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The Neglected Ratio A Magazine for Culture - Politics - Fiction - Poetry

Volume 1 Issue 1 December 2010


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This is an electronic publication available free of charge on www.theneglectedratio.wordpress.com

Cover Art by Dusty Pendleton

All intellectual work, photography and art published herein retains copyright of the contributors.

The Neglected Ratio Š Sana Rafiq (2010)


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Contents John Grey

An Afternoon at the Art Gallery, Six Figures,

p 5-6

The Murder of Crows (Poetry) Roger Cornish

Gestures, Gin and Knitting Needles (Poetry)

p 6-7

Joseph Grant

Sins of the Father (Fiction)

p 8-15

Julien Edmund Moss

Consensus, Leaves, Shatterbird (Poetry)

p 15

Dusty Pendleton

Art

p 16

Ricky Garni

From Life Magazine, April 17, 1970 Gallery Photogra- p 17-19 phy, PT Barnum & Family, Fanuck, Entre-nous (Poetry)

Kyle Hemmings

Still Life with a Dead Hand, A Letter to the Girl who p 19-20 works at the Hershey Chocolate Factory, and Why I prefer a stick of Margarine to Elvis Persley’s Ghost: A Short Memoir by an employee of Heidi Fleiss (Poetry)

Salvatore Buttaci

Hooker (Fiction)

p 20-23

Sergio A. Ortiz

Boring Resized (Photography)

p 23

Stephen J. Williams

Making Waves, Taking My Times, Crossing Over, Cigarette, Dual Meaning (Poetry)

p 24

Hugh Fox

The Insides Me, Alternatives, Now, From Now (Poetry)

p 25

April A.

The Voice of Despair, Victim, A Desperate City,

p 26

Every Single Evening’s Plot (Poetry) Michael L. Johnson

Electric in the Sun, Hookers on the Archer Avenue, Indolent Sun, California Summer (Poetry)

p 27

Muhamed Riyaz

Crimes of the Flesh Mafia: An International Crime

p 30-32

Report from Dubai Contributors

p 33-35

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V OLUME

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Editorial I recently returned from a two week trip to north India (Dewa Sharif, U.P.) where I visited my paternal family after a five year hiatus. Attempting to juggle an ongoing doctoral class as well as devoting time to family was more challenging than I had assumed. Nevertheless it was a beautiful trip and regardless of the time gap I enjoyed reconnecting with uncles, aunts, and cousins who seemed as eager to spend time with me. Let me not forget to mention the mosquitoes and the spicy food that my body took a little while to adjust with. India is a colorful and diverse nation, and I am in awe every time I am graced with her realities.

When I reflect on the social structure and composition of American societies and the cultural and religious diversity, I can’t seem to not associate both the countries as being similar in multiple aspects. There are great differences in the infrastructure and structural elements, but disregarding these minor points, I think I find no difference when I move from America to India, where the people are closer in their struggle to maintaining and creating a better life for themselves including the similarity in the steps taken to reach their goals. I have moved around a little bit geographically, born and raised in Saudi Arabia; I have experienced a culture that is centrally distinct from any other country. However the lesson that I learn on a daily basis is that the true nation is that which we carry in ourselves; when our identity is represented by our experiences - likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams, and goals, and that is the fundamental human composition, irrelevant of skin color, language, or nationality.

Just when I think I have everything about my life in perspective, some new change comes along and there begin the upheavals of reanalysis and shifts in mental paradigms. I am grateful for the support and readership of my work as well as The Neglected Ratio authors and poets who have submitted their work, and look forward to publishing writers from diverse backgrounds.

I cannot believe that I was able to bring this project to completion! Prone to taking on more than I can handle, work often stacks up on my to-do list before I realize I have to sit down and drop whatever I am doing to tackle pending projects. What had begun as a mere idea, out of curiosity and love for all things literary, I had conceived a desire to create an e-zine that would allow writers, poets, and freelance journalists, to contribute, and share their work on a global scale irrespective of censorship and other petty issues. So a web space was created, and submission guidelines sent out, and voila! I began receiving emails! That was quite encouraging, so I gradually moved on to the idea of creating a virtual or digitalized issue of The Neglected Ratio and maybe hopefully someday this idea could be transformed into a paper-print format.

