Perspectives Magazine Where inanimate objects and animals have their say | June 2018
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 1
About the Magazine
ISSN: 1920-4205 Frequency: Biyearly Founding Editor and Designer: Monique Berry
INANIMATE OBJECTS 3
Jacaranda Pods Speaks to Me by Donna Kennedy
Produce Banter by Marilyn Zelke Windau
Wolf Spirit Speaks by Joan Wiese Johannes
Skittering Away by Haley Willits
The Lone Wolf by Gloria Sinibaldi
Do You Have a Light |by Evanne Moux
Memoria by Phillip Frey
Moondrops on my Rooftop by Rebecca Haque
A Dog’s Life by Ana Vidosavljevic
The House Remembers by Roberta Feins
Hope by Trish Hubschman
The Stone Laments its own Coldness by Roberta Feins
Nell on the Nickel by Gay Degani
A Penny Saved by Heather Wyatt
Under the Eaves by Julie Hayward-Trout
The Slipper’s Desires by Sunayna Pal
Dogwood by Virginia Amis
Ode of a Buggy Whip by F.I. Goldhaber
Piano by Joan Canby
A Summer Wink By Darrell Petska
I’m Home by Duane L. Herrmann
Spear of Destiny by Ariadne Wolf
A History of Bras and Fruit by Pat LaPointe
The Marsupial Rebellion by Ken Wetherington
Grip by Diana Engel
From A Caterpillar to the Butterfly by Andrew LloydJones
Bottish by James Penha Writing Pen by Lorie Garver
Front cover courtesy of Jose|adobe.stock.com. See individual pages for other credits.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 2
All rights revert to individual authors. NO PHOTOCOPIES ALLOWED
Bra A History of Bras and Fruit By Pat LaPointe
Yikes! When will you learn to slowly open the drawer? The “white ones” love it. It’s their chance to shine, but I’m nearly blinded every time. I see you’re holding a navy-blue shirt and reaching for that plain, old white one in the corner. Really? Where is your sense of adventure? Be daring! I’ve even heard you say nothing is sexier than a black bra. Have you given up being sexy? It’s so hard to sleep among the “white ones” as they chatter about how important they are to you. So, I have a lot of time to think. It’s about time for me to share my thoughts and enlighten you. Damn it! I just said ‘enlightened you’. That’s just what the “white ones” say they do. Anyway, have you ever thought about your bra history? Remember training bra? Such a silly name. What the hell was she training? How does one train two boobs? And, by the way, what were you thinking? Those boobs may have looked like two strawberries safely protected by white cotton balls at first, but why did you keep wearing it when your strawberries turned to oranges? Eventually you were forced to move on to something more suitable for oranges. You chose the “living bra”. What a misnomer! Living? Really? Your oranges, which had become more like grapefruit, hung like fruit dying on a branch. Ok. I give you some credit for your next choice, regardless of the outcome. A strapless bra- what could go wrong? One of those grapefruits, having reached cantaloupe size, could fall out as one reached for the bread basket at a business dinner. And it did, almost landing on your plate of filet mignon and baked potato. I wonder if that might have something to do with losing that client. I hope you’re getting the message here. Every one of those bras was white. Coincidence? Not in my opinion. But there was that time you did choose me. You said you wanted to feel sexy, and, as you have said before, there’s nothing sexier than a black bra. Even I felt sexy as I cuddled those melons. I remember that night. You and the one who doesn’t wear bras had a cozy dinner at a candle-lit restaurant. I remember later that night I was quickly unfastened and tossed to the floor. I wasn’t too happy about it at the time. But weeks later when you found out you were pregnant, I couldn’t help but be proud to have contributed to such a happy event. My pride soon faded, however, when you shoved me to the back of the drawer that day, where I’ve stayed ever since.”
© abelena - stock.adobe.com
Like many other women I hate bra shopping. The images I share in the first two paragraphs represent my bra drawer where I recently discovered I only had one black bra. I wondered why this was. And I wondered what that bra would say if it could. I had begun writing the first paragraph in response to a prompt given at a workshop. I had really wanted to write more and your magazine provided a great opportunity for doing so. Pat is a past President of the Story Circle Network. She was a contributing author and the editor of the anthology: “The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys From Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment” published in 2012. Her work has been published in several Editing and Ebooks anthologies as well as in Story Circle Anthologies. She facilitates women’s writing groups online and on site and is the editor of the Changes In Life monthly newsletter for women.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 3
I’m Home By Duane L. Herrmann
I wrote the poem, "I'm Home," for Perspectives. I was thinking of the house I grew up in as it was being torn down. My brother owned it and had built a new house beside it. The old one was now in the way. We were surprised how good the basic structure remained even though it was almost 100 years old. There were a few places that leaked, but they could have been repaired. In fact, once the house was stripped down to the studs, it could have been rebuilt from the inside and lived another hundred years, but he didn't want to do that and I couldn't. I'd already built a house by hand, and wanted to do other things with my life—like write. So, I wrote the poem.
These old bones creak and groan. Weather has aged me, worn away my paint— and shingles. Shut the doors! The draft is cold. My glass is broken, shattered on my floors. I am lonely, desolate, my people have gone; no one has come. I’ve begun to crumble, my basement is full of water and slime, I’m slipping away. .
Duane L. Herrmann is a survivor who lives on the Kansas Prairie where he communes with trees on hills in the breeze and writes. He is published in Midwest Quarterly, Little Balkans Review, Flint Hills Review, Inscape, Orison and others in print and online, in this country and elsewhere.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 4
Piano Piano By Joan Canby when you left him, I was there. when you wept after the funeral, I heard you. when you touched, pounded, caressed me, I let you. then the melody, then the harmony, I gave to you. every morning you greeted me as if I was a prayer. every evening you remembered me when I gave you a lullaby. some have the Buddha, others the elephant-man, more the man on the Cross, you had me. I was all of them. Why did you stop playing?
ÂŠ 4997619 - stock.adobe.com
I have a piano and I do play. This poem was written specifically for your magazine. I am grateful for the prompt.
Joan Canby is a graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts. She worked for 30 years in Corporate America for Hughes Aircraft, General Dynamics, Ericsson, and Nortel Networks where she was a technical writer and then a project manager in training. She has been a Lecturer at the University of Texas at Dallas, Collin College, Richland College and University of Phoenix.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 5
Jacaranda Pods Speak to Me By Donna Kennedy
acaranda pods speak to me. In truth, I eavesdrop. Their wide brown mouths click as they gossip: “Carob stinks. … Magnolia pods are weird. … Sycamores have bad bugs.” Their dry voices are soothing, like the distant clatter of a Remington typewriter. I lie in the grass under their parent tree and watch the pods through half-closed eyes. They chatter on: “There’s good soil in the cove … run-off from the cliff … open sun … palo verde for filtered shade.” “I was in love with a palo verde seed pod,” says a battered pod through cracked lips. “She was long and spiraling with—” “Yeah, we’ve heard that one.” “The cove is perfect.” A pod on a long stem crawls an inch on the asphalt, stops, and crawls another inch. “It’s too far.” The battered pod speaks again. “He could do it.” “Why him?” asks another. “He grabbed me— “He didn’t hurt you.” Who hurt whom? I touch the imprint of tiny seed teeth on my thumb pad. “He hears us.” The cluster of pods turns toward me in unison. “Will you do it?” asks the stem pod. I think about this, my thumb pricked and bleeding. And I shrug. One does what one must.
© max8xam - stock.adobe.com
On my morning walk, I pass under the purple blossoms of the jacaranda trees. Their pods fall to the asphalt, looking like open mouths. I began to wonder what they were saying and wrote my story. I was delighted to see your call for stories from the perspective of an inanimate object on the Creative Writers Opportunities List (CRWROPPS) and immediately submitted "Jacaranda Pods Speak to Me." As a journalist and a poet, Donna learned to write short and to the point. Now flash (fiction and memoir) is her favorite genre. Her work appears in anthologies and small magazines, in print and online.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 6
Dogwood Dogwood By Virginia Amis
told her. “Then you can write my name.” Even now, she rarely listens when I speak to her.
She hasn’t been out to see us in a while. Over a week! I’m budding and I need fertilizer.”
“Stop complaining,” I told Blueberry. “It’s early and the days are lengthening. You’ll learn. She doesn’t like it when we act needy. Do your best and she’ll stick by you. Have you tried to find nourishment yourself?”
“Of course you’d say that,” my short spreading yardmate moaned. “You’re a dogwood tree. Your roots run deep and you can find what you need on your own. She only planted me last year. Mine are still shallow. If she doesn’t feed me soon, I’ll wither. Maybe, I’ll die.” I only half-listened to the young bush, my attention on the stump in the neighbor’s yard that used to be my friend, Oak. His roots had run deep, too. Only last Thursday, we’d sung a song together, a silly ditty about stupid squirrels, which we both disliked for their chattering and running about on our branches, just before a fierce wind swept in from the north, taking my friend by the canopy and heaving him onto the house, roots unchastely exposed and mud flying. There’d been a frenzy of humans yelling and gesturing toward the damaged roof, fists raised to the sky as though my friend had not just had his sap extinguished. Their house? Their house? What about my friend who lay dying? No memorial or even sad words expressed. In a day, they’d sawed his remains and chopped him into firewood, leaving only a stump for their fat rumps. Such indignity for a once-mighty tree.
I stretched toward the sky, yearning for Oak’s company, shedding a few twigs I no longer needed. I remembered my first year in the garden. I’d barely set a bud. Still, my gardener praised me, as though I’d had handed her a bouquet of rare orchids instead of seven measly blossoms on my spindly branches. I’d doubted whether I could make even that many the first time, but she’d inspired me with her hope.
“You’re going to be beautiful,” she’d whispered under her breath, as though I couldn’t hear her. “Perfect.” But, I knew she would not keep me in her garden if I didn’t, at least, try. “She does not give up if we don’t,” I said. Blueberry shook the rain from her branches, bored with talk of trying and effort. “Why doesn’t she bring anyone to see us? I’m quite beautiful in the springtime.” I pondered the same question. In the years since she’d planted me, only the neighbor lady and a small, elderly woman with a kind face and soft voice, had been invited into the garden. No one else. I wondered why. If not for Oak, I’d have been so lonely these last ten years. The elderly lady had cooed over me, while the other one seemed a little disinterested. Both were kind, though, and treated my gardener with great affection. “Maybe this season,” I said, more hopeful for new friends than I dared admit. “Let’s try hard to please her.”
Blueberry, a low-growing shrub, could not see over the fence to where my pal’s skeletal remains called to me. Stay strong, Dogwood, I heard. I’d barely survived the great wind that took him away, leaving me with only a surly bush who did not appreciate her fortunate circumstances. She didn’t realize the advantage our secluded back yard provided, protecting her tender shoots from being reduced to sticks by ravenous deer. That knowledge would come in time. My expansive branches had seen more years, learned more from watching the seasons and my gardener at work. I’d made, and lost, more friends than Blueberry. My gardener planted me as a sapling, no larger around than the permanent marker she used to write my name on the wooden stake my first day in the garden. I felt amused watching her fumble while holding the shovel and some twine, all while trying to write on the piece of cedar. When the pen fell, the uncapped marker left a black streak across her dirty palm. Put down the trowel and twine,” I’d
© tamayura39 - stock.adobe.com
The dogwood tree is a favorite of mine and I have included them in all the gardens I have planted. They are beautiful with or without leaves and blossoms. Nostalgia also played a part, as these trees have graced gardens for centuries. My dear aunt always spoke of the pink dogwood in her mother’s garden so fondly. They are understated and beautiful. Virginia Amis is a fiction writer who loves gardening and practices law to support her writing and gardening passions. An English major before attending law school, she enjoys losing herself in afternoons of writing. She has recently honed her writing skills by studying with Robyn Conley, The Book Doctor, and Sheila Bender of Writing it Real. Ms. Amis has written two novels and is beginning her third in the series.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 7
ÂŠ asclepio - stock.adobe.com
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 8
SLIPPERS The Slipperâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Desires By Sunayna Pal
am the vehicle of the poor and the vacationing comfort of the rich. Amusingly, I didn't fall in either of the categories. I landed on the soft feet of a very gentle and wise man. He used me with care inside the house. His wife was a neat freak and didn't allow me outside the house, ever. Their house was my whole world, I don't know what the outside held for me but I wanted to feel the tickle of the green grass, the cold of the asphalt or so many textures and feelings that I didn't even know existed. Other than this complaint, life was comfortable. He used me with care. I was the first thing he looked for after coming home. He had many shoes and boots for outside wear but I was the only one he wore indoors. One day, something terrible happened. It was a Wednesday I will never forget. It started as routine but in the evening, He broke me. It was so sudden that I hurt. He almost stumbled too. That was the worst day of my life. As gently as he had used me, he kept me on the side of the door. For three days, I patiently sat. He looked at me but didn't touch me. He used his socks instead of me. This was going to be the end of me or so I thought. Thankfully, on the weekend, he took me to the cobbler. and got me repaired. I thought he was going to throw me away but I got my life back. He used me as lovingly as ever and I was glad. Good things don't last long and well, just after a few weeks, I broke again. It didn't hurt as much as it had the first time but I realized that my joints were old now. "Just throw them away and get new ones" reprimanded his wife. He thought it was a good option too as it took a lot of his time and effort to repair me. I was sad. I didn't know what to do or say to her. I was very angry. I don't think that she ever liked me. He kept me at the bottom of their shoe cabinet. I don't think that he was ready to let me go. Maybe he would repair me again. I stayed in the darkness for a long time, unaware of the days changing outside. I don't know how he was surviving without me but It was a difficult time for me. There were others to talk to but they all had the same story and wanted to roam around. There was one respite. Many of them have been outside the door. Though they were miserable as me for not being used, they told me interesting stories of the world outside. Few had been in the car and driven with him. Some had been to his office and told me of the friends they made there. A few told me horror stories of poop and spit. Everything about the outside fascinated me and I prayed for a way out of this darkness.
