WORDEATER83 STAFF: Josh Dipert
Mary Frances Lund
John Stobart, Advisor
For a selection to be published in this issue, four of the above had to vote for acceptance.
Poetry— $5.00 each
Prose— $5.00 each
Mary Frances Lund
Cover Designs — $10.00 each
Front: Betsy Zacate
Back: Shellie Smith
Awards are given only to current JJC students. Selections by other JJC "family" are also |
SUBMISSION DEADLINES '-;
Manuscripts. and cover designs niust be submitted to John Stobart, room CI 069 by°
April 19, 1993 ° Wordeater 84
October 15, 1993 ° Wordeater 8.
Manuscripts should be typed and will not be returned.,
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. The Offer JoshDipert
2. Genesis of the "New Age" Jim Goebel
3. Dust Lynn Meredith
4. Still Chris Bernal
5. The lights from Kathy Jones
6. Lies hide Jennifer K. Stempien
7. Sunday Tea Lynn Meredith
8. Tea for Two Kathy Franke
9. Heartsickening Sean T. Clark
10. Lessons from a Child Rhonda Muir
11. Tales from the Crib Agnes Waszkiewicz
12. Emerald Isle, North Carolina Margaret Redmond
13. Grand Canyon Sweet Jim Goebel
14. Native America Janine Passehl
15. Another Modern Fable Josh Dipert
16. For Those Far Chris Bernal
17. Confessions of a Doormat Kathy Jones
18. Confessions of a Doormat Part Two Kathy Jones
19. He Says Rhonda Muir
20. The Cage Mark Moore
21 . Cage Jim Goebel
22. Oh Well's "1997" Sheryl Mastalesh
23. The Buell Avenue Cocktail Party Lynn Meredith
24. A Call to Reality Kathy Franke
25. Wealthy Widow Lynn Meredith
26. Default Mary Frances Lund
27. Nothing Am I Jennifer K. Stempien
28. Sadness...and Light Lynn Meredith
29. Deafening Silence Mary Frances Lund
30. Seesaw Lynn Meredith
31. The Facade of Childhood Innocence Chris Savini
32. Employment Don Schubert
33. He Lies Martha Sayles
34. For Dogs and Diogenes Shellie Smith
35. What Pain I Hold Steve Maielli
36. Four Months Tony McFadden
37. Four Months and a Day Tony McFadden
38. Observation Chris Bernal
39. If the libraries Sheryl Mastalesh
40. A Small Advantage Philip Antinori
41. Long Wait in Line Laurie Montgomery
42. All for Fun Sheryl Mastalesh
43. December Day Rita Bieniek
44. Christmas Josh Dipert
45. Haiku Linda Flynn
46. High Cue Philip Antinori
47. Christmas Toys Roger Lonergan
48. HO HO HO Sheryl Mastalesh
49. Permanence Sean T. Clark
50. A Kite Jim Goebel
51. Falsity Laura Maxwell
52. Blossoms Laurie Montgomery
53. Just Another Trust Fall Kathy Franke
54. Be Still Mary Juricic
55. Judgement Day Josh Dipert
56. We Meet Today Martha Sayles
57. Proverbs 10:12 Laurie Montgomery
58. Sleep Tim Eckert
59. Nightmare Janine Passehl
60. Whispers of Memory Rhonda Muir
61. Surprises Mary Frances Lund
62. Valentine's Day Jim Goebel
63. "R" Love Kathy Franke
64. Words Derek Shaw
65. Happy Birthday Kathy Jones
66. The Taste of Words Rhonda Muir
67. Silent Discourse Mary Frances Lund
68. Rage Josh Dipert
69. Anger's Release Lynn Meredith
70. Deer Journal III Margaret Redmond
71. Of Football Games and Love Lynn Meredith
72. Catch 22 Cheryl O'Brien
73. Christine Falling Chris Savini
74. Somewhere Girl Tony McFadden
75. Outside Chris Bernal
76. Facade Mary Frances Lund
77. Plastic Offerings Mary Frances Lund
78. Trespass Janine Passehl
79. Untitled Janine Passehl
80. My Golden Retriever Shellie Smith
81. Tank Chris Savini
82. Personals Cheryl O'Brien
83. Continuing Adventures with the 986 SX Jim Goebel
84. Inside the Mind Tony McFadden
85. Couch Bree Sayers
86. Unfinished Journey Jennifer K. Stempien
87. Observe at the Ocean's Edge Jim Wias
88. Kaleidoscope Rhonda Muir
89. To Sleep Naked on Flannel Sheets Lynn Meredith
90. Finally Kathy Jones
91. On Going Steady Betsy Carina Zacate
92. Drowning Janine Passehl
93. In Love with Two anonymous
94. My Lucky Day Josh Dipert
95. hiv, aids Rhonda Muir
96. Dali Bree Sayers
97. Mystery Man Sheryl Mastalesh
98. Mojo Chris Bernal
99. A Moment Last Spring Jim Wias
100. Post Oblivion Joe Mendenhall
101. Dutchmaster Chris Savini
102. i Jennifer K. Stempien
103. Tank Chris Savini
104. March 4 am Jennifer K. Stempien
105. Spoon River Copycatted Lynn Meredith
106. An Early Death Chris Savini
107. May Chris Savini
108. Just Standing There Steven Talbot
109. Elvis's Birthday Jim Goebel
110. Kepick Martha Sayles
111. Sunset Sirens Lynn Meredith
All Copyrights are retained by the authors, and materials will not be reprinted without their permission.
1. The Offer
Dear DAVID ERICKSON,
As you know, Riptide Records produces only the finest musical selections by the
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the enclosed form and mail it in.
ALBUMS : Unwarranted: "Apple Turnover"
OLd DEf maN: "Thyroid Problem"
Bon Bon: "Nebraska"
Vanilla Extract "Wonderbread"
Red Warm Dried Fruits: "Plasma Equal Love Tricks"
Social Security Number:_
Square Root of 1398765:_
Weight in milligrams:
.Mother's Maiden Name:
Favorite vegetable from Sweden:
2. Genesis of the "New Age"
In the beginning, God created the
heaven and the earth.
In the end man created civilization.
And the civilization was with a strange
form. It was void and darkness penetrated
the soul of man, and the spirit of antichrist
moved upon the face of the planet. And man
said, ''Let there be light!" and there was a
darkness. And man saw the darkness, that it
looked like light, and declared "Yes! This is
good for man!" and man divided the 'lighf
from 'darkness'. And man called the 'light'
god, and the 'darkness' archaic religion. This
was the first day.
The spirit of antichrist now stated "Let
there be a division in the midst of the tribes of
the earth, and let the followers of 'light' be
called enlightened, and the followers of
'darkness' called enemies of progress. And
man said "This is good!" The spirit of antichrist
smiled. This was the second day.
The spirit of antichrist now said "Let
the enlightened follow 'ascended masters'and
their teachings, never questioning the motives,
even if the masters require self-sacrifice. Let
the enemies follow their archaic, intolerant
God to their doom." Antichrist smiled. Man
started to worry. This was the third day.
Antichrist induced man to say "Follow
this wisdom: All enemies must die!" The
followers of 'darkness' prayed to God to
deliver them from the persecution imposed
on them. God winced. Antichrist smiled. This
was the fourth day.
Man declared "This is not good."
Antichrist heard this and said, "For
disagreeing with the 'masters' you shall all
perish!" and proceeded to introduce plagues
to all the nations, kindreds, and tongues of
earth. light 7 started to fade to its original
form. This was the fifth day.
Man prayed "God! Help us!" God
said, "You have not followed me but a
deceiving spirit. If you want my help, you
must believe and trust in me." God frowned,
then took His followers out of this wicked
world. Antichrist loosed all his fury upon the
planet. This was the sixth day.
Everyone stood in front of a judge.
Some being found innocent, others being
sentenced to eternal fire for not believing and
trusting in God. The innocent were sent to a
glorious place where they would not have to
worry about antichrist, war, death, or disease.
The innocent were happy. God reigned. This
was the seventh day.
In the end, God rescued man from his
Home from the fields, careening the prairie lane,
On my schooldays' walk, my farm,
The cumbersome grain truck rollicks, white dusting
days of autumn.
My mouth opened soundlessly tunneling flakes of dust,
I sway, corn-high, on its elephant back,
Regal queen carried on kernels of gold.
Confetti corn dust swirls in figure-eights,
Catching in my eyelashes and snuffing up my nose hairs
As comfortably irritating as motor-scooting Shriners in
a small town parade.
Unmasked I taste its choking dryness on my tongue and
down my throat
My father beeps the meager horn in a knock-knock joke
To my mother waving from the window
Alone,inside, she dreams,
The mosaic horses
lulling astral song
lost in the universal carousel
is heard tonight
like a scent upwind
titillating the horizon
time divides nothing
each breath is slow for the new child
rising from the grasses and marsh
with utterance, he walks toward the lagoon
water of the soliloquy swamp
run like emerald dust
through the curious fingers
quiet and still
5. The lights from...
The lights from the street lamps glinted on the
silver cross around my neck as we drove
along underneath them. I was hunched down
in the back seat, my hands shoved deep down
in the pockets of my Chinos. The speaker
blasted in my ears and the cold wind whipped
through the back seat, chilling me inside as
well as out. Elise had her window rolled
down as she drove, letting the cold air just
whip by her cheek and through her short
blonde hair. I never really knew why she did
that, but I supposed it was because she wanted
to feel something besides the aching numbness
that we all felt at that age; a numbness that
made us run, recklessly, looking for a way out
of the choking confusion. It was the same
numbness that made her drink... but the
alcohol only made it worse.
I pulled a hand from my pocket. My
fingers were still very cold, and I was tempted
to tell Elise to roll up her window but it
actually felt good to me, too.
I ran my stiff fingers over the silver
cross and the big black stone in the middle.
Elise had given it to me, and I always wore it
when I was with her. Maybe it was a symbol
of our friendship, strong and supportive, but
with a little blackness inside. That blackness
was Elise's drinking. .. and now she was trying
to pull me into it.
"Come on, Case," she'd say. "Get in
touch with the dark side of the force." That
was one of her favorite jokes. So was calling
me "Case." My name was Casey, but she
called me "Case" as in "Mental Case." Elise
always found really unique ways to let me
know she cared.
The car swerved a little, and I averted
my eyes from the cross to the road up ahead
of the car. Slowly, I drew my gaze back to
Elise. Sure enough... the car had swerved
because Elise was busy opening a bottle of
rum. She poured some of it into a half empty
can of Coke, rescrewed the cap, and then set
the bottle back by her feet, under the seat.
"Here, Case... try some." She held up
the can of Coke to me. "And why don't you sit
up front? You always sit in the back."
"Because we're always on the way to
pick someone up," I answered, taking the can
of Coke from her this Friday night as I had so
many Friday nights in the past; I took it to
I knew what it would taste like before
I even put the can to my lips, but I took a sip
anyway, making a face at the bitterness of the
rum. It never went down easy for me.
"We're not picking anyone up
tonight." Elise answered my statement, taking
the can back from me. "Did it taste good?"
"You ask that question every week." I
began to dig in my pockets for my driver's
"I'm hoping the answer will change."
Elise took a big gulp, smiling as she swallowed
the alcoholic Coke. Sometimes I marveled at
'It won't," I told her determinedly,
finding what I was looking for. "Listen, Elise...
if you're going to drink, why don't you pull
over and let me drive?"
As I looked straight ahead at the distant
red taillights, I was surprised. I was surprised
that Elise had actually pulled over and let me
drive. She was usually so possessive of her
red Monte Carlo, but she had relented and
handed me the keys, deciding she'd enjoy the
She was hunched down in the
passenger seat now, sitting passively beside
me. It had started to rain a little; a cold
November drizzle that gave me an excuse to
roll up the windows.
Elise was starting to buzz a little. I
could tell it in the way she slowly, deliberately
turned to me with her glassy blue-green eyes.
"Casey," she said, breathing out my
name as if it took great effort. "Let's go to
"No," I answered instantly, giving my
reply as little thought as possible. I hated
Jesse in a way that I had never hated anyone
before. Jesse was Elise's "boyfriend." He was
the one who'd gotten Elise hooked on alcohol.
They'd also tried marijuana together, too.
Jesse didn't score big popularity- wise with
me. Come to think of it, he didn't score big
with many people. It seemed to me that Elise
was his only friend. I never hung out with
Jesse... and I was starting to have second
thoughts about hanging out with Elise even
though I claimed she was my best friend.
"Yes, Casey." Elise reached over
and pushed me. But she didn't do it playfully;
she did it as if she meant it. 'Jesse wants me to
pick him up."
I shook my head, smiling sensibly,
knowing it was a lie. Elise had this way of
manipulating me, though, and I knew she'd
try to use it. As I gripped the smooth, cold
steering wheel more tightly, I resolved not to
let her change my mind.
I ignored Elise's shoving.
"No, Elise. You know that Jesse and I
don't get along. The night would be a total
loss." I looked over at her as strands of my
yellow hair fell over my eyes. I pushed them
back, wanting to look Elise in the eyes.
'It already is. You're not having any
fun." Elise held up the bottle of dark, honey-
colored rum. 'Take a sip, Case. Come on. .. if 11
loosen you up," Elise urged, trying to pass the
bottle to me. I easily resisted, nearly gagging
on the smell as she waved it under my nose.
"No, Elise!" I resisted firmly, pushing
her back. It was getting harder to drive and
reason with Elise at the same time. I considered
pulling over but decided against it. We were
only a couple of miles from my neighborhood .
I could stop at my house and get out of the car,
letting Elise free to do whatever she wanted.
It was better that way... she could go off to be
with Jesse and leave me out of it.
"God, Casey... you are so anal
retentive! !" This made Elise laugh, just hearing
herself say it. I rolled my eyes and turned on
the windshield wipers. The street lights had
looked pretty through the little drops of rain,
but it was getting harder and harder to see.
"Lefs go to Jesse's," Elise insisted
again. I held firm, my knuckles turning white
on the steering wheel.
"Yes!" Her alcohol-laden breath
floated around my face as she leaned over
and gripped the wheel. 'Til steer. We're going
"No!" I raised my voice, jerking the
wheel as I tried to stay in control. "Elise, I'm
driving, and we are not going to Jesse's..."
