welcome to volume 163 (the March-April 2019 issue)
of Down in the Dirt magazine


<



Down in the Dirt

internet issn 1554-9666 (for the print issn 1554-9623)
http://scars.tv/dirt, or http://scars.tv & click Down in the Dirt
Janet K., Editor



Table of Contents

AUTHOR TITLE
Gregg Dotoli Vow
Geomart Sale
Travis Green Fire Spinning Kingdom
Serene Sounds
You Are No Son Of Mine
Marlon Jackson Beauty All Around Me
Marc McMahon Bound
Annin Brothers The Ghostly Girl
Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz A Fine Madness art
Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal The Living Zombie
Die in a Blue Suit
Amanda Steel Oceans of you
Judi Dettorre The Prince?
Harrison Jackson Concrete Serenity
Armine Zohrabian Nothing
Paul Burnham The Brazilian Slave
Denny E. Marshall Pipe Dreams drawing
Conjeevaram J. Nandakumar Parallel Universe
Thomas Cannon Job Training Program
Griffin Silver Hyena Teeth
Norm Hudson A Need to Murder
Joséphine Sourgnes A work of regret
Sweetness and Illusions
Susie Gharib Blue and White
Allan Onik The Forest
Alberto J. Montero Bees
In the maelstrom
Ocean delta blues
I see you
Nick Smith Flash Fiction
Eli Tomitch Warriors
Erica Marchant The Tides
David Russell Dark Blue Photosketch 0001 art
C. Angelo Caci Bad was Good
Wes Heine DSCN1531 art
Victoria Otto Franzese Sunny and Luna
Ode to a Poetry Teacher
Counting Backwards
Ben Rasnic A Day at the Recycling Center
John (“Jake”) Cosmos Aller Unhinged Lunatic Howling at the Full Moon
Snarling Cup of Coffee
John F. McMullen EA Poe -- Cyptographer
Caitlin Cherniak Breathe
Free Bodies
Usha
Julie Henderson Different Forms of Freedom
Helen Bird, “Inksanity” Yellow Brick Road Two ink drawing
Mike L. Nichols Lullaby
Resurrection
Tracey Underwood The Hand
Olivier Schopfer Roundabout photography
Ana M. Fores Tamayo He, Unknown
Mert Feyzioglu Behind Those Eyes
J. Ray Paradiso Sleeping art
Corrina-Corinna A Rose by Any Other Name
Don Stoll Coral
Eleanor Leonne Bennett Spot 4044 photography
Grant Guy Just Goddamn Words
Vaughan Wesley Be Real
Wolf Hunting
Larry Lefkowitz Madonna’s Fashion
Jake Ryvicker Hidingsilence
Keith LaFountaine Tonight, She Comes Home
Carolyn Poindexter Simplicity graphite drawing
Annette Gagliardi Hard as Stone
Mark Ryan Bees’s Knees
Allan Onik The Giver
Eric Robert Nolan hens staring upward
Milenko Županović Burned Bridges
Circle
Prison of infinity
Marlon Jackson In The Heart
True Light
Janet Kuypers I Want
Medication
My motherMy motherMy mother
more than we should have
New to Chicago

 
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Vow

Gregg Dotoli

annual elan
Spring’s gift arrives
with natures cry’s
as winter dies

green buds coaxed open
by delicate velvet rains
yellow rays and moonlight

bouquets of colors and scents
form rich and strange elegance
MoonFlower and Rose sway to dusks sleepy way

golden wren sings
of Summers long ago
in Springs tow

sandy star strolls
below pear gold moons
and distant croons
soft surf notes of lazy tide
whisper life’s the ride
to be is free

your soul rockets with
crystal red trails of micro-star

returning melting dripping
perfect ruby shaped hearts
red circles then becomes you
on your new green earth












Geomart Sale

Gregg Dotoli

geo isle 1
all items for sale
homes/shelter/Food/clothes
beauty/land/transport/templove
the grinning goat nudges us
go ahead

non geo isle 2
that is expensive (*Pick You Pronoun)
jettison control human
your consumption is contagious
your consumption is deadly

Dues ex machina
Drop that product, it’s not for sale
thunders from the light above
as the cloven beast scuttles

I gave you what you need
a saddened God looks on

*he/she/them/it












Fire Spinning Kingdom

Travis Green

I sit on the rooftop of my home
above the city traffic breezing through
the stark streets, their shadowed tires
playing various musical notes upon the
glorious surface, swirling smoke from engines
twisting and twirling in the rising air, the deep
shifting sun wearing it’s majestic crown, gazing
at the beautiful scenery glittering in its eyesight,
my bright brown eyes staring at a mountain
of lyrical content, a stunning sheet filled with
blazing melodies, a magnificent instrument strumming
its skills upon a drumming landscape, an amazing vocal
pattern hip hopping into a dominion of amplifying layers,
each time changing into a collection of crystal clears,
resurrecting a roaring sea of swagging infinities flying
into future constellations, while suntanned trees swing
a swift beat, rocking in outer worlds far from earth,
marching leaves sinking in magical passion and dancing
dreams, breathing in the eternal existence of tranquility,
letting it seep inside their frames and intensify their minds,
letting its philosophy of uncharted depths exhale a wave
of genius creations, a glowing gem existing beyond Venus and Mars,
further distant than any galaxies known to mankind. As I sit on this
creative platform of timeless brilliance, I can feel the echoing breeze
whispering in my ears, its smooth monotone sounds stinging my soul,
every essence of my being, igniting a fire spinning kingdom of raw
and gritty poetry inside my heart.












Serene Sounds

Travis Green

I want to feel the serene sounds of the hovering breeze
caress my chiseled cheeks and my inner core, curl up against
my hazel eyes and eyebrows, its equations of existence speaking
poetic notes within my eternal being, reciting a thousand shimmering
languages over my body and soul, the way my cracking muscles rise
into a circle of galaxies, farther outward in a realm in sync with Saturn,
mirroring a marvelous maze of infinite, single-spaced designs highlighting
the lucid landscape, illuminating its extreme brilliance and fiery passion,
sparking a range of exotic highs intensifying in flight across the horizon,
adding spectacular two-dimensional creations in various angles, multiplying
and dividing, subtracting and combining into an immense infinity of captivating
chemistries spanning the universe, how the drumbeating trees soar into a jubilant song,
their magnificent leaves harmonizing with the internal rhyme, lifting towards the
enchanting sky, feeling the warm air slowly shifting into a breaking beat, a rebirth of
hypnotizing depths blazing its existence beyond reality, distant from the diminishing
downbeats that used to pound its spinning pain upon torn dimensions, drifting into a
dangling glossary of worthless words echoing through the night. I could feel the blasting
intensity drumming its bass lines within this magical kingdom, every amazing thought
sifting inside my heart.












You Are No Son Of Mine

Travis Green

Above my home where the dark clouds
curl into the sky clinging for a home to
rest their sleepy depiction, shadowed
trees hum sweet lullabies, lonely leaves
breathe in the sad song of fallen dimensions,
letting its lifeless view roll upon their frame,
the chilled breeze sailing in the skyline,
as I scramble my way out of a filthy dumpster,
a mountain of disintegrating mess covering
my broken body, hovering flies surrounding
sticky strips of spaghetti, moldy mashed potatoes,
and moldy chicken pot pies, while my mind sunk
into traveled thoughts, bruised hands pressed against
the creases in my forehead, allowing my existence
to feel the stranded scars streaming in various mazes,
dull eyes flushed with a burning disorder, aching cheeks
and checks nestled in darkening chamber corners, buried
hips and thighs uprooting in somber blades of grass,
thorned, torn, and destroyed in different worlds. As I stood
on the slippery pavement staring at the ruffled scenery
in my sight, spinning streetlights thickening into slouched
positions, screaming sidewalks spilling sadness and madness
in the drenched air, razor-edged buildings inching into crushed
centimeters, jumbled meters, damned yards. I replayed the sober
images in my head, the way my young brown-skinned mom said
I would never amount to anything, how I could hear the raged
noun retard sift into the distance, its flaming mechanics
accelerating into screeching sounds, the way she hurled
her fists at my smashed face, every vibrant language
breaking apart, slamming shut into closed infinites,
snagged contractions and gerunds diverging into
shuddering double spaced negatives, the way she threw
my lingering body inside the trash dumpster, her sharp
scarlet words, You are no son of mine, ricocheting off
savage surfaces, sparking my soul in a calamity
of choking diction.












Beauty All Around Me

Marlon Jackson

I see beauty all around me
It shows in many ways.
Internally and Externally
Still life continues every day...
...the beauty all around me.

Bound












Bound

Marc McMahon

Locked in a box
Wrapped with one thousand chains
Your soul tries to escape
Through a pinhole












The Ghostly Girl

Annin Brothers
Dedicated to a girl who suffered from infant cerebral paralysis

    “What’re you gazing at...? What’s there outside the window...?”
    “Nothing.”
    “Nothing? Looking at nothing?”
    “It’s her... my... my ghostly girl.”
    Beloved women... They, like a sudden downpour, come, turn you into themselves, and vanish... leaving you... leaving you alone with your own shadow called sorrow.
    He was waiting... waiting... Day by day he was just waiting and nothing more. He was bound by waiting. A soothsayer said, “Wait.” And he resigned himself to that word as if it locked up his fate. And he was waiting... endlessly... hopelessly. Whiskey didn’t save. Did stupefy but didn’t save. Whiskey as well as sorrow demanded a nip the morning after. And he took it and waited...
    The girl outside the window... like the crookedness in space... as if once a furious wind bent and broke her, and created one more irregular geometrical figure, a figure giving all regular shapes and features the finger, a figure weeping bitterly for such an egocentrism.
    The girl outside the window... like a black-eyed child of witchcraft... as if once a dark night peered into her face and presented her, for mockery or for blindness (dare ugliness flirt with hope?), with two dazzling agates.
    The girl outside the window... like splashes of fire in the air... as if once a rebellious flame arose inside her, a flame betraying itself with golden locks freely dancing on the waves of the wind – how violent their desire to break loose from the bondage of ugliness is! Ugliness... The girl outside the window is not told this word. She, like everyone, has a name.
    His friends knew what he needed. Once he said, “Give me a splinter of life, and I’ll revive.” It was his way of being – to live returning to life. At his thirty-seven he could drink with no relish and live with no regret. But to write he needed pain, sweet pain. He needed wounds left by sharp splinters of life. His friends fetched him splinters of life being picked up here and there, fetched him what they believed to be splinters of life. And he – it’s a foolish thing to resent the one who has a good nose for whiffs of life and death – he sniffed the air, just sniffed the air, and turned aside not slobbering and touching the bloodless flesh. And again he was waiting... waiting...
    But that time he waited not for a splinter of life that would exhaust his pen. He waited for his Marian... alive... alive... alive... Marian! Long months... days and nights... endless hours... Dying cellules in the cell of fate.
    The girl outside the window accompanied by her best friend – not of human- but dog-kind – a lively lovely loving dachshund. It’s nice to have a friend whom people can cast a glance at instead of hiding their eyes. The girl outside the window with her dachshund – two strange friends walking in space. Space is a country of mirrors for strange people. In space they can see a lot of their own reflections. In space they need not be afraid of those mirrors in which ugliness serves as attire. Those mirrors adore cells, cells in which there’s so little space.
    A telephone call cracked in his head like a bullwhip. His stomach began to shake like a shaman’s tambourine obeying the forces of the behind-the-mirror world. It was a bullwhip from his childhood. It was a wild boar’s bristle, and under it – a dumb, dumb, dumb look of a village dumb idiot riding his stick and mooing at invisible cows.
    The air screamed furiously – it was quite near the ghost of the dumb idiot. He always came to bare a foreboding. Andrew grabbed the telephone.
    “... Sorry... Marian... has passed away...”
    The girl outside the window was wiped off... together with her best friend... together with the space... together with the window... because madness’s lonely... because madness’s locked in... because madness cannot stand windows through which one can run away from madness.
    But madness, like you, enjoys being wounded with splinters of life, with sharp splinters of life. Surround yourself with mirrors! In each you’ll find a splinter of life, a sharp splinter of life. Look in this one! It’s attracting you out of the blackness of the night. You can see your future in it. Look! Life’s fucked this guy utterly. Look! Recognized him?
    Thrown out by a nightmare Andrew was kneeling on his bed, with a pleading look in his eyes fixed upon the wall. With pain, he was straining every muscle of his face to the breaking-point, turning it into one bare nerve asking for mercy. And that nerve not existing in nature uttered sounds resembling the words of a human being.
    “O Lord!.. I can’t... can’t stand it anymore... Lord, dear Lord, You... Almighty... Please, Almighty... give her back... give back my Marian... give back my Marian... I can’t stand it anymore... She... was. She... came to me... again. Lord, You’re all-powerful. You’re stronger... stronger than death... I beg You... give back my Marian... give back my Marian...”
    What about that mirror to the right of you? Look in it! A pitiful face of the everlasting autumn. It’s going to meet you soon. Do you know what it means – the everlasting autumn?
    Alien walls of the alien house... Cold drizzle of the light on duty... White shadows measuring doses of humbleness, doses of oblivion... Open mouths forgetting to close... Doses of humbleness crawling along the guts... Extraterrestrials resigning themselves to their fate – to exist as extraterrestrials ... They’re swinging... swinging... sitting and swinging... walking and swinging... defecating and swinging... swinging and swinging. And one of them is Andrew. With his look diffused in the cold drizzle of the light on duty, he’s swinging, swinging like a pendulum that’s got lost in time...
    That is you there. And that is your future. And that one. And that...
    Andrew was whirling and whirling about the cell... whirling and whirling being whirled by madness in its tangled laces. He was whirling and whirling, splitting up into two... into three... into four... falling to pieces... running against the grimaces of the walls, walls turning into merciless mirrors. Lots of Andrews were whirling and whirling... Mad cellules in the cell of fate.
    A year seems to pass. The future’s mixed with the past.
    The aroma of lilac, jasmine, and women is flying into wide-open windows. Myriads of crystal threads hang down from the sky. You can see them if you screw up your eyes, and leave slots, and look as long as you feel them melting and gliding, first on your eyelids... then on your cheeks... then on your lips.
    And if you open your eyes, you can see a girl, with the crookedness of her skeleton, with her dachshund attracting attention called curiosity, with her golden locks that are closer to the crookedness of the wind than to the crookedness of her skeleton, in a dress granted to her by summer in return for regular rendezvous.
    A window frame’s like a picture one, the only difference is that a picture can be just looked at. But a window can let you out and change from a contemplator into a participator of a story.
    Something elusive in the picture called The Ghostly Girl attracted you.
    Andrew! Don’t give a damn about the crookedness! That is to say, about geometry! That is to say, about the trifle exaggerated by Euclid & Co! Don’t give a damn about the dumb idiot that hides in the pleats of space!
    It was nice the girl outside the window had a friend that could serve as a pretext for making acquaintance.
    On the first day you didn’t dare to use that pretext.
    Then there were many days when you walked together not daring to look into each other’s eyes. Space is a convenient asylum for eyes hiding from eyes.
    Then there were many days when you walked together looking in mirrors of space, mirrors confirming you were together.
    Then there were many days when you looked at each other. And the parting for a while, extending the space between you, just drew you closer... closer... closer.
    Then you took a step into the day, into the hour when happiness didn’t share with space. You took a step into the day, into the hour when whisper of happiness deafened you having no possibility to disperse and disappear. You took a step into the day, into the hour you awfully feared. You awfully feared that her crookedness would distort and destroy her happiness. And she... she didn’t fear at all as she was with you, with her happiness, and didn’t leave any space for crookedness.
    There were many days (there were few days!) when you walked together. There were many mirrors around you to open you for each other. And there was nothing for you to lose... except each other...
    Then... instants of life in cellules of memory... cellules of memory in the cell of madness.










A Fine Madness, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz



A Fine Madness, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz
















The Living Zombie

Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

The living zombie
greets me
every day.
At least he does not
eat me
or kill me.

It is not out of
the realm
of possibility
that I will die at
the hands
of the living zombie.

I am counting to
the day
the living zombie
no longer knows who
I am
and devours my brain.












Die in a Blue Suit

Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

I could die in a blue suit
singing a blue song
and shunning the sun.
In my hour of drunkenness
my blue song would
turn a dark green as a frog
replaces my heart.
The frog sings too and
it also wears a blue suit.
It sings and it beats like
my hear, which is a green
hue. My heart breaks and
it feels like a gaping wound.
The blue song goes on and
on. We all die singing.












Oceans of you

Amanda Steel

They say out of sight
Out of mind
I’m in this sea, sinking below
Going to nowhere
Below these chaotic oceans
Don’t think I’m coming up for air this time

What does it matter this time
I’ve lost sight
Beneath these frantic oceans
You don’t seem to mind
We were going nowhere
You kept yourself afloat by pushing me below

I looked up, then I looked below
I’m so sorry I couldn’t save us this time
Halfway gone to nowhere
We lost sight
I lost my mind
I cried into these oceans

My pain went beyond the oceans
I buried it so deep below
It’s okay, never mind
I can’t hide it this time
It’s just out of sight
Surrounded by nowhere

From here to nowhere
Lost in your oceans
I thought that was hope in sight
Too late, I’m drowning below
With no concept of time
With no sanity left inside this mind

If only I could shake you from my mind
These endless reruns are getting me nowhere
All the wasted time
Spent grappling with the oceans
You kept on pushing me below
Until I was out of sight.

I can’t find my mind, in the middle of nowhere
Sinking into the oceans, drowning below
My heart is out of sight, my love is out of time.












The Prince?

Judi Dettorre

He colored my world
with candy kisses.
Oh, that wicked man.












Concrete Serenity

Harrison Jackson

    Below me, I see the wild tranquility of a concrete ecosystem blanketed by a hollow sky. Despite the night, the incessant cars zip single-mindedly to and fro, while the occasional pedestrian meanders along their UNIQUE path. Some are alone, while most wander with one companion. A rare few travel in small groups.

    A single tree stands alone, incarcerated by walls of artificial rock, its roots constrained to the small patch of dirt that it is allowed. Its MASTERS are generous; it can live while all of its comrades were exterminated long ago.

    I see the people, heads SMASHED into their phones in a futile attempt to escape the objective constructs surrounding them. They long for control over their reality, but they are no more free than the tree.