One day, there was a party. Though they lived in a very clean house but his wife took extra care when there were people over. I saw him keep another set of slippers in the cabinet and take out his party boots. I saw the new slippers. They weren't gray and blue like me, they were black in color with something written in green. They were thicker than me and seemed more comfortable. I had never been so jealous in my life. The new ones stayed in the cabinet for the full night. The new slipper seemed nice and by the end of the night, I had forgotten that they were my replacements. I was glad that he was comfortable but what was going to happen to me? In the morning, she saw me. Disgusted, she asked him "Why are your old slippers still here. Didn't you buy new ones?" "I thought that I could repair them and keep it for some guests" "What guests? We are leaving this house in a few days." It seems that it was their farewell party. They were to leave this house. I used to be aware of the things happening in his life when I was with him but now, this was so sudden. Without any good bye or any time to prepare, he picked me and kept me out of the door. She looked pleased. She looked at me and said "May it go to someone in need" I had never been so miserable. I just sat there on the road outside their house. There was no fan outside and the sun kept rising. I didn't believe it was possible to be rescued as her prayer suggested. I stayed there till afternoon but it did happen. A homeless guy was wandering through the road and saw me outside the house. He picked me up with joy. He saw that I was broken but the joy didn't leave his face. He kept me in his cotton bag and turned around and walked. It just so happened that he had asked the cobbler for some slippers. Sadly the kind cobbler didn't have any to spare but he told the poor man that if he could get a slipper that could be repaired, he would do it for free. Just after that, he saw me and . . well I am glad that her intention worked. I didn't believe in intentions working but I am so glad that it worked and well, I am so grateful for this man, I am now seeing and going places. I like my life again. It is a welcome change from the darkness. Though I wish he didn't walk so much, I like the fresh air and the warm sun and the new things I see. The story is inspired by real life events. My sweet and thoughtful husband didn't throw his old slippers after getting a new pair. It got thrown out when we actually moved from India to US. The rest is just some good use of my imagination. Paper Plane Pilot Publishing published this in 2016.
Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Sunayna Pal moved to the US after her marriage. A double postgraduate from XLRI and Annamalai University, she worked in the corporate world for five odd years before opting out to embark on her heart's pursuits - decided to raise funds for NGOs by selling quilled art and became a certified handwriting analyst. Now, a new mother, she devotes all her free time to writing and Heartfulness. Her name has recently appeared in "The Hindu," "Subterranean Blue Poetry," "Poetry nation", "Poetry Super highway," along with dozens of her articles and poems have been published and she is a proud contributor of many international anthologies. She is part of an anthology that is about to break the Guinness world of records. Know more on sunaynapal.com
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 9
ÂŠ Africa_Studio - Pixabay.com
By Haley Willits
sat calmly in my place surrounded by the other decorations, waiting for Halloween; my concept of time is distorted by living most of my life in a box. I knew Halloween would come when the box felt colder. I knew Halloween time was over when the box chilled and my companions returned. My new year began as the box constricted with the frost, as wind whistled between the worn boards of the garage. The box had fewer visitors as everything slowed to an almost stop; the scuffling sounds I heard from below ceased and everything outside the garage fell silent save occasional roars and scrapes. The year went on and the box gradually regained heat and space as the air warmed and my rubbery body released its tension. The noises of life returned to the garage and soon I knew half the year was done. The door to our building creaked and thudded more often and voices filled the air. I heard other boxes scrape and shift around the
Halloween box as warmer holidays came to pass. The air in the box felt unbearably hot and the sounds of life had once again dimmed to lethargic silence. As more time passed, the box cooled and my legs no longer stuck to my companions. Halloween and the new year approached. I heard a soft tapping from outside our box. I could only see the wall and part of the ceiling from my position under the other decorations and I considered myself lucky to have that much. The tapping reached the top of the box and I saw a thin leg reach between the boxâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lid and its wall. It was joined by another and they pulled at the wall until a small, brown body squeezed into the box. It was a spider. A real spider. It stopped for a moment and peered into the box. I watched as the real spider lifted its leg and slowly brought it back down. Did it think I was real? Did it think I was a threat? The real spider crawled to its left and circled the walls of the box out of my sight. I only had two worn eyes raised and painted on my body while the real spider had eight eyes that could see me
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 10
(Continued on page 11)
from anywhere in the box. It creeped back into my limited vision and lowered itself to my eye level; it lifted its legs high in the air to look more intimidating. It reached with one of the legs and timidly touched my foreleg. I didn’t move. I couldn’t move. The real spider, apparently satisfied that nothing in the box was a threat, skittered back up the wall and returned to the outside. I couldn’t go outside. I stayed in my box and watched what I could. Many had paid visit to my box over the years, but I had long ago accepted that I was simply made different and am meant to live a life on stillness and silence. Crickets and beetles stopped being afraid when they realized I couldn’t move and I stopped resenting their freedom. I was a decoration like the rest of the box and I knew that my life was passive and unchangeable. I heard a crack from the door. The box shifted. It lifted and I rhythmically jolted against my fellow decorations, sinking deeper into the dimness under a grim reaper and a few powerless lights. With some creaking sounds and a solid thud, the box was placed onto the floor; the lid opened with a muffled crack. A pinprick of clear light shone down to me as the largest grim reaper lifted into the air and was taken to its customary hook. I heard voices as I waited for an opportunity to see what had changed in the room. It was only a glimpse as the lights pulled me to the side, but I saw the dingy brown walls had changed to a bright white. The voices echoed off the walls; one was small and high-pitched, the other sharp with a deeper tone. A hand reached into the box and pulled the red-eyed skeleton at its ribs. The skin of the hand was rough and veined, red where they had cracked and bled. Its fingers were long with nails short and bitten. As the skeleton rose, two new voices bounced off the walls of the box. One was gravelly and punctuated with deep, wracking coughs. The other was high and nasal with drawn out sounds. They wrapped around the other voices as I felt small footsteps tip-toe away from the box. The small voice shakily replied to the gravelly voice and the box scraped as it was pulled closer to the gravelly voice. A gnarled hand reached into the box. It was also cracked, but two of its fingers curled against its palm like the dead real spiders that sometimes lost their way in the box. The hand’s nails were long and hard as they pushed my companions around and brushed one of my legs. It stopped. The hand pulled the
leg and stretched to find my rubbery body. I waited for the hand to move on; I was never taken out of the box for Halloween. I felt three bent fingers grasp me and pull. The other hand joined its partner and lifted me from my home. They poked and flipped me as they inspected my size and decoration. I for the first time saw the inhabitants on the Halloween room. An old man with a rough, lumpy face squinted through thick glasses. He wheezed slightly as he examined me and I heard faint clicking noises from the man’s jaw. I could not click my jaws. To the side, I could barely see an old woman with tightly curled, short gray hair who gestured thin hands to something in the corner and turned the page of her paper. I heard the sharper voice reply and it came from the rough hands beyond the old woman. They were hanging the red-eyed skeleton next to the reaper. The woman blew her long, brown hair out of her face and briefly exposed lower teeth that pushed forward from their neighbors. The old man turned me. In the corner was a little girl. Nervous eyes barely peeked under blonde bangs. Her hands were small, but her long fingers gripped the doorway until her knuckles turned white. She trembled from her head to the legs and feet that were curled around one another. She swayed as she watched the old man carefully. I thought of the real spider that found its way into the box. The girl had the same apprehension, but wouldn't move. Like the crickets. The crickets that would stand still as if that would keep the me from attacking them. But I could not move and I could not attack. If the crickets learned that, why didn’t the girl?
I heard a gruff “huh” from behind ,e and felt a swoop in my body. Movement. I was almost weightless as I soared through the air toward the little girl. My legs raised and my body tilted to the side in my flight. I saw the little girl clearly; my painted eyes met the girl’s wide ones as she turned ghostly white. She disappeared. A shadow blocked the light and I hit the hard floor with a dull thump. There were two heavy slams behind me quickly followed by confused and shocked sounds from voices that were not the girl’s. I stared into another room I had never seen. The room had a soft floor and big chairs. One was tan brown while the other even bigger and covered in a green pattern. I saw my foreleg stretched out onto the floor of this other room. Did the girl realize I was fake? Like everything else alive, the girl must have skittered away.
This piece was already written as a narrative exercise and experiment. The inspiration actually came from something happened when I was small. I have a severe fear of spiders and there was always a rubber spider in our Halloween box that terrified me. The little girl in the story is actually me as I run from the spider after my grandpa jokingly threw it at me. Haley Willits is a recent graduate from Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois. She enjoys drawing inspiration from personal experience from her childhood and her time abroad. This is her second published piece, her first being a one-act play in Monmouth College's COIL literary journal. She has a variety of interests including reading, knitting, drumming, and theatre.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 11
Â© Blizniak - Pixabay.com
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 12
CIGARETTE Do You Have a Light? By Evanne Moux
arkness. In this world made of cardboard, there is no light and there is no air — only bodies, identical, swinging to try and fill the space emptied by those of us who were taken. This is my home. This is safety and warmth, and I silence the whispers of freedom around me. My sisters talk about the day where the roof will open and destiny will finally suck them into its arms, into their life’s purpose, but they have to calm down on the biblical stuff. “God I hate this job.” This is when it happens again. An earthquake of worldshattering strength seizes the walls, the bodies of my sisters, the air I need to scream but don’t have. No warning, just the thump thump of my home repeatedly hitting the ground. My insides shrink on themselves under the pressure of the shocks — it’s too much, I can’t take… But then, the box cracks open. Blinding, sizzling light, and the delighted sighs of my sisters, and the wind on my parched skin, and oh, God, it hurts. It hurts because my world just got invaded by infinity, and yet… It’s not nearly enough. There are too many sounds around me that the paper walls of my home cannot mute anymore. A hand reaches down, and our little colony becomes a frenzy of desperation — “me! me! Choose me!” my sisters beg. But it’s on me that the giant, monstrous fingers close, and I can only press my eyelids shut as I am lifted by the head and into the undiscovered vastness. My sisters cry out in protest, and I want to tell them to stop feeling sorry for themselves and start feeling sorry for me instead. I’m the one dying today. I squint my eyes open and the first thing I see is blue. So vibrant and so. Big! The glimpses stolen over the past few days had revealed nothing about how far it actually stretched. I want to look more, but the onslaught of light is too strong. The second thing I notice is how soft the breeze feels on my paper skin. I think I can even taste it, fresh and bitter in this busy world. Nothing is stagnant anymore. In front of me is a familiar pair of lips. These are the lips I saw every time one of my sisters was taken. I tense as they close around my head, leaving my body dangling above the precipice. Above, the sky is still so, so blue, benevolent mother embracing the tiny, fluffy clouds, and OH MY GOD MY BUTT IS ON FIRE! I try to look down to blow on the flame, but my other extremity is already blackening and crinkling.
