the bitchin’ kitsch content october 2013
above the looking glass Stephanie Jones About The B’K and Resources No Matter What I Do - Alon Calinao Dy States of Being - Mike Jewett
Brooke Newman - pg. 7
Talking to Myself - kaleeM rajA
Untitled - Laine Jewell
To Time, The Tormentor - John Grey
School Call Number Five - Paul Lewellan This Poem - Jamie Lee Knight
Every Sunday Afternoon - Big D.
Twenty-Two - Matt Staley
In the Form of a Question - Terry 10-14 Barr Walmart Parking Lot Song 15 Jeremiah Walton
Stephanie Jones - pg. 30
definitions of knowing - Robert Pino And Now, Eternity - Doireann O’Sullivan Rainy Day Sale - Sy Roth
A Sailboat for Mary - Jameson Stewart
Guy Fawkes was not a hero Samuel L. Arguinzoni
Drill Song (Miner’s Lament) John Roth Pud the dog - Lance Manion
When You Could Be Doing Other Things - Kenneth P. Gurney Habitual Limerick - Kenneth Abraham
No Matter What I Do - Alon Calinao Dy
Jared - Brooke Newman
layers - Jess Provencio
All in One - Mandal Bijoy Beg
Reflection - Dawnell Harrison
above the looking glass Stephanie Jones Mixed media
on the inside back cover: The Boiler Room W. Jack Savage Painting
Check out this month’s issue of video and music at www.talbot-heindl.com/bitchin_kitsch
17 18 18
18 18 19
The Politics of “The Oahu Swing Project” - Louis Marvin The Strength of Desert Dwellers Robert Allen Beckvall
He Plays with Emotion - Danielle Dragona Prototype Children’s Book - Louis Marvin and XY
Ways Down - Valentina Cano
Shudder to Apocalypse - Brett Stout
The Vows of Quiet - 2013 - Alexis Hope Ronsmans Rufus, Nebraska - Mike Cluff
Amanda Bynes - Debby Regan
The Crow Repercussions III - W. Jack Savage
the dirty doll at the beach with a gun - Peter Marra Pig - Mitchell Krochmalnik Grabois The Last Battle - Wayne F. Burke Funeral Strains - Gary Beck
the bitchin’ kitsch video and music issue:
Another Year - Douglas Polk
The Sieve of Time - Afzal Moolla
on the front cover:
24 25 25 26-29
THEY - Stephanie Jones
Donors and Index
The Boiler Room - W. Jack Savage
alon calinao dy, resources. about b’k:
The Bitchin’ Kitsch is a zine for artists, poets, prose writers, or anyone else who has something to say. It exists for the purpose of open creativity. If you have something you want to share, please email it to chris@ talbot-heindl.com. Are you a video or music artist? Submit your YouTube link or original file to email@example.com. All submissions are due on the 26th for the following month’s issue. Please review the submission guidelines on our Submissions page (http://www.talbot-heindl.com/ bitchin_kitsch/submissions ) before submitting your work.
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No Matter What I Do Alon Calinao Dy Photograph
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mike jewett, kaleeM rajA, laine jewell, john grey. States of Being
By: Mike Jewett http://bostonpoetry.wordpress.com This poem is a Google Adwords ad, Intruding into the sidebar of your heart. It’s a 1-800-LAWYERS commercial Making you money off your personal injury. It’s a brutal, bloody UFC bout, Weak in its ground game but knows its Jiu-Jitsu And it’s got you on the mat, begging you to tap out. This poem is FUBAR, a SNAFU waiting to happen. It’s the sarin gas Syria used against its own And it’s the attack America will be responding with. Using murder to punish murderers. This poem is a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken Getting your finger-lickin’-good fingers nice and greasy. This poem is yet another poet writing yet another poem about poems, With the word poem repeated ad nauseum. This poem is a bunch of awful band names, Like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Tapes ‘n Tapes, and Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!. It’s a summer blockbuster and a teen dystopian trilogy. It’s riding bitch In your ex’s car. This poem is anthropogenic global warming Whose CO2 emissions are dangerously high and climbing While its polar bears are stranded on the broken ice floes of its verses. It’s a baseball crowd speaking the words “no hitter” In the midst of a no-no Which itself is a no-no. Its bad grammar, who’s comma’s are all, out of place And its’ apostrophe’s, are meaningless. This poem is Zooey Deschanel, Who will not marry me some day, any day, in the future. In fact, it doesn’t even know I exist.
Talking to Myself By: kaleeM rajA
I bore me. I abhor me. I only talk to me, By all accounts it’s clear, To get the answers I want to hear. You give me the gun. And load it. You leave me And desert all help To let me pull the trigger by myself.
By: Laine Jewell Blood rings through my ears with a tea kettle whistle Internal pressure
To Time, The Tormentor By: John Grey
don’t get me started on the days of the week Monday is turgid Tuesday, an abomination Wednesday is the proverbial between a rock and a hard place only the rock is a clock and the hard place is the work place then there’s soulless Thursday and false dawn Friday and stupefying Saturday and finally Sunday a boring hour with some collared drone who threatens us when we die with eternal days of the week
paul lewellan. School Call Number Five* By: Paul Lewellan
*The following phone call was overheard in the English department office area of a suburban Midwestern high school. One can only speculate what was said on the other end of the line. Wednesday, September 18th. 11:20 a.m. (3rd Period).
“Hello, Mrs. Olive. This is Ms Schertz returning your call.” “Yes, Mrs. Olive, it is a beautiful day.” “Look, we could chat about the weather, but I’m in class right now, and you’re not a meteorologist. Why don’t you just tell me why you called?” “I see.” “Well, I had no idea.” “No, Chris never . . ..” “I’m sorry, Mrs. Olive. I meant to say, Christopher never mentioned to me that he didn’t find the class engaging.” “If true, that certainly would be of serious concern to me.” “No, I’m not being sarcastic.” “No, I’m not suggesting that Christopher is giving you a distorted view of what happens in class.” “I understand.” “Well, his first paper would probably have gotten a higher grade if it had been word processed and . . ..” “No, I don’t grade on neatness, but we did spend three periods in the computer lab, so I was a little shocked to see his paper was handwritten.” “He was present those days, Mrs. Olive.” “What I started to say was that the first paper wasn’t typed and that it didn’t meet the assignment.” “It was a descriptive paper about a favorite place.” “The electric chair.” “I said, he wrote about the electric chair.” “I assume he wrote about it because he’s on the debate team and they’re debating the death penalty. He had a lot of details readily available.” “Look, I think the ‘D’ was a well deserved.” “I realize . . ..” “If you’d let me . . ..” “Mrs. Olive, stop! You’re probably right. I haven’t ‘engaged’ him in class. Why don’t I go back to class and wake him up and see . . ..” “Yes, I said wake him up.”
“Every day.” “I think he has gym first period, alternating with marching band.” “The first week and a half I tried walking past him as I lectured and gently tapping his shoulder. I tried standing next to him when I gave directions. I had Christopher see the nurse. She said all he needed was a nap.” “I’ll go wake him up, and you can speak to him about it if you like.” “Mrs. Olive, I have to get back to class. I will make another attempt to engage him. You, on your part, can put him to bed earlier.” “Mrs. Olive, if you don’t believe me, ask his friends in the class. They wake him every day before they leave the room. One time they forgot him in the lab . . ..” “Yes, I believe that was when his pants were stolen . . ..” “No, I don’t think it was anything kinky. I think he’s just a sound sleeper.” “Mrs. Olive . . .? Are you there? Mrs. Olive?”
jamie lee knight, jess provencio. This Poem
By: Jamie Lee Knight I wrote this poem & hated its guts. I shunned this poem & left it to be spilled on. This poem beat me in a staring contest; cheater. I crossed out beyond all future hope of legibility the obscene drunken couplet while the other words pleaded to be spared oblivion. I wrote funeral songs describing this poem’s demise. I strangled this poem a little & watched it start to turn blue before it punched me in the face. This poem tastes like lies & colors my tongue like trick gum. I bite my thumb at this poem. I forgot to buckle my seatbelt & hit my head on the dashboard of this poem. This poem is the worm on your sidewalk making a wiggle map of shiny wet trail. This poem is scrawled in clairvoyant sharpie marker on a bathroom wall.