    Rats hide in their holes, their survival a rebellion against the serene cataclysm around them. They go about almost unnoticed, but if you pay attention you can see them scurry through in the quiet, not quite abandoned parks. We IGNORE their presence, for their survival embarrasses us by demonstrating the futility of domination.

    In so little time we have ACCOMPLISHED so much, yet our suicidal addiction to power will inevitably consume us. Meanwhile, the rats and trees will reclaim what is (and always shall be) rightfully theirs, for they know the truth; that the world belongs to itself, alone.












Nothing

Armine Zohrabian

We are all nothing.
Our Earth, all there is on the surface, beneath, in the oceans,
All nothing.
All there is, is the cosmos.
The galaxies, the stars, the infinite space, that’s all there is,
Vast and unreachable.

We seek with our feeble instruments, with our minuscule knowledge
Yet we still don’t comprehend.
We don’t know, who and what created it all, or why.
The Earth is just a speck of dust in this unbound universe.

We are all nothing, all that came before us and all that will come after,
Nothing, all so insignificant.

Yet, humans have created civilizations, art, industries, knowledge, history.
We know life is precious, alluring, fragile and fleeting but we still love it
And cling to it.
In our endless ways, we strive to give meaning to it.
We create beauty, life, love and happiness.

We love our home,
This magnificent Earth

This blue planet.












The Brazilian Slave

Paul Burnham

    The rhythmic sway of the bus had lulled me to sleep on the open highway. Now, many miles into the desert, the bus slowed. The slight change in motion woke me. Other passengers woke as well, and whispered questions of time and place and distance. Some passengers gently tapped those sitting in adjacent seats. Parents soothed their children, quietly reassuring them that all was well despite the unexpected slowing and the pitch-black night. The seat next to me remained empty.
    I leaned into the aisle and looked out the front of the bus. A man stood squinting into the headlights, hailing the driver. No intersection, no village, no porch light, no marker. Only the man. As the bus slowed and finally stopped, I could see him more clearly in the headlights. A thin, half-empty plastic grocery bag dangled from one hand, from one finger. His shoulder hung lower on that side, as though the weight of this little bag had exhausted his strength. I wondered what he carried, so far away from any town. I discerned no other possessions. His dark pants were dirty, stained with grease, hand-sewn and patched. His long-sleeve shirt was threadbare, nearly transparent, missing the collar. I could descry sinewy muscles and even raised blood vessels in his forearm, through the fabric. His small leather hat was stained with months or years of sweat.
    He boarded the bus and stood in the stairwell, looking up at the driver. I strained to hear their conversation.
    “Ceará?” the man asked. Were we going to Ceará?
    The driver nodded. “Sim, Ceará.”
    The man extended his hands, open, empty, but for the little bag. At this, the driver looked forward and gave a quick downward sweeping motion with his hand. The man came further into the bus. The driver closed the door. The other passengers settled into their seats again and looked out their windows. The man walked the aisle looking for an empty seat. The driver shifted gears, and the man stumbled as the bus lurched back onto the highway, bumping against the edge of the pavement. He grasped a seatback with his empty hand, and steadied himself for a moment, blinking, grimacing.
    Looking down at the empty seat and then at me, he asked softly, “ocupado?”
    “Pode sentar,”
I said. He moved slowly, wincing, and bracing himself as he sat.
    He was not old. Perhaps forty years of age. He removed his hat, put his head back and closed his eyes. He took a deep breath and exhaled. I looked at him. Closely. He had shaved in the last week. His face was stained, entirely mottled with dirt and sweat, except where tears had run along the side of his nose, around his nostril and into the deep sulcus, to the corner of his mouth and down his chin and neck, finally absorbed by his shirt. He smelled of earth and sweat, of many days’ work beneath the sun. I leaned against the window and fell asleep again.
    I woke to the sunrise on the flat desert, to the unbroken line of a smooth horizon. I wondered for a moment if I might see the curvature of the earth in that clear air. I rubbed my eyes and blinked in the already-severe light of the sertão—that arid and desolate inland landscape, interrupted only by the occasional thorn bush or cashew tree.
    I looked at the man at my side. His hands rested in his lap. He still slept. The bus rolled on toward Fortaleza. As other passengers began to stir and converse, he remained asleep, resting, oblivious to the waking world.
    When he finally woke, he looked at me for several moments. “Galego?” he asked. I told him that, yes, indeed I was a galego, norteamericano. I asked him if he was alright, if I could do anything for him. He looked at the floor and said he was fine, that now he was fine.
    I waited until he looked at me again, before speaking with him. His face was thin, and I didn’t want to weary him with questions. He first asked me what I was doing in the nordeste—northeastern Brazil. I told him I was doing humanitarian work—helping people. He listened, looking at the floor again. He waited a long time before saying anything, and then he only nodded and said this was good, to help people was good.
    I asked him if he was nordestino or if he hailed from another part of Brazil. He looked at his hat, turning it in his hands. He didn’t answer the question directly. I already knew he was nordestino. He knew I knew he was nordestino. It was an unnecessary question. His sing-song voice, his leather hat, his calloused hands—all this told me he was from here, and had likely never gone away from this place.
    He began to answer my question, and I only listened. He said he had been a slave for the past three years in Pernambuco. I looked ahead at the ribbon of asphalt and mirages. He said he was captured and taken to a ranch—the ubiquitous fazenda of this land—and made to work, with the threat of being killed if he were caught escaping. He had escaped and was now going to find his family. He had heard they had gone to Fortaleza, to Ceará.
    I nodded, but didn’t speak. What would I have said? He continued. He said he had escaped and lived for a few days near a town not far from the ranch. He had considered going to the police, but didn’t have the courage. He wasn’t sure they would believe him. And, if they believed him, had they already been bribed by the ranch owner? The chefe?
    He had simply walked away from the ranch one night, knowing he would die working or die escaping. He had seen his captors in the town, looking for him, asking into his whereabouts. He moved on. He said he didn’t have the wherewithal to forgive them, but that not forgiving them was a sin.
    I listened, dizzy with the bewildering disclosure of slavery. In my lifetime.
    He said he couldn’t forgive them, so he simply considered them dead, no longer part of this world. He compartmentalized the last three years, his life as a slave, his captors. He said all of this was now gone, behind him, not part of him. This is how he resolved his self-imposed incapacity to forgive with his own belief that he had to forgive.
    We arrived at the outskirts of Fortaleza. The sun was long up. He looked past me, looked out the window, and began to cry. His shoulders heaved as he sobbed. I thought perhaps he cried for joy at the prospect of finding his family. He put his face in his leather hat and wept aloud—as though he were just now born, just now beginning a new life.












Pipe Dreams, drawing by Denny E. Marshall

Pipe Dreams, drawing by Denny E. Marshall
















Parallel Universe

Conjeevaram J. Nandakumar

    It was a pleasant and balmy evening at Mahabalipuram sea shore. The air was thick and reeking with dry fish odour. The waves were lashing back and forth and buffeted between rocks with terrifying force. Professor Noetal was sitting on a rock and gazing steadfastly at the horizon unmindful of things happening around him, but his mind was preoccupied deep in thoughts. Probably for the twentieth time he was peering over the headlines from the crumbled chronicle that he was holding in his hand. “Professor Ralf Bender narrowly escapes from an attempted assassination at the airport.” Prof. Noetal mulled over the news again and again in his mind. How this could be possible just a week ahead of Prof. Ralf Bender’s most awaited press meeting about his breakthrough in research on astrophysics and its properties. “Something has to be done about this” he said to himself and heaved his heavy stature up, brushed aside the mud from his back and proceeded towards his car to get back to home.
    Prof. Noetal locked the car and came out of the parking lot of his house. His house was a cozy little one situated half a mile to the west of highway stretch between Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry, far away from the maddening crowd of the city. Prof. Noetal lived alone in his house without keeping anyone to assist. As soon as he was in his drawing room he called Melanie over his mobile. Melanie is a young 25–year–old pleasant looking female who assisted Prof. Noetal in his research for nearly over three years and a most trusted one. At about half past eight Melanie arrived greeting Prof. Noetal with a hug and peck. “Help yourself with the drink and fix me one too please”, Prof. Noeltal ordered with a smile. Melanie poured two glasses with Martini and fixed them on the rocks. “You seemed to be tensed Professor, anything bothering you?” asked Melanie stretching a glass towards him. “Haven’t you gone through the papers? There was an attempt on Prof. Bender’s life, but he narrowly escaped”. “What that has got to do with you for being tensed. In any case he is your rival.” said Melanie. “Arch rival” interposed Prof. Noetal. “I’ve got a score to settle with him. You know pretty well that we have been working together on various projects, but he always had an edge over me and was in the limelight. I’ve been sidelined and denied my share of prominence and stardom. Even now it is not too late, better late than never.
    “What have you got up your sleeves Professor.” questioned Melanie. Prof. Noetal cleared his throat and made himself more room on the couch. “Listen carefully” he said. Just then Melanie’s mobile rang. “I said no interruption. Just switch it off whoever it is.” Barked Prof. Noetal. Melanie obeyed. “You know the theory of parallel universe that has been nagging at the back of my mind for decades.” “Yes of course.” said Melanie. “I am now at the verge of a breakthrough” smiled Prof. Noetal. “But I am not going to reveal my findings to the world. I’ll be the creator of this world.” Prof. Noetal smiled fiendishly. “I will manipulate the happenings in this world as to my whims and fancies. “I don’t get you professor” Melanie frowned. “Every person thinks that he is unique in this world” Prof. Noetal quipped. “As a matter of fact you have your own close replica in seven different places. The primordial Hindu religion has already stumbled on with this fact and misinterpreted the theory that humans tend to reincarnate according to their deeds and they named it as seven reincarnations or rebirths. These seven rebirths are nothing but seven parallel universes that exist simultaneously where the same event takes place, but only with different alternative choices and endings. Hinduism and its doctrines were precise and more accurate than that of the predictions of Mayan’s. If not, where on earth will you account for this, that aeons before Charles Darwin could postulate the theory of origin of species the primitive forebears of Hindu religion had evidence on ape like creatures with human intelligence swarming all over the places as depicted in their greatest epic Ramayana. “But professor your theory of parallel universe” interjected Melanie. “Yeah, I’ll come to that” Prof. Noetal raised his hand apologetically.
    “Look, it is as simple as a child could understand. For instance the parallel universe in which Napoleon would have won the battle of waterloo in relative to our own universe the result is the other way round. to make it more explicit and simple you would have arrived late to my office for having missed the train, but in parallel universe you would have made it on time or the train would have arrived late to pick you up. Melanie nodded approvingly and said, “Yes I get the point, but what’s the big idea professor”.
    Prof. Noetal smiled and said “Take for the instance our beloved Prof. Bender’s case. I am going to simply alter the events in the parallel universe by facilitating his escape from his attempted assassination; thereby as the laws of alternate result apply he would be no more alive in this universe. “But professor we haven’t yet achieved the technology of time travel then how could this be possible” Melanie asked in disbelief. “Dreams my dear girl dreams! What do you think dreams are for? Why do you dream? It is nothing but just a preamble to you what was happening to your own self at the parallel universe. At times you dream like you are falling down from precipitous cliff, which is really happening in the parallel universe, but here in this universe you don’t feel the pain and agony but feel nothing more than the palpitation and sweat. It’s only an ominous indication to you. Dreams are the perfect conduit between multiple universes. It’s a simple logic that when you get such kind of message from the parallel universe why not through the same medium you communicate back to them. Now let me tell you my methodology or modus operandi. You know the latest noninvasive treatment for Parkinson’s disease.” “Yes”. Prof. Noetal continued as if Melanie has grasped the point. “The DBS method of treatment, (Deep Brain Stimulation). Only that I am going to use it to trigger my dreams. You come to my home tomorrow by 8:00 pm as today. After dinner, after I retire to bed connect this DB stimulator to my head and keep observing the monitor for any erratic simulation and jot it down in the log book. You can stay back tomorrow at my house. “Agreed” Melanie said as she rose from the chair picking up her bag and headed towards the door. She suddenly turned back and gave a peck at his cheek and said with a wink, “Goodnight professor sweet dreams and may your dreams come true.” and left with a sigh.
    The next day evening at about 7:00 pm Prof. Noetal was pacing restlessly up and down his drawing room intermittently peering at his wrist watch. It was 15 minutes past eight, just then the door bell rang. Prof. Noetal hurriedly opened the door and said at top of his voice, “Ah it’s you and it’s about time too.” Melanie lowered her eyes, without uttering a single word went to the couch and sat. “What’s troubling you my honey. You seemed to have forgotten your protocol. Not even a hug, leave alone the peck. Why are you so tensed? Everything would go smooth and fine.” Prof. Noetal said reassuringly. “Let’s have an early dinner professor. It’s good for your sound sleep. I’ll fix your dinner right away” Melanie said, as she avoided keeping an eye contact with the professor. Within 15 minutes Melanie emerged from the kitchen holding two plates in her hand and she placed one in front of Prof. Noetal. The aroma of the spaghetti and saut#&233;ed mushroom filled the room. They both relished the dinner without a word being uttered. Melanie raised her glass as she said, “Toast to your dreams professor.” and assisted him to sleep in his bed and fixed the terminals of DB stimulator to his head. She pulled down a chair to his bedside and said, “I’ll have a watch on you professor.” Prof. Noetal raised his head to say something; it fell back on the pillow with a thud. He felt the room was spinning around him and he gasped for breath as his eyes rolled up and he was unable to see Melanie towering over him with a broad smile on her face. Melanie said, “Dream to your death professor. You’ll dread your dreams. You’ve just tasted the potassium cyanide, to put it right in your terminology it is KCN mixed with the salt of your spaghetti. You are like horses with blinkers. You were so intelligent to come up with a theory of parallel universe, but failed to figure out that a close replica of a person exists right under your nose in this universe as well. Yes, I am Phoebe the other identical twin of Melanie, which you were not aware of. Yesterday my mom suffered a seizure. I admitted her in the hospital and tried to reach for Melanie over phone, but she switched off her mobile. So I happened to drop in your house to check what’s going on around then I eves dropped every bit of your conversation. I don’t wish my sister to be an accomplice to this ambitious evil deed, so I’ve decided to come myself in lieu of Melanie to pack you back to your own parallel universe. But, don’t worry, according to your theory you will be alive and kicking in your parallel universe”.
    Phoebe’s face was red with anger. She stormed out of the room smashing the door behind her and stepped out of the gate. It started to rain heavily with thunder storm. Like a possessed lady phoebe waded through the torrential downpour completely drenched headed towards the shore of Mahabalipuram and sat on the rock where exactly Prof. Noetal sat a day before. Tears rolling down her cheek fell down in to the waves and mixed with the salty water. Phoebe nodded her head convincingly and said to herself, “This is how it should be. Humans should get along with the nature and laws of God. Nobody has got the authority or right to alter and hamper the elements that God alone knows its purpose”.
    Evil men, who have chosen the path of folly, look forward to what they dread. They will reap what they have sown (1:31).They will suffer death (2:18) and “be cut off from the land” (2:21).They can expect only the wrath and condemnation of God (3:32; 12:2). –Bible.












Job Training Program

Thomas Cannon

    Ladies, you have studied hard here. You, the first graduating class of Tucker Dumke’s School of Construction for Women, have become my crew and made me proud. We know it will not be easy for you to enter the man’s world of construction, but you completed all I’ve asked of you. You walked carrying buckets. You toted heavy boards over your shoulders. As good as any man, you pushed wheelbarrows along narrow planks over mud puddles.
    All of you did well, but a few also excelled at what I call the splinter skills. While they are not directly related to your job, they will help you fit in with the rest of the construction crew. Helen? Where are you, dear? Let’s see the move that got you an interview at Ace Construction. People in the back, did you get that? While saying, ‘Hey baby, I got your lunch right here,’ she grabbed her crotch. Did you notice the pelvic thrusting she incorporated?
    Donna, please come up on stage. Yes, everyone give her a nice round of applause. Donna, would you grab the box of diplomas sitting at the back of stage?
    Okay, did everyone see that? Well, of course you did. But that was no accident. She worked hard to make sure that her dungarees instantly slid down to show her butt crack. Not as hairy as a guy’s, but she definitely lingered so that everyone got a vertical smile. It has to executed right though, folks. Otherwise, you come off just looking like a salesperson at Victoria’s Secret.
    Before I hand out the diplomas, I have a few more people I would like to single out. Kathryn, I know it came naturally to you, but no one could beat your ability to make racist remarks while surrounded by minorities. Don’t think I didn’t notice you saved your worse rants to be against Mexicans because you thought they did not understand English.
    Everyone is getting antsy. So, I’ll be quick.
    Rhonda, you spent half of each morning hiding in the port o potty. No small feat after Patty the Porcelain Destroyer got done in there. Well done to both of you.
    Jenny, good to see you. You sprained your back the first day and spent the rest of the semester trying to get workman’s comp. Not only is that a veteran move, it is the best way to become a veteran construction worker.
    Danica, the way you talked in a condescending manner to the female client during the mock customer interactions was amazing. Our “customer,” Cindy from the front office, cried real tears.

    Everyone took my lessons to heart. There is not a one of you that didn’t fail to wear sunscreen, that didn’t spit in public. You started with the loudest machinery first thing in the morning and rushed the work at the end of the day. You made mistakes and then properly gave it I can’t see it from where I live. The truly dedicated ones came in hung-over and drank over lunch, but you all make me proud. I love you, guys. Pick your diplomas up and then, ladies, get your butts outta here.












