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“A Psalm of Life�

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist Tell me not, in mournful numbers, "Life is but an empty dream!" For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem. Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; "Dust thou art, to dust returnest," Was not spoken of the soul. Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, Is our destined end or way; But to act, that each to-morrow Finds us farther than to-day. Art is long, and Time is fleeting, And our hearts, though stout and brave, Still, like muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the grave. In the world's broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life, Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife! Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant! Let the dead Past bury its dead! Act,--act in the living Present! Heart within, and God o'erhead! Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time; Footprints, that perhaps another, Sailing o'er life's solemn main, A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, Seeing, shall take heart again. Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing Learn to labor and to wait.

“A Great Birth� by Dox Belle

Quiet. Like some Amethyst-eyed child. Swallowed, spun Deep-tongued and wild At the silver root, Shaking for the Ultraviolet fruit Of the source.

“The Tide of History� by Gary Beck

Empires rise and fall, or endure a few moments, leave a shallow mark, borders on an old map, a chapter or two in a mildewed book, recently replaced by the internet. Boundaries are remembered by fewer and fewer students of the past comfortably placed in nests of security in a university, where like their raucous kin, the media mouthpieces, they bray certainty without responsibility, without accountability, one horde telling us faster, the other telling us louder, just what we did wrong, what we should have done.

“primum est vivere, deinde philosophari�

Tamar Jacobs teaches English at the Community College of Baltimore County. Her work has appeared in Hayden's Ferry Review, and in the Dirty Napkin.

“Showers of Bread” by Tamar Jacobs


Every so often Boris gets in through Eve‘s ear while she dreams. Tonight he comes inside and watches her in a corner tangled in cobweb. She struggles, then gives up. Eve, Boris says gently. Evie honey, can you see me? He waves his arms. She doesn‘t look, but pulls free of the last thread of web and lands flat on the ground, her thin nightie billowing up around her like a tuffet. She sighs, stays on the ground. It is dark. It begins to rain. Boris clicks open an umbrella, metal undergirding beams unfurling themselves strong and sleek overhead. He walks to where his wife sits on the ground and reaches it over her, but it disappears and he‘s left standing with just the pole and beams like a tree with no leaves. This is awful, he says, not expecting her to respond, but as always disappointed anyway when she doesn‘t. Eve‘s dreamrain does not get him wet, only her. Her hands hang upturned and open at her sides, collecting crescents of water in the folds of her palms. He slinks out and stalls for a moment in the windowsill watching cars and trucks pass, feeling the movement of them thrumming the glass and rattling the pane.

Their friend Arturo had come to call some time ago. Eve made tea, and they sat in her living room facing each other. ―I don‘t like to be alone, Evie,‖ Arturo said suddenly, and reached for her hand, rubbed across her knuckles with his thumb, their two hands for a moment forming a bridge over the coffee table. Bold move calling her Evie, Boris had thought, feeling a little funny, possessive. Only he‘d ever called her Evie. Boris always liked and trusted Arturo. A kind man. Devoted always to his wife Lila before she died and through her illness, and he would be as devoted to Eve, Boris knew. But Eve had pulled her hand away and pressed her lips together and said ―Arturo. Please.‖ With such finality and coldness that she didn‘t need to say anything more. She clutched her hands together in her lap where Arturo could not reach them again, until he left. Boris is completely inert now. Even when he gathers himself up and yells, even when he does jumping jacks on her hands, she is no longer his. He is no longer hers. Life feels like some strange never-ending dream.


Their grandson Gerard‘s music would have irritated Boris while he was alive. He would have teased him about the lack of melody or range. But he doesn‘t feel the same now; he finds this music haunting, raw. It thumps through him and he can‘t free himself from the insistence of its rhythm, can‘t shake the singer‘s reedy, tortured, voice. The day he discovered it, Gerard had seemed sealed off by the tiny white drops in his ears, engrossed in this noise. Boris dived in to see what was the big idea, what was keeping him so private and contained. Boris dove deep and far, the wool of his suit scratching where his thighs used to be, his phantom toes clenching, his collection of missing limbs held in place with a fine, crystalline thread of energy. He‘d curved himself over the lip of Gerard‘s headphones and lost himself. Every time Gerard brings over the earphones now, Boris dives into them so that he can pretend the bass line is his own heartbeat. Whatever the song, he

does this. One two one two two, one two one two two. He can find the rhythm in any song and surf it. It is enough to make him briefly forget himself; he gets so hypnotized that for a moment, today, he forgets his wife in the kitchen, laying a stick of butter in its crystal box for toast. If only his grandson would share this music with Eve. It is incredible. It makes sense of the world as he understands it. It seems to know some truth he is beginning to understand. ―Gerry,‖ Eve calls from the kitchen, ―Gerard honey, breakfast.‖ Gerard stops the music and pulls the plugs from his ears, rises heavily from the soft crook in the sofa cushions. Boris rides along in the cup of his grandson‘s ear.


Gus down the block used to sit on his stoop in his undershirt striking up conversations with passers-by. Convivial, this is what Gus was. Boris was not. Depending upon what project Boris had been working on, he could slip into a pressed tunnel of focus, everything aside from his work muted. He had spent large swaths of his life quiet and withdrawn from the people around him, even Eve, consumed by finite problems he knew he could fix. Boris had sometimes been almost embarrassed to walk past Gus‘s stoop on his way home from work, to exchange hellos. He couldn‘t get his tone right. He often felt stiff, phony. He stumbled along through their exchanges, feeling bashful for no reason. The capaciousness of Gus‘s spirit, his generosity of gesture and smile, it was too much for Boris, who sometimes felt when he was looking at Gus like he was staring straight into the sun. Boris is a different person now that he is gone. These days he gets sucked into this and into that, lies on flower petals, flattens himself over the window glass at night and waits to watch the light turn the world today, the pink yellow orange ball of sun come. If he could be heard, he would ladle out his love onto Eve, onto everyone. He would ask to join Gus on his stoop.


They‘d been reading the paper. He reached for a third sugar cube while Eve wasn‘t looking, and then his arm felt heavy, and then it was like he was watching the end of a movie, black shutters closing in on the center The End until there was nothing but black, followed by just the sort of throbbing red and silver sparkles that he‘d seen before when rubbing his eyes too long and hard. ―It‘s just it was so fast,‖ Eve used to say of the moment. She said this when people asked how she was doing, as if it were an answer to their question, though it was not. Boris understood that she was not only referring to his death, but their life together. Two years became seven. They had Natasha. Natasha grew up. Left home. Got married. Had Gerard. Astonishing. He retired, and he and Eve were again alone. And then they were having tea and reading the paper, there he was, sneaking another sugar cube while Eve‘s eyes were fixed on what she had been reading behind her rectangle of newspaper. ―It was just over,‖ she‘d say, every time she told it to someone. ―I looked up and he was gone.‖ Well you know this is maybe a blessing, the people would sometimes say, good that it was quick, that it wasn‘t drawn out and horrible, you know. Just like going in your sleep, it sounds like it was just like that, and what a way to go. These people would go on to tell her stories about spouses, parents, friends who‘d suffered horrible drawn-out illnesses, examples of things to be grateful never to have endured. Boris watched these words roll off his wife, her face never breaking, a frozen surface. Boris bounces off of and into things, trying to make her feel his presence, to somehow snap her out of this stuckness. She goes through old things sometimes, his things. He hangs close hoping something in this work of sifting will un-rut her. She works down a stack of sweaters to the bottom, uncovering an ancient pack of his cigarettes. Eve takes them to the kitchen and lays them on the counter next to the stove. She fills the kettle with water and puts it on to boil. She lifts the pack and slides out a cigarette. She holds it under the teapot to light it, twirls it so all the sides catch

the flame. She pokes it through the air like a conductor‘s wand, watching the smoke draw lines and then dissipate, paint a wall of haze that spreads over everything. He feels the most horrible inability to reach her. Her pot whistles. He sifts through the smoke.


Boris built a museum when he was alive. He would arrive on site before anyone else, the air thick and chilly with dew. He would walk the perimeter and watch the sun rise over the raw beams, the bare bones of the building yet to come, until clean light spilled over everything, and it was time to get to work. He remembers those mornings making him feel a little like this does. The existential vertigo, the acute sense that he could slip off into his wonder, his sense of the edges of things are suddenly so expanded, a wildly spinning reel. There was no end then to how big his wonder at the world grew, triggered by something as simple as the way time slipped from twilight into light, at the state of things, the breath in his chest, the thought of Eve and Natasha. It could bring tears to his eyes, the enormity and beauty and mystery of life, as it brings tears to his eyes now, now that he understands a little more than he did before.


―Grandma,‖ Gerard says after he‘s cream-cheesed his bagel. He holds the salt shaker upside down, to see what, Boris does not know. The cork in the bottom? Salt pours from the shaker onto his bagel, but he does not notice. Oh Gerry! calls Boris, your bagel! No one hears. Natasha brings Gerard every Sunday for lunch. They come and then they go until the following Sunday when they will eat bagels and leave again. ―Grandma, where did these shakers come from?‖ Gerard says. Boris goes still. It‘s clear their grandson cares more to draw out his grandmother than to know the story of the shakers. He wonders how it is possible for a child of fourteen to have the sensitivity to understand that Eve might be jogged from her grief. Everyone else seems resigned to the long gray drag of her sadness. ―These?‖ Eve reaches across the table and brushes her fingers over the top of the shaker, as if she‘s trying to access her catalogue of memory through touch. She lifts the pepper shaker and turns it slowly between her fingers. Gerard smiles encouragingly though Eve is not looking at him. Boris wonders at the shaker, this finite relic of their finished life. Now that Boris is gone, he can‘t explain, tell his part, tell what the associations are that make this simple salt shaker a precious thing, tell why it deserves to be cherished. It falls to Eve now to retell. To keep their things, their private dear things, from slipping free of their associations, from become worthless tchotchke, so much clutter. The shaker Eve studies is carved from bamboo into a stylized pineapple top, jagged little daggers fanning into the room which have grown smooth from decades of Boris and Eve‘s fingers lifting them across their plates. Boris drops from his spot near Eve‘s pulse on her neck and drifts to the top of the pepper shaker, wedges himself in-between the ridges of the pineapple fan. There are flecks of ancient food here which have drifted themselves deep into the grain of the bamboo, too

small for Eve or Gerard or Natasha to perceive, but Boris can detect every molecule, every particle, and they make his mouth water, then his eyes: garlic, onions, beets, butter, salt, the long ago sum of these parts he‘s relished already. He picks them apart in his head again now one by one and he shivers, begins to reel. These shakers bear witness to decades of suppers. ―We bought these just off the beach in Cuba,‖ Eve says, her face animating. She takes her eyes off the shaker in her hand and looks across the table to smile at Gerard. ―No you didn‘t, Mama,‖ says Natasha. Until now she has been busy on her little typewriter-telephone, keying furiously into its keyboard with her thumbs, communicating with someone through notes shot back and forth across the mysterious circuitry of its technology, the inner workings of such a thing frankly mysterious to Boris. Now Natasha sets it down. ―We got them in Puerto Rico when Papa took us for your birthday. Remember that woman in San Juan with her carvings? With the donkey? Remember?‖ Eve shakes her head with more conviction than Boris has seen her strum up in a long time, though Natasha is correct. Eve is mixing up her memories. Boris knows she‘s confusing the shaker with a driftwood paperweight they‘d bought in Cuba. But Eve will not admit to any elastic memories right now. She does not want to show weakness. Boris sees that she feels watched, an eye kept on her. She knows how determined Natasha is to move Eve into their apartment, where she can keep an eye on her. While this is true, Eve has blown it out of proportion, imagines Natasha will come one day with boxes and a moving van, take Eve away without her consent, though Natasha would never do this. In Boris‘s absence, there is no one to check Eve when she gets irrational, to reason with her. Her fears linger and bloom privately, and she has become a bit paranoid. Boris sees this, but he isn‘t sure if Natasha can. ―No honey,‖ says Eve. ―Of course I remember the lady with the donkey in Puerto Rico, but these are from Cuba.‖ She puts the shaker back on the table and slides it across the table into its place, like she is making a move in a game of chess. ―I remember it vividly. We had dinner at a place where the cocktails were served in coconut shells and these shakers were on every table. When we got back to our room Papa pulled them out of his pocket. Remember? And you were inflamed when we got back to the room. You wouldn‘t speak to him for two days.‖ Natasha concedes, but Eve is wrong again. Boris‘s soul is heavy. She is remembering a different decade. She is on a different page. She‘s making a jumble of everything.


Eve‘s brother had been an experimental painter. He made a portrait of Eve some sixty years ago now; in it he‘d painted her hair pink and her dress green. ―But Theo,‖ she‘d said when he had them over to unveil it, this was before Natasha was born, before everything that came next, their whole life yet to unfurl, ―my dress was yellow when I sat for you, wasn‘t it? Why‘d you make it green?‖ Her arm was woven into Boris‘s, her body warm against him, leaning into his side. Theo had smiled an ironic half smile. ―And tell me Evie, is your hair pink?‖ he‘d said. Eve laughed. Boris had been bothered by her laugh. What was funny? What sense did it make to have painted Eve‘s hair pink? Eve was not a pink woman, not in any way. She was practical, sensual, brilliant. A brain sharp and sparkling with wit and smarts. Nothing about her was the color pink. Red, maybe. Pink was florid, preening, Boris thought with some disgust. Making Eve‘s hair pink, Boris thought at the time, rendered the portrait false, presented her essence as something it was not. ―You are a sphinx, Theo,‖ she‘d said. A sphinx, a sphinx, a sphinx, Boris remembers now, feeling particularly impotent. Now I‘m the sphinx, he thinks. I am the one no one understands. He finds himself stuck thinking about that long ago evening, about the portrait, about Eve‘s hair. He goes over it, thinking. Boris leaves the thrumming windowsill now and climbs into Theodore‘s portrait of Eve. It hangs over the sofa. Eve treasures it. Boris traces the brushstrokes of her pink hair with his feet, swirls around and around them like he is skating loops around a rink. Your hair is pink to show that the details don‘t change things, he thinks as he does laps around her

face. Your hair could be any color, your dress any color. Or you could not be wearing a dress at all, that nightie from your dream, and your heart would be the same, your soul wouldn‘t turn pink. Or perhaps it is pink to show that everything changes, everything is always changing. He whips around this pink like a bowl of cream, he whips some life into it with his feet.


Eve stares down into a book after Grace and Natasha leave. Boris hovers in its cracked spine, stares up into her face, trying to figure out if she understands at all how much she has changed. If she even notices that she is not so much actively reading as looking at the letters as they‘ve fallen on the page, dully noting their placement. Sometimes her eyes remain on a page for upwards of half an hour without turning it. Sometimes she turns the same page back and forth. Today she sits in the corner of her sofa, below the portrait of herself, and stares for hours. Boris gets into the squares of light moving over her. She sips once in a while from a mug of tea which has surrendered its heat to the temperature of the room.