I purposely used this poem as a coaster & was careless setting my glass.
This poem doesn’t quibble, it grabs you by the throat till you dribble.
This poem will pummel you at air hockey.
This poem is no kick the can.
This poem hobnobs with weather systems recording language mechanisms.
Fortunately, this poem is lugubrious & unapologetic.
By: Jess Provencio lost boy sitting on the back steps of the bus your mama dressed you in layers ever since you were real young one time you made the mistake of rolling your sleeves up in a classroom with no air conditioning after your teacher called home you never made that mistake again warriors don’t cry broken ribs don’t leave visible bruises skateboard stickers match the rasta colors on your tam because you believe those songs your granddaddy sang before he went and died left you alone with your mom someday there’s gonna be freedom and redemption its gonna be our turn the African drums promise you even though right now the closest you can get is a beat-up board and a broken down skate park two hours away by bus its better than staying home four walls can suck out your soul in short order the beatings don’t come anymore but the bruises haven’t faded from your heart your long eye lashes and soft playdough nose making the sound like you had the sniffles too many times no money for inhalers for relief your teeth stick out just a little too much as you laugh who can afford braces when you can’t afford electricity your shoes with a hole in the toe just a little too loose your brother is wearing new ones but then he was always her favorite she knows who his dad was empty water bottle becomes the drum sounding the song to raise up the African blood of the warrior
john roth, brooke newman. Drill Song (Miner’s Lament) By: John Roth 1.
Herald of black dawn, tinder box town front— Take up your smoky quill and write our history in ash. A place where the sunlight runs like feverish yellow sap and soot-stained moths find shelter in damp chimney flues. The air here is throat-thick with the stench of burning things, while the workmen slump over smog-ridden benches and knock heavy fists against their riveted hard-hats. Even the rundown buildings, that they pin their blank stares onto, are caked in red-brick slime. But they have grown accustomed to these toxic conditions. They joke about which will collapse first: the mine shafts or their lungs. It’s usually the latter. By now, they know this as a certainty. 2.
One of the older men always used to grumble and wheeze as he swung his iron ax-pick, saying that the closest he’d seen of the sun was the caged canary; a bright feathered beacon buried deep underground. He said there were some things that just didn’t belong at these hell-hole depths in the first place. He never went through the trouble of naming these birds because they were regularly strangled by some assassin gas slip that left them wrench-winged, lying flat on their back like a stiff wooden board.
Jared Brooke Newman Graphite on paper
And sometimes he would heave a leaden sigh. How he envied the quickness of it all. 3.
Kerosene lanterns line the dark tunnel walls, but these are a poor substitute for clean illumination. The harsh chemical spill-glow blurs their vision, a sliver of orange flame is sucked in then fanned back out like a robin’s ruffled breast. When the sleepless
miners finally emerge from their shale-bed tombs, their faces wear greased masks of coal dust as they plod through the narrow streets and stamp steel-toe boot impressions into soft spring mud. Wiping away the sweat spots and smudges, with the corner of their sleeves, a sudden downpour licks the filth from their foreheads, only to reveal the same cold spectral brow that touches every single one of them. 7
lance manion. Pud the dog
By: Lance Manion
The fact that I called the dog Pud should have been a harbinger of things to come. While everyone else was lobbying to call him Steve Austin or Lee Majors or some combination of the two that paid homage to The Six Million Dollar Man, I was resolute in wanting to call him Pud. This was in the mistaken belief that Pud was slang for a whale’s penis, which, it turns out, it is not. Dork is slang for a whale’s penis. Where I got Pud I’ll never know but when he was wheeled in all mangled from being hit by a truck I got it into my head that somehow he reminded me of what I thought a whale’s penis might look like. In the end it was my grant money funding the operation so it was my decision to make. Pud it was. Looking back it would have been much easier if we had replaced both front legs or both back legs with bionic replacements instead of the front right leg and the back left leg but we didn’t get to make that particular call. The truck did. And the truck decided to smash the front right leg and the back left leg beyond recognition. Forget whatever image you have in your head of a robot scampering around at high-tech trade shows or the surfaces of other planets. Those are remotely controlled and they are all robot. What we were trying to do was much more advanced. We were trying to mesh technology with a living subject. You can also forget the idea that the government would ever try to reassemble a damaged astronaut without first testing such technology on a few hundred Puds. Doesn’t work that way. As you can infer, I was sort of hoping that all future animals that received such operations would henceforth be called Puds (Pud II, Pud III, Pud IV, etc ...) but I’m led to believe that the vast majority of scientists don’t like the name Pud and think the original dog should have been called Steve Austin or Lee Majors or some combination of the two. Everyone is a critic. 8
Maybe it’s the fact that Pud didn’t exactly work out that left the name in such low regard. You see, once we got the legs hooked up, Pud could never seem to get them to work together. We tinkered and poked and switched things in and out but whatever we did never really helped his coordination. The two original legs did their best to try and welcome the newcomers and create a team environment but the four parties could never quite get on the same page when it came to moving Pud forward. There was always one of the robot legs lurching out in the wrong direction or freezing at an inopportune moment. It became torturous to even watch poor Pud try and pace around his cage. To his credit, Pud seemed oblivious to it all and showed no sign of embarrassment. He was always upbeat about his situation and, despite myself, I began to have a less clinical view of him as a subject (i.e. when nobody was looking I would repeatedly ask him “Who’s a good dog?”
lance manion (con’t), big d., matt staley. and rub his belly and then dodge his two powerful robot legs as they flailed around). Eventually we learned all we could about the mistakes made on Pud and it was time to put him down. So I took him home with me. Talk all you want about your purebreds, there wasn’t a more expensive dog in my neighborhood. Of course, there were a few adjustments I needed to make in my formerly-playboy-scientist lifestyle. Like scheduling walks for instance. If I have plans for after dinner I need to make sure I start his walk before noon. On the weekends I like to take him down to the park. I bring a Frisbee and give it a good hurl and then retreat beneath a tree with some shade where I can read for the remainder of the day. Sometimes Pud will get back to me with the Frisbee, other times I see it’s getting dark and go collect him en route. Sitting there with all the other proud dog owners, occasionally someone will ask me “Which one’s yours?” to which I will proudly point to any other dog in the area as Pud lays on his side nearby trying to get back to his feet. Does he make a mess when he tries to eat or drink? Yes. Yes he does. Does he end up covered in his own feces whenever he tries to go to the bathroom? Of course he does. Would I trade him for anything in the world? Nope. Not for six million dollars. Or even a penis the size of a whale’s.
Every Sunday Afternoon By: Big D.
I’m crossing the street now I hope a car doesn’t hit me For it could bruise and kabitz me
Twenty-Two By: Matt Staley
Inside this pen, I stroll around as a member of the heard. With every pass through the maze, I come closer to the end, to my escape. After the final transit grasping at my last pieces of treasure, I turn towards the heard, all waiting. Looking out I see a sea of technology; I canvas the landscape scanning for the quickest path only to discover darkness against the metal sky. A few dim flames flicker and dance on the roof from atop metal poles, and the herd flocks like moths to a porch light. As if cows in a slaughterhouse, each lines up behind the next. I don’t have a choice. I must join them. As I inch closer, the landscape changes. Guarding the exits are hateful hyenas that abhor the world, and each one of us, of the heard, sweats horror. We are all seen as potential prey for the cackling beasts. Instinctively, we gamble with our treasures hoping to pass through undetected, unmolested. The heard is massive, and the line is long. I’m at the back, but as each of my brothers pass through, I inch closer to the laughing mutts. Each with their beady glowing eyes and tongues circling their chops trying to keep in the drool. Dismissing the rest of the herd, I find my spot and lie low. I pray if I look down with my eyes submissive and away from the ravenous hellhound, she will not notice and let me pass. Each of the prey ahead of me passes. One by one, they push through without so much as a glance back at those still left behind. My comrades in the heard shrink and vanish like ships slipping off the horizon: their liberation achieved. My heart races with fear and hope to get out. Time stops; my vision tunnels. Finally, I’m next. The jackal’s demon eyes are right on my treasures and me. I can sense the impending pounce; I know I’m dead already. In a devil’s grin, she brings her fangs to bear in a sinister smile. It speaks to me my song of death. “I’m sorry, sir. This isle is for twenty items or less. You’ll have to move to a different line.”
terry barr. In the Form of a Question By: Terry Barr
Answer: Since I was nine years old. Question: How long have you watched “Jeopardy?”
