of the 2012 Datebook (which was also released as a spiral-bound cc&d ISSN# 2012 little spiral datebook, , Chaotic Elements, and Fusion, the (select) death poetry book Stabity Stabity Stab Stab Stab, and the 2012 art book a Picture’s Worth 1,000 words (available with both b&w interior pages and full color interior pages. Three collection books were also published of her work in 2004, Oeuvre (poetry), Exaro Versus (prose) and L’arte (art).

Blue Green-6, art by Rex Bromfield

Blue Green-6, art by Rex Bromfield



& stuff that makes you think

Safe Harbor at the Isle of Lesbos1

Jodi McMaster

    I have often told the story of moving in 1972 to Prattville, Alabama, at age 11, after living almost five years in Japan and all but the first few months of kindergarten in Department of Defense schools. We lived most of my father’s tour on base at Yokota; the last 18 months were at Kadena AFB in Okinawa.
    On Okinawa, we lived next door to an African-American officer and his family. I occasionally babysat their two little boys; I found the fact of penises during the change from daywear to pjs far more disconcerting than skin tones. Skin I understood; penises, not so much.
    I may have heard someone say the word “nigger”2 at some point; if I did, my understanding was pretty much limited to the fact it was a bad word because of the chorus that resounded after the use of any taboo language on a DoD schoolbus: “You can’t say that! Your dad could be courtmartialed.” In Alabama, it wasn’t hard to figure out, and I probably heard it more times in sixth grade than in the rest of my 51 years.
    My main sense of racism came from the Ali-Frazier fight, the thrilla in Manila, which we listened to and argued about at recess during fourth grade at Hamura Elementary. Nothing overt, but there was more to it than the “damned draft-dodger” rhetoric against Mohammed Ali.
    Therefore, it was quite the shock when my mother sat me down and told me two things before my first day of school in Prattville at the school for sixth and seventh graders. “Don’t talk to the black kids,” she said, “And don’t drink any coke from a bottle you haven’t opened yourself.3
    The first piece of advice was explained within the first ten minutes of my arrival at school when a race fight broke out between two boys getting off the school busses. They didn’t get past the sidewalk just off the bus stop before they were trading blows. It turned out to be something on the order of a weekly event. I was horrified and shocked then; later I was horrified and ashamed by the fact that all the white kids who were military brats went along with the racism, ostracizing the couple of black kids in otherwise all white classes. Of course, during the transition into adolescence and the general freaking out over hair growing in new places, bulging bits that had been flat and this whole bleeding every month thing, it might be a bit much to expect a bunch of us to see the bigger social issue in front of us.
    The part I omit from that story is my personal experience of ostracization. Coming to Prattville, I was a precocious twit and an only child with no close relatives near my age, a combination I tend to blame for my complete inability to comprehend my peers until I was much older.
    My few close friends had always been boys, but there was a tacit agreement that those relationships did not exist on school grounds. As far as girls went, I was always the third girl tolerated (at best) by a pair of best friends. My belief is that since my father treated me and my ideas with respect, and my mother was unpredictably volatile, I felt a little safer with the boys (at least until they turned into adolescents, at which point things could get more complicated).
    So I was delighted to actually click with another girl. I had a best friend. We were pretty much inseparable for the first couple of months of school. But sometime before or after Halloween, things changed drastically.
    In social studies class, one of the boys asked me, accusingly, if I were a lesbian. I gawped for a bit, trying to process the question itself and where it had come from. During my brain freeze, he went on to tell me he’d heard it from someone else. Luckily the teacher was observant and saw that I was about to burst into tears. He took me into the hall before the tears hit. I cannot remember whether I told the teacher the exact content or if I’d made a general statement that the boy had said something mean. I rather believe the latter. He gave me a pass to go to the bathroom until I got myself under control.
    My best friend apparently experienced something similar. We never discussed it, but we avoided each other from then until the end of the year, when my family was moving anyway. We were in a place where punches were not pulled, and no one would have scrupled at the word “dyke,”4 as the treatment of black students demonstrated very clearly. Hate was in the air. I felt the whispers and stares for a few days and spent more lunches than I care to recall eating by myself for the remainder of the school year.
    That was tough for me; I cannot imagine what a similar situation would have been like for someone who knew her sexual orientation was toward her own sex. For me, it created doubts in my mind that took a later encounter to resolve. Was I a lesbian? How would I know? I knew that I often dreamed of being a guy heroically rescuing the damsel in distress. Was that about power and a lack of female role models, or an indication of what my true desires were? I had no answers; I had no one to ask.
    At around this same time, my parents became involved with the Methodist church and increasingly drawn to the more fundamentalist, evangelical forms of Christianity. By eighth grade, I was in a private conservative Christian school. Even so, homosexuality was not really a hot topic those days, probably because it never occurred to the powers that ran my school that a non-heterosexual could walk the halls without bursting into flame. Or they thought homosexuals came in only drag queen or ultra-butch5 models.
    They were far more interested in pounding three other rules into our heads: 1) Do not rebel; thou shalt obey your parents (until you’re married, if you’re a girl) and their appointed agents without hesitation or question; 2) No PDA,6 as that would lead to the abyss of fornication, in which case you were permanently tied to that sexual partner regardless of outcome; and 3) No “missionary dating”—thou shalt not date anyone whose theology does not match ours point by point.
    Despite other philosophical differences I’ve experienced with my mother, she’s always been very liberal about gays. The first person I knew to be a lesbian was an Air Force nurse. My mother passed the information along to me with the same sort of gossipy interest she passed along the other “secret” she knew about the woman: she had lupus. I’d been a bit afraid of the woman, but she was no more scary than my straight aunt who was a nurse. I thought it was a nurse thing, not a lesbian thing.
    Several years later, between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I was in a summer production of “Guys and Dolls,” cast as Adelaide. My director wanted me to make six different costume changes. When I was taken to the wardrobe closet by the costume design/director, he pulled out several period pieces for me to try. It was pretty crowded in what was essentially an attic space with a few clothes racks in it, and I was doing my best to modestly change clothes. Noticing this, he remarked, “Oh, honey. Don’t worry; I’m one of the girls.” I relaxed and started trying things on with a little more speed.
    Because of all the costume changes I was given a dresser, Miri. The trickiest change was from when I had the last line in one scene and made a clothing change before re-entering with the first line in the next scene. As a result, I was pretty much pulling my clothes off over my head the second I got behind the flat and stripping everything but my panties while Miri was pulling the next costume over my head. We became good friends during the rehearsals and the run of the show. But the show ended, and I left town to return to my university.
    In the following production, Miri had the lead. I came back for the final show and went out with a bunch of the cast and crew. Miri and another gay friend kept giggling and whispering, and it became apparent that he was giving her a hard time, and it somehow involved me. By the end of the evening I asked Miri what was going on. She asked if we could speak privately, so we went and sat in my car.
    Miri confessed to me that she had a crush on me. My gaydar is only good for the male persuasion7; it’s completely useless on women. I was taken aback because I’d had no idea (I’d have characterized her as a tomboy, but not gay). However, I was flattered, and I told her so. I learned that night that I was almost definitely heterosexual and that turning down a lesbian was far easier than dealing with a guy who you aren’t interested in. There’s nothing personal about it when she knows I’m straight; there’s no way to make it not personal with a guy.
    We talked for a while about Miri’s8 sexual orientation. I don’t think she’d had many opportunities to talk about it with someone who didn’t freak out over it. It was a story that I’d learn was sadly too common: her admission of being a lesbian met with rejection and denial. We continued to be friends for a while after that; she joined the Navy (yes, it is the gayest branch of the service, no matter how much they protest) and we lost touch. But it was Miri that helped me recover from the trauma I’d experienced in Prattville. I wasn’t a lesbian, and even if I had been, it really wasn’t a big deal.9
    I found it interesting that one of my few female friends turned out to be a lesbian. It has happened a few times since. I think that for me, as a straight woman who has difficulties trusting other women, a lesbian woman is less of a risk. It takes out all the underlying competitive crap I was raised with: how to catch a man. I’m competitive in some ways (particularly if I think someone is trying to patronize me as part of their competitive strategy), but I always thought gamesmanship in relationships was stupid. No matter how many times I was counseled by my mother and grandmother to let the boys win or to play hard to get, I just was myself. If I could beat them at a game, I did. If I liked them, I didn’t pretend I didn’t.
    So when one of my daughter’s teachers was outted by another teacher, a gay man.10 I was shocked by some of the attitudes her classmates expressed. Some of the girls were concerned the teacher would hit on them. My immediate response was “I’d be more concerned about the male teachers. What the hell is wrong with them?” I took it upon myself to let the teacher know that she’d been outted so that she could be prepared.11 One of my daughter’s friends who came out was bombarded by hate calls; I couldn’t see how they could be threatened by a lesbian girl.
    “Ignorance,” says my husband. I don’t see it. I understand why men get wigged out by gay men; they don’t grow up with sexual predators as an accepted fact of life, and the idea that it could happen to them is disconcerting. But women, regardless of orientation, grow up with some sense of the looming danger, whether it’s in the shadowy form of the Big Bad Wolf or more explicitly discussed. Or, tragically, experienced. The guys need to get over it; I just don’t understand the issue with women. I’ve never met a lesbian who tried to force me into trying it on for size. I dated plenty of guys who had trouble with the word “No,” although I was fortunate enough to have them all back off when they crossed that line and I lost my temper with them.
    Clearly I do not have a representative sample of all lesbians everywhere. There doesn’t seem to be a “friend matching” site like there are “mate finding” sites that claim to use science to find your “perfect match” or to give you a scientifically randomized sample. So my limited experiences with friends who have been close enough or vocal enough to let me know their orientation is just that: limited.
    But I can say that as a heterosexual woman, I value my lesbian friends. They have been safe harbors for me while I try to figure out how to be friends with other straight women. Miri told me I flirt12 with everybody; I probably flirt more with my gay friends of either gender. We all know the score; it’s all just play and no one is lead on.
    My most recent experience is what lead me to this musing. I met a very distinguished, outdoorsy woman with a gorgeous head of that white hair that people rarely seem to be able to attain. She was a member of a training group I was in, and before the session was over, I’d thought to myself, “I want to be like her.” Not just the gray hair, although I’d be glad to have a transplant to take the place of my dirty gray and brown natural color. No, there was something in her presence that I wanted to emulate.
    I had no idea at that time what her orientation was. Like I said, my gaydar only works on guys. When it comes to women, mine is akin to the description another friend gives of his: “It was manufactured in the USSR during the Cold War with spare parts by a trainee.” She later made a couple of mentions of her partner, and, although I didn’t get a specific clarification, I am fairly sure I read the code correctly.
    And by the end of the training, I knew why I wanted to be like her. She’d figured out who she was, was strong enough to stand up for it and caring enough to be able to cry when the occasion called for it. She was whole, all on her own. And she assured me I’d get there, too.
    The Isle of Lesbos for me is a safe and welcoming harbor. I hope someday everyone will see it as I do.



    1 The Isle of Lesbos was the home of Sappho, one of the earliest known female poets, who wrote about her love for other women circa 630 BCE. Her home is where the word “lesbian” comes from. See http://www.sappho.com/poetry/sappho.html for more information. Thanks to Elyce and Gary for pointing out to me that in common usage these days, “lesbo” is a slur.