Being the inaugural issue, this publication consists of some select poetry, fiction stories, photography, and art; that was so kindly contributed by Dusty Pendleton, who I thought would perhaps not even reply to my email request. Suffice it to say that I have learned through the process of creation, design, and compilation of this magazine, is that any new endeavor requires an idea, vision, and a pinch of courage to see it take birth into reality. Not that the thoughtrealm isn’t real, but as man wills that there be a proof of the existence of what has been thought of, believed in, and lived for, hence the effort to convert latent creative inertia into visibility through the palette of lived experiences, so I present to you this beautiful collection and collage of literary inspirations and reflections.

Much love!

Sana Rafiq Dec 04, 2010


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John Grey An Afternoon at the Art Gallery

Six Figures

We disagree on nudes. In your opinion, a breast’s for feeding baby Jesus. You mean it’s not for esthetic ogling as a robust Renoir lovely takes a bath.? I’m. not sure why we don’t just separate at the entry way, you head for the sacred, I for the profane. But no~ we’re together.. so together we must wander from gallery to gallery. How beautiful, you say, as the savior suckles. How gorgeous, my obvious eyes speak, as they inhale pink buxom bodies stepping into porcelain. Can two people really love each other when they can’t agree on something as basic as the true purpose of the nipple. It’s like asking does religion ever have sex or does sex ever find religion. We move on, thankfully to art where our reactions can concur, one of Monet’s haystack paintings. How spiritual the way he captures light’s effects, you sigh. My romp in the hay aside will have to wait another day.

(after a painting by Picasso 1901)

Six naked figures but eight clothed in dark blue, two children, and one buried in white. Three in stockings posing, two touching, one about to mount a horse, each free and open, unashamed, astonishing the day awake. But draped ones bent like night in sorrow, some sobs to ashen air paler than the dead. Still there’s the children, life, renewal. And there’s the heartbeat, brown on gray.

smARTHistory.com


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The Murder of Crows

artinthepicture.com

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. Leonard Cohen

It’s like you can’t have trees without crows these days. Can’t look up without ominous birds perched on my eye-lids. Even the hammered gold sun doesn’t help. No matter the brightness, I will always seek out the dark places. It’s either fear them or join them. So I caw. So I cling to the bough like a bat to a ledge.

And my head moves so slowly, it barely bothers the stillness. But I’m with the murder’s incessant ebony-eyed scanning for carrion. Roadkill’s easy but what of the people I know, or the ones gone to the next world because the cancer was virulent or the lake wasn’t frozen enough. We crows don’t differentiate. You’re either dead or you will be someday. We don’t plan because who knows who’ll be who when the time comes. We’ve no faith in beauty because it’s always first in line for annihilation. We sit back and wait for the worst to happen. And we don’t love because we might get hungry later.

Roger Cornish Gestures Her words like antique ink sunken into vellum read a million times - sunk into me. Fold lines that fold themselves like hinges - a door to memories of us words dancing across the

meadow of her page the riches of other days. Be careful how you open her the toughness - the moxie a masquerade she kills with miniscule gestures a sensuous supernova.


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Gin and Knitting Needles OUT! OUT! OUT! This the night of my conception. Weeks later she attempts to kill me. Gin and Knitting needles a red hot bath stabbing, piercing, lancinating through her cervix, a devastated crying, weeping, drunk, sweating in bloodstained water, those long cruel devastating size six knitting needles. Can’t even afford the two pounds for back street Annie. Yet I grew on. Another nine months gone and she’s so very scared as Aunty Pat wipes the sweat from her brow as this - a simple berth in some back room naturally takes it’s course…. There was violence in her legs it resonated up her spine, fed the synapses in her brain, fell from the edges of her mouth, shot from her eyes a stifled suppressed violence blanketed by darkness and lore. ‘With my body I thee worship’. She had no choice but to endure this violation –her husband’s want – he reads her signals all wrong the anger. Something else she hates the way her body reacts wet lubricated but reluctant-willing? Animalistic even? He rolls off - farts and wipes himself on grubby sheets while she quietly weeps into her pillow, pulls down her nightgown her knees up, as his semen runs from her and she wants it out of her;

“It’s a bonny lad Edna…and he’s all right - he’ll be alright Edna, he’s ok – fine, he’ll be alright….. he will!” And I’m number five child, one other dead - stillborn - there’s two more to go and many more nights of violence and violation. But never - never again knitting needles or hot baths. The drink remains – call it survival – Gin, cooking sherry and valium.