In Birmingham, Alabama, it aired every morning at 10:30, its original host, Art Fleming, encouraging the audience to think hard, think fast, but also to think outside the norm. Though oftentimes players had to be reminded to respond to the answer in the form of a question, most people got it. Even at age nine, I got it quickly, too, though I seldom knew the answers, much less the questions offered. Categories like “Shakespeare” and “Physics” didn’t trouble me because I knew that I didn’t know anything about their content yet. Instead, it was “Potpourri,” “Odds and Ends,” and “Hodgepodge” that left me wondering about the geniuses behind the show. If you’d “answered” me the following, “Hodgepodge, Potpourri, and Odds and Ends,” I would have questioned, “What three Jeopardy categories amount to the same thing?” No on-air contestant ever complained about the indistinction. I suppose they were too busy trying to question the answers to “Aviation and Space” or “Proverbs.” So I assumed it was just me who bothered himself about these quirks of Jeopardy; I assumed that this was yet another example of my asking the wrong questions or, in this case, answering them. Even in my childhood, I felt like a question waiting for some answer to choose me. Or maybe I was the Daily Double: a half-Jewish kid living on a sunny avenue in Waspish Bessemer, Alabama, with his two parents, one grandmother, one brother, and a variety of dogs. Me, with my Confederate banner proudly displayed on my bedroom wall, my New York Yankees t-shirt featuring the M&M boys stuck like adhesive to my torso. Me, who loved his bologna plain, fried, and kosher; who demanded that his mother buy offbeat books from a wired basket displayed on the coffee aisle at Bruno’s Grocery, and who would much rather be sitting at home reading those books, playing card games, or watching Jeopardy than participating in competitive games of childhood outside with my neighborhood peers. I don’t know how I would have labeled myself had I been a category on Jeopardy. But when it came to
answers and questions in formal settings, I had a knack for getting things just skewed enough to disturb and provoke my elder hosts. I wasn’t trying to defy the authorities governing my show. I simply knew what I knew, thought what I thought. However, I always answered in the right form, and only when called upon. It seemed that all I ever won for my answers was that moment of silence when those asking the questions wondered what game show either they or I had wandered into by mistake. ****** Category: The Church of My Youth
The Church of My Youth for $200, please. Answer: My primal feeling about going. Reader: What is “Hatred?”
Aannt aannt. Wrong. Terry: What are “Fear” and “Anxiety?” Correct. The stage was Mrs. Hallman’s junior class of Sunday School (9-10 year olds), where one bright Sunday morning she gave this answer in the category “Seemingly Easy New Testament Genealogy.”
Laurie, one of my neighborhood pals, buzzed in: “Who is Jesus’s mother?” “Correct,” Mrs. Hallman beamed. “Select again, please.”
“SENTG for $400, please”: Answer: “Joseph.”
Seeing a trend in this category, I buzzed in ahead of my other twelve classmates:
“Who is Jesus’s father?”
Mrs. Hallman was a woman of sixty-five, pushing seventy. Tall, but favoring portliness. Her voice, normally soft around the edges, drawled in that simpering Southern way. Most considered her a sweet woman, difficult to rile. But I found her sweet spot, her soft spot, the cushy middle of her that she tried to keep from exposure to the bad air. Perhaps she likened this moment to the final Jeopardy round when pretenders had to be decisively
terry barr (con’t). eliminated from the potential crown. All I know is that Art Fleming’s “No’s” were always gentle, even empathetic. Years later, when I took the Jeopardy quiz online, I did well until the last answer, under the category of “Nephrology”: Answer: “Focal-segmental-glomular-sclerosis.” I froze, and the nasty online buzzer gloated in my failure to give the timely question: “What is the kidney disease you’ll mysteriously contract in another twenty years?” But the harshness and frigid air of that computerized admonishment was nothing compared to Mrs. Hallman’s verbal display of horror at my “Joseph”: “Oh no. OH NO! NO! NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.” I think you know the question she was looking for, and in a funny way, I knew it too. Maybe if my “answer” had come before Laurie’s, I might have questioned “correctly,” according to Mrs. Hallman’s light. Or maybe I would have simply kept my peace since no major category trend had developed by then. Still, my failure motivated my own answer for Mrs. Hallman: “The man who accompanied Mary everywhere she traveled. The man who loved her, and, though the term wasn’t used then, was her husband, and, biologically speaking, was the one who, you know, put his ______ in her ______ and spilled his seed, as the Bible tells me so, and nine months later watched and maybe paced and maybe drank some mead to calm himself as their son was born in a small barn.” “OK,” she might have said. “But then who is our Savior’s father?” Of course, I was only ten and didn’t know anything really about spilt seeds or sexually aggressive spirits, so I didn’t really think, much less “answer” this. But even being ten, I knew my question was right. I also knew that I’d never be buzzing in again in Mrs. Hallman’s class even if the category were “Genesis.” Even if the answer were “He made the universe and everything in it in six days.”
I’m betting that Mrs. Hallman slept badly that night, the answer of Joseph plaguing her dreams. Or maybe she felt gratified that she had set another innocent, naïve Jeopardy contestant straight—made sure he knew that he was much better suited to the non-jeopardizing confines of “Wheel of Fortune.” Because on the Wheel, if the category were “Father of Jesus,” and it was just three blanks long--______ _____ _____--he wouldn’t have asked for a vowel or the consonants “J,” “S,” “P,” or “H.” For the rest of that apocryphal Sunday, even later over bagels and bologna at the answer of “my other grandmother” to the question “Who is that Jewish woman doting on your father and treating him like her spoiled son,” I kept invisibly shaking my head to the category, “Houses of Worship”:
“Church.” “What is the one place where you’ll never belong?” ******
Neither, I believe, do I belong on Jeopardy. We are all fairly sharp at home, given the right set of categories, with no one staring at us except Morgan, our collective cat. What keeps most of us from even taking the online test is this answer: “Cliff Clavin.” “Which ‘Cheers’ character was smart enough to win on Jeopardy?” Of course, smart is only as good as the amount of trivia one can successfully absorb and command. There are many good reasons to admire Cliff’s contribution to one of America’s most beloved sitcoms. His white socks, his mother, his virginity at age fortyfive. For me, though, it’s his turn on Jeopardy. For many others, too, I recently learned when I Googled “Cliff Clavin’s…” and before I could finish typing my request, I got “…answer on Jeopardy.” Answer: GOOGLE. Question: What is 2013 America’s most assured Orwellian reality?” To refresh: Cliff is killing as a Jeopardy challenger, having amassed $22,000 heading into Final Jeopardy, where he bets everything on an answer most pop culture aficionados his age know—an answer we cannot believe 11
terry barr (con’t). he doesn’t know: Answer: Archibald Leach, Bernard Schwarz, Lucille LeSeur. Question: Who are Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, and Lucille Ball. Only Clavin, who has no idea and has been publicly admonished by Alex Trebek for peering over his barrier to get a peak at his competitor’s screen, questions: “Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?” I forget what Alex says because usually when I see the clip I’m laughing too hard or feeling too anxious for Cliff’s sake. But what Alex could have said was “Well, yes Cliff, but that wasn’t quite what we were looking for. Sorry, but thanks for playing.” No matter, for Cliff’s face says it all. His moment of embarrassed smiling, of trying to cover for his utter humiliation at his own stupidity and bravado, is a real test for viewers’ empathy as we watch him standing there so foolishly in his mailman’s uniform.