    2 I always pause before using the term, even in quotes. I’m a white, heterosexual female, so it’s not my term to appropriate, but there is some merit to the argument that never saying it gives it more, rather than less, power. Just because I know it doesn’t mean I use it; just because I don’t use it doesn’t mean it’s not out there.

    3 It was far later that I figured out the coke warning; she was afraid someone would put LSD in my drink. Why she didn’t just tell me that is a mystery; I’d been through more drug awareness programs in the previous three years than I had on sex education. The military was big on bringing samples in a glass case and burning what was purported to be something that smelled like pot. I’m a bit skeptical now that it was anything other than the “MaryJane” we were told to avoid. I actually did, and am one of the few people I know that’s never tried it.

    4 The most offensive term I knew of at the time; maybe others had a wider vocabulary of hate.

    5 To be fair, I didn’t learn the term “lipstick lesbians” until I was in my forties. I was aware, though, that there was more to the lesbian population than the stereotypes.

    6 Public displays of affection, which included the simple act of holding hands.

    7 My theory is that when you meet a straight guy, there’s some split-second spark of recognition in the man that goes something like “I man. You woman. We could have sex.” It happens regardless of the amount of interest the guy may actually have in sleeping with you, although I have noticed it doesn’t seem to happen with much younger men now that my son is in his late twenties, which is a relief. I think that’d just be creepy. It never happens with gay men. I register nothing off when I meet gay women.

    8 Not her real name. I don’t have any way to contact her now, and I don’t believe in outing people.

    9 Although I have wondered from time to time if flashing her three performances a week for six weeks had any relevance.

    10 The bitch.

    11 She later told me that there was a period when she dreaded talking to me because it seemed like I was always the bearer of bad news.

    12 My husband and I found early in our marriage that we have completely different connotations for “flirting.” For him, there is no possibility of “harmless flirting”; by definition, flirting is with intent to seduce under false pretense. For me, it’s just playing around. We finally agreed on “kibitzing” as an acceptable alternative to convey what I mean when I say flirting.



the meat and potatoes stuff

Seeing everything around me, recognizing nothing

Fritz Hamilton

    Seeng everything around me, recognizing nothing, I keep walking, afraid to talk, fearing that I’ll die, the anxiety so great, I know I’m dead soon anyway. I’m not afraid of death, but if this is dying, I can’t take it.
    I find myself in the Old Town alleys. A drunk is sleeping behind a bar. Maybe he’s dead. Maybe he’ll awaken to torture & kill me. I see a child hanging from a eucalyptus branch. Did the drunk hang him? What difference does it make? I swerve into a wall. It almost knocks me to the alley. The older I get, the weaker my legs.
    When I was younger, a doctor told me, what we know about the heart & the cardiovascular system will drastically increase our life expectancy, but expect to see more people with walkers & wheelchairs. Now I’m 75 & it’s harder & harder to get around. I should be thankful that I still do.
    The drunk is now sitting against the wall. He glaces at me around a garbage container, then buries his face in his hands. “Hello, Fred,” he moans. “If I keep doing this, they’ll put me away.”
    “Then maybe you won’t die.” I look for the child hanging from the eucalyptus, but he’s not there.
    “You been drinking, Fred?”
    “You know I don’t drink, Harry.”
    “I wish I could say that.”
    “Then quit.”
    “I can’t. How did you do it?”
    “How many times do I have to tell you? The booze stopped working, but I still couldn’t stop drinking it, or I’d get sick. I lived in Hell, but not even Hell wanted me. I didn’t have the guts to kill myself. Then I was lucky not to go to prison. I should have, but a stupid jury let me off the hook. Then I was in a bar & saw one of the jury members drunk over a beer. The poor bastard fell off his barstool. It was ridiculous. The next day when I woke with the garbage in the alley, I went to the hospital. They kept me a couple months, & I haven’t had a drink since.”
    “Did you know, I was sober on AA for three years, but I started up again. Then I got fired from the job I held 12 years, my wife gave up on me & left for her father’s home in Kansas, taking the kids. Now I can’t work, & I live out here, too ashamed to get in touch with my family. That’s life, Fred.”
    “You can turn it around.”
    “I don’t want to turn it around.”
    “Then you’ll probably die out here.”
    “Why does it take so long?”
    I look for the kid hanging from the eucalyptus. He’s been replaced by Poe’s raven. Poe was 40 when he drank himself to death. Then nobody much cared about him until Baudelaire translated him into French. Harry won’t have that luxury. His name is writ in water, as Keats put it. But water isn’t Harry’s problem.
    I amble over to the Lochness Monster to hear the blues’ as Baudelaire writes:

sniffing in every corner for chance rhymes,
crashing into verses from other times.


Suicide at Post Street
A One-Minute + Play
In Two Scenes

Mel Waldman



    SCENE 1

    Upstage, a sprawling painting of a 2-story house in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn spans the width of the stage. At the top of the painting, an inscription says, HOME SWEET HOME. Downstage, a nameless teenager lies on the floor in a pool of blood, clutching a .22. Upstage, a barren desk and chair are a few feet behind the boy. Detective Adam Wise enters the room upstage and walks downstage to the corpse, stands over it, and turns his head to the audience.

    DAW: A neighbor heard the gunshot, called 911, and here I am, ahead of the others. Why did he kill himself? Why did he choose death?


    SCENE 2

    Detective Adam Wise stands in the suicide room. The corpse is missing.

    DAW: What happened to the boy? Who took the dead body? Why? Is there anything worse than suicide? Murder? Death? The detective moves downstage and stands a few feet from the audience, on the edge of the stage. No one else is coming to this crime scene. I’m all alone. Part of me has died. I lost the boy today. My shrink says I suffer from PTSD and perhaps, something worse. Who am I? I died today and for the past few months, I’ve blacked out again and again. Who’s lurking inside my head? Who? He turns around, walks upstage, sits at his desk and removes his .45 Magnum. He places it on the desk. What shall I do? What would you do? He points to his gun, looks at the pitch-black space beyond. You, out there, tell me what to do. I’m lost.




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.

Mirror 1, art by David Michael Jackson

Mirror 1, art byDavid Michael Jackson

Mirror Painting, art by David Michael Jackson

Mirror Painting, art byDavid Michael Jackson


Eric Burbridge

    I smelled his lunch when his breath whistled past the food trapped between his bucked teeth. He had decades of police work embedded in his dark eyes and pitted skin. “You were in on it, Tager.”
    “Prove it, cop.”
    “Detective Darvin.”
    “I’m sick of you in my face!” I rose out of my chair, ready to grab him.
    “Sit down and tell me again. What were you doing by Abram’s Jewelry?” He snarled, got up and circled me, remaining in the shadows.
    “It’s still none of your business, but you want me to cross my t’s and dot my i’s. Right? I told you who did it.”
    “Again!” He shouted and sat at the table. His eyes locked on mine like he was a human lie detector.
    “Check my alibi then we don’t have to go through this, Detective.” I braced myself anticipating being grabbed, but he sighed, waiting to dissect my statement. I looked at the dingy interview room walls with the ripples in the paint, knowing if this continued; time to get a lawyer. “Well, clean the wax out your ears.
    I heard a horn blast and a grammar school classmate I hadn’t seen in years pull up waving just as I pulled in a space at the corner of Addison and 18th. At first neither of us recognized him—”
    “Maggie was in the car?” Darvin interrupted.
    “Yeah. She works down the street. Jensen, we called him Hulk Jensen, jumped out his car like a cop. Then I remembered he was a cop, last I heard. The conversation was short; you know how you doing, blah, blah. I introduced Maggie, but they looked at each other like they’d met. Jensen kept up with the grammar school crowd and told me about a reunion. He wrote down a number, which I can’t find, that’s when I glanced down the block and saw Bimrod.”
    “Your cousin, so you say.” The detective sat scribbling in his notebook.
“Jensen left and I watched, wondering, where’s he going? Then Maggie says “that guy looks like you.” We were dressed similar with salt and pepper hair and receding hairlines. And she’ll verify that. Bimrod walked up behind him just as Abram’s inserted the key to the rolling shutters, he jerked slightly, surprised, and hesitated, as if he was listening to something. Once the shutters receded, without turning they disappeared inside. She’ll verify that too.
    It was a stick-up.
    Only Bimrod would do that in broad daylight with video everywhere. The old man’s vision is bad, he might think it’s me. What if he said it was me? I’d been in the store three times that week.” I looked at the detective stop writing and his head drop, slightly. This fool is dozing. I slammed my hand on the table. He jumped. “Are you listening to me or what?”
    “Keep talking,” he snapped.
    “A few minutes passed; Bimrod exited the store and turned the corner on to Main Street. I got in my car and pulled up to the light. He got in a dark four door sedan, made a u-turn and accelerated down the street. I paused at the green light to put some distance between us. Just as I turned, the alarm blasted. He was a few blocks ahead when several squad cars zoomed past, blue lights flashing. I followed for a while, past blocks of ragged store fronts and vacant lots. He pulled in the alley and stopped behind his mother’s house on Crandon Ave. and ran between garages. I pulled to the edge of a vacant building on the corner. I couldn’t sit long, red Escalade’s draw attention in that neighborhood. I started to pull off when flashing lights approached and rocketed past turning a couple of blocks down. I caught a glimpse of him hopping back in the dark sedan. He sped off ignoring the speed bump, scraping the under carriage before entering traffic.
    I made a beeline back to school. I took an early lunch to meet Maggie and surprise her with my decision, then I see this. My heart and imagination were in overdrive. I could see the headlines, “MORRIS HIGH, PRINCIPAL ROBS JEWELRY STORE.” For once the halls were vacant. I looked at the clock, only two hour pasted. It seemed like eternity. I went in my office, closed the door and opened the blinds, letting the sun’s rays brighten the office. I flopped in my chair, knowing a dark cloud hung over my head.” This cop just looked at me. He could’ve cared less what I said.
    “Bimrod Ballantine is my first cousin; we could pass for twins. When we were young he stayed in trouble. I didn’t. He was dumb in school. I wasn’t. He could fight. I couldn’t. He graduated to crime. I graduated with honors.
    He aspired to be a criminal genius, but Bimrod was one dumb fuck.
    He broke into a mail truck, stole some guns and then tried to register them. He had a gift though. He’s a mimic. He could sound and walk like anybody. He might have been a successful comedian. The family thought he’d changed when he fell in love. The problem; she loved me. She said she just played along to meet me. I rejected her.
    Why did I do that?
    So she told him we were in love. I said she lied, but he didn’t believe me. The next day the cops scooped me up for robbery. They questioned me for hours, like you’re doing. The victims said I looked and sounded like the guy. Thank God, I had an air tight alibi. When I confronted Bimrod he just looked at me. That convinced me; leave now. So I joined the Army. When I got out and returned, the family never mentioned him; I didn’t ask.
    I promised my mother I would return her call. I hit the speed dial, it rang longer than usual. “Hello.” She gasped, out of breath.
    “Hey, Momma, you alright?”
    “Yes, I was in the basement.” She exhaled. “I haven’t moved that fast in awhile, you didn’t call back. Why?”
    “Sorry, I forgot. How are you?”
    “My back, knee, neck and shoulder hurt, but I’m fine. I talked to your Aunt Gracie. Bimrod’s out.”
    “Out of what?”
    “JT, he’s been in and out of mental institutions.” She rose her voice like I was suppose to know. “For the past twenty something years.”
    “See, that’s what I told you. Nobody tells me anything. So I forgot him.”
    “JT, you listen Bimrod’s mind is stuck. Be careful he still hates you about that girl, you hear me?”
    “Yeah, Momma, but that was a million years ago.”
    “Its like yesterday to him.”
    “O.K.” I held the phone listening to the silence. How would I do this? Nothing is going to ruin my retirement. Nothing. I’ll rat on him. Then I called the tip line. That’s it.”
    “How do you feel about turning him in?”
    We just looked at each other for a second. “None of your business. You a shrink or a cop?”
    “Detective,” he snapped, clinching his fist and pounded the table. “He said you were in on it.”
    “That’s a lie and you know it. Check my alibi. Call Maggie.” Darvin gave me an icy look.
    “How did you meet Maggie?”
    “Why? What does that have to do with anything?”
    “Answer the question.” He demanded.
    “We go to the same AA meeting that meets right down the street.”
    “Oh, right. That’s where all the uppity drunks and junkies go for help. You planned on buying her a ring?”
    “What? A ring? That’s none of your business.” I never said that. Where’d he get that?
    “Your wedding plans won’t work,” Darvin snarled.
    Wedding plans, where’d that come from? “See if there’s a cop named Jensen around. I’m sick of your mess.”
    “You lost the number. Too bad,” he said, with a sinister grin on his face. “But Maggie will help or so you think. What’s Maggie’s full name?”
    For a minute, I felt stupid not knowing her full name, but I didn’t care. “I know her AA name, Maggie D.”
    “Guess what the ‘D’ means.” He started laughing. “Darvin. She’s my ex-wife.”
    Damn. The world couldn’t be that small. “You lying?”
    “No. And she ain’t marrying you, Mr. Tager. We’re reconciling. Watch this.” He took out his cell and hit the speed dial and put it on speaker.
    “Hey baby. How you doing?” He asked.
    “Good.” She had a voice you could listen to all day.
    “I’m thinking about last night.”
    “You’re making me blush.” She giggled.
    “I just wanted reassurance on the reconciliation, outside an intimate atmosphere.”
    “It’s good, Rich. I gotta go babe, I’m swamped. I have a ton of depositions. I’ll call you later.”