"Yes we are!" Elise tried to push me
aside as she turned the wheel. I gasped as we
nearly swerved out into oncoming traffic. I
managed to pull us back into our own lane.
"Elise, stop it!" I yelled. "You'll get us
killed. Let go of the wheel! I'm driving..."
"Pull over!" Elise suddenly
commanded. She fell back into her seat, and
as I looked over at her, I was actually afraid.
She had a look of pure hatred in her usually-
calm eyes. "Pull over!" she screamed, a loud
piercing shout. "Pull over, dammit! This is
my car... pull over now! Damn you, Casey..."
I did exactly what she wanted,
frightened by her outburst. Elise had never,
ever raised her voice like that before. I stared
at her, wide-eyed, after putting the car in
park. Cars whizzed past us as we sat there,
staring each other down.
Elise' s voice turned icy cold.
"Elise! If s raining. And you can't drive
like this. You're drunk..."
"I'm fine!" Elise climbed over me and
shoved me hard towards the passenger-side
door. I slid over into the seat she'd just vacated.
It was almost cold, like she'd never sat there
"Elise. Please. Let me take you to my
house..." I tried to reason with her to no avail.
I knew she wouldn't listen, but I felt I had to
try. I couldn't see letting Elise drive off in the
condition she was in. I knew she'd end up
hurting herself more than she already had.
"Get out!" Elise reached over
and opened the car door for me. I could feel
the rush of cold, rainy air against my cheek. It
was so frigid and stinging... or maybe it was
the way Elise was so roughly forcing me from
her life. "Elise!" I decided to try
to be tough with her. "You can't drive like
"GET OUT!" Elise screamed again and
gave me a shove. I tumbled backwards,
catching myself just before I fell out of the car.
Now I was really angry. I got out of her car,
not saying a word. Although I was extremely
upset, I knew somehow that it wasn't Elise
talking. It was, as they say, the booze.
Elise gunned the engine and took off,
squealing the tires. I stood in the soft, muddy
and mushy grass, letting the rain pelt my face
as I watched her taillights become harder and
harder to see.
Without giving it much thought, I
ripped the silver cross from my neck and
threw it in the direction she'd gone. I heard it
clink on the pavement and then, feeling
satisfied with myself, I began to walk home. It
was only about a mile away, and I knew the
walk would give me a chance to think. Maybe
I could try to figure out why I was Elise' s
I arrived home about a half an hour
later. I was wet and chilled clear through.
Taking the steps to my room two at a time, I
artfully dodged my inquisitive parents and
locked myself in my deep blue bedroom. I let
my heavy, soaked jacket slide off my shoulders
as I went to the radio and turned it on. If I
didn't have noise and lots of it, I knew I'd go
crazy with only my thoughts to entertain me.
"Casey...is that you?" my mom asked
through the door. It's funny how parents ask
that, especially mine, seeing as I'm an only
"Yes." I answered, peeling off my
soaking wet Chinos.
"I didn't expect you home so early,"
Mom responded. I loved having these
conversations through the door. "If s only
"Uhm... Elise had something else to
do," I replied non-committedly. "I decided to
come home." I slipped into my pajamas and
fell back into my four poster bed.
"Did she drop you off?"
"Yeah... you could say that." I stared
up at my stark white ceiling. "Uhm, Mom...
I'm really tired. I'm going to bed."
"Okay.. Goodnight." The floorboards
creaked as Mom walked away. I lay in bed,
staring at the ceiling and reviewing the events
of the evening in my mind.
I couldn't shake the memory of the
evil, hateful look on Elise's face when she'd
told me to get out of the car. I rolled over and
faced the wall, feeling tears sting my eyes. I
hated Jesse even more for taking my best
friend and turning her into someone I
couldn't recognize, no matter how hard I
6. Lies hide...
Jennifer K. Stempien
Lies hide me away
From the horrid truth which
Lies within myself.
My comfort lies
Within my self-fabricated lies.
For in believing my lies
I create my own truth.
7. Sunday Tea
We sat there, you and I, drinking tea, in silence.
Sad strains of Mozart twinkled, then turned like a
Memory to sadness.
The white wisps of curtain strained the sun,
April shadows stretched over the stillness of Sunday.
Smokey haze of a thought long ago hung in the air.
The candle patiently puffed its steady stream straight
into the air above us.
Then as if by signal the flame extinguished like a life.
The smoke above at first confused, the drift uncertain.
Its course realized, slowly and deliberately the
Spiraling, twirling in a lazy dance,
Ancient patterns, its journey upward,
Weaving cells and stars, up and up,
Fading to nothing
8. Tea for Two
A man resembling what the media
markets as a mountain man complete with a
long full beard and dandruff met me at the
door and mumbled around a pipe, "What do
you want?" I quickly explained my mission
and sighed as he shrugged and waddled back
to his perch in front of the screaming television.
I ventured inside and was greeted by the
repulsive stench of human excrement and
stale smoke combined with filthy cats and
rotten food. It took awhile for my eyes to
focus in the dark hotel room after being in the
California sunlight. The sight before me was
I was standing on a narrow strip of
floor that curved around to the back of the
double bedroom and led to the bathroom. All
the floor area surrounding me was covered
with magazines and clothing for the most
part. From my island amidst the waves of
junk, I could see where the family had cooked
their food. On one of the dressers was a skillet
covered with baked-on pancake batter and
what looked like cat hair. There were bottles
and open packages of meat and cheese, an
obvious contributor to the aroma.
Still rooted on my island, I shifted my focus to
the television that disturbed the peace with
hard core rock music blaring, and I was
alarmed to see nude women frolicking on the
screen. My host, an obvious porno junkie, sat
on a small section of the unmade bed
enthralled as his desires were lived out in
front of him on the screen. He must have felt
my glare because he grunted, "Her mom
ain't...," pausing as his attention was
demanded by the picture in front of him, but
he soon managed to gather enough
concentration to sweep his hand across the
room, which seemed to cut the thick
atmosphere, and finished his phrase, "here,
but she's back there."
I peered into the back of the dark room
and wondered if it was possible for any living
thing to exist back there. A disease-infected
cat rubbed against my leg as if to answer my
question, and I began to itch. I felt as though
I was suffocating in this black hole and wanted
to escape to breathe fresh air again, but I had
a job to do so I began my journey on the
cleared path to the bathroom. As I moved
closer to the back of the room, I began to panic
as my imagination overtook all my senses
and fear enveloped my being. My mind ran
wildly, "Maybe she wasn't here at all and that
ape of a man wanted me to move further into
the room so that I wouldn't be able to run out
the door when he trapped me back here and
began to..." My paranoia was interrupted by
a small voice asking, "One lump or two?" I
wheeled toward the noise, responding half in
fear and surprise and the other relief. Pure
pity flung itself into my heart at the sight of a
four or five year old girl sitting amidst the
junk in a small area that she had attempted to
clear for herself. She had addressed her
question to a bald stuffed teddy bear and had
a cracked plastic tea pot in one hand and the
other hand held a coffee mug that had the
words "THE WORLD'S GREATEST MOM"
printed on it. Her long dark hair was ratted
and tangled to the extent that it hung in the
shape of a pony tail down her back even
though there was no band to hold it tied.
I said her name quietly and she jerked
around to face me. Her eyes were wide with
fear, and she dropped her mug and tea pot to
snatch up her teddy bear in a tight embrace.
'1 didn't mean to take him. He was
lonely," she said quickly and scrambled into
the corner of junk to hide. I climbed through
the sea of dirt and clothes to reach her and
knelt besided her hiding place. I told her my
name and explained that I was not there to
take her teddy bear away. I assumed from her
reaction that she had stolen the bear and from
the looks of the bear probably from someone's
"Then why are you here?" she asked
defensively, as if she was trying to catch me in
a lie. I smiled and told her I was there to take
her away. That I was going to take her to a
new home where there would be lots of bears
for her to play with and even a brand-new tea
set so that she could have tea parties all the
Fear surfaced again and her dark eyes
welled with tears as she challenged me, "I
have tea parties now whenever I want!" I
asked her if she had anywhere to sleep and as
a last attempt promised that she could watch
whatever she wanted to on T. V. But neither of
those things were encouraging to her, and she
began to cry and scream at me, "NO NO No
The tears left clean streaks on her dirty
face and I reached out to affectionately wipe
a tear from her cheek. She pulled away from
my hand and jumped to her feet. She darted
past me and jumped through the junk until
she was back on the path. She ran for the man
still sitting on the bed oblivious to anything
going on in the room. She attempted to climb
up onto his lap for protection, but he threw
her to the floor and abusively yelled at her for
"messing with him" and told her to "shut-
up" as her small voice pierced the air above
the noise of the television. In her last desperate
attempt to get his attention, she flung herself
in front of the T.V. Instead of the protection
she hoped to receive from him, in one motion
the man back-handed her out of his view of
the naked women as obscenities flooded out
of his mouth. I ran to the screaming child,
demanding that he leave her alone, but my
voice was drowned out.
Quickly I wrapped my arms around the child
and lifted her. I wiped some of the blood off
her face with my sleeve and could no longer
hold back my own tears. I began to cry, partly
because it was my job to take her from all she
knew and because... this was all she knew.
10. Lessons From a Child
Sean T. Clark
"Why did you leave me like that? Why did
you leave me like that? Why did you leave
me like that?" A little three year old girl, no
bigger or heavier than a cocker spaniel,
screamed over and over again in a voice
full of all the anguish her tiny frame could
muster. You could feel her pain. I wanted to
rip the pain from her, ball it up, and throw
it out of earshot. "Why did you leave me
like that?" she shrieked. "Because you
aren't listening to me," replied her mother.
I felt my stomach constrict. At once drawn
to and repelled by the little girl's pain, I
looked on. "Why did you leave me like
that?" "Stop throwing this tantrum." "Why
did you leave me like that?" 'Til do it again
if you don't stop." "Why did you leave me
like that?" More pain than any child should
experience in a lifetime was pouring from
this child's taut, impassioned throat. She
threw her small pink teddy bear at her
mother. Like her impassioned plea, it too
missed its target and fell to the ground.
Suddenly I saw this child's life laid out
before her; the cycle of mental abuse -
anguish - reconciliation - repeat, again and
again. 'Tut your shoes on," her mother said
firmly. As they rounded a bend, I heard the
little girl's voice echo through the stairwell,
"Why did you leave me like that?" I know
there is force gone wrong.
I tread softly into the sweetness
of a child's dream world.
She sits there so quietly,
talking, murmuring to her dolls,
pretending to read her books.
Her softly waving,light brown hair,
silken to my touch, draws me to her.
This child, birthed from my womb,
enchants me with her unquestioning
love and faith - in me.
She has seen me now, and comes
running with outstretched arms.
The impact of her secure knowing,
her absolute trust, contracts my heart
and I swoop her up in a whirling embrace.
Love such as this -
This child has, without sermon or lecture,
taught me, caused me to grow, and to ask -
Father, God, is this the love You have for me?
The fascination I feel for her - is this how
You delight in me? The love and confidence
she has in me - is this what You want in return?
11. Tales From the Crib
Creature from the Crib Dimension Wailing.
Lots of Tension!
My nerves are stretchin'
Then you smile and hug me tight
My nerves relax, my heart is light!
12.Emerald Isle,North Carolina
Margaret Carroll Redmond
The mother sea turtle
Will never know if they made it.
Never know if the lure
Of the condominium lights
Confused her baby hatcrdings
Away from the moonlight
Flooding on the night waves.
For when her tractor tracks
Vanish from the erasable sand,
Only the secret eggs remain,
Throbbing under the wet sand.
Inspiration: "I remember the night this
poem was born so clearly. All week we had
the feeling of v Sea Turtles; Yes!' Three of us
had just finished an intensive writing class at
UVA, v The Virginia Writing Project/ We had
come to the beach to unwind.
Erin stopped to draw on the pier. She
couldn't resist sketching a flounder in a cooler
and a little boy fishing.
I stopped, sat down on the pier,
opened my journal and began to write. It was
art 2 — me writing aboout an artist drawing.
Children gathered around watching Erin
sketch — the flounder emerging in black and
white was striking! A little boy looked at me.
'Are you an artist, too?' he asked.
v No,' I said, T am a writer.'
There — I had said it. Maybe now it
That night it was the full moon and we
walked on the beach. We rounded the turn
from sand path to full-blown beach and I said,
N Erin, I have this feeling about turtles,
like we will see them. Tonight.'
'Peggy!' she said. 'Stop! You're
stepping on it!'
I was suddenly aware of a huge force
moving like a wind. I took a step backward
and whispered, 'It's the mother sea turtle.'
We tried to be unobtrusive. We backed
up and watched, silent as sand, as the giant
sea turtle covered her eggs. It was a force, a
freight-train of flapping arms. I will never
forget it." mcr
13. Grand Canyon Sweet
Listening to the peace you wrote,
Reminding me of the place ,
You painted with
Bringing forth images
On the Trail Sunset
Of a many colored place
Etched into Arizona.
Thank you Mr. Grofe,
For capturing the Grand Canyon
Like no camera ever could.
Dedicated to Ferde Grofe (1892-1972),
composer of the "Grand Canyon Suite.
14. Native America
last whispers of
as night creeps
tendrils of smoke
form shapes that
and rise toward the
the shaman chants
of nature and
with the earth
this vast panorama
15. Another Modern Fable: Eric the Great
or How to Screw Up the Human
The crow began to howl and cheer
as Eric walked their way.
All with thoughts of the soon to come spectacle
on that fateful day.
The sun shone brightly
and the wind was not there
to sweep his dreams away.
Eric had developed a plan
from an impulse, stray.
For he intended to fire himself
out of a cannon someday.
He told his mama this at six,
then seven, and eight, and nine.
All the while, not suspecting,
poor mama would simply say "Fine."
Not till 26 did Eric have the guts
to bring his old dream into life.
He sold off his home, his dog, his car,
and finally his wife
To purchase a giant cannon
of expensive silver and steel,
and find himself a teacher,
The famed Jose D'Vil.
The day arrived,
his lessons learned,
Eric demanded a show.
And finally, through many pleas, he got himself a "Go!"
Then the moment arrived
for Eric to take flight,
hopefully the landing would be
very, very, light.