I wonder if Mrs. Hallman ever saw this episode. ******
Category: School Days
fan because he phrases his question in the form of a question and expects the form of an answer in return. “Who out there knows what Liverpool is famous for?” The year is 1966. My long arm rises. “Yes, you up in the balcony!” Without hesitation, confusion, or any doubt whatsoever that there could be an answer other than the one in my head, I lower my arm and speak distinctly and very loudly so that the first graders sitting down front, the teachers in the back, and even Mrs. Porch, especially Mrs. Porch, our music teacher, sitting in her accustomed place by the piano, can hear. Over the years, Mrs. Porch has inundated us with visions of Haydn, Beethoven, the Peer Gynt Suite, the Surprise Symphony, Peter and the Wolf, especially emphasizing the work of her personal favorite, Tchaikovsky. She’ll brook no discussion of any composer born after 1900. Although once, she did play us Burl Ives singing “The Big Rock Candy Mountain.” In any case, to show Mrs. Porch and everyone else, I provide my can’t-possibly-be-wrong Final Jeopardy answer, wagering everything. “The Beatles!”
I’m sitting in the balcony of my elementary school with the other fifth graders. We’re in this honored section because we’re the mature ones, the “older” kids. The kids you can count on.
What do I expect? Cheers? Adulation? A Gold Star? To be invited back tomorrow?
I’m sitting next to Randy and Mary Jane, my closest friends, feeling as invulnerable as a school pillar can feel. Top of the school; King of the hill. Arithmetic lesson suspended for the day. Lunch to follow.
I realize now that when I was a boy, I had a remarkable knack for not gauging my inquisitor: the tenor of his or her question; the demeanor of his or her body and stance; the overall ambience of his or her context.
Before today we’ve had blind gymnasts, piano virtuosos, spelling bees, and oratorical contests. But none of us knows today’s speaker, a man in a business suit, closecropped white hair and shiny red face. He’s too far away on stage to be personal, and now he’s rambling on about some enterprise he’s invested in.
Answer: Me. Question: Whose perceptions could use just a little adjustment?
Answer: “The most irrelevant speaker Arlington School has ever had.” Question: “Who is this guy?” Somehow, though, he wanders into familiar territory: England, specifically, Liverpool. But he’s no Jeopardy 12
Or just a simple “That’s right, my boy?”
On stage, as “The Beatles” are about to take their bows, the speaker turns to our principal, Horace Peterson-who himself looks as if he can’t remember why he hasn’t brought his three-foot, two-inch thick wooden paddle onstage--and then turns back center-stage to deliver his opinion, speaking quite clearly into his amplified lectern: “Well. Yes. I suppose so.” He chuckles to himself, to all
terry barr (con’t). of us, and I think it is that chuckle that really does me in. “Oh, one day you young people will learn that there are more important things in this world than The Beatles. Things that have been around for a few years and have stood the tests of History. Things that are valuable and worth knowing.” To their credit, none of my friends laughs or snickers or punches me in the arm. No one really says anything then, later at lunch, or after school as we trudge our way home. I don’t know if they are as dumbfounded as I am by the speaker’s remarks, or if, like me, they’re also still wondering just what Liverpool IS famous for, if not The Beatles. For our speaker never did inform us, but instead rattled on for another forty-five minutes about something none of us understood. To describe his applause at the end as “tepid” would be generous. Today, I assume that the correct Jeopardy question was “Where is England’s major shipping port,” though God (or Art Fleming) only knows why that red-faced man thought we’d know this, why we’d care, or why he was bringing it up at all. I’ve clearly never forgotten that day, that moment when I shouted “The Beatles” for the known world to hear. I know my answer was right, too. And of course, the greatest lesson I learned that day had nothing to do with whatever subject our speaker was offering, or even The Beatles themselves. What I learned was that there are always meanings behind questions. Today, I’d use the word “agenda.” I was neither willing nor able to give my interrogators the answers they wanted, and even when they corrected me and, intentionally or not, tried to humiliate me, I knew I wasn’t wrong. Not really. It was just that I heard and found answers coming from other stages—truths in categories that weren’t so clearly defined. If you tell me the subject’s a grab bag, a hodgepodge; if you ask me questions that are open-ended, ambiguous, allowing for interpretation, imagination, creativity, and subjective thinking, or just plain old common sense, then the last thing you should expect from me is God, or a shipping port. Decades after this elementary experience, my wife, two daughters, and I visited Liverpool. We saw the Irish Sea
and a few ships too. Everywhere else, though, we saw what the Liverpudlians most enthusiastically wanted us to see: the refurbished Cavern Club; McCartney’s house and the upper bedroom window behind which he and Lennon composed songs that I’ve sung by heart for forty-plus years; Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane. And the hotel where John’s mother, Julia, was a maid. We stayed there two nights. It was Fab. I’ve even taught college seminars on The Beatles. Answer: No. Never. Because I wasn’t wrong. Question: Do you regret giving the “wrong” answer to a silly man’s pretentious question? ****** Category: The Faith of Our Fathers
I keep remembering Mrs. Hallman’s face and our school assembly speaker’s chuckling. I think also of John Lennon’s very public pronouncement way back in 1966 that The Beatles were more popular at that time than Jesus. I think of all the shit he encountered afterward including the public record burnings in my hometown. I think he was right, too, and though he tried to clarify that he didn’t see himself as greater than Christ, his explanations like his original words failed to earn any points with his faithless audience. Mrs. Hallman, the assembly speaker, John Lennon. What a trinity. The question of Joseph’s biological legacy reminds me of how much I focus on fathers in my writing. How much I’ve wondered about the man who engendered me. What he thought, what his childhood and adolescence were like. Who he really was. I’ve never doubted my parentage—which two people “made” me--and as I grow into my late middle-age years, the proof, if I’ve ever needed it, stares back at me daily from my bathroom mirror. But what about that other father, the one who art or art not in Heaven? Answer: A place I just can’t trust. Question: What is Heaven? I know that like my mother’s Christian family, my father and his family believed in Heaven, or some Jewish semblance of it.
terry barr (con’t). But I still don’t know whether I do, despite admonishments from my atheist friends that agnostics like me are either foolish or illogical. If God does exist and is a father, though, I hope he has my father’s best qualities: loyalty, honesty, dependability. My father didn’t neglect those he loved, though like the story, the central myth, of God and Joseph and the question of paternity, Dad often put his loved ones in peculiar situations. Answer: His mother or his wife. Question: Whom did your father love and honor more? I felt the peculiarity of my Dad’s divided loyalty somewhere in adolescence when my mother began confiding in me her reluctance to make our regular Sunday trips to my grandmother’s house for dinner. Her complaints grew over the years, and by the time I reached college-age, I, too, became convinced that my Dad loved his own mother more than he did us. This is ancient history now, my Dad and his mother having died in 2000 and 1995, respectively. I don’t know whether he loved his mother more than us. Some categories of questioning, I am learning, are best left unrevealed. Sometimes, time limits work to our advantage. Yet I keep remembering the way my father called me “Sonny,” the way he said I was a “better father” than he had been when he saw me changing my daughter’s diaper. The way he told me once when I was standing by his hospital bed that I was “a good guy.” My father who is always with me. Who had faith in me. I don’t pretend to have the answers or the right questions regarding my own doubts and crises of faith. I do remember this apocryphal moment from my senior year in college, a moment featuring an acquaintance who decided to make one last-ditch effort to “save” me. We were in the dining hall, he standing, me sitting. And forgive me, Jeopardy, but I must violate protocol here so please don’t hesitate to dock the money from my earnings: Him: “Well, you know that it’s a question of whether you’ll be going to Heaven or Hell.” Me: “You know Mike, I just don’t believe that a loving 14
God would consign anyone, especially not wellintentioned doubters, to a fiery hell. Or any place like that.” Him: “But Terry, where’s your faith?” Me: “My faith in hell?” Him: “In God’s plan!” Me: “I guess when it comes to believing in hell, I just don’t have that kind of faith.” Him: Well. GOODBYE!” I’m sure it would disturb him even more to know that in my plan, though I’m sure about the correct answer to “Who is your father,” I can’t find a good fit for either Joseph or Jesus. Though for some strange reason, I usually get all the questions right when Jeopardy reveals its regular “The Bible” category. I still watch Jeopardy almost every night. By now, maybe I’m even batting 500 on Final Jeopardy questions. I remember my first victory in that round and my pride on getting it right. Answer: The nation with the second largest land-mass in the world. Question: What is Canada? I didn’t share this victory with anyone, though, because I understood even then—I was only seventeen—that one correct answer after so many years of trying didn’t mark me as anything much. Other than a faithful viewer—one who keeps coming back for the answers; one who seeks to know as many questions as possible in order to keep my place in a world that tries so hard to limit me to one meaning, one interpretation, one acceptable way to live and believe. To just one word or another within the limits of time imposed by those who, in the end, aren’t truly seeing what I’m answering at all.