This is it. This is what I was born to do. I am fulfilling my purpose, dying and shedding weight like I’m on a fad diet. My body slowly turns to ashes, my soul getting sucked out of my skull. What is left of my legs floats towards the warm sun, far, so far up they disappear for good, looking like they’re starring in an Avengers movie. I am burning to nothingness. The finality of it all slowly seeps into me, just like my core sinks into the man’s lungs. And as I lay there, letting the man take what I was created to give him, I wonder… why is it so painful? I stare into the cyan of space, and all this greatness overwhelms me, and if something so beautiful could be created, then why did existing have to be so damn painful? He won’t look at me. Won’t meet my eyes. He only taps my body with his finger to shake off my charred limbs and brings me to his lips again. This man fascinates me. How eagerly he accepts the gift of me, knowing full well that I am not good for either of us. I think he hates me. How sad, to need something you hate so much. Or maybe he loves me, and I only make him hate himself. I wish I could be better than him and tell him to stop, to let go of me. But I’m not better. I’m selfish. I’m just using him to deliver me from myself. I am toxic and you deserve so much better. So, you see, it’s got nothing to do with you and everything to do with me baby. It is just then that I notice the other man sitting with us. He has one of my kind hanging from his lips. We make eye contact. It’s a nice day, eh? she seems to say. She also seems to talk like a Canadian man for some reason. I try to nod, but it’s kind of challenging because I don’t have muscles and there’s a dude making out with my tip. Too bad it’s going to end soon, she seems to go on, gazing at the sky. Are you scared? I want to ask. My sister from another factory looks at me. Her face crinkles; she wants to cry. Yes. I am scared, too. I close my eyes. A car passes by. A bicycle bell rings. The burn is eating me, one second at a time. It is excruciating how short eternity lasts. The leaves of a tree bristle in the wind. Tell me, Human, was it worth it? You have to make it worth it. If this smoke and those ashes are all I have to bring to the world, you have to make it worth it. I need redemption, too. A bird chirps, a child laughs. All of a sudden, I am flying.
I wrote this piece for this magazine. I received an email from my creative writing teacher telling us about this opportunity and that it would give us bragging rights, so of course I had to submit something. The image of something burning just to disappear was fascinating to me. I first thought about a candle because I have an Ikea scented candle right next to my desk, but switched to a cigarette because not only is its life extremely short, it’s also extremely destructive. So it was a slightly more interesting flame to write about. Evanne Moux grew up in Tahiti, French Polynesia. The twenty-something-year-old is an aspiring single mother and screenwriter, and has always loved doing all sorts of creative stuff. She lives in Southern California where she studies Psychology.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 13
House Moondrops on my Rooftop By Rebecca Haque
am the house the aged mother and her dearly departed husband built, brick by brick, hand in hand, and I saw the years of struggle, the years of hard work and laughter which erased the fleeting days of pain in the growing family’s long journey together. I grew from a small two-bedroom house to a spacious, three-storied building over a span of twenty-five years. The children grew up, married, moved away, became parents themselves, and I remember the joyful visits of grandchildren, and thrilling family reunions on days of festivity. My roof is almost three-thousand square feet, a small tennis-court, with the smooth, dark-grey asphalt surface blazing hot in the afternoon, wet and washed during rainfall, and silvery cool at night in the southern breeze, faintly luminous under the moonlight. Tonight, after the rains, the dusky cumulus shape-shifters glide across the starry sky. My roof reflects the lunar light, and the stars shine like rippling tears of mercury. My wide roof is an oasis, with large tubs of spring onions and green tomato, okra, green chilli, lemon grass and lime, all strategically placed where the morning sunrays can hit them. More potted shrubs and cacti and flowering plants are placed unevenly, away from the three rows of clothes-line on the south. On the east, a neon-lit modernist circular tower is rising fast, and on the north, I gaze at the 16-storey monolith which dwarfs my old threefloor height. From the west, the dull thud-thud of hammered rods are followed by sudden, sizzling flashes of the welder’s craft, as more towers are built to house the crowds in this city’s diminishing flatland. On the south, I see the eerie light of the moon filtered through the sprawling branches of the majestic mango tree, planted long ago by the mother on the edge of the lawn, before the first brick of my foundation was laid. It was an oblation, an offering to the Divine, a fruit tree to bless the ground where I would rise and thrive. On the corner to the right, the eastern corner, she planted a jackfruit tree, and on my western corner, she planted the medicinal neem tree. There was once another mango tree in the middle, between the neem tree and this special Langra mango tree, planted close to my southern brick face. Fate cut it down one stormy night in the month of May, a Kalboishaki night, full of ferocious rain and hail and thunder and jagged lightning. It was a mere sapling, killed by a stroke of lightning from the sky. I felt it fall against my body. I
was stung with the thought of the violent death of such a beautiful living being. Tonight, as the moondrops fall silently on my roof, I remember the little tree, and I remember also the passing of two other beautiful young saplings, sons of the daughter of the house, taken before their time. I remember the haunting wailing echoing and reverberating in my belly and ricocheting from off my roof. That time too passed, with my belly and roof filled once more with the prattle and patter of tiny feet of more toddlers, bright and healthy, offering and sharing unconditional love and renewal. Life flows, the cycle continues; birth, death, rebirth, possibly elsewhere, perhaps in another dimension. But, I am sentimental tonight, somewhat melancholy, anticipating my own demise. Sadly, with the old father gone, his sons have sold me to real estate developers, who will soon chop down the tall trees, and blow by blow, break me down to rubble. I will soon be a fading memory, enmeshed in the grains of digitally scanned photographs. The moondrops on my rooftop permeate my entire being, and in a futile rush of emotion, the cold celestial light makes me wish to live and breathe forever.
© wendhigo - Pixabay.com
Found Perspectives Magazine Submission "Inanimate Object" as "bonus assignment" on New York Writers Workshop Classroom @ Wet Ink- Writing From Inception to Publication offered by RAVI SHANKAR from 07 May- 13 May 2018. Rebecca Haque is a poet, writer, translator, Senior Professor, and former Chairperson (2009-12), Department of English, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her areas of interest (with publication) are: Shakespeare, Twentieth-century British & American Fiction & Drama, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, Film Studies, & South Asian Studies. Her academic writing falls under the rubric of psychoanalytic criticism. She received a Gold Medal for a First Class from U. of Dhaka (1980), and was a Killam Scholar at Dalhousie U., Canada ( 1990-91). Her published books are: Commencement Poems And Occasional Essays (2003, rpt. 2009), Women, Gender, & Literature (2003), and Hemingway: A Centenary Tribute (Co-edited, 2007). Rebecca Haque is also an Op-Ed columnist @The Daily Star Newspaper, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 14
The House Remembers By Roberta Feins
The Stone Laments Its Own Coldness By Roberta Feins
. Four snows after she was born – the well-fed furnace humming – Baby-Powder dropped the pink bird cup to shatter on the linoleum.
Once, I saw myself a larva, hard surface mere carapace, cocoon. Waited to dissolve inside, transform, burst: crystalline brilliant. Or grow massive, venerable moss-covered boulder carefully tended
Three marbles had already rolled behind the radiator when Pedal-pusher discovered the spitball .
among a garden’s raked pebbles. But daily I feel the wind’s erosive tongue lap grit from my rigid uniform.
After Grandmother’s birthday party the sofas gossiped for months about the rental chairs. White-Shoulders went back to teaching wearing an aqua suit pinned with silver.
Perched on a ledge, I chafe to ascend, be a guru seated high above mere cobbles. Gravity persists in tumbling me down.
The World Map in the study quickly became outdated. Radio news worried all the time.
I remained smug spring to autumn, watched the weak matrix of grass sprout, flower, blacken. Now I see:.
Everyone stood in the hall when the air-raid test sounded.
the wind which eddies my barren grit sows their seeds in the rich soil of next year. I have been cheated.
© werner22brigitte - Pixabay.com
© dimitriwittmann - Pixabay.com
I write about objects a lot. I have found that certain objects from my childhood bring back memories and elicit emotion: our house, the bedroom window I crawled into once when locked out of the house, or the clear plastic hairbrush my mother used to brush my hair (it had a red nail polish stain on the handle). Thinking about objects can simplify - they don't react back for example, or change that quickly. The poem about the stone came about because I was thinking about being a stone as a metaphor for people who are emotionally distant, and childless - myself for example. Both poems were already written and waiting for a call to submit. Roberta Feins received her MFA in poetry from New England College, where she studied with Judith Hall, DA Powell, Carol Frost and Alicia Ostriker. Her poems have been published in Five AM, Antioch Review, The Cortland Review and The Gettysburg Review, among others. She has published two chapbooks: Something Like a River (Moon Path Press), and Herald (Autumn House Press). Her first fulllength collection, A Morsel of Bread, A Knife, was published in 2018 by the Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle. Roberta edits the e-zine Switched On Gutenberg (http://www.switched-ongutenberg.org/). Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 15
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Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 16
Penny A Penny Saved By Heather Wyatt
started his life over somewhere else while Madalyn was still so young.
he house was gloomy for a while but it was not long before Paul and Lane realized they needed each other, they started talking again. Paul told stories of the war and his wife who died during the birth of Lane’s father. He knew what it was like to be lonely. One day, he pulled me from the bowl and showed me to Lane and told him how I was made and why he kept me. He always said he could have sold me, but he felt like the penny was the only thing consistent in his life. When Lane left for college, Paul placed me inside an envelope and handed me to Lane. Lane knew what this penny meant to his grandfather, so words were not necessary to express how important this was. Before I knew it, I was in a dish along with a rabbit’s foot and a picture of Madalyn. The new view was refreshing, and it was nice to see Lane growing and learning. He was a sophomore when he received a call that his grandfather had died in his sleep. Lane was devastated but came back to school, the only thing he knew to do. He thought of Madalyn often and tried new ways of finding her every year on her birthday but had no luck. He figured his father had either moved out of the country or changed their names. He promised to devote his life to it when he finished school.
heard him walking down the stairs as he had for years now. Arissa, his wife, had already left for the gym, and he was coming in the office as he did everyday for the past 20 years. Today was different because instead of passing me by like he normally did, Lane took me off the wall and placed me carefully on the desk. Lane Mastin, an aging 47-year-old man, had piercing, yet tired, green eyes. His scruffy salt and pepper hair was thinning just as rapidly as the soles of his 11-year-old loafers, and he hovered over me, showing a sentimental smile. I heard him say he was going to hand me over to his son Alex soon, because he was 15 now and could understand the story of my life. In 1943, the U.S. Mint began using steel blanks for the cents to conserve copper to use in World War II. Millions of coins were produced, but a handful of them were accidentally struck in old, bronze blanks. Since they are so rare, these mistakes are the most desirable of all mint errors. There were about 10 to 12 of these coins, and I was one of them. I was also double printed by mistake, making me the only one of my kind in the whole world. I was adopted by Paul Mastin, a recent veteran of World War II, who nobly came back to work after the war where he was employed for 17 years at the United States Mint. On that day, he set me aside and promised to keep me in honor of his brother, who died in Germany weeks before and always collected unique coins. Paul stared at me that day with sorrowful eyes for what seemed like hours. I stayed in a glass bowl for years with a few wooden nickels, one silver dollar and three two dollar bills. I remember those days. Every time the dust would double up, Paul would come in and drop each of us in cleaner quickly and return us to the jar, each time smiling at me as if I were the most special.