Natasha brings Gerard by the following week unannounced, on a weekday; it‘s a school holiday for him, Natasha explains as they walk in. When Gerard and Natasha arrived, Eve had been looking out the kitchen window at a pair of doves sitting on the phone wire preening each other, necks going frenetically in the crooks of each other‘s wings. ―Mamushka,‖ says Natasha, ―will you come with us for some lunch?‖ ―Where to?‖ says Eve. ―Does it make a difference?‖ says Natasha. Boris hears that Natasha‘s intention is to tease, but he hears with Eve‘s ears, and hears their daughter‘s words sound a little cruel. ―Well no,‖ says Eve. ―I suppose it doesn‘t.‖ ―Mama, can we go downtown somewhere?‖ Gerard says, with his words directed at Natasha, but his eyes looking furtively at Eve‘s face. Boris is swelled with love for this grandson of his, who has clearly spoken with the purpose of sanding down the sudden edge in the air. He is something else. His ends are Boris‘s own. He has his eye on Eve. He will not let Eve hide. He goes through the air and spreads himself over the crown of Gerard‘s head like a blanket. His hair the same inky black as his mother‘s, his grandmother‘s, Eve‘s own mother‘s, a black so deep it holds inside each strand every color there is, a black so color-rich that in the right light it goes violet. It is shiny and healthy and reflects light in blazing bars. Boris is so satisfied by his grandson‘s youth, his health, his beauty. He is delighted to think of all the scores of years he has yet to live, to actualize himself, to live a life. He sees ineffable bits of his wife, his daughter, of himself, in Gerard and this warms him. Natasha looks at Gerard, looks surprised. ―That sounds good to me,‖ she says, then turns to Eve. ―Does that sound good to you?‖ she says. ―It sounds lovely, Eve says. ―Give me a second to change.‖ She stands, leaves the room. Boris slides from the top of Gerard‘s head and follows in the wake of air behind Eve. Gerard goes to the bathroom to smooth his hair. He feels the need to do this, for no good reason. He is not a hairsmoother, not a boy preoccupied with his appearance. But he feels rustled. Natasha sits in her mother‘s rocker and waits while her son is in the bathroom, her mother in the bedroom. She looks out the window and sees the two doves sitting still on the phone wire outside the kitchen window. Without warning, one flies

off. After a moment, what looks like a thoughtful pause, the other follows. Natasha watches the phone line swing in their absence, and she thinks what a long time it swings for, as if remembering the weight it had been bearing, the bodies of two birds with fluttering hearts, and hesitating to let go.


They buy sandwiches at Attman‘s and drive down to the water, where Gerard scouts out a good bench. They sit and eat quietly, watching tourists gathered waiting for the water taxi. A man in a black overcoat hovers by the meter kiosk asking people for change. A woman in a blue-skirted housekeeping uniform sits on the bench to their right, pulls a loaf of bread from a plastic bag, starts to tear it off in bits and throw them into the water, and soon ducks and pigeons and a single white goose churn over the surface of the water following the showers of bread, which are gone in no time, the frenzied birds looking everywhere for more. The woman balls up the bag and drops it into her purse, rises from her bench, and leaves. Gerard silently places his pickle spear on Eve‘s wax paper, next to the uneaten half of Eve‘s sandwich. Eve is a famous pickle lover. ―Thank you honey,‖ Eve says. ―You‘re welcome,‖ says Gerard. They sit quietly, the three of them. And just like that something happens. Something in the moment shifts something in Boris. He feels an ease fall over him, a relief, and he relaxes his vigilance, his hummingbird-like freneticism. He feels he might slide down the air like a wall and keep sliding until he reaches someplace he‘s never been before.

When they are all done eating, Gerard wants to go to a music store down the waterfront, and Eve goes with her, looking up and around the tall, poster-papered walls as if she were in a museum. Natasha waits outside. Gerard pulls his grandmother by the hand to the listening station: a row of five CD players outfitted with earphones for customers to listen to the music before they decide to buy it. A stool per CD player. Eve‘s never been inside anyplace like this. Natasha is outside sitting on a bench, doing work on her telephone. Eve watches Natasha for a moment through the front windows. It‘s sunny, and the light plays on her hair. Eve looks at Natasha and feels something warm, strokes her daughter‘s cheek in her mind before following her daughter‘s son farther into the store and being led to a stool. Gerard is playfully chivalrous. ―Sit, Grandma, please,‖ he says. Eve sits and folds her hands demurely in her lap, obedient as a child, as Gerard adjusts big black foam earphones over Eve‘s head, clicks them to adjust them so they sit firmly over her ears and don‘t jostle. Eve closes her eyes as wires flit across her face, tickling her nose. ―There,‖ says Gerard, seeming to be all set up. ―So, okay one second. It‘ll come on in one second.‖ Eve nods, amused. Boris is faintly here. But only ever so. His sigh washes over the back of Eve‘s neck. She shivers, not unpleasantly. It wakes her up, this shiver, makes her feel the swath of her skin, where it begins and ends, what it covers. Boris? she thinks. But he does not hear. She is momentarily swept into a waterfall of music, this is what it feels like: a waterfall. She listens, and for the moment, lets it all go, lets it all fall away into this strange, stirring music, trusting that Gerard will be here to scoop her up and collect her when it‘s over.


Eve hasn‘t dreamt of Boris since he‘s been gone. She‘s yearned to. She‘s lain down to sleep and closed her eyes thinking of him, willing him to come, but when she wakes up there is only the crushing disappointment that he hasn‘t. But he is here now. He is real. They are sitting on her couch. She kisses his forehead, holds his face in her hands. Honey, she says, Oh. Boris pulls her hands to his mouth and kisses the insides of them. It begins to rain. It often rains in Eve‘s dreams, but she has never been sitting in her own living room in one of her dreams. This rain will ruin Theo’s painting, she says, resigned more than alarmed. He appraises the situation, head tilted. She is so happy to see him. Come on, he says, Let’s get in. She follows him. The rain comes down. She‘s dizzy and they are together in the pink of her hair that Theo painted on a whim she never questioned. Boris is wearing his favorite sweater; he has his silver clicking pen behind his ear. Eve is overjoyed. She closes her eyes to suspend the moment, then opens them. But it‘s over, and she can hardly breathe for the emotion swelling in her chest. She lies awake in the dark of her room, a sliver of moonlight draped quiet and soft over the pillow next to hers. She lies still like this trying to orient herself. She feels dizzy. Some time passes, shadows shift over her, the moonlight drifts, and Eve thinks maybe she can see something new, something like where the edges of her life are. She thinks she can see the finished part of her life clearly. That whole thing, all those years, gone. Her life is gone. She does not know how to hide anymore, to hide at home and refuse to go looking for a new life without Boris. She knows this is what she has been doing. She can see Boris and remember him, but he is gone. Their life is gone. There is a frightening freedom in this! She closes her eyes as dawn comes, rising the light in the room. She falls into sleep. He gets in through her ear while she dreams. He knows she can‘t hear him anymore, that this window has closed now. He whispers their whole life like a prayer, whispers it out of him, so that he will be empty, the shape of everything changed.

Global Crash – Paul Holder

Global Crash blurs the lines of all techno and electronic music, not being satisfied with just one subgenre of the genre. Dabbling in techno, ambient, electronica, house, big beat, trance, downtempo, experimental, IDM, electro, chill-out, glitch, and breakbeat. Global Crash is the brainchild of Paul Holder, from Narragansett and Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Global Crash is at both times; music to make you wanna dance, and music to make you contemplate the meaning of existence.

The sole member of Global Crash, Paul Holder starting making electronic music in 1996, in different solo projects and collaborations with friends, starting off with an ambient mix tape called "Disturb the equilibrium", doing the soundtrack music for an independent play written by Jenny Hurricane, lead singer of the punk band Midnight Creeps, then moving onto his own material going under the names Ear Begin Look and Beat Assembledge. He then took a hiatus from making music around 2003. He started back up again in 2008, creating Global Crash, and has stuck with it ever since, playing out live 19 times in the past 2 1/2 years at various venues around Rhode Island, and some in Boston, Mass, and playing the 1st ever Overgrown Music and Arts Festival held in Angelica, New York in August of 2010, and various community/charity festivals and events around Rhode Island. (FREE Global Crash downloads on this page) (FREE Global Crash downloads on this page)

“The Occident Express” (section from panel #1) - oil on panel - The Root 222 Crew

“The Occident Express� Panel #1 - oil on panel - The Root 222 Crew

The Root 222 Crew is the three man art team of Deric Hettinger, Anthony Mark, and Schon Wanner. The group functions like a musical improvisational trio, creating provocative imagery simultaneously on the same canvases and wood panels. This approach combines the individual artist's three distinct artistic visions onto a new, independent, and curiously powerful creative voice. The former art school roommates began working together informally, sketching and eventually painting together at parties and informal gatherings. Ten years and countless paintings later, the friends decided to intensify their efforts, creating the Root 222 crew as an outlet for more focused collaboration. By rejecting the egotistical need to nurture and individual "style," the trio's surrender to the Root 222 ethos has allowed a pronounced fourth voice to enter their artistic dialogue. This manifestation is mysticalm mathematical, and precise; it expresses itself wordlessly and without the knowledge or intention of the Root 222 Crew members. The group's logo/sigil expresses this concept. Root 222 is about the honest expression of collaboration and the trust and willingness to allow such a process to occur.

“The Occident Express” section from panel #2 - oil on panel - The Root 222 Crew

“The Occident Express” section from panel #9 - oil on panel - The Root 222 Crew

“The Occident Express” section from panel #6 - oil on panel - The Root 222 Crew

John Grochalski’s poetry has appeared in Avenue, Thieves Jargon, Outsider Writers Collective, The Lilliput Review, The Blue Collar Review, The ARTvoice, Modern Drunkard Magazine, The American Dissident, Gloom Cupboard, The Chiron Review, and Opium Poetry. His column ―The Lost Yinzer‖ appears quarterly in The New Yinzer His book of poems ―The Noose Doesn‘t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out‖ is out via Six Gallery Press, and his chapbook ―Glass City‖ is out on Low Ghost Press. For more info visit -

“we are alive” by John Grochalski

i hear the morning people talking outside of my window the morning people with their cigarettes and coffee and they are alive and we are alive even if there is nothing in our guts at the moment even if we are caught in meetings in horrible jobs with no hope in debt because it takes so much money just to pretend to be average we are still alive as the cold wind blows and the rain moves in as the months and seasons change again waiting for the economy to rebound waiting for politics to work waiting for religion to die waiting in vain we are alive and they are alive the news will always be bad the world will never get it right humanity has had it wrong from the start and mahler will never rise john lennon will stay mortally wounded in our minds but they are alive somehow and we are alive too

you are alive reading this or just sitting there watching the hours die in a polite fashion alive if for no reason at all then to rise and hope to do it all over again.

“stainless steel” by John Grochalski

this morning goddamn it with you getting on that train traveling two hours to the city for another fucking job just so we‘d have money to live again it nearly tore me apart i‘m sorry the twenty-five resumes i sent out never took and the one place i interviewed with never called me back i‘m sorry the jobs don‘t want me and i guess i‘m sorry that i don‘t want them just as much but that doesn‘t mean it doesn‘t hurt to see the way it always rests on you so i promised i‘d be a good boy i‘d find a couple of jobs online i‘d sit and write some poems and try my hardest to stay away from the booze so that i was decent enough to come and pick you up at the train station tonight

well it‘s 4:10 p.m. i‘m drinking scotch and i‘ve been drinking beer off and on since nine in the morning the jobs are all dried up again today and another letter came in the mail saying thanks but no thanks but at least i‘ll have this poem to show you a marked improvement over the way i‘ve been living something art, solid, like stainless-steel but not nearly as beautiful as you behind the train glass leaving this morning. yeah for better or worse i‘ll have this poem

“street of one hundred american flags” by John Grochalski

street of one hundred american flags hanging off of red-bricked houses standing erect from the antennas of cars street of oil stains on top of battered tar street of japanese sports utility vehicles lining the sidewalk street of old men in rocking chairs, sucking on cigars, fat on the american dream street of mexican day laborers making beautiful green lawns in the hot summer sun street of endless strollers, carrying endless, wailing babies street of dumb kids twittering their thumbs

on the corner with nothing better to do street of the failing school system street of the healthy joggers with bad hearts and high blood pressure street of cigarette butt mosaics street of plastic bag acrobats street of drooping lilacs and anemic maples street of crushed beer cans and starbuck‘s cups street of old women drinking coffee under a pale blue sky suffocating on carbon dioxide street of brown weeds and dead bees street of skinny stray cats fighting people for food street of ancient chinese nomads collecting bottled water bottles for-profit street where the taxes are paid early street of the rising national debt street of organic cellular cancer waves street of the most, immaculate holy failure street of dead snails baking in the sun street of merciless, limp-cocked unions street of bank propaganda street of one-eyed hooligan tea hurlers street of one hundred american flags hanging off of red-brick houses muting color fraying in the light wind.

“Flight of the Jellies” - Amanda Edwards

“The Selfish Giant� - Amanda Edwards

Amanda Edwards - Stained Glass Mosaic Artist, was born in Morristown, New

Jersey in 1975 and grew up in a small town in Connecticut. She created her first mosaic in 2004, and quickly the glass arts consumed her artistic time. She is a completely selftaught mosaic artist and gets her inspiration from the natural world, human emotion, and curiosity. It is not unusual for her pieces to be inspired by dreams.

“Autumn Tree” – Amanda Edwards

“Seagull” - Amanda Edwards

Terry Brown (October 1982) is a writer from the Twin Cities. He is a graduate from Normandale Community College and is an English major at the University of Minnesota. Brown is currently working on his novel. His writing credits include the Paper Lantern. More of Terry Brown work can be read at –

“Dead Beat Collectors” by Terry A Brown

I still can‘t figure out why the hell I took that job. I buckled under the pressure of trying to meet my goal at my last collection job. I say goal very lightly, because if you don‘t keep up with your goal by the end of three month ramp up, then you might as well start looking for another job. During my three month, all I heard was, ―Sir you are a dead beat debtor and you need to pay your bills.‖ Or, ―Ma‘am have you ever been sued before?‖ or my personal favorite, ―Sir you signed a breach of contract.‖ Three months, I heard that over and over. I couldn‘t bring myself to speak to a customer like that. As a result, I did what I always do. Quit. Yep in the last year, I had quit five jobs. Still, I can‘t figure out why I took this job. I was offered a position at a place similar to this place called _____ and after I some research. I decided to not show up for my first day. For a while, I worked at a camera shop in the mall at minimal wage and minimal hours. I‘d never had days off when I needed, I actually had days off on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. In any case, I was becoming desperate for a more steady position because my wife and I really needed money. With her in grad school and I‘m taking a hiatus from college, money was a luxury that was running short. I spent this morning interviewing for two jobs in sales and the afternoon applying for work on the internet. Then the phone rang. ―Hello?‖ ―Hello, may I speak with Ethan Martin?‖ There was silence, and then I responded, ―Who calling?‖ There was another awkward silence. It reminded me of the calls I used to make at my old job. Then she responded, ―Irma. Is this Ethan?‖ There was another pause and then I spoke, ―Ethan speaking.‖ ―Screening your calls, that‘s a sign of a good collector.‖ She paused for a second and continued, ―I‘m Irma Robinson at _____ Recovery Network. I pulled your resume up and I wanted to discuss a position with you, if you are interested.‖ I didn‘t remember sending her my resume but the thought of a full time job was too tempting to pass up. ―Yeah…‖ I responded. ―I see you worked at ____ Services.‖ ―Yes ma‘am.‖ ―Well ____ Services is like kindergarten. Here is where the real collectors work. Are you interested in an interview?‖ ―Sure.‖ ―How about today two o‘clock.‖ She proceeded to give me the address and the call ended. I took me about two hours to find the place that was tucked away in an old office building on the Riverside. I had to call and get directions to the place. Turns out, the phone booth I called from was across the street from the place so I didn‘t bother to move my car. I couldn‘t be sure that I was in the right place when I entered the office. The office was the size of an apartment living room with desks lining the wall, all equipped with computers with boxed monitors. Irma‘s desk was right there in the center of everything. At any given time, she could hear every phone conversation at once. She was the manager or boss but her cloth didn‘t reflect that. She had on a long dingy tee shirt and jeans