**“Will you love him, comfort him, honour and keep him, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy, to cherish and continually bestow upon him your heart’s deepest devotion, forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto him as long as you both shall live?

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The Sins of the Father The Old Man lay dying. Alejandro wouldn’t give the Old Man the satisfaction of dying on his own terms, nor would he be able to live with himself if the old bastard died of natural causes. He questioned whether he was doing the right thing. Of course he was, he yelled out loud. The Old Man certainly had it coming to him, after all the absolute shit he had put him and the others through. He had heard the Old Man had defamed him and talked smack about Marisol after he left and had been gone for many years. He had heard that the Old Man had called her a whore for lying with Alejandro and in effect tainting his body and his mind with thoughts and sinful deeds of the outside world. He had heard such things from those who had left years after he and he chuckled and couldn’t believe the Old Man was still that bothered by him and he smirked that even after all this time, the Old Man still felt threatened by him. He could deal with that, he always had, but he could not handle anyone talking that way about Marisol. Nah, that shit didn’t fly, he said to himself and he promised himself that there would be an extra punch or kick in it in the end for the Old Man. Maybe even a cap in the knees just for dissing Marisol, he nodded. The Old Man was otherwise known as Charles Lamb, aka, Chuck Williams as the police blotters in Los Angeles knew him. Williams’ police file went back the last forty years documenting his life as a once promising high school baseball player who was injured and got hooked on prescription pain killers and resorted to petty crime such as robbing houses and stealing cars to support his habit. The file detailed his time in the joint where he was supposed to have found God and religion via prison conversion, but his PO never believed it and this assumption was proven correct by further incarceration as a thief in the Haight and his time spent as a down-and-out heroin addict afterwards. The Reverend, as he ordained himself, believed one had to become a true sinner to be truly saved. To his credit, Williams gave up the drug-addled lifestyle and began to work with other addicts, opened up his own free clinic and counseling program and used religion and the power of the fear of eternal damnation to convert the already paranoid masses that stumbled through his doorway on account of his “Free DrugSalvation” sign that mislead many to think there was something new to try on the street. Reverend Lamb rechristened the free clinic “The Foundation of the New Blood of the Covenant of the Lamb” or the FNBLC for short and soon, in order for his new-found tax-exempt ministry to flourish, the biblically-inclined former con-man resorted to that biblically-defined oldest of oc-

Joseph Grant cupations: prostitution. He took the prettiest and youngest of troubled teens that came through his newly ordained church door to turn tricks for three good reasons. The first was to earn money to keep the organization afloat and with the steady stream of wayward boys and girls, there was no problem in supply meeting demand. The second reason helped convince them of the first, should they profess any doubts. They could keep part of the money earned for living expenses, allowing them to keep getting high and the third and possibly the most important reason was to spread the word while they were spreading their nubile legs and ‘win over sin and convert the perverts’, as Lamb liked to say. There was even an incentive program for these teens to bring in as many members as possible. It worked on a tier system that Lamb used from in his pyramid scheme days; in that it was as ingenious as it was simple. Based on who pulled in the most business, these were given the special status of Father and Mother over those below them who were referred to as Brother and Sister and Plebe if they were new. All would gain Disciple status after one year of service no matter how much business was acquired. Lamb thought this was a fair and equitable system and it created a hierarchy and sense of organization over “the Flock” over which presided His Holiness, the Right Reverend Lamb. His Holiness, the Right Reverend Lamb, Alejandro scoffed. That pederast was anything but holy or right, Alejandro shook his head. Alejandro had never heard of anyone being such a deliberate scam artist and getting away with it for so long, as had Lamb. How he managed to elude prosecution and dupe the various police and district attorneys was part of his genius as a con man, Alejandro was well aware. Lamb was among the very best. Alejandro was also well aware of Lamb’s penchant for splitting town when things got too hot or one of the working girls were tipped off by one of their regulars on the police force or in the D.A.’s office. As much as he hated to admit it, this was probably where Alejandro developed the same habit of skipping the bill when rent or an electric or gas bill was due. The Old Man had taught him well, he griped as he glared at the hot, endless desert road ahead. Lamb had taught him so many of his old habits, some much worse than others. One of Alejandro’s earliest memories was of being presented before the Flock. This was called the ‘Ecclesiastical Benefice’ by Lamb. It was a ceremony that was undertaken with great pomp and circumstance where Alejandro, all of three, the same age as Christ when circ-


