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I love to watch the time pass by Its waters run a single course Unseen to the naked eye Unheard its lustrous melody A river with no end or source A boy who sits upon the shore Watches the river run as well Speaks of nature and its lore And of the light behind a door Of  hallowed  heaven  and  rav’nous  hell “I  do  not  speak  of  Gods,”  I  say As he turns round with knowing glance. “Better  to  live  from  day  to  day Believing I make my own way Than think my  life  is  purely  chance.” “Can  you  deny  the  human  soul? Do  you  so  think,”  says  the  young  man, “That you can have complete control Or ever try to truly hold That  which  is  not  within  your  hands?” Long I sat and long I thought Tears streaming through my nervous hands In my doubt and distress fraught In  this  web  so  eas’ly  caught By this beaming not-yet-man And he left me to cerebrate “Is  all  just  purely  as  it  seems, Or is all life simply fate Do I exist to only sate A  great  creator’s  waking  dreams?”


The boy had wandered to a bridge, And as I watched I rose to yell. His balance had become unhinged And,  standing  infirm  ‘pon  the  fringe, Off its precipitous side he fell. He fell and I struck forth in full Into the raging, angry foam, My chest pressing like a hull, Hoping that I still might pull His body from impending gloam. Still deeper yet I waded in, For his death I could not abide, And my soul then stirred within, As he slipped into my skin, And we walked to the farther side.

Dark, cold, unmovable, could our personification remove our blame? Spitting, like jellied fire, data falls in cold chunks. Deliberate results caused by our interaction, our  ignorance  of  the  path  between  “A”  and  “B” makes an evil for us to see. Caressed into the folds of our lives, we rarely open our eyes to what we allow to thrive. Facilitated by our ability to, in our image, create, we have diminishing limits to what we can make. Crafted in brimstone of knowledge that is higher, we tend to give the benefit of our doubt to the wealthiest buyer.


But, in our condemnation of circumstances oh so dire, we become, among ourselves, the biggest liars. Is it enough to say that our creation has merely the ability to save the day? Is it not, in the same way, capable of making a coffin in which all of us can lay? Whose is it to make the claim, that all of this is ours—it’s  tame? Aren’t  these  words  that  change the game, if their opposites turn out to be the same? We who create should be weary, because what is destructive is not always scary. Christened in our new found knowledge, we are ordaining a fresh college. Like an empowered dictator, soon  we’ll  have created something than ourselves even greater. For  now,  though,  we’ve  taken  to  yelling  at  our  cars, making, in our misguided realities, deep, calloused scars We’ve  taken  to  throwing  our  remotes at  T.V.  sets  that  haven’t  even  the  capacity  to  cope. We’ve  taken  to  loving  phones, kissing glass screens, and holding broadcast sounds as shared moans. From start to finish, we’ve  developed among ourselves a fetish. We’ve  developed  an  attachment  to  objects, we’ve  started  preferring  ourselves  the  subjects.


But, what we like to ignore, is  that  we  haven’t made it yet to that far shore. Our creations are created, and they are, within our realms, seated. They are nothing short of our visions, and, once brought into fruition, who is it that clarifies them—mere suppositions? It might be a little more than frightening to consider, that we all are, in this gamble for guilt, competing for the highest bidder. Without even knowing it, we are high rollers in a game full of losers. A simple game of wins and losses, the  players  don’t  even  realize  what  they’ve  let  escape  their  ivory  towers. It might be too much, though, to paint a picture of an ignorance that domineers so. No, it is something much more sinister, because, as is easily seen, our desire to escape our own consequences has caused our minds to blister. Boils of contempt, ooze  with  our  heart’s  foulest  scent. The busted wounds of a conscience laden with guilt, have in false pretenses our dreams built. I cannot deny, though, that there is some merit in letting our creations, our mind, inherit. But, denying the pain of our actions making a claim, and, instead, placing in our creations the blame, is something played in an evil game.


The two of us met behind the building with the lopsided cross, sharing thoughts on things til our shadows grew long and touched, over and beyond the chain link fence. You called me a tumbleweed, so I thought of you as wind. As  you  weren’t  content  to  blow  in  one  direction, but all over and back again. Now bleary-eyed, I still remember the breaking point. Well after we crossed that line, Several  lines…  written  in  chalk. An energy infectious, I felt our surge in sync. Beside ourselves, beyond ourselves. A cosmic climax, ending in a deep bellied yawn. Then waking up in a cold sweat, To find out you had gone.




I could see the sun beginning to break over the horizon as I sat in the residential backyard of an acquaintance of mine. I would not call her a friend, and I found that, as I looked at the circle of people around me, I could only remember the names of a select few, maybe from classes.  God,  class.  It  was  dawn,  I  hadn’t  slept  a  wink,  and  the  biggest   test of my life was in a mere three hours. What was I doing here with these nameless faces? I hurried to gather my things to leave when some guy—Sean, I think—said,  “Hey,  it’s  your  turn.”   He held between his index finger and his thumb, a thin, white, cylindrical object that was burning at one end. The object was so foreign due of the length of time since I had seen it last, but I knew what it was. I looked at Sean…  I  took  the  joint  from  him…  I  raised  it  to  my  mouth…   and I inhaled. *** Darkness completely enveloped me, and I found myself in a different world. Where I stood was not residential but in fact wild. Monstrous trees surrounded me and the ground beneath my feet was made of loose sharp rock. Naturally I began to panic. I searched for any clue that would lead me to an exit or a reason why I was in this dark wood. I slipped on the steep slope and broke the heel of my twohundred  dollar  pumps.  “Dammit…  Where  am  I?”  I  cried  out  to  the   darkness. A  voice  answered,  “Don’t  you  recognize  where  you  are,   Tiffany?”  I  was  surprised  to  realize  that  the  voice  that  spoke  was  a   familiar one. “Dr.  Wranovix?”  I  asked  the  bodiless  voice.  The  friendly  figure   of my English professor stepped from the shadows, and relief overwhelmed me. I ran to her, crying, and embraced her. “Do  not  cry,  Tiffany,”  she  said,  as  we  began  to  walk,  descending   the  slope.  “You  are  about  to  go  on  a  journey.  A  journey  similar  to  one  we   have studied. Which  journey  does  this  seem  like  to  you?”  I  looked   around, and it all became clear to me. I stopped in my tracks. I was only able to utter a single word. “Dante.” “Very  good!”  exclaimed  Dr.  Wranovix,  smiling.  “You  remember   the wood where Dante woke up? You are in it! I am here to guide you along the way into your Hell. You have waivered off your path, Tiffany, and you must see where you are headed if you continue down this treacherous route. The places we will visit are the parts of Hell that only pertain to you and that Dante skipped over in his Inferno. Are you