    I shook my head. “You something else. You forgot to ask about me...Rich.”
    “Oops, sorry.” He laughed. “What do you think about that?”
    I started to tell that idiot I am not buying her anything. I asked her advice about a watch I thought of buying for my retirement. Since the school district wouldn’t think of giving me anything.
     Cheap bastards.
    I’ll buy my own gold watch. But, that’s none of his business. “Marry her, she’s a drunk. Let her tell it, she can drink the average guy under the table. But you know that. Two drunks together, that’s a train wreck. Boy, have you been played. We’re just friends. We’re like sponsors. You know, call me before you take that drink. You can have her, Rich.” The more I chuckled, the redder he got. “So that’s what this is about; a frame. You’re jealous. Poor thing. I tell you what. I want my lawyer. I’ll have him find Jensen. He’s out there somewhere.” Then it hit me.“We called him ‘Tank’ not ‘Hulk’. He’s all head and shoulders, no neck to speak of.”
    “Tank?” Darvin went from cherry red to pale white.
    “You know him?” He just looked. “ I want my phone call, now.”
    He closed his notes and shoved them in his shirt pocket. “You don’t need one. Let’s go, there’s no arrest. Go down the hall out the back.”
    “That’s a mile walk to my car.”
    “Leave now or spend the night!” He yelled, visibly shaken.
    I shielded my eyes when I stepped into the bright lights. We walked to twin doors that stuck, throwing my weight into it barely budged it open. Cigarette smoke lingered in the corridor. A side door shot open and Tank Jensen stepped out, short and wide with copped hair, his shoulders seemed to spread wall to wall. “Tager, what are you doing here?” He cut his eyes at Darvin.
    I pointed at Darvin. “I’m being denied counsel, this Detective has harassed—”
    “Captain.” Darvin moved in front of me. “Mr. Tager helped tie up a few loose ends on the Abrams robbery.” His voice trembled. Jensen looked at me and then gave his subordinate a dirty look.
    “I thought that case was a slam dunk?”
    “Captain, I—”
    “I want you in my office.” He turned his back and Darvin hurried down the hall, the sound of his angry footsteps echoed off the walls. “Where you parked?”
    “By Abram’s Jewelry.”
    “I’ll get a car to drop you, and don’t forget the party.”
    I cursed the $100 ticket on my windshield, when Maggie walked up. God knows I didn’t want to see her. “You got off early?” I asked.
    “Today was light, thank God.”
    Liar, you just said you were swamped. She looked good and passers-by admired her summer dress that accented her tapered waist and well toned six foot frame. “Special occasion or what?”
    “Maybe, it all depends,” she said. “Did you make up your mind?”
    “Yeah.” We walked in the store over to the watch showcase. “The Wittnauer is the lucky one.”
    “Jesus. That’s what I said at first JT.”
    I struggled not to mention her ex thinking I planned on proposing.
    Why did she give him that impression? What’s her point? Why use me? That’s what friends are for, JT. That cop might be crazy or homicidal. Relax, it’ll work out.
    Maggie got close peering in my eyes. “See anything different.”
    “Ah...Oh, the earrings. They’re beautiful. She wore her graying hair boy short for low maintenance. Those earrings weren’t larger than her usual, but those were some big diamonds.
    “You got them out of lay away early.”
    “Not me, Hans.” Her faced beamed.
    “That tall guy who sits in the back at the Saturday meetings?”
    “Yeah, he wants to take me to Europe, so I’ve turned my case load over to a junior associate. I’m ready to go. Happy for me?”
    I couldn’t hold it any longer. “What about your ex?” She looked at me like I had two heads.
    “What do you know about my ex?”
    “He picked me up this morning. He’s been questioning me all day about the robbery.”
    “I haven’t seen that jerk in years,” she said, stone faced.
     She was dead serious. Jesus, maybe she is bi-polar, or worst.
    “Well, your innocent. I waited long enough for you to ask, so I’m gone. But whenever you’re ready,” she laughed, waiting for a response.
    “Please, we’re just friends. You’re way too slick for me. You have the energy of somebody half your age with twice the wisdom and experience. I’m too old for that. I would bore you to death. You’d leave me sweeping my heart off the sidewalk.” I hugged her. “Be happy, stay in touch.”
    Why did I tell that lie? I liked you Maggie, but now... don’t stay in touch. I don’t need the drama.
    I got in my car and deleted her number.