ane and Madalyn were 12 years apart and Lane’s paternalism was unending, making theirs an awesome relationship, and their relationship with Paul, their grandfather, was no different. Lane was thin with an olive complexion and a huge heart. Madalyn had long brown curls that centered on top of her hair bundled together by the same red ribbon every day. Lane was 15 when his mother died of breast cancer. Lane’s father could barely stand to look at or talk to Lane after that because his eyes were mirror images of his mother’s. Lane's father was never the best guy. He resented Paul for his war stories and heroic perception and was always careless and selfish with his life. He would tell Lane that his mother was the only good thing that happened to him and that he did not know what he was going to do. I remember so vividly. Lane was screaming and reaching for Madalyn as Paul struggled to keep him away. Their father was without expression as if this was day to day business. I guess it was. Madalyn's screams would cease only when she took the time to gasp for air as she extended her arms towards her brother. Before Lane's father left with Madalyn, he told them both he was sorry but that he knew Lane would be fine with Paul because they were so close, and that he thought it was best if he
t was three a.m. when Lane's roommate Phillip, a scruffy, bearded 6th year college student, came in ciphering around the room as he did every night but this night was different. Lane had told Phillip a million times not to put loose change in my bowl, but every few days a few other ordinary pennies and quarters would clink in the bowl on top of me. He was searching through all of his things looking for money, and I saw him stumbling in my direction. He fumbled through my bowl and, unable to see, he thumped away the rabbit's foot and the picture of Madalyn floated to the ground. He then proceeded to dump me and the rest of the coins into his hands and jolted for the door. His palms were sweaty, and the sound of the commotion within his palm was nauseating. He stopped abruptly and threw us in the hands of a driver waiting impatiently outside. "I'm sorry, this is all I could find," was all I heard before we were violently thrown into a cup in this cab. Everything was pitch dark and sticky moisture rose to the top over the course of the next few hours. When morning came, the driver picked us up and threw us into a giant jar. He had long hair and filthy clothes that came with a stench of coffee and old garbage. He took a nap, and when he woke up, he put the same clothes on and approached the jar with a greasy glow. With one swift motion, we were all scattered everywhere on the floor. He separated us all, and I saw him rolling all the coins together in one tiny paper cylinder. When he finally came to my pile, he gave me a second glance and then rolled me with the others.
y next memory was someone lifting me and the others that I was bound with out of a small space that we were trapped in for days. Suddenly we were lifted and then slammed down again several times
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 17
(Continued on page 18)
until the paper we were wrapped in started to break, and we were dumped back in the small space. I wasn’t sure where I was, but the open air was definitely welcomed.
eanwhile, Lane was looking for money in his change bowl and noticed that it was empty. Immediately, his heart dropped, and he began to frantically look on and around his dresser and noticed the rabbit foot and the picture of Madalyn on the floor. He looked over at the frumpy pile that was his roommate and bolted towards him and violently said, “Where is my penny?” “What?” his roommate grumbled. “I want to know where the penny that was sitting in that green bowl two days ago is now.” “Oh, oh, I’m sorry. I was so wasted the other night when I came in that I forgot I didn’t have any money for the cab, so I just grabbed all the money that I could find in here. Sorry, I will pay you back in a couple of days.” Lane was completely astonished. “Oh my God! Oh my God! You are a complete moron. I have told you a million times not to touch anything of mine, especially that penny. You know how it important it is to me, and you are gonna help me find it.” “Umm, I think you are the moron,” Phillip replied, “That was two days ago; there is no way you are going to be able to track down a penny.” “It’s possible. The penny is the only one of its kind. All we need to do is find the cab driver and see what he did with his money the next morning. Maybe he took it to the bank.” “Okay, I think your cheese is slidin’ off your cracker dude. You actually expect me to remember which cab driver I had and what he looked like?” Lane pulled Phillip’s face to his, and their noses were touching. “Not only are you going to remember—you aren’t going to stop helping me look until I find it.” “Whatever.” “Get up. Let’s go”
very 30 seconds or so, the drawer we were in would open and close and someone would reach in and scuffle around among all of us and take one or two then close the drawer again. Finally, the lady picked me up without looking and handed me to a tall man with a business suit and dark eyes. “Ma’am, thanks, but I don’t want just a penny in change. You can keep it.” The cashier smugly frowned at him and rolled her eyes. “Wow, thanks, no one ever offers me a tip. Unfortunately, I can’t take tips, so you are gonna have to retract your gracious offer.” So the man took me and held me tightly in his hand as he stood and waited for a few minutes. He loosened his grip and slowly opened his hand and looked at me approvingly as if he had found a treasure. He smiled at himself, rolled his eyes and tightened his grip again as his cell phone began to ring. Moments later, his arm flew up and his hand opened. I flew five feet or so into a fountain of water. Cold water rushed around me as I slowly made my way to the bottom. There were others around me, and
I could faintly hear the voices of children above throwing their coins in, and I saw them splash in the water above me. Soon, the commotion was over and the stillness became deafening for hours as the sky grew dark and all was quiet around. Late that night, giant feet splashed down in the water right next to me, and an equally large hand came in and out of the water grabbing coins. After about 30 seconds, I found myself in a pile of nickels and quarters nestled in the hands of an elderly man with frazzled hair and an aging tweed coat. His sad eyes sifted through his findings and he gave up. As he walked down the street, I slipped through the cracks of his fingers and landed on the ground of the lonely, damp city. Soon things were quiet again.
I can’t believe I remembered the cab driver. I am so freakin’ awesome.” These were the words Phillip exclaimed as they walked into the bank. “You didn’t remember the cab driver. He remembered you because you puked all over his backseat. I was just shocked you remembered the cab company.” “There was a picture of a half-naked woman on the side of the cab. It would have taken a few more shots of tequila to forget that picture.” Lane ignored Phillip as he walked in the bank and approached the teller. “Yes ma’am, I was wondering if there was any way you could help me. A cab driver came in here a couple of mornings ago to deposit money, and he brought in a roll of pennies. He is a tall, scruffy looking guy with a slight stench of alcohol.” Shockingly, the girl at the bank nodded in understanding. “Oh, I remember him. He said something about my breast size and then flashed me his toothless grin.” “That’s him!” they both yelled. “Believe it or not, the manager of Burger King down the road came in about 20 minutes ago needing pennies, and I gave her those because they were wet and sticky. She is a real ‘you know what’. That is definitely where they were headed.” “Thank you so much!” Lane said with a little more hope in his eyes. The cashier at Burger King delivered sad news to a frantic Lane. “So let me get this straight. You expect me to know where a penny is? Do you have any idea how many people come in here?” “I understand,” Lane said and then turned to his roommate, “Alright, let’s put up the flyers and hope for the best.” “Oh…umm…excuse me? You are seriously making flyers for this penny? Wow.” “Okay, listen, this penny is the only remembrance that I have of my entire family—not just an heirloom or trinket—it’s everything to me. So, please help me.”
he next morning, people were walking everywhere, and I saw a little girl no more than two years old with blonde pigtails and a pink dress with matching sandals approaching me. She stumbled on the curb in front of me and somehow managed to kick me up into her shoe. I was tossed around in her sandal the rest of the day,
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 18
nearly escaping through the crevices with every step she took. She finally came to a stop and plopped down in a sand box. After wallowing around for a while, she finally noticed me. She had a very peculiar look on her face, and she removed her sandal carefully and picked me up. She examined me intently, and for some reason I predicted what was about to happen. Wedged between her finger and her thumb, I was dangerously close to her face. I was given no other option but to follow her lead as she popped me into her mouth. Her mouth was warm as she pressed me and the sand between her teeth. Suddenly, like a vacuum, I was pulled down into darkness. I slid down the coarse walls of her throat, and the space only became more narrow as I descended. I was lodged somewhere in her body with no light and no movement. I was there, trapped for several moments with globs of unknown substances attaching themselves to me. Suddenly, a strong force thrusted me upward and back down again. The intensity was fierce as this small child’s body tried to remove me at least five more times. Finally, water and other particles gurgled around me, and with one final attempt, her body hurled me back up through her stomach and throat and out through her mouth onto the street. “Oh my God, Jim, she swallowed a penny! That is totally disgusting! Molly Ann Hightree, don’t you ever swallow a coin ever again! Jim, come on let’s go get her some juice. I cannot believe…” Their voices faded away as I lied there in the midst of sand and vomit. I was exhausted. Later that evening, a slow drizzle turned into a monsoon, and I swam for about a mile down the way, and the water cleaned me up. I went unnoticed for days.
ne morning, I noticed a young woman waiting outside of the hospital I was in front of and for about an hour she paced back and forth nervously examining every inch of the surrounding area. She looked to be in her early teens. She had her brown hair pulled up in a pony tail and was wearing her sunglasses on top of her head. She was wearing jeans and a t-shirt and looked flustered the entire time she was waiting. She stuck the tips of her Converse shoes over the side of the curb and as she looked down, she noticed me glimmering in the small puddle of water I had been lying in for days. Her eyebrows grew closer together, and she leaned down to pick me up. She looked me all over with a strange
fondness in her eyes, and as she heard her name called, she quickly put me in her pocket and went on with her day. That night, she took me out and gave me another look. She looked sad and yet somehow comforted with me in her hands. She carefully placed me on top of her nightstand and began weeping. Her mother came in and I heard them talking about the sickness that her grandfather had and that’s why he was in the hospital. They didn’t think it would be long before he died.
few months later, my new owner was walking her dog with her stepmother when she noticed a flyer crumpled on the ground. She opened it up and could not believe what she saw.
THIS PENNY IS EXTREMELY RARE. IT IS A 1943 BRONZE SERIES WITH A DOUBLE PRINT MISTAKE IF FOUND, PLEASE CALL, IT IS AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FAMILY COIN. REWARD CONTACT LANE 303-279-7373 She knew this was the penny she found a few months ago. She immediately ran home to dial the number. “Hello?” Lane answered. “Yes, you may think I’m crazy, but I think I have your penny.” “I’m not trying to be rude, but…” “No, sir, I know I have your penny. Where do you want to meet me?” Lane sighed as he figured this was just like all the other people that had tried to reach him. “I guess I can meet you at your house.” She gave him directions to a place he had passed so many times before. When she opened the door, both of them paused for a moment and stared at each other. “Umm, hi, I’m Madalyn. Is this your penny?”
I once read a short story from the perspective of a restaurant dish and since then, I’ve always loved the idea of writing from the perspective of inanimate objects. I actually wrote this story in college and loved it, but tucked it away without sending it out. When I saw the call for submissions I immediately knew I wanted to submit it. I’m so honored to have it in this magazine. Heather Wyatt is an English instructor at the University of Alabama and writer for the Leaf. Her first book, My Life Without Ranch, a non-fiction self-help book, is forthcoming from 50/50 Press in Fall 18. Her poetry has been published in The Marr's Field Journal, Public Republic, Snakeskin, tak′tīl, The Broad River Review, Blinking Cursor Literary Magazine, The Whistling Fire, Stymie Magazine, Falling Star Magazine, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Straight Forward Poetry, The Binnacle, OVS Magazine, The Burden of Light: Poems on Illness and Loss, Heyday Magazine, ETA Journal, Puff Puff Prose Poetry and a Play, Silly Tree Anthologies, Melted Wing, Vietnam War Poetry, Dămfīno, Writers Tribe Review, Jokes Review and Number One Magazine. She also has work forthcoming in Ishka Bibble Book of Desire from Jane’s Boy Press. She received her Bachelor’s degree in American Studies from the University of Alabama and her MFA in Poetry from Spalding University in Louisville, KY.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 19
Letter Opener Grip By Diana Engel Between her breasts I traveled, snug in a finger-long bodice pocket. After muskets boomed from the neighbor’s farm, followed by dark cloud of Confederate soldiers on the march, her calloused fingers took up needle and thread by kerosene light. My days of opening her letters, party invitations, bills, over. I had learned the feel of her palm, when nervous as a frightened dog or light as a hymn of praise, her predictable weathervane. She began to wear me, every day, under her dead husband’s clothes, to the well and cow pastures, treading in his mud-caked boots. Her infantry-like stride ripped old paths. Her heart, loyal home-bound mare. So, when the Army laid siege, the General busting through front door, meeting her eyes with a lecherous smile and raucous laugh, she proved to be as fierce as my cougar shaped handle, sent my blade hurtling into his skull. Lately letter openers have been on my mind. I recently decided I could use one to quickly open my mail. Writing about the female experience has also occupied my thoughts as I've recently realized my women-related verse is growing. I knew I couldn't realistically set this poem in the present, a time of email, Instagram, and Facebook. I wanted to create an unconventional woman who uses the letter opener for an unexpected purpose. This led to the Civil War setting and a life and death situation.
Diana Engel works as a poet, freelance writer, writing workshop teacher and caregiver. Previously serving as editor and head of two local poetry anthology projects, she has verse appearing in Asheville Poetry Review, snapdragon, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Open to Interpretation, The Gathering, fire & chocolate, Wordworks and The Visual Poetry Walk 2016.