with holes in them. Her hair was un-kept and everyone in the office looked like a (male, female, black or white) variation of her. I was definitely over dressed for this interview. Everyone briefly looked at me and continued their phone conversation. The room was saturated with everyone yelling. I overheard one conversation, ―Hello, This Donna Wilson, I‘m calling to speak with the employee of ______‖ there was a silence, ―I was contacting you to get permission to do an interrogatory with her. This has to do with an honesty issue.‖ I wasn‘t used to this type of environment. I never spoke directly to employers. ―Ethan.‖ Irma stood up and shook my hand, ―I see you found us.‖ ―Well, I did get a little lost but I found the place.‖ ―Follow me.‖ She led me into an even smaller room but it was just as crowded as the previous room. Then I dawned on me this place smells really bad. I tried to ignore it. Perhaps I would get used to it as time pass. ―Have a seat.‖ She said as she sat across from me. ―Well Ethan after reviewing your application, I rate you a B+.‖ ―B+?‖ I questioned. ―Yes, I grade every resume and I hire anyone who has over a B+.‖ She said with a smile, ―Like I said_____ is kindergarten. This is where the money is made.‖ ―Really? How so?‖ ―There is no ramp up like those pussy little collection places.‖ She was speaking with excitement, ―You make 50% of all fees collected after $7000. You see Lizzy?‖ ―Yeah?‖ ―She just paid cash for a brand new 2007 Porsche.‖ I raised my eyes to pretend as if I was interested. ―Yeah, last week. Brand fucking new.‖ ―Wow.‖ ―I think you have a nice phone voice. If you are interested we‘d like to hire you.‖ ―Yeah, I just need to give my employer two weeks notice.‖ ―That‘s fine.‖ She smiled and continued, ―If they don‘t seem to care, just say bye-bye and you can start in the fucking morning.‖ I thought Irma has a fifthly mouth. Perhaps I should have taken that as a hint. Day 1: Training day (the only one you get) Against my better judgment, I came to work dressed in shirt and tie. I believed you can arrive come to work over dressed. That day, I learned otherwise. I arrived 30 minutes early because I wanted to make a good impression. Once I entered the room, I saw Lizzy sitting in front of her computer making phone calls. She examined me for a moment. Then she said without a smile, ―You must be Ethan.‖ ―Yes, Good morning.‖ ―Good morning.‖ She responded. ―You can sit by me until Freddie gets her. You worked at _____ huh?‖ ―Yeah.‖ ―Yeah, I worked there about 7 years ago. I was the highest grossing collector there one year.‖ ―Oh.‖ I said. ―Yeah, you want to hear a call?‖ ―Sure.‖ I said She proceeded to dial a number. Her message was a little disturbing, ―Hello message is for ______ ______. This is Bethany James. I need to speak with you or your Attorney of Record at _____). I noticed Elizabeth Jones on the nameplate by her desk. Who the hell was Bethany? The first time she made a right party contact was downright terrible. ―Hello, Mr. _____. This is _____ Recovery Network. I am calling to inform you that your driver‘s license is going to be downloaded into the State of Texas for supplying us with a bad check.‖ I only heard her end of the conversation. She continued, ―Well that is not my problem you need to make arrangements or you‘re going to owe (three times the balance) and not including legal fees.‖ She was silent for a moment. ―Like I said, that is not my problem. You supplied a bad

check to ____ Advance.‖ Silence. ―Have you been arrested for writing bad checks?‖ I was wondering whether or not she had jurisdiction to ask such a question. If not, I know several laws that were broken. ―Well Mr. ____, I‘d been divorce three times and I had paid my bills. You know what you are worthless. Pay your bills you dead beat.‖ She hung up the phone and said to me. ―What do you think?‖ ―What about the Mini-Miranda?‖ She looked puzzle for a moment, and then responded, ―We don‘t have to say that because we send them a notice with that information included.‖ She had a half smile as if she was fooling herself with that answer. ―By the way, this is not _____ Collection Services; don‘t wear a tie in here; that‘s corporate shit is not going to get you anywhere. The only thing they see is results.‖ During that first day, I overheard Irma take a collection call. ―Yeah sir, we are going to call your work every day. We are going to blow up your shit till we get paid.‖ Day three: Collection day I was only on the phones for two days but I was already on probation for low performance. I thought that I was going to get by being nice but after every call Irma reminded me, ―Ethan if you want to keep your job, then, you need to do better than you‘ve been doing.‖ Irma sat at my desk as I made my next call. ―Don‘t use your real name either. Use a dunn name. Make one up now.‖ ―Mike Frasier.‖ ―Good that sound like a good lawyer name. Now get your notes out. Go through every part and don‘t miss a step.‖ She placed a microphone on so she can hear the entire conversation. ―Remember act like this your office. Don‘t let them bully you on the phone.‖ She adjusted her headset and said, ―Now dial.‖ I was hoping no one would pick up. My hopes were quickly shattered after three rings. ―Hello?‖ ―Hello, my I speak with _____?‖ ―Speaking.‖ I briefly looked up at Irma and she quickly pointed toward the script. I picked up the paper and continued, ―My name is Mr. Frasier. I am calling on behalf of ______ Advance. Your file has been placed on my desk for review. I‘m calling to let you know that your Driver‘s license has been downloaded in the State of Georgia system for supplying a bad check.‖ ―What a minute I didn‘t write a bad check.‖ ―You took a payday loan out with ____ Advance and the funds were not in your account on the due date.‖ ―Yeah I know that but that doesn‘t mean I wrote a bad check.‖ ―Yes ma‘am you…‖ Irma tapped me on my shoulder and pointed towards the scripts. I continued, ―Well if you don‘t pay this balance by Friday, we will upload the information into The State of Georgia system and then you will be responsible for $2547.94 along with legal fees.‖ ―Now wait a minute I ain‘t got that kind of money.‖ ―Well Ms. ______ you knew you had to pay this money back when you made that loan. That was back in January and they still haven‘t been paid.‖ ―That‘s because…..‖ ―Let me be honest Ms. ______, I really don‘t care why you missed your payment. I‘m contacting you to let you know that we are taking steps to collect on our money.‖ ―What the hell you mean you don‘t care. I can‘t pay right now.‖ ―Have you ever been arrested for writing bad checks?‖ Silence. ―I don‘t owe 2500 dollars and I can‘t afford to go to jail.‖ ―Well at this point, we need something to put a stop to the proceedings. How much do you have on the original balance?‖ ―I have about $150‖

―Well ma‘am we can‘t stop it for less than half the original balance of $500.‖ ―Well I ain‘t got it.‖ ―Well, I suggest you contact an attorney and put some money aside for bail.‖ Irma tapped on my shoulder and smiled. I made an arrangement with her but I felt like crap. I broke damn near all of the FDCPA and she praised me for it. It got easier after the first time. I was making more contacts but I wasn‘t making any more money than I did when I was being nice. Irma kept telling me I was doing a good job and keep on dialing some of them will pay soon. Day Four: Day Four By the end of the fourth day, it was becoming increasingly obvious that I was being sucked into this collector‘s world. One lady called and said, ―I was under the impression I could take out a loan in 24 hours.‖ ―Ms. ___, it shows paid in 24 hours. You can take out another loan in 7 days.‖ ―That is not what you told me.‖ She tried to make her voice sound proper, ―You said if pay today, I could take out $500 in 24 hours‖ ―Ms.____, I never told you no such thing.‖ (Bold face lie) ―Sir you lied.‖ (The truth) ―Well, if you paid it in the original time frame, this would not an issue.‖ ―You know what? Thank you, sir.‖ She hung up the phone. I bit lips and watched the phone for a second. Then, I hung up the phone and continued dialing. Day Five: The meeting I had only collected money on two accounts this entire week. Now, I was concerned about my job. Frustration had set in. Now, I had become belligerent with the debtors I contacted, ―Mr. ____ you need to pay your bills and stop being such a dead beat.‖ ―I‘m not paying this bill; bring me in front of a judge.‖ He said. ―Mr. ___, you are pathetic.‖ I and continued, ―Have your bail money Friday if this bill is not paid.‖ I hung up the phone. Before I could dial, Irma came in with a red folder and tapped one of the collectors on the shoulder. He looked up and they both walked out the room. After a few minutes Irma came in and told us all to take a 15 minute break. Once we returned, his desk was cleared off. Either she had moved him or he no longer worked there. My anxiety grew worse. Later that day, Irma held a meeting. She repeated pointed to the board, ―What the fuck is going on here?‖ Everyone was silent. ―No one collected a single dime today except Lizzy and Freddie. What the hell?‖ Lizzy frowned and said, ―Look, I hear some of the calls. I hear some of yall not following the script.‖ ―Yeah,‖ Irma looked at me, ―I hear your calls you are getting it but where is the money.‖ She looked at one of the people across the room, ―And you. You are quiet. Too quiet.‖ Looked around the room, ―This is not fucking customer services.‖ She looked at the empty desk in disgust, ―10 year‘s experience and didn‘t collect anything in two days. Please…‖ Lizzy spoke up again, ―If you don‘t like being nasty on the phone then you shouldn‘t be applying for collection jobs.‖ Irma directed her attention back to the group, ―Ya know, I can go back to when it was just Me, Lizzy and Freddie, we was making a lot of money, a shit load of fucking money. Maybe we need to go back to that.‖ After the meeting, I took a deep sigh. During lunch, I called my wife from my car and said, ―Sweetie, I may not have a job by the end of tomorrow.‖ Friday, I arrived to work knowing this very well this was my last day. I was on the phone for three hours and had the same results. Around 11:00, Irma told everyone to take a break before I left the room. She tapped on my shoulder and said, ―I need to do your review.‖ I knew it wasn‘t time for my review after one week. She brought me into the lunch room and sat me at the table. She opened her notes and sighed, ―Well Ethan, tell me what happened.‖

―I don‘t know.‖ ―Well Ethan, it is like this. My boss is not happy with your performance. I wanted to know what I could have done better for training purposes.‖ I wanted her to stop wasting my time so I just said, ―Maybe it is best I do not work in collection.‖ ―I agree, at least this type of collection.‖ She looked through my notes, ―What did you do at ______.‖ ―Well you know I was only there for four months. I never really did anything there.‖ ―Hum.‖ She looked over my notes, ―Well my boss is not happy and I‘m just going to go ahead and let you go. Go ahead and clean your desk. I don‘t want to embarrass you or anything.‖ ―Well Irma, thank you for the opportunity, I‘m just sorry it didn‘t work out.‖ I reached out and shook her hand. She looked at me as if to say, ―That is exactly why you just got you fired.‖ But she didn‘t say anything. She just shook my hand. However, I knew the truth.

“Baby Detail” – Erica Femino

“Ode to the Fattest Cat� - Erica Femino

Erica Femino is a Boston-based artist and a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Primarily she is a painter, but she also creates films, installations, and sculpture.

“Trust in He (Trust in We!)” - Erica Femino

“Alleluia Time” - Erica Femino

George Moore's poems have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, North American Review, Colorado Review, South Jersey Underground and have been nominated six times for a Pushcart Prize. His recent collections are Headhunting (Edwin Mellen, 2002), poems exploring the ritual practices of love and possession, and an e-Books, All Night Card Game in the Back Room of Time (Pulpbits, 2007). He has a new collection of poems coming out with Salmon Press (Ireland) in 2012, including "At the Dali Museum," that was published last year by SJU.

“Architecture Across Cities� by George Moore

What if it were all in ruins? The night only a glimpse of future streets. And out of the tallest remnants of civilization, glass cuts steel, animals attempting to fly, nothing survives without wings? What image of the final devolution would we get, a gift from the enemies of your country? What do you see in the act of revenge for which every small town must admit its guilt? Who made the world so small it could sit in the right hand of a god, and not be a speck of blood on the open heart? When you walk do you slide or step over the dead, along mirrored sidewalks that stare up at the soles of your feet? Do you catch a bus or does it catch you with its fragments of shrapnel and bone? Which walls keep out the flies and mosquitoes in the house the dead? What if the stairs were never meant to be climbed?

How do we get out of this architecture of questions, the rhetorical names you wear when they pick up the children like fallen fruit? Where do you live that you are not part of the things others do? Was it you, standing on the street the other day, looking through a window into the empty darkness of your own room?

“The Writer’s Appetite” by George Moore

Sitting down to eat, the writer believes the food invisible, the service translucent, the table itself only the parallel surface of an alternate universe. The poem‘s hunger‘s so great that it would eat this world, but its jaw is wired shut, and it must be satisfied with life through a straw. The writer lifts it gently like a great soufflé likely to collapse at the slightest real sound. After the meal, the things that are left, the scraps of meat, the over-steamed carrots and broccoli, the crusts of indelible bread, are secretly scraped off the table into the poem, waiting patiently beneath the silk cover‘s edge. But these are illusions, for the poem hungers for much more. It chews its way through the flesh of things, gnaws on bones that are not yet dry, on eyes that are not closed, chews up and spits out the last thing someone has said, perhaps in a rage, in love, or in-between the ribs of a bad feeling, nestled next to a regret, bolstered by some sinewy strand of halffailed redemption. Like the cigar the writer now smokes, the poem breathes waste entering and leaving a place, it throws out cans and drops wrappers like a child, blind to the world it damages. As the writer moves toward sleep, the poem hides in the bathroom dreaming of bulimia, disgorging itself in the mirror of its hunger, before images of the blind and deaf, all those who famish for its satiety. But the poem cannot be anything else. It cannot begin again, cannot back out into the world of wishes unfulfilled. In the end, it starves, unable to be a simple thought, or to be a single word echoing in a cave, as when it was born. It remains an ache in the stomach and loins, a ship in the brain, a single, translucent beam of light exposing a table set as a banquet for others.

Christina M. Rau is a professor of English at Nassau Community College and the founder of Poets In Nassau, a reading circuit on Long Island, NY. Her poetry most recently appeared in Dark Sky Magazine and River Poets Journal , and she is the guest co-editor of the forthcoming 2011 Long Island Sounds Anthology. She loves moonbeams, puppies, and of course, sarcasm

“In The Gap Between The Two” by Christina M. Rau

Brush stroke after stroke until the clot block the arm from moving any more. This is the hazy gray area, the deep gorge, the humbled abyss, the scenic roadside that chisels and circular saws can‘t jump, ink and rope can‘t fully join, torches can‘t fill with light of fire no matter how white it glows. Stroke brush after brush spatters out with saliva and lye— in the difference there‘s either motion and lyric or the cold blank stare and incoherent mumbling of a gray-haired head, unaware of cancerous lesions on a calf. On the surface, sunlight matters. At the edges, paleness bleeds. From the bottom, if there is one, bubbles up steam, mist, vapors, fog, whatever else looks like smoke but doesn‘t harm. That‘s the middle that has no bridge, tunnel, or span of transport. That‘s where trolls and rats and billy goats lie, steal, and commit adultery, fraud, and embezzlement, where Vivian sisters fight naked warlords deep in green forests, where through a door, a hole, a loop, we climb without knowing.

Vivekanand Jha is a poet and research scholar from Darbhanga, Bihar, India and is doing a Ph. D on the poetry of the noted Indian English poet Jayanta Mahapatra from Lalit Narayan Mithila University. He is son of noted professor, poet, and award winning translator Dr. Rajanand Jha (Crowned with Sahitya Akademi Award, New Delhi). He is the author of four books of poetry: Hands heave to harm and hamper, Spam: A Satire on E-Sex, Songs of Innocence and Adolescence, My Poems Falter and Fall and Time Moves Clockwise Only. His works have been published in P&W, Literature India, The Adirondack Review, South Jersey Underground, and Carpe Articulum Literary Review.