DESEN347-96D, art by Üzeyir Lokman ÇAYCI

DESEN347-96D, art by <Üzeyir Lokman ÇAYCI

Fifty Dollars to Comfort

Chris Allen

    “My head is humming and it is upon something hard – like a rock. No, not a rock; cement or asphalt, that is more likely. I can’t be sure, my eyes won’t open, but I know I am outside due to the chill in the wind.
    “Christ! My feet are naked! They must be, I can feel the numbness approaching. The effort to move my toes – I don’t even think I can move them. There’s a funny feeling going on. I don’t think I can hold out long. Rolling over on my side, I let loose and vomit. My body is weak and I can’t support myself. I fall into the vomit. I can feel it absorbing into my clothing near my lower abdomen.
    “I can open my eyes now, though my sight is a little blurry. I’m in some alleyway and I can see a street up ahead where cars are stopped.
    “I tried to stand but still couldn’t find the strength. My muscles were stiff, as if a poison had been injected into me that caused them to contract.
    “That must be what happened!
    “Some of the night before was rushing out of the depths of my mind. I had been depressed; donated all of my money to a charity in hopes to cure it, but that didn’t work. I went out drinking and was fixated in finding death in the night. But now I’m forced to be alive and sick. On top of that, I am still battling this depression. No matter. I know my lawyer friend could help me out.
    “I managed to make it out of the alleyway, but the trouble was that my legs were still stiff and I could barely support myself. I leaned up against one of those walk/don’t walk posts, but couldn’t hold out long and I ended up slamming into the hood of a cab.
    “As I lay in pain upon the ground I hear the cabby’s car door slam. My head was humming again and I wiped my brow. As I tried to get up he came around and began yelling at me. He was fat Hispanic man and I couldn’t understand most of what he said.
    “By the time I was balancing myself on my feet, the guy grabs my coat color and shakes me a bit.
    ““All right! All right!” I screamed.
    “He threw me off and I’m on the ground again. Luckily it’s on the curb.
    ““Asshole junkie!” the cabby screams as he gets into his cab. Then he was off and driving up one of San Francisco’s steep hills.
    “These hills! How the hell am I going to walk up these hills? There was no money for a cab and no money for water, which I so desperately needed.
    “Despite my dehydration and nausea, I walked to the end of the street to see where I was. The sign said Turk Street. I was twenty or more blocks from my apartment on Hyde Street, and only five or more blocks from my friend Harold Burlington, who lived on Geary Boulevard.
    “As I walked to Harold’s, I found myself collapsing against a building or some form of post. The traffic made my head vibrate and my vision undulate. A couple of times I threw up and caused people to cringe and move away from me.
    “Harold lived in a typical San Francisco apartment: it sat on a hill, was leveled yet not leveled, and it was of a light blue color. The other connecting apartments were pink, light green, and other Spring like colors.
    “I beat on his door with both fists. I heard nothing. I rapped upon the door again, each time with more force. So much force that Harold would probably figure me for some dishonest cop trying to book him on affiliations with a prostitute or one of his clients and their illegal activities.
    “The door swung open and there stood Harold. He was wearing a robe made out of buffalo skin. It was open and I could see his red and white striped underwear. The man looked awful, like he had been stuck in for a week. His hair was matted and his facial hair had grown.
    ““Tim!” Harold bellowed. “What the hell are you doing? You’re messed up. Come inside, man, you need a drink of my Caduceus red wine. It will bring you up!”
    ““It’s a bit early for that, isn’t it?” I said.
    ““Hell no!”
    “And with that, he swept me inside and slammed the door.
    “Harold walked a pace in front of me and was in his living room between his couch and TV, then he spun around and looked up at the ceiling, scratched his head, and returned his gaze to me. His eyes were sharp and they studied me from toe to head.
    ““What the hell happened to you last night?” he said. “You don’t have no fuckin’ shoes, and you’ve puked all over yourself.”
    ““I’m depressed.” I said, “I emptied out all the money in my account, tore up my apartment, and went out last night. After that, I don’t remember much.”
    “Harold motioned to the couch. “Take a seat,” he said. I sat down and he walked into his kitchen. I watched him in his kitchen, moving at a fast pace, looking for whatever he needed. He opened drawers, cabinets, and the refrigerator. From the refrigerator he removed a wine bottle and went back to a cabinet he had just been in and pulled out a corkscrew.
    ““You’re going to need something besides this,” he shouted at me, still working on the cork. “Hell, you really need some coffee.”
    ““A glass of water,” I shouted back.
    “The cork popped out and Harold filled two glasses with red wine and brought them into his living room and handed me one.
    ““Water?” I asked.
    ““Oh! Yeah, yeah,” he said and went back into his kitchen and filled me a glass of water.
    “When he handed the glass to me, I drank it down as if I had been some loner stranded in the Outback.
    ““What’s got you so down, man?” said my companion as he sprawled out beside me.
    “I sipped my wine and said: “It’s my last case. My client I was defending overdosed. He had been getting help, at least I believe he was, and then... gone. I get a call when the cause of death was found out.”
    ““Jesus. That is a terrible mess. But why should that get you on some suicidal trip?”
    ““I don’t know. It just struck me and I went to the bar and had one too many beers. When I got home I was losing my buzz and I wanted to peak, I took a few downers; that really dropped me to the cellar. I was in that dark, deep, cold place within myself. I started watching National Geographic – something about homeless kids and poverty. That caused me to donate all my money to what I thought would be a better cause. I took more pills and drank a fourth of Johnny Walker. It didn’t kill me and in my anger I broke up almost everything I owned. After that, I can only grasp brief images; even those don’t come in clear.”
    ““Did you get into any heroin?”
    “I checked my arms, and Harold kept talking. “Yeah, I don’t hold much against it,” he said. “I dabble in that mess every now and then, but I use clean needles. If you were on the street, chances are you caught a rusty, HIV ridden barb.”
    ““I didn’t use any,” I said.
    “Harold drained his glass of wine and jumped to his feet. “I forgot to brew the coffee,” Harold said with bewilderment, and darted off into the kitchen.
    “As he clanked around in there I stretched and noticed my bare feet. “Hey, Harold, you have fifty bucks I could borrow for some shoes? Don’t cheat me out with any money; I don’t buy those cheap shoes made by child slaves!”
    “Harold walked into the living room and looked at me. He had a crooked smile on his face. “Hell, man, I’ll hook up with some hundred and fifty dollar shoes!” With that, Harold ran behind me and I could hear him running up the stairs.
    “He returned sometime later holding a pair of orange and black Nike shoes, and a pair of socks. He tossed them to me.
    ““If that ain’t enough,” he said as I was putting on my socks and shoes, “I’ve got a three hundred dollar suit you can wear too.” He began pacing back and forth, and I could tell he was cooking up a scheme. “And to really fix it up! We can say you had a girl over who tore up your place and spent all of your money. Shit yeah. I know a Pilipino stripper who is bi-curious who would do exactly that. Going to an all female correctional center would probably put her in good graces; she’d be eating rug all night!”
    “The smell of coffee was filling the room and a mad man was hovering above me, glowing with lunacy and brilliance. I couldn’t believe that Harold could be serious about all that he was saying, but I knew that he really was.
    “He sped into the kitchen once more and began to pull coffee mugs out of his cabinet and fill them with the fresh brew.
    ““How do you take this?” he called from the kitchen.
    ““Cream and sugar,” I retorted.
    “Harold returned to the living room and handed me my coffee.
    ““We good on that plan?” he asked.
    “I sipped my coffee, and with amusement, shook my head and looked up at him, smiling. “Why not?”
    ““That’s what I like to hear,” said Harold. “Of course, we’ll have to piss test you, see what kind of drugs you ingested and say that Lilly drugged you.”
    ““You really think she’ll do this?” I asked.
    ““Brother, I’m one hundred percent certain!”
    “He sat down beside me, spilling some of his coffee as he did so, and put his arm around me, and said: “She’s a bi-curious broad who is tired of men and girly girls. She also wants inspiration for a novel she is working on about a girl who murders her lesbian sister, and is forced to go through homosexual abuse.”
    ““Christ, man, that’s pretty intense.”
    ““Exactly!” once more Harold sprang to his feet. “I’m going to call her right now.” With that he ran behind the couch and to a small room with a bunch of fish tanks that angled the living room and was parallel with the kitchen. I saw him punching numbers on his wall phone and him with it resting on his shoulder and ear; a few rings and he began talking. Barely able to make out what he was saying, I turned on the television and began flipping through the channels. I stopped on a comedy with Whoopi Goldberg and Bill Cosby – I needed some comic relief – the name of the move was called, I believe, The Death of the Last Liberal.
    “Forty-five minutes later, Harold comes back into the room and blocks my view of the television. The lunatic is glowing again. I can only wait to hear what he planned.
    ““Go upstairs to the bathroom,” Harold says. “In my medicine cabinet you should find one of those medical cups for pissing. Let your stream fly and then come back down here. I’ll explain everything then.”
    “I do what he says to do and then return to the living room. The TV is now playing cartoons and Harold is asleep on the couch.
    ““Wake up, you bastard!” I scream at him as I shake him by the shoulders. He spins around and shouts things I cannot understand and then he falls to the floor.
    “Harold looked at me with anger in his eyes before he relaxed and sat on the floor, Indian style. “All right, man,” he says, “here’s the plan.”
    “About an hour after Harold’s finished telling me his plan, we’re both getting into his car. I’ve changed into a nice suit: black coat, black pants, with a blue shirt and a white tie. We were headed to Lilly’s place.
    “Harold’s plan was to throw a big party at my place tonight with a bunch of people. It wouldn’t matter if it was already destroyed, because we were going to be loud and have witnesses that could testify that Lilly became violent, drugged me, donated all my money to a charity that was housing her family, and had destroyed most of my things.
    “We arrived to a lesser than respectable part of Japan Town where Lilly lived. We parked in front of a small apartment building with a restaurant in the basement. The entire first floor smelled of fried food and the sounds of the cooks could be heard shouting and banging their utensils. Lilly met us in the lobby and took us up to her apartment on the second floor.
    “Her apartment was small, but it was clean – more so than I expected. Her kitchen and living room were conjoined and there was a couch that had been folded out into a bed. She didn’t have a coffee table or any more furniture. There were big pillows on the ground and a twenty-five inch television in the corner. The fold out couch appeared to serve nothing more than Lilly’s bed.
    “She motioned for us to sit on the pillows, but grabbed me before I had a chance to sit down.
    ““You’re the man?” she asked.
    “I nodded my head.
    “She felt me up, running her hands across my legs, crouch, abdomen, and face.
    “She smiled at me and said, “Yeah, I could have seen me with you before.”
    ““So,” I said, “you are okay with all of this?”
    “She nodded and went behind her couch and brought up a typewriter, replaced it, and brought up a stack of paper.
    ““You do know that you’re going to be in prison for a long time if you go through with this?” I said.
    “She nodded and walked back over to me. “I can still write in prison and doing so will make me a big name writer.” She looked down at Harold and back at me. “Let’s get this over with,” she said.

    “It’s nine o’clock at night and I am back in my apartment. There are about thirty guests here; some are friends of Harold and me. Others are friends of friends, people I have no connection to. Those people should make better witnesses and be more trustworthy in court.
    “I have not had a single drink of alcohol, yet Lilly has swigged down more than half a bottle of Captain Morgan and Coke. She has been romantic with me for the most part, but now she has become violent and agitated when she is around me. Some of the guests are nervous around her, others find her funny.
    “The guests weren’t allowed far at first, until Lilly hurled a few things around and made it look as if she had just broken my LED big screen and broke a bigger hole in one of my windows. Now they are all over the place.
    “Some guy from Vermont has been following Lilly for awhile and now he is all over me. “Wicked sweet party!” he shouts at me. “You’re cool, man, you’re cool. Hey, I know that babe over there is yours, but you mind if I get a quicky from her? I just did some blow off of her tits, I can understand if... you know?”
    ““Right,” it’s all I say to him, and I move past him.
    “Lilly is barking laughter in my kitchen and a group of people are around her. I part two out of the way and shake my fist at her and scream: “Why goddammit?! You’re a waste of my time!”
    “She does something unexpected: she kicks me in my genitals. The people gasp and most of them back away. Lilly is screaming above me, but I’m barely able to hear anything. There is a ringing in my ears, I feel as if I am running a fever, and I am on the verge of throwing up.
    ““You son of a bitch!” Lilly shouts. Now she is straddling me and her thin hand is over my mouth, and I can feel pills being jammed in. I swallow some of them, but roll over and manage to spit as much as I can out.
    “She isn’t in the kitchen anymore but few people have gathered around me and Harold is helping me up. I hear shouts and more objects being broken in my bedroom.
    ““I’ve called the cops,” Harold says to me. “That girl’s crazy! What the hell were you doing with her?”
    ““I don’t know,” I say to him. “She seemed to be doing all right when I met her a few months ago.”
    “When the cops arrive, Lilly throws a lamp at one of them and three wrestle her to the ground and cuff her.
    “Seeing this, the man from Vermont swings at one and knocks him off. Before he knows what hits him, a big cop who probably can bench press 250 or more, slams him into the wall and cuffs him.
    ““I hate you, Timmy!” Lilly screams as she is being hauled out of my apartment, followed by the guy from Vermont who can barely stand.

    “Three years later I am doing pretty good and have gotten my life back on track. The court hearings went well and I was able to slip the guillotine. Harold defended me in court and came across convincingly. Now and then I come back to that low point in my life and find myself laughing about it. As for Lilly’s writing... there isn’t much I can say. However, I am quite curious about her novel.

Chris Allen bio (2012)

    Chris Allen is 21 years old and started writing short stories at the age of eighteen. None of his short stories have been published yet, but has had some interesting work in printed journalism and even his own radio show where he guest starred, “friend of aliens,” Riley Martin from the Howard Stern Show.