Eric waved gladly at the crowd,
and slid into the hole.
The cannon starts to point upward,
x with a quick drum roll.
The countdown starts, the crowd, it gasped,
as Eric faced his fate.
And even his old sold-off wife,
cast off all her hate.
The cannon boomed,
a noise as loud as you could get,
flying out poor Eric saw
that he forgot his net.
Eric now began to pray
hoping it's not too late,
and quickly discovers that no man ever avoids his fate..
MORAL: Look before you leap.
16. For Those Far
Hunger and spite
a feast of emotions
caldons of myriad senses
for the light
and the day
for the night
in a creepy
kind of way
Hunger and might
a thousand deaths
in nights shadow
shown in separated watchings
of a slow-motion camera
17. Confessions of a Doormat
Every time you use me
For a doormat
Your shoes seem dirtier
The last time.
My message has changed
To "Have a Nice Day"
As I hope that each time
You wipe your feet
Will be the last time
You use me.
' I could get up
Off the floor
And simply walk away
But all doormats
Know how to do
Lay on the floor
So next time you use me
Please don't wear boots -
18. Confessions of a Doormat, Part 2
You wore your boots today
And I was Hurt
I think it was
Even after I asked you
Will you show up tomorrow
In baseball cleats
Caked with mud
You told me to tell you
When you hurt me
But it happens so often
You don't listen to me
But you probably just can't
You're so far up there
And I'm way down
On the floor
"Have a nice day" and
For the cleats.
19. He Says
I want to grow old with you,
but I don't want to feel trapped.
I want to grow old with him,
but I will be trapped.
So what is the reason,
the need, to be together?
To be together —
when we have grown old?
Maybe we should wait until we're
nearing "old age", and check again-
maybe by then we'd rather not
be "old" together!
Why be "trapped" at all?
Let's just remain free now
and let tomorrow - and its "old age"
worry about itself.
Nope - not good enough -
I think I will remain "untrapped"
20. The Cage
Of walls there were six,
and all made of glass,
Dark and Black they were,
through which light but dimly did
This Cube of my dreams,
this Prison of my fears,
This sadness I have known,
On my journey through the years.
Though of Shadows and Wraiths
this fortress I did make,
And it be insubstantial as mist,
Yet through it I could not break.
But for the vision of One,
who somehow saw through,
And managed to do for me
what I alone could not do.
Open the cage of your mind
And let ideas fly,
Climbing high above
of wasted time.
And when they return
Leave the cage open
so they can
22. Oh Well's "1997"
Myra stood gazing into the nursery
window. She knew that she was very
lucky to be here looking at her new
grandchild. She thought that she would
never have any grandchildren. She
wondered what his world would be like.
So many things had changed over the last
five years alone.
Bill Clinton was elected to
the presidency in 1992. No one would have
ever thought that he would have been
assassinated. They never did catch the
assassin. Rumors were spread that it was a
teamster man who was not happy that
Clinton was elected anyway. Some
suspected a gay rights member who
thought that the president did not hold his
oath to them regarding their rights in the
military. Others thought that it may have
been someone that was disappointed that
the unemployment situation did not
improve as he had proposed. Another
embarrassment for the United States.
The nurse brought the baby closer to
the window. Myra was so glad that he was
so healthy. She thought about all of the
children who had starved in Somalia in
1992. By 1993 fighting, starvation, disease,
and drought had wiped out most of Africa.
The rapid spread of AIDS and AIDS-related
strains that had eliminated so much of the
population of the world had literally erased
the African community.
Myra kept watching the pink-faced
little bundle. No one would have thought
that a world that was worried about
overpopulation and taught birth control
and allowed abortion would be rewarding
citizens for each child born now. By the
time that they discovered a cure for AIDS it
had done so much damage. Cremation
became a law. Cemeteries were now just
little banks for the mini-capsules that were
allowed to be kept for the remains. For
some reason, Myra's family was untouched
by this disease. And now, this miracle of a
baby that she was so thankful for. Cancer
had run in her family line but they had
found the cure for that in 1994.
The nurse came over to change the
baby. Not everyone was as lucky as her
daughter to conceive a child. She thought
about the poor women who had
unknowingly been fertilized by donor
sperm that had carried the deadly AIDS
virus and had added to the spread of that
killer. No one underwent any type of
surgery during those bad years unless it
was an extreme emergency. Too many
health professionals had been infected and
too much blood had been tainted. No one
wanted to take a risk.
And then there was the sudden
unexplained sterility of so many people.
Some researchers blamed the strong ultra-
violet rays of the sun, some pinpointed it
back to the daily exposure to supposedly-
harmless microwaves from food, others
believed it was a germ warfare spread by
the Soviets. Certain religions believed that
it was a curse sent down.
The baby was smiling in his sleep.
She wondered if his dreams had to do with
the future. Oh yes, those Soviets that
everyone thought were backing off took
advantage of the weakness of the nations
and took control again of more countries.
The continual catastrophies that had
occurred in the early nineties were all part
of their control of the weather by their
satellites. This had eliminated so many lives
from earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and
other natural disasters that they
empowered. So much of Los Angeles had
vanished after the big earthquake in 1993.
Finally, later that year our country became
aware of their involvement and created
blocking devices to counter their control.
At least this little one might not live
through such terrible times. The prisons
had been emptied quickly by the rampant
rage of the AIDS spreading through the
institutions. After so many people had been
stricken with cancer and Alzheimers, the
government released information that
medical researchers had definitely
attributed so much of this misery to the
chemical additives in our foods. They also
finalized the studies that verified the
research started by Theron Randolph, the
food allergy specialist from Illinois, many
years before. People were tested regularly
for food allergy reactions and many of the
preservatives have been banned from our
foods. Nutrasweet has been deleted due to
its connection to Alzheimers as well as
saccharine since it is carcinogenic. The
relation to violence and other abnormal
behavior has been linked to the diet of a
person. There is very little crime now.
She wondered when they could take
the infant home. The hospitals had become
extra cautious with newborns now. They
did not allow anyone in the hospital
without being identified by the patient who
viewed them on a monitor. The nursery
was locked and the only time the mother
saw the child was at feeding time. She was
the only one allowed to touch the child
other than the staff. In vitro fertilization had
become so expensive that hardly anyone
could afford to have it done. And those
who were able to bear a child could sell the
child for a large sum if they could part with
the baby. This was legal. But there were so
Maybe her grandson would grow
up to be president someday. In 1992 they
would have laughed if someone would
have told them that Dan Quayle would be
elected in 1996. Times sure have changed.
Religion has become stronger in these
times. The ideas of a future with rocket cars
and space ships and dried food packets did
not get past the comic books. Cars are small
and run off of steam. This is a back-to-
nature world now. Houses are smaller.
Families are closer. Pollution,
contamination, and waste are all strictly
controlled. The air is easier to breathe. Myra
let out a sigh. She was a lucky one.
23. The Buell Avenue Cocktail Party
Onto the paved street I clop
A pony gait, a peasant-plumed
parading march, in harness proud.
My winter whites shaggy new,
my casserole coverless and unshamed,
Broccoli bistro crock I carry
To the Buell Avenue Cocktail Party.
Hopeless welcomes, burping Tupperware,
I sashay my top-less casserole past
The guests, whispering, fanning, faces set
Like Hummel figures poised in pairs.
They tip their lids to tempt my gaze
Teasing wafts seduce. Knowing eyes
Scan impressions made. They wait.
Like old whores holding out for more.
24. A Call to Reality
Chandeliers polished meticulously by stuffy maids
Butlers scurrying to serve
Eclairs filled with sickening sweet cream
Rose Taffeta dresses with Chantilly lace
Reality where are you?
Red and white checked table cloth spread on luscious green grass
Cold fried chicken with Nannie's special seasonings
The sun caressing bare, freckled shoulders
Shoes and socks abandoned with tan ankles exposed
Reality where are you?
A candle light's flicker reveals a forgotten table set for two
Silk robes discarded in a heap on hard wood floors
Sparkling wine and a box of cigarettes waiting patiently
Crackling fire casts larger than life shadows of united bodies on the
Reality where are you?
A family clinging to each other in their grief
A steel, grey casket cradling his cold body
"The nature he loved swallowed him" she said
No one's hug can reach the emptiness trapped inside
Reality, who called you?
25. Wealthy Widow
A fine mesh of snow, not enough
To make things go away, just enough
To make my mind slow and breathe.
I'd make a wonderful wealthy widow,
Wouldn't I? Brewing my tea and watching
the snow go by, while I in my warmth
sigh and sing soft tunes to myself.
Tasting lemons and oranges from far away
Warmth, I'd have an orange each day
And salt, and sugar, and refrigerated meat.
I'd read novels by people long ago
Dead and play music by people
Whose vibrations faded eons ago.
My dogs would have treats most people
Love to eat - and toys
Many a child would be eager to see.
A dream to be so rich
So rich a whim is mine.
Mary Frances Lund
He chose to be my
I didn't choose
27. Nothing am I
Jennifer K. Stempien
Nothing am I
The lights go out
The contents spilled
Nothing am I
Going through the motions
Feeling the emptiness
Nothing am I
28. Sadness... and Light
In its fading light, I see
The quiet death of a man
In the mystery of his death, I see
the mystery of my own soul.
So many moments of my life wasted
So little listening to my voice within.
29. Deafening Silence
Mary Frances Lund
The world should stop
when someone dies.
By what right does it keep on
How can my heart continue to beat
when half of me is gone?
There is a silence
that no amount of noise can fill.
It echoes his name...
When I was in first grade, I trusted
everyone. So when out on the playground at
recess my best friend's brother asked me if I
wanted to go on the seesaw with him, I thought
nothing of it. In fact I was thrilled. Mark
Compton was one year older than Becky and
I, and although he could be a bit devilish to us
when I was over visiting the Compton' s, he
was nevertheless someone I knew and not
one of those strange, new kids from town. He
was a farm kid like me. And he was older. So,
I hopped on my end of the long, green board,
its paint peeling to weathered gray in the spot
where everyone sat and its fulcrum cemented
in the powdery brown dirt, bolted at its
midpoint. What I didn't know on that bright
spring day is that a seesaw is never truly
balanced; it is simply in endless pursuit of a
balance it can never achieve. A seesaw is the
scales of justice by which Libras are doomed
to tip from one extreme to the other in an
attempt to find the elusive harmony they
naturally crave. This sign, my sign, most
appreciative of balance and harmony, is the
sign that is never balanced. I was to learn my
earliest lesson in this painful reality at 10
o'clock recess on the seesaw.
Negotiating a seesaw takes trust and
cooperation between the parties. Both must
agree to test the balance; it is not a unilateral
business. I tentatively set my seat on the worn,
smooth board with the balls of my tennis-
shoes feet dug into the sand. My knees were
bent against the weight I knew they must
accept when we agree to let nature, harmony,
and the forces of balance take over. If all goes
well, we scooch and slide our respective rear
ends to the place on our end of the board
where balance will be achieved. If we differ
much in weight, we must sit the heavier close
in to the fulcrum, the lighter to the outer edge,
sometimes sitting so far off the edge as to be
hanging one dip away from a hideous crash.
These are the simple facts: agreement,
cooperation, respect, and trust. It was the way
of the world in one simple childhood game, a
system of physics and personal interaction
played out without theory, without
But even in second grade, a person
like Mark Compton has to break nature's
rules and find out what will happen if he
doesn't cooperate. Just for the hell of it, what
would happen if he lured somebody into the
usual agreement and then arbitrarily broke
it? His ego throbs for expression, the hell with
commonality and respect. So he's insensitive?
He's a second grade boy with a naive first
grade girl on the other end. Maybe the
temptation was just too strong for him.
Whatever his dark motives, I boarded the
seesaw in good faith, waking to feel the
balance I knew would magically occur, the
chemistry destined to counter our respective
weights, when BAM! down I went, hitting my
bottom, not once when the board first hit the
ground in a flash, but a second time when I
bounced up off the ground and slammed
back down to the board. Amazed, I looked to
Mark, a boy and older. There he stood, both
feet on the ground, but with straight legs, not
soft, locked joints, not negotiating knees. There
he stood, laughing, learing, and pointing at
the humiliation he had caused. Tears stung
my eyes from the smarting of my bottom and
betrayal in my heart. He was older. He was
my friend's brother. Our families were good
friends. We were on foreign territory where
familiars should stick together. He wasn't
one of those other town kids. Who knows
what they might do to me. He purposely let
me think I was safe and then showed me I
wasn't. It all seemd so evil, so mean-spirited.
What's the humor in deliberately hurting
someone who doesn't know any differently?
I haven't seen Mark for more years
now than I knew him in school. I hear about
him and his family from his mother from time
to time. I wonder if he ever thinks of his
cruelty. I never knew him in later years to be
cruel. In fact, he seemed a nice, pleasant boy,
quiet and shy. Today he's a successful farmer-
businessman. I wonder how he explains that
day so long ago to himself. I wonder if he
justifies it by some adage that kids will do
those things. I wonder if he feels as if it were
someone else, some mean little boy that no
longer exists. Most likely, the memory has
gone the way of most childhood memories:
stored, as if in a messy game closet, to be
retrieved accidentally some day when the eye
falls on a corner long hidden from view. In old
age, before death, a mind may remember the
cruel acts of a spirit learning to live.
31. The Facade of Childhood Innocence
I have my prejudices like everyone
else. I admit that in the past I have discrimi-
nated against people for no good reason. One
instance, however, stands out in my memory,
a horrible black stain on my conscience.
This memory comes from my early
childhood. In reality it isn't one specific
memory but several memories blurred by
time into one semi-coherent event in my mind.
I was about five years old and saw the world
through five-year-old eyes. To me the days
lasted for months, a year was a lifetime, and
everyone was the same. I still hadn't learned
the difference between little boys and little
girls, and a black kid was just another kid to
play with. I treated everyone the same way
except one person, a little girl named Jenna
Noble. She was a perfectly adorable little
darling of a girl who roamed the neighbor-
hood for hours on her fire-engine-red tri-
cycle. This is how I see her now through my
nineteen-year-old eyes, but back then she
was a freak. I don't whether it was the result
of an accident or a birth defect, but Jenna' s left
arm ended at the elbow.