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Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 20
Chatbot Bottish By James Penha
Writing Pen By Lorie Garver
We turn to you from another in the network of a world content to talk in waves of texts and glyphs so carelessly, so emoticonically, we know not really what we do to you.
nnoyance washes over my slender body as you shake me out of a sweet nap. You’re at it again. Today, your grip is tight and frenzied; I choke. Other times, especially when you queue up that monotonous birdsong and raindrops music, you glide me across a lined page in your journal. I can tell you’re not even aware of what you’re doing, but oh, how we dance together! I’m frightened when you bite me, often leaving a dent. I want to think it’s subconscious, but I’m not sure. The happiest times are when you pause and scribble, pause and scribble. The rich language I produce (with your help)—sensory details, strong verbs, a lovely metaphor or two—brings a delighted smile to your face and I feel valuable. We are a team. I realize I will dry up and die someday. I only hope that I make it to your first book signing and will inscribe your autograph with a satisfied flourish.
© Free-Photos - Pixabay.com © wutzkoh - stock.adobe.com
I had drafted this poem based on an upsetting series of personal miscommunications some weeks before I saw your call for submissions. Subsequently, with Perspectives in mind, I reworked and revised the draft. A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quartercentury in Indonesia. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry, his LGBTQ+ stories appear in the 2017 and 2018 anthologies of both the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival and the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival while his dystopian poem “2020” is part of the 2017 Not My President anthology. His essay "It's Been a Long Time Coming" was featured in The New York Times "Modern Love" column in April 2016. Penha edits TheNewVerse.News, an online journal of currentevents poetry. @JamesPenha.
During a recent weekend workshop with author/facilitator Sheila Bender, she assigned a quick-write for participants to personify an inanimate object from our living-room classroom space. I chose to focus on the pen in my hand, ruminating about the many ways I use it from frequent relaxed writing to sometimes tense, deadline-inspired attacks on the paper. I imagined how the pen would think and feel, and enjoyed taking the draft copy and fleshing it out for submission. Lorie Garver is the author of Alligators Attack! published by KidHaven Press, and “Cricket Spitting,” an article published in Boys’ Life magazine, and now enjoys writing memoir, essays, and flash pieces. Retired from public education and several conference and consulting companies, she lives in beautiful Sedona, Arizona where she writes, makes art and music, and teaches yoga to children. She and her late husband raised five kids; at one point, they were all teen-agers. She has a great deal of material for stories.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 21
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Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 22
Spear Spear of Destiny By Ariadne Wolf
hen the world turns, they blame me. I’m not saying I had nothing to do with it. God knows I would never say that! But God Himself does not fly down from on high to determine the fate of this planet. I do not act as his boots on the ground either. What God wants is as much a mystery to me as to anyone. Whose hands first grasped me? Was it Gaius Cassius, the man history would remember as Longinus? Or was it the Captain of the Centurion sent to dispatch Christ and the other three hung beside him, in order to complete the murders by the beginning of Sabbath eve? Cassius whose hands took me, who looked upon Christ with compassion and turned me into the most important weapon in the world. Cassius who thrust me between the fourth and fifth rib on Christ’s right side. And produced the miracle of water and blood which became the cleansing blood of the Communion, the sacrament that stands for the moment in which Christ’s blood washes mankind clean. Cassius who remade me into the Spear of Longinus. The Spear of Destiny. Cassius became Saint Longinus in that moment. And changed the fate of the world. Yes God was there. God the son God the spirit. But was God in me? Is not God in everything? God who perhaps moved Cassius, but Cassius who made the decision. Who helped save us all. Cassius blind with cataracts, present at the Crucifixion as a representative of Pontius Pilate. Cassius who began to see the instant the lance struck Christ’s side. The Gospel of John remembers him. And so shall I. Perhaps you recall the Knights Templar? They discovered me at Antioch of Ancient Syria in 1098, stumbled upon me by chance in the Church of St. Peter. And I became the point at which legend and the literal meet and intertwine, the holiest symbol side by side with the Grail. The tangible, physical reality beside the Grail’s metaphysical presence. Of the two, I am the one who can be found, in the traditional sense of the word. Many tales have been attributed to me since. Their authenticity is doubtful. Some say Constantine held me in his hands on the eve of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, on which he pledged his soul to Christianity, and his kingdom too. St. Maurice, Commander of the Theban Legion, held me when he offered his body as a sacrifice to Rome, in a failed attempt to save his legion the price of refusing to celebrate a Pagan rite. Or from harassing Christians. Or from participating in murder. In response to what is
perhaps history’s first act of nonviolent resistance, the Roman commander Maximilian murdered the entire legion. I have been linked with St. Francis of Assisi, in his missions of mercy. And Charlemagne, who held me through 47 battles and used me to rally new support for the Holy Roman Empire, then died the instant he dropped me. So they say. My story and my blade was passed down from generation to generation, father to son. Replaced as needed with a new blade, a new story. Knitted back together and made stronger every time. What is the difference between rape and murder and mass murder and genocide, when it all emerges from the brain of one man? One man who perceived me displayed in a museum in Vienna, trying to be good, trying to be a tame sort of icon. Could I help it if I tried to touch his spirit, just a little? Historians say that I have never existed and that I died with Cassius and that I have no power in this new world of science and logic. Yet popular culture is rife with references to me and I still fascinate just as much as ever. I still fascinate you. Admit it. So do not blame me for my nature, for my capacity to swing towards good or evil. For my tendency to change my face depending on who holds me in his hands. I am not at fault for the way that I was made. And I am not at fault for your own need for something more. I am that something more. And I am here to grant your wish, to dominate or heal, to destroy or to redeem. So what is it you wish of me?
I've been fascinated by the Holy Lance ever since I read Christopher Pike's The Last Vampire series, in which he describes the Lance as "the point around which the world turns." I was fascinated by the idea of a basically neutral object that can be used to put forth such great evil, or great good, into the world. The Lance has been associated with a variety of historical figures, as mentioned in my piece, and that too fascinated me: the Lance and its accompanying mythology is essentially reborn into generation after generation of Western heroes, and Western villains. I am interested personally in the power of stories to be used for good or ill, and this Lance is such an intriguing metaphor for that question. I wrote the piece initially for a project in my Craft class, but I've always known I wanted to try to publish it. I've been doing research for this project since I was twelve years old and I am by this point very passionate about the Lance and its history. I really wanted to share it with others, and I'm glad for the opportunity to do so.
Ariadne Wolf is an MFA student in the Mills College Department of Creative Writing. Wolf's work has been published in literary journals including Plot Number Two, The Mill, DIN, and others. Wolf's essay Getting Away Safe is forthcoming in the Darkhouse Press anthology Sanctuary.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 23
A Summer Wink By Darrell Petska Surely migrants from dream land, pausing to sip my sugared well, fairy wings fanningâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; these tiny, darting sojourners come to salve their needling thirst with bracing northern brews. And I? Delight's red badge dangling by a string, desire's way station fueling airy amore. How they dally with my heart, conferring soft, wet kisses while hovering at my lips. My summer is a swoon, a sway, a shimmering fancy of passing sweetness and light from which I'm loathe to wake, should sudden rift in fragile light send these fleet sprites gone.
ÂŠ Joylyn McChesnie - stock.adobe.com
I wrote the poem specifically for your magazine. We have a hummingbird feeder which we watch closely. The hummingbird season is short where we live. We associate them with summer, which thus seems to pass too quickly. Darrell Petska's writing has appeared in Halcyon Days, Perspectives Magazine, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Star 82 Review, Bird's Thumb, Verse-Virtual, and elsewhere (see conservancies.wordpress.com). Darrell has tallied a third of a century as an editor (University of Wisconsin-Madison), almost 40 years as a father (five years as a grandfather), and nearly a half century as a husband. He lives in Middleton, Wisconsin.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 24
Bird Under the Eaves By Julie Hayward-Trout
Oh, darling I love the blue thread, it’s beautiful. You’re so thoughtful,” I said as he expanded his chest flirtatiously and whispered, “I found something else you might like as well. Stay right there, I’ll be right back.” I loved when he puffed-up, it always made my Robbie look so strong and handsome. He flew back so quickly I knew he must have spotted something wonderful on his way home. “Lookie here,” he said cocking his head to one side. “I thought this soft grey fluff was a good choice. I got it from the other side of our home. You know, that place where the hot air comes out.” “Yes, I know of that place, thank you darling. It’s still warm! How very thoughtful of you. Our children will love it here!” He was always so tender with me because he knew I was with eggs, he had always had a sense about those things.” Not long after that we had our sweet set of egglings. All three, little light blue sweethearts were nestled deep and snug beneath our downy breasts. At times, while Robbie slept, head tucked under wing, I had stayed up all night excited about our sweet babies filling our home with the music of their voices. As the days went on I worried that the creatures, who lived in what I can only politely call a woodpile underneath us, would scare my children. They were always making loud sounds: slamming the ridiculously bright red planks of a dead tree, and singing songs without any idea of what a song should sound like, not to mention those whirling monotonous clanging noises of all sorts of what’s-its’ going non-stop no matter if it was light or dark out. But, by far the most disturbing thing of all was the day I saw them invite a meowing predator inside their own home! That was troubling. For the record, we were there first. The entire time we were building our home they were never there. They just randomly showed up one day without notice or warning. Well, I guess we’ve all experienced a bad neighbor or two over the years so, C’est la Vie, but really?! Anyways, it was well past the water season, probably the middle part of the flower season when Robbie stopped coming home. Part of me didn’t blame him, it did seem like a long time to wait for a family to arrive. Last year our egglings took ten days, twelve days at most to come out of their shy shells. It had been 21 times the morning came and left, not that I was counting necessarily but, I thought maybe our babies missed meeting their father so much they decided not to visit me in this world. It would break my heart to raise them without a father anyway but, I
couldn’t bring myself to leave them, and so I stayed with them. Suddenly, Robbie showed up again. He was so cute when he called out “Hey sweetheart, come watch me strut. Lookie, I got new moves. You know I’ll just keep coming back here until you go out with me again and, I’ve been thinking, maybe we just built our nest in the wrong neighborhood! I mean the way they just let that bird-eater straight into their home that’s craziness right there! Let’s go somewhere new and start over.” He started bowing his head to me like I was a princess and It worked, trust me on this one - I did not resist.
© mtruchon - stock.adobe.com
There was a precious brown bird that lived under our eaves for longer than a season. She was so fiercely dedicated and loyal to her unhatched eggs that I have wanted to write her story for a long while. I had recently learned about POV from Sheila Bender’s seminar and then, a fellow student found your magazine excepting submissions. It was the perfect vehicle for this story to be written in. It is, after all, her story. Julie Hayward-Trout is a former graphic artist, body surfer and vocalist. She now spends her time as a writer and photographer in Northern California when she’s not working with her partner in their small business.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 25
Wolf Wolf Spirit Speaks By Joan Wiese Johannes He beat me with a branch of myrtle wood, prepared to die before he’d lose a sheep. That shepherd is the archetype of good. Between his frightened flock and me he stood
among the stones, the hillside stark and steep. He beat me with a branch of myrtle wood. I doubt if any other shepherd would have been as vigilant, not caught asleep.
That shepherd is the archetype of good. He fought me to the death, as shepherd should and left my body in a battered heap. He beat me with a branch of myrtle wood. My death I understand and understood, since as we sow, so also must we reap. That shepherd is the archetype of good. But his great purpose now misunderstood, his flock has strayed, and only willows weep. They’ll hang him on a branch of myrtle wood, that Shepherd who is archetype of Good. First published in “A Time for Singing” © Pixel-mixer - Pixabay.com
I chose the wolf persona because of ideas I got while listening to a sermon about Christ being “The Good Shepherd”. My mind wandered to the familiar image of a handsome Christ robed in white with a lamb on his shoulders. This picture certainly doesn’t depict what an actual shepherd looks like! A “good” shepherd is tough and brutal enough to bring down a wolf, and probably looks a lot like his adversary. So, I started to draft the villanelle from this kind of shepherd’s point of view. I soon realized that the wolf’s point of view was more interesting because the wolf knows that killing sheep is behaving according to its nature and accepts that being killed in the process is also part of the natural order. Since the wolf dies, I needed to have its spirit be the voice in order to express the wolf’s conclusion that the behavior of the humans in the poem doesn’t fit with this natural order. I already had the poem written when I saw the call to submit.