Portrait of the Artist’s Unconscious, art by Aaron Wilder

Portrait of the Artist’s Unconscious, art by Aaron Wilder

the Potion

John Ragusa

    “Why don’t you take me out on a date this Saturday night?” Phoebe Fildress asked.
    “Because I don’t want to date you,” Mervin Dross said. “I don’t think I’d have a good time with you. Now will you please leave me alone, Phoebe?”
    “I can’t stop wanting to be with you, because you’re the love of my life.”
    “I don’t feel the same toward you.”
    “Come on, give me a chance. You might have fun with me.”
    “I doubt it. I don’t enjoy being with you.”
    “Why don’t you like me, Mervin?”
    “You’re just not my type, that’s all.”
    “Opposites attract. Don’t you know that?”
    “I don’t believe that. Two people have to be alike in order to be close to each other.”
    Phoebe took Mervin’s hand. “I can’t help it if I love you.”
    Mervin brushed her hand off his. “You’re just infatuated with me. You’ll grow out of it.”
    “Oh no. I’ll always want to be your lover.”
    “We just can’t be together. I don’t share your feelings.”
    “I won’t leave you alone until you date me.”
    “You’re not going to persuade me to take you out, so just forget it.”
    Phoebe and Mervin were talking in the office at work, where they had met. Mervin was a business executive and Phoebe was his secretary. She was always nagging him for a date, because she was smitten with him. But he didn’t care for her at all because she was ugly and annoying. He wished she was out of his hair.
    Mervin was a ladies’ man, but he didn’t go for Phoebe. She wasn’t pretty enough for him. He only liked beautiful girls.
    Every time Mervin worked with Phoebe, he had to ward off her advances. She was getting to be a pain in the neck.
    Phoebe was lonely; she needed a boyfriend to love. In her eyes, Mervin was the guy to romance, even if he didn’t like her; he would grow fond of her later on.
    Mervin tried to interest Phoebe in Hank, his best friend.
    “You can go out with Hank,” he told her. “He’s a nice guy.”
    “But he isn’t anything like you.”
    “He’ll show you a good time on a date. He’s a lot of fun.”
    Phoebe sighed. “I guess I could date him once and see how it works out.”
    “Now you’re talking! You’ll have yourself a swell time with Hank.”
    “I wish it was you instead.”
    “Forget about me. Focus on having a ball with Hank.”
    “I guess I’ll date him.”
    Mervin cornered Hank in the hallway. “Phoebe would like to date you, Hank. Why don’t you take her out?”
    “Phoebe . . . isn’t she your sweet, nice secretary?”
    “That’s her.”
    “I’ll take her out on a date. It should be great fun.”
    Hank took Phoebe out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, but she didn’t like anything on the menu, so she skipped eating supper. Afterward, they went bowling, but since Phoebe got too many gutter balls, she didn’t enjoy that, either.
    “I’m sorry this wasn’t much of a date, Hank,” she said. “I really like you. You’re a nice man, but we’re not meant for each other.”
    “Would you have rather been with Mervin?”
    Phoebe nodded, embarrassed. “He’s the only guy I love.”
    “He’s a lucky devil.”
    But Mervin didn’t feel lucky to be loved by Phoebe; he felt burdened. If only there was some way she would get off his back!
    Mervin made excuses not to date Phoebe. But she continued to pursue him. He was getting sick of all her attention.
    He treated her rudely, thinking she’d stop liking him because of it. But she still went on having a crush on him.
    He wouldn’t ever have feelings for Phoebe, but she didn’t seem to realize that, so he just started avoiding her when he could.
    One day, Mervin was sitting on a bench in the park, feeding the pigeons. An elderly man came along and sat down next to him.
    “Hi there, young fellow,” the old man said.
    “Good afternoon,” Mervin said.
    “I’ve heard that you’re trying to get a girl to lose interest in you because you don’t like her.”
    “That’s absolutely right,” Mervin said. “I’ve failed at it.”
    “I have a solution for you. Have you heard of a love potion?”
    “Indeed I have.”
    “Well, I’m offering to sell you a hate potion.”
    “What are you, an alchemist?”
    “Something like that. Do you want to buy the potion?”
    “Will it get Phoebe to stop loving me?”
    “That’s exactly what it will do.”
    “How much is it?”
    “One hundred dollars should cover it.”
    “I’ll take it.”
    Smiling, the old man reached into his pocket and took out a small vial. “This contains the hate potion. Mix it in any beverage, get Phoebe to drink it, and her love for you will vanish.”
    Mervin took a hundred-dollar bill from his wallet and gave it to the hoary man. The latter handed Mervin the vial.
    “So long, and I hope the potion helps you,” the old man said. Then he got up from the bench and walked away.
    Mervin couldn’t wait to use the potion on Phoebe.

    That night, Mervin had Phoebe over for dinner at his apartment. After the meal, she said, “I’m surprised that you asked me over for dinner tonight. I didn’t think you liked me.”
    “I’ve changed my mind about you because you’ve been so nice.”
    “That’s wonderful,” she said. “I’ll go powder my nose now. I’ll be back right away.”
    After Phoebe had gone to the powder room, Mervin put the potion in her glass of wine.
    When she got back, he said to her, “I’ve poured us some wine.”
    “Oh, that’s nice. I just love wine.”
    They clinked glasses and drank the liquor. Phoebe’s demeanor seemed to change.
    She said, “You know, I haven’t forgotten the way you treated me before. You’ve been very rude, and I hate you for it.”
    Mervin was delighted. The potion had worked; Phoebe no longer loved him. She’d stop trying to win his affections.
    “I hate you so much that I’m going to kill you,” Phoebe said. “You’ll be sorry you were mean to me.”
    She picked up her steak knife and stabbed Mervin in the heart with it.
    As he died, Mervin realized that he had done the wrong thing when he used the hate potion.

hanging bottles on display at a bar in Shanghai, Chine, copyright © 2005 - 2012 Janet Kuypers

used bottle in Bad Gastein Austria, copyright © 2003, 2012 Janet Kuypers


Lise Quintana

    “I can’t,” Lieber said.
    Lieber sat on the filthy couch, twisting one hand over the other as though trying to wash something nasty off them. He stank of greasy sweat and of at least two weeks sleeping behind dumpsters and eating half-rancid food.
    “Ah, whatever,” Dix said. He waved a dismissive hand in Leiber’s direction, but Leiber just hung his head and sniffled. Grow the fuck up.
    “No, I mean I won’t. It’s not going to happen. I mean, well it might happen, but not with me,” Lieber said, staring at his hands.
    What is he talking about? He suddenly grows a pair, but he can’t make a sentence that makes any goddamned sense?
    “Don’t forget,” Dix said. “You owe me.”
    “I guess, but I owe somebody else a lot more.”
    Dix’s scalp prickled. He pulled a folding chair up in front of the couch and sat down, his elbows on his knees, his face less than a foot from Leiber’s greasy, jaundiced mug. “A lot more? Asshole, you owe me your life.”
    “I know,” Lieber whispered down at his hands.
    Dix’s belly tightened. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. The job hadn’t even started, and he was getting that feeling of things spinning out of control toward disaster.
    “Who do you owe more than your life? It’s not Johnson. I know it’s not Hartford. Who?”
    “A woman.”
    Dix pulled a hand down his face, breathing deeply and shaking his head. His palms itched as he felt the whole job slip through them. He looked hard at Lieber, then delivered a slap that left a clear imprint across Lieber’s pale yellow chin and cheek.
    “You’re willing to fuck me over for some woman? You know, I should kill you right here, but I need you.”
    Lieber said nothing, and Dix’s stomach turned at the silver string of snot suspended from Leiber’s nose, dripping onto his pants. Leiber sniffled loudly, sucking the slime back in.
    “What are you doing?” Dix let his voice go soft, his own one-man version of good cop/bad cop. “You’re throwing it all away just for some piece of ass?”
    “No. It’s not like that. I owe her.”

    As the car crept down the side street, Lieber looked down the length of each industrial strip mall. Auto body shops, small machinists, storage places: the buildings looked like rusted-out vermin crouching in the headlights’ glare.
    “There it is,” Lieber said. “I remember that sign.” He pointed to a sign for the “Sisters of St. Anne Bakery,” so new that the white looked luminous in the surrounding gloom. They walked past the bakery sign as they went down the row of doors. Lieber led Dix to the last door in the row and knocked. A halo of light shone around the door as it opened. They passed inside, and Dix could see that some joker had scratched a skull onto the door.
    It wasn’t what he had expected. From what Lieber told him, he expected singing or white robes or some other happy clappy bullshit. This looked more like the one and only AA meeting he’d attended to satisfy his parole officer - a bare cinder block room that smelled of wet dust, two dozen folding chairs in a circle, the clammy air making him sweat even as he shivered. Near one wall, a tall, gaunt man stooped over a table, fussing with what looked like a lot of medical instruments. Next to him, a hot girl with a fresh scar in the shape of a Celtic knot on the back of her shoulder whispered into Tall Guy’s ear with her bee-stung, pierced lips. Tall Guy turned, and Dix could see that some animal had taken a swipe at his eye – three long scratches went from just above his eyebrow to the middle of his cheek. Whoa.
    “Hi, take a seat,” Tall Guy said without looking up from his work.
    “Thanks,” Lieber said. He tugged Dix’s sleeve, guiding him to the circle of seats. They sat with their backs to the door, and Dix turned a little to stare at the medical instruments again.
    “What the hell is this?” he hissed.
    “I told you. You’ll see. You’ll see why I can’t do it.”
    Thirty-six hours since this prick first said those words, and it just keeps getting weirder.
    As Leiber sat hissing in his ear, Dix felt a cold breeze on his back. He turned to look as the door opened to a heavyset, middle-aged woman whose bright copper hair and ill-fitting pantsuit reminded Dix of an overenthusiastic social worker or a grade school art teacher. She smiled at Dix and Lieber, then turned to Tall Guy.
    A man and woman skulked in like a couple of kicked dogs and stole over to a pair of chairs on the other side of the circle. Everyone shuffled in their seats trying not to look at each other, but Lieber stared at the redhead. Finally, he got up and walked over to her. In the uncarpeted, bare room their whispered conversation came across loud and clear.
    “Where’s-” Lieber started.
    “No, she’s done,” the redhead said. “It’s me, dear. But you did the right thing.”
    Lieber looked at Dix, who turned his head and looked at the other couple again. They both had the furtive look of people who know they shouldn’t be listening in but can’t help it. Before Lieber came back, four more people walked in and sat down. One guy looked like he’d spent time outside throwing up – his face pale and sweaty, the armpits of his shirt wet and wrinkled. His whole body shook, and he kept looking over at Tall Guy and making wet gasping noises.
    Finally, Lieber sat down again. He stared straight ahead, his mouth thin and tight. Dix’s hemmorhoids itched, and he squirmed in the cold metal chair to find a comfortable position. Five more minutes and if this whole deal doesn’t get a lot more clear, I’m out of here.
    “What the hell is this?” Dix hissed, looking around and squinting angrily at the one or two people who had turned in his direction when he spoke, daring them to react.
    “Not much longer,” Lieber said.
    “Can I have your attention?” Tall Guy said, holding up his hands. “Everyone, settle down. We’re about to begin.”
    Like it was a signal, six more people walked in the door and hurried toward seats, shrugging their shoulders and making apologetic faces at the people already sitting down. The redhead came forward into the middle of the circle, and Dix steeled himself for the kind of homey bullshit sermon he’d heard thousands of times from thousands of people. Ex cons, current cons, priests, wives of guys on the inside, more social workers than he could remember. And he never felt anything more than an ache in his ass and the feeling that most people did nothing in life but whine. This lady walked around the circle of people, holding out her hands and offering quieter, more subdued greetings than Dix expected from someone dressed like a brass band.
    When she came to Dix and Lieber, Lieber put his hands out and she said “Thank you. I know you’ve been here before, and I’m grateful that you came back.”
    Turning to Dix, she offered him her hands. He crossed his arms, shoved his hands into his armpits and looked away.
    “Thank you,” she said quietly. He looked back with a wiseass comeback on his lips, but she beamed a smile of unexpected beauty at him. She moved on, and Dix felt like an asshole for not having taken her hands. Would he look like a pussy if he got up now and went over to her? No, it was too late. She’d finished greeting everyone, and Dix had to sit, his face burning with shame and regret.
    “I’d like to thank you all,” she said in a quiet, powerful voice. “And I think that the sooner we get started, the sooner we all leave.”
    Tall Guy brought something that looked like a narrow dentist’s chair into the middle of the circle. The arms of the chair stuck out at right angles to the body, and the redhead sat down and made herself comfortable. Celtic Knot Chick swabbed iodine all over the redhead’s hands and arranged the medical instruments on a tray next to the chair. Dix looked at them, long, sharp and shiny, and a chill went through him.
    “You can save yourself. You can get up out of that chair,” Celtic Knot Chick said.
    “She saves others. She can’t save herself,” Tall Guy said, picking up a mallet and a six-inch long stainless steel spike.
    “What the hell is going on?” Dix whispered to Lieber, but before he could answer, the redhead looked up.
    “Don’t worry. You’re all going to be okay.” And she put her head down and closed her eyes as Tall Guy placed the tip of the spike on the back of her right hand.
    What the fuck?
    Before Dix could puzzle out what the redhead meant, Tall Guy raised the mallet and brought it down on the steel spike. Gasps echoed off the cinder block walls. A lightening bolt of pain shot through Dix’s body and dissipated just as fast, leaving the feeling of a burning emptiness at the core of his being. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw tears making their greasy way down Lieber’s face. The pale, sweaty man retched loudly and began a steady moan. The mallet came down again.
    Blood welled around the spike, running down the woman’s arm, soaking into the sleeve of her shirt. Her face twisted in agony, but no sound issued from her lips. Dix waited for the thick, animal smell of the blood, but it didn’t come. He couldn’t feel himself breathing. He couldn’t hear anything. The gasps of the assembled group as the mallet rose and fell, the sobs of those who wept, his own heartbeat – nothing made a sound. He tried to remember what his own heartbeat in his ears should sound like, should feel like in his chest, but he could not remember sound or taste or touch or smell. Only sight remained, and in his sight was this woman whose left hand was now being pierced with a steel spike, and whose blood ran over the bare concrete floor and whose agony he was meant to see because...but now he couldn’t remember that either.
    Dix rose from his chair, his hands out in front of him. They burned because he had not allowed her to bless him. Oh, God, the things he’d done, the things he was trying to force Lieber to do. He deserved the bone-deep misery of his life. This woman, this suburban soccer mom with her bad dye job and discount-store clothes, she had done nothing. He expected to be turned back, told to go back to his seat, but he wasn’t the only one moving forward to touch her.
    He lay one hand on her leg and reached out the other to catch the blood as it dripped from her elbow. He stared at the thick drops on his fingers, smeared them over his lips and eyes, across his cheeks. He reached out for more and put it in his mouth. The salty, coppery taste mixed with something primal and animal, and he closed his eyes and hung his head. The last clang of the mallet on the spike reverberated through the room.
    Still minutes passed before Dix could bring himself to open his eyes. A skinny, lank-haired blonde woman pulled the spike out of the redhead’s right hand and bathed it in a basin. A tall, good-looking guy in his late twenties tended her left hand. Both had shining, round scars on the backs of their own hands.
    Tall Guy and Celtic Knot Chick packed up their things, wiping away their own tears. Before walking out the door, they went to the redhead who kissed each of them on the forehead and whispered “Thank you.”
    Lieber knelt down next to Dix and whispered in his ear, but Dix couldn’t understand what he said. He watched as the two people wrapped the redhead’s hands in bandages and the words tumbled into his ear, and slowly Lieber’s bad breath and the damp chill of the room and his own heartbeat and the taste of his shame came back. The redhead turned to Dix and her lips parted in a strained smile.
    Lieber blushed. “I was just telling him about you and what it means.”
    “It had to be done,” she said, and closed her eyes. The man and woman helped her from the chair, and Lieber pulled Dix to his feet.
    “Come on. It’s time to go.”
    The two men went to their car and sat in the dark parking lot, staring at the stars.