“Cut-throat” by Vivekanand Jha

Man, chief justice of animals, To dictate stringent sentence‘s On their innocence Punishment in all cases And it will be no less than death, Only nature of death will differ As per the belief And religion of human beings. In the name of religion, Divide men themselves Into different factions, Scapegoat their scriptures For their own atrocious activities. Even in sentencing slaughter Some say we are kind As we prefer to eat The meat of those animals Whose throats are Chopped off in one go Thus making their death Only momentary painful. Some say we believe in brutality As we prefer to chew The mutton of those animals Whose throats are cut Slowly and steadily Thus arousing pain And tantalizing them for death. They take enjoyment Of peculiar and bizarre Song and music, Emanating from the animals, Gasping for death, And thereby relish Nibbling the tallow and sucking the soup Inside the shank of the wholesome And palatable flesh and bone.

Untitled (Jan 15) - graphite and crayon on paper - Melanie Ducharme

“Symbols” - 2011- acrylic and oil pastel on chipboard - Melanie Ducharme

Melanie Ducharme has been exhibiting her work since 2001. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in graphic design and letterform from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and is studying for her Master‘s in art education at Rhode Island College. She is an artist member of Gallery X, a cooperative art gallery in New Bedford, and she is a contributing member of the PopIcon and Cocktail Club podcast –

“Pained” - graphite on paper - 6 x 8 1/2" - Melanie Ducharme

X-ed Out - graphite and crayon on paper - 9 x 12" - Melanie Ducharme

Untitled (Jan 17) - graphite on paper - Melanie Ducharme

Andre M. Zucker was born in the Bronx, NY. He has lived in Burgos, Spain, Kharkov, Ukraine and Casablanca Morocco. He is currently completing his first novel "Generation" which an adventure that takes place during the Ukrainian economic collapse. Andre now lives in Antwerp, Belgium where he works as an ESL teacher.

“Pop Music” by André M. Zucker

The morning of that day Amos, took a dozen roses and placed them on his cutting board. He held them tight so they wouldn‘t wiggle free from his hand. He cut the bottom of the stems at a diagonal angle, wrapped them in paper and received a twenty-dollar bill from a customer in a blue suit. Amos handed him the flowers and was reaching for change when the customer stopped him. That was Amos‘ tip for his work. It was 10:30 on another of these hot August mornings. By the midmorning concrete was already boiling, fewer birds were in the sky and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was falling faster than the day before, which was to be expected. Six months of New York City living had Amos selling flowers on Wall Street in front of the 2 and 3 subway lines. He moved up from Maryland looking to fulfill his dreams of being a Broadway star. It never happened. The mass financial hysteria of the summer made it that theaters were dark and actors were to be found at unemployment offices. His role as a flower salesman was supposed to keep him funded, clothed and fed for the long, hot summer. The man in the blue suit looked at Amos with a face of shame. He loosened his tie and spoke. ―I‘m buying these because… because… I‘m sorry. I believed the algorithms! I didn‘t mean it!‖ Amos didn‘t know how to handle this display of regret and hysteria. He turned his back and returned to the pits of Wall Street. Yesterday that same man (whose name is unclear) had bought flowers thrice. Time over again, the same men and women in suits and business clothes were buying flowers. All of the clients were stock brokers, bankers, hedge-fund managers and other affluence doing fine while the rest of the world spun deeper into fiscal oblivion. Birds were dying in the sky. Amos showed up to the stand at 9am of that day with the opening bell of the stock market. He drank coffee from a blue paper cup, his brown hair was a mess, his eyes were blood shot and he commuted over an hour from the outskirts of Queens. Iris, roses and carnations of the flower stand moved like a commodities market. Amos scanned the morning paper for auditions. He passed time listening to a radio while looking over the grey concrete. The sky was a little less blue and the city got hotter with each passing day. His only relief was Rita Lee, downtown‘s ice crème truck driver. Another came and asked for flowers, it wasn‘t even 11am. The radio next to Amos played beautiful pop music waiting for noon, the end of the crisis and a better world. Another bird fell dead from the sky in front of his flowers while the customer was paying. The man took his flowers and looked at the dead bird on the pavement. ―Poor bastard,‖ Amos said as he approached the carcass. The banker placed his flowers beside its corpse. He then ran towards the New York Stock Exchange. Amos picked the dead bird off the hot concrete. He placed it unceremoniously in a trash can. It was the third time this week it happened. As he walked back to the flowers for a brief second, Amos saw himself as a child throwing a football back and forth. He blinked and it was gone. The economy was mid-nosedive when Amos first learned how to properly name, cut and wrap all the flowers that were sold on his beat. That was in May. These were not connoisseur flowers; they were for people picking up flowers on their way to somewhere else. Some bought flowers on their way to the nearby hospital, others were bought by couples visiting the inlaws, and of course birthday flowers. Mother‘s Day was a good day for Amos‘ business, Father‘s Day was not. With the economy and mass unemployment sweeping the city, people couldn‘t afford to bring flowers into the

hospitals or share them with loved ones. The hospital and birthday business disappeared in the first few weeks of the summer. By the end of June, only stock brokers, bankers and hedge-fund managers could buy flowers. Strangely, in the beginning of July Amos sold more flowers than he did in both May and June. The clientele kept dropping but the same people kept buying flowers over and over again, eventually more than once a day. At first Amos didn‘t notice, but as the market had shrunk, faces repeated in the heat. Noon of that day came around and Rita Lee‘s ice crème truck turned the corner. The vehicle seemed to have ridden in from Brazilian Carnival. The truck was radiating Os Mutantes music, which could be heard up and down the block. Black and white photographs of Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, and Brasilia covered the entire exterior while pictures of the green Amazon vegetation wallpapered the inside. The truck got closer, the pop music got louder and even the photographs came alive inside of their boundaries. The sky brightened to the blue it was intended to be, the grey pavement would have a new greenish tint and Amos would literally be about three inches taller. He never figured out how this could happen, but he went with it. Amos approached the truck, and with each inch, New York faded away and the world became brighter and vivid. A step and then another until the world looked like it was made of overexposed film. Rita Lee waited for him inside her own personal universe. All was motion and colors bleeding into each other. He saw Rita Lee inside the truck with her hair wrapped in colorful fabric, sunglasses and white undershirt that had ―Teologia da Libertação‖ written across it. The song blasting from the truck was a Brazilian pop classic and she was dancing to the music without a regard for Amos, ice crème customers or the universe as a whole. Amos was right in front of the truck, and that meant that New York City did not exist anymore, there was no more grey concrete, theatre industry or Wall Street. There were only beautiful colors, sounds that came from Brazil, Rita Lee; and perhaps a griffin or a sphinx flew by, Amos wasn‘t sure. With New York gone, he started dancing. Rita Lee kept dancing and the song seemed endless. Fast guitars, samba hand claps, psychedelic electrics and harmony made the pop music. ―There is no financial crisis inside of my truck,‖ she said as she danced to the Brazilian music. ―We have all been emancipated from the banks here.‖ When Rita lee first appeared, she only brought the divine feeling of listening to Brazilian pop music, but when banks started folding and the sky started to dull, she provided colors. When homelessness and unemployment swept all of the city, state and country, she provided the psychedelics. Now that birds were falling dead from the world above us, she removed his consciousness from how horrible reality had become. Amos kept dancing to the music and suddenly realized that New York City had returned and he was standing in front of his flower stand holding a cone of vanilla ice crème. ―It always ends without warning,‖ he said and saw another bird had died while Rita Lee‘s truck turned onto Broad Street. The dead birds started after three banks folded in two weeks. Millions of people lost their homes and money and it seemed the birds of New York City had given up on life. There was no pattern; they would just fall from the sky anywhere. It was disturbing to the newly unemployed and the families facing foreclosure. The Wall Street entities at first pretended it was nature regulating itself, as if the life of birds was a privilege. But the heat of August grew stronger and the bird carcasses were dispensing a pungent odor that started to eat at Wall Street‘s sanity. When a man wants to apologize to his wife or girlfriend and not tell her what he‘s sorry for, he buys flowers, colorful ones. That‘s where Amos‘s job came in; he was a merchant of cynicism. The markets fell and people around the world were starving to death. Americans, Irish, Ukrainians, Bolivians and so many others were impoverished by Wall Street. Victims of hysteria. Consumed by guilt and their own sense of humanity, Wall Street would buy apologies from Amos… without ever admitting its crime. Each pedal of a flower was a failed attempt at atonement. All the money in the

banks could not deny the undercurrent of humanity that runs through every person‘s veins. They knew they had done wrong; they had harmed their fellow man for profit. The birds pushed them over the top; they wanted to apologize but the forces of capitalism would never stop, and all those human beings in the pits of finances now wanted to pay penitence. Amos again picked up the dead bird and placed it next to its fallen brother in the garbage can. His mind drifted and he saw himself again as a child in Maryland throwing the football. He saw a euphoric smile on his face each time he threw and caught the football. He stared at this vision trying to figure out why he was seeing it. Again, it disappeared. His soul was crushed selling universal apologies. He was meant to sing and dance on a stage, not clean up dead birds and help people who wronged the planet. Infidelity never bothered Amos much, but now with the birds dying in front of him, he couldn‘t take it. The summer kept getting hotter. At 3:15 of that day, a stock broker came to Amos holding three dead pigeons and said, ―How did this happen. We believed the algorithms! Please give me $50 worth of any flowers you have.‖ He gave Amos the money and walked away without taking his flowers. The bill felt and smelled greasy. Amos looked up from the bill and saw that Wall Street looked like it hadn‘t slept in weeks, disheveled and lost. They needed more flowers, more atonement, they needed Rita Lee. It‘s easy to forget that these monsters that prayed for destruction were once like him, once human. There was a moment when they could just smell a flower and not see a commodity. The collective soul of the financial institutions (not just Wall Street) was trying to break free, but they were too far gone. Somebody needed to save Amos from this world. Amos was only getting a daily fix of Rita Lee; the alternative reality of ice crème and psychedelics was wearing thin. He needed to join her, he need to stay in the world that she and her ice crème truck followed. He said out loud at 4:45 of that day, ―Give me a world without money; give me colors, pop music and birds. I‘ll pay for it all with this street.‖ That next day Amos decided to escape the financial crisis. He was done; his humanity was starting to break through his skin. He couldn‘t help them anymore. Stocks and analyses were an imaginary religion to begin with; the system had just managed to take reality down with it. This world was created by numbers and circumstance, not by people. He had never spoken to Rita Lee because the hallucinatory world was too strong for him to form words. It always ended with him standing in front of his flowers holding an ice crème cone. The next time the ice crème truck came around; he would talk to her and see how far she could take him. And right at the stroke of noon on that next day, he heard the pop music of Os Mutantes. Rita Lee‘s ice crème truck was approaching, the colors were changing. He saw her and started to take slow steps, savoring the feeling of New York disappearing. ―Take me with you,‖ he said. ―This truck will travel throughout the cosmos delivering color and music,‖ Rita Lee replied. ―Pop music.‖ Dead birds sprung to life and flew out of the corner trash can. ―Get me out of here! I don‘t want to ever sell flowers again! Please… wherever you come from… wherever you are going… take me there! I hate this financial meltdown. They cheated on us!‖ Amos grabbed the side of the truck and he felt the energy of the truck course through his body. He fell onto the pavement, which had turned into grass. He looked at the sky and saw himself as a six-year-old boy throwing a football. Amos shook his head, surprised to see himself show up in the hallucination. He stood back up onto his feet. Rita Lee looked at him from deeper inside the hallucination. ―Everything you need to know is behind you,‖ she said, and Amos turned around and saw himself still throwing a football.

―I don‘t want to be a part of them.‖ ―Pay attention to him,‖ Rita Lee said, pointing at the little boy throwing the football. ―What is he saying?‖ He put his hand on the ice crème truck. Rita Lee nodded and Amos climbed into the green interior. There were never any photographs; he was standing in the middle of the jungle, he felt it‘s humidity. Standing eye to eye with her, Amos realized he had no clue if her name was really Rita Lee. It just fit. The sound of the pop music became overwhelmingly clear, the truck started to move and Rita Lee was more human than she had seemed before. He saw New York City move before out of the window. She suddenly had six arms. He passed the boroughs; he passed the East and West side, the lost dreams of Broadway and the evil of Wall Street. He heard chants. ―We believed the algorithms!‖ But those voices faded. The truck started to speed up and the pop music became faster. And in that final moment as the truck sped up and the colors blurred into beauty and the music played for the sake of inter-planetary grace, Amos saw himself as a little boy playing catch with a football once again. He saw his father throwing it to him and he saw his six-year-old self throwing the ball back. The music became clearer, each harmony more divine. The colors unified with Amos‘ soul, and he realized the one thing… that one thing... that they had all missed; the financial markets missed it, New York City didn‘t understand it, all the flowers in the world would not clarify that one idea that six-year-old Amos understood so clearly throwing that football in Maryland. It was always more fun… it has always been better… to the throw it away and catch it again. It was never worth holding onto it.

Clinton Van Inman is a high school teacher in Hillsborough County, Florida. He is 65, a graduate of San Diego State University and was born in England. His recent publications are, Tower Journal, The Hudson View, Winter 2011, Inquisition Poetry, and to name a few. These poems are included in future book called, ―The Last Beat,‖ as he believes ―we Beatniks are a dying breed.‖

“RABBIT FOOT” by Clinton Van Inman

I bet you never knew How lucky you‘d become As they chopped your paws off And painted them blue To make a nice little Key ring out of you, You lucky charm, you. Don‘t think we‘re really mad But just the same Our eyes are now fixed on Some bigger game Than your little paws, Like ivory tusks and tiger teeth, Alligator skins and eagle claws Perhaps someone will do this to us one day When they reach out from outer space Perhaps we too will be their lucky race?

“DIANA (MOON)” by Clinton Van Inman

Drag your white skull beyond blind seas that tumble dazed to you mono-eyed magic. Go tell Neptune when the night is through. Charm him, too, with your waxing and waning. But you can‘t catch me with those veiled half smiles. Your borrowed brilliance exposes you. I know your darker side. Go charm some other star struck rhapsodist.

“hairy beach” – Phil Musen

“Bacchus” – Phil Musen

“Finding a Pond” – Phil Musen

Phil Musen -

“dwelling” – Phil Musen

“Snowy Nymph” – Phil Musen

John Grey has been published recently in the Talking River, South Carolina Review and Karamu with work upcoming in Prism International, Poem and the Evansville Review.

“LOVE AND FEAR” by John Grey

The fear propositioned him. For all the allure of its soft sheets, it told him, "you might catch something and die." The terror was in the dark streets. The dread was in the bedroom. His panic handed him latex but whispered "not even this may be enough." There were women everywhere but every one of them was fatal. One could love him to death. One could ask for the money up front, while killing him in the background.

“EDUCATION” by John Grey

No one said anything in particular though everybody spoke at once. I listened intently, heard everything. So now I'm a know-nothing, taught by experts.

Hillary Tiefer has taught at various colleges and her scholarly essays have appeared in The Thomas Hardy Journal and in The Jane Austen Society—Southwest Newsletter. She has a short story published in Descant 2009 and another forthcoming in Blue Moon Literary and Art Review.