jeremiah walton, jameson stewart. Walmart Parking Lot Song
By: Jeremiah Walton http://nostroviawriting.wordpress.com/
The bottom of Captain’s car is transparent I can see road’s petrified gurgling underneath My tongue’s vessel is salt water on a ship’s hull dripping, drip dripping how many drops of ocean can you love before losing yourself in the sky? the arsenal of my pockets is a poem emptying itself into cash registers “We only hold up to 5 poems at a time to prevent robbery & measure value in the amount of stanza’s your wallet can hold” If you can spare some literary devices to support my writing habit, it’d be much appreciated. (Pause) Allow me to undress this metaphor like flesh is a walking stick and time is a dirty old man There is a madness in money and filth alike There’s a fist in the bank that holds throats of poets for hire Wait for the punch line Wait for the punch line Wait for the knuckles to shudder your jaw blue and your eyes empty like a rainstorm’s finale I forgot life isn’t that funny A joke I don’t get, won’t till I’m dead and it probably won’t be funny even then. Write write write do not burn out the donor of inspiration, a muse I still cannot name her fingers fondling my poems, finding mouse traps of who I am Her body is no metaphor unlike mine. I cannot strip myself naked I use imagery to protect my beliefs When I finally rob a bank, you will see who I am. When I wind up in jail I’ll see the knuckle marks clearly then. The organs of my body play notes I found in a church basement
molested by requirements of living pedestrian eyes are harder than concrete How broke can broken get? Let’s start kicking the world with weak fists and see if we can get a couple heart beats out of it.
A Sailboat for Mary By: Jameson Stewart
My darling Mary It appears that my passion Has collided with your silence Like two locomotives The guilt of your unsure heart Grows like a field of lavender I am the rain And the sun and the spring All rolled into one I have no seasons March cannot wait! But now you are gone I can now only rain at night Gently, softly, quietly, sweetly As if to go unnoticed If you ever happen to awaken In the evenings I hope my light tapping on your ceiling Or against your window Doesn’t keep you from closing your beautiful eyes Eyes as wide and as vast as a country If the wind ever catches The words of my song I hope it carries them to you Across my passionate seas Toward your abalone ears like seashells One day at a time So that each day You can hear a small piece of my voice So that each day You can receive a small piece of my gift My sailboat for Mary
mandal bijoy beg, kenneth p. gurney, kenneth abraham. All In One
By: Mandal Bijoy Beg I have been looking askance At a wasp making a lair On a wooden window frame, At frequent intervals for half an hour While editing a piece at my study. Slender waist, restlessly busy, With its buzzing flight In fetching and fetching so fast Tiny balls of mud from some wetland nearby In this winter’s mellow sun. An architect of her own unique chosen design, Sans any pen-and-paper approval From any mundane Head; A material contractor, paying no toll Or avoiding useless fight for labour payment; An expert in muddy masonry And a busy helping hand herself! I have watched this caring aspiring mummy (Oh fie, this Indian call is an Egyptian corpse) Apply mud after mud To make the shelter for her egges, Which I could not see when she laid, With her gummy mouth and legs. And finally, concealing the mouth of the structure She went again... I found a drop of mud on my table That I picked and placed near the nest Thinking she would use it when back she came. But o, the mud I kept was still fallen there, It turned hard as her piece of art And I could know my mud would remain unused forever, For my adroit artist felt it Useless for her perfection already over and done.
When You Could Be Doing Other Things By: Kenneth P. Gurney
Even though we watched the church bells move no sound emanated from those bronze giants and absolutely no one was warned of the dangers of sitting in a chair too long and developing a well proportioned belly atop legs emaciated from the lack of doing anything other than gliding into the kitchen for another twelve-pack of whatever beer was on sale when no one answered the squealing plea for more— I leaned over and told you how I hate it when my family behaves like a bunch of cripples or, worse, vacationers in the south of France when their hands and feet where brought into this house to serve me my least desire as well as my most desire. And you got this look in your eye that lacked a genuine feel and proved to some of the viewers of the white front porch scene that you accepted a paycheck to smile when I called you, Friend. And would really rather be in Marseille ogling my wife—at least the woman I pay to wear that label.
Habitual Limerick By: Kenneth Abraham
There once was a girl from Nantucket, She fancied some lipstick and did pluck it, Because it was her third offense she got 50 years, Leaving her entire family in tears, And thinking: these “habitual” laws really suck it.
robert pino, doireann o’sullivan. definitions of knowing
(anastasia – act 1)
By: Robert Pino
so, now, twenty hours in to this partnership this grand experiment of faces and voices the two day waltz of the one day prelude we are dancers building in passion and speed toes straining under the balanced weight of outstretched and interlocked arms entwined and entwinement the act and the state the actions and the actors we are rocketing drunkenly to unvisited places naked even to the augmented eye but out there, we know dear, dearly, and darling framed flowers, fraying things carried in plastic bags to protect them from the rain and these feelings inside of me now, can i really say that i know them?
And Now, Eternity By: Doireann O’Sullivan
It’s hard to remember the bad that outweighed the good when I made that choice And it hurts to remember the great, amazing times I had And the confident, content, loved person I was And the things I gave up, and the heart that I broke And the life I surrendered. To see you pick it up with someone else Like we never happened Like you only loved the idea, not the person. More people around me find people around them And my age climbs And my idealism shows cracks And my hope slowly fades The light wakes up my daydream And I know I can’t keep clinging to the same ideas The only ones that put me to sleep That fill the daytime void That give me somewhere else to go That allow me to think there is something better ahead (Even though experience tells me there is no romance). I can’t accept that I live in a world where my daydreams will always be daydreams. That thing I hold onto so desperately Is the thought of a person, who might never exist. It’s either me or you. Maybe I’ve only ever escaped.
sy roth, alon calinao dy, samuel l. arguinzoni, dawnell harrison. Rainy Sale Day
Guy Fawkes was not a hero
By: Sy Roth
Outside rain slips and slides off the snow mounds left behind by the last storm. Cars park awkwardly into spaces hidden by packed snow a helter-skelter assortment of toys absurdly arrayed before shrines where purveyors peck and sniff for promised bargains on sale day. Shuffling masses loaded with buys jostle one another with gusto. Some seek an oasis in the shoe department, unexpected isle of calm, quiet watering hole among the sixty-five percent off signs for designer shoes. A Bundy giant stood among the footwear, eyes darting back and forth like roller blades on a busy Manhattan street. His sonar pings for the errant customer who might find succor on his xeric slopes. Desultory conversation flies like chaff among the salespeople. His lips respond, eyes disentangle like loose laces. They heave along the bouncing sea swells beyond. A maladroit camel, he moves aimlessly among the displayed footwear, touches them to prove their existence, OCDer lines them up, soldiers prepared for battle, then lumbers to a spot beside the racks, fingers jouncing jousters, steed ready, itching for engagement. Masses’ ebb and flow synch him with their desires for nano moments as sales swirl around him. He checks his watch often to see if time has moved among the shoes.
No Matter What I Do By: Alon Calinao Dy
No matter what I do, My thoughts and love are with you, You make my dreams come true, And you put me out of the blue. No matter what I do, My love will see you through, And I just want to say, “thank you”, Because you’re someone I can look up to.