ready?”  She  looked  at  me  with  a  warm  smile,  and  I  knew  that  I  was   about to see the darkest corners of my soul. We traveled further down the mountain and came to a door inscribed with the infamous, dark words depicted by Dante. We passed through these evil doors to find ourselves in a narrow hallway. There were dim light bulbs hanging from the ceiling intermittently so it was not too difficult to see. As we walked down the infinite hallway, I could see that there were hundreds of doors along the walls. Each door was a different size but all were the color of fresh blood. I must have looked confused because Dr. Wranovix answered the question that was pressing on my mind before I could ask it. “Dante  chose  not  to  put  this  hallway  in  his  epic.  He  had  to   journey into every level of Hell, while we will just be seeing what Hell would mean for you. Each of these doors opens only for the person for whom it was made. What lies behind your door are the places in Hell where you may end up if you do not change your ways. You must learn from this experience and go back to life renewed. If you do not, then you will  be  doomed  to  spend  eternity  here.”   We walked for what already seemed like an eternity when we finally stopped at one door. Upon the blood red door was a placard that read,  “Here Will Reside Forever the Soul of Tiffany Corkran.”  I  shook  at   the sight of the door, but I knew in my heart that I had the power to change my fate. I turned the knob, and we stepped through, into darkness. *** When my eyes adjusted to the near pitch black of the next room, I could see thousands of souls walking aimlessly around the room, which I noticed was covered in dust. Dust floated around in the air and carpeted the ground with a good six inches. I saw that the souls were carrying huge objects upon their backs, and some were dragging objects along with chains connected to their ankles. “What  have  these  souls  done  in  life to deserve this contrapasso, Dr.  Wranovix?”  I  inquired.  “Are  they  allowed  to  rest  or  must  they  carry   that  weight  forever?” “They  can  rest  if  they  choose,”  she  quickly  answered.   “However,  if  they  stop  to  rest,  they  will  turn  into  dust.  These  poor  souls   did not pay any regard to their responsibilities in their lifetime. They chose to procrastinate with frivolous activities before finishing what was most important. They are forced to carry upon their backs what they wasted precious time on instead of doing their work first. Look around and  see  if  you  recognize  anyone  you  know.” I looked around the room and spotted a boat and a jet-ski being dragged before I saw the person I knew was carrying the burden. I


walked up to the poor soul and was dismayed to find the person I was expecting. My father walked around, bent double for he was also carrying  a  large  sack  upon  his  back.  “Dad,  it’s  me,  Tiffany.  I  hate  to  ask,   but  how  are  you?” He looked up surprised to see me. For a moment I thought he was going to yell at me for being in Hell, but he looked so tired he could barely  speak.  “I’m  a  fool.  Why  did  I  care  about  waxing  the  boats  in  the   wintertime? I should have spent more time with your mother instead of going out drinking every weekend. I never gave her the love and attention  I  should  have  and  now  look  where  I  am.”  He  began  to  sob  and   stopped walking for a second. In that second he stopped, he and his possessions crumbled into dust right before my eyes. I was shocked and I could not move my feet. I jumped when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to Dr. Wranovix and cried. “It’s  ok,  dear,”  she  said,  attempting  to  console  me.  “I  am  sorry   you  had  to  see  that  happen,  but  we  must  move  forward.” I nodded, and we made our way to the door across the room that I had not noticed before. It was a darker color than the door before and significantly larger. When we stepped through the door I was surprised to be showered with light. However, the light was artificial and reminded me of the bright lights in hospitals. The light was so bright that I could hardly see for blinking. When I finally regained sight, I was shocked  to  see  in  front  of  me…  Myself. *** I had entered a maze of mirrors. Just like the ones at the carnivals. Though I could see souls—the maze was filled with them—all I could  see  in  the  mirrors  was  my  own  reflection  and  no  one  else’s.  I   noticed that most of the souls here were women, and they were all crying. However, instead of tears, they cried blood. They all were nicely dressed, but their clothes were dingy and torn. Their hair was in complete disarray, and the makeup on their faces smeared and mixed with the blood pouring from their eyes. Each soul was staring at the mirrors, clawing at what I assumed was her own reflection. It was a terrifying sight, but Dr. Wranovix calmly looked at me and asked, as if reviewing  me  for  my  final  exam,  “Can  you  tell  what  these  souls  did   wrong  in  life  by  evaluating  their  contrapasso?”   I pondered the question for a moment before I answered, “These  souls  are  forced  to  look  at  themselves forever, trapped in this labyrinth of mirrors. I think that in life they were so fixated on their appearances that they lost sight of their inner beauty. They cared so much about what other people thought of them, so now in their afterlife each only sees  her  own  reflection  and  is  essentially  alone.  Right?”  


She smiled back at me and told me I was absolutely correct. I had a feeling that I was going to see someone else I knew here. We continued through the maze, Dr. Wranovix leading the way, when sure enough I saw my mother curled on the floor crying and petting the mirror in front of her. I ran to her side and attempted to hug her, but I could not touch her. I tried again to embrace my crying mother, but my arms grasped only air. Once more, I attempted contact by trying to brush her hair with my fingers, but there was nothing there to touch. She could not see me or feel my presence by her side; she could only see the mirror, her only companion for all eternity. I felt a tug on my sleeve, and I was led into the final chamber. *** I was overwhelmed by the stench of burning, rotting flesh as I stepped through the black door, which was the entrance to the next space. The room was filled with a sinister red light similar to the lighting in shady bars. We walked along a narrow pathway, for most of the ground was covered in red hot needles. All the souls in this room were laid on their backs on top of the burning pins. I noticed that many souls were clawing at their skin causing huge gashes where blood gushed out of their bodies. I was completely disgusted already when Dr. Wranovix called  my  attention  to  the  souls’  skin.  I  looked  closer  at  a  particular  soul   and noticed that there were bugs crawling underneath his skin. Disgusted, I looked away, and spoke to Dr.  Wranovix.  “This   reminds me of what some drug addicts go through when they are freaking  out.  For  instance,  don’t  meth  addicts  sometimes  think  there  are   bugs crawling under their skin? Is this room for souls that in life they abused  drugs?” “Good  job,  Tiffany.  I  can  see  that  you  are  learning  quickly,”  she   replied. “Dr.  Wranovix…  I  have  a  question  though.  I  can  see  how  the   other levels pertained to my life. Sometimes I can care too much about my  looks,  and  I  know  I  procrastinate  all  the  time.  But  I’m  not  a drug addict. I used to smoke marijuana, and I did earlier tonight—which was a mistake— but I am not addicted to it. And I certainly have never even thought  about  doing  meth.  What  am  I  doing  here?” Dr.  Wranovix  smiled  as  she  answered  my  question.  “This  is a warning for you, Tiffany. If you were to pick up smoking again, you will get distracted from what is most important: your education. Also, while your judgment is impaired you may make some bad choices. This place could be in store for you if you do not keep your focus in school in order to have a good future. You are a good student and a good person; you must make the right choices. There is someone here you know that did