“A BAR OF GOLD” by Hillary Tiefer

Anne Elliot was twenty-seven and still without a husband, but I knew Jane Austen had hope for her -- more hope than my mother had for me. If Persuasion was like Austen's other novels, a happy ending awaited her heroine. Just when I read that Anne at age nineteen had been persuaded by a meddling family connection not to marry a dashing young man, I heard a woman‘s soft voice, more like a squeak, say, "Excuse me." I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked up and thought I saw a gnome -- a French gnome -- because she wore a lavender beret, tilted sideways on her white hair. The combination of her dazzling blue eyes, pink dimpled cheeks, pug nose, and her shortness -- the unfortunate consequence of her humped back -- made me think of a gnome. In reality, she was an old woman in her eighties who had come into the store as innocently as any other customer. "I apologize for interrupting your reading,‖ she said. ―Whatever it is, it must be delightful." She leaned over my shoulder to see the title. said.

I stood and showed her the front cover, displaying a sketch of a wistful Anne Elliot. "Persuasion by Jane Austen," I "So it is." She smiled, revealing teeth too perfect to be her own. I placed the book on the metal folding chair where I had been sitting. "How can I help you?" "Well, dear, if it's not too much trouble, I'd like a pair of lace panties. Size eight. I've taken a liking to lace lately."

"I'll be happy to show you what I have." I found the small ladder meant for library use and placed it against the wall of shelves filled with boxes of woman's apparel of every size and taste. "I'm sorry to put you through so much trouble on my account," the woman said while I ascended a rung. "I do this all the time. We don't have enough space to lay out all the merchandise on tables so I take down boxes on request." "What I mean is, I'm sorry to take you away from your book. You seemed mighty engrossed in it." "Oh, don‘t apologize about that. The customers come first. I just read in my spare time." I lifted a box labeled Fruit of the Loom Fancy and another, Vanity Fair Lace-Trimmed. After I descended, I placed both boxes on a table displaying camisoles. While I opened the first, she leaned on her mahogany cane, watching with as much excitement as if I were opening a treasure chest. Then I opened the other. She removed a pair of panties from the latter box and held it up to the light, examining the lace rose pattern surrounding the wide waist band. "I like these." "Pretty, aren't they?" She nodded. "It's settled. I'll take them." about?"

I was folding them into white tissue paper as my mother had instructed me, when she asked, "What's the book

"It seems this English gentleman who likes to indulge himself has gotten his family into terrible debt. But he has a wonderful -- sensible -- daughter Anne who remains unmarried at the unheard of age of twenty-seven because she was persuaded years earlier that it wouldn‘t be prudent to marry a young man not quite settled in life." "A wonderfully complicated tale. You think that book is something I'd like to read?" "I know nothing of your tastes. Do you like Jane Austen?" I asked, hoping not to put her on the spot. I could tell she was thinking hard. "Have you heard of Pride and Prejudice?" Her eyes lit up with recognition. "Of course I have. Olivier was marvelous in it. And so was Greer Garson. What chemistry they had together."

"If you liked the movie, I'm sure you'd like the book. Do you read stories about English society from the early nineteenth century?" "I most certainly do," she answered. "I tell you honestly I'm not impressed with our day and age. We‘re living in a tasteless century." Her tone of conviction surprised me. She moved closer to me. "Please, dear, write the author's name and the title for me on my receipt. I'll show it to my librarian." "I'll do better. If you can come back tomorrow, I'll lend you my copy of Pride and Prejudice. You can have this one when I'm done." I had never seen such a wide grin on such a small round face. Could it be that Edith was a gnome after all? She then took my hand in her soft, warm one. "I‘m Edith Finley. What‘s your name, dear?" "Sarah Barton." "`Sarah,' what a lovely old-fashioned name. Sarah, I'd be most happy to come tomorrow and borrow your book and I promise to take good care of it and return it as soon as I'm done reading it." That is how my friendship with Edith began. Later that afternoon my sister, Rhoda, entered the store, followed by my niece, Daphne. ―It‘s not exactly booming in here,‖ Rhoda said. ―Mom‘s complaining the store's sales have plummeted this summer.‖ ―So why don‘t you take over and charm the customers?‖ I said. I had offered to take my mother's place at her store for the duration of my summer vacation while she recovered from a back injury. She resented me ever since. ―As I‘ve mentioned before, I‘m a full-time mom and Daphne needs me to chauffeur her everywhere.‖ ―No I don‘t,‖ Daphne said, while her face was buried in a book. Rhoda had complained once that Daphne was becoming like me -- a bookworm. We even wore the same style wire-rimmed glasses. She flashed a paperback before me. "You'll love this one. Vietnamese folk tales." It had been years since I read my favorite story, Cinderella, and had already lost faith in fairy godmothers. I leaned against a counter, stacked with t-shirts proclaiming in red letters, I‘m an Old Fart, and said, "I don‘t believe in fairy tales." "It's a folk tale and it's worth hearing." She flattened her book on top of a t-shirt. "There's these two brothers,‖ she began. ―One is selfish and takes all his parents' money after they die, while the other is left only with a star fruit tree and is very poor. An eagle comes and for several days eats fruit of the tree. Even though the owner of the tree relies on selling the fruit to live, he cannot deny the eagle. Well ..." She stared at me for a moment then lifted the book, as if she had no intention of continuing. "Go on." "I don't want to bore you." I knew she was teasing me and I wasn't in the mood. "Please go on!" She giggled, enjoying my response. "Well, after letting the eagle eat day after day of the fruit (since he couldn‘t be ungenerous) the young man finally tells the eagle that he‘ll need whatever is left to sell at the market or he can't survive." ―That's a wise move," I said. "I guess he‘s not a pushover after all." "Actually, being a pushover turns out to be a good thing in this story, because he‘s rewarded: the eagle leaves him a bar of gold that sets him up for life. As for the selfish older brother -- he was robbed and left penniless." "That‘s what you call a fairy tale,‖ I said. ―Real life is very different." But though I wouldn't admit it to Daphne, I liked the little tale. Rhoda lifted a black negligee from a box on a low shelf. ―Mom said I could take one of these.‖ She pressed it against her stocky frame. ―Howard will be all over me tonight.‖ I couldn‘t imagine her plump husband making the effort. I‘d only see him sprawled on his recliner while watching television, a beer in one hand, a sandwich in another. ―And Mom said you should take one, too.‖ She fluttered her eyebrows. ―You can wear it for Mike.‖ ―Excuse me? Who‘s Mike?‖ ―Mom‘s been panicking ever since you turned thirty and has been bugging me to fix you up. To get her off my back, I gave your number to one of Howard‘s car salesmen -- Mike.‖ Before I could protest she grabbed Daphne‘s hand and fled the store.

As my lunch hour was about to commence the following day, I entered the fitting room and changed into a clinging jersey top over plush pink athletic shorts, hoping to get in forty-five minutes of exercise at Northeast Fitness Center across the street. I was also not averse to meeting one of the young executives from Liberty Savings and Loans who used their lunch breaks to glorify their bodies at the club. At the storefront window I was just about to change the sign from OPEN to CLOSED when I saw Edith, holding a sack and handbag in one hand, and leaning on her cane with the other, as she hobbled up the street toward the store. I knew then I wouldn‘t be exercising, nor would I be socializing with a future husband. I tried to suppress my disappointment as I left the sign as it was and hid my duffel bag behind the rack displaying swimsuits. I opened the door for Edith and as she stepped through the threshold she handed me a plastic Macy‘s sack. I expected the returned panties to be inside, but instead I removed an aluminum foil package shaped like a bread loaf. "It's my banana bread,‖ she said. ―Everybody I know is crazy about it. So I baked you some -- as a way of thanking you for the book." I regretted having felt even a tinge of annoyance. "That's so nice of you, but totally unnecessary,‖ I said, smiling. She sat in my metal folding chair and took several deep breaths. "I'm not as young as I used to be." She placed the cane beside the chair and plopped her handbag on the dusty floor. "Nothing in life is necessary, dear. We do what we do because we want to." When I began opening the foil, she said, ―It's fresh out of the oven. I came as soon as it was cool enough to wrap." I pulled off a piece with my fingers because I had no knife and was anxious to eat it -- not only because of its fame, but because it was to be my lunch. I wouldn‘t be having yogurt and fruit salad at the fitness center's concession. "This is delicious,‖ I said. ―Let me give you a piece." "No, no!" she insisted. "It's for you. Anyway, I'm a wee bit diabetic." Just then the door swung open and a customer entered the store. She immediately demanded a triple D cup, size 40 bra, preferably red, and definitely with "pizzazz" -- as she put it. Edith remained quiet while I moved the ladder against the shelf holding boxes of "full-figure" bras. While I searched, the woman, who was so obese that her body blocked the aisle between the racks and tables, said, "I was pleasantly surprised to see the store open. A friend told me it was closed from noon to one all summer. I thought I'd try my luck since this happens to be my lunch break." I glanced at Edith and said, "Most days I do close up around now, but lots of times I stick around here to eat my lunch." I stepped down the ladder, holding a box spilling over with bras for buxom women. ―You can take as many as you want to the fitting room." My mother only allowed customers to take one at a time because occasionally they came braless and left well-supported without paying a cent. But I wanted a chance to talk to Edith about the novel. "I'm sorry if I took you from your lunch," Edith said, when I handed her the book. "You did no such thing,‖ I lied. ―I rarely go out for lunch." "You should leave sometimes. I'd be very happy to make you lunch. I live just a few blocks away." "I'll take this one," the woman said, holding the bra by one of its straps and letting it dangle in the air. Edith patiently waited while I rang up the sale in the register. But when the woman left, two more women entered. Business was booming! Seeing the futility of any conversation now, Edith lifted herself with the help of her cane and said, "I'll come fetch you tomorrow, dear -- at noon. For lunch." She left before I could reply. But I couldn‘t have told her that I‘d rather spend my lunch break at Northeast Fitness Center. I turned to the two new customers. "What can I help you with, ladies?" As tired as I felt at six when I closed the shop for the night, I made my way to the fitness center's room with exercise equipment. I chose the stationary bicycle -- the least demanding piece of equipment -- saddled it, and turned the knob to the slowest speed. No one else was there except a gray-haired man, sweating profusely while on the treadmill. All the young executives had apparently left for home in the suburbs -- there was no point in remaining in Philly longer than they had to. Considering that philosophy, I climbed off the bike and headed for the locker room. I would go home, too. Home for me was my one bedroom garden apartment in Upper Darby. As soon as I entered my apartment I heard my phone ring. ―Hello, um, this is Mike Phipps,‖ said a husky voice on the phone. ―I‘m a salesman at Downtown Ford. I work for your brother-in-law, Howard.‖ "I hope you like crepes suzette," said Edith sitting across from me at her dining room table, covered with a lace tablecloth.

"I love them," I said, which was true, but I couldn't help calculating mentally the amount of calories I was eating and how much aerobics I would have to do to get rid of them. But sitting at Edith's elegant table and eating from her delicate bone china plates with their pretty violet pattern was worth it. I enjoyed the ambiance of Jane Austen's world. Though the dining room and the adjoining living room were decorated more in Victorian style than Regency, the mood felt the same, and Edith's love of lace was evident throughout: lace partially covered the purple velvet sofa, lace doilies topped the ornate round tables with pedestal claw legs, and two lace-covered lamps stood on top of each table. Even the festooned purple drapes were trimmed with lace. I did notice, however, that the upholstery and drapes were slightly faded, wornlooking, yet I surmised they were not antiques -- just old, like Edith herself. The only item to testify to the twentieth-first century was the small portable television perched on a metal TV stand, but it seemed merely an anachronism. "I'm enjoying the book, dear," said Edith placing down her teacup. "That Mrs. Bennet is quite a pushy mother. Poor Elizabeth." "Mrs. Bennets still exist in the world," I said. "You really think so?" "My own mother will go to all lengths to get me married. Some mothers worry that their kids will land in jail or out in the streets. Mine worries about me becoming an old maid." I immediately regretted my words: I may have insulted Edith. I had no idea if she was an "old maid." With subtlety, I glanced at her little left hand and was relieved to see a modest gold ring on her finger. "I didn't marry until I was forty-two," she said. She sipped some tea and, after placing her cup down, leaned toward me and smiled. "Just imagine how my mother felt? She wasn't the type to force a marriage on anyone. Not on me or my brother. But when I went past that infamous number of forty, she was so worried she decided to take matters into her own hands by calling on friends to help. They‘d send some very unpleasant men to my door, either widowers or worse -- those who could never attract a woman." I swallowed my luscious, fattening crepe then said, "I‘m experiencing the same thing, only my mother bugs my sister, Rhoda, to get me dates. Thanks to her, tomorrow night I have a date with a car salesman who works for my brotherin-law." I now gulped my tea wishing it was something alcoholic. Edith daintily wiped her lips with her cloth napkin. "I, myself, never did like a fix up -- and I refused to date a man not of my choosing. Nor would I ever try to force one person on another." She looked at me with twinkling eyes. "If I wanted a man and woman to come together, I would let the two casually meet almost as if by …" She struggled for the word. "Serendipity." She seemed pleased with herself. ―Actually I was just about to succumb to an arranged date with a tailor, whose wife died after falling down the stairs, when serendipity saved me: I met my Henry. Henry Finley owned an upscale haberdashery in Center City. No store like that exists today. He was a rare gem." She sighed and I knew she was having sentimental thoughts about a man no longer living. "He was fifty-eight when I met him and also a widower. I had been looking for a decent tie for my brother, Maurice, who was starting a job as a bank teller. Since Maurice had no wife and my mother was no help, I came to his rescue. Henry picked out for me the most beautiful tie I had ever seen. Maurice probably still has that tie. You can imagine how surprised I was when Henry came to my parents' house and asked my father permission to take me out." She pointed to her hump. "I didn't have this hideous deformity in those days, though I confess I never stood completely erect. Henry didn't care. He was the kindest man you'd ever want to know. He died eleven years ago – and I do hope to join him before long." "You shouldn‘t say that." "My dear Henry once said to me, `Don't be too sad, Edie. I'm going with dignity.‘ He died that very day.‖ She lifted her teacup, but before she drank she said, "And I intend to go with dignity, too." "So you had no children?" She placed down her tea cup so abruptly tea spilled into the saucer. "Of course, I did -- do! I have the most wonderful son in the world, Arthur. It took awhile, though. He was one of those change of life babies." She stood, and grabbed her cane. "Come on. I'll show you a recent photo of Art." I rose and followed her to a marble-topped buffet table. It contained photographs of three distinct people at various ages: a mustachioed older man, who, she immediately informed me, was her dear Henry, herself at various ages, and one family portrait of the three, Arthur being a small boy proudly holding a Jedi sword. She lifted an ornate silver frame and pointed to the man, who looked like he was still in his thirties, clean shaven, and revealing a shy smile. "This is Arthur. He sent me this photo six months ago. He's in Japan." "He lives in Japan?" As if by instinct, I was disappointed. "Oh, no. He travels all over the world. He's a computer whiz for IBM. A real troubleshooter. He solves problems across the globe." "Does he ever take his family?" I asked as innocently as I could.