No matter what I do, You bring out the best in me, You throw the old me into the dead sea, And you make me feel brand new. No matter what I do, I’m so crazy about you, I really, really don’t know, But I feel the electric glow. No matter what I do, My thoughts and love are with you, I’ll be loving you forever, And this I swear.
By: Samuel L. Arguinzoni
Guy Fawkes wasn’t a hero. He was a Catholic theocrat. Mi padre is a Catholic hero, who wears the mask of sober to hide the pain of childhood. I don’t understand anarchists’ worship/use of this imagery. It’s not like the reclamation of Slut or Queer as it was never used to oppress the dissenters of governments for economic and social inequity. My dad can wear his mask, when he brings food to families the government has stripped of dignity.
By: Dawnell Harrison The reflection of garnets Darkens in the sullen night Of your eyes. Once they were little crushed Diamonds of light. Your body is a stream That leave me holding Emptiness. Your eyes are winters Glazed in ice. The world whitens Under the ashes Of your memories.
douglas polk, louis marvin. Another Year
By: Douglas Polk
leaves change colors, the season dies, funeral weather, old men shuffling to the church, bent against the wind, the cold descends from cloudy skies, gray, the dreams and plans for the Summer, faded away, the days full enough just surviving, but here we are, and the Summer is not, the dreams and plans now, dead, instead preparations begun for the season of snow.
The Politics of “The Oahu Swing Project” By: Louis Marvin
“Senator, are you telling me that they were putting up swings in various locals with no city and county permits?” The message on his wife’s phone: “Honey, they put up another swing here on Tantalus. It’s beautiful, it looks down on the Honolulu city lights. Remember that other swing that was off to the side of the road up here? It’s just in front of that one.” On the news: A man was found by Honolulu police at the base of Tantalus. The police think that he was trying to swing on a tree swing at the top of the cliff where he fell. His car, coffee and keys were at the top. It was later discovered that he had called his wife about the swing. The police are asking if anyone knows anything about “The Oahu Swing Project”. On a tree, next to a swing: For the children, and the children in us. From notes seized from the “swing terrorist” organization’s head man: They have cut another swing from this greatest of views place that is just calling out for swings. I tried to put one out of the way, so that it would cause no traffic problems or was even close to the cliffs. But, they cut that one down citing various reasons. I put up the second swing, looking into the lush Manoa Valley. There are two frayed ends of rope now. I am putting up the third swing, in an out of the way place, not made for children or old men. But, the view is spectacular. You can see the ocean, Diamond Head, Waikiki, Manoa and Honolulu. It is beautiful at night, in the day, always. I am hoping this one stays up. The man who fell had written in his journal: This swing was too high for me to use, perched on a hill/cliff-----an accident waiting to happen for a middle aged man------But, the idea to deprive the youth and younger set of swinging pleasure because I had grown too old, never crossed my mind Swing Supporter Who Needs A Push
robert allen beckvall. The Strength of Desert Dwellers By: Robert Allen Beckvall
Dr. Jack “Diamondback” Veenum was so busy collecting venom for Arizona’s stockpiles, important stories outside of his world like the E-R-* (1-2-3) project would have never crossed his radar. But, the paper letter was now pinned to his corkboard, signed by Dr. Wang. The project and this lady were now on his radar, and she was all over the news, internet, television and magazines. How in the hell did she get his name? He had on the news in his office at the University of Arizona. He had caught a glimpse of Dr. Wang on the television, and saw a beautiful Chinese American lady talking to the gathered world leaders. This caught his eyes and ears as he had opened the rare paper letter. This in turn caused him to look over his e-mails, which he would let sit until hundreds of them had piled up. It was his business address and he would let a graduate student look over them and decide what was worth looking at. But this time, with the paper letter getting his interest up, he looked at the e-mail from E-R-* (the symbols that represent one, two and three in Mandarin). It now made sense as he had caught Dr. Wang speaking in Mandarin and perfect English. The letter he received was very specific about his role. It pointed out something about the strength of desert dwellers. It read:
Dr. Jack Veenum,
We will be opening new worlds in such remote places as Earth’s deep ocean, our own moon, and the fabled red planet of Mars. Our goal of having working, thriving communities would not be complete without places like zoos for children and and research centers for scientists. Having said this, our main committee has come to the conclusion that reptiles would have the best chance of survival as we open these new frontiers. Your name and University was on a very short list from around the world. You are considered one of the top herpetologists. Further, we feel that desert reptiles are the heartiest of reptilian creatures on earth. Having said this, we are offering you the job of creating our initial zoos and animal laboratories on our three worlds. We understand the important work you do in Arizona, with snakebites at an all-time high in your 20
region due to human encroachment on snake habitats. But here, we offer you the chance to bring your expertise to the world. We have sent an e-mail with an attachment that requires the following code if you want to open it: drjvuaer*123. There will be a major press conference taking place in New York, at the United Nations. If you have the time, please tune in. You are our #1 choice. Not only is this a major career changer for you, but your most beloved University of Arizona will also reap benefits as this will be new and important research.
I look forward to working with you. Sincerely, Dr. Wang
He picked up his cell phone and called his assistant.
“Is everything packed for the Prescott trip?”
“Yea, it’s all in the truck. We put some extra antivenom in. There is some of every type you might run into up there. Were you going to go out anywhere along the way?” “No, just Prescott on this trip. Their population has really grown and we got people and pet troubles both these days.”
“Everything is set Jack.”
“Thank you. Take care of the place. I’ll call if I need anything shipped. Maybe I can get stuff at Yavapai College. I ought to make friends over there.”
He was watching Dr. Wang get interviewed on some women’s talk show. She had a great smile. He continued to pack his tools for venom hunting. He looked at the letter on the corkboard, then at his laptop. What the hell. He e-mailed a short reply that said he was gathering venom in Prescott, that he had read the letters and had been reading up on the project, and that he was seriously considering coming on board. Could they meet when he got back?
danielle dragona, louis marvin and xy, valentina cano. He Plays With Emotion
Prototype Children’s Book
He plays with emotion. His slender fingers slide over snowy white piano keys that sing the flight of his soul, at that moment, caught in time. Slouched over the piano that is your fortress, it verbalizes the passions that your voice cannot. As you slink over those piano keys, the rhythms mesmerize you, luring you into a self induced trance while thrusting the words you cannot say from deep within, out of your fingers, and birthing them into the world in a language that’s safe to speak, a tongue that most cannot decipher except for me.
The audience perceives one thing , but I, another. Their ears get lavished with swinging melodies, but I heed the epic of your heart, of what’s inside, clawing to discover a way to release itself, flowing out into the smoky air, then shattering apart into pieces. Only I recognize that distinctive dimension because I’ve witnessed your essence, I know where it lies, concealed and veiled like a vanished treasure. I know what it sounds like. I’ve heard it all before, its twistings and turnings. I hear it everywhere. I hear it in my dreams.
Your mothers and fathers are going to be working on this wonderful planet. Their jobs are very important.
By: Danielle Dragona
You play with emotion for a captivated audience, letting them ride the vibe you create, a one way journey into your madness that slashes me into fragments as you hold my emotions captive as you play. Are you riding a high because last night we meshed auras, or are you on a gradual descent into hell because of what I said after, how I spoke from my depths? Did I sound an alarm in your brain, one that screamed to be on defense, one that threatened to tear off the masks you so skillfully wear to hide from what you know is there staring us in the eyes? How I wish we could unite, fuse together like two splintered pieces of the same fractured bone being made whole once more, not only shrouded behind a string of musical notes, but in the here and now. In a silent, candlelit room our souls can touch, the music can be muted, as we experience communion.
By: Louis Marvin and XY
“Hi kids, I’ll be your tour guide around your new home on Mars.” Around the world, we searched for new places to live. Some of your friends and relatives might be in the ocean living as we speak. Some of our friends are living on the Moon too.
We are lucky enough to be living on Mars.
You will be going to school here on Mars. You will be what we call a Martian-American. Martian-Americans will be living, working and playing with others from around the world in what we call Life Bubble #3. The earth’s ocean contains LB #1. The Moon houses LB #2. In addition to school, you have libraries, recreation centers, natural zoos, movie houses, parks and swimming pools, and lots of sports centers. You are very lucky children to get to grow up on Mars.