Hyena Teeth

Griffin Silver

The way they salivate
at my crumbling sill
the ticking time piece
in sync with the
Hyena’s pacing below

I hear every malicious chuckle
I watch brows arched
above the gentile, the sophist, the bureaucrats
dictating the worth of another
the indelibly lavish
lasciviously cauterized
contrived
leeches in Parisian waterways

Wild with their critique
their carefully managed tufts
gargling literary jabber
canines pacified
against the impossibility of time
cackling Trivia mosaics of our aspirations

I too find
no seam between parasite and principle
waiting in the foreground
to scrounge
and feed from the reeking
scraps

we dream in evenings
on Poe’s park bench

to align finger prints with papa Hemingway’s
trigger
moistened with the dew
of a champion’s impotency

To shuffle a palm of pebbles
tracing the shore of that English pond
in eulogy to Virginia Wolf

My hand blisters on the burner
the savory aroma of flesh
above Plath’s sepulcher

The arid loan of opportunity
in new growth
to declare the rising tide
a concluding sentiment
The greats rot within
The confines of creation
damnation assumes a form

We miscreants of self-deprecation
quartered, dragged through
the sand of the coliseum
wielded by the Grecian
chariot:
Persistence












A Need to Murder

Norm Hudson

    I always murder them in the end. You could call it a need. A need Mom taught me. But it never starts out like that. It starts out with an affair. Mom taught me that as well. I’ve no interest in single women. They have to be married for me. Mom was married. But that didn’t stop her.
    I was bored with one country. I wanted to go global. The possibilities of fulfilling my need were limitless. God knows why I picked Greece. Maybe the focus on family fuelled my fervour to fling down the gauntlet. Like Mom had done.
    I had one or two false starts, I can tell you. The first apartment I stayed in, after my mini-bus had negotiated the hair-curling corners and death-defying, dangerous drops of what passes for Greek roads, there was this sweet, sympathetic creature with liquid pool eyes and a luscious cherry stained mouth that made you want to take a bite. Just the kind I like. She reminded me of Mom. But every time I tried to take a bite of the cherry, her eagle-eyed old mother, who followed her about like a bird of prey, would appear and whisk her away to her eyrie. And her husband. I gave up on her, took the local bus to the next village and checked in at the first vacant apartment I could find.
    I picked the right place. Run by a widow and her daughter. A mom, with none of those sassy swinging hips the young continental women have but a gently swaying, mature moving body that promised much. Things were looking up.
    But I hadn’t reckoned on the ferocity of family ties. I’d never had that. Not with Mom. When I showed my interest in the mother, the daughter created a scene that would have sent the devil running for sanctuary to heaven.
    I moved on the next day.
    To the next village.
    That’s when I met Spyros. He reminded me of me. They say everyone has a twin soul somewhere on the planet. Well, Spyros was mine. Not that I’m gay. But if I was, and if my life had been different, I would have chosen Spyros.
    But I’m not. I have my need.
    Spyros ran the tavern adjacent to the apartment block. He and his wife. Every evening we would sit on the woven, wooden chairs under the grape vines that clung so contentedly to the overhead trellis, sipping a retsina, watching the sun slipping slowly beneath the skyline. While Sophia, his wife, moved as silent as a serpent between the tables, serving the one or two travellers that had happened to stop by to sample the sumptuous, savoury cuisine.
    Ah! Sensuous, sunset days.
    I could feel my sap rising. That’s how it always began.
    I didn’t feel I was letting Spyros down. When I seduced his wife. It was more a sharing. Of sentiment. Spyros and I had the same tastes. Good food. Good wine. And good women.
    But then women are never really good. Are they? Mom had taught me that.
    I knew Spyros had to learn that. Like I did. It was hard. But I would help him.
    It was the night before I killed Sophia that it happened.
    I hadn’t planned a time but Spyros made it easy for me. I was sitting sipping a retsina waiting for him. It was sunset. Sophia was nowhere to be seen.
    He burst into the taverna, hands raised uncustomarily aggressively in the air, shocking the stray spectators who had wandered in during the early evening.
    “I need to murder someone!” he said with a passion I didn’t know he possessed. Though I should have done. I had a similar passion.
    For a second I thought he’d found out about Sophia and me but he sat down beside me so he couldn’t have. I waited.
    “Bloody women!” he said.
    He put his two hands dejectedly to either side of his head and lowered it.
    “She’s having an affair!” he said.
    I put my hand on his shoulder. I thought of how I’d felt when I’d found out about Mom. I knew exactly how he felt. I had to help him. Like no one had helped me.
    I arranged to meet her in our usual place the next day. In the olive grove. The olive grove carpeted with capacious nets to catch the falling ripe olives. She was lying on a net like she always did. When she was ripe for it. I gave it to her then. Quickly. Like I’d given it to them all. Every god-damned woman who’d had an affair.
    She looked so peaceful there. She reminded me of Mom. Lying on the kitchen floor, the knife in her chest where I’d plunged it. Unaware that she’d broken the bond of the blood relationship. And broken the boy. The boy I’d been. Of course I made up some story about an intruder. And the cops believed me. After all I was only a boy. A boy alone.
    I rolled up Sophia’s body in the net.
    An hour later I was in a mini-bus heading to the airport. I’d avoided saying goodbye to Spyros. I didn’t like goodbyes. As the mini-bus passed the olive grove, I could see Sophia’s body rolled up in the net. She looked like one of those Greek village sausages. I’d never liked them.
    I knew they’d arrest Spyros for the murder. There were witnesses to his outburst. But I didn’t feel sorry for him. I’d helped him. Sure, they’d lock him away for the crime. But he’d never be alone.
    Like I had been. Like I was.
    The mini-bus swerved skillfully round another bend though this driver wasn’t careful like the one I’d had when I arrived. The one who’d negotiated every tantalising turn with the cautious recklessness of an experienced driver, with not one misjudgement. This driver didn’t have the benefit of age and experience. Only the arrogance of youth and a desire to take each corner at a speed that would get him to the airport two minutes earlier.
    An audible cry went up from the other occupants of the mini-bus as the back wheels of the bus dangled perilously close to the edge of a precipitous drop. For a second there was a silence of relief.
    Only I, from my window seat, saw the ground give way beneath the back wheel of the bus as the bus tilted backwards and we started to fall like a slow motion film.
    I’d never go global. I realised that as the bus crashed through the trees below. I’d end my days on a god-damned Greek island.
    I thought of all the affairs I’d had. And the women I’d killed. And I thought of Mom. Would I meet them all wherever I was going?
    In some way I needed that.
    I just hope I haven’t nourished the same need in them that Mom nourished in me.
    The need to murder.












A work of regret

Joséphine Sourgnes

Writing calls for some disillusion
No one can be fully happy and write
Poetry never was the art of the satisfied
It is the speech of the silent
The resentful, the powerless, the paralyzed
Those for whom writing is the only way
You write because there is something to add
You write what you could not say
Out of wrath, out of madness, out of spite
Because you have been wronged, because you’ve been denied
Out of love, out of sadness, out of fright
Because you were so wrong, because you’ve been so blind
Writing is a work of regret
No one can be fully happy and write
Poetry is not the art of the unbroken
It’s a scratched record to deafen yourself with
You go over the whole thing again
You twist and turn it a thousand times
The heart is so easily deceived by its own bitter longing
You rearrange the scene in your mind
Rewrite the script, alter the scenario
You write as if you were not there, as if you did not know
As if nothing had happened yet, as if it was all a dream
As if you could decide, change it all on a whim
It’s a strange kind of magic, a self-imposed trance
You go back to before, to the scene of the crime
Watch it unfold, over and over
With different words, different sounds
Always the same ending
Writing is what you do when you’ve failed the first time












Sweetness and Illusions

Joséphine Sourgnes

The thought of you
Of your eyes and your hands on me
Of your body, sleeping quiet and warm against mine
It is all too sweet. It is unbearable
It corrupts and corrodes every thought that I have
I’ve wanted you so much, more than anything else
And it would be funny if it wasn’t so sad
It could still be beautiful, you know, like it once was
Back when the air glittered around you,
Every particle crystalized by your touch
You wore radiance like a candied halo
But I could not pretend you were not bound to ruin me
I was never this blind
I could see the decay, the way you eroded everything you touched
I tried to stay away but I have been tricked too
I bit into this dream and felt your teeth in me
There’s not a thing I have that you haven’t burnt through
Each word of those sugary lies
Is acid on my tongue
I shouldn’t let you overcome me
I shouldn’t let myself want you so bad
My teenage illusions, syrupy as they were
Have aged and turned bitter
Macerated into intoxication
I’ve carried it with me, everywhere I have gone
It’s such an old emotion,
I have sucked and fed on it too long
There is nothing left now
No sustenance
But the sickening taste of disillusion
I have paid such a tall price
I have spent years wasting away, craving
But you have nothing to give, you were always empty
And I, I couldn’t give anything more
You have blackened my heart, rotten me to the core
No more sweetness, no more hope
What lingers in my mouth is a sticky matter
Stuck to my palate, it renders me silent
I cannot speak of you.












Blue and White

Susie Gharib

Dyed purple,
and adorned with crosses of adhesive tape,
the window pane looks eerie to my eyes,
used to dote on the fleecy sky,
sending unwritten tributes to blue and white.

Silhouettes of gigantic tanks
lining our narrow street emerge
when the sirens ominously sound
our rooms fill with neighbors
who seek refuge on the ground floor
and the boundless hospitality of my Dad
which indulges both adult and child
even in these very trying times.

I am averse to sleeping with my shoes on,
violating our codes of decorum
but my father insists on armoured feet
in case we need to vacate the street.

The sky continually thunders,
blanching the night,
the walls rock with the heavy bombardment
of our very ancient harbor,
a walking distance from our house.

A rosary is inserted into my tiny hand,
I am urged to pray amidst the deafening sounds
of shells,
of sirens,
of screams from adults and children.

I do not know what to say,
I had seen one in my grandmother’s hand,
a long string of beads which looked sacrosanct
with the constant and reverent motion
of her very taciturn mouth.

Nestling warmly in my hand,
the beads inspire the only words I know,
Mon Dieu.

I utter the word and think of a huge hand
like a gigantic wave
throwing the alien warships away.

Another Mon Dieu sends a net into the sky
with which the enemy’s planes are trapped
like giddy flies.

A third Mon Dieu blesses every creature,
dead
and alive.

It is pitch-black
but when the sky suddenly grows white,
my frame squirms like a half-crushed worm,
then I feel neither dead nor alive.

My eyes, accustomed to intermittent darkness,
seek the tapestry on our peeling wall.
on smooth, purple velvet
my fingers had traced each contour
of the two faces on both sides of the Torch.
Steady,
their eyes look into my soul,
John’s,
Robert’s,
the Kennedys my Dad had defiantly extolled,
the pacifying lions who could have extinguished wars
with their tolerance, erudition, and Celtic lore.

It had been my daily ritual to stand
on the sofa to reverently plant
a kiss on each handsome man’s
a peace pact.





Bio:

    Dr. Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in The Curlew, A New Ulster, Straylight Magazine, Down in the Dirt, Ink Pantry, the Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Mad Swirl, Leaves of Ink, the Avalon Literary Review, The Opiate, Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine, WestWard Quarterly, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Grey Sparrow Journal, The Blotter, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Crossways, The Moon Magazine, the Mojave River Review, Always Dodging the Rain, and Coldnoon.












The Giver

Allan Onik

    “So, you were the new Giver?” Jonas’s mother asked him. They were putting decorations on the Christmas tree and the snow was falling thickly outside in large flakes. The walkway to the cottage was covered now—he could see from the window view. The lights from the Christmas tree shined on his face. He could smell coffee and pumpkin rolls cooking in the kitchen.
    “I was,” Jonas said, “It was an honor and a curse. I came here because...”
    “Because of what you came to realize?”
    “Yes. I needed relief from the burden. From the end of the innocence. Here, I have something to give you.” Jonas opened his hand to his mother. In his palm was a silver bell, laced with an ornate, red ribbon. “Go on,” he said, “take it.”
    She reached down and touched his hand. The vision overcame her.

    The militias wore rags on their heads and lit the man on fire who was suspended in the cage. He cried out in agony and horror. The vision changed and she saw hurricanes overcoming cities, and glaciers melting and falling apart. People begged on the streets of a city, searching for food and warmth. Large rockets were released in the dark, cold, night air in faraway realms.

    “Do you see? What I have been given?”
    “There are places and times where they all see it,” She said. “Here, help me light the candles.”



pop a pill, drawing copyright © 1990 - 2019 Janet Kuypers










Bees

Alberto J. Montero

I am sitting on my front porch again
languid afternoon
the bees diligently amble among the lavender
I wonder why they ignore the white lilies
towering high above them
like giant scented trumpets












In the maelstrom

Alberto J. Montero

No time to feel smug
we are on the
Pequod now
batten down your hatches
can’t you smell the rage?
—lurking in the iron sky
I am preparing my eulogy

the White Whale will soon arrive
for his last stand

you look at me as you grasp your harpoon
our feelings
are remnants—
like bones scattered along the rocky shore
bleached by the sun
my lips mouth ancient words

you can’t decipher them
my voice
is now
silenced
by the godless
sea












Ocean delta blues

Alberto J. Montero

Ambling along the seashore
she mingles with sandpipers and cormorants
her oyster eyes look away from me
towards the cloud speckled horizon
urchin mind
overflowing with enigmatic thoughts
like indecipherable ancient runes
mournful sea gull cries
linger in the salty breeze
my sunsetting heart
beats to a melancholy tune
and my tears
always
smell of the sea












I see you

Alberto J. Montero

I. Elevator
She was intubated
sent down to bed 9
her husband waiting by the elevators
hadn’t seen me yet
his eyes red
hope broken
“this is it, right?”
my eyes answered
“cancer always wins in the end, right?”
I remained silent; responded with a gentle touch
what does “win” mean anyway, in life?

II. Room 9
her family was mourning already
holding hands
caressing her head
respiratory technician
making adjustments in the background
her skin pallid
bloodless
eyes closed
ICU doc pulled me out of room
massive hemorrhage
yes, I will discuss with family
I walked back in
this time I noticed
a brilliant blue cross on her forehead
and two others on each temple
markings of radiation plans
now irrelevant
her blood pressure
critical
family reassured by my eyes
trying to give them permission
to feel—
to not feel
guilty about letting go
I held her cold hand
and just sat there
part of the scenery
family remembering her
speaking about things she did in the past
speaking of her in the past tense
it’s time
my eyes told them
her son wanted to say goodbye
he’s not here yet
coming in from Toledo
I walked out of her room

III. Waiting
elevator doors open
daughter in waiting area
her eyes met mine
I knew it had happened
she thanked me
dad was with the body waiting
her brother didn’t make it in time
he’s in a car somewhere
somewhere
between here
and
Toledo












Flash Fiction

Nick Smith

    It had been a few days since I left my own personal prison. Not the prison where you’re physically behind bars, but the kind of prison where you feel like you’re mentally stuck in a bear trap. This morning the snow was falling as if the heavens were collapsing, the thick white dust blanketed the roads to the point where I didn’t even know where it was anymore. I was beginning to regret leaving, perhaps being sheltered in a hell of sorts was better than freezing to death. It was at this time where I heard a very, very loud honking behind me that caused me to jump almost out of my skin. Jeez man! Just go around me! I thought to myself, my anger was making me hot enough to seemingly melt the snow around me. It was at that moment where the truck actually began to go around me, almost as if it knew what I had said in my mind.
    “Do you need a ride? You’ll freeze out here if you don’t get warm soon! There’s a storm coming through soon. Here, hop in!” The voice from the truck said to me.
    So I’ve devolved to hitchhiking now, this is a great way to get abducted and killed. But it would probably beat being frozen alone.
    “Are you sure? You’re mighty kind, sir.” I responded, as my body, without my mind telling it to, began entering the vehicle. I am so going to die here, I thought to myself.
    As I climbed into the truck, I noticed a familiar smell inside of it that I haven’t smelt in years. It smelt like warm vanilla, my ex-boyfriend always used to love that smell, hence why I always used to use that kind of perfume.
    “Where you headed?” The man asked.
    “Boston.” I said in response.
    The man became silent after I said where my destination was, almost like he was lost in thought. Then, out of the corner of my eye I noticed him looking over at me. Great, he was probably seeing what parts of me would fit into a cauldron.
    “Why would you want to go to Boston, Crystal? Boston is mighty far away from here, do you have family there?” He asked once more.
    I felt a knot in my throat as he said that to me. How did you know my name? I thought without saying it out loud.
    “U-um. Actually I’m going to Boston so my family CAN’T find me. It’s a long story... Have a crappy dad who treats me like... Crap.”
    The man appeared visibly frustrated after I made that last comment.
    “Family is all we have in this world. In the end? They’re the ones who will be there when the walls come crashing down. I am very sorry that he treats you that way. But, can I ask you what happened to your ex-boyfriend? That seemed to be a shady spot.”
    Why was he curious as to what happened to my ex? I just met you, who gave you the right to ask me a question like that. I cleared my throat.
    “He kind of just vanished. I haven’t heard from him in years... I don’t know if he died, or just wanted to be done with me.”
    As I said that, the man slowed the truck down to a stop and I glanced over at him, I somehow couldn’t see his face, it was too dark to see entirely. But I could make out the stature of the man. Very small, very skinny with a little neck, narrow shoulders... He was oddly... Familiar.
    “What if I told you that your ex-boyfriend who disappeared is looking at you right now?” He said.
    My eyes instantly welled up with water, I could hear it now. The warm familiarity of his voice... The way he was so kind and apologetic about my family.
    “Is it really you?”