She looked curiously at me and I felt shamefully exposed. "I wish I could travel, dear. But these days walking to your shop is as much as I can manage." Then she spurted out a laugh. "Oh, you must mean does he take his family. No, he's not married. He hasn't quite met the right girl yet." Irrationally, I was relieved. "You must miss him," I said. "I do very much. Besides being brilliant, he has every bit of his father's kindness and charm. He‘s as good as gold." She turned herself around with her cane as if she had done a pirouette. "Come. Enough of a mother's bragging." When we returned to the table, she said, "As for bragging, your mother ought to have as much praise for you." "She would sing my praises endlessly -- if it would get me married." "So, dear," she said, sitting at her place at the table, "what has happened to the older woman who used to work at your store? The one who never smiled. Was that your mother?" "Yes. And it's her store, not mine." I sat down, too. "She hurt her back lifting a heavy box, so I offered to take her place. It's just for the summer. I teach English at Benjamin Franklin High School during the year." She nodded. "Yes, of course. That suits you much better." "By the amount of sales this summer, my mother would agree!" She looked at my empty plate. "Let me get you another crepe." "No, thanks, I'm full, really, Edith." "All right, but you must come to lunch again soon." I did return soon -- the very next Monday. Edith had come for me and when I asked if we could perhaps plan our lunches together beforehand, she slowly shook her head. "No, dear,‖ she said. ―It's best we don't make plans. You see, I'm never quite sure ..." She hesitated. "Never quite sure that I won't be too tired on one particular day or another." To my surprise she was also not tired on Tuesday and Thursday. Both days I had to cancel meeting with my friend Suzy Kohler who I had promised to join in a game of racquetball at the fitness center. Suzy had told me that most of the young executives preferred this interactive activity to the stationary machines, so we should prefer it, too. Again on Friday Edith came to the store, out of breath and standing by the door, her cane in hand. I knew she had prepared another elaborate meal. I couldn‘t refuse her: she was lonely, counting on me to fill a few hours of her empty life. Anyway, I rationalized, most of those young executives at the club were probably already married, with pretty young wives decorating homes in the suburbs and diapering babies. But I confess: I did resent having to call Suzy with the news that I was canceling for the third time. Suzy's response was predictable: "What are you telling me? You rather go to lunch again with that old lady? Who's she planning to fix you up with, a fellow octogenarian?" She let out a chilling laugh. "Listen, Sarah, get this: being thirty doesn't exactly turn men off -- I mean you don't have to find a guy who's already senile to live with you." She was shouting now: "Thirty isn't that damned old!" She hung up. Perhaps she had taken this as a personal affront: she was thirty-two and very close to her thirty-third birthday. I was relieved that Edith, now resting on the folding chair, was far enough away from the phone, not to have heard Suzy's hysterics. "I'm ready," I said, feeling that there was perhaps some truth to what Suzy had said. Socializing with Edith wouldn‘t bring me a husband. Nevertheless, I couldn‘t disappoint this woman, whose arm was wrapped tightly around mine. She had prepared a feast for me: a fruit salad of chopped strawberries, kiwis, grapes and bananas, hot rolls, and a cheese and mushroom omelet. As we sat down to eat, I felt relaxed enough to tell her about the pathetic date I had had the night before. I allowed some cold lemonade to first flush down my food. "I'll never let my sister fix me up again,‖ I said. ―I'll never let anyone fix me up again!" "It was that bad, dear?" "That bad. It started like this. He told me he left his wallet back at his apartment and that while we were there we‘d check his newspaper to see what's playing at the movies. Stupidly I believed him." I gulped more of the refreshing lemonade that served me well on this hot, humid day and also cooled my anger. "We got there and I watched him moving his eyes up and down the newspaper. Finally he crumpled it and threw it on a chair and said, `Babe' (I detest being called `babe') nothing‘s worth seeing, so let‘s stay here and enjoy a Philly‘s game.' He pointed to his couch that sagged in the middle. `Have a seat,‘ he said. ‗I'll be right back with some beer.'" I now relished my lemonade because it wasn‘t beer. "I detest, beer, Edith. And I hate baseball. This was no date for me – but because I‘m as meek as a mouse, I sat down and said nothing -- for awhile." I watched her large blue eyes, with red veins running across them, show sympathy and she was

frowning. "Yes, I was miserable. He stunk of some cheap cologne, but it was a cover-up for something more foul." Her frown had deepened into a show of disgust. "Should I continue, Edith?" She tapped my hand gently with hers. "Please do." "This was hard enough to endure, but his big octopus arm went around me. And then ..." I realized this was not a subject I should be relating to an elderly woman surrounded by Victorian finery. But she insisted I go on. "He started to touch me in ... well, to put it bluntly, Edith, he felt me up!‖ In case she didn‘t understand the lingo, I added, ―fondled my breasts!" She catapulted up, without even the aid of her cane. "How infuriating!" she said. I sipped again and smacked my lips. "I left, then and there. Got out and called a taxi. It cost me twenty-five dollars to get back to Upper Darby. If Rhoda gives out my number again, I'll wring her neck!" But my anger turned to sadness: I knew my humiliating date was emblematic of my pathetic need for love and companionship. "Come, dear, have some cold fruit,‖ Edith said, gently. ―Jerry, the grocer, only brings me the very freshest. Please, dear, have some." I wiped away tears and brought a ripe strawberry to my mouth. Many more times I had gone to lunch at Edith's apartment during that month of July. Once I persuaded Edith to let me take her to the renowned Dave‘s Diner for lunch. My mother never knew that the rest of that day the shop remained closed, while Edith and I intermittently sat and strolled through the park along the Schuylkill River. Mostly we sat: Edith fatigued easily. The first Friday in August was the last day I‘d spend with Edith. She offered me cold cuts for lunch, nothing she had to prepare. She handed me back Pride and Prejudice and I gave her Persuasion, which I had finished two weeks previously. Jane Austen had not let her heroine down: Anne Elliot at the mature age of twenty-seven had finally gotten her man, the admirable Captain Wentworth. But, I unhappily reflected that no one was writing my story and no such hero awaited me! "I'll get this one back to you soon," she said. "You can keep it, Edith. I already have shelves of books." "Your library is something you cherish. You must have this book back. It's one of your most valued possessions." I didn't protest -- maybe she was right. My books were an important part of my life. Maybe they were my life and that worried me, too. That Edith stopped coming didn't bother me at first. I thought that maybe even she realized that monopolizing a young woman's time was not right -- not even natural. Yet, I didn‘t really believe such thoughts had entered Edith's mind. Also I knew she had seemed increasingly tired of late, maybe because the weather had been intensely humid and hot, and then there had been ferocious thunderstorms which would also prevent her from coming. I was surprised, though, that she hadn't even called. But after one week had passed and the air had cooled because of the rain, Edith still didn‘t come. I was sure she was ill -- perhaps gravely ill. I called her home and was shocked to hear that the phone was disconnected. Perhaps she was taken away to a nursing home. I decided to go directly to where she lived. I hurried to her home feeling the terrible pangs of fear and guilt. Taped on the ringer by her mailbox was a small square sheet of paper with the following ominous directions: "For anyone seeking Edith Finley, please ring the manager in 1A." I knew the worse and a few moments later a short, pleasant woman with cropped black hair confirmed the worse: Edith was dead! The woman held my trembling arm. "She died quietly in her sleep, hon,‖ she said, gently. ―That's what the doctor told me." I had lost my friend Edith. Nearly a week later, I was standing on the ladder retrieving a box of lady's fancy negligee for a girl hardly out of her teens when a pleasant looking young man entered the shop. I knew immediately it was Arthur, remembering his most recent photograph. He showed the same diffident smile, so unusual in someone who dressed suavely in a gray pin-striped suit with a distinguished matching vest. He looked superior to any of the young executives from Liberty Savings and Loan. I almost fell backwards off the ladder, but the girl, busy admiring her diamond engagement ring, took no notice. "I'll be right with you," I said to him, pretending not to know who he was.

He nodded. It was then that I saw my paperback book of Persuasion in his hand. The girl took an excruciatingly long time deciding while my pulse raced, as if the most charming of men had entered into my life by virtue of being Edith's son. I knew it was ridiculous for me to be so enraptured when all he had come to do was return a book I had lent his mother. Nevertheless, I decided to do something radical. I said to the girl, who was lifting a skimpy negligee as if to imagine how she‘d look in it, "I forgot to mention that we're having a big negligee sale. Three for the price of one." I rang up six. The girl saved seventy-five dollars. When she left I managed to say, "You're Arthur, right?" "Yes. Are you Sarah?‖ ―I am.‖ Tears filled my eyes. "I'm sorry about your mother. I feel the loss deeply. She was my very special friend." ―You were special to her, too. I found this book with a letter for me on my mother's dresser. She managed to write quite a bit about you. Of course she told me a lot on the phone, too." He looked down to the floor and kicked a dust ball. "You were her only friend. I should‘ve come back sooner from Japan." He was struggling to suppress his grief. I offered him my folding chair, the one Edith had sat in not so long ago. He didn't resist. He also needed reassurance. ―The last time I was with her she really did seem content. And she was so proud of what you do.‖ "I just talked to her the night before,‖ he said. ―Before she ... I thought she sounded more tired than usual, but she insisted she was fine and very happy." He looked at me with those eyes that were enchanting because though he had an undeniably masculine face and was slightly balding, with brown hair instead of white, and though he had smooth skin instead of wrinkled, his mother came alive again by virtue of the eyes! But these eyes also showed sadness. Edith had only looked sad once -- when I had told her of my date. "I‘m sure she was happy at the end, and that‘s as much as we can wish for her." He stood, showing greater composure. "I have to thank you, Sarah. As I‘ve said, you were my mother's only companion except for the apartment manager, Gail. My Uncle Maurice lives in South Philly and rarely managed to see her." I liked the way my name sounded when he had spoken it. "You don‘t need to thank me. Your mother was wonderful to me. She invited me over almost every day for lunch. She went to a lot of trouble to make those lunches. And we had great discussions. We talked about Jane Austen's books and exchanged ideas. I learned a great deal from her." He looked down to the book still in his hand. "I should give you this." I took the book and then thumbed through it for a marker. There was none. "This might sound like a strange thing for me to say -- I mean, under the circumstances -- but I wonder if your mother finished the book. Maybe she never had a chance to start it." "Oh, yes, she started the book and finished it. She wrote that in her letter -- that I should tell you that the ending was perfect." It was apparent to me now that Edith knew she would soon die, and in her calculations for ending her business with this world, she had included finishing the novel and having her son return it. "There's so much I'd like to know about her last days," he said. "You talked a lot about books and what else?" ―Please, wait just a minute.‖ I looked at my watch, thinking that though it was only eleven-thirty, I should prevent any more customers from entering while we continued our conversation. I went to the front and turned the sign around. "I don't mean to interrupt your work." "You‘re not," I lied. "This is when I take my lunch break anyway." "Well, then," he said, "let‘s continue this discussion over lunch. Is there a place you recommend?" "Yes, I can," I said, trying to remain calm. "Dave's Diner is just across the street, next to Northeast Fitness Center. The food's great." That is how I met my husband.

photograph - David Rhodes

photograph - David Rhodes

David Rhodes - location / Chicago. Artistic mediums / photography, charcoal design, tattooing & tattoo design

photograph - David Rhodes

photograph - David Rhodes

photograph - David Rhodes

photograph - David Rhodes

Amit Parmessur, age 28, hails from the paradise-like island of Mauritius. He is forthcoming and has been published in over 40 magazines since starting to submit his poems late 2010. Burnt Bridge, Calliope Nerve, Damazine, Leaf Garden Press, Shot Glass Journal, The Camel Saloon and The Scrambler are some of the places in which he has appeared. He is now trying to explore the natural beauty of his country to inspire himself more. He also speaks French and Hindi and in his free time loves a passionate football match.

“Emotional Evening” by Amit Parmessur

My mood was so pleasant that light evening, like clear water in a calm blue bucket. Switching on the boring TV spoiled everything, as if a lazy painter had plunged his brush dripping with coagulated black paint into the clear blue water. Grandfather came in, grunted and shouted, ―NEWS! NEWS! NEWS!‖ and he swore as the colored box and its eloquent voices described and illustrated human misery. My wise grandfather and I saw how the sun supposed to give us some light was burning sadistically our weak bones, how the holy water supposed to purify and feed us was coming to our passive throat, how waves of violence were turning our creaky wooden beds into solid marble graves, how the jingles of coins and peevish perfume of filthy notes had bought our goodness and soiled our honesty. The old man tried to cheer me up as it was time for our weekly drinking party. We two would never watch the news, usually. We called it NEWS, North East West South misery. We drank, laughed and spoke to the lycanthropic God hanging by the window on the dull wall, criticizing his bizarre tactics and childish techniques. We discussed how humans‘ pillows

must be ashamed of their deranged heads, how the noisy air we breathe is polluted by the stinking smoke of our nice misdeeds, how God‘s world is full of physical beauty but also blessed with internal turmoil and suffering. The old man, once a great footballer who could turn 11 opponents into travesties and now an amateur painter cried and joked that God had created a ball called Earth but forgotten to provide a pitch called justice.

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn't earn a living in the theater. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver. His chapbook 'Remembrance' was published by Origami Condom Press, 'The Conquest of Somalia' was published by Cervena Barva Press, 'The Dance of Hate' was published by Calliope Nerve Media, 'Mutilated Girls' is being published by Bedouin Press, 'Material Questions' is being published by Silkworms Ink and 'Dispossessed' is being published by Medulla Press. A collection of his poetry 'Days of Destruction' was published by Skive Press. Another collection 'Expectations' was published by Rogue Scholars Press. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway and toured colleges and outdoor performance venues. His poetry has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.

“The Nature of Cities” by Gary Beck

The city, monstrous creation, aberration substituting artifice for natural existence, while the planners claim that safety, commerce, comforts, group interaction, are civilized ways. We have constructed sites of oppression, except for the privileged. Many huddle together in poverty and squalor, never understanding they are descendants of unfit nomads left by the wayside in the tribal trek.

“More and More” by Gary Beck

The cause of justice is seldom served by exploiters, whose rampant greed urges them to seek increased acquisition of goods and services at the expense of others, corrupting the system, while they sever threads of compassion.

Claudio Parentela

Claudio Parentela

Claudio Parentela

Claudio Parentela (1962) was born in Catanzaro, Italy where he lives and works as an illustrator, painter, photographer, mail artist, cartoonist, collagist, and journalist freelance. Active for many years in the international underground scene, he has collaborated with many zines, magazines of contemporary art, literary and of comics in Italy and in the world, in print and on the web. He has collaborated with many bands, and he has illustrated poems and stories.