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umcised by some biblical accounts, at least according to Lamb, was ordained as The Chosen One and therefore, Lamb’s successor. Alejandro shuddered at the memory of the event where he was paraded around like a prized pig, dressed in a garish red and blue tunic and passed around the Flock where all touched him to become spiritually blessed, prodded by Lamb on microphone. He shook as he recalled the three hour long ritual which ended with him being forced to stay awake to witness the orgy that followed thereafter. The weakness of the flesh was a central and binding theme to Lamb’s tenets for his Flock. Sex was tied to many of the teachings and readings he imparted to his faithful and was seen as a deliverance from sin. He believed that lust as stated in the Bible was a sin and that the only way to have any control over a sin was to yield to it and ask for God’s forgiveness. Once one was forgiven, he stated, sin held no dominion over an individual and that person was free from that sin and delivered unto the Lord, Lamb preached. Conversely, he would tell his followers that sex was not a sin, but a gift from God and that to not practice it was a sin in itself. The concept was in essence an innocent one but it did not stay innocent for long, nor did Lamb’s Flock as it no longer drew from the drugged or the spiritually lost, but an entirely new breed of lost sheep, the sexually deviant. As word trickled out to more depraved corners of society, it brought even more cash flow into his growing organization and Lamb did little to stop what were at first, allegations of infidelities and then heinous abuses against women and minors, in fact, he encouraged everything as long as the money kept rolling in and eventually sanctioned the abominations by practicing them himself all for the sake of salvation. Alejandro recoiled at the memory, partially blocked of private time and being put to bed by Lamb or any of his lecherous followers. There were many sick people that joined the Flock just to practice their own special brands of pedophilia, he recognized later on. But there were many who were spiritually gullible and believed Lamb’s pronouncements that Alejandro was "The Chosen One" and was somehow blessed or divine in nature and sought to be the next sacrifice to divinity in the sacrament of sex, as Lamb called it. Alejandro felt sad for these people who were so easily duped into believing such and blamed Lamb for leading them astray. Lamb was certainly the ring leader, taking the naïve as well as the knowing on the path straight to Hell with religion. He was not the first and not the last, Alejandro knew. Despite the fact that there were incidences of coveting other than one’s own spouse, corrupting children in many ways more than just sexual, there were also accounts of bestiality, hard-core drug taking and dealing, even rumored satanic rituals, he'd heard or bore witness. In Lamb’s twisted reiterations the more one surrendered to sin, the more one was saved and

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the worse the sin, the greater the salvation. In his philosophy, nothing was off-bounds. Except betrayal. Leaving the Flock was not tolerated and there were claims of ex-members being murdered or conveniently winding up dead. This was what Lamb called “The Wrath of God”. In his vision, there was no greater sin than ‘turning Judas’. Leaving the organization was an abomination and tantamount to a rejection of God. This was probably due more to the fact that once on the outside, an ex-member could talk readily and therefore alert the authorities as to all of the immoral, indecent and not to mention, illegal activities that have been taking place under Lamb’s leadership. Any number of these could send Lamb back behind bars and the truth was that while Lamb held many cops, judges and politicians in his back pocket by paying them off outright or offering them the sweetest fruits of his Flock, he could not pocket them all. Lamb counted on sin and guilt to keep his followers in line and had studied the other religions and had ingeniously discovered that the innate human sex drive was the one taboo that was the defining thread through all worldwide beliefs. It was viewed as a sin and Lamb being ever the con artist decided to give the people what they want in the guise of salvation. It was a revolutionary concept and one that fit in well with the open minds and need for personal expression when he began his deception. It was only of late that people began to question his motives. He referred to these people as ‘non-believers’ and ‘heretics’. Much of the recent turmoil among the Flock had to do with the fact of Alejandro turning eighteen and beginning to openly question Lamb himself. Lamb tried unsuccessfully to dismiss this open rebellion as typical for a teenager and likened his treacherous discourses in public to Abraham questioning God. Alejandro shook his head and shifted his leg, as he drove. His leg ached and he needed to stretch it, but he wanted to continue driving. He remembered the beating that Lamb rendered that gave him that limp when he was eleven because he pushed Lamb’s drunken advances away. Lamb was no more of a father figure than he was a father. Rumor had it that this supposed omnipotent was in fact, just impotent. It was whispered that the only way Lamb could perform sexually was through sadomasochism, coprophilia or just traditional, old subjugation of others around him. Alejandro had heard that his own mother had been a junkie and a stripper and had been brought down to the original Haight location by a girlfriend who was making easy money being on of Lamb’s prostitutes. It came as no surprise to Alejandro that his mother had no clue as to the true identity of his father. For all any-