not take the right path and squandered away her education for a life of drugs. Go talk  to  her.”   She pointed to the right where I saw a young girl I could hardly recognize.  “Asia?”  My  old  friend  from  high  school  looked  up  at  me,  and   the look on her face changed from agonizing pain to feigned happiness. “Hey, girl!”  Asia  exclaimed  as  she  tried  to  sit  up,  but  it  was  too   painful  for  her  to  hold  herself  up.  “Aggghhh….  How  are  you?  Being   nerdy  at  school  I  bet.” “Uh,  yep.  I’m  trying  to  get  straight  A’s  this  year.”   “Well,  I’m  doing  great.  We  party  all  the  time  down  here.  It’s  a   blast. You should come down sometime, instead of doing your stupid homework.  Don’t  you  want  to  be  cool,  Tiffany?!”  She  began  to  laugh   uncontrollably as she ripped her skin open with her nails, and I could see hundreds of bugs crawling out of the open wound, up into her mouth, stifling her laughs. I  backed  away  from  her,  and  turned  to  Dr.  Wranovix.  “Can  I  go   home  now?  I  have  a  test  to  study  for.” Dr. Wranovix smiled as she led me to the white door at the end of the pathway, where I could see a gentle light emitting from the space between  the  door  and  the  ground.  She  said  to  me  sweetly,  “I  think   you’ve  studied  enough.  I  do  believe  you  are  ready.”  She  opened  the  door,   and before me I saw a surprisingly comforting sight. She sat me down at my desk, I got out a pen, and I began my final exam.


Courage is the ability to overcome or conquer challenges in the face of adversity. Over the course of time, however, the definition has taken  on  many  different  forms.  In  Homer’s  The Odyssey, courage is expressed as being unafraid of death and searching for every opportunity to display bravery. Odysseus is on a long journey home, but he is impeded along the way by a multitude of dangerous monsters and gods bent towards his destruction. Odysseus makes the best of each encounter, adding to his ever-growing catalog of triumphs. Centuries later, Virgil writes The Aeneid in which Aeneas must be courageous and leave his home for an unknown future. Courage to Virgil is the ability to face the unknown, no matter how frightening it may be. Finally, in Dante’s  Inferno, courage becomes a more internalized battle. Rather than fighting wars and monsters as in The Odyssey, Dante the Pilgrim must face his inner demons as he travels down to the deepest circles of hell. Throughout the span of Western tradition, courage has gradually evolved from an outward display of brawn and bravado into a fight within  one’s  own  soul.   In The Odyssey by Homer, the character Odysseus is a clever, strong, and glory-seeking hero. On his way home from war, Odysseus angers  Poseidon,  who  tries  to  delay  Odysseus’s  homecoming  as  long  as   possible. For twenty years Odysseus is thrown about from island to island encountering dangerous beasts, mystic women, and even travels into the Land of the Dead. Though Odysseus does miss his family throughout his ordeal, yearning to be a father to the son he barely knew, Odysseus revels in the adventures he experiences. Odysseus says to Kalypso  before  he  leaves  her  island,  “If  some  god  batters  me  far  out  on   the wine-blue water, I will endure it, keeping a stubborn spirit inside me, for already I have suffered much and done much hard work on the waves and in the fighting. So let this  adventure  follow”  (Homer,  Book  V,   Lines 221-224). Odysseus is courageous because he never turns down a chance for adventure, even up against powerful adversaries and the chance of death. However, what would the point be if Odysseus escaped from the cave of Polyphemos, the Cyclops, and no one knew about it? Odysseus wants his name to be known, which is evident as he calls out after defeating the man-eating giant, “If  any  mortal  man  asks  you…  tell   him that you were blinded by Odysseus, sacker of cities. Laertes is his father,  and  he  makes  his  home  in  Ithaka”  (Homer,  Book  IX,  Line  502505). Before there was any belief in reward or punishment after death, people believed that the way to live on was to make a name on earth.


Homer’s  idea  of  courage  is  based  around a blatant display of bravery and strong pride. As centuries pass, values change. Virgil writes about a voyage in The Aeneid in which the hero, Aeneas, must travel unknown waters and lands searching for a new home. Though, like Odysseus, Aeneas faces physical obstacles along his journey, the courage that Aeneas must have is courage within his heart. He must part with the home he has always known and loved to found a new city in a foreign land. Aeneas tells  Dido,  “According  to  my  wishes,  first  of  all, I should look after Troy…Priam’s  great  hall  should  stand  again…  But  it  is  the  rich  Italian   land  Apollo  tells  me  I  must  make  for:  Italy  named  by  his  oracles”  (Virgil,   Book IV, Lines 471-478). If it were up to Aeneas, he would stay with his wife and father in Troy, but he must stay diligent and continue through with his responsibilities. Virgil valued the virtue of responsibility over personal  gain,  which  reflects  the  values  of  the  time,  when  pride  in  one’s   country was more important that pride in the self. Aeneas has courage because he puts his own needs aside to obtain the good for all his people.  Virgil’s  Aeneid is another step in the evolution of values from an outward bravery and pride to inner courage. In  Dante’s  Inferno, the courage that Dante the Pilgrim musters is the courage to face the sins of his own soul. By the time Dante wrote his Inferno, much had changed in Western civilization. Instead of paganism and polytheism exhibited in The Odyssey and The Aeneid, Dante’s  Inferno is based around Christianity, the religion widely accepted  in  Dante’s  time.  The  change  in  religion  also  triggered  a  shift  in   moral values. For example, in the prior works much emphasis was put upon  personal  glory,  though  more  in  Homer’s  than  in  Virgil’s.  Homer’s   definition of courage would have been frowned upon due to the significance of personal gain. Odysseus is actually placed in one of the deepest circles of Hell, according to Dante. As Dante ventures through Hell, his own sinful nature comes through in each circle as he relates to the punished. While Dante is traveling through the fifth circle of Hell containing the wrathful, he becomes angry and scorns the sinner, Filippo Argenti, “May  you  weep  and  wail,  stuck  here  in  this  place   forever, you damned  soul”  (Dante,  Canto  VIII,  Lines  37-38). However, even here when he displays the sin of wrathfulness, Dante the Pilgrim begins to learn from the sinners and begins to change within himself. Rather than pitying the sinners for the contrapasso they endure, he realizes that they truly deserve their punishments. This realization of mortality may be the most fearsome monster of all, for if Dante the Pilgrim continues upon the road of darkness, the road of sin, he may very well end up in the Hell he sees before him. Dante values the


courage  it  takes  to  look  within  one’s  own  soul  and  to  change  one’s  life   course for the better. Many writers through history, like Homer, Virgil, and Dante, have had their own opinions on what it really means to have courage. The definition of courage has progressed from a flashy demonstration of strength,  wit,  and  everlasting  glory  to  the  ability  to  evaluate  one’s  life   and  soul  and  admit  one’s  flaws.  First,  Homer’s  Odysseus  lives  for   adventure and exhibits stereotypical bravery. Then,  Virgil’s  Aeneas  must   defeat his internal demons before he can defeat his exterior adversaries. Finally, Dante the Pilgrim must take a look at his own sins and change his path before it is too late. Each requires a different form of courage that reflects the values of the culture at the time. Yet, no matter what the circumstances, all must extract every ounce of courage within their being in order to defeat their specific adversities.