At times I would be overly nice to
Jenna and other times I would be unbeliev-
ably cruel. What determined my mood re-
mains a mystery, but no matter how I was
acting at the time the sight of her filled me
with fear. I was afraid of her absent arm,
afraid that she was contagious, or that she
had done something awful which caused her
deformity. To a five year old her fake arm was
quite threatening and looked more like a bi-
zarre weapon than a limb.
Naturally all of my fear was irrational,
but then there aren't a plentitude or rational
pre-schoolers roaming the neighborhoods of
Suburbia. I, along with my friends, reacted to
the fear we felt in a way that would surprise
most people who cling to the notion that
children are pinnacles of beauty and inno-
cence. I can remember calling to Jenna from
across the street and offering her candy. When
she came close enough my friends and I tossed
the rocks we had concealed behind our backs.
I don't recall ever hitting her, but the act of
throwing was horrible enough to scar her
worse than any rock could. Then there were
the names I called her and the fact that I
usually ran when she came near. These are
images which torment my conscience to this
Even with all the fear she inspired in
me, I would still sit hidden in the bushes and
watch her play. Her stub of an arm always
seemed to cling to everything she touched,
and she used it as though there was nothing
wrong with it. Her left arm seemed to have an
almost supernatural quality to it, a ghost arm.
I was fascinated by the very thing I feared
most and that is what confuses me to this day.
Why was I was so to this girl who practically
hypnotized me ? The thing that scared me
away from her was what drew me to her. In
my eyes she was imperfect, yet she was flaw-
less in every other way. Aside from her
handicap she was the ideal little girl with long
curly blonde hair and clear blue eyes. But no
matter how cute she was, I could never get
past that left arm of hers.
I can remember thinking that her par-
ents had taken her arm from her. Jenna's
mother was a tall androgenous woman who
wore her long black hair in a pony-tail and
was always clad in a cowboy hat and boots. I
rarely saw her father, but I remember him
being a large man. For some reason I thought
they had abused Jenna and taken her arm at a
poker game. I pictured her parents pushing
her forearm into her shoulder and tying it up
like a balloon. These thoughts seem ridicu-
lous to me now, but back then they made
Even with the fascination I had with
her and the pity I felt for her, I still tormented
her. And expressing the shame I feel now for
what I did to that girl is not possible. I wish I
could find Jenna Noble and apologize to her,
tell her how I have changed and try to express
the extreme remorse I feel for putting her
through that pain. I can't go back and stop my
five year old self from being such a complete
monster though I wish I could. How ever, if it
were possible, I would probably be sickened
to see the ability that a five year old has to hurt
another human being.
Grey, brown fuzzy carpet at my feet below,
nervously sitting on an uncomfortable bench
reading rerun magazines.
Then the appointment hour dawns near
I notice not, my constant nail biting,
I glance at the rapidly oncoming hour.
To slowly stand up, and take the first step,
is an agonizing eternity in itself.
Now reaching towards a piece of gold, on a fram
My goal is the large desk, at the end of the hall,
the hall that smells like a new carpet.
Then suddenly, I'm there, at the door, knocking.
I am allowed entry to the forbidden lair,
well knowing of the grotesque monster inside,
I take a last breath of fresh air, and enter.
Ignoring the upset feeling of my stomach,
I slowly look up. Past the carpet, past the desk,
into a warm, smiling, friendly face.
I then take a deep sigh of relief,
now knowing that the monster behind the desk,
is only a mere mortal like myself.
33. HE LIES
Sometimes I find him upside down
Paws in the air, head askew
His tender belly very in view
So white, so fluffy, so like a clown
looks out of k er,
That's what I see as
Sometimes I find him out on the sill
Wrapped up in sunshine, getf n some rays
Often he'll leave or often he stays
Waiting for me to open the door... I will;
when I can! And
That's what I see as
Sometimes I find him... Well, not at all.
I look in the south room on the bed,
I look in the west for his black little head.
Where has he gone? Down the hall?
Ah...! Under the table his whiskers so white!
That's what I see as
Sometimes I find a dead mouse at the door.
How did it get there? Well.. .really I know.
This hunter has stalked it and had it in tow.
A prize for his keepers Oh, GALORE!
He's my cat. Thafs where it's at as ...
34. For Dogs and Diogenes
Wake up from your sunny, suburban
slumber and take a look at the mortgage-
farm-Norman-Rockwell nightmare that is
America today. A land where Little Orphan
Annie grows up to be a hooker and a heroin
addict and Rin-tin-tin was put to sleep
permanently last Sunday at the pound. A
place where Superman is killed for money
and Popeye gets discharged from the Navy
because some joker in command thinks Olive
is a transvestite.
People live and breathe, striving for
something higher underneath the burden of
knowing that this world's environment is a
poisoned one. The economy is declining,
politics are corrupt uselessness, and everyone
is essentially stupid, dishonest, and selfish.
There are those who cease striving for
their goals and become miserable, caught up
in negative attitudes and masochist's games.
They become complacent, self-styled slaves
to the Corporation with nothing better to do
than raise children and cast their failures and
failed aspirations down on their offspring.
Then there are the fools who continue
to struggle against the odds like so many
trout swimming upriver . They believe people
are too sane to truly want to Nuke each other
off the face of the planet, dreams are possible,
and problems can all be solved in time. For
them, Earth is a worthwhile venture to
contribute to for the sake of the next
Thus, two paths exist on our journey
towards death. Which, do you suppose, is the
lie most responsible for perpetuating our
35. What Pain I Hold Is Mine
What pain I hold is mine
When time comes for it to go
it will grow and become something
will become something sacred,
but for now
what pain I hold is mine
and it is all I own.
37. Four Months and a Day
I no longer can feel the meaning behind the
My whole mind is confused with questions.
I can only get part of it back only it's not the
If s more a memory than a map,
Where my thoughts used to guide me,
I am now only led to more complexities.
36. Four Months
My arms hold no love,
My heart feels no passion,
deep inside a heart beats.
Blood flows, that carries pain.
Only in memory does tenderness and longing eyes
I hurt for the familiar
So close and running fast,
Please wait for me.
and the observee
make a silent kind of love
where the observer
is granted a dazed pleasure
39. If the libraries...
If the libraries were as busy as the video
stores, maybe so many of them would not
be closing and more kids would know how
to read and spell.
40. A Small Advantage
The empress of the court sat regally
centered on her throne due to her stately
girth. She impressed those who glanced her
way with shapely curves from the Victorian
manner of her birth. Her demeanor was
slightly tarnished for she had reached the
middle ages, and as many who pass that
center ground, had accepted her fate in stages.
The year of 1949 was the high noon of her
reign, and she offered shelter to her subjects
and comforted them through their pleasures
and their pain. As a gracious benefactor with
secrets so sublime, the magnificent queen of
2545 72nd Court in Elmwood Park towered
over her neighbors in the sunshine.
Accepting the rays of the sun on a
fawning summer day, the light diffused
around her curved glass windows in a most
alluring way. The expansive veranda which
encircled her in fond embrace was playing
tag with bowing shadows in dignity and grace.
Doves fluttered about her gables and a cupola
worn as a crown which topped a siloesque
tower that held curved rooms in the round.
The parlor and the library were dressed in
mahogany and parquet while these
adornments proffered an aura of darkness
even at midday. From the parlor, from the
kitchen, and also from a dimly lit hallway
inside the home, there were secret
passageways and many doors from whence
one could stealthily roam. All in all the
mansion was quite regal that is dear, and a
small coach house was modestly guarding at
Peering through dirty garage
windows, one could see the vestiges of an old
abandoned carriage while adjacent were two
rooms where lived Philip and Rose, the childen
of Duke and Esther's marriage. Between the
empress and her pawn the shadows did hold
sway where one would always find the
children hard at play. On this day Philip,
Rose, and the neighbor children were playing
heartily as they examined fallen heart-shaped
leaves from the large catalpa tree. Rose
commandeered an old baby buggy to take her
doll for a walk. All the little girls accompanied
her with giggles and small talk. Later, Rose
approached her brother and asked gingerly,
"We all want you to be our real baby and ride
in the buggy."
At first Philip protested, 'Tm not a
baby. I am four years old."
Rose retorted, "Tm six years old and
you should listen to your older sister and do
as you are told."
Philip said, "I'll do it because it looks
like fun, not because of you." The girls took
turns pushing the buggy and laughed when
he would say, "Goo goo." From the
balcony of the empress a figure did appear, it
was Philip and Rose's cousin Gene, one
relation who lived here. He enjoyed the sounds
of the children playing in the breeze and
always brought some gifts with a friendly
tease. He waved to all in a manner quite
profound for a teen, yet always cavalier was
cousin Gene. As he came down the stairs, all
the children's eye's gathered about with their
stares. He walked right up to Philip with a
great big frown, and then he pointed to a pile
on the ground. "Did you do this poop? If you
did, you better pick it up with a scoop," he
said to Philip.
Philip replied, "I didn't do that. Maybe
it was a dog?"
Gene said, "I saw you squatting like a
frog." At this comment the children laughed
quite a bit but all returned to silence when he
went to lift it. He held the feculent mold
which he declared was a rubber fake, and he
offered it to hold, but no one would partake.
Another of his practical jokes was played out
this day, but all the children rejoiced when he
gave them gifts of bright colored clay. The
remainder of the afternoon saw busy fingers
molding as the children proudly displayed
the creations they were holding.
Philip and Rose immediately dropped
their forms of clay when their father drove up
in his 1937 Chevrolet. With only a front bench
seat, it was a two door raven black business
coupe, and the rear design of the trunk fell
with a swoop. It was complemented on both
sides with a running board, and Philip and
Rose in greeting their father climbed aboard.
Their father exclaimed, "I'm real glad to see
you guys, and tonight we'll have a big
Rose guessed, "It's a Hershey
chocolate bar and ball jacks!"
Philip proposed, "No, if s a toy car
and some Cracker Jacks!"
"I suppose you both will have to wait.
Let's go have supper; if s getting late," replied
Father. Inside the small house they found
their mother holding a small dish while father
bent slightly and gave her a big kiss.
She softly spoke, "Hurry now children,
go wash your hands and face. Supper is ready
and if s time for us to say grace." Before they
all ate supper, they all sat down to pray and
after all was devoured, mother washed and
dried the dishes and put them all away.
Meanwhile, father sat in an easy chair while
loosening his shirt cuffs. He then lit an old
cigar and began to make short puffs. The
billows of smoke arose as the children
coughed, but their eyes beamed brightly as he
gently blew halos of smoke aloft. Mild
discomfort in breathing was quite a small
price to pay for the grandeur of viewing the
rings of smoke in heavenly array. After
listening to the evening news on the Zenith
radio, father then announced, 'It's time for us
to go." He added, "We have to travel several
miles to pickup my paycheck in Niles."
The children were excited about riding
in the car with the coming nightfall, they
could follow the brightest star. With father
behind the wheel and Rose sitting at his side,
Philip sat on his mother's lap as they began
their ride. Not long into their journey, the car
violently shook while father mumbled under
his breath and said, 'Til stop and take a
Philip asked, "May I come and help
Father answered, "You won't be
much help, but you can watch what I do." On
his tiptoes little Philip stood while his father
lifted the right side of the hood. From Philip's
view he saw a dear glass bubble containing
some golden elixer. His father tapped on the
glass and said, "That ought to fix her."
Back inside the car, mother asked,
"What was out of kilter?"
Father replied, "I'm going to have to
clean that damn fuel filter."
Upon resumption of their journey
with more smoothness than before, they
arrived at their destination of the local Niles
drug store. To the children, the store was a
feast before their eyes with many shapes and
colors in every shape and size. Shortly, Philip
and Rose could be found sitting on the soda
fountain stools and spinning round and
round. The soda fountain was black and
smooth as silk, and their father went behind
the counter and made them malted milk. The
old man, who was owner of the store, gave
the children an approving look and told
them both to go and pick out a comic book.
The books were gifts the old man did insist,
and he proceeded to give a paycheck to
father for his work as a pharmacist. With
their business concluded, it was time to go
back home, and mother was found
purchasing a hair net and a comb.
The gathering darkness had induced
the slight appearance of the moon while the
children gazed with sleepy eyes as they knew
they would be home soon. The return trip
home went by without a hitch, but upon
their arrival there was a small glitch. Mother
calmly related with a sad looking pout, "I've
forgotten my keys. I'm afraid we're locked
Father said, 'The only way we can get
in is the small round window overhead. The
one that is placed well above the bed." He
added, "The opening is only about as wide as
my head. We'll have to let one of the children
in to land upon the bed." He pulled the car
around by the window and stood on a running
board. He then mightily lifted Rose into the
heights she soared. He pulled her back out for
it was as he feared. It seems that sister Rose
was slightly larger than she appeared. He
turned to little Philip and asked, 'T need your
help, little man. If you are up to the task, climb
through the window if you can fit."
"I can do it!" he said bravely. He was
lifted up and put through the opening which
resembled the number zero. He fell onto the
bed with a thump and had visions of being a
hero. Inside the house it was darker than he
thought and through menacing shadows he
fought. Waiting outside the front door were
mother, father, and sister Rose, Philip had to
reach and turn a knob on his tiptoes. "The
knob will not turn," he said with a cry.
Father calmly said, "I pushed the door
slightly. Give it another try."
This time the knob slowly turned and
Philip sighed, "I was afraid it wouldn't open.
I almost cried." His mother gave him a hug
and a kiss. His sister just sneered with a hiss.
Father said, 'Tin proud that you've
Kneeling at his bed to pray, Philip
asked God for another exciting day like today.
While a sliver of the moon was peeking
through the bedroom curtain, Philip
reminisced about the events of a day he would
always remember for certain.
41. Long Wait in Line
This tight collar is itching my skin
I have to go potty
I want a drink
I don't want to sit on the fat man's lap
At once I am thrust upon his red velvet pants
I want to cry, but grin
My bodily functions are relieved
Merry Christmas Santie Claus!
42. All for Fun
Rerun your childlike ways by spending
a winter's day with a little one. Let the
snowflakes dance on your face and try to
catch them on your tongue. Harvest an icicle
sword from a roof's edge for a duel or initial
the snow angel that you make from your form
as you flap cares away with your wings. Be
the ruler of your own fort as you protect
yourself from inevitable white cannon balls.