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one knew, he was one of a hundred johns she saw in any given month. Lamb took rare sympathy on what he used to call ‘Charlie Lamb’s Lost Lambs’ and married Alejandro’s mother and adopted him as his own son. It was a legal marriage by any means, as Lamb had dozens of so-called wives who would share his bed at any given moment and even bear him children from when Lamb decided the stars were right. It was only Alejandro that he regarded as his true heir, even though he was not his own flesh and blood. Lamb construed Alejandro’s mother being with child as a miraculous advent. Her pregnancy, he reasoned, should not have been. She had undergone countless abortions before finding God or Lamb’s version of it. She was shaken by the unplanned pregnancy as was Lamb as she had been told by her gynecologist that as a result of botched abortions by less than credible doctors, her womb could never carry another child. The news of her pregnancy was seen by the fanatical Lamb as divine intervention and her child as The Chosen One. From the time of her first missed period to the time of the birth, the child was front page news in the organization's weekly missal, concentrating in insalubrious detail on everything from the expectant mother’s first morning sickness to the baby’s weight on every doctor’s visit to the size of the mother’s growing breasts that would nourish The Chosen One to how much her cervix was dilating. In Lamb’s view, the child belonged to the Flock, never really to the mother and every bit of information, even if private, was to be celebrated for salacious public consumption. It was into this depraved world that Alejandro was born and he was touted as nothing less than a boy king. Little was spared to make him happy, all that is, save for love. He was brought up by his mother initially, but when her own demons of heroin addiction got the best of her, reintroduced into her life and veins by none other than a scheming Lamb, Alejandro was raised by a succession of Mothers and Fathers who all had their own disturbing take on sparing the rod and spoiling the child. This was not to say that Alejandro did not enjoy the rewards of growing up as a quasi-deity. He had been through his share of drugs and women of his own choosing in the Flock. To this end, he was spoiled and immature much more so than most at that age and it was only until he met Marisol that reality literally slapped him cold in the face. He smiled at the remembrance of meeting her five years ago as he drove. She was a distant cousin of his best friend in the Flock, Jason Harvey. Life sometimes threw people a curve ball just to see if they were paying attention or were just waiting for a walk through life, he smiled. It was one of Lamb’s odd obsessions of mixing baseball metaphors and religion with lessons in life. One of the perks to being the so-called Chosen One was that Alejandro could go anywhere he wanted, without supervision or question of the elders of the Flock.