Joan Wiese Johannes has four chapbooks, including Sensible Shoes, the 2009 winner of the John and Miriam Chapbook Competition sponsored by the Alabama Poetry Society and He Thought the Periodic Table Was a Portrait of God published by Finishing Line Press. She co-edited the 2012 WI Poets’ Calendar with her husband Jeffrey, and also collaborated with him to create a book of humorous sonnets, Happily After, which she wrote and he illustrated. She lives in Port Edwards, Wisconsin.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 26
Wolf The Lone Wolf By Gloria Sinibaldi Broken, cast away from kin, I saunter beneath a dark sky, searching for a pack, hunting, howling and hoping. Like lovers the wild and I are one. The rain, the smell of damp earth, night birds singing duets in the dark, cattails and crickets, we are fruits of the same father, crafted from the same creator; one. In the wee hours of morning winter waned leaving bone-chilling cold to fester. The prey was swift, the battle bloody. I dined while peering eyes coveted my catch from bushes beyond. But now, a kaleidoscope of light rises, illuminating the woods in all its splendor, magnificence and vitality, seeping from every crack. Sunlight drapes me in a cocoon of warmth, drying my damp and gnarled coat, softening its coarseness. In a bed of broken brushwood I awaken to the sound of river, he who sang to me in the night. “Good Morning,” he rumbles with a throaty roar, offering sustenance to satisfy my thirst. My search, not yet over, I push on with heaviness in my heart. No beast should walk alone.
I was inspired to write “The Lone Wolf” by an early morning sighting of an animal (could have been a wolf, probably was a coyote) walking past my home in Lake Tahoe. I woke up and peeked out of my bedroom window to see how much snow had fallen during the night. It was dawn. Light was trying to crest the mountains but the valley floor was dimly lit. I saw her, sauntering slowly, head down, determined, putting one foot in front of the other. Snow was flying, it was bitter cold but the animal pushed on, determined to reach her destination. Where was she going? Why was she alone? Could she survive? It was a sobering sight that stuck with me. I wrote the original version in 2010 but more recently it evolved to this updated version. I still think of her, today. She represents something in me. © Jan - stock.adobe.com
Gloria is retired from the State of California where she worked as a trainer and employment program manager. Writing, photography and walking in nature with her husband Ralph and their three dogs fill her days. She lives in South Lake Tahoe where “A Means to Survive,” a story reflecting the plight of the unemployed in South Lake Tahoe during the recession, was published by Bona Fide Books in 2012. It appeared in “Tahoe Blues, Short Lit On Life At The Lake.” Her business articles and book reviews have been published in the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Mountain News, Lake Tahoe Action, Desert Sun and Nevada Appeal. Gloria hopes one day to share with her eight grandchildren a memoir/ poetry collection of her own.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 27
© EJ White - stock.adobe.com
Memoria By Phillip Frey Hudson Laboratories Project: Memoria. Experiment No. 1,195. Conclusion: First success. Note: Neuron interference eliminated the subject's first paragraph of decoded thoughts. ~~ nother one of my favorite spots was under the dresser. It was a good place to think about things. It was there in the shadows I came to realize that people always want more. As for me, all I ever wanted was a rubber toy or a little catnip. If luck were on my side I would find a live mouse or bird to chase down. I know about people because I lived with one. Her name was Sarah. She was an actor. And so were her friends. They would come over and talk about plays and movies, and the jobs they almost got. I would watch them carefully, especially while they laughed. I came to understand that they used laughter to hide their fears. I never laugh. That's because I have nothing to hide. Things were going along pretty well in the apartment. Until Sarah fell in love. He was a stockbroker and moved in with us. His name was Sam, or Sammy to some of his friends. Whenever I heard his name, Sam or Sammy, I would think of salmon, one of my favorite dishes. During the beginning of my relationship with Sam he paid attention to me in a kind enough way. But then things began to turn sour. I got into the habit of sitting on the bathroom counter while he preened. He looked into the mirror as if he cared for nothing but himself. Whenever
Sam would catch my stare I had the feeling he knew that I saw nothing but vanity. Sam didn't like this about me, this special insight I have into people. They are unable to deceive me, and it was this that had made him suspicious of me. I didn't mind because I had made a game of it. There wasn't much else to do. During Sam's second year with us he and Sarah threw loud words at each other. People don't know anything about silence. All they want to do is make noise. That's what they dream about, making at least one big noise in the world. Sam wanted to marry Sarah, under the condition that she give up her acting career and leave Los Angeles with him. The brokerage house had promoted him. Sam would be heading up their St. Louis office. Another good thing for Sam was that he wouldn't be seeing Sarah's actor friends anymore. He referred to them as—what was it. . losers, I think it was. I truly believe Sarah loved Sam. Why she did is beyond me. It seems that the core of human love will never be understood. It was difficult for Sarah when she finally made her decision and refused his proposal. Her acting career took center stage, you might say. A week later Sam left for St. Louis. Good riddance, I had thought at the time. Poor Sarah, though. She cried for days. After a few months had gone by, things had quieted down and we were back to normal. About two weeks ago Sarah came in with the mail. "Bills—bills—bills!" she said to me. And then, "Oh— here's something from Sam."
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 28
(Continued on page 29)
his was the first time Sarah had gotten mail from him. If she had gotten any before, I'm certain she would have told me. They had been keeping in touch, though, through their computers, Sarah with the hope that someday they would get back together. She sat at her desk. I hopped up there alongside her and got comfortable. Sarah opened the square envelope. From it she pulled a fancy-looking picture with words all over it. Suddenly, she burst into tears, pounded the desk with her fist, turned to me and said, "A wedding invitation!" Sarah lay her head down on folded arms. Her weeping saddened me. I purred and licked her hand. The next day, while we were on the sofa, Sarah stroked my back and told me how hopeless things had become. It wasn't just that Sam was about to marry someone else. There was a money problem, and at 36 years old her career was still going nowhere. Soon afterward, Sarah had begun to come home late at night. She would pass by me without so much as a look, then walk unsteadily into the bedroom, where she slept in her clothes on top of the bed. It wasn't until the mornings that she would tearfully take me into her arms. Even if I could speak I don't know what I could have said to comfort her. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m the first to admit that I don't know everything. As a matter of fact, I have been a little confused lately. Any animal would be, stuck in a miserable cage, surrounded by other cages. The dogs don't bother me, they know how I feel about them. The other cats press their noses against the wires wanting to communicate with me. I have nothing to say to them. And not much else to say to you. I was taken out of the apartment last week. They found me in the shadows under the dresser. I never thought Sarah would do that to herself. She is the first person to deceive me. And the last. I have learned my lesson. Like now with you, my keepers. You think I don't know what you have in store for me. I have watched and I have listened. I'm no fool. From everything you have just heard I suppose you think I have lost my mind. Well, maybe I have. It doesn't bother me. Sarah was bothered and troubled, but not me. Yet isn't it odd how we'll both end up the same. There were times when visiting an actor friend, her cat would stare at me. A scruffy cat. I would stare back and wonder what he was thinking. The experience somehow inspired me to write the story. Phillip Frey's history includes professional actor, independent filmmaker and produced screenwriter. He is now devoted only to writing prose. His two published books are "Dangerous Times" and "Hym and Hur." Phillip Frey has also had contestwinning short stories published in anthologies, and has had the privilege of having stories published in the following literary journals: Alcyone Journal, Bindweed Magazine, 500 Miles Magazine, Florida English, The Minnesota Review, and Whatever Our Souls.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 29
Dog A Dogâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Life By Ana Vidosavljevic
eople think if we don't talk, we are less intelligent than them. They believe that our four legs, a tail, paws are the proof that we are inferior, that we can't think and make smart decisions. What proofs do they have to think that? Ah people! They think they are the best and that they know all. And all that incessant talking? But honestly, what is the point of all that gibberish? Most of the time, people talk without a purpose. At least, when we dogs bark, we do it for good reason. Either to inform others that the danger approaches, to show anger and warn the enemy to stay away, or to show that we are happy. People talk when they are bored. They spread gossips and lies and often their talks don't make sense. To sum up, they talk too much. The other day, when Tom took me for a walk, he talked to me for more than an hour. I didn't want to listen to his complaints about his job and girlfriend and so on, but he just didn't want to stop. Don't get me wrong, I love Tom. I love him more than any other man, but all that annoying bla,bla,bla. . I even tried to ask him to stop talking and to relax and listen to the sounds of nature. So, I barked for some time looking directly in his eyes, but he didn't understand. Of course, people can't
understand our dogs' language. But at least I tried to make Tom understand what I wanted. However, he thought I was hungry, so he bought a burger and gave me half of it. Well, I can't complain. It is not that I was starving, but that burger tasted heavenly. What also bothers me a lot is when people call me some weird names. Tom as well. He gave me a nice name. Apollo. But very often, he just calls me â&#x20AC;&#x201C; boy, old pal, old fella, Mr. Barks, buddy, fat guy (and I am not fat!). And then girls and kids in the park. They call me doggy, cutie (so embarrassing!), whitey, chubby. And I wonder, why do people give names to dogs if they don't use them?! Anyway, I don't want only to complain. There are good things about people. They love cuddling and petting. Just like dogs. I love when Tom comes back from work, pour himself a glass of wine and sit on the couch. Then I jump on the couch as well, sit next to him and he starts petting me. He is a very good petter. He can pet me for an hour or longer while he is watching TV and sipping his wine. And for me, those moments are the best. As you can see, it is not that I only have bad things to say about people. Far from it! I just wish they were more humble, they didn't underestimate other creatures, they talked less and they were cuddling and petting dogs and other people more.
ÂŠ balisnake - stock.adobe.com
The inspiration for the story was my dog Apollo (Bali dog) who loves to be petted. He often comes to me while I am sitting in a chair or on the couch and puts his head on my lap asking to be petted. If I don't react he starts licking my hands or legs asking for my attention. Ana Vidosavljevic graduated from the University of Philology (English Language and Literature), Bachelor's Degree, and the University of Political Sciences (International Relations), Master's Degree. She worked/works as a teacher, marketing manager, spa manager, translator, interpreter, surf and stand-up paddle board instructor. An ocean lover, Ana loves surfing, swimming, everything that allows her to be in the water. She writes poems and short stories.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 30
Dog Hope By Trish Hubschman
love nothing more than lounging on the floor and staring out the all-glass storm door. Someone has to open the big door first, but the rule around here is that it isn’t to be opened until after the mailman comes. The poor mail guy’s afraid of me and my little brother, Charlie. Sniff! What does he think we’re going to do, break through the glass door and bite his head off? Actually, that kind of sounds fun! (chuckle). The mailman isn’t the worst of it, and he drives me nuts, UPS and Fedex are. They come onto our front porch. The mailman only drives his little buggy up to the box down at the curb. I bark and bark and bark, and what do my human parents do, they tell me to be quiet and settle down. Heck, I’m just trying to do my job as Queen Canine around here.