There was darkness, and there was storm. But the storm was only there through sound, for the darkness was more powerful. Wind that once rustled now ripped. Trees that once stood firm now snapped. Fire that once warmed now crackled all around, burning without discrimination. Cries were drowned in the noise, as their sources were drowned in the waters. Light came only as a taunt. Mockery of the sun, it showed darkness in its flash. Quiet in their homes, men huddled for warmth, no longer thinking themselves gods. They cowered, weak without their heaters, walls, and roofs. The few that were left all thought of how few they were. The many that were dead were all helpless to console them. Hardly was there a group of four that was still four or even three or two. They abandoned hope for despair, mourning not the dead but the ones the dead left behind. And then there was no more. Silence rebuked the storm. The darkness fled as the moon broke through the clouds. The men uncurled, slowly, one by one and walked in the moonlight. Tattered clothes matched tattered buildings. Bleeding bodies matched bleeding hearts. A young man bent down to drink from a clear pool of water and for the first time beheld the stars.




White, shiny, hard stubs sprouting from the grinning slob-covered gums, Babbling lips the near exhausted bodies and expressions on the vacant Faces of family, friends, people gathered into a church singing To the scripture verses, close the casket, final words and prayers and moans.

The operator Smiles stare back in the darkness You will be alone


I opened my mouth to tell you And my gum came out instead. I pretended not to notice, but you, distracted by the damage to your loafers looked at me with your annoyed face, and the words died in my throat. The news would never change. But would you look at your bearer of bad news the same? Your blended expression of joy, desire, and exasperation would be minus the most important emotion. I butchered my carefully planned delivery and comprehension melted your face. Howling your grief into my body your knees crashed against the blue linoleum clawing my back as if you could find him inside me.


Allow me to show you how deep my love goes Let me show you that I can be sweet as a rose Baby your love just makes me so high That this the type of love that I cannot deny Even though sometimes you make my blood boil with your antics The way you love me and touch me make my heart frantic My passion and burning desire for you is never ending I  hope  you  appreciate  all  of  the  affection  and  love  to  you  I’m  spreading I’m  taking  this  opportunity  to  show  how  I  feel  about  you   I know for certain our love will always and forever be true Let’s  continue  to  be  there  through each  other’s  highs  and  lows But for now let me show you how deep my love goes


they talk and they type but idk if  they  no  what  their  doing.    it’s  gray. like the screens of her iPad and his TI-89 Plus, the task is pixelated it’s  jumbled  it’s  confused  it’s  too  open they  can’t  think  for  themselves.    their  minds  are  empty. so they search and they search and they search. but idk if  they  even  know  how.                                                                                                  and  still  they’re  Word   Doc is empty. because  they  don’t  see  black  and  white,  only  gray. so they decide to open their minds and a new Word  Doc  to  clear  they’re  pixelated perception of a perfectly pixelated educational system. they decide too search online to open their minds to new ideas, but idk if they can. thats gray area for the technologically dependent, their page is empty.

and still

their minds are empty, having no direction and depending on free thinking. its pixelated. and gray. n still they search. idk when they will open up, or when our educational system will open up to let go of the empty, thoughtless standardizations determining the content of our education. i don’t  know when course materials will become less pixelated, causing students to have to search for the purpose of education. That should not be gray


area. All that should be gray are the spines of twenty books, open in a classroom of students thoughtfully discussing its content. We should not search for answers on Google to fill our empty, impressionable minds. Those thoughts are jumbled, pixelated, and not ours. Then there  are  those  who  say,  “But,  idk.”   But  you  do.    Rid  yourselves  of  “idk”  and  “I  can’t.”    Clear  the  grey, pixelated areas of your mind, and open up to ideas that are not empty and are your own. Trust yourself, and search.

The taste of you makes me tingle You fulfill me in so many ways My friends say you are no good for me But  I  can’t  stay  away I crave you daily You are my drug of choice Without you I am miserable A real bitch, especially in the mornings But when we get together I am completely And I mean completely SATISFIED I love you, Coke-a-cola.


Alert with apprehension; he feels Fate wind through his antlers, to whisper in his ear. On the other side of the mountain, a girl, bubbling with excitement, revs her engine.  It’s  Halloween  night  and   Rocky Horror Picture Show awaits. A company of three departs for adventure. Sprinting at breakneck speed, avoiding shots that splinter trees, he's blind, tuned only to the sounds of his hunter. She will later say, “It’s  like  he  appeared  from  nowhere.”   Swerving to avoid him as he ran into the road. She headed toward  the  mountain’s  edge. The Buck escaped with his life, the girl turned her truck away from the mountainside, and into hell. Momentum ejected the back seating row, and a passenger nestled into his safety belt, over the cliff. The girl, bathed in blood and oil, is cut from the car by another with a broken leg. She and her surviving companion will see the symphony of this day play in their minds like ER reruns.



Grant told me to write it down. I remember the scene quite well.    It  was  in  the  parlor,  with  the  fire  going;;  that  cliché  cold  winter’s   night  that  decorates  the  pages  of  many  a  novel.    He  was  in  dad’s  old   chair, the big red one right in front of the fire. He looked thoughtfully into the flames, hypnotized and pensive. He was with us for that night and that night only. Then he had to move on. He was running and we couldn’t  tie  him  down.    He  had  to  fly,  and  be  free,  and  roam,  and  that   was what alienated him  from  us.    I  couldn’t  change  his  mind  and  neither   could anybody else. Once his mind was made up, it was made up. That was the way Grant was, ever since we were kids. He told me to write it down. I was his brother and it was the last thing I could do for him; it was the only thing I could do. Grant told me to write it down. The words poured out of his mouth and I could feel them move my  hand  across  the  paper.    I  wrote  but  I  didn’t  look  down.    If  I  looked   down,  I  might’ve  looked  up  again  to  find  that he had vanished. If I looked  down  I  might’ve  never  seen  my  brother  again.    Still  he  sat  there   like a beacon holding us all in place: my father, my mother, and me. Dad was in a wheelchair and had been since the war. He talked funny and  didn’t  use  his  right side. He just sat and stared at his son, worried that, at any moment, he might get up and leave again. But Grant stayed there, talking to us, telling me to write it down. Ma stood behind Grant as he spoke. She tried to put her hand on his shoulder  but  she  couldn’t  bring  herself  to  do  it.    She  just  stood   there, behind the chair. She looked upon her son and tears formed in her  eyes.    I  couldn’t  look  at  her.    I  had  to  focus  on  Grant.    I  had  to  drill   my eyes into him so that he would stay and not float away. I wanted to go  and  comfort  my  mother,  but  I  couldn’t.    Grant  had  us  all  under  a   spell. His absence had readied us for this moment. Now we could do nothing but take in his presence, hang on his every word and get drunk off of it, and at last Ma started crying. Grant kept going. I kept writing. It was getting late and the rain started coming down, a cold rain that froze the plants and covered them in ice. My hand and my heart ached from the words, but Grant kept on, and so did I. Ma had gone to sit down, and she wiped her eyes with her handkerchief. We could all hear the rain, and it was quiet at first. It got louder and then the wind showed up and blew it all over the place. Water hit the windows in giant droplets and made a sound like something solid was hitting the glass. The sound rang in my ears and it was hard to hear