It was on one of these outings with Jason to the State Fair that Alejandro met Harvey’s attractive cousin, Marisol. Marisol was a raven-haired beauty with beautiful green eyes and full lips like those found on a pouty supermodel or a petulant Hollywood actress. Marisol slapped his face for becoming too fresh by pinching her ass. Where he came from, that was least of transgressions and he did what he pleased and where she came from, men were pleased only if she said so. The overt action of Alejandro and his cocky nature repulsed Marisol as much as it fascinated her and her smacking him for being too forward only interested him more. No woman had ever done that to him, he smiled in amazement. He soon changed his behavior around this stunning brunette and this spoiled prince of happenstance, soon began to arrange to see her whenever he could and spoil her with his kindness. Marisol was taken by this “badboy” with the kind heart. Soon the beguiling Marisol could think of nothing else than Alejandro, much to her chagrin. It also didn’t hurt that Alejandro had a limitless source of cash, endowed by the Flock as well as a convenient supply of alcohol and drugs. But Marisol possessed something that none of his privileged upbringing could give him; love. Marisol also had an independent streak and would be the first to tell Alejandro off if were acting spoiled; something no one else ever dared to do. It was something that appealed entirely to him and for once in his life; he felt no false acquiescence for what he supposedly was, but a trust in her for who he was as a person. Emotions that lay dead inside him resurrected whenever he was around her and for the first time he felt the joy of being in love and being loved in return. She was determined to right the serious wrongs that had been done to this sweet boy and promised to keep him safe from now on. She recognized how hard it had been for him to trust her; to trust anyone, really. She could see how reticent he was to talk about what was not a religious order but in reality, a cult. Later on, this would bother him even greater with each new tale of horror and abuse and of each photo of his childhood sent to him by the Flock that he burned and destroyed. It was not long after that Marisol began to ease Alejandro into the idea of leaving the Flock. The proposal, as sound as it was, scared the daylights out of the normally fearless teen. The Flock and the various compounds were all he had ever known and the thought of living outside in the real world was anathema to him. He had been home-schooled and brought up to be The Chosen One from day one. He had no marketable skills to speak of and the concept of working for a living was foreign to him. Little by little, Marisol coaxed him into the real world like everything else. She even made him wait


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for sex, another notion that was new to him. When they finally did have sex, Alejandro made love for the first time. It was a revelation to him. Soon, Marisol became his education, as well as his only religion and true belief in life. When Alejandro did announce he was leaving the Flock, it caused great consternation. There were some who saw it as necessary as the Amish practice of Rumspringa, in which the young are allowed to experience the outside world in all of its temptations for a year. Some likened it to Christ’s so-called “lost years” of the Bible. Others threatened to follow Alejandro as a splinter group. There were calls to violence and death against this Judas and his devil woman and to this end, an enraged Lamb did nothing but fuel the flames of this hysteria. It was only through a private meeting between, Lamb, Alejandro and his mother, who, addled by years of heroin abuse naturally pleaded the side of her dealer that the matter was even pejoratively settled. Typically, Lamb threatened an Apocalypse of Damnation if the teen didn’t reconsider. In response, Alejandro threatened his own version of the end of the world by telling the authorities all he knew, which was substantial. He swore that if he was allowed to leave freely that he would not turn Lamb over. Lamb, exhausted at seventy-eight and beginning to show the signs of Parkinson’s and suffer from the early stages of bone cancer, allowed him to leave unharmed but only on the condition that he return on the event of Lamb’s death to lead the Flock. Lamb promised him he could lead the order in his own image, even with that woman, Lamb grumbled. The plan appealed to the egotistical young man who saw it as an opportunity to turn the ministry around and do some good with it for once. Marisol was against the proposal, as any association with these brainwashed zealots was a bad idea, she reasoned. She was also aware the old temptations would still be available, the willing young women, not the least of those. She was cognizant that for Alejandro to have any chance in this world he would have to disassociate himself completely from the cult. It was the only way he could ever lead a normal life. It was the only way they could ever make it. Alejandro showed up in the middle of the night and woke a grumpy Marisol out of a deep sleep and persuaded her to leave her parent’s house and come with him to California. The romantic notion of stealing away from this deserttown existence and heading to California where pretty Marisol could see herself getting a modeling job or maybe a career in the movies greatly appealed to a small town girl. She squealed when Alejandro agreed they could stop in Hollywood first and try their luck there. He even knew some exmembers of the Flock who had stayed in California who now worked in some capacity for the movie studios, he told her.