I have to keep Charlie in line too. He’s seven. I’m fourteen. When he was a puppy, he was a real rascal. I don’t think the human parents noticed a lot of the things he did, so I felt it my duty to inform them when Charlie misbehaved. I barked and barked and barked. You know what Human Mom said? She told me to stop tattling on Charlie! Jeez, I was only trying to help! I keep them alert when something goes on outside the front door. I taught Charlie what to do in such cases also. He barks and barks and barks too. Okay, so the kid and I turned out to be a good team, as with the human parents. When I was a puppy myself, and it was just me and the human folks, I would jump on their bed early every morning and throw myself across Human Dad’s stomach. I think Human Mom was jealous. Good, she should be! I’m their Hope in life and I’m doing my job well.
c Trish Hubschman
The story was written for your magazine. Your call for submission came on her birthday. I was watching her and it just hit me: I couldn’t possibly see life as a feather duster. Trish writes short stories of all genres. She particularly writes stories involving animals. Trish has a short story published in June 1st’s issue of Cahaba River Literary Journal called The Perfect Friend, about a golden retriever named Destiny.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 31
Dog Nell on the Nickel By Gay Degani
’m drowsing on the sidewalk, my back against a cinderblock wall, four legs straight out just like I like ’em, my fur warmed by that big yellow ball in the sky. The residents of the Nickel—that’s Fifth Street on a map—shuffle on by, my tail giving a lazy wag at every familiar face because this isn’t the jungle, and sometimes one of them drops me a little taco meat, but after a while of getting nothin’, my stomach yaps like a Pekinese. Guess it’s time to head over to Grand Park. There’s good pickings once the lawyers and bankers finish their roach-coach lunches. Nothing those L.A. hotshot executive-types like better than a steak sandwich on a fresh French roll with all that garlic and cheese. My wet tongue smacks from side to side. I’m digging in a trashcan, the tangy smell of beef wafting into my snout when a cop comes along and boots me in the ribs. I whine a little and bark too, but there’s no point in making a stink since standing up to the law often means a one-way bus ride to doggie heaven. I hightail it back to the Nickel. The skinny cook at the Salvatorio Mission sometimes puts out a bowl of scraps at the back door. In the alley, Ole Brutus gnaws on a T-bone, and this irritates me right down to my very last flea. I bend back on my paws and yelp a couple of times. He doesn’t even look up. The skinny cook opens the screen door and tosses out a panful of pork fat. She spies me, nods her head, then goes back to her kitchen. I’m on that back-fat like a cat on a teat, but Brutus snaps out a nasty snarl, and I slink away, even if my stomach is as empty as a hobo’s pocket. Before I round the corner, I turn my head and throw him a “next time” growl, but he’s too busy swallowing grease to take any notice. I skulk down to Pershing Square, stopping to lick a popsicle stick, paw at a worm, then decide to try Union Station where I might be able to sneak in and prowl for dropped Fritos or those gummy things that glue my back teeth together. Cars whiz by, horns bark, and just when I get a paw on to the street, a bicyclist’s pedal knocks me in the head. I need a nap. My secret place is between an empty toy factory and the Salvatorio Mission, on soft dusty sand, hidden by weeds. Circling my spot, I run into a pair of old sneakers. Before I can skitter away, a face appears right next to my snout. It’s a pudgy face with—I sniff—chocolate around the grinning mouth. I knew a toy poodle who died from
eating chocolate, but, as we say down on the Nickel, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” When I go for a quick lick, he grabs at my front legs. I show my canines and scamper down the alley. A truck swings in from the street, charging toward me, then I’m lost in a sharp screeching darkness. My body feels like a chewed plastic bone. I wonder if this is it. The Big Dig. Three feet under in an unmarked grave or worse, the incinerator! The express train to Hound Heaven! Then I smell bacon. I whimper and lift my head to see I’m not in the alley. I sniff the pillow under me. Smells like strange dog. Don’t know where I am but sitting nearby at a table with a checkered cloth, swinging those same old sneakers, is the chubby boy, eating a donut. When he spots me, he slides from the chair and plops down hard next to me. I tremble with real down-to-my-dewclaws fear, but his sweat and chocolate mixes perfectly with the tang of bacon. Our eyes meet. A smile splits his face and he shouts, “Mama!!! She’s awake.” A gentle hand runs over my head. The skinny cook from the Mission crouches next to me, whispering, “Poor puppy, poor puppy.” The boy scratches behind my ear and says, “You’re a nice old lady dog. You’re gonna be all right.”
© Free-Photo - Pixabay.com
This story came out of a prompt, though I can't remember what that prompt was. I've always liked the story--one of my favorite childhood books was "Beautiful Joe the Autobiography of A Dog." I just loved it. So that must have popped into my head. Also a concern of mine is the growing number of homeless. I'd written another story about Skid Row in L.A. and somehow that popped in too. However, I never could figure out where to send it. .until I saw Perspective Magazine's call for submissions. My daughter has had two wonderful shelter dogs, both crazy mixes, so I think sweet resilient Nell must be a mutt. Gay Degani lives in Southern California and has a full-length collection of short stories, Rattle of Want (Pure Slush Press, 2015) and a suspense novel, What Came Before (Truth Serum Press, 2016). Her work has been nominated, long listed, short-listed, placed in several contests including Best Small Fictions and Pushcart consideration. She won the 11th Glass Woman Prize and blogs occasionally at Words in Place.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 32
Ode of a Buggy Whip By F.I. Goldhaber I Strands of leather wrapped around tiny balls of steel hang from rusted hooks forged by a smith long dead, and shimmer in moonlight, gleaming with beef drippings lovingly rubbed in by a groom not yet old enough to shave. II Swinging through the air, my crack startles the horses. They move only when I break through the sound barrier. The scent of leather mingles with earthy warm smells of straining horses, straw kicking up from their hooves, the road's dirt. III The carriage, creaking as it sways from side to side, jostles the frail woman who's shivering within, exacerbating her agony. She screams, and I cut across the horses' rumps, the sting spurs them to gallop. IV Oscar, frantic to get Melinda into town ignores the flecks of blood spit back at him as he circles me above his head to strike horse flesh yet again. He jumps down. Pounds on the door. Yells. No one responds. V Weeks later he brings me, tainted with blood, to town. The leathermaker weaves in a new cracker with a needle big as the finger bone of a child. Reeking of tannin, he glares at Oscar for harming his mares. VI Returned to my place on the barn wall hook, I wait for darkest night when I encourage the stars rushing home to relinquish the sky and herald the wedding day's dawn when a new bride will become a mother.
© 12019 - pixabay.com
I wrote the original poem "Ode to a Buggy Whip" when challenged to imagine an object no longer used as part of a workshop presented by then Poet Laureate of Oregon Paulann Petersen. I chose a buggy whip because I enjoyed the cliché, but it turned into an all-too-familiar story from its time, told from the whip's perspective. Kalyna Review published that version in Autumn 2016. When I saw the Perspectives Magazine call for submission, the concept of telling the story in first instead of third person intrigued me, so I rewrote and submitted it as "Ode of a Buggy Whip". F.I. Goldhaber's words capture people, places, and events with a photographer's eye and a poet's soul. As a reporter, editor, business writer, and marketing communications consultant, she produced news stories, feature articles, editorial columns, and reviews for newspapers, corporations, governments, and non-profits in five states. Now paper, electronic, and audio magazines, books, newspapers, calendars, and street signs display her poetry, fiction, and essays. More than 100 of her poems appear in dozens of publications. Her fourth collection, Food ♦ Family ♦ Friends, explores how those three things send us feasting, flinching, and/or frolicking through life. http://www.goldhaber.net/
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Â© Anna Dufour - stock.adobe.com
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 34
Opossum The Marsupial Rebellion By Ken Wetherington
he bright moonlight illuminated Old Roy’s body as it lay splattered across the two-lane country highway. The car had not even slowed. It struck him without consequence and left him lying on the pavement. A pickup truck, following closely, hit him again – skin, bone, and hair pasted to the road. Only his scaly tail remained recognizable. Neither vehicle took notice of the prominent, unambiguous signpost: “Opossum Crossing.” I slipped under the barbed wire fence, waddled across the field, and into the wood with a heavy heart, dreading the prospect of breaking the news to Henrietta and her joeys. Not a week went by without the community being hard hit by a fatality or two. Mostly, the very young or very old fell victim to the speeding machines, their blinding headlights making escape nearly impossible. Henrietta lived in a burrow beneath a decaying tobacco barn, unused by humans for many years. The forest had grown up around it, rendering it practically invisible. I squeezed through the entrance and found her in the first chamber with seven joeys clinging to her back. She took the news hard, wailing loudly. She would heal. All of us had learned to live with the specter of sudden loss. I promised to speak to Atticus about the situation. Most of the community blandly accepted his weak leadership, but many of the youngsters had begun to chafe at his lack of decisiveness. He wasn’t likely to take any action; however, I did convince him to call an emergency meeting of the clans.
My fellow marsupials,” Atticus intoned, “I am outraged at the wanton recklessness regularly displayed by motor vehicles passing through our domain.” Murmurings of agreement rippled through the passel. “So, I am restricting access to the highway.” The assembly groaned at Atticus’s submissive, but not unexpected, pronouncement. A collective sense of resignation settled over the gathering. Next to me, Jasper let out a big sigh. I turned my head away. His breath always stank, and that’s saying something for an opossum. He would eat anything. Omnivore didn’t even begin to describe his diet. “I object,” squeaked young Tater from his place in the rear of the pack. The passel opened a path for him. He moved quickly, relatively speaking, to the forefront. “Atticus, sir, it’s time to take some action in regard to these infernal machines.” “What do you propose?” Atticus asked. “We are not aggressive animals. After all, our chief defense mechanism is playing dead.” Tater answered with youthful passion, “I want to live, not die on the highway.” “Of course, as we all do. So, stay on this side of the highway, and you’ll live to a ripe old age.” Behind me, voices grumbled softly. I didn’t catch words. “Atticus, sir,” pleaded Tater. “Let me and my friends put a stop to the deaths.”
“How, young joey? “I’m not a joey.” Tater reared up on his haunches and spat back, “I’m full grown. I’m entitled to speak here.” “I suppose so, but if you want to be heard, you have to make more sense. You’ve had your say. This meeting is adjourned.” “Wait,” cried Tater, but the assembly had already begun to disband. The elders shook their heads at the youngster’s impertinence. Tater’s peers bristled with resentment of the old guard. The seeds of rebellion had been planted. I hoped, like Atticus, that conflict could be avoided, though the way forward remained unclear. I moved away from Jasper, thankful to escape the stench of his breath. Henrietta trod slowly toward home with her joeys clinging to her back. I cast a glance at Tater, already deep in conference with his friends. Their plotting made an ominous coda to the meeting.
couple of nights later, I lumbered across the field and took a seat on an old stump by the highway. Occasionally a car breezed by. Old Roy’s body had vanished, consumed by ravenous buzzards. A greasy smear marked the site of his demise. I hated those damn, scavenging birds, though I knew that fate awaited us all. That is, unless the coyotes got us. I wondered why humans loved their machines and speed. Slow and steady seemed much better. And why were they so enamored with pavement? They spread it everywhere. Its blight crisscrossed the countryside like a spider web in the moonlight. Their civilization produced only one good thing – trash cans. In those receptacles they discarded delicious treasures, but when they caught one of us recycling those riches, out came the shotguns. “Doc,” a voice whispered from behind me. I turned and found Tater sidling toward me. The young opossum’s eyes glowed in the moonlit night. “My friends and I want to challenge Atticus at the next meeting of the clans.” I slid off the stump and looked him in the eye. “How so?” “You see, Atticus and the other elders are… well, too elderly. They don’t take us seriously. We need help from… uh, someone who can share our concerns.” “You need an old opossum, right?” “Yes... I guess so.” “Like me?” Tater nodded, and I continued. “You’ll need more than me, but you have a point. Have you asked Beauregard? Everyone respects him.” “But he always sleeps through the meetings. He’s probably unaware of the problem.” “He’s not always asleep when his eyes are closed.” “But Doc, we’ve chosen you to be our spokesperson. The passel will listen to you. We don’t need Beauregard.” “Okay, I’ll try, but I don’t know if I can make a difference.”
espite Taters’ misgivings about Beauregard, I decided to pay him a call. He was the oldest of our clan, and wisdom does come with age,
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contrary to what the young think. The morning sun had begun to slant its rays through the foliage when I found him sleeping in his hollow log by the lake. “Wake up, Beauregard.” I gave him a shove. He snorted and rolled over without waking. I raised my voice. “Wake up now.” He grunted and slowly opened his eyes. It took a few moments for him to focus. Finally, he managed a gruff response. “Why are you waking me up at this time of day?” “Sorry to disturb your sleep, but with due respect there is an issue we need to discuss.” “Better be important, Doc.” “It concerns the danger of the highway.” Beauregard sighed with impatience. “That’s not a new concern.” He stretched and began to curl up. “Wait, sir,” I implored. “Young Tater and some of the others are plotting to take action.” Beauregard lifted his head and snorted again. “He’ll grow out of it.” “I don’t think so, sir. He’s awfully determined.” “Most youngsters are, but Tater’s a bright one. He’ll come around.” With that, Beauregard coiled his body again and drifted back to sleep. I shambled away. Perhaps Beauregard was right. With our short life span, maybe it didn’t make much difference whether a car got us this season, a predator the next, or old age the summer after that. Of course, Tater and his friends expected to live forever. They would learn. You can’t cheat destiny.