Grant’s  words.    I  thought  the  glass  was  going  to  explode  and  cover  us  in   scratches. I had to force myself to rationalize the feeling away. Grant needed me. He needed me to write everything down. Ma regained her composure and went into the kitchen to go make some tea. Dad was still silent. He was in a dark corner of the room, watching everything, watching us and the windows, watching the door, watching the shadows dance on the carpet. The fire crackled and sparks rode the heat up through the chimney. Grant slumped in his chair and stopped speaking. I laid down my pen and massaged my hand. The rain and the fire became the only sources of sound. The three of us sat in silence. I looked at what I had written. It was barely legible, and there was so much of it. The words were bunched together and overlapped in some places. The lines were cramped and the meaning of it all was difficult to comprehend. I then realized that a lot of what Grant had said was gibberish. I held my head in my hands. The teapot whistled. Grant started up again. I did too. Everyone had some tea except for Grant. The warmth from the drink surged through my body and gave me the push I longed for. My hand  quivered  with  every  letter  I  penned.    I  couldn’t  stop.      Grant’s   words echoed throughout the room. Each new sound that pushed forth from his lips was punctuated like the ticks of a clock. It was nearly autonomous. His eyelids drooped but he spoke with vigor and resolve. The house made settling noises and the rain came down. The wind outside  made  the  trees  sway  and  bend,  as  if  the  intensity  of  Grant’s  voice   commanded  it.    There  was  a  tempest  outside,  and  it  was  Grant’s   tempest. His words filled the air and condensed into tangible little droplets of thought that rained down upon us. Each time they hit we felt the cold sting of his words. And I wrote them down. We pressed on through the night. Sleep knew not to tempt us, and we were as sentinels on night watch. There were pages and pages of it now. There were heaps of papers strewn about every which way, all filled with words. The underside of my hand was blackened with ink, and my fingertips were tender. The fire was dying down. Ma began to stoke the smoldering logs and sparks and smoke shot up into the air. Dad still sat in the corner, watching. At times I forgot he was there at all. Grant did not let up. He assaulted us with his words, urging me on, forcing me to write. I wanted to cry but I had to focus. I had to be vigilant.    I  couldn’t  let  my  brother  down.     Then it stopped. Grant stopped. I stopped.


I looked at my brother with weary eyes. He got up from his chair and moved toward the door. Ma sat motionless at the table, and watched him walk past. She tried to reach for him but her exhaustion crippled her. She buried her face in her handkerchief and let out a few sobs before she fell silent again. Then I heard dad. “Where  you  goin’?”     Grant  stopped,  but  he  didn’t  turn  around.     “I  said  where  are  you  goin’?”     Dad wheeled himself over to where Ma was sitting and took her hand. He looked at me, then at Grant. He tilted his head. That was a signal of his. That was how he told us he had something real important to say. “Why  do  you  insist  on  runnin’?”     Grant  didn’t  answer.    He  stared  straight  at  the  door,  as  if  he   could drill a hole in it with his gaze and dash right through it. “Why  don’t  you  stay?    Face  ‘em.    Be  a  man.    Have  some  honor, some  sense.    Stop  soilin’  the  family  name.” Silence. After a moment, Grant turned to look at my father. Our father. He looked at him a long time while he thought up what to say next. Then he said it: “Shut  up.    Just  shut  up.    You  don’t  know  anything. You never did. You fought all those battles like a blind man stumbling in the dark, following a voice you thought you knew but doubted all the time. You told me all those lies about how to become a man and change the world and make a name for myself  and  you  were  wrong.    You  didn’t  change   anything.    You  were  never  a  man.    You’re  still  not  a  man.    You  can’t  be   anything  now.    Look  at  you.    I  don’t  believe  you  exist.    I  won’t  believe  it.     You  can’t  tell  me.    You  can’t  tell  anybody.    You’re  not  anybody,  you’re  a   nobody.” Ma was sobbing and tears rolled down her face as she held my father’s  hand  in  a  death-grip.    Dad  sat  there  and  listened.    Grant’s  deluge   thundered on.


“Let  me  tell  you  something,  old  man.    Let  me  tell  you  about   honor. Do you want to talk about honor? Do you want to talk about glory? Do you want to talk about fame? I know why you fought. For God  and  Country  and  Honor  and  Fame.    I  don’t  buy  that  first  half.    God   and  Country  isn’t  your  style.    See  those  medals  on  the  mantel?    I  can   burn ‘em  all.    I  can  set  fire  to  all  of  ‘em  and  where  will  your  honor  be?     What proof will you have of the men you killed? Why would you even go on living when all you did was kill and take and make for yourself? You disgust  me.” Grant walked over to where I was sitting and took a handful of the  papers  I  had  covered  in  words.    He  waved  them  in  Dad’s  face. “You  see  these?    These  are  words. You know what honor is? It’s  a  word. You  can’t  do  anything  with  it.” Grant walked over to the fireplace, tore up the pages, and threw them into the fire. Ma was crying profusely, with much shame for the child to whom she had so freely given life. The paper turned to ash in the fireplace, and the example was made. Honor burned, with the other words. I watched my work go up in smoke, and I had no strength for words any longer. I looked at my father, still sitting like a fortress, absorbing the abuse. Grant started for the door. Dad leaned forward in his wheelchair and reached out for his son as he passed. He lost his balance and fell, with a thump, to the floor. Ma’s  sobs  filled  the  air.    The  house  was  heavy  with  sorrow.    My  father   looked up at his son, the thing which he had begotten. Grant looked at him, bent down, picked him up, and slung him over his back. He gently sat dad back in his wheelchair, got down on his knees, and wept. Dad closed his eyes and cried with him. Ma hugged them both, and I sat in a stupor. Grant was the first to rise. “I  have  to  go.    They’ll  be  here  soon.    I  have  to  leave.    I  have  to   go.” Dad reached for him again, but my brother had gone. The door was left open, and the rain fell. Cold wind entered the house. Ma closed the door and came and kissed me on the forehead. She wheeled Dad into the next room and I could hear their whispers pierce the air. The fire was nearly dead, and in the fading light I read the words that Grant had told me to write:


“hatred  malice  contempt  greed  vengeance  death  hypocrisy  seduction   usury fraud ignorance want pain sorrow suffering desire depression evil lies cheating scandal foolishness darkness loneliness…”

Trying to decipher the words hurt my eyes and forced me to blink. Among the words I felt uneasy. I looked at the logs, struggling to stay alight. I took the papers and stood at the fireplace. One by one, I burned them. I watched them blacken and fade, and I watched the words dissipate from existence.

I burned hatred and greed and darkness and evil.

I burned ignorance and want and pain.

I burned suffering and sadness and depression.

Then I came upon the last page, a scrap of paper which bore a single word. I swallowed and held the paper gingerly in my hands. I traced the letters with my fingers. I felt the coldness of the word. I felt what this word had done to my brother, and what it meant for him. I sensed the power in the word, and I knew that Grant could not stand it. So I let the paper fall into the flames. I watched the fire eat away at it, and then it was gone.