Warriors

Eli Tomitch

I see the great sadness in his eyes
But he’s a warrior
He fights
With boiling blood and gritted teeth to keep the pain from his face
but the stab wounds in his heart and the scars on his bones run too deep
I see them laid bare
And his tears are like curdled blood too scared to fall
They stay there like poison,
Remind him
And me
Of where we came from
I reach out with my hand on his shoulder
Together we smile
And the pain we share
Recedes into fading dreams
For now
I see the sadness in the tightness of his mouth
But he’s a warrior
And together we smile












The Tides

Erica Marchant

    I shed the last of my spoken words, random banter and goodnights, and retreat to my refuge for the evening. The dark, crisp October air swirls through the screened in porch from one end to the other, slipping under the doorway into the warm living room light. My skin ripples under the bathrobe my husband bought me for Christmas last year—the one he then decided he doesn’t like because it’s ugly. I wear it anyway.
    The Avengers bellows out from the flat screen as I recede—a superhero kicking a villain’s ass. Obnoxious shouting and deafening explosions dissipate when I close out the realm of reality and settle into my well-worn rocking chair. The silent, inviting white screen glows in the dim light mirroring off the curtained window behind me. I stare at the expansive void until my eyes burn into a scene, a thought, a sentence, a piece you’ll want to read. Maybe, the next chapter in a series, the final additions to a short or do I start a new flash? Maybe, a rhythmic verse that flows like lava or something a little more mechanical and researched that might just get accepted this time.
    When they work, the movement of my fingers across the keyboard soothes me. The trance lightens the atmosphere and words begin to shape as I type faster than my mind can follow. Spewing out every random and insane thought that slams into my head and slides away like the break of a warm sweet wave across my chest. On those nights, I march in exalted and fervent. My feet sink into the sand and the feeling of the tide ebbing and flowing across my ankles lulls me. I move fluid with the ocean, the white and salty breakers rushing over my knees, my hips, then my face. It’s calming and inviting, begging me to enter, roll around, whirl and play. I savor the warmth rising up my body and float across the ocean of desire.
    On nights like those, I can’t stop. The hours etch by unaccounted for while my word count races higher screaming across the stratosphere. I know I’ll awake groggy and tired the next day, but I like those nights when I’ve accomplished something other than making meaningless status updates to the masses or writing blog posts that no one wants to read anyway.
    But on nights like this—when my fingers reject their movement when my mind stares at the depths unable to see the way out—its like ice, searing my veins, freezing my breath in midair. I dive in any way. Throw my body to the surf, let it pull me under and yank me around like a plastic GI Joe doll in a little boy’s hands. I release my dread, follow the undertow, spill in a haze of confusing blackness, unable to breathe, unable to hold on. Numb and delirious. My blood and soul leave me tumbling in an ocean of despair. My words curling out from a swollen womb of anxiety and fear.
    Nights like this I mourn in silence. The pellucid curser undulating on a blank stark white screen. Later, I’ll bemoan the hours wasted on the story I never found. Tomorrow night, though, tomorrow night is the night it comes to me. I’ll face the glaring white screen and hope the silvery ocean treats me right this time.





bio

    Erica Marchant is an author, poet, and freelancer. She publishes flash fiction, short stories, and poetry and is working on her first full-length Novel, One Way Ticket. House mom by day and a hopeless dreamer by night, Erica survives this suburban utopia with her family, two needy dogs, and an ornery bunny. You can follow Erica at Facebook.com/EricaMarchant and keep up to date with new publications at EricaMarchant.com.












Dark Blue Photosketch 0001, at by David Russell

Dark Blue Photosketch 0001, at by David Russell
















Bad was Good

C. Angelo Caci

    Little did I know, as they say. She was seven and I was eight. Only the one-year difference in our ages. That was when we first began fooling around. First it was my hand behind her, my fingers just underneath her waistband . . . don’t remember the style or color of her pants. So why should I care. Not a question. I do remember the pink waistband of her panties. But of course. I wonder if she remembers—oh, whatever! She stuck her fingers under mine. Mine slid a little further—hers as well. And so on and so on. We both stopped at the crack. Three cracks, all told. Actually one wasn’t. No. One was actually a bang. That was the screen door in the kitchen against the door jamb, but that slam stopped us at the other two—cracks, I mean. Anyway, how we giggled! We giggled at nine and ten as well. As we became more, shall say familiar (?) with our respective anatomical peculiarities. That’s pretty much what they were then. Gradually the giggling turned into heavy panting. That’s how they described it in the Harlequin books she and I would pilfer from the nightstand in my parent’s bedroom whenever Marsh and her parents, Aunt Beth and Uncle Tom, would visit. We must have sounded like two English bulldogs at first, trying to mimic what we’d read. We went all the way eventually. This was when we were in our mid teens—fifteen and sixteen respectively. By this time, which was, by the way, the last time we had the pant down pat. Like I said, it was the last time. You see, when she turned sixteen Aunt Beth informed her that she was adopted shortly after birth.












DSCN1531, art by Wes Heine

DSCN1531, art by Wes Heine
















Sunny and Luna

Victoria Otto Franzese

My sister is,
as her name suggests,
bright, hot,
the center of everything

while it seems
that I only shine
when Sunny isn’t around.

When the light of the full moon
revealed my fiancé in her arms,
I decided
to cool things down.

Two bullets to the head
brought the darkness I craved.












Ode to a Poetry Teacher<

Victoria Otto Franzese

When my son was small (and my influence wasn’t),
I read to him a lot.
He was always excited to discover new words,
To compare one world with another,
To learn.

When he started school (and my influence began its inevitable decline),
He started to read by himself.
But for a while we still shared the rich language of Harry Potter—
The made-up words, the character-revealing names,
The ideas that lurked below the surface.

The middle school years were a long, dark time:
Video games ruled his life,
Sports came in second,
But books? Who had time to read?
The door to his room was always closed.

In high school I finally got a glimpse of the boy I used to know.
So thank you, Ms. Hirsch,
For persuading a student who insisted that poetry wasn’t for him
That rap, the poetry of the streets, was worthy of your attention, too.
And behold! The door cracked open.

Before long, you convinced him
That metaphors, similes, alliteration and onomatopoeia
Can be practical means to improving a college essay.
So smart of you to recognize that the soft underbelly
of an ambitious high school student is the road to college.

By the end of your course he was reading
Emily Dickenson, Langston Hughes, and Ogden Nash,
No longer just because you required it
But to compare one world with another... and
To learn.












Counting Backwards

Victoria Otto Franzese

I was ten or eleven.
Strange that I don’t remember my exact age,
while the memory of being wheeled
down the hall,
and into the elevator
remains so vivid.
The air was warmer than
in the corridor and the orderly’s
aftershave smelled crisp and clean.
The sheet underneath me was lifted
for the transfer from the stretcher
to the operating table
without any harm to my arm,
now newly shaved and painted with orange ointment.
I was big for my age but they moved me with ease.
I was impressed by that.
Soon a face hovered above mine.
Steel rimmed glasses,
possibly a smile,
along with the instructions I was told to expect:
“Count back from 100 for as long as you can.”
I know I made it to 97 at least
before there was silence.
I imagine the doctor gave terse orders
as he began to cut into my flesh.
Or maybe there was only chatter about the weather
and whether the Sox would win that night.
All I know is I still have the scar,
silvery and still a bit shiny,
years after the screws that put my arm back together
were pulled out.












A Day at the Recycling Center

Ben Rasnic

I scramble to select
a reflective coated vest
sanitary enough
that it won’t saturate my shirt
with its accumulating odor,
fasten a yellow hardhat
onto my rapidly balding skull
& trudge to the tipping floor,
camera in hand, to rate
the next recycling load.

Three or four well fed rats
scatter from the ear shattering screech
of the front-end truck’s back-up alarm.
The putrid stench of food waste
smothers my nostrils before the first scrap
of material even reaches the concrete landing.
A wall of compressed cardboard
rams from the rear of the truck
peppered with trash bags, furnace filters,
blue milk crates & assorted household items
not fit for recycling.

I snap photo
after photo,
growing increasingly frustrated
with each digital snapshot
of contaminated debris.

From the final thrust of hydraulics,
a child’s raggedy teddy bear
tumbles aimlessly to the floor.
The left eye, detached,
hangs by a couple of threads
exactly like the one
my mother bought me with green stamps
& that I later discovered
buried in the trash can
beneath a nearly empty can
of Chef Boy-R-Dee spaghetti sauce.

I dial in, focus and capture the image
as physical evidence
for a 35% downgrade
as a result of household residue.

Returning to my office,
my La-Z-Boy leather chair &
Windows 10 operating system,
I am absorbed
by high definition monitors
offering 16 strategic camera angles
with close up views
at my fingertips

& reflect upon
that raggedy teddy bear
the rest of the day.












Unhinged Lunatic Howling at the Full Moon

John (“Jake”) Cosmos Aller

On the night of the blood red super full moon
I sat in an evil, depraved godforsaken bar

Drinking drams of demented, fermented dream dew
Washed down by endless rounds of whiskey
rum, tequila, vodka, soju and of course beer
drinking with my buddies the Jack Daniels Gang

Drinking my way to Hell and beyond
Just as fast as I could
twenty damn drinks too sober

Just an unhinged lunatic
Dreaming of howling at the full moon

Watching the world walk by
Looking at all the fine-looking babes
Walking by the street

Thinking wild, erotic thoughts
Of endless wild libertine passions

When into the bar
That din of cosmic depravity

Walked the most beautiful women
In the Universe

So wild, so free
So wonderfully alive

I did not know what to do
As this vision of delight
Sauntered through the bar

In a skin-tight leather pant
Looked so fine
That my eyeballs hurt

And finally, I had to say something
So, I gathered up my manly courage
And walked up to her

And she looked at me
And instantly bewitched my soul

With a devilish grin
I lost all reason
And became a raving lunatic
Unhinged lunatic
Howling at the blood red full moon

Foaming at the mouth
A wild, free werewolf
Howling at the lunatic light
Of the blood red blue full Moon












Snarling Cup of Coffee

John (“Jake”) Cosmos Aller

I like to start my day with a hot cup of coffee
I pound down the coffee
First thing I do every day as the dawning sun
Lights up my lonesome room

    Yeah, but not just a simple cup of java Joe, but a God damn snarling sarcastic smarmy cup of coffee
    I mean, – we are talking about an alcoholic, all speed ahead, always hot, always fresh, always there when I need it, angry, attitude talk to the hand Ztude, bad, bad assed, beats breaking, beatnik, bluesy, bitter, bitchy, bombs away, capitalistic, caffeinated up the ass, cinematic, communistic, Colombian grown, Costa Rican inspired, Cowabunga to the max, crazy assed, devilishly angelic, divine, divinely inspired, dyslexic, epic, extreme vetting, evil eye, expensive, erotic vision inducing, Ethiopian coffee house brewed, euphoric, freaky, freazoid, foxy, Frenched kissed, French brewed, funkified, foxy lady, graphic, GOD in my coffee, with Allah, Ganesh, Jesus, Kali, Buddha, Christians, Durga, Hindus, Mohamed, Jesus and Mo and their friend, the cosmic bar maid, Sai Babai, Shiva, Taoists, Zoroastrians, drinking my god damned coffee in Hell; growling, gnarly, happy, hard as ice, Hawaian blessed, high as a kite, hippie, hip, hipster, hip hoppy, hot as hell yet strangely sweet as heaven, jazzy, jealous, Kerouac approved, kick ass, kick my god damn ass to Tuesday, kick down the doors and take no prisoners, grown in the Vietnam highlands by ex-Vietcong, Guatemalan grown, kiss ass, illegal in every state, imported from all over the god damn world, insane, lovely, loony, lonely, lonesome, malodorous mean old rotten, motherfucking, nasty, narcotic, never whatever, never meh, never cold, not approved by the CIA, not approved by DHS, not approved for human consumption by the FDA, not your daddy’s sissified corporate cup of coffee, NOT DECAFE coffee, not your Denny’s truck driver weak as brown water cup of fake coffee, not your establishment friendly cup of coffee, Not your FBI coffee, Not FAKE Herbal coffee substitute, but a real cup of coffee, not your farmer brothers dinner crap, not made in America for Americans, not safe for work, not your Starbucks average expensive overpriced crappy corporate chain cup of coffee, Not pretentious, Not White House approved, not State Department safe, nuclear, Not Patriotic, operatic, Peets’s coffee approved, paranoid, pornographic, psychotic, pontific, politically aware, rapping, rhyming, right here, right now in River city, rock and roll up the Yazoo, sad, sadistic, sarcastic, sassy, satanic, schizoid, shitting, silly, sexy, smarmy, smelly, smooth, snarky, snarling, stupid, stinking, sweet as honey, sweat inducing, symphonic, Trump can’t handle this coffee, vengeful, Wagnerian, wicked, with nutmeg and cinnamon swirls, with a hint of stevia, with a hint of vanilla, with a hint of rum, with a hint of whisky, with a hint of cherry, with a hint of fruit overtones, with a hint of drugs spicing up the coffee, spendific, speeding, splendid, superior accept no substitutes, survived the Vietnam war, the Iraq war, the Afghan war, the first and Second Korean war, World War 11, the war on poverty, the war on drugs, the war on black people, the sexual revolution, Soulful as a summer’s night in MOTOWN- James Brown approved, TOP approved, Berkeley approved, the coffee that Jimmy Hendrix drank before he died, the coffee that Elvis drank on his last breakfast, the coffee that Barry White crooned as he drank his cup of coffee – and the coffee that made the white boy play stand up and play that funky music, the coffee that made Jonny B Goode play his guitar, and made Jonny bet the devil his soul after he drank his morning cup of righteous coffee and the coffee that make the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll, the coffee your mother warned you against drinking, the coffee that Napoleon drank when he became the Emperor of all Europe, the Coffee that Beethoven drank when he wrote the Ninth symphony, the coffee that Mozart drank as he wrote his last symphony, the coffee that Lincoln drank before he was killed, the Hemingway drank before he killed himself, the coffee that started the 60’s, and ended the 20th century, the coffee that Lenin drank as he plotted revolution, the coffee that Hitler and Stalin drank with FDR as they divided up the world after World War 11, the cup that JFK drank before he was blown away, the coffee Jerry drinks while driving in cars with random celebrities and political figures, the coffee that Jon Stewart drinks before he goes on an epic take down of some foolish politico, the cup of Arabic coffee that Sadaam drank the day he was executed, the coffee that GW and Cheney drank when they bombed Baghdad, the Indian cup of coffee that Bid Laden drank before 9-11 and just before the seals blew his ass to hell, the cup of coffee that Tiger Woods drank with his mistresses while playing a 3, 000 dollar round of golf at Sandy Lane golf course in Barbados, the last legal drug that does what drugs should do, the cup of coffee that Obama drank when he became President, Vietnamese, Vienna brew, wacky, whimsical, Whisky Tango Foxtrot, wild, weird, wonderful, WOW, Yabba dabba doo! Yada Yada yada Zappa’s favorite cup of cosmic coffee, and Zorro’s last cup of coffee, Good to the last drop rolled into one simple cup of hot coffee

As I pound down that first cup of coffee
And fire up my synaptic nerve endings with endless supplies
Of caffeine induced neuron enhancing chemicals

I face the dawning day with trepidation and mind-numbing fear
I turn on the TV and watch the smarmy newscasters in their perfect hair
Lying through their teeth about the great success the government is having Following the great leader’s latest pronouncements
I want to scream and shoot the TV and run out side Shouting “Stop the world.

I want to get off this fucking crazy planet”
The earth does not care a whit about my attitude
It merely shrugs and moves around the Sun
In its appointed daily run
And I sit down
The madness dissipating a bit

And enjoy my second cup
Of heaven and hell
In my morning cup of Joe












EA Poe -- Cyptographer

Copyright John F. McMullen 2018>/I>

Who knew that
Edgar Allan Poe
Was A Cryptographer?
Not I!

But here it is --
His 1841 Article in
Graham’s Magazine
A Few Words On Secret Writing
https://www.eapoe.org/works/essays/fwsw0741.htm

And Chaucer
Was a diplomat
John Milton a civil servant
Shakespeare a playwrite
John Donne a cleric
TS Eliot a school teacher and publisher

Even in those days
Poetry didn’t pay the rent
I guess
I better get a job





bio

    John F. McMullen, “johnmac the bard” is the Poet Laureate of the Town of Yorktown, NY, the author of over 2,500 columns and articles and seven books, five of which are collections of poetry, and is the host of a weekly Internet Radio Show (with hundreds of shows to date). Links to the recordings of all radio shows as well as information on Poet Laureate activities and an event calendar are available at .












Breathe

Caitlin Cherniak

Life is gentle.
Life is delicate.
You must take care of it
like a newborn child,
laying him in his cradle.

Air belongs in the lungs.
Blood belongs in the veins.
You’re the machine,
strong and well-oiled,
many gears in function.

Breathe like the wind.
Run like the river.
Stand like a tree.
I stand with you
My titan, my guard.

My love, please keep breathing.





About Caitlin Cherniak

    Caitlin Cherniak is from New Jersey. She won third place in her high school short story contest. She had several poems and short stories published in her high school journal, the Folio, her college’s magazine, The Independent, and her college’s literary journal, Brushing. She was an editor for both the Independent and Brushing during her four years at Rollins College.












Free Bodies

Caitlin Cherniak

Moving bonelessly,
contorting what limbs they own,
they glide with freedom





About Caitlin Cherniak

    Caitlin Cherniak is from New Jersey. She won third place in her high school short story contest. She had several poems and short stories published in her high school journal, the Folio, her college’s magazine, The Independent, and her college’s literary journal, Brushing. She was an editor for both the Independent and Brushing during her four years at Rollins College.












Usha

Caitlin Cherniak

My little pluviophile
How beautiful you dance in the rain
Your hair shimmers
Your shoes shine
The puddles are splashing
Your eyes are lit aglow when you look at me
You ask me to join you
How can I not?
I adore you
I admire you
I love you

 

*Title is Malay for “to enjoy looking at the opposite gender, appreciate their beauty by staring.”
Ilunga





About Caitlin Cherniak

    Caitlin Cherniak is from New Jersey. She won third place in her high school short story contest. She had several poems and short stories published in her high school journal, the Folio, her college’s magazine, The Independent, and her college’s literary journal, Brushing. She was an editor for both the Independent and Brushing during her four years at Rollins College.












Different Forms of Freedom

Julie Henderson

    The afternoon sun was unmerciful.
    Wearing sunglasses and a hat—like most redheads, she couldn’t tan—Fiona Delvedere met the gaze of Lily Parkins, her lifelong best friend. They were in downtown Grand Junction, Colorado looking for a bathroom.
    Fiona, seven months pregnant with her first child, needed to pee. Again.
    “There must be an ice cream shop around here,” Fiona muttered.
    Her hands unconsciously rested on her bulging belly. She had appeared expectant early on; as a result, this habit was already well-established.
    With her dark curls, inquisitive brown eyes, and shorter statue, Lily didn’t look at all like Fiona. This fact notwithstanding, they once tried to convince fellow girl scouts that they were twins. Only Mary Schaunder, who was as gullible as they come, believed them.
    “You would think so,” Lily answered.
    She scanned the uncrowded street. Since she had suggested they explore western Colorado, she was feeling simultaneously guilty and responsible. Fiona, from the moment they headed west, hadn’t been an agreeable companion. The unrelenting heat certainly didn’t help.
    Twenty minutes later, her bladder temporarily empty and an ice cream cone in hand, Fiona was feeling calmer. Not sanguine per se, but less vexed. This road trip, one Lily had suggested when she was only two months pregnant, was turning out to be a bust.
    “Where are we going tonight?”
    They loitered inside the ice cream parlor. Behind the counter stood a painfully thin teenage boy with a splotchy complexion. He looked as if this was the last place he wanted to be, a feeling Fiona readily and intimately understood.
    “Silverton. They have the best bed and breakfast. I’ve stayed there before. You’re going to love it.”
    Squinting at their paper map, Fiona frowned slightly. “How many hours is that from here?”
    “Almost three. It’s a gorgeous drive.”
    “I do not doubt that. When were you in Silverton?”
    “In 2010—back when I was in graduate school. Tess and I spent a weekend there.”
    Biting her tongue, Fiona resisted the urge to ask if that journey had been more successful and sane. She knew Lily was trying; she also suspected Lily was nervous about how their friendship would change after she became a mother.
    “Ah, I see. Are you ready to head out?”
    “Absolutely. I don’t want to rush this drive; there is too much to see.”
    Smiling halfheartedly, Fiona gingerly stood up. “I believe you.”
    They walked to Lily’s 2008 Honda Civic. Like Robert Frost once wrote, they had miles to go before they could sleep.
    If these miles were like the ones immediately behind them, they’d feature silence, comfortable and less so, and the ease of conversation between friends who had, over the last 25 years, spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours talking about this, that, and the other thing.
    Now, with a baby on the way, they discussed freedom—what it means, what it doesn’t, and how, even if it drastically changes, it often remains. Bolstered by this thought, Fiona surveyed the imposing mountains with renewed appreciation.