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Never having been one to plan or for even navigating, he asked Marisol which way the sun set and then drove in that direction. The make-believe dream that was Hollywood soon tore apart at the seams with the reality they found in living in a series of seemingly never-ending squalid Hollywood area apartments that were cheap and affordable to first-time renters. Not only was the gas, electric and hot and cold running water included but also the water bugs and roaches, much to their dismay. Now cut-off, Alejandro’s once endless bankroll dwindled, each apartment got smaller and further and further from the famed Hollywood sign, Marisol noticed. To make ends meet, as much as Alejandro hated it, Marisol got a job as a dancer shaking her ass in some Downtown strip club along Alameda, while he worked in a series of menial jobs he had no skill or interest in keeping for too long. It seemed as he left one job for another, there was no place in this world for a Chosen Son, but one. Try as he might to leave his past behind him, there was always some nut job sending him the Flock newsletter, asking him for blessings, sending him gifts, money and reminding him of his duty as The Chosen One. They would write him long, meandering letters of how he had a obligation to fulfill and how he needed to return to the fold. As much as he hated to take their money, it did help pad the meager times in between and this seemed to Marisol the only true time he would ever embrace his calling. He did receive other letters and packages from those who saw him as a traitor. Perversely, he enjoyed the contents and read these diatribes over and over and kept them in a binder he labeled: “The Truth". Marisol didn’t share his affinity for these missives and thought the hate letters were something of a warning and that one day, one of these wackos would carry out their threats. Alejandro shrugged off the letters as a tasteless joke, but Marisol wasn’t laughing. Both Alejandro’s supporters and enemies seemed to know his every move, literally. When the money was scarce and both were in between jobs and they would leave a current apartment before being evicted, they discovered they could live in foreclosed houses, sometimes pretty much in luxury as some houses were left furnished. Around this the same time Alejandro started to shave his head, lift weights and get inked, just in case anyone wanted to fuck with them. He kept one letter. It was from a friend of his mother; a woman whom he confided to Marisol took away his virginity. It bothered Marisol that he kept the correspondence, but his reasoning was not out of any fond embrace of the past but for what information it contained. It begged him to make amends with Lamb, who was now dying. It was


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also the only letter he ever received with Lamb’s current known whereabouts. He was living in Tucson.

gun into his belt and pulled out his black t-shirt over it and got out of the car.

It just so happened that the distance between the small house in sun-drenched Lake Havasu City that Marisol’s father had given them after his divorce, once he found out they were squatting, to Lamb’s latest hideaway was not that extreme. It was only about three hundred miles from where they were now.

As he stepped out onto the unstable gravel, his foot shifted and made a harsh brushing sound against the dry earth beneath it. His instincts made him stop and look around carefully as this man was used to living in a fortress with armed guards at the ready, but strangely the only movement came from Alejandro's shadow against the gravel.

As a result of the divorce, Marisol’s father transferred to Phoenix where he had worked as a police officer up until his early retirement. Her mother lived with them for a short time, but never thought too highly of her daughter’s choice in a man and instead went to go live in a retirement community. Initially, Alejandro felt the need to give the dying man his due, tell him that he hated him for what he had done to him and all the others. He wanted the old bastard to know that he was worthless and that he would be happy when he died and that there would be no choir of angels to welcome him but a demon’s summoning to an eternal damnation. He would tell the old man what a despicable human being he was and that he deserved the Hell to which he was certainly going. He would tell Lamb that he was a man of evil, a scam, a con man and never a man of God. A man of God wouldn’t do the things he did. He would have his say and leave the old man to die and be done with Lamb forever. In the end, it didn’t turn out that way. He had no time for the many handlers champing at the bit; he knew he had to act fast. He also had no patience for the old bastard to die, but he would give Lamb what he never had; a choice. The Old Man could step down or stay at the helm and die trying. He just wouldn’t tell the Old Man about that last part, he smirked. He rolled up to the address. It was ranch-style mobile home park. The Old Man had come down many pegs. This couldn’t be right, he reasoned, must be some sort of trap. Lamb wouldn’t be caught dead in a place like this, he thought and then laughed. Yes, he would, if he didn’t hand over the leadership. Even though touted as the Flamboyant Father of the Flock by one of the newspapers at his zenith, this would be fitting as Lamb had been the product of a trailer park marriage, Alejandro recalled. Some older white residents looked warily upon this swarthy-looking tattooed man as he drove slowly through their park until he reached the teal aluminum-sided residence with a fake garden, complete with gnomes and a small, peculiar statuette of Elvis taken from a liqueur decanter as being the closest thing to a religious icon outside the front screendoor. Alejandro peered from side to side to see if this was any sort of set-up; to see if there were any henchmen at the ready but there was no one. It was eerily quiet. He tucked the