Claudio Parentela

Claudio Parentela

Claudio Parentela


by George Piper

With a sigh, he scribbled his answer to the final question, and threw the form down on the table in front of him. Richard Fields glanced at his wristwatch, noting that the damn thing had taken him over a half an hour to finish. The questionnaire had been thorough and a lot more invasive than he had taken at any other therapist‘s office. Nearly every aspect of his life was now outlined in the eleven pages he had reluctantly completed. Friends, family, his hopes, his dreams, his nightmares. It was all there, waiting for some asshole to analyze it. He needed a cigarette, but most of these places didn‘t let you smoke anymore. Richard looked around the small room, which was uniquely bare compared to other waiting rooms he had seen. There were two wooden doors; the entrance he had come through, and another one that he assumed led into the doctor‘s office. The small loveseat he sat on and the polished coffee table in front of him constituted the only furniture. The walls were a stark white color, devoid of the slightest decoration, although Richard could see the small holes where nails had been hammered in and then removed. A large mirror faced him from the opposite wall. For all he knew, it was probably one of those two-way things, the kind the cops always used in interrogation rooms. Somebody might be watching him right now. Unable to resist, Richard raised his middle finger at it, sneering. His reflection, of course, did the same, seeming to mock him with his own gesture. Richard put his hand down and stood up with a grunt. He strode over to the mirror to get a closer look. The face scrutinizing him from the revealing depths of the glass was so different that he almost could have sworn it was the visage of a stranger. The lines around his blue eyes were deeply pronounced, an indication of the countless nights he hadn‘t been able to sleep. His mouth sagged in a continuous frown, the dark stubble on his cheeks complimenting the untidy appearance of his salt-and-pepper hair. The pallid skin was entrenched with the wrinkles of deep thought and frustration. He appeared at least ten years older, which wasn‘t fair, since it had only taken her two. Two years to destroy his heart and ruin his life. God, he needed a smoke. Richard turned away from the mirror just as the door to the office opened. The young man standing there flashed him a warm smile, asking, ―Did you complete the questionnaire, Mr. Fields?‖ He walked into the room, quickly striding over to pick it up before Richard even had a chance to answer. ―Yeah, what‘s with that thing, anyway? I‘m surprised it didn‘t ask me which one of my balls I liked to scratch more often. Or are we saving that for the next session?‖ The young man, dressed casually in a pair of light-colored trousers and a blue-button down shirt, only smiled at him once more before quickly scanning the pages. ―I know it‘s quite lengthy, Mr. Fields. I am sorry for the inconvenience. If you‘ll follow me into the next room, Dr. Henderson is ready to see you now.‖ ―Hooray,‖ Richard commented under his breath. The doctor‘s office was nicely furnished, complete with plush carpeting and oak paneling on the walls. Dr. Henderson‘s certificates of recognition from various schools and organizations were neatly spaced around the room. A leather recliner had been placed in the farthest corner from the door, directly opposite from a darkly stained mahogany desk. Two rigid armchairs of dark plastic faced the desk, which Dr. Henderson was standing behind. He waved one of his arms graciously, stating, ―Welcome, Mr. Fields. Won‘t you please have a seat?‖ Richard stood in the middle of the room for a moment longer, eyeing the plastic chairs and the recliner. ―Where at?‖ he asked. ―Wherever you prefer, of course,‖ the doctor quickly answered. Richard walked over to the desk, sitting down in one of the chairs. He was sure that it had been a test, and that the doctor had presumed he would choose the recliner, since it was more comfortable. Just another one of their little mind games to get you to start feeling like a patient the minute you walk through the door. Screw that, Richard thought. He was here to check this guy out, not to be psycho-analyzed. Not again.

The doctor‘s facial expression never altered, remaining passive as he watched Richard settle himself before turning his attention to the young man, who had remained standing at the door. ―William, may I have the questionnaire please?‖ ―Of course, Dr. Henderson,‖ he obediently responded, crossing the room with a swagger of selfimportance as he handed the forms to the doctor. ―Thank you, William. You may have a seat as well.‖ The young man nodded his head, refusing to look at Richard as he moved behind him to perch alertly on the edge of the recliner. ―Is he your assistant?‖ Richard asked. The doctor politely smiled, crouching over to pull his padded swivel chair closer. He sat down behind the desk, exhaling loudly in relief. ―That feels better,‖ he sighed. ―My old legs aren‘t as strong as they used to be. No, Mr. Fields, William is actually one of my understudies.‖ ―You mean, like a trainee?‖ Dr. Henderson shrugged his shoulders. ―If you would like to call it that, then yes.‖ ―Well, you can forget about me telling you a damn thing about my problems. I‘ve been through this shit before, and it doesn‘t do any good. So you might as well have junior here-―Richard jerked his thumb behind him, ―learn on some other sucker.‖ Dr. Henderson folded his hands together, listening as Richard vented his anger. It was always the first emotion to seep out from behind the behavioral wall that his clients had inwardly constructed. ―Then why are you here?‖ he asked softly. Richard sullenly stared back, crossing his arms over his chest. Dr. Henderson waited patiently another moment, knowing that he wouldn‘t have an answer. ―Besides, Mr. Fields, I really don‘t need you to tell me anything. That‘s why I have this,‖ he continued, picking up the questionnaire and leaning back. ―If you will please excuse me.‖ While he studied the papers, Richard took the opportunity to study him. Dr. Henderson was well-aged, his thinning hair and neatly-trimmed goatee completely white. A pair of bifocals rested on the bridge of his nose; his gnarled hands shaking slightly as he scanned Richard‘s answers with jerking movements of his head. The doctor‘s suit looked expensive, tailored perfectly to fit his gaunt frame. An elegant cross necklace stood out against the red silk tie, gleaming brightly as it caught the light. Richard had never seen any other therapist display something so openly religious. ―Do you like it?‖ The doctor had noticed as Richard focused his eyes on his chest. ―You mean the cross?‖ Richard countered. ―Well, it was either that or the tie, Mr. Fields. I will gladly take a compliment on either one.‖ Richard tried his best to smile, a half-hearted grin being the only result. ―They‘re both nice. The cross reminds me of the one my grandfather used to wear.‖ The doctor set the papers down in front of him, never giving them a second look. ―As I have grown older, I have found myself turning to God more and more for the answers to my own problems, Mr. Fields, and I have taken comfort in the power of performing good deeds.‖ He paused, then asked, ―Do you go to church, Mr. Fields?‖ Richard could see no harm in replying to the question. ―The last time I went to a church was on my wedding day.‖ ―That‘s a shame,‖ Dr. Henderson sighed. ―Perhaps that is why you have forgotten that killing yourself is considered a sin.‖ Richard involuntarily glanced down at the gauze that had been wrapped around his left wrist. The jagged cut underneath had been done with one of his serrated kitchen knives. Richard had passed out before he was able to finish the job, falling to the floor with a loud bang that had apparently startled the people living in the downstairs apartment. The cops had responded to the complaint, eventually forcing his door open to discover Richard lying face-down in a puddle of his own blood. A rescue squad had been immediately alerted, and by the time they reached the hospital, the wound was safely under control.

Just another failure, Richard thought to himself as he jerked his sleeve back down to cover the bandage. ―Would you like to tell me why?‖ the doctor probed, clasping his hands together. Richard remained silent. ―Mr. Fields, I am only trying to help. I know that this is difficult for you.‖ ―Enough with the damn ‗Mr. Fields‘ shit, all right?‖ Richard snapped. ―Call me Richard. And why don‘t you tell me why I did it? Can‘t you figure it out from your little manuscript there?‖ Richard heard the groan of the leather recliner as William shifted behind him, but he kept his eyes locked on the doctor‘s face. Waiting. Dr. Henderson could tell the emotional barrier was breaking down, weakening from the self-inflicted punishment of Richard‘s own hatred. He cleared his throat, stating, ―From what I can gather, Richard, there seems to have been a disagreement between you and your-― ―She cheated on me!‖ Richard interrupted, yelling loud enough to make William jump in surprise. Dr. Henderson never even flinched. He opened the top drawer of his desk, and quickly found what he was looking for. He slid the box of tissues over to Richard as he began to sob uncontrollably. ―I was married to her for nearly eight years, the best years I have ever known. I worked my ass off to give her everything she always wanted. A nice home, expensive jewelry, a new car. She loved me, and I loved her. I still love her. She told me that we would be together forever, and when our daughter was born...‖ He wiped his face with a tissue, no longer concerned that the gauze around his wrist was clearly visible. ―It was like a dream come true. I remember how excited we both were, and thinking to myself that this was it, life couldn‘t get any better, this is the way it was meant to be.‖ ―But it wasn‘t good enough for her, apparently,‖ Richard continued. ―She started having an affair with some guy she met at work. I didn‘t find out about it until nearly four months later, when she figured it was the right time to tell me that I was no longer the one for her. It‘s been two years since she forced me out of our home and away from our daughter, who she won‘t let me see. I tried...I tried to fight it in court, but she convinced the judge that I was a bad influence, that I wasn‘t mentally stable enough to be around her. She made up some bullshit story about how I used to beat our daughter when she was an infant. I never laid a hand on her, on either one of them.‖ Dr. Henderson nodded, gently asking, ―How old is your daughter now?‖ ―She‘ll be six this year, in March,‖ Richard replied. ―And the man that your wife left you for, are they still living together?‖ ―Yeah, they‘re still together. My wife, my kid, and this asshole, just one big happy family. And here I am, just...just...‖ ―Miserable,‖ the doctor finished for him. ―Yeah,‖ Richard meekly submitted. ―Well, I can certainly tell you that killing yourself is not the answer,‖ the doctor advised, watching Richard closely. ―Then what is?‖ Richard retorted. ―To forget about them? To go on with my life, and find somebody new? I‘ve heard it all before, doctor. All you guys say the same shit, but you don‘t understand. Everything reminds me of them, every fucking thing in this whole damn world. I have trouble eating, because my stomach gets upset from thinking about my wife sleeping with somebody else. I haven‘t gotten a full night‘s rest since she left me, and when I wake up, I find myself wondering why. The loneliness I feel makes me desperate to find somebody else, but my insecurities keep me isolated and alone. ―Do you want to hear something sad? I keep thinking that one day the phone will ring, and it will be her, my wife I mean, on the other end, crying. She‘ll tell me that she made a mistake that she misses me and wants me back. So that things can be just like they used to be.‖ Richard‘s mouth quivered as the mental image of his fantasy hit him hard. He raised a hand to cover his misting eyes. ―I understand,‖ Dr. Henderson whispered. And he did. Despite having heard the same sad story a countless number of times, the pure emotion with which they were narrated never failed to tug at his heart strings. ―Richard, I can help you.‖

Richard lowered his hand, staring at the doctor with a scornful look. ―Of course you can,‖ he said disdainfully. The doctor‘s eyes never wavered behind his glasses as he stated, ―Yes, I can. First things first, Richard, which orderly was it that informed you of my humble practice?‖ Richard raised an eyebrow. ―How did you know it was an orderly? And why do you want to know?‖ ―There‘s no reason to get defensive. I just want to know who I have to thank for bringing you to my attention, that‘s all.‖ ―I‘m not being defensive. I just don‘t know why you presumed an orderly told me about you. How do you know that I didn‘t look you up in the phonebook or find you on the internet?‖ Dr. Henderson smiled, picking up a fountain pen from one side of the desk and tapping it lightly on the first page of the questionnaire. ―Because I‘m unlisted. In a case such as yours, there was no other way you could have known about me. I have come to a certain, let‘s say, understanding with several of the orderlies working at the hospital. They help me find patients like yourself, people who need a little more than what conventional therapy can offer. In turn, I pay them for their services.‖ Richard frowned. Something about that didn‘t seem right to him. ―You mean, like a finder‘s fee? Is that legal?‖ ―Absolutely,‖ the doctor assured him, waving the pen in the air. ―Come now, Richard, who was it?‖ Richard sighed. He remembered her well, and how nice she had been to him. ―I didn‘t catch her name, but she was blonde, with a small build. Pretty.‖ Dr. Henderson wrote the description down on a small notepad. ―And where was your room located?‖ ―Third floor, Section B,‖ he answered. The doctor added this below the description, shaking his head affirmatively. When he had finished, he carefully placed the pen back in its original spot, giving Richard his full attention. ―Thank you, good sir. I‘m sure the lady is going to be very appreciative for it as well. Tell me, Richard, did she happen to tell you about a little thing I do called extraction?‖ ―She had mentioned it, yes,‖ Richard recalled, ―but she didn‘t go into too much detail.‖ ―Oh, I‘m quite sure that she would have, if she knew anything about it. What did she say?‖ Richard mirrored the seriousness of the orderly as he repeated the words she had spoken to him. ―That it‘s one hundred percent effective, and it works every time.‖ Dr. Henderson allowed himself a small grin, saying nothing. ―So what do you do?‖ Richard finally had to ask. The doctor took a very deep breath, closing his eyes. When he reopened them, he began to talk in a smooth, pleasant voice. ―There are actually two things that I do, Richard. One part is the extraction itself, and the other is everything else. The extraction process is relatively simple, and doesn‘t take very long at all. ―Now, I know that you‘re going to find this hard to believe, but I have invented a device that can clear all the memories that you now have. It will wipe them away, forever. Instead of going through years of possibly ineffective therapy, in which the patient is persuaded to cope with their problems, this marvelous innovation makes them vanish in one easy step. Just ‗poof‘ and they‘re gone, and so is the pain. What do you think about that?‖ ―I don‘t believe it,‖ Richard blatantly remarked. ―Of course you don‘t,‖ Dr. Henderson stated, removing a key from the pocket of his suit jacket. He slowly bent over, unlocking the bottom drawer of his desk. Removing the device from its protective casing, he carefully set it down near the questionnaire. To Richard, it had the appearance of a Walkman, the kind that used to play those old-fashioned cassette tapes. The radio part of it was a bit bulkier, with a few more buttons. Two wires, one red and the other blue, trailed off from the bottom, both of them connected to a clear suction cup at the other end.


―That‘s it, huh?‖ Richard was unimpressed; the thing looked like it came out of a cheesy mad scientist ―Yes, this is it,‖ the doctor proudly answered, patting the device gently with one hand. Richard scoffed. ―How does it work?‖ Dr. Henderson resumed his grin, once again leaning back in his chair. ―It‘s technical.‖ ―Try me.‖

The doctor responded to the challenge with practiced ease. ―All I can tell you, Richard, is that I have devoted my life to studying human behavior. After a while, it became nearly predictable to me. But changing it!! Ah, all the years I wasted in a futile attempt to do just that, to find out that it is nearly impossible. No matter what, personality is something that cannot be altered, not on a permanent basis anyway. The brain, however, can be. I have come to the undeniable realization that due to its chemistry, the human brain, all brains in fact, function in an amazingly similar pattern. The device you see here simply disrupts this pattern.‖ wife?‖

―So,‖ Richard said, ―this thing is supposed to make me better by erasing all of my memories of my ―As well as your child, among other things,‖ the doctor added.