Yellow Brick Road Two, ink drawing by Helen Bird, “Inksanity”

Yellow Brick Road Two, ink drawing by Helen Bird, “Inksanity”
















Lullaby

Mike L. Nichols

Turn your tiny head
away from the towers,
from the turrets where
there is no help from men
in black armor. Embrace
the rumbling in your belly,
twisted, like an off-beat metronome.
Allow its unfailing grip and release
to lull you to sleep and tomorrow
I promise

we’ll find something
to eat.





About Mike L. Nichols

    Mike L. Nichols is a graduate of Idaho State University and a recipient of the Ford Swetnam Poetry Prize. He lives and writes in Eastern Idaho. Look for his poetry in Rogue Agent, Ink&Nebula, Rat’s Ass Review, Plainsongs Magazine, and elsewhere. Find more at mikenicholsauthor.com.












Resurrection

Mike L. Nichols

See the woman lost in her
coat, cradling an infant,
born quick and quickly lost.
Wrapped in a scarlet scarf
this creature is too tiny to be,
but she will not set it aside.

She slogs through this bleak
and bleary land, of New America,
searching for a different brand
of messiah to breathe her babe
back to life.





About Mike L. Nichols

    Mike L. Nichols is a graduate of Idaho State University and a recipient of the Ford Swetnam Poetry Prize. He lives and writes in Eastern Idaho. Look for his poetry in Rogue Agent, Ink&Nebula, Rat’s Ass Review, Plainsongs Magazine, and elsewhere. Find more at mikenicholsauthor.com.












The Hand

Tracey Underwood

    This morning the truck wouldn’t start; over and over my husband turned the key in the ignition. I could almost hear his loud sigh of frustration through the walls of the house in our bedroom. Living all the way out in the sticks, there were not many people to call on when things broke down, at least not without walking a great distance.
    The screen door slammed, then the loud thud of his boots let me know he had finally given up on getting the truck started. My husband, a short man with a dark complexion, and large work-worn hands. His frame filled the width of the doorway as he cleared his throat to get my attention. He started to complain about the truck.
    “I heard it, what are we going to do?” I asked.
    “I guess I’ll walk to the next farm and see if I can hitch a ride into town to see if I can get the mechanic to come out and look at it,” he replied.
    I stood looking out the window as he began the long trek to the next farm, slowly watching his back disappear. I thought about the last year and how hard it had been financially, and now this was something else we would have to endure. I would have to take in more sewing and laundry to help with the extra expense of the mechanic. The cold months of the year, it was especially hard on my hands, hanging all the wet laundry on the clothing line out behind the house. My fingers would be chafe and hardened by the time spring came again, especially, now that all the children were gone.
    Lunchtime came and went before I saw a truck getting close to the house. I was surprised to see my husband had hitched a ride back to our farm in the truck of the mechanic. My husband came inside and told me he was going to ride with the mechanic out to dump some garbage at the dump on the outskirts of town, in exchange for his help, the mechanic agreed to fix our truck for free. Then, my husband leaned close and whispered in my ear, “While riding home I looked out the back window of the truck and the wind had blown the tarp slightly off the garbage in the truck bed and you won’t believe what I saw!”
    Of course, that piqued my curiosity. I loved a good bit of gossip, even though our Pastor preached against it on Sundays. So, I whispered back, “What?”
    He said, “A hand, and not just any hand, a dead white man’s hand!” A fear rose up in me like none ever before. Why was there a dead white man in the bed of the old mechanic’s truck? Who was he? The only thing I could think is that we were about to go down a road of no return. My husband invited him in and I went to our little stove to make us a pot of coffee. My mind was whirling with thoughts of how to get out of being involved without letting the mechanic know we knew what was in the bed of the truck. We sat around the cobblestone fireplace with a small fire burning, the smell of the pot of beans I had on the stove for dinner simmering filled the small space of our front room and kitchen. No one said a word, I cleared my throat after taking a sip of my coffee.
    Finally, I asked the mechanic, “What do you have to take to the dump?”
    He looked at me suspiciously and said, “Just some old junk I collected all over town.” We decided to all ride out to the dump together, so I squeezed in between my husband and the old mechanic. We arrived out at the dump just as the sun was setting and the men began to pull junk from the truck bed. I craned my neck around to get a good look at what was being pulled out as my heart sped up in anticipation. The mechanic pulled the tarp off the last pile of garbage and there it was, an old mannequin arm and hand. My husband and I looked at each other and secretly smiled through the darkness of the night. We never spoke of that night again, but I never forgot and from that night on—I looked at every person that passed me on the street and thought, what if?












Roundabout, photography by Olivier Schopfer

Roundabout, photography by Olivier Schopfer
















He, Unknown

Ana M. Fores Tamayo

Though he dwelled in loneliness
He was anchored in eternity.
A stranger among men
he bore the Nether regions of the sun.
He was deep in waking dreams,
overwhelmed by inner voices.
And so he died.




Marcellous Lovelace with BLK75, I am a Man, Memphis 2014
Homage to the Civil Rights Movement











Behind Those Eyes

Mert Feyzioglu

    “What the fuck is going on, I think I passed out somewhere, last night,” he said with a great confusion.
    He opened his eyes in utter darkness; it was so dark that neither he could see his hands nor his feet. The darkness resembled the emptiness of the universe or a massive space in the midst of people’s heart. He was not afraid of darkness for he had been striving to get used to it; he had been a lonely man who lost his family in a traffic accident because of the gambling debt he couldn’t pay for a long time. The murderer did not mean to harm his family but that day the wheel was in the wrong hands.
    “Oh, man! This place stinks like hell, it stinks way worse than I” he mumbled. The place was damp, cold and it smelled like a dead body. “Where is my fuckin’ jacket, there should be a lighter in its pocket.” He began to look for his jacket in the room, but the darkness did not permit him to find anything. A strong impulse made him think something nasty happened last night.
    “Holy smoke! I guess I am here for some reason, shouldn’t have drunk so much last night. Did I hurt someone? Or has someone kidnapped and threw me away? I do not know shit!” he said loudly as if he was trying to make himself heard. After a couple of failures, he sat down and started to think about yesterday evening, but the only thing that he recalled was returning home through devastated and insecure streets.
    “I think, I messed up big, this time. I’m going to die here for some reason which I don’t know at all. I don’t know shit!” he grumbled.
    He hadn’t been a proper person for the society he had lived in; he was rather wicked, loud-mouthed and anomalous. He was good, though not perfect before he had lost his family. The difficulties in his life turned him into someone terrible; he became a reckless person who did not care about people’s feelings. He even did not care about his own life; alcohol and cigar brought a disgusting life for him. The recklessness of him made him lonely and piteous.
     “At least I am alone here. There are no shitty voices around me! I think this isolation is a gift. I wish I had a bottle of wine, then everything would be perfect! People don’t know how good is to be alone; it is a fucking privilege! I totally agree with Bukowski’s saying “beware those who seek constant crowds for they are nothing alone” —”
     He pushed himself to stand up and look for an exit. He moved towards the end of the place, he tried to touch everything on the floor and the wall. He was at the edge of giving up. “Fuck!” he said, but at that moment he realised that something touched his left knee when he was crawling on the floor, he grabbed it in a snap. “That’s it, baby, a matchbox!” he said. “Don’t you ever let me down you piece of match, you’re my only chance to find my way out,” he said. The first match split into two. “Oh, my fucking luck, I am again the luckiest person on the planet! Let’s try again...”
    Before he burnt the second match, he took off his t-shirt, jeans and socks and put them on the floor. He took the last match in the box, burnt it carefully then ignited the clothes to brighten the place
    “Oh, my precious God! What is this place? Is it some sort of a shelter or a cage! I don’t know,” he said with a great surprise. “Look at those walls; all worn out.” He quickly moved back and forward to see something because the fire was about to go off, and he needed to find something useful. He turned his head left to right, right to left again and again and at last something in the far corner took his attention. “Is it a torch!” he yelled. He run toward it as fast as he could. After he took the torch, he came back in a flash to burn it. “Come on, come on! Burn, you motherfucker!” He was trying to do his best to burn the torch, but the fire was about to go out. He took off his undershirt to keep the fire alive more and it worked, he then tried to burn the torch again. “I nailed, you scum!” he said with excessive joy.
    The great excitement occurred once he burned the torch, the darkness gave its place to the light; there was not much light, but it was enough to beat the darkness. The secret of this place started to vanish.
    He began to walk with big steps. His eyes were moving so fast to find some clue or a way out. He was rather surprised for he could not see any door or an exit. All he saw was the cracked walls and the dirty floors covered with mud and dust. He continued his way. A few seconds later a dusty and worn-out picture hanging on the wall caught his attention. He went to the picture with quick steps. Before he took the picture, he tried to figure out what it was. He could not understand what it was because the picture was dusty and half-torn. He took it and cleaned the front face. “What the fuck? What’s going on here? This cannot be true! Is someone shitting me right now?” He was so shocked that he could not keep his eyes off of the picture. “Damn, I have missed you! I’m sincerely sorry for being such a prick man, you did not deserve this! You did not deserve to die because of my mistakes...” said he after seeing his dead family on the picture. As he was talking to his deceased family, the fire was getting smaller.
    “I’m gonna kick your fucking ass, you piece of shit! Who the fuck are you?” he shouted. He thought that someone was trying to disturb him. He was not afraid of anything, but he was afraid of his own biting history. He crouched down and started crying. “I am sorry, I...” As he was crying and talking with his family, his fingers were moving around their happy faces. He was fondling his daughter’s hair with his left hand and touching his wife’s cheeks and lips with his right hand.
    The more he walked into his dark and bitter history, the more he sunk into darkness; the fire was getting smaller and smaller as he was talking with himself. Everywhere started to fade away again. Cracked walls, dirty floor and most importantly the picture were slowly disappearing. He suddenly dropped the picture; put his hands on his head. A freezing gust reached his guilty remorse
    “I remember,” he whispered.
    The blood in his veins began to challenge gravity, his mind became gradually blurred, and the theatre playing behind his dimmed eyes: the darkness, cracked walls, dusty picture began to vanish as he was falling from the roof that he climbed up to commit suicide.







About Mert Feyzioglu

    Mert Feyzioglu was born in Turkey/Ankara in 1994. Since he is highly interested in literature, he decided to study English Language and Literature at Bilkent University. His works have appeared in many Turkish Magazines. He also has been trying to write poetry and short stories in English. His English works have been published by Tuck Magazine and Sun and Moon Magazine.












Sleeping, art by J. Ray Paradiso

Sleeping, art by J. Ray Paradiso
















black rose

A Rose by Any Other Name

Corrina-Corinna

    The doorbell rang. No one ever used the doorbell. I was surprised I heard it.
    Why didn’t they just knock, and who used the doorbell in the first place? I thought, as I got up and headed to the front door.
    I opened the door only to find a box of long stem, red roses on the stoop. With wide eyes, I scooped them up carefully and brought them inside. An array of emotions flooded through me. I had never, ever received flowers let alone roses. I opened the box and buried my nose amongst them, inhaling only their scent. The smell was heaven, and they were beautiful. My eyes misted a bit as I wondered who could have sent them.
    “French!” I said, to no one.
    I set them down and immediately picked up the phone. I fondled the soft petals as I waited through several rings. No voicemail. No voicemail. No voicemail. I chanted in my head.
    “Hello,” the gruff voice answered.
    “Thank you for my flowers,” I blurted.
    “Huh?”
    “The roses. I just got them. They are beautiful!” I continued gushing.
    “I didn’t send you any roses,” he said.
    The silence after told more than his words did.
    “You didn’t?”
    “No. Should I have?”
    “Well, it is my birthday,” I said in a hushed voice.
    He remained quiet for what seemed like forever. The silence hurt deep in my chest as my heart sank. I heard only his breath on the other end, which assured me he hadn’t hung up. I swear I heard his thoughts swirl around as he pieced together the whole events as they unfolded.
    “I’m sorry I forgot your birthday. Happy birthday,” he said.
    The monotony in his voice was out of character. Granted, we had only known each other a little over two months. I shouldn’t have been surprised he hadn’t remembered my birthday. It still didn’t change the fact I got roses and that they weren’t from him. I heard a sharp intake of his breath.
    “Ha! I bet you they are from your ex,” he said.
    “No,” I said in protest, “Brantley would never spend money on something as frivolous as flowers, even if he had remembered my birthday.”
    “Really?”
    “I’m sure of it. He’s quite tight with his money.”
    Another awkward pause.
    “Alright, I gotta go. Happy Birthday. I’ll see you when I get back into town next week, we’ll celebrate then.”
    I heard the phone click before I could respond and then a deafening silence followed. What a birthday this had turned out to be. Aren’t flowers supposed to bring joy? Not these flowers.
    I finally noticed the card hidden deep in the bouquet. I pulled it out and ripped open the tiny envelope. The card read: Happy Birthday, from your friend, Big Stevie. With that, I let out a big sigh not realizing I had been holding my breath.



rows of roses, photograph copyright © 2011 - 2019 Janet Kuypers










Coral

Don Stoll

    I was alone when I woke up in Alan’s bed. I heard him in another room and sat up. That long ago I never had to get up during the night, but I’d reached my limit. I imagined releasing my powerful, steady stream as if from a fire hose —also something from long ago. The room didn’t have a loo attached, though, and the fear of having Alan see me kept me in bed. I noticed a pint mug on the floor, empty except for the inch of beer at the bottom and the cigarette afloat in it. Everything else in the room went with the minty-green walls, which reminded me of a detail from the night before. He’d led me into the room on the pretext of wanting my advice about décor.
    “Maybe cerulean paint for the walls and indigo bedclothes, George?”
    In a pub called The Crown on my summer vacation—“holiday,” she called it—a dark-haired, dark-eyed girl had served me. I said “One for you” and one thing led to another. It intrigued her that I was American and a college student thrilled by nearby Stratford-upon-Avon, which I’d just visited. I decided that college could wait for a while. I’d entered on a tourist visa, but her boss didn’t mind paying me off the books “to collect glasses.”
    “So you’re Charlotte’s latest,” he said.
    His name was Clive.
    “Seen her with all bloody kinds, but never a Yank before.”
    Days and nights off, we would go to the town’s quieter pubs. Charlotte was recognized everywhere.
    With August and the tenth anniversary of the Great Train Robbery arrived a flurry of newspaper stories that gave her an idea.
    “Think what we could do with that kind of money, Georgie. Course, have to do it smarter than those blokes. Piss off across the Channel right away, not get caught.”
    A heist for the sake of a heist—like throwing back a fish you’ve caught—sounded thrilling, but I didn’t know about the money.
    “What’s wrong with our life here?” I said. “Getting pissed all the time, shagging all the time.”
    I had soaked up all the slang.
    “Good enough life for you,” she said, “but you have no idea.”
    We were in bed. She took a drag from the cigarette I’d just lit for her.
    “I’m so tired of being nice to blokes that I don’t want to be nice to, Georgie.”
    On an evening when she wasn’t feeling well I’d said I would stay with her, but she told me to go out to keep healthy. I bumped into Alan, a Crown regular who had always seemed friendly and who said, “Have one on me.”
    Many drinks later in the room soon to be decorated with cerulean walls and indigo bedclothes he said, “Sleep here and I’ll use the other bedroom.”
    In the morning, I’d finally decided to use the mug as a urinal when the door opened a crack. A girl of high school age with hair like butter put her head through.
    “You decent?” she said.
    She entered carrying a tray. I heard Alan say he wouldn’t be home for lunch and I heard another door close decisively.
    Her cheeks looked as if someone had painted roses on them and smeared away the flower shapes to leave only the color.
    She set the tray on the stool beside the bed and I pulled up the green covers. By shutting my eyes and picturing that green, I can bring back more of that night, or more of it as I imagine it must have happened. Sitting on the bed with my legs spread, for balance, I’d noticed the green between them. As Alan knelt in front of me, he pointed at my shoes and whispered.
    “I’ll untie them.”
    “Green on green,” I said, nodding at his striped tie dangling between my knees.
    “Chartreuse on emerald,” he shrugged.
    He pulled off my shoes and looked up with eyes like the ocean.
    “You’re knackered. Need help undressing?”
    “Sleep like this,” I said, dropping back onto the bed and closing my eyes.
    He didn’t answer. Or maybe he did, but I fell asleep for a moment. The give of the mattress popped my eyes open. His knees on either side of mine, his hands at my belt. He looked like a welterweight boxer.
    “Sleeping in your clothes won’t feel good. Don’t you want to feel good?”
    “No pajamas.”
    “Not to worry: got your size in the other bedroom.”
    My eyes were closed again. The pressure of his hands against my belt and the sound of the hasty opening of my zipper.
    “Lift that tight little ass off the bed so I can pull these down, George.”
    His voice had become husky.
    “Bloody hell, heavier than you look.”
    I heard him grunting.
    “Thought so,” he said as I felt my blue jeans gather at my knees. “No knickers. Confess I’m disappointed, though.”
    I couldn’t open my eyes.
    “Disappointed?”
    “Hoped to get a reaction out of this thing,” he laughed. “Going to say this never happens to you?”
    In the morning, with the girl, I’m not sure why I pulled up the covers. There was less cause to be embarrassed by my bare chest than by having been her employer’s latest conquest. Her matter-of-fact bearing suggested she was used to this, as did her questions: Did I need pajamas? What size?
    Her platform heels were the same color as a top that Charlotte had stopped wearing after concluding that “This pink’s not bright enough for my coloring.”
    “I like your pink shoes,” I told Alan’s girl.
    It was her color.
    “Coral,” she said.
    Her pale, glossy lips twisted into a smirk. In a mirror on the wall behind her, I glimpsed my face and recognized the same concern I would sometimes see on Charlotte’s face as a man took her measure.