Ways Down By: Valentina Cano
He watches me speak like he would a falling cup, in twitches and unspooling seconds. I watch him speak like a bird would a ruffled feather. checking for the right currents. He and I tug on the air between us, which has suddenly filled with words too stiff to ever survive flight or fall.
brett stout, afzal moolla, alexis hope ronsmans. Shudder to Apocalypse By: Brett Stout http://brett-stout.deviantart.com/
The Sieve of Time
By: Afzal Moolla
Cast ashore, along the banks of time,
leads the way to a bleak landscape greed and gluttony oh my capitalist beast,
whirling through the passing years, clinging to futile scribbles set in rhyme,
Cast ashore, thrust into an unrehearsed pantomime,
surrounding me covering me smothering me with their trademarked logos of hate and oppression, atom bombs, are released in euphoria as the suburbs of utopia lay in rubble once pale men turn to charcoal colored dust, the lab rats, are released from their captivity they sit on my couch and watch cable TV growing disillusioned and obese they truly are Americans now value sized and cheap.
clenching slivers of joy as weariness descends, lulled into a peaceful slumber exhilaratingly sublime. Cast ashore, hazily adrift, a dandelion seed on the wings of time, trapped in the sieve of spiralling memories, caught between pristine bliss, and reeking slime. Cast ashore, flung aside for no discernible crime, my human heart thuds with elusive hope, though battered, bruised and covered in grime, I stagger ashore, alone, embracing each moment of detached, oblivious time.
The Vow of Quiet - 2013
October 6th through October 19th
By: Alexis Hope Ronsmans http://thelunaticandtheswan.blogspot.com/ For two weeks I will record, transcribe, and share publicly every single word I speak. Furthermore, all verbal and written communication will be limited to asking and answering questions. Creative visual expression is permissible only if through original content generated for the occasion, and must also be documented and archived. All transcriptions will ultimately be compiled, and the resulting monologue cannot exceed 20 pages, or a length readable by the average person in a single sitting, whichever is shorter. The Vow of Quiet and its corresponding â€œmonologueâ€? are together intended to be an exploration between the public and private identities in this modern, digital world. The project also allows others to examine the relationships between transparency and truth, as well as brevity and virtue, from within the relative security of anonymous internet voyeurism.
mike cluff, debby regan, w. jack savage. Rufus, Nebraska
We neighbor Marilyn the long part of a mile no one notices the differences in climate all that much.
They said to be cute and keep my hair pretty and films we would shoot and escape to the city and funny will get me on Nickelodeon I am a celebrity; life is a slice of fun
By: Mike Cluff
This year’s baby possums still homestead in Aaron’s back bathroom’s bathtub unused since his dad’s death in there about a decade ago. He moves them out weekly but they always return. The clover could not hide Roger’s sin adequately and Adele suffered long after finding it surreptotiously right under Reverend Leander’s spectacles. Dunn was only a man who seldom knew women and seed corn were living and solid in his other life somewhere close by. And the water never parts on the little inlets of the river to even let a small frog walk on dry land at a depth lower than the plains and the cairn of dead turtles in the middle. It did happen once Priscilla once remembered when killers in cat masks quickly quietly rode through on the edge of this humbled town.
By: Debby Regan
a day came when no one called or noticed me and nothing was there on the inside of me that I could see and please don’t let me be alone read my tweets and check my selfie and my camera phone my selfie will tell the flaws in my face and if the flaws will show, then the calls will come back and I will exist as a celebrity, who is the movie star that I should be, for that is the only me I see and I tried to hide what I could not show but I showed what I could hide out the window I didn’t mean to set the dog on fire, I wouldn’t hurt the dog or myself and I am upset..something’s burnt why does everyone seem to know how to behave or how far to go and myself is sneaking out the door to yoga and who is she and where is the star that I could see in my selfie and it’s attention, and you can hear me, won’t Drake want to date me? and you are ugly, and you are insane, please don’t hurt me I wouldn’t hurt the dog, the dog would not desert me
The Crow Repercussions III By: W. Jack Savage
What happened was this. Paul left by the back door, as he sometimes did as a shortcut to Lyndale Avenue. Between the back door and the corner however, was a dumpster where a full sized crow was taking his ease on the sidewalk as Paul approached. Too late, he realized the juxtaposition of the bird, its chosen flight path: up and away and the oncoming high backed truck. The crow would not make it, he knew and in a moment it was over. He began, he would say later, with a sense of bittersweet, almost depressed wonderment at the trigonometry of the whole event. It might have been nothing but somehow, in taking responsibility for the crow’s death, a change came over Paul. I can’t tell you what he’s is up to these days but after that event, he was not the same guy.
peter marra. the dirty doll at the beach with a gun By: Peter Marra http://www.angelferox.com/
looked in her eyes, she can work out the facts as reported a host feeds on a human. The woman which turned into light spun out of control. There was sand pouring out of my daydream. Salt taste in the back of her throat I erased a face from her back. I was surprised and headed to the upper room; absolutely personal, and for some reason she found these problems a settlement of emotions areas that were skin, were tasted, she sat back down, she was the one behind me who recounted descriptions of harlots and low women and a gleaming metal chamber bang. bang. woman sitting with spread thighs behind sand dunes that had grown overnight fireworks in tune as scissors snip through windows because enlightened eyes lick the forms Dead Smile Suzieâ€™s monotone anguish she saw the nuns in the wild cabana their faces looked so hard she counted - there were 3 a sucking pain grimace caused the water ripple effect slimy film thinly covered us as the life guards were assassinated from the oceanâ€™s floor a trail of vomit phosphorescent in nature a true gleam of sex appeal leading to the closed broken door we followed looking behind us in front of the door we stopped. She wiped the remains and some spittle from her lips before turning the knob. 24
through the door slit a female figured was discerned clutching clawing at herself. they became entwined â€“ one person merged in skin in flesh it was complete the seagulls froze in mid-flight as groans emanated from their beaks and the landscape vibrated structures born from sand she sheds bullets as the seagulls sing the crime wave will start as she passes each potential victim evaluating erections of the third eye and possible sex encounters sandstorms caught behind her irises swirl as red pearls fall from her left eye watering the lotus flower wind whips her hair - an action that punishes the pure at heart children construct sand castles to make the lifeguards (ever so watchful) die slowly pineal glands explode on the screen above the ocean
mitchell krochmalnik grabois, wayne f. burke. Pig
By: Mitchell Krochmalnik Grabois The two titanium rods in my legs the tape measure I invariably wear on my belt and my brain’s crackling synapses conspired to give me the appearance of a dangerous terrorist The airport security personnel responded with alacrity They re-broke my femurs to remove the rods and pounded them on a steel guard rail in support of their thesis that the rods were pig iron not titanium at all I lay on the floor in helpless agony protesting that I would not have pig iron in my body that I was a Jew and kept kosher They ripped the tape measure from my belt snipped it into short pieces
and wrapped them around their heads like marathoners’ headbands They tore off my Timex as to destroy my sense of space and time My brain’s synapses crackled like bacon, (they determined after acoustic studies) which was consistent with their pig iron thesis There are elephants there are donkeys (they accused me) You are a Pig When I was a teenager I’d used the word “pig” to degrade L.A. cops as in Joni Mitchell’s lyric, “I’ll even kiss a Sunset pig” so the irony of the pigs calling me a Pig was ferocious I was finally released
The Last Battle By: Wayne F. Burke
Went out for my daily walk and read the newspaper as I ate a breakfast of 2 poached and toast, the waitress deferential, news of the world bad: Syrian dead Iraqi bombs Egyptian turmoil, and at home in Seattle an 88 year old veteran of Okinawa beat to death by punks with baseball bat; guy named Shorty, paper says was sitting in his car when punks demanded money; he should have handed it over maybe but fought instead because that was the kind of guy he was and now he is dead, K.I.A.