―Bullshit,‖ Richard spat, ―I think I‘ve heard enough. I hope that you don‘t expect me to pay for this session, because if you think-― ―Payment will be discussed at the appropriate time,‖ Dr. Henderson interjected. ―Like hell it will.‖ Richard rose up out of the chair, turning to leave. William, who he had all but forgotten about, stood up from the recliner at the same time, moving forward to block his way. Richard smiled. It had been a while since he had beaten up on somebody other than himself. ―You want to go, buddy?‖ he threatened, squeezing his hand into a tight fist. ―Richard,‖ the doctor softly called out to him. Richard forced himself to relax, still watching the young man closely as he said, ―Look, I don‘t want to cause any trouble. I just want-― ―What is it that you want, Richard? To go home? To be alone, and think about what you‘ve lost, and will never have again? To kill yourself rather than accept the truth?‖ ―Fuck you,‖ he stated, pointing a twitching finger at the doctor. Dr. Henderson remained calm, well in control of his emotions and a master of manipulation. ―All that I ask is for a little more of your time. Let me finish, please. If you don‘t agree with what I have to say, then you may leave, free of charge. What do you have to lose?‖ Richard smirked. ―I don‘t know, are you sure that you‘re not going to kill me for finding out about your little invention there?‖ The doctor laughed. ―I may be eccentric, but I don‘t think I‘m a murderer.‖ He coughed, rubbing his throat. ―I do know that all of this excitement has made me thirsty.‖ Opening another desk drawer, he brought out a bottle of Jack Daniel‘s whiskey, followed by two glasses. ―Would you care to join me, Richard?‖ ~~~ ―All right, so let me get this straight,‖ Richard said, noticing that his words were already beginning to slur as he drained his second glass of bourbon, ―you mean to tell me that this thing not only clears my memories of my wife, but my kid, my family, my childhood, and everything else?‖ ―That‘s correct,‖ Dr. Henderson affirmed, twisting the cap back on the bottle after pouring himself a refill. Richard watched as he moved to put it back in the drawer. ―Let‘s say your mind ray, or whatever it is, does work, and I‘m not saying that I believe it does. Why would I want to do such a thing, to forget about everybody that I love, to forget about myself?‖

Dr. Henderson looked at him compassionately. ―I understand that it sounds absurd, and that it‘s going to be a very difficult decision for you to make. In order for the extraction process to be completely effective, however, you must not be able to remember what has caused you so much pain. I am going to give you a clean slate; the person you now know as yourself will be gone, and you can start over, to live a life that is productive and rewarding.‖ ―But what kind of father would I be if I just gave up on my daughter?‖ Richard wondered. The doctor sighed. ―You‘re trying to hold on to a past that has long since moved on. Do you honestly think that one day your wife will call you, and want you back again?‖ Richard nodded his head slightly, refusing to meet the doctor‘s penetrating stare. ―It‘s not going to happen, Richard. You know it just as well as I do. If you didn‘t, then you wouldn‘t have done that.‖ He gestured toward the bandage on Richard‘s wrist. ―Look at what they‘re doing to you, and what you‘re doing to yourself. You deserve to be just as happy as they now are without you.‖ Richard groaned, trying to force back the tears. The doctor was right; he had to accept the fact that his family wanted nothing to do with him anymore. Sooner or later, he was surely going to kill himself. If this extraction process did work, it would be a second chance. One that he hopefully would not waste. Richard found himself starting to seriously consider the idea, when he thought of something that worried him. ―If you‘re going to erase my memories, doesn‘t that include my knowledge, you know, what I‘ve learned?‖ ―A very reasonable question. I can assure you that your intelligence will not be harmed. You may find that the procedure actually has the reverse effect, clearing your mind from the heavy burden of self-doubt.‖ ―Yeah, but you could make a mistake,‖ Richard pointed out. ―Can you assure me that you won‘t accidentally kill me, or turn me into a drooling vegetable?‖ ―I can tell you whatever it is you want to hear, Richard. I can promise you everything, or promise you nothing. It wouldn‘t really matter either way. But I do have a philosophy when it comes to my patients, and it is simply this: never harm a client, and always guarantee satisfaction.‖ Richard rubbed his eyes, deciding to let it go. ―What if my wife wanted to talk to me after I had this done; let‘s say she had an issue with child support or something like that. What happens then, would I start remembering her again?‖ Dr. Henderson folded his hands together as he replied, ―That won‘t happen.‖ ―You mean that I won‘t believe her when she tells me she‘s my wife?‖ ―No, I mean that she will not be able to talk to you, Richard,‖ the doctor solemnly intoned, ―and even if she wanted to, the conversation would be completely one-sided.‖ ―What are you talking about?‖ Richard said irritably, feeling the first signs of a headache as it throbbed at his temples. He wasn‘t sure if it was the doctor‘s confusing choice of words, of if the bourbon was beginning to wear off. He wanted to leave, but he had heard too much not to hear the rest. ―I don‘t follow you.‖ ―This is where it gets more involved, my dear boy.‖ Dr. Henderson shifted his gaze to look at William, making sure that he was paying attention. He was, of course. Satisfied, the doctor continued. ―Your wife won‘t be able to talk to you because you will be dead. She will be told that the accident killed you instantly. Now, I‘m going to need your car, so that I can have it destroyed. Running it off the side of the road is probably a good idea, and setting it on fire is another good measure that should be taken.‖ At this point, the doctor seemed to be talking to himself more than Richard. ―And how are you going to convince people that I actually died in this wreck?‖ The doctor winked, smiling complacently. ―I know somebody who is simply brilliant when it comes to creating a likeness of another person from wax. They are astoundingly real, and beautifully detailed. Your casket will be closed at the funeral, but even if a curious person did decide to look, they would never doubt that it was you. Horribly disfigured, of course.‖ ―And the police won‘t know that the deceased is a wax dummy when they investigate the scene of the crash?‖ Richard sarcastically ventured.

―It would not be possible to pull off such a hoax without a little outside help,‖ Dr. Henderson answered. ―Let‘s just say that I will have to go through the proper channels. ―As for you, your physical features, most notably your face, will have to be altered so that you cannot be recognized. This will be completed long before you resurface from the extraction process. I will make arrangements with my cosmetic surgeon, as well as contact a resource that will provide you with the paperwork for a new identity. Driver‘s license, social security card, birth certificate, so on and so forth.‖ ―How can you do all this?‖ Richard asked in disbelief. ―As I said before, all it takes is the proper channels. Believe me, Richard, I‘ve been involved in this practice for quite a while now, and I have yet to achieve anything other than a desirable result. Upon awakening from the procedure, you will be informed by one of my associates that you have just undergone the final phase of a radical new treatment to combat the tumor in your brain. Although it was a success, the loss of your memory was an inevitable side-effect. He or she will help familiarize you with your newly created identity.‖ ―And point me in the right direction as to where to go?‖ Richard surmised, knowing full well that he would not be allowed to return to his apartment. The doctor nodded, regarding him with a look of profound appreciation. ―That is absolutely correct, Richard. On the day of your procedure, you will come to my office with no possessions other than the clothes you are dressed in. These will be removed while you are being treated, and I will outfit you in a new set of attire. To help you start your new life, I will provide you with a cargo bag containing a few more clothes, and a wallet with some money in it.‖ ―How much?‖ Richard had to ask, his eyes widening as he leaned forward in the chair. Dr. Henderson shrugged. ―It‘s not going to be a substantial amount, just enough to get you by on your way home.‖ ―And where, by chance, is that going to be?‖ ―Unfortunately, I‘m not able to tell you right now, for the simple reason that I myself don‘t know yet,‖ the doctor explained. ―Provisions will be made for a suitable living environment, as well as an appointment with a job placement facility. Wherever this takes place, I can promise you that it will be far away from here.‖ ―I see,‖ Richard submitted, stealing a furtive glance toward the door. His headache had intensified; he could feel the relentless pressure of it pushing against his eyeballs. ―And how much do you charge for doing all of this?‖ Dr. Henderson wordlessly tore a blank page from his notepad, writing a figure down. He slid it across the desk to Richard, who erupted in laughter when he saw it. ―You must be kidding me,‖ he said. The doctor‘s expression remained stolid. ―I know the amount seems to be quite exuberant, Richard, but look at what I am giving you. The foundation to start a whole new life, with the freedom to build upon it whichever way you see fit. Surely you could not expect such a thing to be cheap.‖ ―Surely,‖ Richard mocked, ―but there‘s no way in the world I would be able to afford that.‖ ―Don‘t let the price scare you,‖ Dr. Henderson reassured him. ―I will take a small down payment, and the rest would be subtracted from your future wages, under the guise of a supplementary tax.‖ ―For how long?‖ Richard sneered. ―For as long as it takes,‖ the doctor responded. ―Well, thank you, Dr. Henderson. It‘s been a pleasure,‖ Richard started, rising out of his chair. ―I take it you‘re not interested?‖ ―You take it correct. Thanks for the booze.‖ Richard turned to leave, making his way toward the door. He could feel the doctor‘s eyes on his back. ―Oh, Richard?‖ Richard lunged for the doorknob, ignoring him. His hand barely brushed against it before he fell to his knees, surrendering to a sharp pain in his leg. ―What...‖ he muttered, his lips suddenly going numb. Richard

craned his neck over his shoulder just in time to see William holding the tranquilizer gun he had retrieved from behind the recliner. Then the room slipped away as the colors faded and he went unconscious, hitting the floor hard. ―Good night, Richard,‖ Dr. Henderson whispered. ~~~~ He slowly resurfaced, feeling groggy, blinking his eyes to clear the haze. A wooden door came into focus, and then the rest of the room as his vision adjusted itself. He noticed that it was tastefully decorated. A black leather chair complimented the sofa he was laying on; the set adorning a spotlessly clean glass table on two sides. The walls were decorated with several inspirational works of art, as well as a certificate from some medical board. A miniature evergreen tree had been placed in the corner near the door, standing upright in a beige pot. He tried to lift himself up, only to fall back to the sofa again from a dizzying spell of nausea. What was the matter with him? Where was he? And then, with a frightening sense of alarm, he realized that he didn‘t even know who he was. Taking a deep breath, he glanced toward the mirror that faced him from the opposite wall. Carefully, he made another attempt to stand up, moving gingerly this time. The vertigo he had experienced earlier wasn‘t nearly as bad as it had been before, giving him the courage to take a step in the mirror‘s direction. At that instant, the wooden door opened. The young brunette that entered the room beamed him a friendly smile, moving gracefully as she walked toward him. She was undeniably beautiful, wearing a skirt that sensually clung to her shapely legs, and a sapphire blouse that nearly matched the color of her eyes. ―How are you feeling, Mr. Corban?‖ ―Fine,‖ he answered her, paying no mind to the fact that he so readily responded to a name that was unfamiliar to him. ―That‘s very good to hear,‖ she said. ―If you would please take a seat, I would like to talk to you.‖ She took his hand, leading him back to the sofa while she took a seat in the chair. ―I‘m sure that you‘re very confused at this point,‖ she stated matter-of-factly, smoothing her skirt. ―Mr. Corban, did you recognize your name when I first addressed you?‖ ―No,‖ he responded truthfully. She nodded her head with understanding, as if she expected just such an answer. ―All right, in that case, allow me to reintroduce myself to you. My name is Dr. Mary Bisel, and you are Sam Corban. The reason why you can‘t remember much of anything is because you have just undergone the final phase of a radical new treatment for brain tumors.‖ ―Oh my God,‖ Sam muttered, ―I have a tumor?‖ Dr. Bisel shook her head. ―You had a tumor, Mr. Corban. The infected area has completely healed, just as we expected. I am very pleased to tell you that you are cured.‖ He exhaled loudly in relief. ―Please, call me Sam.‖ ―Fine, Sam,‖ the doctor obeyed, her cheeks blushing slightly. He subtlety leaned forward, grasping one of her hands. Her mouth parted in shock, but she didn‘t pull away from him. ―And it‘s because of this treatment that I can‘t remember anything?‖ he softly whispered, looking at the doctor flirtatiously. ―A side-effect that could not be avoided,‖ Dr. Bisel added. ―I‘m sorry.‖ ―At least I know my name, thanks to you,‖ Sam told her, smiling warmly. She looked down, letting out a small laugh. ―I know that it‘s going to be difficult,‖ the doctor said with compassion, ―but, in time, you will be able to pick up the pieces and start living your life again.‖ She abruptly stood up, slipping her hand away from Sam‘s tightening grip. ―It‘s getting late. I have already arranged for your brother to meet us at the bus station. He will take you home and help you get situated. The

cargo bag that you brought here is in my car. We should get moving.‖ She walked over to the exit door behind the sofa. ―But I...‖ he stammered, hesitating. ―Mr. Corban...I‘m sorry, Sam. Do you really want to keep your brother waiting? It‘s at least a twenty minute ride to the station, and depending on the traffic, it could take us even longer to get there. We can continue this conversation in the car.‖ Sam turned toward the mirror. ―Can I have another minute?‖ Dr. Bisel breathed out in apparent frustration, but her tone remained polite as she said, ―I‘ll be waiting for you outside, Sam. Please try to hurry.‖ And with that, she was gone, closing the door softly behind her. Sam approached the mirror, hoping that his reflection would bring back a memory of who he was. But it only showed him a face that he had never seen before. His blue eyes looked upward to the curly salt-and-pepper hair that was still disheveled from where he had rested it on the sofa. He tried to pat it down, with little success. The dark stubble on his face told him that he was in desperate need of a shave, and his pale skin could use a tan. Despite his lackluster appearance, Sam felt good, almost like a giant weight had been mercifully lifted from his shoulders. It was the tumor, he was sure of it. But it almost seemed like there was something else, something more. He shrugged his shoulders, imagining that once he cleaned himself up, he would be quite good-looking. Maybe even handsome enough to keep a certain doctor coming back for checkups. Sam put his hand close to his mouth and smelled his breath. Grimacing, he could have sworn he picked up the faintest whiff of liquor. ~~~~~ Dr. Henderson and his young associate, William, watched the man who had formally been Richard Fields turn and walk out of the room. They sat on the plastic chairs that had been in front of the doctor‘s desk, studying him from a small partition that had not been wired for electricity. The only available light that barely filtered into the room came from the waiting area beyond the glass of the two-way mirror. ―She seemed kind of agitated,‖ William noted, referring to the woman that had been chosen to play the part of Dr. Bisel. ―Jessica‘s great,‖ the doctor affirmed. ―She‘s just tired of all the guys falling in love with her.‖ They both laughed. ―And his brother?‖ William asked. ―Another very competent associate of mine. He will help Sam get started and then be on his way, keeping in touch with him sporadically.‖ William nodded, wondering just how many people the doctor employed. ―Dr. Henderson, I have a question. Why did you lie to him about the cosmetic surgery? His face is exactly the same.‖ The doctor sighed. ―It‘s just easier the other way, my dear William.‖ The young man failed to understand, but didn‘t want to push the topic any further. He was sure that the doctor would explain it to him when he felt ready to do so. Instead, he decided to change the subject. ―What if his wife does change her mind, and want to call him?‖ ―That won‘t happen,‖ Dr. Henderson answered confidently. ―I know that it‘s highly unlikely, but she could,‖ William pressed on. The doctor turned to stare at the dim features of his associate. ―No, she can‘t.‖ This time, he understood exactly what the doctor was saying. He jerked back in surprise. ―How could you...I mean...did you...what about the kid?‖

Dr. Henderson subconsciously began to finger the cross around his neck. ―It had to be done,‖ he simply responded. William couldn‘t believe it; he felt like screaming. He put his head down into his trembling hands, trying to control himself. ―I never would have helped...I didn‘t know. Why didn‘t you just have him killed?‖ The doctor lowered his hand from the cross and placed it on the young man‘s arm, feeling the goose bumps on his flesh. ―Remember my philosophy, William. I never harm a client, and their satisfaction is always guaranteed. Even if they don‘t know it.‖ ―Dear God,‖ William muttered, shaking all over. ―Dear God indeed,‖ the doctor said, returning his gaze to the mirror in front of him. The young man would come around, or he wouldn‘t. Either way, his invention had served the dual purpose of clearing more minds than just those of his clients. One blessed day, Dr. Henderson hoped, he would be able to find somebody competent enough to take over for him. And then his own memories would be washed away. All the doctor could do in the meantime was be patient. And, of course, pray.

“Pisces” - Dox Belle

“When the Moon Becomes a Sun” - Dox Belle

“The Circus I see� - Dox Belle

Dox Belle is a witch woman. She talks to trees, befriends wandering winds, and is often seduced by the sweet nothings the universe whispers to her. Her hair is dark and long and wild. Her hands are made of glass. She is an outcast of society, completely aloof to the ways of man. She spends most of her elusive days on earth welcoming swells of otherworldly visions, only so she can further shut herself away from humanity and paint/write/film/sculpt them for you.

“Tamer of Dark Stars” – Dox Belle

“æther” – Dox Belle

“When I am Everything� by Dox Belle

My head is planted in the earth And my hair its veins, Growing mad and slow like the roots of hot stars. Creeping through the crowded jungle streets of Calcutta, And melting in the silent bell fevers Of mountain gods. Vain and burning with the wise sands of white desert anatomy. And quiet. And listening to the hum of ancient drops As they drip to hit the backs of every tongue-tranced monk, Cry their worlds of primordial sound. Create mad, weeping gardens of prismatic brain, Each wave a world opening like the geometric lotus of a grave, Dying in its fall, exploding to be born in a death of electric rain, Hitting the mirror, Splitting a thousand infinite ways and growing up into the stars, -Black, with rioting enchantment. Mad cumming to the naked truth of consciousness, Dizzy, in the open-eyed dance of clock-smashed awe.

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SJU #12  

art, fiction, poetry

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