Spot 4044, photo by Eleanor Leonne Bennett

Spot 4044, photo by Eleanor Leonne Bennett

Eleanor Leonne Bennett Bio (20150720)

    Eleanor Leonne Bennett is an internationally award winning artist of almost fifty awards. She was the CIWEM Young Environmental Photographer of the Year in 2013. Eleanor’s photography has been published in British Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Her work has been displayed around the world consistently for six years since the age of thirteen. This year (2015) she has done the anthology cover for the incredibly popular Austin International Poetry Festival. She is also featured in Schiffer’s “Contemporary Wildlife Art” published this Spring. She is an art editor for multiple international publications.

www.eleanorleonnebennett.zenfolio.com


















Just Goddamn Words

Grant Guy

words are just goddamn words
& the first to slap you in the face
it is bullshit to believe they say what you mean

prose is useless
it does not give a bat’s scratch about you
poetry        forget about it

maybe we should just words let lie
words are good at that

my advice to you.
when it comes to words
walk away renee
life is too short to live in the company of

words





About Grant Guy

    Grant Guy is a Canadian poet, writer and playwright. He has over one hundred poems and short stories published in internationally. He has five books published: Open Fragments, On the Bright Side of Down, Blues for a Mustang, The Life and Lies of Calamity Jane and Bus Stop Bus Stop. He was the 2004 recipient of the MAC’s 2004 Award of Distinction and the 2017 recipient of the WAC Making A Difference Award.












Be Real

Vaughan Wesley
AKA The Vagabond Prophet

Naked faced for sleep alone
Still fearing the pillow will talk
About how I really look.

Donning masks before pants
Keeping up the charade
In this social masquerade.

Asking same questions
Giving same answers,
How’s it hanging?
Nothing much how about you?

Does anybody else get tired of it?
Does anybody else wish the world
Was ready for real people?
Who answered honestly
When asked about their day.

Yearned to pour to whomever may inquire
Yet reigned myself back for fear of smothering,
Few people are ready for the torrent of others.

Everybody is lonely
Everybody friendless,
Not getting along with disguises
How could we without?

I fail another attempt to write myself away
Drawing ink from my soul until the well runs dry,
More proof that paper isn’t ready for some stories.

Natural looking masks met with
“Are you sick?”
The answer is yes but I won’t say so
I’ll just say, “Fine thanks.”

Though it doesn’t make sense,
Nobody will say so,
For the response is on the list
Of accepted things to say.

Be real
Be fully you and fully new
Wake up and shower in paint thinner
Let your colour shine
Let the sun mature the hues
And heal every bruise.












Wolf Hunting

Vaughan Wesley
AKA The Vagabond Prophet

I heard a story once about people up north.
Where there’s long days and long winters
And the snow piles higher than houses.

They hunt wolves in winter,
Finding ways to do it safely.
Horrific and brilliant methods.

Take a knife and dip it in blood
Freeze the blood on the blade,
Do this over and over
Ten times over.

Until the blade is deep beneath a thick coat
A winter coat of deepest red.

Leave it in the open blade pointing up
Saluting the sky
Taking a bow before the grand performance
The great seduction of the beast.

Curiosity can be wonderful,
Curiosity can be devastating.

A hint on the wind
And the scent makes itself at home
Amongst happy memories
Eating dinner with family.

You come out of the trail
Seeing this small tower of scarlet
Amidst this ocean of white,
You remember this shade of red.

It wasn’t the first lick that killed you
But it sealed your fate to be sure.
Those that live by the sword die by the sword
Those that thirst for blood drown in their own.

Niceties we say to excuse our guilt,
You never stood a chance against this trap
It looks like food
It smells like food
And it even tastes like food.

Your tongue swarms into every crevice
Made by the swirling vapours
Of your hot breath excited
Panting with desire and hunger.

You lick and lick and lick
And endless fountain of your favourite flavour
You denied yourself nothing.

The blood just kept coming,
First from the frozen blood
Thawed by your warmth,
But then it switched and you didn’t notice.

Did you?

Can’t pinpoint the second but sometime
Your tongue met the steel
Blood now spouting from many sources
And you swear it’s the best day you’ve ever had.

You died in a garden painted crimson,
By the fleshy brush jutting forth
From your strong jaws
Bathed in your own paint.

I just listened to the story,
Dumbstruck.

I’ve never understood
A wild animal better than now,
I’ve been betrayed
By my longings too.

Curiosity can be wonderful,
Curiosity can be devastating.












Madonna’s Fashion

Larry Lefkowitz

    I have introduced a whole new stunning collection -- my up-to-date chastity belt fashion. Ideal when your conservative hubby or boyfriend wishes to preserve the wife’s or partner’s faithfulness while he is attending chamber of commerce meetings, biker trips, rodeos, bowl games, and other male-bonding functions.
    Your man and you will both feel safer when you are embraced by one of my modern chic chastity belts that are a must item in your wardrobe closet. Forget the sober gray cumbersome prone to rusting iron chastity belts of the days when knights – or lesser types—kept their dames faithful while they were on the crusades, warring on behalf of their sires, engaging in jousts, or whatever, and the dames were knitting, sewing, sweeping the castle floors, or performing other domestic tasks. Anything except engaging in romantic liaisons which the chastity belt put the kibosh on.
    Today’s contemporary updated chastity belts come in a wonderful assortment of colors, fabrics, and materials so that there is something for every taste. So appealing is your modern-day chastity belt that many of you girls will wear it (or them since you may prefer a number to match your mood or clothing) even when the male in your life is at the office.
    The chastity belts are available in a wide choice of light, comfortable materials: plastic, polyester, you name it, and their designs make it difficult to choose from the many belts available. Striped (I recommend particularly the “tigress belt”), polka-dotted, paisley or solid colored for the more conservative chastity belt aficionado. The spectrum of colors is breathtaking. From fiery red (the “Lolita” model) through “ocean blue,” “beryl green,” “midnight black” – fifty shades of protection to match your outfits, your eyes or, in a real tribute that your significant other will treasure – his eyes (or other parts) -- hopefully not glued to another femme while you are remaining faithful to him.
    You can say goodbye to the old key-in-the-lock chastity belt unless you are an old-fashioned lass at heart or want to go the fantasy route with your knight, ogre, whathaveyou, opening the belt prior to ravishing you. Coded push buttons on the belt (slightly more expensive than the turnkey model) do the job sans the old iron maiden feel.
    There is also a chained model if you go in for the sado-masochistic. At the other extreme is the model with bows for devotees of the little girl look.
    Finally, there is a line of music box chastity belts that come with one of my hits: “Rescue Me,” “Justify my Love,” “Like a Virgin,” “Bad Girl,” “Express Yourself.”












Hidingsilence

Jake Ryvicker

The silence is hiding.
Hiding in the corners of the room.
Casting itself across the kitchen.

It jumps in between the yelling,
In between the fighting and screaming.
It pounds against the windows.
Claws at my ears.
And tears at the insides of my eyes.
Creating cracks in the dams that took years to construct.

The cracks stretch to fissures.
And I drown.












Tonight, She Comes Home

Keith LaFountaine

    Tonight, she comes home.
    Her house is dark and quiet; the door groans as she opens it, but the only response she hears is the ticking grandfather clock from the living room.
    She closes the front door behind her, pushing away the warm, Arizona evening, and winces as its creaks echo through the house. When it is locked behind her, she realizes how numb she is. Adrenaline and fear are pumping through her body like a poison coursing through her veins.
    His voice had been soft, but firm.
    He had not yelled.
    He had put his hand in her hair and stroked it. Then he had grabbed it. His voice had remained calm, but his eyes were dangerous, darting, full of relish and zeal.
    He had dropped her off at her house and bid her goodbye as though nothing had happened. She was not able to say anything in response; her words had stuck in her throat.
    She stands up from the door and makes her way up the stairs toward her bedroom. She tiptoes past her parents’ room, listening to their soft snores as she walks toward the darkened room at the end of the hall. When she turns on the light, it seems foreign to her. The light-blue walls carry an air of menace with them.
    She should report it.
    She knows she should.
    But she cannot.
    Her father is a United States senator. He comports himself with dignity, and yet his voting record tightens her lips.
    She decides to take a shower. She turns on the jet of warm water and sits in the tub, feeling the hot liquid pour over her, mingling with her own tears. It has finally started to hit her, and for the first time in her life she has a panic attack. Her vision narrows, her lungs seem to shrink, the world begins to spin.
    Her mother knocks on the bathroom door asking if she is okay. She can imagine the matriarch of her family standing in a white bathrobe, tapping on the door with her right hand. At first the words don’t come, but eventually she finds the strength to push them from her clogged throat:
    “I’m okay,” she says.
    Her mother’s footsteps fade into the ether of darkness, and she is left with the cooling shower water.
    She gets out of the shower a while later and sneaks into her bedroom; she avoids the creaky floorboards near her bedroom door. She can hear her father’s soft snores from his bedroom, but the kitchen light downstairs is on.
    She wonders if her mother knows what has happened.

*

    The next morning, she opens her eyes and the world seems gray. Her body aches, and the back of her neck — where his hand had been, tight and terrifying — burns as though it has been branded.
    When she goes downstairs, she sees her father eating breakfast. He looks up at her and smiles. She cannot produce a grin in response. She sits down at the table and keeps her head down.
    “Did you have a good night last night,” he asks her. He is eating cereal while her brother complains about the lack of sugar in his morning meal.
    She nods, unable to lie to her father. He looks at her, expecting something more definitive, but when she says nothing he turns back to his meal and nods to himself.
    She wants to tell him.
    She wants to spill the entire story so the weight in her chest will be freed.
    But she does not.
    But she can not.

*

    She sits up on warm nights. It has been thirty years; her mother and father are buried in a cemetery 2,300 miles away. The back of her neck still burns, and she has never driven, or ridden in, a truck. Her husband is asleep in their bedroom. His soft snores carry down the hall.
    She has never told him.
    Her daughter is out with a boy. He seems nice; clean-cut, blond, tall. He talks a lot about Leonardo Da Vinci and plays guitar in his free time. She has seen him play on videos her daughter has shown her. Her daughter always looks at her and asks what she thinks. She says he is good; she thinks he looks like the boy in the truck.
    She sits in the kitchen drinking a glass of ice water. She does not know if she should be waiting, or if she should be asleep upstairs. Regardless, she cannot bring herself to leave the table. She fills the glass of water when it is empty, and she makes herself a sandwich when she gets hungry.
    After waiting for hours she decides to go to sleep. She slips into bed with her husband and he wraps his arms around her. She smiles. He is a good man. He is a kind man. He tips his servers thirty-five percent and he runs a charity for children with Down syndrome.
    He will never know.
    Tonight, her daughter comes home.
    Tonight, her daughter may have experienced something destructive and terrifying and common.
    Tonight, if she wakes and hears her daughter sitting in the shower, she vows she will tell her what happened thirty years ago.












Simplicity, graphite drawing by Carolyn Poindexter

Simplicity, graphite drawing by Carolyn Poindexter
















Hard as Stone

Annette Gagliardi

my father dug into the Earth in the Black Hills
Gold Mine                -                two stories under ground -
his way lit only by the light on his helmet
with pick ax and shovel                he dug -
pressing his muscles into
each striation of the ground

using the bundles of fibrous tissue on his back and legs
that became layered like the colored ribbons on an agate
becoming what he dug, what he hollowed out

the smooth, polished stone in shades of brown
with mahogany, umber, and sienna ribbons
following each other around the outside
and even though we cannot see them,
they run through the center as well.

what he dug became a cavern                that grew over time - with each stroke
of the ax                as it cleaved the rock

smooth, yet hard - hard as granite –
hard as the dark                                 deep, down in the mine
hard as the days and nights he excavated the Earth
digging and cutting the bedrock,
creating ridges and valleys
inside the world of stone

hard as the life
inside our mother planet
under her crusted mantle
with her breathing herself
onto him and sighing
as he tore away her flesh

hard as it is to suffer patiently
while something or someone
digs you hollow

 

Published in Pasque Petals, The Magazine of the South Dakota State Poetry Society,
April 2018. Printed in ERR Artist Collective, ERR-otta Zine, March 14, 2018.












Bee’s Knees

Mark K. Ryan

    We had to hurry. The alarm clock didn’t go off and we were late for the morning flight. It was our daily pilgrimage back to the local Sunflower diner. I bet all of our old friends will be there; Naty, Bugsy, Behive, and Swarmy. They are always hungry as a horse-fly.
    Good, we made it to the take off area, just in time. They were now boarding passengers and we got in at the end of the line. All of the other passengers were busy as a bee, buzzing with excitement.
    My wife and I held hands with our two sip-lings and carefully walked along the leafy path to the gangly way. It had rained the night before and the path was slippery.
    We boarded the new addition to Dragon Fly Airlines and took our seats in row 4-Bee. I was lucky to get the new rotisserie seating. These new roto seats moved everyone in the row next to the window every fifteen minutes. That gave everyone a bird’s eye view.
    The pilot said fasten your seat belts, we are ready for take-off. No runway was needed with these new models. Their double-crossed wings buzzed to full throttle immediately and we lifted off straight up. We circled the old neighborhood and waved to the giant humans below, sitting on their outside deckchairs. Too bad they couldn’t see us, in our microscopic universe.
    Soon the dragonfly landed on a large sunflower and we all extended our drinking tubes into the flower center, to the sweet spot nectar. Our friends soon arrived and the party was really humming. What a great life we-bees have, flying first class on the Dragon Fly Special sipping cider through a straw. This is the bee’s knees.



Bee photography copyright © 2015-2019Janet Kuypers










The Giver

Allan Onik

    “So, you were the new Giver?” Jonas’s mother asked him. They were putting decorations on the Christmas tree and the snow was falling thickly outside in large flakes. The walkway to the cottage was covered now—he could see from the window view. The lights from the Christmas tree shined on his face. He could smell coffee and pumpkin rolls cooking in the kitchen.
    “I was,” Jonas said, “It was an honor and a curse. I came here because...”
    “Because of what you came to realize?”
    “Yes. I needed relief from the burden. From the end of the innocence. Here, I have something to give you.” Jonas opened his hand to his mother. In his palm was a silver bell, laced with an ornate, red ribbon. “Go on,” he said, “take it.”
    She reached down and touched his hand. The vision overcame her.

    The militias wore rags on their heads and lit the man on fire who was suspended in the cage. He cried out in agony and horror. The vision changed and she saw hurricanes overcoming cities, and glaciers melting and falling apart. People begged on the streets of a city, searching for food and warmth. Large rockets were released in the dark, cold, night air in faraway realms.

    “Do you see? What I have been given?”
    “There are places and times where they all see it,” She said. “Here, help me light the candles.”












hens staring upward

(c) Eric Robert Nolan 2015

Please
stop
fleeing me so frequently at Atlantic City.
It happens every night now.

I
look
over at the slot machine you occupied and only see
some strange man, finer than I am, and industrious.
All the ringing bells announce
his inauguration.
All the flashing lights
strobe his sharper features.
It makes me wake and makes me
artlessly craft a
hard discordant poetry.

Remember Atlantic City?
We took a flight despite its easy drive.
It’s a funny word, “flight.”
It can mean
to seize the sky as the cardinal might
and the hen cannot –
the conquest, the flashing red ascent to sky and space.
Or it can mean departure,
as one escapes from another.

Just
about
three times a week
I am at that strange and nameless airport in my sleep
where the planes will not take flight.
High white walls vault up.
The hangars all are locked and vacant.
Clocks speed backward.
Incoherent porters
clutch and curse at suitcases.
The bathrooms smell like beer.

Other would-be passengers
harbor nascent aneuryisms.
Children chatter like hectic apes.
Their fathers all are drunk, their mothers
suffer black and scandalous sudden miracles in the airport lounge,
each reaching orgasm
at the taste of stale sandwiches.
Convulsing, their eyes roll back
Their slow moans hasten into screams,
Their slim arms raised, but
Indolent husbands with rictus grins
will only clutch at their jackets,
at hidden iron flasks.

All the long lines lead
only to exits.
All the flight announcements
are harshly lit in dead and inscrutable languages:
strange Aramaic,
or Latin’s various precursors:
embittered early Germanic and
jumbled Etruscan.
Only two words are clear:
“DEPARTURES HERE.”

I need to fly to you.
I need to see you in person but
the attendants in my nightmare all
are comatose at the counters.
Sleeping pilots sag in chairs.
In an airport bar,
the dead slouch over snifters.
A bartender is bones.
Down a white corridor
A stewardess in sing-song voice
will wrongly remember a verse and reduce
Dante to gibberish.
Shakespeare is made as profane
as a syphilitic kiss.
On her lips, Eliot
becomes a barking dog.
My ticket is illegible –
its scrawled words
read like the bray of an ass,
or my own words.

You left me once.
Now stay
in the various safe and certain places free of sadness found
in the attention of better men.
Please, Audrey.
Please.
It was human for you to leave me once
But cruel for you to do so
over and over and over in my dreams.
Upon waking I can only console
myself with stilted meter
and the misspelled names of cities.

I
am
unsaved by my similes,
mere alliteration and unmeasured verse in an amateur’s awkward
clutch of unkempt metaphors,
the thinly veiled and even conscious
failed emulation of Auden,
the maudlin, the guttural hen
aspiring to such song as only the cardinal is capable.

Your
last
words to me are now familiar nocturnes.
Stars will nightly light your verbs.
Every waning moon will arc
over your exact nouns and careful platitudes,
Your eloquence in leaving me,
The precision in “goodbye.”
The flashing rebuke in the narrowing blue
of your eyes is concise.
The blue-black and deepening, freezing dark violet
of heaven will always observe your departure,
your ordered logic.
Its witness is the vacuum.
Its witness is the endless expanse of space.

I
write
but my words
are only hens with dull black eyes –
hens staring upward –
beholding the sky and its occasional
darting scarlet of cardinals in flight.