I  watched  my  brother’s  fear  burn  away.


A flawless mango dream, sucked into reality and maggot infested to wither in the fantasy that got you here in the first place. A paper doll, soaked in syrup and liquor, rolled in thoughtless, and burned into the roach that devoured the decayed possibility of your life.


I  walk  for  days  on  my  forefather’s  grave  because  I  am  afraid  of  the   repercussions if I act. I smell the scent of blood burned into my ancestors back from the hand of a master whose only dominion over you is the fact that he is white and you are black. I hear the cries of the poor black girl that is not allowed to cry while one white man after another ravage her as she was only born for them to rip away the pure existence of her innocence. Master upon master, it depends on which auction block. Which nigga is the strongest? Which  nigga  won’t  talk  back?   Which  nigga  woman  is  barren  so  he  won’t  have  to  pull  out? I  walk  for  days  on  my  forefather’s  grave  because  I  am  afraid  of the repercussions if I act. I smell the scent of piss in alleys, in corridors, in cracks. Barely enough food to survive and your kids keep talking back. I  see  your  struggles  and  trial  and  still  I  don’t  stand  up  for  my  black   sisters and brothers ones I am united within Christ. But I always have a smart remark about how that hoochie mama or wanna be playa acts. Never an encouraging word, only a put down. I know the only strike you have against you is the fact that you are black. I watch my family and friends live and die off of crack. I notice that almost every black woman or girl carries a heavy load on her back and every black man or boy always have to fight.


I  walk  for  days  on  my  forefather’s  grave  because  I  am  afraid  of  the   repercussions if I act. I am a prodigy of Martin Luther King Jr. I am a descendent of Rosa Parks. I have the life lines of Harriett Tubman. Yet, I am afraid to claim their hearts. I am strong like Brother Malcolm, fast like Muhammad Ali, I have the Nile running through my veins, but fear still takes over me. I  walk  for  days  on  my  forefather’s  grave  because  I  am  afraid  of  the   repercussions if I act. My mind wanders in circles, my vision is sporadically blurred I recall images of slavery, segregation, hatred, and lynching. I am literally placed in disbelief. I see hell paced in front of me on a rusty platter, no food, nothing to drink, on a ship with thousands shackled right next to me dripping the same blood that I drip, thinking the same things that I think, smelling the feces and urine that comes out of me, of them, of we. I think of the families that were left behind and the ones that tried to escape but were shot dead on a dime. I  walk  for  days  on  my  forefather’s  grave  because  I  am  afraid  of  the   repercussions if I act. I have lived, I have died, I have lived, I have died, and I AM A SOUL LOST.


What does it mean to be a part of Earth, to die and then experience rebirth? We go through so much effort to exist; embalm ourselves, determined to resist forever, never changing, in the ground, never to be cycled back around. But  there’s  a  reason  for  the  way  things  are, and maybe we have gone a bit too far, holding ourselves apart from natural laws, above those who have feathers, petals, claws. For life,  I  think  that  we  should  pay  death’s  fee, at last setting our worn out bodies free to decompose, become another breath, contributing to life after our death.

It always seemed like magic. The hot comb trudging through tangled, coarse hair, to appear smooth and silky.


The sizzle and pain paled against the miracle of pressed hair. The naps emerged from the damaging heat and strong hands, transformed. No longer coiled and bouncy, their natural composition redesigned to graze  my  brown  shoulders  like  a  white  girl’s. My sister and I, too young to understand what "good hair" was , or if we had it. Heard the enchantress raise thanks that at  least  “all  this  hair  ain’t  nappy”. We loved to wrap ourselves in our still warm tresses before our heads were snatched back into proper position by the all-powerful magician. Rubbing the burns on my scalp with cool hands My sister whispered, "This smells awful." The acrid scent of burning hair and grease rose from my young strands to settle in my clothes. I giggled and cringed as my laughter encouraged contact with the red hot magic wand.

White rose petal fell As I walked to forever But fall came early.


My mother, who would lie face down in the cotton fields right outside the big house, her little legs like matchsticks all burned up from running away and kicking things she didn't understand. Her mother, the Delta's uncrowned duchess, turned a page without licking her finger and watched the clock for bridge. Above her ears, my mother overheard the black children stomping on cotton bales. Always she made sure to get dirt on her dress and face. Hidden, my mother picked all the sticks and leaves from a cotton boll, but still it was filthy. In this place where she could not be seen, my mother waited to be noticed. Near but unreachable, her father, a bronzed god six feet tall, stood squinting for insects.



Dance in madness, steep your steps in ecstasy; Drink deep of me, bleed thick with liquid symphony; For I am the God Dionysus, all pleasure lies in me. Lose yourself in mischief, set flame to that you hate; Loose your darkest wishes, tear at your restraint; For, lo, I am the God Loki, and I can free your fate. Wreathe your form in shadow, slink quiet in the breeze; Siphon her life into you, steal each shudder as you breathe; See me, the Goddess Morrigan, in every heart you squeeze. Seek serenity in silence, find peace in psychic lies; Sink into whisper and vision, sing an ether lullaby; Feel me, the God Morpheus, sleeping in your sighs. Drown your soul in sorrow, cut each sin into your skin; Sense the pulse of desperation, and the entropy within; I am the Goddess Ereshkigal, and your pain is mine to end. Stay the beating of your heart, still the wandering of your mind; Fill your flesh with novelty, and let each whim entwine; Know me, the Angel Lucifer, and know that you are mine.


Having you is like having the child, I never conceived, but how is that possible when a child of mines already has three. Gimme,  Gimme,  Gimme,  but  you’re  the  man, I like to wonder how much I have to give before you come up with a plan. My  baby  needs  me,  but  I  can’t  feed  him plus three, so I should put you on child support for being a baby and a baby daddy.


Gun sparked the race and left Time deaf Words sprinted from smiling mouths While focused eyes stayed in place Years of looks from one fortunate stare Kisses heart shaped with a solid push Crease linked fingers cemented Palms refused to cross the distance apart Present moments panicked the impressive Heads  nodded  and  voices  cheered,  “Go,  Ahead.”

One plus one happily created none Night laid certainty in their overlap Affinity drew their mouths to seek Poisonous sweat found mortals deceased Exposed heart, no chest, deep breaths Hours  devoted  to  a  week’s  worth  of  pep Edging light crammed stomachs with alarm Embraces enemy ticked numbers in red Hush  voices  panted,  “Go  On.”   Two singles bred no double She, his slouched side jabbed with rigid finger nail He, knotty mass, grew to grind underneath her collarbone Hunched backs, cramped necks, trampled heads Conflicted roots sprouted buds of isolation Tangled bands unraveled to loose ends Corners narrowed to cracks pinching arched spines Darkness crept over top as to fasten a tight lid Baggy, full rimmed eyes strained up Sagged stutters wilted from droopy lips Whimpering  voices  asked,  “Go,  Stay?”