Sculpt yourself a Michaelangelo snowman.
But remember, this time melts away
as quickly as the sun shrinks away the snow.
And savor the warmth in your heart as you
will the hot chocolate and heat of the house
that revives your frozen body.
43. December Day
It was a beautiful sunny December day
and Carol's disposition was as bright as the
white blanket covering her lawn. Carol was in
an especially good mood today. The brief squall
that passed through the area the night before
had deposited its ritual Christmas offering at
her door. "It's beginning to look alot like
Christmas," she began to sing as she prepared
the children's breakfast.
Carol went into the living room to call
her kids to the table and stopped to admire the
twinkling, glittering tree that stood in front of
the picture window facing the front yard. Carol
was surprised when Jim, her husband, agreed
to setting the Christmas tree up earlier than
usual. Jim usually insisted that the tree go up
no earlier than two weeks before Christmas
Day, and he generally got his way.
This Christmas seemed special to Carol.
It was the first year since she and Jim had
married that they could afford gifts. This year
during the tree trimming there were no fights,
arguments, or even bad words spoken. The
children were all well, and it was the first year
that she wouldn't have to worry about her
Carol's children, Robin, Randy, and
Mike, were dreaming aloud about the presents
they were hoping to get soon. They finished
their meal and deposited their dishes into the
sink. The children got dressed, brushed their
teeth, and dressed for the winter assault they
would soon face. "Have a great day at school,
kids," Carol said and kissed them each in turn.
"Bye, Mom," Robin and Randy called at the
same time as they whisked out the door. Mike
just wiped the kiss off his cheek, smiled, and
ducked out the door before Carol could kiss
him one more time. ]
Carol turned to admire the tree once
again and went to the kitchen. After the dishes
were done, she sat down at the table and
sipped her coffee. "Have Yourself a Merry
Little Christmas" was playing softly on the
cassette. Carol agreed with Judy Garland that
she would have a merry little Christmas this
The song came to an end and Carol
thought about growing up and the different
holidays she had spent with her mom, dad,
and two sisters. Christmas was usually a
happy time then, although it was a pretend
sort of happiness. Even as a small child, she
could remember not wanting Christmas to
end. Not because of the toys she would miss,
but because the pretending would stop and
life would continue as usual.
Carol thought about her mother. She thought
bitter thoughts about what she had endured
from her mother. Carol was always being told
that she was ugly, stupid, and that it was
wished that she had never been born. Yet
Carol loved the conveyor of these hurt-as-
Janice, Carol's mom, was one of those
people who aren't happy unless they have
something to complain about. And if there's
nothing to complain about, she would make
a situation turn out so she would have
something to complain about. She did just
that the previous August during her
Carol's bitterness grew inside her as
she relived that day in her mind. Carol's
parents drove in from out of town for Robin's
birthday. Carol's neck muscles tensed as soon
as Janice was inside the house. "Why did you
have the party early?" she began without
saying hello. Jim introduced the rest of their
guests to Janice and Carl. Janice bristled as
soon as she was introduced to Lisa. Carol
couldn't catch the first words Janice muttered,
but she certainly heard the last — nigger. Carol
was furious and embarrassed to think that
Lisa had heard such a brutally cruel phrase
come out of her mother's mouth. Apparently
Lisa was unaware of the remark.
Carol took her mother under her arm
and marched her into the kitchen. ''Who do
you think you are coming into my house and
insulting my friends? I have taken alot of crap
from you for a long time and never bothered
to fight because I knew it would be a losing
battle, but if you can't act respectfully in my
home, you're not welcome here."
Then the tears came. Janice could turn
on the tears as fast as the kids could turn the
t.v. channel. This infuriated Carol even more.
"I didn't do anything!" Janice lied. She
was a very poor liar. "You're always so cruel
to me," Janice whined.
Janice walked into the playroom.
"Robin, honey, you know I love you and
Randy and Mike, but your mother is treating
me so terribly that I have to leave right away,"
she said. "That's enough," said Carol. 'Twant
you out of my house now."
After spewing several obscenities at
Jim, Janice stormed out the door. Carl followed
right behind not uttering a word. That was
just like Carol's father, he never stood up to
Janice. Not many people did.
Several days after the birthday party,
Carol received a letter from her mother. Janice
told Carol that she didn't have a daughter
named Carol anymore, although she would
make sure that she would be able to see her
grandchildren, no matter what.
Carol was angry and relieved to get
the letter. Everything mat happened in life
was always someone else's fault, not Janice's.
At least Carol would finally have some peace
in her life.
The phone rang and startled Carol back
to the present. "Carol, this is Darla, you'd
better sit down." "Who died?" Carol answered
back. "Mom died last night. She had a heart
attack," Darla said.
Darla relayed the events. Carol sat
stunned. She wasn't sad about the news but
she wasn't over-joyed either. She just sat and
felt nothing. It was as if she hadn't even met
the woman Darla was talking about. They
finished the conversation and after a long
pause said their good-byes.
Carl had told Darla that Carol was not
welcome at the funeral. Carol was relieved
that she didn't have to make that decision
Carol sat in the silence for awhile. The
holiday didn't seem so cheerful after all. Carol
sat and thought about the timing of Janice's
death. "Your timing is perfect after all, Mom,
you haven't lost your touch for making a bad
That was three years ago. Carol's
bitterness and grief have been eased by the
medicine of time, but the Christmas holidays
are still a little somber.
at this joyous
time of the year that I
realize that I haven't one
Snowflakes cloud my sight.
Alone in this northern place,
I find a flower.
46. High Cue
For our time on earth,
all the world is a poem.
We are merely rhymes.
47. Christmas Toys
The wind howled like a demon outside the
windows of the old clapboard house, helping
to drown out the sounds of the beating that
was going on inside. Herbert Pinnick was in
the middle of his holiday drunk and his
children were catching the brunt of his anger.
Herbert yelled and screamed, 'This is the
fifth time inna week I told you worthless
bastiches to do the fucking dishes! Did you
do' em? No! You sat on your lazy asses all
damn day why I slaved makin' money to put
food on the table."
Billy and Sally Mae sat huddled in the
corner next to the old gas stove. Billy had
taken the worst of the beating to protect his
sister. He could feel the bruises start to form
on his body and his side hurt, which probably
meant a cracked rib. As he clutched his sister's
mouth to keep his father from hearing her
cries, he felt her tears mixing with the blood
from her torn upper lip. In a vain attempt to
block out his father's screaming Billy tried to
think of his mother. Bernice Pinnick had died
the previous spring in an automobile accident.
Herbert had been driving drunk and blew a
stop sign and hit another car. Since Berniece
wasn' t around to receive the beatings, Herbert
started on the children. Billy thought of all the
times his mother came to them in the night
sobbing and covered with bruises. She would
tell her children that Daddy was really a good
man. She would tell them their father was just
sick and that he would soon be well again.
Slowly Billy began to hate his father. It was
like a snowball that had been pushed down a
hill. Gradually the hate grew. Soon the only
thing that Billy's world consisted of was the
hate for his father.
Billy did not feel his father's rough,
calloused hands grab him and his sister. He
was aware that they were being taken up to
the attic, but he did not care. It was as if he was
watching the whole scene from outside his
body. The only thing that mattered to him
was the hate for his father. It wasn't until his
father shut the trap door to the attic that Billy
snapped out of his stupor. Sally Mae was
crying quietly in the corner. The attic was cold
and dusty. The smells of mothballs and rat
droppings wafted through the air. Billy held
Sally Mae, more for her comfort than his.
Feeling her shiver beneath him, he knew that
he had to put aside his anger temporarily and
find something to keep them warm lest they
freeze. Looking around, he saw a large
collection of their grandfather's things.
Billy started rummaging through the
pile of things knowing that there had to be
something there. Their grandfather had spent
most of his life travelling the world as a
merchant marine, and he had an impressive
collection of curiosities from around the world.
Underneath several trunks that were labeled
from places likeNew Guinea, Haiti, and Cairo,
Billy found a large stack of blankets. As he
tried to slide the blankets out from under the
trunks, a mouse which had taken up residence
under the blankets darted out. Startled, Billy
jumped back, knocking over the trunks. Billy
stumbled back as a stack of books fell on top
of him. Sally Mae ran over to see if Billy was
"You alright Billy?"
"Of course," giving her a gentle shove
"geez ya'd think I was a girl or something."
'Tm sorry," she sniffled.
Putting a comforting hand around her,
he said 'It's no big deal."
Bending down, he picked up a couple
of the books that were laying on the floor.
They were all big heavy volumes. They had
titles like The Golden Bough, Magick in Theory
and Practice, and The Crystal Tablet of Set .
Sally Mae picked up one of the books and
started leafing through it. "This one has a
funny picture in it."
Reaching over, Billy took the book
from his sister and began to look through it. It
was full of odd diagrams and strange writing
that Billy couldn't even decipher. Slowly the
writing began to warp and change. It looked
to Billy that the ink was crawling. Soon the
text appeared to be written in English. The
page he was looking at was the beginning of
the chapter called "On the Magician and
Vengeance". As Billy began to read the
passages a slow smile began to spread across
his face. Sally Mae wrapped herself tightly in
one of the blankets and backed away from
Billy into one of the corners of the room. She
didn't know what it was, but Billy scared her.
Billy read on.
Downstairs, Herbert Pinnick was
watching the Bronc and they were losing.
Casually, he scratched his crotch and farted.
Nothing like a good beer fart. Especially when
it was Milwaukee's Best. He smiled. Damn
kids thought they were smart. Well, the little
bastards can't pull one over on me. Not
Herbert Pinnick, no Siree Bob. First a good
whoopin' and then the attic. That'll keep'em
quiet. As he reached for another beer, he
heard a loud scraping sound from the attic.
Little fuckers better shut up. "You little fuckers
better SHUT UP!" The noise stopped. God,
I'm a great father.
Billy stopped moving the chests when
his father yelled. He didn't see the need in
aggravating his father before he was finished.
The attic was bathed in the yellow light of an
old Coleman lantern. Sally Mae was huddled
in the corner swaddled in blankets. She
watched her brother scurry about the attic
collecting various items from her
grandfather's chests and draw funny
squiggles around the room. Finally her
curiousity got the best of her.
"Watcha doin' Billy?"
He stared up from the circle he was
drawing. I"m going to get help."
Looking at him confusedly she said,
"How ya gonna call anyone without a phone?"
Stopping, he stood up and gave her an
exasperated look. 'This book' 11 send someone.
It says so. Now stand back. I'm ready."
Sally was about to open her mouth
when Billy opened the book and began to
Lucifer, Belial, Asmodeus, Leviathen
I the enemy of the Hebrew God call
you forth. Satan, Dispater, Lord of Flies
My heart is black. Slay my foe. Take his
soul to your black realm.
Come, I call you.
When Billy shut the book it sounded
like a clap of thunder. Sally started to sob. The
dust in the attic began to swirl. It spun faster
and faster until Sally thought she was going
to choke. She couldn't see Billy anymore, but
she thought she could hear him laughing.
Then the dust slowly began to come together
in the center of the circle Billy had drawn.
Slowly, it formed into a large creature. The
thing's body was made of dust. It had a
powerful body and large bat wings. Sally
wanted to but she couldn't tear her eyes from
it. Nothing. She could feel nothing. Paralyzed
with fear, she could only sit and stare.
"I have been summoned by a CHILD!
Speak quickly lest ye be thrown to the Fiends
Billy didn't know what to do after a
few seconds he stuttered "K..Ki..Kill my dad."
The demon seemed taken aback by
this. "That is all? Will you meet the price I
"Sure. What is it?"
Laughing, the demon vanished in a
large cloud of dust. Suddenly Billy felt very
The Broncs had lost, he was out of
beer, and now there was more noise coming
from the attic. Herbert Pinnick stood up and
started toward the stairs. Damn kids! I'm
gonna learn' em not to make noise! As he
started up the stairs, he heard a noise coming
from the corner of the living room. Stuffed in
a corner next to the radiator were some
presents that the neighborhood church group
had given the children for Christmas. It was
well known throughout the community of
Briar Cliff that Pinnick abused his children.
Nobody wanted to believe it though. Good
God-fearing Christians didn't do that. What
little relief the community gave to the children
was given in the form of a turkey at
Thanksgiving, candy at Easter, and of course
Staring wide-eyed, Herbert Pinnick
watched as one of the packages began to rattle
and shake. The package was being torn from
the inside out. Long arms reached out and
pulled out the body they were attached to.
The Bunky the Clown doll that Sally Mae had
gotten crawled out of its box. Its features were
warped and twisted. The face no longer bore
the usual happy clown face, but it had a
maniacal grin that held thousands of needle-
like teeth that dripped a viscous green liquid.
He wanted to scream, he really did. Nothing
would come out though. The only thing he
could do was stand and stare. More toys
began to burst out of the pleasant holiday
wrappings and start to stalk towards him.
The toy soldiers given to Billy by the Mclntyre
family took position behind the clown in an
orderly, military fashion. Their stoic faces
were replaced by the white bone of skeletons.
J ain't seein' this shit. How can I be seeiri this? I
ain't nofuckin' alky.
By now the retinue of toys was joined
by the zombie-like forms of Hunk Man and
Power Woman. Herbert started to giggle. The
skeleton soldiers knelt and took aim with
their miniature rifles, took aim, and fired.
Small red blotches stitched across his chest.
They felt like dozens of tiny bee stings. Herbert
Pinnick started to laugh. Hunk Man and
Power Woman drew their swords and slashed
his Achilles' Tendons. Falling to the ground,
he roared with laughter. This ain't happening
I'm gonna wake up with one helluva hangover.
It was the clown's turn. Bunky walked
up to Herbert very casually. Hey pal, want
some Milwaukee's Best. It tastes like shit goin
down, but it feels great comin out your asshole.
Tears blurred Herbert's vision as he laughed.
To him, it looked as if the clown was opening
its mouth to laugh. Then Herbert knew what
was happening. The clown lunged at him.
Trying to scream, he only gurgled as hot red
blood poured from his open throat.
The two children sat huddled together
in the attic. They heard their father laugh like
mad, then he had stopped. Not sure of the
time, they sat up in the cold silence of the attic
for what seemed like hours.