Stress, art by Edward Michael O’Durr SupranowVicz

Stress, art by Edward Michael O’Durr SupranowVicz

Iowa county map

To Iowa

Robin Wyatt Dunn

Iowa state flag     Iowa, you boldest defender of Union, when will you come again to this our new war under our rivers and in the breath of each of us?

    You decided not to hang that judge in the ‘30s, god bless you, though he took your farms away.

    You’re the cruelest factory farmer, though it’s only because you do the most of it, have the most food and know how to share. And perhaps you’ll come to fairer animal husbandry first too, or second or third, as you came to race and gender equality.

    Iowa, tell me: what will it take? What if we take all your farms from you this time? Have we not already? When will your genial Midwestern demeanor give way to wails for our fallen constitutional pride? When will you join us in not only dissent but in revolution?

    Revolution, Iowa, you old fuddy duddy breadbasket, the scythe for the musket, the hamburger for the ration, again. Where can we dance, Iowa? Where can we sing?

    It’s not enough anymore, Iowa. You have to get up off your generous Iowa asses, bless them all. You believed in us so much. When New York was buying off grunts and dodging Civil War drafts, you sent them all, Iowa, you sent them all, believing in your hearts in this strange American dream dying now at our feet, you sent the flower of your young men, all of them, to war for union.

    What will it take, Iowa? Tell me, damn it, tell me so that I might know what letter to send that will reach your children. What word will stir their hearts from fond devotion to the heedless cry of the stars, this baleful whirl that has been set on us, and you can smell it there too, I know you can, though it may reach there last. Be first, Iowa. I would see your marshalls on their feet, your militias in their stands and your men and women in the streets, if you would be what we need, if you would astonish us all with your unimaginable loyalty again.

    Be Concord, damn you. Fire a shot, just into the sky. Remove your statehouses and read some Whitman in your baseball fields. Renetwork your laptops and set up a good e-democracy for us all to watch. Throw out the straw poll. Would you not bleed for the first democracy on Earth? One not built on slaves or ignorance?

    If Davenport became our couch, let Des Moines be our new agora, the town hall Lexington could never quite agree on. Did Kent State scare you that much? Will it only be women’s lib and gay rights forever? That deeper river has been waiting for you, Iowa, you little strange Mesopotamia. Dive into it, Iowa.

Baghlan, art by Aaron Wilder

Baghlan, art by Aaron Wilder

You’re Welcome

P. Keith Boran

    Mac was at the super market when the bomb dropped. There was no warning. No emergency broadcast system, no television interruption, no loud speaker announcement in the store – just the loudest boom, followed by a jarring, and most inconvenient, earthquake. The flash of the blast lit up the aisles, making everyone inside manifest their panic through a loud roar of screams. Mac would have died in the resulting calamity had he not been browsing the different brands of toothpaste (there are so many types and flavors) positioned just in front of a large window. The initial blast pushed the shelves over, knocking him to the floor, rendering him unable to move during the ensuing chaos.
    He could hear the shuffling footsteps, people trying to flee their congregated grocery carts. Their voices were wrought with anxiety, worried that their wireless devices no longer seemed to have any bars to communicate at present. They were trying to stay connected it seemed, trying to tell someone what was happening all around them. Mac heard one man stop, wasting a quick moment to snap a photo with his phone, proof of what he’d seen, and where he’d been, hoping it might impress a pretty girl someday. But all too soon, the lights flickered on, off, on, and then off again, much like a theatre troupes’ final bow for the evening.
    Mac tried to push the shelving up, but it was no use, for it seemed that the toothpaste was too much for him. He tried to crawl out as well, but one of his feet was pinned by a shelf that had dislodged during the fall; he was literally trapped beneath tiny mountains of Colgate and Crest. Mac called for help, hoping someone might stop to pull him out. But it was to no avail, Mac was invisible, forgotten; no one came to his rescue. People were concerned with their own survival, unable to deviate from their own hurried evacuations; they were rude, Mac noticed, no longer keeping up with society’s treasured pleasantries and manners as they pushed their way out of the supermarket; they were terrified, for they had come to purchase hamburger helper, oreos, and a case or two of warm beer; they hadn’t arrived prepared to die, and that’s not just something you spring on people all willy-nilly; they’ll revert to fight or flight. And right now, Mac noticed the flight all around him.
    After a few minutes, the noise subsided. Mac could still make out a few soft movements, a few moans made in pain and fear. “They must have been hurt in the blast,” Mac thought, as he kept trying to fight his way out from beneath the shelves of toothpaste. Since the lights had shut off, the the air conditioner had stopped as well, leaving the store silent and muggy. Mac waited, hoping the emergency lights would help him find a way out. They never did. In the approaching dark of twilight, Mac pushed, pulled, and heaved, trying to free himself from the mounds of toothpaste.
    Finally, Mac freed himself, cutting his trapped foot in the process. “Hello,” he yelled, “Is anyone still here?” He heard a faint reply emanate from the frozen food aisle. Limping slowly, Mac dragged himself to the freezers, and began to make his way towards the weakened voice. When he found her, she was sitting with her back to the freezer, her knees pulled up to her chest; she was crying. “It’s okay,” Mac whispered, “everything’s going to be fine.” But when the lady looked up, Mac saw that they were anything but okay. Her skin was covered in blotches, leaking what appeared to be pus. Her nose, eyes, mouth, and ears were all leaking blood. Dressed in jeans and a causal top (one Mac remembered from a recent Gap commercial on TV) the lady just shook her head as she continued to cry. “No we’re not,” she replied, “I’ve seen enough movies to know this was no ordinary bomb; it was one of those atomic ones.”
    “Oh,” Mac replied, “I see.” Sitting down across from her, Mac took a moment to process what the lady had just told him. “Then why did everyone run away,” Mac asked, “and run right out into the debris?” The lady began to wipe her eyes. “How should I know,” she replied, “but when I saw that flash, I knew it was the all-over, and that I was never leaving this store alive; and to think, I really thought I needed toilet paper and salad dressing a few hours ago; now, I couldn’t care less; I’m going to die for toilet paper and a bottle of blue cheese dressing.”
    Mac sat silently. After a moment, he slowly stood up. “I’ll be back in a minute,” he said, as he began to limp his way down the aisle. At the store’s front, Mac tried to look out into the parking lot, but found it too dark and cloudy to see much. But by what little Mac could see, he guessed the lady’s theory had been correct, for the parking lot was riddled with scorched out cars, mini-vans, and over-sized trucks and SUVs. Three aisles over, Mac finally found what he was looking for, grabbed the boxes, and began to make his way back when he felt a warm sensation in his nose. With his free hand, Mac reached up and touched it. When he pulled his fingers back, Mac noticed they were covered in blood. It wasn’t light, but dark red, almost black. On his way back to the freezers, Mac began to feel the same sensation in his eyes and ears too.
    When Mac found the woman again, she was no longer sitting, but lying down; her breathing had become more shallow, and her skin was badly damaged. Sitting next her, Mac put down two boxes of donuts: one chocolate, one powder. “I figured if we’re going to die anyway,” he said as he shrugged, “we might as well; I mean, I love these things.” Without pause, Mac opened the box of powdered donuts and began to eat. The lady, although weak, sat up and began to pry open the box of chocolate ones.
    As they sat and ate, they both smiled to one another. “What,” Mac finally asked, “what’s so funny?” The woman shook her head as she swallowed another donut. “I was on a diet,” she replied, “hoping to impress this guy I kind of liked and all; I guess that’s a bit ridiculous now, huh?” Mac smiled. “Yeah,” he said, “I was thinking that I preferred this to a heart attack, you know?” The girl nodded excitedly. “Or cancer,” she replied, “or a stroke even.” Mac nodded. “Yeah,” he replied, “or Alzheimer’s; man, would that suck.” The girl nodded as she ate another donut. “I’m glad I’m not alone,” the lady said solemnly after a moment spent eating in silence, “you know, I think that would have been much worse; so, thanks, I guess, thanks for staying.” She leaned on his shoulder. Her skin had become so damaged that you could no longer tell what color it had once been, and her face was covered in blood. She began to cough violently. Putting his arm around her, Mac noticed blotches budding on his skin as well. He sat beside her, clutching her close, waiting for the violent coughing to subside before he replied softly, “You’re welcome.”