Extended necks surrender to be crunched With no sight, eyes searched Lungs exhaled the burn of empty Breath crafted the muscles of fire Gritty dark lashes singed hair and tissue Teepee hands stretched tight, trembling for rest Scabbed flesh coiled with sticky black thread Death pinned Sleep with his pinkie tip Only soggy moans seeped through cracks As the heavy box collapsed flat And crushed its content to dust


Sleep soundly, small one And dream lovely dreams And we will go climbing Up silver moonbeams We'll ford silver rivers And wade silver streams Of moon and star water That glitters and gleams

So when you see silver In your father's hair Just smile, and remember the moon For though he be older And more worn by care His love, it will only have grown

Then out of the fountains We'll climb to the mountains The moon-peaks with silvery snow The views we'll admire As higher and higher The two of us steadily go Not one single care Will follow us there No matter how old we may grow

And someday when you have a son of your own You'll take him to all of the places you've known You'll show him the silver All over the moon And when will this happen? Too quickly, too soon. Bear this, too, in mind, For it's true for all time: That all of the silver On moon and on earth Cannot start to measure How much you are worth.

And when it is time To welcome the sun With his rays so cheery and warm Then down we will come Silver moon left behind And before us, a bright golden morn



Lying on the couch because the night before had him going heave, ho all night next to the cool, smooth porcelain even though he proved over and over that it was, in fact, not bottomlessbut it was his only friend that listened, consoled, and collected all of those (unfortunately multiple) bits and pieces of misery that spewed forth in release.

Black and white thinking aides your thought You  can’t  help  it, For it is the way you were taught. Your thought resides on a two way street, All or Nothing Drive, Where simple and average often meet. Misunderstanding forms BW views, For  others’  thoughts  differ, Cheerful, full of colors and hues. Nothing extraordinary crosses your mind. Just because kisses, hugs... Let  me  slow  down,  that’s  way  out  of  your  line.


Your thoughts leave no ground for possibilities, With unchanging beliefs, It limits life balance probabilities.

You get angry when your views are opposed But when I speak Your  brain  says  “Sorry  We’re  Closed”.

All I ask is to listen with a clear head When  it’s  your  turn  to  respond Please consider colorfully of what was said.


There I sat, patiently awaiting paradise. I settled in my chair and happily thought that it was far more comfortable than the chairs Jesus had left for the other people. It had been a fairly long wait, but it was nearing its end. To my left there were only two more people, comfortably sitting. To my right stood one man, too wicked for a chair, and a long line extending backwards with standing people dispersed among the sitting. Over the time I had to wait, I had figured out the system, which Jesus used to decide chairs and standing. Standing were those who didn’t  believe.    The  man  next  to  me  was  weak  in  look  and  didn’t  speak.     Surely not a criminal, but hell-bound no less. Those in chairs of spikes were  those  who  knowingly  sinned.    Their  taste  of  punishment  couldn’t   wait. And of course, those in comfortable chairs were being prepared for reward after such a terrible life with the wicked. Blessed be God for granting me mercy! Shaking with fear and crying, the man standing to the right of me  whispered,  “What  if  I  get  sent  to  hell?”    He  turned  to  look  at  me,   groveling for a merciful answer, but I was above lying. I sighed and said, “Then  you  should have lived a better life. God is just. You will get what you  deserve.”    He  turned  away  and  gagged  as  the  man  two  seats  in  front   of me was lifted from view to the glorious throne of God. The chairs moved forward, and finally I was close enough to hear the  booming  voice  of  God.    “Wicked  sinner!    Where  were  you  when   I needed you? When I needed food I starved! When I needed drink I stayed thirsty! When I was naked no clothes was I given! What have you  to  say?” “Wretched  God!”  I  heard  to  my  great  shock.    “My  life  I  wasted   for  you!    I  spent  hours  helping  people,  but  You  can’t  remember!    How   many happinesses I could have had and still been damned! Waste for You!”   “Oh  my  son,”  God  said  sadly. The man to my left was brought up his face confident and unflinching. Once  again  I  heard,  “Wicked  sinner!    Where  were  you  when  I   needed you? When I needed food I starved! When I needed drink I


stayed thirsty! When I was naked no clothes was I given! What have you  to  say?” “Lord,  never  would  I  leave  you  in  the cold! Never hungry! Never  thirsty!” “What  of  thy  brothers!” At  this  I  heard  the  man’s  tone  change.    “Them?    Scum  of  the   Earth! For those damned pigs you wanted me to suffer and to serve! Why?!    Wise  and  holy  God!    You  don’t  know  slime  from  loving servant. Damn  you  and  all  the  years  I  wasted  on  you!” “Oh  my  son,”  God  said  sadly. I truly felt bad for this one. He had been like I had: trying to live a just life in a world of heathens. But somewhere he had forgotten to love the least of his brothers. I sighed. It was sad, but God was not to be gainsaid, for in him there is wisdom in him there is truth. And if God says to throw your life away for those pigs, one must obey. I smiled as my chair began to rise. Paradise here I come, I thought. God faced me as I came up, but all I could determine was a blinding  light.    “Wicked  sinner!    Where  were  you  when  I  needed  you?     When I needed food I starved! When I needed drink I stayed thirsty! When I was naked no clothes was I given! What have you to say?”     My  mouth  gaped.    “Lord,  I  fed  you,  I  clothed  you,  I  gave  you   drink!    What  more  did  I  ever  do  with  my  life?” “You  clothed  me  in  rags,  and  you  fed  me  with  ashes,  and  you   gave me to drink my own tears. When I was lonely, a wraith came to visit. When I was cold my body was warmed, but my heart was chilled. No love did you ever deliver into the world and now no love can you feel.” “You  hypocrite!    Liar!    You  promised  me  heaven,  and  it  is  mine!     But you take it away. Who are you to command? Thief! I hate  you!” “Oh  my  son.” I raged and swore and laughed at his pain over me. A single tear ran down his cheek into a bowl, held close to his heart. I sunk my teeth into my own arm and tore at my flesh, watching the pain it caused him. “Curse  you!”    I  screamed repeatedly as I began to sink down. As I was lowered, another was raised to judgement. The heathen fool who  didn’t  even  get  a  chair.    “A  God  damn  chair  is  my  reward!    It’s  all   You  ever  give!”


I  heard  to  my  delight,  “Wicked  sinner!    Where  were  you  when I needed you? When I needed food I starved! When I needed drink I stayed thirsty! When I was naked no clothes was I given! What have you  to  say?”     “Join  me!”  I  screamed  to  him. The  standing  man  fell  to  his  knees  and  cried.    “Oh  Lord!    Self   absorbed was I. When others needed help I turned away to my own fancies. Send me from your sight Lord I am not worthy, but know that before  I  go,  I  am  sorry  and  plead  you  not  to  pain  any  more  over  me!” I  laughed  uproariously.    “To  hell,  filth!” The Lord exclaimed in a very different tone than I had hoped to hear.    “Welcome  home,  my  son!”    The  man  cried  blessing  and  thanking   the Lord and began to ascend. My swearing even to myself paused for a second, and my jaw fell wide open. For a second I deemed this righteous and was sorry myself,  but  it  soon  passed.    “Damn  you!    Damn  you!    What  filth  lives  in   heaven!    What  stench  You  Yourself  are!    Wise  fool!” Grandpa shut the book and sat quietly for a minute. I  mustered  up  the  courage  to  ask,  “Grandpa?” “Yes?” “Do  you  believe  in  that?” The  old  man  mused  for  a  second  and  then  said,  “I  don’t  believe   it  happened  if  that’s  what  you  mean.    No  one’s  come  back  from  the  dead   to  make  the  narrative.    And  I  don’t  believe  that’s  how  it  works,  but  I  do   believe it.