"Is everything okay Billy?"
Unsure, Billy turned to look at his
"If s awfully quiet, that's all," she
Before Billy could come up with a reply
that would calm his sister, the wind started to
blow the dust about the room. As before, the
demon formed itself from the dust particles
and stared at the children.
"It is done."
Sally Mae burrowed deeper into her
blanket as if to hide from this monster. Billy
managed the courage to speak. "What do you
The demon stared at him in mild amusement.
"What is due me."
Quizzicly, Billy asked "What do you
The demon only laughed in reply.
Vanishing back into the dust from where it
came, leaving the children alone in the attic
puzzled. With a creak the door to the attic
stairs opened. Billy and Sally Mae retreated to
the corner. At first, Billy thought maybe a
large group of rats had managed to open the
door and that they were heading up the stairs.
Then the toys appeared. Billy and Sally Mae
screamed. Then they stopped.
crawl, and have their own potties.
The toy trucks aren't just push models
but remote and the lists of the children are so
costly that Santa and the former Mrs.Claus
who have divorced but are still business
partners have had to resort to corporate
funding and donations.
I still like the magic of the SaintNicholas
from long ago. And I hope that he is nice to me
48. HO HO HO
Jolly Old Saint Nicholas comes from
an era long ago. But I wonder if he would
have originated in the present day what he
would be like.
He probably would be wearing a red
jogging suit and running shoes. He might
have a mustache but no beard and his long
hair would be tied back in a tail. Of course he
would color his hair and not leave it white.
His round little belly would have been
trimmed away from his workouts at the gym.
The sleigh and reindeer would be
replaced by a red 4x4 and the reindeer would
have been put out to pasture by the Animal
Cruelty Society. Jingle Bells would include
the lines that are being bellowed by the first
graders today. 'Jingle bells, Batman smells,
Robin laid an egg." Ho, ho, ho would resound
as Yo Dude, as he fills the tennies that foot the
bill for the stockings.
Kids would probably leave a taco from
the Bell or a Big Mac from Mac's for Santa as
a treat. Of course, the Atheists would definitely
want him called Santa instead of Saint
Instead of climbing down the
chimneys, he would have a special automatic
door opener that would allow him to enter
houses. The toys that he would deliver would
be the dolls of the present time that don't just
say "Mama" but they roller blade, talk, walk,
Sean T. Clark
At 75 1 see The Leaf fluttering in the wind.
It vibrates like those houses in the A-bomb testing
No, it flutters as a leaf wedged in a crevice of a
wiper blade of a car traveling 75 mph would.
Nevertheless, to my amazement, it does not give.
At any second I expect it to break free — but it
I begin to wonder "How could it become wedged
there so firmly?" As if The Hand had placed The
Leaf there by grand design.
I know I would have trouble holding on to a car
With each passing day, I return to my car and
smile — The Leaf is still there.
Tattered, crumbling, disintigrating, The Leaf, its
stem still firmly wedged, refuses to yield.
Hundreds of miles, inclement weather, the car
wash, cannot dislodge The Leaf.
Just when I begin to believe The Leaf is inevitable,
invincible, OMNIPOTENT, it is gone, as silently
as it came.
This is when I realize The Leaf is just the leaf, just
as the me is also The Me.
50. A Kite
If I were a kite, I could
to the sky.
Colors were vivid
Violet, yellow and blue
A prism of perfection
Beauty I'd never before seen
I bent to smell their perfume
The fragrant inexistent
They were filled with artificial doom
53. Just Another Trust Fall
"Stand backward on this stump,"
she said and smiled, as I cringed,
"Then let go and fall! As you do
yell out * falling'." she finished
Another "trust fall;" supposedly
creating trust in our misfit group
"FALLING" I managed to choke out
around the fear in my throat
"CATCHING" chorused behind me
as I willed my body rigid and
landed in the arms of co-horts.
All laughed in relief and trust was born.
"FALLING" he must have screamed
as gravity claimed his body.
And the wind swirled around his body,
the only one to whisper, "CATCHING"
Trees replaced human arms
and another trust fall was completed.
"Do you trust me?" God asked
and all nodded as death bore eternal life.
54. Be Still
Be still - be still
and listen to me...
There was a time
when I knew not God.
It was a time when...
I could not sleep.
Discontent was my constant companion.
Pride and prejudice was my make-up.
Stress and anxiety clothed my nerves.
Greed my daily diet.
Fear the Goliath of my mind.
Anger filled my ventricles.
Jealousy my green-eyed monster.
Worry drained my energy.
Happiness was an illusion.
Then, a voice I heard;
"Be still - be still and listen to Me."
I listened, I heard
and now I'm free.
55. Judgement Day
My pastor looked at me today,
And asked what he could do.
I said, "I need some answers,
answers I need from you."
"When Judgement Day arrives,
whose standards will God use?
Will they be those of the Moslem creed,
or the Christian or the Jew?
Is majority rule always the right,
or one supported by few?
Yes, my preacher and my friend,
these are questions I ask of you."
"Why are you so silent?
Is there something I should do?
If not, then my preacher,
I shall continue."
'Tell me, is there a heaven?
Are those rumors true?
If so, will I meet you there?
If not, what should I do?
Am I doomed to Hell for sins,
Or will God forgive me too?
If not, will you tell me
Why He is forgiving you?
"Why are you so silent?
Is there something I can do?
If not, then my preacher,
I will continue."
"Did Jesus live and die for me,
or did He only die for you?
Do miracles really happen?
Please tell me that it's true.
If I find out they don't exist
I don't know what I'll do.
Convince me there's a Savior,
and His love is pure and true.
If you succeed in all of this
Then I can believe, like you."
At this he turned and walked away,
left me without reply.
So now I sit and ask myself
why he didn't even try.
56. We Meet Today In This Great Church
(Text for a hymn tune)
We meet today in this great church, to celebrate God's grace.
Good gifts to us so freely giv'n, let us respond in place.
Gifts of the heartland, rivers wide, all folk of evr'y race.
We give to you, Jehovah, our thanks, as stand we now in praise.
Jesus the Shepherd of our hearts, He will supply our needs,
let each one ask for Jesus' strength, to shoulder worldly deeds.
The beauty of this sacred place, gives voice for God's own Son.
Jesus, be thou our helper now, to see God's will be done.
Go forth in love to do good work, now let God's spirit lead.
A spirit nourished in this church, that all can say indeed
Past, present and the future church, will show to us the way,
We now go forth our hearts enriched, for life to be lived today.
57. Proverbs 10:12
We are different in what we perceive
We must be equal in what we believe
We cannot condemn one's color skin
We can take practice in religion
Do not bellow in the ignorance of society
Use intelligence to maintain ethical propriety
We are all different in what we perceive
We must be equal in what we believe
feeling lost in the night,
Looking for answers,
In the shadows that come to life,
To the spirit of dreams,
let him lead the way to my memories.
i didn't want to dream of you
you invaded my sleep
like a nightmarish monster
obscene laughter gurgling forth
from deep within your throat
mocking sweet sounds of
innocence and naivety
running faster in search of escape
feeling your stagnant breath
hot upon my neck
fangs scraping my flesh
unable to hold on
nowhere to run nowhere to hide
i turn to confront the beast
and surrender to that
which has invaded my sleep
never to awaken.
60. Whispers of Memory
Linens laced with the scent of lavender
White goose-down comforter
and pillows - all white with
brief brushes of silken colours.
The scent of roses, long dead,
the memory of sounds heard
in what was joyful youth -
but now no more.
The soft coolness of silk and satin
trimmed in lace and ribbons.
The delight of whispering, light,
finger-touches of memory as they gently
beckon, invading my mind and taking
me back -
I won't have to leave them anymore.
Mary Frances Lund
a single red rose
a bouquet of mini-carnations
a poem hidden in my drawer
a card on my pillow
a note tucked in my coffee cup
a weekend at Jumers
62. Valentine's Day
63. "R" Love
Ripples are formed in the Realm of our Relationship
and Reality's Rugged fingers
force a quake that separates us.
Righteous anger overwhelms Reason
causing Rancid words to Ring loudly.
pulses Race and Rage Radiates from her being
as i struggle to Right that wrong with words,
but Raw pain wells in her eyes
as she Reacts to my explanation.
Romance becomes degrading and Roses Rot
my Ruined attempts to Recapture what I destroyed
cause me to Retreat,
and Ruthlessly the Ripples never cease.
They say that everything will be alright, but is it ever true?
How could anyone know what I went through?
Unless you were there, how can you comment?
For all you know, it could be a god sent.
They say that we have freedom, but who is ever free?
For death can come knocking, and take you or me.
They say that love conquers all, but if s always the country
With the most weapons who never takes the fall.
So words are nice to hear or say,
As long as you don't let them get in the way.
66. The Taste of Words
65. Happy Birthday
I came to you I offered you a gift - a token
Of our friendship
But I think you misunderstood
Happy Birthday, I said. I think
"I love you."
And it scared you.
It scared me, too...
Because I think you were right.
And it frightens me when I don't know
If I really meant it or not.
Maybe - deep down - there's a part
That still cares
About you and what you think
Of my gift
And of Happy Birthday.
nd bles -> words
bles -> words
Tumbling 'round in my mind -
like smooth, round pebbles
whose shape is given to them by
the tumbling of the waters in which they lie - or
jagged-edged rocks that were
ripped from their resting place by some chaotic
Showcases for the tip of the tongue.
A powerful tool,
piercing, dividing, healing.
to the hearer — and to the speaker.
nd r s
I taste them,
I roll them 'round and 'round
on my tongue,
in my mouth,
in my mind,
in my heart.
I touch them - and use them.
Only to find that I have been touched.
67. Silent Discourse
Mary Frances Lund
Faithful friends —
You grieve with me, but my pain makes you uncomfortable.
You try to comfort but offer platitudes
and spiritual band-aids.
You search for words when none will come
and falter when you speak his name.
Say it loudly so I can hear.
Share your memories and
let me share mine.
Laugh with me when laughter beckons.
If tears fill your eyes, let them fall.
Offer a shoulder when I need to lean.
If I lean too much, prop me up.
Don't avoid me because you have no answers —
there are none, and I will learn to live
Tolerate my fury at grief's chaos.
Share my triumph when I take a small step alone.
Let me tell you how I loved him, and
remind me how he loved me.
Recognize that we were one
and that watching him die
was easier than living without him.
Hold my hand as I learn to trust again.
I run across something that frightens me,
a mysterious creature that seems to be violence itself,
which I have met and fought several times,
each time losing something dear to me.
I have seen his soul personified in his eyes, those
horrible black balls that are mere decoration
as he is blind.
Blind to the damage he leaves in his wake
he lashes out without caution, without thought,
and without motive,
acting only on his outdated instincts.
I know this beast well.
It is called My Self.
69. Anger's Release
Angry green waves, black with low
white caps wash back and forth like a washing
machine. They are angry, out of control, killing
green. They are lives-lost green, lives
drowned, washed away, sucked down into
the hatred and the fear, a whirlpool of disgust
and pain. They speak of ancient ships lost,
sails cracking, screams and terror of simple
men. No one knew it would end like this. My
toes are not safe. I may fall overboard and be
washed and drawn away into the morass,
unable to breathe or scream out. No one would
hear. It would be my own defeat, me alone
and silent, knowing there's no use in fighting.
Let it go. I need to let go, to stop clinging and
clutching. I don't want to be eaten, devoured
by creatures I can't see. The winds and waves
are worse. Ifs no use....
The power of the sea gives me strength.
I feel I can touch the frantic anger. I can strike
out and whip around like the sea. I am the sea.
I am the power of anger and hatred. I will
storm. My gales pierce all around me. I
destroy. I am God angry with the universe. I
will rage, kill, and sweep all away, out of my
way. I am power for power's sake.
I feel slowing winds....waves finding
a rhythm to soothe me.. .green growing
friendlier. ..the washing machine
domesticating itself. I am rocking, back and
forth, rolling up and down with the full,
whole tide, round and continuous. I am one 3-
D ball of Form with smooth sides and an inner
core, moving as one constant, gradually filling
and then subsiding entity. I hear the sighs of
tides. All is relief, comforting and gentle. It is
no longer the black and green froth of
disjointed anger. It is now emerald green, no
blue yet but beautiful in its descent. There are
high rolls and no peaks, curves, and swells,
rocking the child to an exhausted rest. I am
stunned with the release. I am floating, unable
to care. I feel only acceptance and release.
I move toward the silence of sleep, a
true sleep that gives me the release I sought.
I am no longer so tired. I don't feel the
desperation of bed or drink. I've returned for
the moment and can walk the shore looking
for shells and wood, trace lines with my big
toe, write my name and stomp it out. I could
wait for the tide to erase whatever I say. I pick
up clumps of wet sand and smear myself with
them. Then I wash them off. Whatever I do
can be redone - again and again. Nothing is
permanent. No damage is so strong that the
ocean can't wash it off. And I will remain. I
will still be here. I'm on land now, not lost in
the waves. I might even be able to go into the
sea and be washed around without a feeling
of panic. Then again, maybe not...
70. Deer Journal III
Margaret Carroll Redmond
Where do the deer go in the day?
Often I have surprised upon them
At dusk, we have ridden as one of them,
The gray mare and I, but their
Day life only dusted wonder.
Today, I finally saw them
At high noon.
They marched across the pasture,
in broad daylight,
Like migratory Indians,
Carrying all their earthly
Belongings; a white tail,
A hunger for grass and
71. Of Football Games and Love
In my memory softly muted edges, ringed with haze
from autumn fires,
The times were brightly colored like the teams.
Yellow Homecoming mums, powder puffs, decked
the bosoms of pompon girls rustling orange
plastic tinsel to pep band bleats.
Kicking leaves, holding hands down the streets
of a college town.
Strains of love, talks of Change and Life
Fringes of a moment impressed in splashes of color.
The pool this fall has turned once more, so soon.
Its full blue greened in the slanting light.
The air is harsher even in its warmth, taking
us forward, in real time.
Summer ends with football games and love
72. Catch 22
to live it.
Always too young
to do one thing
too old to do another.
Act your age!
how do people my age act?
Do you even know?
Do you even remember?