I
love
but my words
are only untidy, unmannered motifs –
as devoid of hope or order as
feral children in the snow, starving in a March forest.

 

“hens staring upward” was previously published by Dead Snakes and Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine in 2015.












Burned Bridges

Milenko Županović

In cold
chambers
death
gruesome shadows
sinners
disappear
in the dark
depths
faith
on the hill of crucifixion.

Magic
East
light
tombs
burned
bridges
death
fate
abandoned
gates
heaven
disappear
in the fog.





Biography

        Milenko Županović was born in 1978 in Kotor (Montenegro). By profession he is a graduate marine engineer, but in his free time, he writes poetry and short stories. His stories and poems have been published by many magazines, blogs and websites, mostly in the Europe, U.S. and in Latin America.
        In 2010 he wrote and published his first book, a collection of stories, and he also written and published few collections of poems (ebooks).
        In 2015 he wrote and published his second book , a collection of stories and poetry.
        In 2016 he wrote his third book , a collection of poetry (published in USA, project “Poems for all”)
        His books “Martiri” and “Simboli Segreti” were published in italian language.
        Milenko is an ethnic Croat and lives in the town of Kotor (Montenegro) with his wife and 3 sons.












Circle

Milenko Županović

Symbolism
of a perfect circle
saved for centuries
storm is getting closer
the wind is getting stronger
door almost closed
mirror of perfection
danger is coming
without warning
from all directions.





Biography

        Milenko Županović was born in 1978 in Kotor (Montenegro). By profession he is a graduate marine engineer, but in his free time, he writes poetry and short stories. His stories and poems have been published by many magazines, blogs and websites, mostly in the Europe, U.S. and in Latin America.
        In 2010 he wrote and published his first book, a collection of stories, and he also written and published few collections of poems (ebooks).
        In 2015 he wrote and published his second book , a collection of stories and poetry.
        In 2016 he wrote his third book , a collection of poetry (published in USA, project “Poems for all”)
        His books “Martiri” and “Simboli Segreti” were published in italian language.
        Milenko is an ethnic Croat and lives in the town of Kotor (Montenegro) with his wife and 3 sons.












Prison of infinity

Milenko Županović

A ghostly silence
traces of the past
flag of freedom
on the dark side
of Moon
in the darkness
of time.

Burned bridges
of freedom
dead silence
in the abyss
of death
gruesome shadows
salvation army
dreams of centuries
in prison of infinity.





Biography

        Milenko Županović was born in 1978 in Kotor (Montenegro). By profession he is a graduate marine engineer, but in his free time, he writes poetry and short stories. His stories and poems have been published by many magazines, blogs and websites, mostly in the Europe, U.S. and in Latin America.
        In 2010 he wrote and published his first book, a collection of stories, and he also written and published few collections of poems (ebooks).
        In 2015 he wrote and published his second book , a collection of stories and poetry.
        In 2016 he wrote his third book , a collection of poetry (published in USA, project “Poems for all”)
        His books “Martiri” and “Simboli Segreti” were published in italian language.
        Milenko is an ethnic Croat and lives in the town of Kotor (Montenegro) with his wife and 3 sons.












In The Heart

Marlon Jackson

In the heart lies the truth
what the mind cannot say
until it’s time.
Soon then the light will
reveal what needs to rise.












True Light

Marlon Jackson

Above there it is
shining within us
And we can break like crayons
but we can still color












I Want

Janet Kuypers
sunmmer 1995

i want a big house with filtered central air
and i want a big lawn so i can recreate nature

and i want a big fence so i’ll know what’s mine

and i want the evergreens trimmed into neat little
balls, because it has to look neat. plant everything
in a row.

and i want to spray chemicals on my lawn
to keep the dandelions away

***

and i want a plastic lobster bib
over my fancy dress at the fancy restaurant

and don’t forget the hundred dollar champagne

and i want a big fat car, and i want
someone else to drive it

and i want the two kids, one boy, one girl
and i want a nanny to take care of them for me

i want to be famous
i want everyone to love me

i want it
i want it all



Seeing Things Differently CD Listen mp3 file to this from the first Janet Kuypers performance art show Seeing Things Differently (8/14/97), or get ANY track from this CD release online from iTunes.
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Published in her book Close Cover Before Striking, read (for future audio CD release) live at Striking with Nature and Humanity at Trunk Fest , in an outdoor Evanston IL feature 06/25/11
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video See a 36+ minute YouTube video (L T56) of Janet Kuypers and Thom Woodruff going back and forth with poetry; where Janet Kuypers read her poems “Helping Men in Public Places”, “I Want”, and “Last Before Extinction”, then John Yotko read a poem he just wrote the day before, then Janet Kuypers read her poems “Warren Stories” and “Kurt Irons”, then Thom spoke, then Janet Kuypers read her poems “Never Did the Same”, “All These Reminders”, “Who You Tell Your Dreams To”, and “You and Me and Your Girlfriend”, then Thom spoke, then Janet Kuypers read her poems “My Mother My Mother My Mother”, then her prose “NASA Project”. and finally her poem “Moonlight”, all read from her performance art collection book “Chapter 38 v1” 4/29/18 at Austin’s the 2018 Poetry Bomb at the Baylor Street Art Wall.
video See a 36+ minute YouTube video (L2500) of Janet Kuypers and Thom Woodruff going back and forth with poetry; where Janet Kuypers read her poems “Helping Men in Public Places”, “I Want”, and “Last Before Extinction”, then John Yotko read a poem he just wrote the day before, then Janet Kuypers read her poems “Warren Stories” and “Kurt Irons”, then Thom spoke, then Janet Kuypers read her poems “Never Did the Same”, “All These Reminders”, “Who You Tell Your Dreams To”, and “You and Me and Your Girlfriend”, then Thom spoke, then Janet Kuypers read her poems “My Mother My Mother My Mother”, then her prose “NASA Project”. and finally her poem “Moonlight”, all read from her performance art collection book “Chapter 38 v1” 4/29/18 at Austin’s the 2018 Poetry Bomb at the Baylor Street Art Wall.
video See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her poems “I Want” from her “Striking with nature and humanity” show, “Coquinas” from her “IPB: Impromptu Poetry on the Beach” show, and then she sang her song “Tight Rope Affair” with john on guitar from her “a Very Goth Beach Feature” show, all performed from her poetry performance art book “Chapter 48 (v 1)” 12/15/18 @ “Recycled Reads” in Austin (filmed from a Panasonic Lumix 2500 camera).
video See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her poems “I Want” from her “Striking with nature and humanity” show, “Coquinas” from her “IPB: Impromptu Poetry on the Beach” show, and then she sang her song “Tight Rope Affair” with john on guitar from her “a Very Goth Beach Feature” show, all performed from her poetry performance art book “Chapter 48 (v 1)” 12/15/18 @ “Recycled Reads” in Austin (filmed from a Panasonic Lumix T56 camera).


Click here for the Janet Kuypers bio.










Medication

Janet Kuypers
spring 1992

I
I set my alarm for 4:30 instead of 5:30 so I could
roll over, take a pill, and fall back asleep. I’d leave two pills on the
night stand with a glass of water every night. I could feel the pain
in my leg, my hand, when I reached over to take the drugs. I’d
feel it in my back, too. And sometimes in my shoulder. The
water always tasted warm and dusty. It hurt to hold the pills
in my right hand.

I closed my eyes at 4:32. I hated that damn alarm clock. And
taking the pills early still wouldn’t make the pain go away
before I woke up. I knew that. But I took them anyway. And
I tried to fall back asleep. And I dreaded 5:30, when I’d have to move.

5:40, I couldn’t wait any longer, I couldn’t be late, we
couldn’t have that, so I’d finally swing my legs to the floor.
I’d put on my robe and limp into the kitchen. The trip to the
kitchen lasted for hours. And picking up the milk carton from the
refrigerator hurt like hell. This wasn’t supposed to be happening,
not to me. Just pour the damn milk. I’d wipe the tears from my chin
and sit down for breakfast.

II
The doctor doubled the dosage, and he was amazed
that I needed this much. He told me to follow the directions
strictly, STRICTLY. “You can’t take these in the morning the way
you have been,” he’d say. “You have to take them with food.”
That doesn’t help when I’m crying from the pain in the morning.
But I could get an ulcer, he’d say. And I wouldn’t want that.
Of course not. I just wanted the pain to go away.

Take one tablet three times daily, with meals.
Do not drink alcohol while on medication.
Take with food or milk. Do not skip medication.
Do not take aspirin while using this product.
Do not operate heavy machinery. May cause ulcers.

III
All I had to do was get through the mornings. The mornings
were the hardest part. Just take a little more pain, and
by the afternoon it will all be fine. Just fine.

An hour after the pills, and I’d start to feel dizzy.
I’d stare at a computer screen and it would move, in circles, back and
forth. I wanted to grab the screen and make it stay in place. But
I’d look at my fingers and they would go in and out
of focus. I’d feel my head rocking forward and backward;
I couldn’t hold myself still. I’d sit at my desk and my eyes would
open and close, open and close. Before I knew it, ten minutes passed
and I remembered nothing. I could have been screaming
for ten minutes straight and I wouldn’t have known it. Or crying.
Or sleeping. Or laughing. Or dying.
I had just lost ten minutes of my life, they were just taken
away from me, ripped away from me, and I could never
get them back.

And I could still feel traces of the pain, lingering in my bones.

IV
I’d sit up at night and just stare at the bottle. It was a
big bottle, as if the doctors knew I’d take these drugs forever.
Hadn’t it been forever already? I’d open a bottle, look at a pill.
They looked big too. Pink and white. What pretty colors.

And then I’d think: If one tablet, fifty milligrams, could put me
to sleep in the morning, could make me dizzy, could take
a part of my life from me, then think about what the other
thirty-six could do. 1800 milligrams. It could kill me.
I wouldn’t want that. Of course not.
But just think, the bottle isn’t even full.

May cause ulcers. May cause dizziness. Side effects may vary
for each patient. May cause weight gain. May cause weight loss.
May cause drowsiness. May cause irritability.
Medication may have to be taken consistently
for weeks before expected results. If effects become severe,
consult physician immediately.

V
I began to count. In the mornings I took eight pills:
one multivitamin, one calcium pill, one niacin pill, one
fish oil capsule, one garlic oil pill, and one pink-and-white
pain killer that I was special to have, because you need
a doctor’s permission to take those. Then I took diet pills:
one starch blocker, one that was called a “fat magnet.”
As if the diet pills worked anyway. But I still took them.

And then I had to watch the clock, take a pink-and-white
at one in the afternoon, a different pill at five o’clock,
another pink-and-white at six o’clock, and there was also
usually sinus medication that I had to take every
six hours in there, too. Or was it eight hours? I started to
watch the clock all the time, I bought a pill container
for my purse so that I would always have my medication with me.

When I’d feel my body start to ache again, I’d look at the clock.
It would be fifteen minutes before I had to take another pill.



the poetry 5 CD THE CHAOTIC COLLECTION
Order this iTunes track: Janet Kuypers - The Chaotic Collection #01-05 - Medication
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13 Years of Poetry & Prose
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Janet Kuypers - Etc
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See YouTube video from 5/3/17 of Janet KuypersMay 2017 Book Release Reading at Half Price Books, where she said her haiku “uphill” then read her prose “Driving by his House” in “Hands that Hurt”, then her poems “Medication” and “Empty Chocolate Counter” in “Things Found in Books” (this video filmed from a Sony camera).
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See YouTube video 10/8/16 of Janet Kuypers reading her poem “Medication” from her now sold-out book “Change/Rearrange” live at the Blue Hole reading at the opening night of the Georgetown Poetry Festival (Sony camera).
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See YouTube video 10/8/16 of Janet Kuypers reading her poem “Medication” from her now sold-out book “Change/Rearrange” live at the Blue Hole reading at the opening night of the Georgetown Poetry Festival (Lumix camera).


Click here for the Janet Kuypers bio.










My motherMy motherMy mother

Janet Kuypers
spring 1996

We went to see my mother this weekend. You see,
my mother has cancer, and we decided to go
across the country for a weekend to surprise her
and see how she was doing. it was breast cancer,
so it really was the best case scenario, i suppose,
so i managed to put it out of my mind until we actually
had to fly there

The night before i couldn’t bring myself to pack. it was
two in the morning when i finally pulled my suitcase out
from the pantry shelf.

i kept telling people at work, “well, you see, I have to go
visit my mother because she has cancer, so I have to
miss a few days of work,” but I was always able to
say it so matter-of-factly until I had to actually
visit her

In fact, when my sister told me the diagnosis, it
was right around Christmas time, and there was so much
work to do and I still had presents to wrap and a
meal to prepare and Christmas was supposed to be a
happy time

that I managed to postpone even thinking about it until
we all decided to surprise her for a visit. And then I
had to pack. To decide what to take, what to leave
behind, put my life into a little black box with a handle
and wheels, and go

It shouldn’t be this way, and I knew that, I knew that I
shouldn’t be visiting my mother under these circumstances
and I knew how she never wants to think about bad things
because they always make her cry and this would make her
want to cry and cry because the only reason why we’re
there is because things are bad

But I wasn’t supposed to think that way, things would be
just fine.

So I finished packing at four in the morning and the next
thing I remember is I was on the plane with my sisters,
cracking jokes as we picked up the rental car. and then we
got to mom and dad’s house

and everyone was so happy to see each other, it was
one big family reunion and we were laughing and talking
and trying to figure out where we were all going
to sleep

and the sisters and dad walked into the front room to
see if the couches were good enough to sleep on or if we
would have to get out an air mattress and I was alone
in the den with mom

so I suddenly became serious and sat down next to her
and asked her how she was really doing. And that is when
she started to cry, saying that the cancer spread, but
what she was most concerned with was the fact that she
didn’t want to spoil the time that we came to visit her.
But what I don’t think she understood was that we couldn’t
have come at a better time, and nothing she could do would
spoil our trip.



Seeing Things Differently Listen mp3 file to this from Kuypersfirst performance art show (08/14/97) Seeing Things Differently, or order ANY track off the CD Seeing Things Differently through iTunes.
the poetry 2 CD setCHAOTIC ELEMENTS
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CD: Janet Kuypers - Chaos In Motion - Chaotic Radio
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from the CD (used for the show) Changing Gears
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(2:22) live at Changing Gears 06/17/03
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of this poem read live in Chicago 09/12/03 at the “the Cycle of Life” DvA art gallery show
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the poetry 5 CD set the CHAOTIC COLLECTION
Listen mp3 file to this from Peter Bartels & Janet Kuypers: pb&j, or order ANY iTunes track from the CD 2 for the Price of 1. Janet Kuypers
the poetry 5 CD THE CHAOTIC COLLECTION Order this iTunes track: Janet Kuypers - The Chaotic Collection #01-05 - My MotherMy MotherMy Mother
in different styles: Janet Kuypers - The Chaotic Collection #01-05 - My MotherMy MotherMy Mother
from different readings: Janet Kuypers - The Chaotic Collection #01-05 - My MotherMy MotherMy Mother
from the Chaotic Collection
...Or get the full CD: Janet Kuypers - Chaotic Elements
the poetry 5 CD set the CHAOTIC COLLECTION
Order this iTunes track: Janet Kuypers - The Chaotic Collection #01-05 - My MotherMy MotherMy Mother from the Close Cover Before Striking book reading, or order this iTunes track: Janet Kuypers - The Chaotic Collection #01-05 - My MotherMy MotherMy Mother from the Slate & Marrow book reading, on Chaotic Radio’s 5 CD set the Chaotic Collection
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See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her Periodic Table poem My MotherMy MotherMy Mother from her book Finally, Literature for the Snotty and Elite live 11/20/13 at the open mic the Café Gallery in Chicago (C)
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video See a 36+ minute YouTube video (L T56) of Janet Kuypers and Thom Woodruff going back and forth with poetry; where Janet Kuypers read her poems “Helping Men in Public Places”, “I Want”, and “Last Before Extinction”, then John Yotko read a poem he just wrote the day before, then Janet Kuypers read her poems “Warren Stories” and “Kurt Irons”, then Thom spoke, then Janet Kuypers read her poems “Never Did the Same”, “All These Reminders”, “Who You Tell Your Dreams To”, and “You and Me and Your Girlfriend”, then Thom spoke, then Janet Kuypers read her poems “My Mother My Mother My Mother”, then her prose “NASA Project”. and finally her poem “Moonlight”, all read from her performance art collection book “Chapter 38 v1” 4/29/18 at Austin’s the 2018 Poetry Bomb at the Baylor Street Art Wall.
video See a 36+ minute YouTube video (L2500) of Janet Kuypers and Thom Woodruff going back and forth with poetry; where Janet Kuypers read her poems “Helping Men in Public Places”, “I Want”, and “Last Before Extinction”, then John Yotko read a poem he just wrote the day before, then Janet Kuypers read her poems “Warren Stories” and “Kurt Irons”, then Thom spoke, then Janet Kuypers read her poems “Never Did the Same”, “All These Reminders”, “Who You Tell Your Dreams To”, and “You and Me and Your Girlfriend”, then Thom spoke, then Janet Kuypers read her poems “My Mother My Mother My Mother”, then her prose “NASA Project”. and finally her poem “Moonlight”, all read from her performance art collection book “Chapter 38 v1” 4/29/18 at Austin’s the 2018 Poetry Bomb at the Baylor Street Art Wall.