Just a regular Sunday morning Seated Sharp in dress With my best ribbons Time to stand The choir in accord The ladies in brimming hats in the front rows Hands waving Feet stomping Heads nodding Rhythmically submissive to the hymns I’d  clap  and  try  to  understand  the  excitement   Of the adults A  sharp  pinch  on  the  arm  if  I  wasn’t  enthused. And then, she screamed Almost like the roar of a meek lion From somewhere in the back I wanted to look To peek through the crowds To see where the sound had arisen But  I’d  be  reprimanded.   I stood up straighter Trying not to think of it. Why was she louder than everyone else? But, the scream shattered my eardrums again Almost petrifying Nothing, I had ever heard Mother had always told me to be quiet. Then, it happened. She began to howl Loud as thunder.


My mother pretended to be deaf. Then, I saw her. Shoes left somewhere behind Pressed golden suit now unkempt Black  hair  whipping  past  like  a  horse’s  tail  in  the wind Sprinting up a nearby aisle My eyes following her every flailing movement Bawling like she was being beaten. Hollering like she was being hunted. Plummeting like she was being pushed. Right on the altar. Right in front of everyone. Right under God.


At 10 years old, I sat on the side that cool, sunny fall day watching at the other children befriended, They laughed, screamed, and ran around. I was the flat basketball. Cast aside and forgotten. I began to slip away; each second growing deeper into my own world. Until the twirling took over my body, like the spinning of a top. Faster and faster I went then, loss of control. The heavy gray rock I held, came alive flying from my small fingers with tremendous force as if it escaped a slingshot. It hit. Her eyes stared me down as I began to shrivel up. Twenty-two eyes were on me then as mine looked at my schoolgirl saddle oxfords. My body stiffened tears streamed, dirt turned to mud on my face, and I was called out, “What  are  you  doing,  what  were  you  thinking?” They laughed and pointed. I stood aside, I was told “just  sit  and  watch.” I disobeyed that sunlit day. They returned to their games. No eyes on me now, again I am Alone.



Saks and Juicy jeer flocks of homeless nobodies. “This  is  Paradise?” Schools of fish teach me about hidden, handsome homes. How lucky they are! Palm branches dance in sync with the shake, shake, shaking of loose luau hips. Like ants on their Hills, we climbed, struggling but, finally, atop. Hawaiian sunset Hovers, exploring the reef. Brief, sweet memory.


I pulled tight on the laces of my right boot. It was new and it bore into the sides of my feet. I had saved up a while for these new boots. I bought them on a Monday. Now it was finally Saturday. I hate the  workweek.    I  hate  my  job,  but  now  it’s  Saturday,  and  Saturdays  are   for hunting. As I finished knotting the boot, I looked down at its beautiful camouflage. The seams were hardly visible above the rubber line. I glanced over to my wall, where my trophy would hang. I already  had  a  plaque  picked  out.    I’ve  shot  one  big  deer  before.    It  was  on   a Tuesday. I had just gotten fired for incompetence, whatever that means, and me and my friends decided to take a weeklong hunting trip. Well, after one day of no luck, it was about noon-thirty on the second, and I got sight of this deer. I aimed, fired, and down it went. We took it back to my house and put it in the skinning shed. I was going to skin it, but we got to partying, and by the time I woke up it was Thursday. I went to the shed and saw the door lying in the yard, a trail of blood, and some mashed down grass. I guess a bear, or Bigfoot, or whatever mythical creature you believe in drug my deer off. I stood up and brushed of my camo-jacket.    It  doesn’t  matter.     What  I  shoot  today  will  be  way  bigger.    I  looked  at  the  plaque;;  I’d  have   to  buy  a  bigger  one.    The  deer  I’ll  shoot  today  will  take  up  the  whole  wall.     Forty points, a couple thousand pounds, ten-feet tall, that  was  today’s   aim. I shut the door behind me, walked to my truck, and drove to the  best  hunting  spot  in  town,  my  neighbor’s  farm.    I  got  out,  loaded  my   rifle, and began walking through the wheat. I had been walking nearly an hour and was down to my last sixpack when I saw the deer I had been waiting for. I saw him run at the sight of me. I followed him with my gun and fired. He moved a little too quick, but from the sound, I knew I hit something. There had been an explosion behind the deer, but I didn’t  know  what  I’d   hit. I walked up closer and saw Jacob Smith, my neighbor, only he had no head. “I  killed  him,”  I  whispered  frantically  to  myself.    I  stood   shocked for a second, and then I heard Mrs. Smith coming. I ran as fast


as I could, but I tripped on a hole and rolled down into a ditch. I hid, shaking  violently.    I  hoped  she  wouldn’t  see. “Get  out!”  I  heard.    She  had  a  gun,  and  I  didn’t  want  to  hurt   another person, so I put my gun down and got out. “Why  are  you  hunting  on  our  land?”  she  asked. What a question! Not ten yards away, her husband stood dead, head blown all over the ground, and she wanted to know why I was hunting here! I  cried  a  bit  and  my  pants  became  as  wet  as  if  I’d  jumped  in  a   lake.    “I’m  sorry!    I’m  sorry!” “I  ought  to shoot  you,”  she  said. I cringed and cried some more. She was going to fire! I was going to die! I killed someone! Then suddenly the racing of my mind was stopped like a dog running into a glass door. “That  was  my  best  scarecrow  you  blew  the  head  off  of!”



The warmth in the pit of your stomach, an injured lung, or throat, or something that could not endure the heat of hugs, my face against yours, dancing close the thrill of being intimate - we could have kissed and casual - we didn't.

And for only a minute or three hours the warmth fills you up like wholeness discovered and you think: This is what they feel at church. So your religion is Absolut.

With time - and you know this the warmth tastes of battery acid and dies like the gods who came before it. And the acquaintances that fingertip through your life that pull your strings and sleep in the corners of your house they can't make you warm again.

Some people look for God or something warm and they may find both. I just want something to fill me up.



Balloons popped, Or maybe it was a firecracker, A cacophony of loudness and misunderstandings That tore through the air, And they fell. Jenny bled glitter and confetti, A pep rally explosion In her veins And  Alex’s  head  spilled  over, Leaving math equations And  last  night’s  winning  football score On the floor. Three girls slumped over The cafeteria tables And all of their gossip came pouring out But no one heard any of it. When they cleaned it up, They swept and mopped and wiped and scrubbed Graduation plans from the walls And visions of dances from the floors Like nothing ever happened --And nothing ever did.



Castings 2012