The workers of today
are paying for the
of yesterday's workers
Where did the money go &
who's going to pay my
I'll grow old and have
Just to hit a brick wall in
my memory later and never
remember my young life.
73. Christine Falling
Sometimes she stares up at my window
I only wish she would go home
She sings to me about the nighf s events ahead
Tonight a' murdering she goes
She threw blood upon my window
And this time I hope ifs hers
She rants to me about the joys of baby-killing
She begs for freedom from her curse
Now I'm writhing in my bed
Only to awake with her hand upon my head
I stare into her sunken eyes
The face of Christine falling
From my door I hear her calling to me
From my bed I hear her coming for me
And tonight I fear
God and His grace have gone and left me
And tonight I'll die
Beneath a pillow she crafted just for me
74. Somewhere Girl
ease over me,
interlock and intertwine
forever now your soul is mine,
my soul is yours,
we live as one,
loving life has just begun.
sun beams through display glass
Cool fountainy youth
in morning's shade
still wet hair
tangling vines disturbed by laughter
wrought iron, and water
sculptures of the industrial artist
the unkown purveyor
of many comforts
overgrowth and concrete
drawing with words
like stub dull pencils
I doodle with diction
with coarse golden gardens
knowingly tease unknowingly
they prance under shame
Alone in the sun
waiting for someone to come
mesmerized by trees
Mary Frances Lund
"You're so resilient."
(would you rather I fall apart?)
"I could never be that strong."
(appearances can be deceiving)
"You look so good!"
(how should I look?)
If I were fragile,
unable to function,
dressed in sackcloth and ashes,
would you feel more comfortable?
would you let me cry?
77. Plastic Offerings
Mary Frances Lund
"If you need anything, call" —
I'm not made that way.
"How are you?"
if you don't want to know.
"I know how you feel."
Chances are, you don't.
to rob me of my grief.
you may enter, but only
at your own risk,
slowly and with
cautiously, careful not to
disturb the stillness,
the windowless black walls are
bare save for hanging
tapestries of heavy brocade
covered in dust
while the corners are
strewn with cobwebs -
ensnaring all innocence that
dare come too near,
take care where you step,
the floor is carpeted with
long-stemmed roses whose
thorns cut like
above all else, do not
close the door
or risk an eternity locked in this
empty room of
Haunting images which
Render me helpless
I embrace the
who can inspire
Passion and Hope
Endless cycle of
80. My Golden Retriever was a Werewolf
I was standing in the garden, watering
my kohlrabi patch when my dog trotted up
with a bone bigger and longer than any I had
seen in my life clamped in his jaws. He's big,
even for a golden retriever, and his jaws have
quite a grip. "Amadeus," I
hollered over to him, "don't you go and tear
up our yard. Barbara will kill you." My wife
wouldn't of course, but she would yell so
much that the resulting headache I'd get just
might do me in. Luckily, Amadeus knows
better. He continued across our yard to the
back field wagging his tail all the way. The
back field is his territory and anything he
wants, or needs, to do, he can do back there.
Amadeus held that strange bone tight
the whole time he worked at the ground
digging a hole around for it. With big paws
flying, he excavated his way down through
grass roots and soil. It wasn't long before he
refilled his pit and sauntered up to me with
his tail still in motion and his tongue lolling
out the side of his mouth. By this time I was
sitting on the back porch.
"You should take out a safe-deposit
box at the bank and save yourself the trouble,"
I told him, but he wasn't interested in
investment advice. He wanted his ears to be
scratched, and he wasn't going to take his
head off my lap until he got petted.
Later that evening, I stood in the
kitchen looking out across the yard to where
Amadeus hid that bone. What kind of bone
was it that could be so big and from what
animal? I decided to find out.
I wrapped the steak bone from dinner
in tin foil and put it in my jacket pocket, then
I got the big flashlight out of the pantry.
Curiosity is a marvelous thing in its capacity
for being contagious. First I caught it, then it
spread to my wife.
"Roy, what are you doing?" Barbara
had come into the kitchen from behind.
Amadeus had followed her. I listened to his
nails clicking across the kitchen's linoleum
"I'm just going to check the rat traps
around the shed, then head over to Jim's for
"Okay," she agreed with a smirk.
Wrinkles bunched up around her brown eyes
and the corners of her fine mouth as she
brushed strands of greyed hair out of her face.
She knew I was just tinkering around with
something as an excuse to get out of the house
before going off to drink beer with a buddy.
Exhuming the bone only took a
minute. The soil was loose as I picked through
it with the little trowel Barbara uses for her
flower beds. To be fair, or at least more
chivalrous than a common thief, I unwrapped
the steak bone and put it in the hole before I
"I don't know what kind of critter it
is," Jim confessed after a flurry of guesses and
at least three beers.
"If you want to know about bones, go
ask Gill. He's the mighty big game hunter
around here. Or go to the bowling alley and
dig up old Doc Barrington's bones and ask
Being the least offensive of the two
choices given, I went and asked the Doc the
next day, but to no avail. He couldn't identify
the bone but gave me his assurance that it
wasn't a person's, which was a relief. The
paranoid idea that it could be part of some
missing kid or murder case had been fluttering
around in my mind since I first saw it.
At that point, I could have just flung
that dirty bone in the river, but I didn't. The
subject was no pressing matter, yet curiosity
had enough of a grip on me for me to go over
to Gill's house that evening. No one ever goes
over to Gill's house of their own volition.
Gill is pretty arrogant. He tends to
brag a lot and tell long-winded tales of his
hunting triumphs and tragedies. People
wonder how his wife can stand to live with
him. I'm one of them.
Gill came to the door with a rumble,
his black hair tousled, a slight paunch filling
out the lumberjack red flannel he was wearing.
"Roy, how are ya!" he bellowed and
pulled me in the house with a rough
handshake, repeatedly slapping me on the
"Good to see ya! Come on in. Have a
seat." After several minutes of bustling around
and fussing, he finally settled into a chair in
the living room. It was his own, personal Laz-
E-Boy throne, the center of his cabin castle. I
perched on the end of his couch.
"What can I do ya for?" he asked,
eyeing the burlap package. I handed it to him.
"I was wondering if you could tell me
what kind of animal this belongs to, Gill." He
studied the bone in earnest.
"Where' d you get it?" he asked.
"My dog, Amadeus, dragged it home
the other day." At this, Gill started laughing.
"I thought you used that ol' retriever
dog of yours to hunt ducks, Roy. Seems like
he up and got tired of ducks. This here is a
deer's leg bone." He continued to chuckle.
"A deer? You're sure."
"Sure I'm sure. I've boned, jointed,
and skinned enough of them in my lifetime to
know," he said. 'There are more than enough
woodlands near town to support deer. They
tend to wander from the forest preserve from
time to time. Your dog musfve come across a
carcass while tramping around in the woods.
Don't look so serious! I doubt if s anything
he'll get sick off of."
With my little mystery cleared, I
resigned myself to listening to Gill's epics
detailing his mastery of the wild. He had just
finished the fourth tale and was heading into
a fifth when I excused myself and headed
I would have forgotten the whole thing
if Amadeus had not brought home another
big bone like the first one. It was exactly like
the first one, a duplicate, so I knew he didn't
just return to the same carcass and retrieve
another leg bone. Amadeus soon started
bringing home more and more bones, all
different kinds. Very often they were fresh,
with reddish meat or hide still attached to
them. It got to the point where I was calling
the back field "the cemetery." I'll be darned if
that dog didn't bring something home every
week, practically every other day. I had gone
to the library and photocopied all sorts of
animal skeletons. I kept the photocopies in a
green folder on my workbench in the garage
and kept track of just what Amadeus' haul
was. The skeleton pictures weren't much use,
though, because if it was small enough, he'd
drag the whole kill home. There was one
twelve day span where he brought home ten
cats, four rabbits, and even a squirrel.
I admit this was very strange, but
Amadeus was a good dog. Other than the
bones and such, I didn't notice anything else
peculiar about him. He was still a friendly
dog, quick to slobber on my hand and thump
his tail on the carpet or dance around when I
came home from work. So he was more of a
hunting dog than I credited him for. Golden
retrievers were bred for that sort of thing,
weren't they? Barbara never knew about the
graveyard, but she did notice that Amadeus
was not eating very much of his dry dog food.
She insisted we take him to the vet. The vet
only gave him a brief check-up and suggested
we try giving him canned dog food for a
change. Then he charged us fifty dollars for
the visit and reminded us to come back for his
rabies vaccination in the fall. I told my wife
not to worry too much, dogs tend to slim up
in the summer and Amadeus might just be
reacting to the hot weather.
Months later, I finally was made to
truly realize exactly what I was dealing with.
The cute puppy I had bought for Barbara's
birthday was flat-out homicidal.
I kept reading the back columns of the
local newspapers. Sure enough, there were
times where Amadeus' corpses showed up.
All the cats from certain neighborhoods had
disappeared or been found mutilated and
people were blaming it on a Satanic cult
rumored to exist in the area. Out-of-state
tourists kept coming across dead, decayed,
partially eaten deer on their nature hikes
through the forest preserves. And the
cemetery, kept by Amadeus, kept plenty full.
Then one evening, Amadeus finally
got busted. John Mansfield's widow, Florence,
called screaming across the phone lines loud
enough for me to hear her in the next room.
Poor Barbara had answered the phone and
"Here give it to me," I snapped, full of
nervous dread. "Now what's wrong, Flo?
"The hell I will!" she shrieked
hysterically. "That yellow mutt is yours! I
know it is! It got my poodle! It killed Sashi,
and I'm going to kill it right now! You tell
Barb I'm going to blow its head off!" She was
still howling as I slammed down the receiver.
Barbara hovered in the background, worried.
"Whaf s going on?" she demanded,
but I didn't answer. I was running out the
door and in my pick-up truck before she
knew it. Racing to Florence's place, all I could
think of was what a flighty old bat she was
and how her temperment was not improving
with age. To top it off, John Mansfield made
the grand mistake of teaching his wife how to
use a rifle, and I knew damn well that she
could make good on her threat to blast
I got to Florence's and strode up to the
white picket fence that edged her yard. What
was left of her toy poodle was strewn across
her lawn. What was left of Florence herself
was sprawled across the front porch, the stairs,
and the front walkway slicked and splattered
with blood. She had been raked and shredded
by what could be either teeth or claws. My
stomach and body convulsed and I found
myself getting sick in her lilac bush.
On shaky legs, I was able to make it
back to my truck without passing out. I pulled
my gun out from beneath the seat, not a rifle
but a handgun, and loaded it with Winchester
Silver- tips. The bullets are something you can
buy right off the shelf in any respectable gun
shop and made with real silver. I set to the
"Amadeus!" I called, then called again
with more confidence, trying to sound natural.
I let out a burst of short, sharp whistles. I crept
around the back of the house and saw signs of
digging. I continued to call, and just as I was
going into the third yell, Amadeus rounded
the corner of the back fence.
He stood looking at me, not showing
any outward hostility or friendship. His
muzzle and chest were rusty with drying
blood. It seemed he didn't even recognize me.
I called him over and eventually, slowly, stiffly
he came. The gun's weight swung heavily in
my loose right arm. I got a careful look at him
without going too close to him. The old widow
got one good shot in before going down, right
through Amadeus' throat. There was no way
that dog should be either standing, walking,
or breathing. I was filled with hatred and rage
that my own animal could have done this.
That I could have let this animal live to kill so
many others, and now, a person. God, what if
he'd gone after Barbara?
With this last thought, I brought the
gun up and started firing shots into the dog.
Amadeus rushed me with a savage snarl and
tried to leap, but I managed to nail his head
with the last shot, causing him to stagger and
slump to the ground with a whine, motionless.
Now, nearly six months later, things
have returned back to what Barb and I accept
as normal. The last bit of fuss with the
authorities ended a long time ago and that
cuss of a local tabloid seems to have forgotten
we exist. I was settling down in bed, tired, a
little sore from work, and fully ready to fall
into a deep sleep when it occurred to me that
Amadeus had sired at least half a dozen pups
with Mike Adam's black Labrador two or
three years ago.
Little water world of my creation
Bubbles in my bedroom,
Fills the walls with waving luminescence.
Inside my children dance
Gracefully through a silent sea.
"Herald News Personals Section."
"I'd like to place a Singles Ad," she replied.
"Ok. The ad is $7.50 per inch. We can fit about 20 words in that space," he told her.
"I want Single White Female seeks funloving, intelligent, sensitive man with a large..."
"Miss, we can't print that."
"Sorry, ok. How about SWF seeks funloving, intelligent, sensitive man whose bank account is
as big as his..."
"Miss, we can't print that!"
"Well, if I can't have printed what I want, how am I going to find the man I want?"
"You can have my number."
"Oh my God! You are such a pig! I can't believe this. I have never been so insulted in all my
life! You are a sick puppy!"
83. Continuing Adventures with the 986
God bless my little 'puter
Make my system thrive.
Save it from system crashes,
Protect its small hard drive.
Let me insert a floppy
And load up Windows 3.
Help me to read instructions;
Install it carefully.
"Please insert a floppy,
Then press any key."
WHIRRR went its small hard drive,
Then BOOM it went on me.
Curses flow from my fingers,
Onto the board of keys.
"Work you doggone 'puter!
You must do as I please!"
I then found the manual;
Picked it up and read.
And not at all surprising,
This is what it said:
"If you installed the program;
Have done it properly.
You can get the upgrade
"But when done incorrectly,
For you, dear friend, we're saying
Quite frankly, you are screwed."
God curse my little 'puter,
Damn its every byte.
From now until forever,
With pen and pad I'll write
(This offer is not valid
From sea to shining sea,
Nor any time before or after
84. Inside the Mind of a Madman's Creation
Things are going to change and fortunately I'm going
to be in the middle, not trapped but protected. It's
what the holy call worship, I call it total
understanding. What can only be obtained by the
observer, the seer. To know is to see behind barriers,
thick and thin. Explanation is worthless to those who
can't see for themselves.
Remember the idea of freedom is false unless you
believe you can do anything, anywhere, with
knowledge danger is involved unless you understand
your knowledge and use it for yourself; not selfishly,
but for yourself. Without your self, without your
thoughts, your own thoughts to control you, there is
nothing. The why in every answer is there, but you
must find it by observing... thus my quest goes on.