Click here for the Janet Kuypers bio.










more than we should have

Janet Kuypers
Spring 1997

when i think of him i usually think about the drinking

actually, i never think of him as drinking
come to think of it
i just think of him as drunk
i can’t even remember seeing the drinks in his hand
but his perception of the world is always altered

but someone reminded me tonight
of when he would work outside in the the cold Chicago winters
and he would come back with his moustache frozen
and there would be little icicles hanging
down toward his mouth

and then i thought of
when i waited with him once at the airport
because we were picking up someone
and we sat in the shrimp cocktail lounge
and he drank, and ate, and i waited

and as we left
we tried to pay the expressway toll with pennies
but some of the coins fell onto the street
and we had to throw more change at the machine

we paid more than we should have
i’m sure we did



the poetry 5 CD THE CHAOTIC COLLECTION
Order this iTunes track: Janet Kuypers - The Chaotic Collection #01-05 - More Than We Should Have
from the Chaotic Collection

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

CD: Janet Kuypers - Chaotic Elements
the poetry 2 CD setCHAOTIC ELEMENTS
Order this iTunes track:
Janet Kuypers - Chaos In Motion - Chaotic Radio - More Than We Should Have
from Chaots in Motion
(a 6 CD set)...Or order the entire CD set from iTunesL

CD: Janet Kuypers - Chaos In Motion - Chaotic Radio
Live at the Café (3 CD set) Listen mp3 file to this read with 2 other poems Live at the Café, or order this track - or any track - off the 3 CD set Live at the Café through iTunes.
Sing Your Life, open mic poetry music CD Listen live mp3 file to the 2nd Axing
at the open mic Sing Your Life, or order this track - or any track - off the CD Sing Your Life through iTunes.
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(1:23, at the Coors Brewery in Golden, CO 06/15/07)
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(1:39) Live, the 11/09/07 Hokin Gallery show The Turn of the Word, Chicago
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11/09/07 Chicago’s Hokin Gallery 7:54
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off the CD
an american portrait
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of the Cutting Room Floor at the Palos Park Public Library 10/07/09
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at the Palos Park Public Library of the Cutting Room Floor
via the Internet Archive
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of the 1st 10 minutes of the show the Cutting Room Floor from YouTube, at the Palos Park Public Library 10/07/09
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of the Omniphonic Challenge at St. Paul’s (de-sanctified church), with John yotko music (on the Canon Camera)
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of Kuypers 10/07/11 in the Omniphonic Challenge at St. Paul’s (performing in the de-sanctified church), with John Yotko pre-recorded and live music (from the Sony Camera)
video video Watch this Complete feature video of the ENTIRE Omniphonic Challenge show 10/07/11 (with this poem) St. Paul’s (de-sanctified church), with John Yotko music (on the Canon Camera)
video video Watch this Complete feature video of the ENTIRE Omniphonic Challenge show 10/07/11 (with this poem) St. Paul’s (de-sanctified church), with John Yotko music (on the Sony Camera)
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Watch the YouTube video
of this poem read 11/21/11 at Café Ballou (Waiting4the Bus)
video See YouTube video of Chicago poet Janet Kuypers reading her poem “More than we Should have” from her “the Cutting Room Floor show, her poem “Have you Ever Had” from her “new year’s unplugged show, then her poem“Writing Your Name” from her “Lake County Poetry Bomb” show, all read from her book “Chapter 48 (v1)”, live 9/8/18 at Georgetown’s “Poetry Aloud” open mic (from a Panasonic Lumix 2500 camera).
video See YouTube video of Chicago poet Janet Kuypers reading her poem “More than we Should have” from her “the Cutting Room Floor show, her poem “Have you Ever Had” from her “new year’s unplugged show, then her poem“Writing Your Name” from her “Lake County Poetry Bomb” show, all read from her book “Chapter 48 (v1)”, live 9/8/18 at Georgetown’s “Poetry Aloud” open mic (from a Panasonic Lumix T56 camera).
video See YouTube video of Chicago poet Janet Kuypers reading her poems “More than we Should Have” from her “the Cutting Room Floor” show, and her poem “Everyone Else Does It” from her “Death & Rebirth” show, both read from her poetry performance art book “Chapter 48 (v 1)” @ “Recycled Reads” 12/15/18 (this video was filmed from a Panasonic Lumix T56 camera).
video See YouTube video of Chicago poet Janet Kuypers reading her poems “More than we Should Have” from her “the Cutting Room Floor” show, and her poem “Everyone Else Does It” from her “Death & Rebirth” show, both read from her poetry performance art book “Chapter 48 (v 1)” @ “Recycled Reads” 12/15/18 (from a Panasonic Lumix T56 camera, with a Threshold filter).
seeing things differently Listen mp3 file to this from the CD release from her first performance art show“ Seeing Things Differently” 8/14/97, or order this track - or any track - off the CD through iTunes.
video See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her poems “How to Please a Woman” from her “a Woman on the Beach” show, “More than we Should Have” from her “the Cutting Room Floor” show, and then her poem “Everyone Else Does It” from her “Death & Rebirth” show, all performed from her poetry performance art book “Chapter 48 (v 1)” 12/15/18 @ “Recycled Reads(Panasonic Lumix 2500 camera).
video See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her poems “How to Please a Woman” from her “a Woman on the Beach” show, “More than we Should Have” from her “the Cutting Room Floor” show, and then her poem “Everyone Else Does It” from her “Death & Rebirth” show, all performed from her poetry performance art book “Chapter 48 (v 1)” 12/15/18 @ “Recycled Reads(Panasonic Lumix 2500 camera; Sepia Tone filter).


Click here for the Janet Kuypers bio.










New To Chicago

Janet Kuypers
spring 1997

I’m still new to this city
I know, I know, I’ve been here for years
but I haven’t gone to the Sears Tower Observatory
since my Junior Prom

but when I walk by the First Chicago building
the beams along the north side
sloping up, parabolic pillars curving up to the sky

when I walk by the First Chicago building
I walk up along the side
and lean up against one of the sloping pillars
press my body against the cold concrete
feel the cold against my chin, my breasts, by thighs

and look up along the curve, stretching up towards the sky

you know, these pillars look like race tracks
and I could see something come rushing down that curve
a matchbox car, a race car
a marble, a bowling ball
a two-ton weight

I see the speed, the power, and it
almost makes me afraid to look up

and every time I walk by the First Chicago building
I do the same thing, I do this little ritual
and it feels like the first time



the poetry 5 CD THE CHAOTIC COLLECTION
Order this iTunes track: Janet Kuypers - The Chaotic Collection #01-05 - New to Chicago
from the Chaotic Collection

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

CD: Janet Kuypers - Chaotic Elements
Listen mp3 file to this from the CD release
from the first performance art show
(08/14/97) Seeing Things Differently
the poetry 2 CD setCHAOTIC ELEMENTS
Order either iTunes track:
Janet Kuypers - Chaos In Motion - Chaotic Radio - New to ChicagoJanet Kuypers - Chaos In Motion - Chaotic Radio - New to Chicago
from Chaots in Motion
(a 6 CD set)...Or order the entire CD:

CD: Janet Kuypers - Chaos In Motion - Chaotic Radio
Listen mp3 file Janet Kuypers - Six Eleven - New to Chicago to the CD recording for the 06/11/02 performance art show 6/11
Listen mp3 file Live at the Cafe,
now available in a 3 CD set
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1:22, at the First Chicago bldg. 07/14/07
Listen mp3 file to this with
the Second Axing
Listen live mp3 file to the 2nd Axing
at the open mic Sing Your Life
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(1:48)

from the show 6/11 06/11/02

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live at 6/11 in Chicago 06/11/02
Listen mp3 file to this live recording
from the book Urbanation release show
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live at the Yammer Chicago mini-feature 11/17/99
the poetry 2 CD setCHAOTIC ELEMENTS
Order this iTunes track: Janet Kuypers - Chaotic Elements - New to Chicago
from Chaotic Elements
(a 2 CD set)...Or order the entire CD set from iTunes

CD: Janet Kuypers - Chaotic Elements
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live at the Lake County 2010 Poetry Bomb at Independence Grove forest preserve 04/18/10
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of Kuypers reading this poem at the open mike 3/14/12 at Gallery Cabaret’s the Café Gallery in Chicago, from the Kodak
the poetry collection audio CD “Torture & Triumph”
Order this iTunes track from the poetry music CD Torture & Triumph ...Or order the entire CD set from iTunes: Janet Kuypers - Torture & Triumph
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of Kuypers reading this poem 2/13/13 at the Café Gallery in Chicago (from the Canon camera)
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of Kuypers reading this poem 2/13/13 at the Café Gallery in Chicago (from the Sony camera)
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of Kuypers performing poetry including this poem in a last-minute mini-features @ the open mic 2/13/13 at Gallery Cabaret’s the Café Gallery in Chicago (C)
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of Kuypers performing poetry including this poem in a last-minute mini-features @ the open mic 2/13/13 at Gallery Cabaret’s the Café Gallery in Chicago (S)
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of 4 mini-features @ the open mic 2/13/13 at Gallery Cabaret’s the Café Gallery in Chicago, where Janet Kuypers reads this poem in a “last minute” mini-feature
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See YouTube video of Kuypers reading the poem New to Chicago live 5/22/13 at the Café Gallery in Chicago (Sony)
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of Janet Kuypers reading her poem New To Chicago (from the book Chaotic Elements) in Chicago 11/24/13 (C) at her feature Book Expo 2013 Chicago
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of Janet Kuypers reading poetry from assorted books at the 2013 Chicago Book Expo (S) - WITH THIS POEM
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See YouTube video live of Janet Kuypers reading her poem New To Chicago from memory 10/8/15 with music from the HA!Man of South Africa at Uncommon Ground in Chicago (Canon fs200)
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of Janet Kuypers reading her poems Entering the Lake of Fire & New To Chicago from memory 10/8/15 with music from the HA!Man of South Africa at Uncommon Ground in Chicago (Cfs)
video See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her poem “And I’m Wondering” from her poetry performance art book “Chapter 38 v1”, her prose “Clay” from her poetry performance art book “Chapter 38 v2” and her poem “New To Chicago” from her poetry performance art book “Chapter 38 v3” 6/24/18 to “Spoken and Heard” @ Kick Butt Coffee (from a Panasonic Lumix T56 camera).
video See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her poem “And I’m Wondering” from her poetry performance art book “Chapter 38 v1”, her prose “Clay” from her poetry performance art book “Chapter 38 v2” and her poem “New To Chicago” from her poetry performance art book “Chapter 38 v3” 6/24/18 to “Spoken and Heard” @ Kick Butt Coffee (from a Panasonic Lumix 2500 camera).






Janet Kuypers Bio

    Janet Kuypers has a Communications degree in News/Editorial Journalism (starting in computer science engineering studies) from the UIUC. She had the equivalent of a minor in photography and specialized in creative writing. A portrait photographer for years in the early 1990s, she was also an acquaintance rape workshop facilitator, and she started her publishing career as an editor of two literary magazines. Later she was an art director, webmaster and photographer for a few magazines for a publishing company in Chicago, and this Journalism major was even the final featured poetry performer of 15 poets with a 10 minute feature at the 2006 Society of Professional Journalism Expo’s Chicago Poetry Showcase. This certified minister was even the officiant of a wedding in 2006.
    She sang with acoustic bands “Mom’s Favorite Vase”, “Weeds and Flowers” and “the Second Axing”, and does music sampling. Kuypers is published in books, magazines and on the internet around 9,300 times for writing, and over 17,800 times for art work in her professional career, and has been profiled in such magazines as Nation and Discover U, won the award for a Poetry Ambassador and was nominated as Poet of the Year for 2006 by the International Society of Poets. She has also been highlighted on radio stations, including WEFT (90.1FM), WLUW (88.7FM), WSUM (91.7FM), WZRD (88.3FM), KOOP (91.7FM), 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. She has performed spoken word and music across the country - in the spring of 1998 she embarked on her first national poetry tour, with featured performances, among other venues, at the Albuquerque Spoken Word Festival during the National Poetry Slam; her bands have had concerts in Chicago and in Alaska; in 2003 she hosted and performed at a weekly poetry and music open mike (called Sing Your Life), and from 2002 through 2005 was a featured performance artist, doing quarterly performance art shows with readings, music and images. Starting at this time Kuypers released a large number of CD releases currently available for sale at iTunes or amazon, including “Across the Pond”(a 3 CD set of poems by Oz Hardwick and Janet Kuypers with assorted vocals read to acoustic guitar of both Blues music and stylized Contemporary English Folk music), “Made Any Difference” (CD single of poem reading with multiple musicians), “Letting It All Out”, “What we Need in Life” (CD single by Janet Kuypers in Mom’s Favorite Vase of “What we Need in Life”, plus in guitarist Warren Peterson’s honor live recordings literally around the globe with guitarist John Yotko), “hmmm” (4 CD set), “Dobro Veče” (4 CD set), “the Stories of Women”, “Sexism and Other Stories”, “40”, “Live” (14 CD set), “an American Portrait” (Janet Kuypers/Kiki poetry to music from Jake & Haystack in Nashville), “Screeching to a Halt” (2008 CD EP of music from 5D/5D with Janet Kuypers poetry), “2 for the Price of 1” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from Peter Bartels), “the Evolution of Performance Art” (13 CD set), “Burn Through Me” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from The HA!Man of South Africa), “Seeing a Psychiatrist” (3 CD set), “The Things They Did To You” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from the DMJ Art Connection), “Hope Chest in the Attic” (audio CD set), “St. Paul’s” (3 CD set), “the 2009 Poetry Game Show” (3 CD set), “Fusion” (Janet Kuypers poetry in multi CD set with Madison, WI jazz music from the Bastard Trio, the JoAnne Pow!ers Trio, and Paul Baker), “Chaos In Motion” (tracks from Internet radio shows on Chaotic Radio), “Chaotic Elements” (audio CD set for the poetry collection book and supplemental chapbooks for The Elements), “etc.” audio CD set, “Manic Depressive or Something” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from the DMJ Art Connection), “Singular”, “Indian Flux” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from the DMJ Art Connection), “The Chaotic Collection #01-05”, “The DMJ Art Connection Disc 1” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from the DMJ Art Connection), “Oh.” audio CD, “Live At the Café” (3 CD set), “String Theory” (Janet Kuypers reading other people's poetry, with music from “the DMJ Art Connection), “Scars Presents WZRD radio” (2 CD set), “SIN - Scars Internet News”, “Questions in a World Without Answers”, “Conflict • Contact • Control”, “How Do I Get There?”, “Sing Your Life”, “Dreams”, “Changing Gears”, “The Other Side”, “Death Comes in Threes”, “the final”, “Moving Performances”, “Seeing Things Differently”, “Live At Cafe Aloha”, “the Demo Tapes” (Mom’s Favorite Vase), “Something Is Sweating” (the Second Axing), “Live In Alaska” EP (the Second Axing), “the Entropy Project”, “Tick Tock” (with 5D/5D), “Six Eleven” “Stop. Look. Listen.”, “Stop. Look. Listen to the Music” (a compilation CD from the three bands “Mom’s Favorite Vase”, “Weeds & Flowers” and “The Second Axing”), and “Change Rearrange” (the performance art poetry CD with sampled music).
    From 2010 through 2015 Kuypers also hosted the Chicago poetry open mic the Café Gallery, while also broadcasting weekly feature and open mic podcasts that were also released as YouTube videos.
    In addition to being published with Bernadette Miller in the short story collection book Domestic Blisters, as well as in a book of poetry turned to prose with Eric Bonholtzer in the book Duality, Kuypers has had many books of her own published: Hope Chest in the Attic, The Window, Close Cover Before Striking, (woman.) (spiral bound), Autumn Reason (novel in letter form), the Average Guy’s Guide (to Feminism), Contents Under Pressure, etc., and eventually The Key To Believing (2002 650 page novel), Changing Gears (travel journals around the United States), The Other Side (European travel book), the three collection books from 2004: Oeuvre (poetry), Exaro Versus (prose) and L’arte (art), The Boss Lady’s Editorials, The Boss Lady’s Editorials (2005 Expanded Edition), Seeing Things Differently, Change/Rearrange, Death Comes in Threes, Moving Performances, Six Eleven, Live at Cafe Aloha, Dreams, Rough Mixes, The Entropy Project, The Other Side (2006 edition), Stop., Sing Your Life, the hardcover art book (with an editorial) in cc&d v165.25, the Kuypers edition of Writings to Honour & Cherish, The Kuypers Edition: Blister and Burn, S&M, cc&d v170.5, cc&d v171.5: Living in Chaos, Tick Tock, cc&d v1273.22: Silent Screams, Taking It All In, It All Comes Down, Rising to the Surface, Galapagos, Chapter 38 (v1 and volume 1), Chapter 38 (v2 and Volume 2), Chapter 38 v3, Finally: Literature for the Snotty and Elite (Volume 1, Volume 2 and part 1 of a 3 part set), A Wake-Up Call From Tradition (part 2 of a 3 part set), (recovery), Dark Matter: the mind of Janet Kuypers , Evolution, Adolph Hitler, O .J. Simpson and U.S. Politics, the one thing the government still has no control over, (tweet), Get Your Buzz On, Janet & Jean Together, po•em, Taking Poetry to the Streets, the Cana-Dixie Chi-town Union, the Written Word, Dual, Prepare Her for This, uncorrect, Living in a Big World (color interior book with art and with “Seeing a Psychiatrist”), Pulled the Trigger (part 3 of a 3 part set), Venture to the Unknown (select writings with extensive color NASA/Huubble Space Telescope images), Janet Kuypers: Enriched, She’s an Open Book, “40”, Sexism and Other Stories, the Stories of Women, Prominent Pen (Kuypers edition), Elemental, the paperback book of the 2012 Datebook (which was also released as a spiral-bound ISBN# ISSN# 2012 little spiral datebook, Prominent Tongue, Chaotic Elements, and Fusion, the (select) death poetry book Stabity Stabity Stab Stab Stab, the 2012 art book a Picture’s Worth 1,000 words (available with both b&w interior pages and full color interior pages, the shutterfly ISSN# ISBN# hardcover art book life, in color, Post-Apocalyptic, Burn Through Me, Under the Sea (photo book), the Periodic Table of Poetry (with poems written for every element in the Periodic Table), a year long Journey, Bon Voyage! (a journal and photography book with select poems on travel as an American female vegetarian in India), and the mini books Part of my Pain, Let me See you Stripped, Say Nothing, Give me the News, when you Dream tonight, Rape, Sexism, Life & Death (with some Slovak poetry translations), Twitterati, and 100 Haikus, that coincided with the June 2014 release of the two poetry collection books Partial Nudity and Revealed. 2017, after her October 2015 move to Austin Texas, also witnessed the release of 2 Janet Kuypers book of poetry written in Austin, “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 poems” and a book of poetry written for her poetry features and show, “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 show poems” (and both pheromemes books are available from two printers). In 2018, Scars Publications released “Antarctica: Earth’s Final Frontier” and “Antarctica: Wildlife” (2 Janet Kuypers full-color photography books from the first passenger ship to Antarctica in 2017), performance art books “Chapter 48 (v1)” (2009-2011) and “Chapter 48 (v2)” (2011-2018), the v5 cc&d poetry collection book “On the Edge”, and the interview/journal/poetry book “In Depth”.








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