everal nights later, I found myself by the highway again. Since Atticus banned access to the road, its draw pulled stronger than ever. Was it the lure of the forbidden, or simply the sweet grapes growing on the other side, or the delicious crayfish in the creek just beyond? As I lingered, fighting temptation, the glimmer of two eyes across the roadway caught my attention. Tater sat there, a bunch of grapes between his paws. I called to him. He acknowledged my greeting and started across. Down the road, a pair of headlights cut through the night. I motioned for him to hurry, but he paused to retrieve a dropped grape. The car accelerated, oblivious to the young opossum. Tater glanced up. The lights neared, and he began to scurry, but it was too late. The sickening thud of impact stunned me. I stood there, dazed, as a lone grape rolled toward me, coming to rest on the shoulder of the road. The car zoomed by and disappeared around a bend. Tater’s broken body lay mangled on the asphalt. Deep sadness welled up within me. With nothing to be done, I made my way toward home. Atticus’s caution had been justified. It was not our place to compete with the humans. But as I shuffled along, a change came over me. My despair morphed into emptiness, and then slowly anger began to fill the void. I encountered Henrietta at the edge of the woods. She shook her head with grief at the news and then returned her attention to the joeys scrambling around her feet. Tater’s parents had fallen victim to coyotes several months ago. I sought out his younger sibling, Lillian, who first
hung her head and squeaked with anguish, but then lifted her gaze and hissed out a bitter condemnation of Atticus. I had to confront him, but I needed an ally – time to prod Beauregard again. I found him by the pond. The elderly opossum munched slowly on a field mouse, smacking loudly enough to nearly drown out the nightly chorus of crickets and katydids. He grunted an acknowledgement without looking up. “Beauregard, sir,” I began. He continued eating, a tiny mouse leg dangling from the corner of his mouth. I raised my voice. “Sir, please.” He brushed back his whiskers and finally gave me his attention. “Sir, Tater’s been killed.” The old creature seemed stunned. “A car… on the highway.” “That’s bad. That’s real bad,” he whispered, his voice barely audible. “He was so… so bright.” He dropped the remainder of his rodent and lapsed into thoughtful reflection, or perhaps confusion. I couldn’t tell. “Sir, can’t we do something?” “I… I don’t know,” he muttered. “Tater? He’s gone, you say?” Did he understand? I wasn’t sure. “That’s right, sir. He’s gone. What can we do?” “Can’t bring him back, Doc.” “Yes, I know, but can we keep it from happening to other young opossums?” “Don’t see how,” he said, in a slow voice, full of sorrow. “Must keep off the highway.” “But every season the highways take more of our domain. Soon the whole passel will be confined to living under that barn with Henrietta. We have to do something.” “Something…” His voice faded. “Yes… something. Let me think.” Beauregard lapsed into silence. Discouraged, I turned away, realizing the task was mine and mine alone. Later, in my burrow, my mind drifted, lamenting the loss of Tater and Old Roy and of the sorrow I felt for Henrietta, Lillian, and the others who had lost loved ones. I vowed to speak up at the next gathering of the passel, but a proper plan eluded me.
n the night of the next full moon, the clans gathered for council. Atticus huffed and puffed his way through a few announcements. As usual, I found myself beside Jasper, his rancid breath filling the air around me. When Atticus asked for new business, I spoke up. “I’ve been thinking about Old Roy, Tater, and the others who have died.” A rustling shuddered around the circle. “We cannot let the deaths continue. The time has come for action. Atticus, sir, I respectfully request a strategy.” “Our strategy is to avoid the highway,” stated Atticus in a measured tone. “It’s a simple and complete solution.” “The temptation is too great. Tater died for a taste of sweet grapes.” “The young are tempted. The adults have learned.” “Not so, Atticus,” I responded with vigor. Surprise buzzed through the passel. “Old Roy was no youngster.” Atticus hissed under his breath. “So, Doc, what’s your
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grand plan? How are we to stop the raging machines from claiming our young?” “Not only our young,” I replied. “Old Roy…” “Yes, yes. Old Roy… but where are the grownups to lead this adventure? And what is your plan?” Without a viable option in mind, I turned hopefully toward Beauregard. The entire assembly followed my gaze. The ancient creature slowly opened his eyes, gathered himself as if for an epic journey, and came forward with great effort. He stood silently for a few moments, and then he spoke. “I don’t sleep as much as many of you have supposed. Being old of body doesn’t mean being old of mind.” He looked around the circle. “Doc and the youngsters are right. I have devised a plan. Come closer and listen.”
wo nights later, Lillian and I, along with a dozen or so of Tater’s friends, made the trek across the field and slid under the barbed wire to the edge of the highway. The entire passel followed, settling down in the field to watch. Lillian looked both ways before crossing the road. No sooner than she had reached the opposite shoulder, a car zipped by with reckless abandon. When I saw her safely across, I breathed a sigh of relief. The youngsters and I took up a spot a little further down the road. Lillian went to work, digging furiously at the base of the “Opossum Crossing” sign. When it began to teeter, she gave the signal. The youngsters and I got behind a large, rounded stone, twice our height and many times our weight. We rolled it with great effort to the edge of the roadway and settled down, fighting back our anticipation. We didn’t have to wait long. The headlights of a car swung into view far down the road. As it approached, Lillian leaned against the signpost. It began to tilt. Then at the last moment she pushed, and it fell across the highway. The car swerved, and at that instant the youngsters and I gave the stone a mighty shove. It caught on a pebble. For a heartbeat, I thought our plan had failed. Then Jasper appeared beside me and leaned into the stone with all his strength. In the nick of time, it came free and rolled out onto the pavement. The car struck it, spun out of control, and plowed into the ditch. The driver stumbled from the vehicle and staggered into the barbed wire. A few of the youngsters reached him before he freed himself. One of the joeys sank his teeth deep into the man’s calf. Howling with pain he shook loose, the barbed wire ripping his skin. He raced down the road screaming. The man would live, but we had taken down the car. That was the first, but it wouldn’t be the last. Behind me in the field, a great cry of triumph went up. The rebellion was on!
© Kyle - stock.adobe.com
The story was written approximately two years ago in response to a prompt from a writing group. We were tasked with writing about something we had seen while driving. Having lived all my life in the American South, I have seen countless opossums that failed to make it across the road. I felt that writing from the opossums’ point of view was the most compelling option. When I discovered your magazine (through Duotrope), the story seemed like a natural fit. Ken Wetherington lives in Durham, North Carolina with his wife and two dogs. His stories have previously appeared in Ginosko Literary Journal, The Fable Online, and Ragazine.cc. When he is not writing, he is an avid film buff and teaches film courses for the OLLI program at Duke University. He may be reached thorough his web site: https://kenwetherington2016.wordpress.com/
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 37
Caterpillar From A Caterpillar to The Butterfly by Andrew Lloyd-Jones
don’t have much time, I know that, and so I wanted to say these things now, while I still can. I can feel my skin hardening, and I have found myself looking for somewhere to hang, and because I cannot assume you will know me, let me explain. I was once you. I was born, and ate, and crawled on leaves and grass and over the bright burning flames of flowers, surrounded by their perfume. I had stripes then, yellow and black and green, not the reds and oranges you know now. We moved in waves on the ground, rather than circles in the sky. But I was happy. And I want you to know that. Of course, we all know you are what we become. You are our greatest hope! That we go from ground to sky, that the leaves we eat are the means to power our flight. But some say that we enter into that shell and what emerges is not us. Some say they have seen the green shells broken open and what was inside was neither crawler nor flyer, but liquid, as though the crawler inside had melted in the too-hot sun. But I never believed that. When I was young, I knew another crawler. She showed me how to look for the most tender leaves, where to find the safest places to hide, how to shed my skin without falling to the ground. Her bands of yellow were as bright as the sun, her rings of black as dark as the night, her feelers long and graceful. I followed her everywhere. As we ate the green leaves we would talk about what we would do when we could fly. What we would see, where we would go together. But she was older, and soon she began to look to the sky, and when it was her time, she told us goodbye, and she climbed the hanging tree, and I watched her as she hung herself from the underside of a branch, as she split and peeled and shuffled off her skin, her case hardening around her. I came back to see her every day, waiting to meet her on the other side. And one day her case grew transparent, and I could see the colors inside, the reds and the oranges and the deep, dark blacks; and soon after that, she stepped out, one leg after another, her long antennae unfolding, twitching. She quivered, and slowly her wings spread out behind her, huge and fiery. How do you feel? I shouted. What was it like? Pulchritudinous, she said, flexing her wings. Coruscating. Propitious.
Her words were as beautiful as she was. But they made no sense to me. I don’t understand, I told her. What do you mean? What happened inside? She looked down at me, and I looked up at her, into her compound eyes, and I realized she was not the same. Everything had changed, not just her body. What emerged was different. She was gone. Antediluvian, she said. Jejune. And as I watched she dropped from what remained of her former body, and fluttered into the sky. Fait accompli, she said, as she flew away. I was furious. It was true, then. Nothing remained. Everything she was was gone. We were just raw materials, donors for something better. She had been beautiful to me, but now she was something that didn’t care. So I resolved that would not be the case for me. At first I stopped eating. Determined to make you suffer, make you weak, your wings pale and crooked, your antennae bent, your legs short, so that you would remember me in your misery. I starved for days at the base of her case. But I realized there was a better way. And that is to help you remember. To remember who you were. So you can find her, and remind her of who she was. What we were, together. Because my heart is your heart. My mind is your mind. So on this day, now I am gone, look for her; fly higher and further than any other, and when they ask you why, tell them, it is because we remember.
© schokovanille - Pixabay.com
I've always wondered whether a butterfly remembers its life as a caterpillar, given the radical transformation that takes place - it's one of those fascinating processes in nature that I often take for granted. So a while back, I'd started writing about a caterpillar who was afraid to transform because he was worried about forgetting his former life, and when I came across your call for submissions I decided to take another look at the idea, this time as a message from the caterpillar to the butterfly he would become. After all, don't we all need the occasional reminder of what we loved, knew, and dreamt of when we were younger? Andrew Lloyd-Jones was born in London, England and grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. He won the Fish Prize with his story “Feathers and Cigarettes”, and his writing has featured in Cent Magazine, Northern Colorado Writers' Pooled Ink Anthology, Serving House Journal, and in the Canongate collection Original Sins, amongst others. Andrew produces and hosts Liars’ League NYC (www.liarsleaguenyc.com), a regular New York-based live literary journal and podcast, showcasing original short fiction from emerging writers.
Perspectives ~ June 2018 ~ 38
Rutabaga Produce Banter By Marilyn Zelke Windau “Where’d you get a name like Rutabaga?” “Whadda ya mean “like” Rutabaga? My name is Rutabaga. I think it’s ‘cause I’m a root vegetable and someone liked me and my brothers so much, they pulled us up by our hair and threw us in a bag, huh? Ya think? Hey, you and I might be third cousins, once removed. Really, with a name of “Parsnip,” you should talk! Are you a parsimonious parsnip? Are you normal? Par? Are you a barber? Who snips? A normal barber? What? Come on! It’s ok. It’s just friendly chatter— Gettin’ to know each other. Kinda boring otherwise, in’t it? Just sittin’ here on a slant, waiting for the shower spray to hit us. I been here for three days now. Gettin’ worried I’ll end up in the 69 cent bins.”
Rutabaga is just one of those odd words and I love odd words. Many times when I write, I will make up strange words, too. At the grocery store I often look for different vegetables to try: tomatillos, bok choy, nopales, jicama, kohlrabi, rutabaga…I had written this poem a couple of months ago after being in the produce department and noticed that the rutabagas were placed next to the parsnips. The mist sprayer came on. There were withering oranges in “the bins.” I went home and wrote the poem. When I saw your call for submissions, I immediately thought of the two poems I sent you. Marilyn Zelke Windau started writing poems at age thirteen. She has had four books of poetry published, the latest being Hiccups Haunt Wilson Avenue (Kelsay Books) in 2018. She includes her maiden name to honor her father, who was also a writer. © F-Stop Boy - stock.adobe.com
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I hope you enjoyed the object and animal perspectives. Come back in December 2018 for more.
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