Spontaneous20111007 Drawing, art by the HA!man of South Africa

Spontaneous20111007 Drawing, art by the HA!man of South Africa

Strike Not

Scott Archer Jones

    Las esperanzas engordan pero no maintienen. Hope fattens, but it doesn’t keep you alive.
    It turned noon as David Alvarez raised the roof of the Crusher. With short little explosive sounds, the Rambler lying in the Crusher’s bed released tension from its new shape, as if it tried to pop its bones back into its joints. The compressor topped up its pressure, and when the gauge showed right for a fast restart, David turned off the diesel.
    He removed his earmuffs and hardhat, and the sound in the air flipped from deadness to singing quiet. At that moment, in the time between the crush and the removal of the metal block that had been a car, things felt preternaturally frozen. Then a woman cried out.

    They had parked the Crusher in a byway beside the river road, on a tributary that fed down east into the Rio Grande. The little river carried only snowmelt just now, fast but thin, quick and not yet quiet as it would be in summer. Cottonwoods stood up shaggy and gray on all sides, the emigrants who had survived in a dry canyon by burrowing their feet into the river.
    They’d lined the trucks up with safety cones laid out front and back. Mickey Johnstone acted as flagman for traffic that crawled up from the flats far below. The waiting cars had been sorted into the communal parking lot of a diner across the way, and the crew stacked their auto victims one by on onto the transport semi parked downhill.
    The sun held that bright sharpness that cut through with no weight. The cold air bit at their ears and noses. Real spring waited for shade; the cottonwoods had just flashed out their first sign of leaves. Across a wooden bridge and under its own naked trees, an adobe settled into the ground. The cry had come from the house.
    David and the others stared across the stream. They had all heard it. They all wondered what trouble a woman had. The closed windows and doors of the adobe said nothing.
    With the Rambler onboard its transport, David broke his crew for lunch. He gave Frankie five dollars and asked for a burger from the diner. The men strode stiff legged across the road to their meal, left their boss at the Crusher. He opened a toolbox in the pickup and fished out a grease gun. With one eye on the adobe, he sidestepped around the Crusher, greased fittings that didn’t need attention. He twitched his head, more than he had to, back at the house.
    Like most houses on the river road, the adobe bore generational marks, but this one had been scarred by different families come and gone, from folks that had drifted in and then out. The core of the house stood square, with damaged plaster and a bad roof drain, a canaleja with its boards askew and seams opened. They had built a lean-to addition out of wood on the upriver side, and a second addition downriver, out of cinder block. Two vehicles stood in front – A Ram pickup, covered in dust but quite new, and a white Neon, showing its battered fenders and trunk to the road. The real king of the house, a grey dish for satellite TV, poised on the roof pointing south.
    Before David had worked all the way around the Crusher, the screen door of the adobe banged open and a man strolled out. He stood beneath the porch and stretched, then ambled into the light. Taller than six foot, solid-built and big across the shoulders. He scratched a beard, grey and brown, with a bit of curliness to it. His eyes lurked behind a beaky nose, concealed under a cap. The man strode to the truck through the sagging yard gate, opened his door and slid in. He slammed it behind him, and backed out with a spray of dust. Within a moment he disappeared down the road towards the Rio Grande.
    While waiting for his crew David checked the fluids for the diesel and then unbuttoned the metal cover to an auxiliary pump that had broken down. His brain wouldn’t leave him alone. Mierda, the feeling from that house. Just like before. A man should do something. No fix would make it right. To try?
    Resolved, he turned from the pump and marched quick to the bridge, across it and the stream to the driveway of the house. He slowed past the dead flowers in their tubs on the porch. Keeping back two respectful steps from the door, he leaned forward and knocked. No sound from inside – he scuffed his boot on the sand that dusted the porch and then knocked again.
    He barely heard a shuffle, like a whisper or a little prayer. Someone stood on the other side of the door, waited. He leaned forward and knocked, soft. The door crept open; a woman barely revealed, hiding in the gloom. David squinted to see her in the dark as he stood out on the bright porch. She held the door half open, with her shoulder and hip behind.
    “Hello, I’m the foreman for the crew there. I know we’ve been making a lot of noise this morning. I hope it hasn’t disturbed you.”
    She inched forward, and the door opened wider. She stood shorter than David’s height, five and a half feet, and she was thin. He knew what she could see, a man in coveralls, with a balding, shaved head, big through the shoulders, with the paunch of a middle-aged workman. He pulled his neck in and ducked his head so he would appear less physical.
    “I know it’s noisy, and it will be for awhile more this afternoon. I hope we haven’t been disturbing you.” She had long dark hair that lay tangled on the right shoulder, pulled back around from the left side of her face.
    She half-stepped forward and let the door open beside her. “No, it’s no trouble. You haven’t bothered us.” He could see now that no one stood behind her. He had a chance.
    “We don’t often work right beside someone’s house unless they are giving us a car to crush. I know we can cause some noise and some dust.”
    She replied with more of a hum or ahem than actual words. She lingered back in there, concealed by a dark room. David wanted a better view of her.
    He knew he appeared bear-like to her, that his mustache hid his face. He wrinkled his forehead. “See, we’re required by the Department to let people know who we are, in case there are any complaints or we haven’t cleaned up or something. Let me leave you my card. It’s got the number of our office on it.” He fumbled in his coveralls pocket, came up with his wallet, dug out a business card.
    She moved forward to the screen door and opened it a crack. He inched forward, card extended. She was white, not only Anglo, but also pale. Her hair, full and dark, looked unkempt but not dirty. Her face, without a sign of makeup, drawn, emaciated, and her lips, sad thin lines turned down across her face.
    She reached around the edge of the screen door and pinched the card between thin fingers and thumb. “Thank you.” Even as she retreated back into the house and closed the screen, David could see her. Her hair swung back from the right side of her face. He glimpsed a cheek dark and bruised, and a new red highlight up around the eye. The door closed. The lock clicked.
    The man in the truck, he must be left handed.

    Across the little bridge, he found his crew straggling back from lunch, smoking and laughing together as they crossed the blacktop. Frankie gave him his burger wrapped in paper, and forty-three cents in change. He also gave David a quizzical glance. “So, you were over at the house. Maybe you were visiting an abularia, no?
    “No, just saying hi.”
    “David,” said Matt, “I wouldn’t be messing around that house. In the diner they say que the man there, he is muncho malo.”
    “Why did they tell you?”
    “We asked.” The guys gazed down at the ground or away.
    “Well, that muncho malo is a big man because he hits women. I didn’t talk to him, but I saw her, gave her my card.”
    “Porqué you would give her your card. How did you get cards? You never gave us no card.”
    David ignored that. “It was just to get her to open the door, to see what was going on. I told her we were required to give out phone numbers if there was a complaint.”
    “Sí, like we would help the guys in Santa Fe bust our chops, by wrapping up complaints like presents. But what about the woman?”
    “What about her?”
    The men shuffled their feet, gazed down the road. Matt broke first. “But, in the diner, they did say that tipo, he does las luchas on her, and nobody will say nothing to him. They say it’s not their business, but in the diner they all chur talk about the business in that house.”
    David stared levelly at Matt, then said, “Well, back to it. Achaques quire la muerte.” Their white crew-member Mickey wrinkled his forehead, so David added, “Death needs no excuses – but we will if we don’t get back to work.”

    By mid afternoon they had demolished all the cars and loaded them up on transport. The crew raked up the litter from their crushing. David stood, hands on his hips, watched the blank face of the adobe. After some consideration he said to Frankie, “I think I’ll get some water to prime the broke pump. When you’re done, get Mickey to load the tractor. I’ll be back before you’re finished. Then we’ll all go down to the highway yard to park for the night.” Lame excuse. Who needed water for a busted pump?
    He trudged once again to the adobe’s door and knocked. Again, she opened it, and again stood back in the shadow, the dark of that house. David said, “Hi. I was here earlier. I wonder if I could trouble you for a bucket of water? We need to start a pump, and I don’t want to use water from the river because of the sand.”
    She let a silence hang between them. He knew that silence.
    She nodded. She opened the screen door. “Ok. You’d better come in to get it.” He scuffed his boots on the mat, and then followed her in, into the cuartito. The room owned sad furniture with round sags and depressions, conforming to where people had dumped their bodies down. A large, newish TV loomed in the corner, with speakers scattered around it. A swinging door sagged in the corner, led into the kitchen. She glanced back over her shoulder at him, and then shambled into the cocina through the louvered door. It banged behind her. Diffident, he trudged across the room, pulled the door back. He could smell old bacon grease.
    She shuffled into the corner of the room, removed a mop from a bucket, then it at the sink. David stood back across the room from her, and said, “That’s a bad bruise you’ve got.”
    The only sound in the room was the water rushing into the bucket. In a small voice, she said, “I walked into a door.”
    “The door walked into you twice, on two separate days.”
    She turned from the sink with the bucket bail in both hands. With a step forward she set it on the table between them. It sloshed water back and forth. She flashed her eyes up at him. “That wouldn’t be for you to say, would it?”
    “Listen, in these rincónes, there is only one thing you can do. Get out.”
    A long pause. She stared unflinching at him. Under the florescent lights, the mark on her face appeared much worse, green around the edges. “Assuming I had a reason to get out, where would I go? Where would we go?” He glanced around the dingy kitchen, with its tiny window and its drainer full of plastic dishes.
    Now that he wasn’t fixated on her, David could see children’s toys shoveled into one corner of the room and kid cups on the table. “You can’t go on like this forever. There must be some place.”
    “You’d better go,” she said. She pointed at the bucket and water. “The kids will be back real soon. They might tell my husband there someone had been in the house.” He hefted up the plastic pail of water. As he reached the front door, she said, “I need the bucket back.”
    He stood in the doorway. “Look, you don’t know me, but you have my number now. If you need me to drive you somewhere.” An empty gesture. Said for her, or him?

    The crew was ready to go when he got back to the Crusher. He poured the water on the ground near a tire, out of sight of the adobe. Then he handed the bucket to Mickey. “Set this down on the porch of the casita over there. Then lead by taking the first semi down the canyon.”