Crippled disoriented heaped with insults I returned to my messy abode
gary beck. Funeral Strains
(a one-act play)
By: Gary Beck www.garycbeck.com Scene 1
(Pre-show. Offstage. Blaring sounds of anti-gay, anti-military protest by a radical church group, attempting to disrupt the burial service of a gay Marine, Tom Richardson, killed in combat in Afghanistan. ‘God hates fags.’ ‘Thank God for dead soldiers.’ ‘America is doomed.’ ‘Thank God for IED’s.’ ‘God hates you.’ ‘Mourn for your sins.’ ‘Fags doom nations.’ ‘God hates America.’ ‘God is your enemy.’ The protest is heard distantly at different times during the play. Enter John Richardson, Tom’s father, and Tom’s younger brother, Cal. As they enter, the sounds of protest fade.)
I never thought I’d be glad to see bikers. When they asked my permission to shield the ceremony from that hate group, I was really embarrassed at the public attention of you-know-what. But when they chased those church fanatics further away, I felt like getting a motorcycle jacket, catching up to them, (He mimes gripping the handlebars and makes sounds revving the motor) and buying them a beer.
I don’t know about them, Dad. Most bikers are violent criminals and some are drug dealers. I’m not sure what they did was legal.
The hell with legal. They helped us, didn’t they? Those guys are vets, sticking up for their own. The sheriff wouldn’t do anything. Said: (Mimicking) ‘Those church people have a constitutional right to protest.’ You’d think a church would respect the rights of a family burying their son. I shouldn’t have to listen to them yelling all that filth, but it got to me. I was so mad, I was going to get my rifle form the truck and run them off, if the vets hadn’t shown up.
What if the protestors wouldn’t go? Would you have shot them?
I don’t know, Cal...But we have a right to bury Tom without their blaring away like that. It’s bad enough the town knew about our shame. With the media here, they’re broadcasting it to the whole world…Maybe if I popped a few of them, they’d find another way to spread their twisted message of god. At least they’d go away.
Then you’d go to jail. That wouldn’t solve anything.
I’d feel a lot better.
Maybe...But they’re not much different than you, Dad.
The hell they are.
You were pretty violent when you found out Tom was gay. You said worse things about him than they did.
Yeah. But I was never anti-military. I served my country proudly.
Well, so did Tom. But you drove him to enlist when he needed your help.
That was his choice...I almost died of shame when they caught him making out with a guy, and him the captain of the football team. What else could I do? (Sounds of protest, ‘God hates fags.’ ‘Thank God for dead soldiers.’ They fade away).
You could have stood by him...He’d still be alive if you hadn’t kicked him out of the house.
gary beck (con’t). John:
The hell you say. So now you’re blaming me for his death?
He’d be alive and safe in college, if you supported him when he needed you.
I wouldn’t have a faggot for a son. There’s no way I could live with that.
That’s an ugly word, especially now that he’s dead.
Does the truth hurt?
That’s not what Tom was.
He was a dirty pervert.
Don’t say that. He was my brother and I loved him.
That’s your choice, but I can’t go to that gravesite and face the Marine honor guard.
Because they know what he was.
How do you know they’re not gay?
Are you nuts? Whoever heard of gay Marines?
(Stares at John until reality sinks in.) As long as someone’s willing to fight and die for his country, what do you care what his sexual preferences are?
(Looks at him strangely) It should matter. We never had gays when I was in the Corps.
I’m sure you would have noticed.
What do you mean by that?..Maybe you’re a homo. Is that why you’re defending him?
Say that again and I’ll kick your teeth in.
(Laughs derisively.) That’ll be the day. You better get your girlie-man friends to help you. (Cal starts towards John, but stops when his mother, Ellen Richardson, and his younger sister, Norma, enter.)
Scene 2 Ellen:
Are you two fighting about Tom again? This is my son’s funeral, John. It’s bad enough I have to listen to those hate mongers screaming those awful things about Tom, without hearing my own husband echoing them.
Ellen. That’s no way to talk to me.
It’s true, isn’t it? You call him nastier things then they do.
Mom’s right. My brother died a hero. You shouldn’t insult his memory.
So all of you are against me...Well I’m used to that...How do we know he was really a hero?
His captain wrote that letter telling us how he died saving his buddies during a Taliban attack. I know my Tom. That’s what he would do.
gary beck (con’t). John:
(To Norma) I seem to remember that you and your friends were tweetering, or whatever you call it, not too long ago, saying the war was unjust. Now all of a sudden it’s alright because your brother died?
I don’t care about the war right now. I miss my brother and I don’t want you saying mean things about him now that he’s dead. I stuck up for him when everybody turned on him, and I don’t want you insulting Cal for defending the brother he loved and admired.
What’s wrong with you people? Tom almost destroyed this family. They came close to firing me from my security job at the mall. Your Mom’s good friends stopped talking to her. Cal’s buddies ignore him and your girlfriends call you insulting names. (Sounds of protest. ‘Thank God for IED’s.’ ‘Mourn for your sins.’ ‘Fags doom nations.’ They fade away.)
None of that matters now. I don’t care about anything else but saying goodbye to the son I loved and lost. (To John.) I know I didn’t always speak up when I should have. Maybe if I did he’d still be alive. Now it’s time to put your bad feelings behind you. I want you to behave like the man I thought you were when we first got married.
(Sullenly) Doesn’t it matter what I feel?
I should hope you feel the same loss as the rest of us. (John shrugs.)What’s the problem now?
(Cuts in before John can answer) Dad says he’s not going to the grave.
Don’t worry. He’s going. (To John) And you’ll behave respectfully. This is the time for our family to mourn Tom and set an example for those who condemned him. Now no more arguing. Come with me. (Exit Ellen and John. Cal and Norma remain.)
Scene 3 Norma:
It’s about time she spoke up.
That’s a shocker.
At least she did it...What were you and Dad fighting about?
The usual. He still blames Tom for everything. Then he called him a faggot.
(She looks around, then steps closer.) There is another side to it. I understand why he’s so upset. He’s not the kind of man who can deal with that kind of thing.
(Angrily) Are you taking Dad’s part?
No, silly. I feel the same way you do about Tom. But just think how it affected our big, macho Dad. His golden boy son caught in the locker room doing whatever men do to each other. It ripped his world apart. It was beyond his ability to deal with it reasonably.
I know that. Believe me. It shocked me too, when I found out. But I never forgot that he was my brother.
If Tom only told Dad that he was gay before anything happened...
Yeah. Right. You must be thinking of some other father. Dad would have reacted the same way and thrown him out of the house even sooner.
gary beck (con’t). Norma:
It might have been different if Tom had confided in Dad privately. He might have stood by him.
Don’t make me laugh. Have you ever been able to confide in him? (She shakes her head no.) I sure haven’t. He’d never accept that a son of his was gay. I’ve been waiting for him to call me a faggot, because I like books. Just before you and Mom got here he asked me if I was a homo.
(Teasingly) Did you confess?
Smart ass...I told him I’d kick his teeth in.
That’s the kind of talk he understands. I tell you what. I’ll buy you a set of weights for your birthday. You can work out and build some muscles. That should reassure him you’re not gay.(He laughs despite himself and she joins in.) I’m glad you can still laugh.
There’s not much else I can do. It hurts too much to cry...I miss Tom all the time.
So do I...I keep asking myself if I could have done anything to prevent him from leaving home like that.
I didn’t know what to do...I didn’t want him to go, but I knew he couldn’t live here anymore... Sometimes I feel like there’s a curse on us.
Don’t talk like that...We’ll get through this somehow...Let’s go to the grave site and not let anyone stop us from saying goodbye to the brother we loved. (Exit Cal and Norma. The distant sounds of protest. ‘God hates fags.’ ‘Thank God for dead soldiers.’ ‘America is doomed.’ ‘Fags destroy nations.’ ‘Thank God for IED’s.’ ‘God hates you.’)
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THEY Stephanie Jones Mixed media sculpture
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The Bitchin' Kitsch is a zine for artists, poets, prose writers, or anyone else who has something to say. It exists for the purpose of open...
Published on Sep 27, 2013
The Bitchin' Kitsch is a zine for artists, poets, prose writers, or anyone else who has something to say. It exists for the purpose of open...