Smeared like a drunken tapestry
crayons melted on the
Mom would be so mad
(I'm too old for that).
She doesn't see that
our melted crayons
86. Unfinished Journey
Jennifer K. Stempien
Unfinished journey -
Still so far to go.
The ground, gives me no comfort.
The rain, smacks me roughly.
The wind, pushes me off course.
The sun, blinds me with brilliance.
Nature so against me.
Blurring my vision.
Distorting my view.
Increasing the danger.
Hurting me more.
Still so far to go.
87. Observe at the Ocean's Edge
Observe at the ocean's edge:
She whispers the answer in soothing flow.
Ancient shards — sea-born things,
cloaked in newborn foam,
(a shape and color never the same)
tossed ashore by indifferent tide.
Dredged from dark and summoned by chance,
their borrowed luster fades —
. stolen by the crudest force —
to reveal but dull pebbles.
Offering in meter, Recovery in rhythm
is the nature of Her agent.
Sentenced to amble on paths wild:
Half -content with this fleeting visit,
prodded by sea-long possibility
And always a stone's throw from our ocean.
in a dance that may never be repeated
in exactly the same way again.
Like the sparkling bits of glass
captured in a kaleidoscope -
One twist of the hand,
and all the tiny bits of glass
shift into a different pattern
Yet they are all still in the same
89. To Sleep Naked On Flannel Sheets
To sleep naked
Amid flannel sheets
I finally know the meaning of
"Madly in love" -
If s how you must feel
After I gave you back
Your ring And told you
91. On Going Steady
Betsy Carina Zacate
If you really love me you would
wait and if I really love you
I wouldn't hesitate. But I'm sitting
still and you're ready to leave.
If love is persistent and patient,
then thafs not what's between
you and me.
the soft glow and
pale flicker of
dance against the wall
underwater dream and
the water of the bath
like visions of the
past and future,
i lower myself into the tub
porcelain as smooth as
the scalding hot water
bringing back memories of
the liquid enfolding my flesh
the way your arms
the bubbles tickle like
your breath in my ear...
relaxing, i doze,
losing myself in
awakening to find
the water has
spiraling down the drain
like all my
hopes and dreams
i am drowning.
93. In Love With Two
What to do?
when you're in love with two.
One is old
and one is new.
I left the first
because he blew
me off, too
He began to
away at my nerves
so I flew.
If s hard to
get used to
being with someone
you've been true blue
It's been two
months and, I
love someone new
If only he knew
he's still number two.
The man I refer to
is everything I've
in a man
If I could ever
get over the first,
I'd gladly say "I do'
to number two.
94. My Lucky Day
As I am driving to the hospital to see my last living relative
before his cancer operation,
I hit a nail in the road.
This flattens my right-rear tire, forcing me to pull over.
When I pull over, I pull the trunk latch to open the trunk,
to get the spare tire.
As I get out of the car, I lock the door to prevent any one
from stealing it.
Coming around to the back of the car, I see that I pulled
the wrong lever.
Reaching into my pocket to retrieve my car keys, I find
they are not there, so I look on the ground to see if I
Discovering they are not there, I tug at the door handle,
turning on the light and showing the keys in the ignition
where I left them.
I slam my head against the window and it begins to rain,
first a drop at a time, then developing into a full-blown
Standing in the rain next to my locked car with the
flat tire and the gas tank open, a car suddenly
pulls up and stops.
Thinking that I am saved, I openly greet the driver,
who greets me with a large revolver
and demands my wallet, watch, and ring.
As the thief drives off, he runs through a puddle,
splashing oily mud on me.
At this point a State Trooper pulls up in front of me,
first asking me what the problem is and then giving me a
ticket for loitering.
After he opens my car, he escorts me to the hospital,
where I am told by the girl at the registration desk that 1 am
at the wrong hospital, at which point I sign
myself into the psychiatric ward for observation.
97. Mystery Man
95. hiv, aids
hiv, aids, cmv, chf,
medical alphabet soup,
these i know
how did you get it?
poultry droppings - an airborne fungus
inhaled in your youth -
it lay in wait all these years.
now that you are weak
it takes advantage - and grows.
not in your lungs as would
be expected - but in your blood!
A CHICKEN SHIT DISEASE!
Where did he venture from? His new
territory seems to be Louis Joliet's Pointe.
He bears his belongings upon his back, excep t
for what he stuffs under his bloated cap. He
must have had a home once upon a time. He
seldom speaks to anyone besides himself
and when he does, people shy away. The
sidewalk is his beat. I have seen him there so
many times now that he has become a part of
the decor like a wooden Indian in front of a
I wonder where he beds at night and
how he keeps warm. Does the idea of four
walls crush him with claustrophobia so that
he escapes to the freedom of the outdoors
with no set street number? He is like someone
from out of the past and yet the plastic Pepsi
liter that he carries links him to this
time that trips
all those who
Big daddy dope dealer
fat worm in his
without a word
looking forward to the long sleep
in the mechanical court
must be ripped
99. A Moment Last Spring
In the Crescent City, Dionysus will emerge,
Roused from pagan enclave by sober Christian clock.
A sleeping heathen spirit to consume a million incarnates —
Bleary-eyed nocturnals fueled by a god's decree;
One lives most when senses say least...
(Fused and mingled sound to move the night: music seethed from murky bars and burst
from float-choked streets. Sometimes laughter would pierce the sensual din).
We waded — ankle-deep — through littered streets,
past serene hippies — empty smiles; spent balloons at their feet.
Then were engulfed by a bead-throwing throng,
eagerly incited by a care-free flash from ornate balconies above.
And where the streets grew dark amd decadence thrived,
we were pursued by a slinking, rail-thin "dancer" with money in her eyes.
Ash filled sky
after the great flash
Dust ruffled planet
humanity's supreme intellect.
Smoke from his cigar
Brought tears to the young girl's eyes
As did the burn on her arm
From the same cigar
Jennifer K. Stempien
I am waiting for the night;
it hovers over me.
The darkness encloses me
The shadows caress me
The stars sing to me
their songs of
Life and feeling
Death and apathy
Their song is sweet
The melody falls at my feet
where it stays and dies.
But I heard it.
104. March, 4 a.m.
Little water world of my creation
Bubbles in my bedroom,
Fills the walls with waving luminescence.
Inside my children dance
Gracefully through a silent sea.
Jennifer K. Stempien
Why do I awake at this hour?
That groggy between-world time
When the moon is awake and its power
When the sun still slumbers?
The icy wind cuts through the blue-black cold
And sends my soul to Oblivion.
It's almost day and yet the night tries to
hold on to its dominion o'er the land.
Black to purple to blue
Slowly the light destroys darkness.
Peach to yellow to orange
The night yields to day.
The stars end their song, the clouds part,
The world awakens for yet
105. Spoon River Copycatted
I left my home in Ely, Iowa, to marry
a man, a doctor, older than myself, and mean.
Lonely I was and scared for
Fear of his displeasure with me.
I huddled near the hearth
when I heard his footsteps on the stoop.
The lash of his hand was quick and smart.
One terrible night his wrath mounted
- and the first blow was the last for me.
Down I went in a heap of ashes.
Good people, they called us, a fine old family
of Macon - little did they know
my grandfather and his father and his father's father
were all afflicted with a moral degeneracy,
a lust for the unspeakable that sunk them so low.
All's I know was no child of mine was ever safe
with one of them around.
Thafs how we got our money and that's how we lost
it, all without the town knowing a thing.
106. An Early Death
The Young Ruffian fought his way up
the stairs, through the human sea which was
once a living room, and into the equally
crowded kitchen. Two dreadfully pale figures
rested their drunken heads on the table. The
scent of beer and vomit hung heavy on their
lips as they spoke to one another. Actually
one was singing, more likely to the beer cans
which littered the table than to his twin, while
his counterpart spoke in incoherent sentences
about how Archie Bunker was a double-fisted
drinker. The Young Ruffian found it doubtful
that the drug-induced denseness of their heads
allowed the pale drunkards to understand
each other. The Ruffian laughed to himself as
he passed them.
"I would gladly join them if I had the
brain-cells to spare," he said silently. He fought
with the sliding glass door which led outside
to the patio. Reluctantly the door opened and
gave him passage out into the snow-filled
He could hear the muffled sounds of
Keamosabe finishing their cover of "Silly Girl"
in the basement. He was out of breath and his
lungs, sore from the stale recycled air of the
basement, heaved painfully as the cold air
rushed in. He forcibly tried to catch his breath;
he longed to be back in the basement, dancing
in that violent way that young ruffians danced.
He hated calling it "moshing" and seldom
did, but he could never think of anything else
to call it. This brief internal drama was
interrupted by the sound of a voice. In fact, it
was several voices which had been there all
along but hadn't been noticed up until that
He looked around and found a pretty
young face looking back at him. He was
thrilled to have caught such a pretty creature
admiring him, but in truth she was watching
the steam rising off his sweaty frame. The
YoungRuffian took an awkward step forward.
They were vaguely acquainted (they ran in
the same circles) and could talk with one
another without formally introducing
themselves. She took a casual drag from her
"Are you hoping for an early death?"
he mused. But she didn't get it. He hated it
when a good Smiths quote went to waste. She
offered him a sip of her wine cooler.
"No, thank you. I'm driving tonight,"
he said. He was very happy with himself. Not
only does she think I'm responsible, but she
now also knows that I have a car, he thought
She liked this Young Ruffian. Her
friends told her good things about him, and
she found herself becoming increasingly
attracted to him. Besides she was very lonely
and desperate for someone to be with.
The Young Ruffian stood shivering as
the Pretty Girl gave him the details of what
she had walked in on upstairs earlier in the
evening. But he wasn't paying attention to
her words. He penetrated her skull with his
eyes and stared into her soul (he could do this
kind of thing, you know) and saw her
innocence. She wasn't any older than
seventeen, and as pretty as she was she had
lived a sheltered life when it came to men. Her
proverbial heart was pure and free from the
bitterness of pain and age which ravaged the
Young Ruffian's soul. He almost cried right
there in front of her when he thought of his
old and defeated soul which was hidden by
the mask of youth. And as he watched her
eyes grow wide with the climax of her story,
he felt as though he were watching her from
the edge of Heaven, the sky falling through
her hair. And he was crying inside because he
knew he would never be let in. He could
never let himself have her; the thing that tore
at his insides would kill her youth, just as it
had devoured his.
The Young Ruffian smiled and told
her how numb his hands had grown and that
Keamosabe was playing his favorite song.
With that he turned and once again fought
with the sliding glass door until it opened.
She stood silently shocked and disappointed,
the snow clinging to her hair.
"Maybe I'll take up smoking," he said.
And then he shut the door. "What she said, T
smoke because I'm hoping for an early death
and I need to cling to something.'" Smiths
108. Just Standing There
I don't know why you just stand there
looking at me
When you know how much I love you
how forgiving I can be
After all the roads we've traveled
bridges built with pathways yeamed
Sailing oceans of emotions
as questing ships we've sojourned
Throughout afraid of trusting love
confused we misconstrue
But oh My Darling, of this we're sure
we both live I Love You
I need to be in this place of ease
Lost in the mass of grass and trees
So I can think, love, mate,
And succumb to sleep.
I long to be in this place of dreams,
These open wounds I have won't bleed
And I can cut, slash, and kick the world
Look back and smile without a word.
I think I'll mate with mother Earth
Plant my seed into her dirt.
My clones will sprout up everywhere,
With colored faces and painted hair.
We'll take the world for our own
Burn it down and then go home.
Our minds like water, pure and deep.
Maybe I'll just go to sleep.
Our love has cut us as would a knife
being human we rebel
If our love can ever heal the hurt
then only time will tell
we wonder "How do you dare?"
Forgetting it's in the building of bridges
that we somehow learned to care
Harbored ships with sails all furled
ensue uncharted seas remain
While unfettering currents pull and tug
demanding no refrain
God's Sea of Love is vast
where uncertain waters flow
But oh My Love, if we drop anchor
then we'll never, ever know
The unknown roads yet traveled
may all abound with some despair
But trust our love will guide us
and that we're in His care
Our pathways with great defiles of space
we know not just how to start
Trust our love to build the archways
which begin, have root, within the heart
When you know how much I love you
how forgiving I can be
I don't know why you just stand there
looking at me
For you know I'll always love you
oh so tenderly
109. Elvis's Birthday!
(Shot of a shadowed figure standing in a doorway)
Voice over: You thought that there were no more holidays
Hollywood could exploit... You were wrong!
(Shot of the figure stepping out of the doorway, revealing his identity.
A young woman screams)
V.O.: Now, from the people that brought you the fear of Labor Day, the terror
of The Fourth of July, and the horror of Thanksgiving comes — Elvis's Birthday!
(Brief shot of an Elvis impersonator smashing his guitar on someone's head.
Several shots of young people in fear while voice over continues) V.O.: He's back from the dead, and he ain't
nothin' but a hound dog. Elvis: (While he stands over a victim) Yeah, Baby. V.O.: He doesn't reside in the
heartbreak hotel anymore, but in your worst nightmare.
Elvis: (Screaming at a victim-to-be cowering in the cormer of a shoe store)
I warned you not to step on the blue suede shoes!
(Several shots of Elvis about to finish off his victims while voice-over continues.)
V.O.: Elvis's Birthday. There ain't no grace in this Graceland. Rated R. Starts Friday, January 8 at a theater near
111. Sunset Sirens
The powerful winds caused branches to
explode upon the forest floor. Darting
directional streaks of lightning incised their
bullet beams thru defenseless waiting
I used to sit at sunset, suspended
Hanging in that pause before speaking
Filled with the moment.
Still, waiting time.
Light etching shadows behind
My trees, my fence row arbored, dried
Vines clustering, Sun's Home.
Now, sirens quibble the sunset hour
Fenced in, fenceless, sunset lock up,
My Joliet prison.
Dodging houses and housewives and cats
A long way off I see that glow, that hope
Past the popping paranoid yard lights
Artificially lightening the place,
I reach my heart to home
But it's not there.
R C T S
REALITY IS THE BEST FANTASY OF ALL fjUj&BPMffjp*6
here's what JBgjf
jj inspires us. -ul%^