Rogue Boulder, photograph by Brian Hosey and Lauren Braden

Rogue Boulder, photograph by Brian Hosey and Lauren Braden


Amelia Holden

    Teacher pushes the alarm snooze button, rolls over, remembers parent teacher conferences tonight. Teacher throws cover off and trudges to the shower.
    In the shower, Teacher thinks about Jamie and all the help he needs in class, the cloud that follows him. Teacher thinks of Kyle and the recent drug arrest. Little Carly comes to mind—will her parents be there? Carly struggles daily with just keeping notes, but always tries—always smiles. Kayley’s pregnancy. Jeff’s attitude. Teacher turns the shower off, reaches for the towel, and dries off while staring in the mirror.
    Bleary eyes, wrinkles—are they deeper? I’m old, Teacher thinks. Who cares what I look like? Silent dressing. Button-down shirt with the dark blue tie and brown slacks. Yes, perfect. A pasted smile in the mirror. Two cups of coffee. Alone at the table. A brief glimpse at the photo of Jane. Three months, six days, four hours, Edmonds glances at his watch and the tiny hands...and eight minutes...last breath. Cancer. He whispers a good-bye. A tear brushed away by sunglasses. Teacher leaves home for the sixteen hour day.
    Teacher teaches. Wry humor. Some get it and others—get it later. But some never do. Like the real world. Lunch in the lounge. Others bitch. Teacher eats. Teacher reads student work and writes and grades. Teacher smiles and encourages and pats on the back and counsels and disciplines and disciplines some more because Cody doesn’t get enough attention from his parents at home. Teacher comforts cheerleader about rumors. Teacher never stops...teaching.
    Teacher enters grades, double-checks grades, and then prints them. Some parents care enough to see them. Most don’t come. Teacher walks to the Commons area with briefcase and grades and all of the answers.
    Noise. Congregating adults socializing. Where are the ones I need to see the most? Teacher asks.
    Table set up with sign-in sheet and pens and papers. First parents. Smiles and nods and thank-yous for coming. Yes, Jill is great and turns in her work on time. Yes, she’s a model student. Of course, I’m glad to have her in class.
    Wait. Grade. Breathe. Try to rid the stale pizza breath with spearmint gum and lukewarm water.
    Wait. Walk. Stretch. Exchange waves with Mr. Principal.
    Sit. Think. What the Hell am I doing here?
    Next parents. John could do better, but he doesn’t apply himself. Yes, we’ve told him that at home. Looks to John by all present adults. Rolling eyes. John! Thank-yous for coming.
    Where is Jamie’s mom? He needs attention and love and a father because Teacher knows Dad died two years ago. Where’s his mom? Does she know about the drug rumors? Teacher worries.
    Lisa’s parents. Lisa is addicted to her cell phone and finds that more important than literature. We know and heads nod as Lisa continues texting without looking up. Maybe she did—yes, she did. Sheepish, knowing smile on her face. Teacher starts to offer solution, but Mom decides taking the cell phone away makes the parents more miserable than Lisa. Idiots! Teacher doesn’t really say that. Thank you.
    Sit. Wait. Retire. Retire? But these kids need you—right?
    Who else will love them and discipline them and teach them that getting high or having sex or drinking and driving or committing suicide are not going to solve their problems? Who else will teach them about Holden Caulfield and why life is important and why they matter? Who else will show them that technology can’t possibly replace a book and characters and themes and lessons that live forever? Shit.
    Student teacher from down the hall smiles at Teacher and Teacher politely waves. Student teacher pronounces Steinbeck “Steen-beck” and fucks up great literature. How else will these students get an education if Teacher abandons them?
    Wait. Drink water. Look around. Grade. Kyle’s parents. Good!
    Crying. Drugs. Rehab. Kyle’s failing your class. Yes, Teacher says. But I want to help. I want to work with him—if he’s willing to work. When will he return? At least two months. Crying. Teacher cries, too. We’ll do what we can and they all nod. Thank-yous.
    Mr. Principal appears out of nowhere. Kyle will fail. Teacher opens mouth, but Mr. Principal assures him that Kyle is a lost cause and won’t make up the missing work or actually come back to school. Do what you can. Well, shit—why? Teacher doesn’t really say that.
    Why are you here? No child left behind. No teacher moving forward. No child being saved or helped. What the hell are adults for anymore? What’s an adult? Hell—these kids have kids.
    Sit. Stand. Look busy. Grade some more and stay busy. Butt sleeps, hands freeze. Fake smiles and some more nice people.
    Mr. Principal mingles. He’s younger and smiles a lot and knows the lingo. Same stuff Teacher’s heard for two decades. Same stuff, different labels. Politically correct crap.
    Cold handshake with Kayley’s mom. Red eyes, dark circles, tired smiles. Dad refused to show up because he’s pissed at Kayley. Mom cries during the explanation. Dad’s embarrassed. Teacher nods and sympathizes. Homebound? When? Of course, I’ll send her work, but she’ll need help to complete it and be ready for the skills exam at the end of the semester. Me, volunteer? Uh. Um. I’ll speak with our social worker and administration about coordinating something. Mom lashes out—the baby’s daddy’s reputation hasn’t been tarnished! The star running back—Teacher gulps and reaches to pat her hand and calm the explosion as the voice shrapnel penetrates the conferences surrounding them. No privacy. Pain and humiliation. Chairs screech backwards and Mom and Kayley hurry away with whispered apologies.
    Oh my God. Teacher frowns. Mom’s right. Life sucks. But Teacher’s known that for years. How long have I been at this?
    Sip water. Adjust tie. Redirect lost parent to Math department. Parent apologizes too much.
    Mr. Principal schmoozes. Teacher scowls on the inside at Mr. Principal—and his kind. Scores instead of scholars. Numbers on tests instead of knowledge. Leave no child behind? Look at the adult population...Do they think? Do they analyze? Teacher muses: Grab someone off the street and ask them about the universal theme, character development, and artistic imagery with words found in a contemporary literature piece and ask them to contemplate the artistic reflection of our postmodern world—and forget about it. People don’t read. Yet every single child must or else...Teacher fails? Everyone else in their lives can fail them—but Teacher? Consequences. Accountability.
    Teacher needs fresh air, but survives on stale. Teacher tries the coffee, but it’s too weak to stand up to the evening’s mess.
    Former student surprises Teacher. Thank you, she says. For what? You made my junior year matter. You cared about, you know, what I said and you, like, loved that one essay I wrote and I totally kept it—yeah, for like, all these years. Teacher smiles at student. Teacher’s memory of student stays fuzzy, but “all these years” equals four. Teacher smiles. She gives awkward hug and ‘bye and disappears.
    A ripple in the pond?
    Brock’s parents interrupt now-forming-memory of former student. Brock grins. Ass. Mom and Dad steer him to the outside chair at the table and smile. They know Brock’s an ass. Nope, no—check that. Earnest smiles of delight, not knowing. Geez. Brock offers plenty of input during class, yes. Teacher is tactful. Brock fist bumps a passing friend. No brain, but he’s a popular shit. Future leader of this godforsaken country. Teacher summarizes, quips, and parents chuckle. Idiots. Just let us know if we ever need to ground him for that smart-ass mouth of his, parents offer with mock-serious eyebrow—but don’t mean it. Thank you so much.
    Clock ticks and finally hits the right number. No Jeff parents. No sign of Carly’s. None of the other dozens of parents needed.
    Teacher drives home. Teacher unwinds with a beer and Hemingway.
    Teacher arrives at school the next morning with a new student teacher assigned to him. Mr. Principal assures Teacher that Allison will be terrific. Yea, Allison.
    Student teacher arrives early the following morning. Allison smiles and observes and Teacher teaches. Allison is literate. Allison demonstrates knowledge and knows Goethe is pronounced “Ger-ta.” Allison learns students’ names by second day. Allison talks and laughs with them. Teacher smiles and observes Allison learning—and teaching. Allison leans over shoulders, corrects writing with love, and smiles.
    Teacher conferences privately at the end of the second day. Teacher smiles at Allison’s eager questions, answers them with ease and experience. Reality. Not ivory tower. Close-up answers, not distant legislator-ese ignorance. Allison listens, writes, smiles. Teacher sighs, smiles. Allison says, “Thank you—this is the best stuff, this experience. See you tomorrow.” Teacher says, “I’ll be here.”
    Teacher reflects on the drive home. Teacher arrives to utter silence, drops the keys on the hook by the door, and looks again at Jane. Teacher whispers, “No retirement yet, hon. I know you’re not surprised after today. Some of them need me.”

Amelia Holden Bio (20121026)

    Amelia Holden is a high school English teacher and graduate student who writes because she feels her students deserve better than Twilight. She is happily married and plays Super Woman to her son’s brilliant Incredibly Hulk portrayal. She is currently finishing her first novel.

You Check is In the Mail

Bob Johnston

Case No. GC834982        Lafferty, Thomas J.

Male        White        65        U.S. citizen

    He limped slowly around the room. One step from the sink to the bed, two steps along the bed, one step to the flyspecked window, and back to the sink. Each time he went to the window, he peered out into the street. Dark out there, dirty brown fog, street lights already on at four o’clock.
    He shivered and turned up the collar of his sweater, a frayed gray cardigan, elbow-patched and missing three buttons. Beneath the sweater he wore insulated gray coveralls. Above the collar, a skinny neck led to a gray-frosted face and a sparse growth of white hair. A yellow-stained moustache and light blue eyes were the only touches of color.
    He stopped pacing and sat on a straight chair by the window, where he could watch the street. A red-covered Bible rested on a box beside the chair. He put on a pair of cracked glasses and picked up the Bible. He couldn’t make out the small print in the dim light from the window. A single light bulb hung in the center of the room. He limped over and pulled the switch cord. Nothing happened, and he batted the cord and swore under his breath. Then he went out into the hall to check the mailbox. Empty.
    Back in the room, he opened a cupboard and took inventory. One can of chicken soup, one can of dog food, half a loaf of bread, and two potatoes. He opened the can of soup and poured it into a pan, added a canful of water, and carried the pan over to a hot plate set on a card table. He stared at the hot plate for a few seconds, then sat down at the table and laid his head on his hands.
    At the window again, he peered out into the street. Nothing moved, and the fog seemed even darker. The pan of soup still sat on the hot plate. He pulled the chair over to the table, sat down, and ate the cold soup slowly, getting up twice to check the mailbox. Then he rolled a cigarette and smoked it down to the end.
    Footsteps and a rattle outside the door brought him to his feet. He stumbled toward the door, catching himself on the knob. The mailbox now contained three envelopes and two circulars. He carried the mail over to the window and examined all five pieces carefully. The first was an official-looking envelope. He held it up to the light, trying to see what was inside. Then the other mail. One letter addressed to him personally, Dear Mr. Lafferty, telling of a wonderful prize that could be his just for making an appointment to look at a building lot near Bear Lake. “Both husband and wife must be present.” Another letter urging him to save his soul and send a contribution to the Moral Crusade for Christ. An ad for Heavenly Hibiscus perfume, guaranteed to drive the man in your life mad with desire or your money cheerfully refunded. A batch of coupons for dog food, pizza, deodorant, popcorn, and other assorted goodies. He tore out the dog food coupons, then bundled up the rest of the ads and two of the letters and threw them into the wastebasket.
    He picked up the empty pan and the spoon, and rinsed them in cold water with a rusty piece of steel wool. A chunk of something was stuck to his moustache. He picked it off, decided it was chicken, and ate it.
    Again at the window, he picked up the government envelope, tore it carefully across one end, and removed a single sheet of paper. He turned the sheet to catch the fading light and squinted through his glasses, but he could barely make out the lines of type.
    Holding the letter by one corner, he walked out through the hall, down the front steps, and out under the yellow street light. He raised the letter toward the light and read it through. Then he read it again. The mail truck was still parked down the block. He raised the letter above his head, shook his fist at the truck, and shouted in a cracked voice FUCKING BUREAUCRATS!
    He limped back into the room and slammed the door. The dog food coupons fluttered to the floor. He picked them up and set them on the card table. Then he lay down on the bed and watched the fog seep into the room.

Bob Johnston bio

    Bob Johnston is a retired petroleum engineer and translator of Russian scientific literature. He waited until his sixtieth year to start writing fiction and poetry, and over the next thirty years he has been trying to catch up. He lives in the original Las Vegas, New Mexico with his wife, three cats, and some hope of completing his memoirs and the Great American Novel.

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

    The magazine Children Churches and Daddies is Copyright © 1993 through 2013 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 2013 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.