“Come in, Alejandro.” The voice gasped in a thin offer. It almost didn’t even sound like him, Alejandro thought. Careful, he told himself. “Come in, son, come in.” said the man who was the devil in human form to Alejandro. Alejandro slowly opened the door. Inside, he found a withered version of Lamb sitting on the couch, an oxygen mask mostly hanging off his scrawny whiskered face. He was hooked up to a morphine drip and not surprisingly had a pack of cigarettes next to an overflowing ashtray. Beside him stood the bitch that was Alejandro’s mother, now nearly toothless and befitting her white trash messy surroundings. Two for one, smiled Alejandro. “The Prodigal Son returns!” Lamb gestured. “How did you know it was me?” “From your gimp, son.” Lamb coughed as he took the mask off and wiped spittle from his mouth with the upside of his wrist. “From your gimp.” He smiled cruelly. “Hasn’t changed.” “A little present for my eleventh birthday.” Alejandro snarled. “You were quite the mischievous boy.” Lamb nodded. “My punishment for telling you no and running away.” “You needed discipline and to respect your elders. Didn’t seem to do you any good.” Lamb added. “But you have come back. They all do in the end, huh, mother?” He looked up at Alejandro’s mother who smiled and patted his shoulder. “Don’t you dare call me that.” “Can’t a father call his son that or is there a law against that?” “Oh, there are laws against what you’ve done.” “Alejandro, please. Big Papa doesn’t need to hear this.” His mother said tersely. “Big Papa!” Alejandro scoffed. “He’s no more my father than you’re any more my mother.”


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“Please, Alejandro! I agree that I haven’t been the best mother to you, but Big Papa has always provided for you and me and given us a home.”

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“I have a business prospect for you.” Alejandro said solemnly.

“If you call being a sex slave to someone being a good father.”

“To answer your question…” He said as he pulled on the oxygen again. “I knew you were coming. It’s been prophesized in our readings.” He said proudly.

“Big Papa is the father you never had! Now is not the time for false accusations.”

“Oh, bullshit. You’re a con from way back. It’s in you. You’re street smart.”

“They’re only false because you were too zonked out of your head on drugs to know any different. The only reason he’s the father I never had was because you were too fucked up to know who my real father was.” “Big Papa gave us salvation. We could be out on the street.” “How did he save you? By keeping you hooked on heroin? And me, tell me what did this bastard ever do for me? He’s no Big Papa. He’s a parasite.” “Alejandro!” His mother exclaimed. “It’s true and the sooner you admit it, the sooner you’ll be able to see the light.”

“The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Lamb smiled. “Cut that shit out, old man.” “Please, Allie, sit.” His mother offered. “Can I get you something?” “Please, lady, don’t start trying to be a mother now.” He tweaked. “And I told you not to call me that! You sure as hell can’t try to start being a mother to me now, sure as hell!” He snarled as his mother grimaced and hung her head. “So, what’s this business proposition, Allie?” Lamb gasped as he corrected Alejandro.

“God is the light.” Lamb smiled. “I am the light.” “Shut your hole, old man!” Alejandro barked. “You are no man of God. You kept my mother on smack and made her and her friends be whores for your so-called God. If God exists, He’s not what you call God. Yours is probably in a lower place.” “I am saying Allie, that I am the way to God.” “Don’t call me that!” “Allie, it’s me. You’ve no need for hatred or rancor. You’re among family. You dwell in the place of the Lord. This is the House of God.” Place of the Lord? The House of God?” Alejandro balked. “This is a fucking trailer!” He sneered. “And you are no closer to God than I am.” “Allie, please…Big Papa is not well and cannot take too much excitement.” “Shut it, you stupid junkie. I need to think. Look, everyone shut up!” The old man and woman exchanged glances as the boy proceeded to pace the small confines of the living room and kitchenette. “Look, why aren’t you surrounded by bodyguards and shit?” He asked as he wiped the sweat from his brow. “Should I be?” Lamb pondered. “Am I in some sort of danger? We are among friends here, family, even, a Lamb among his flock. Or is the Lamb among the lion?” He smiled and held out shaky, doddering old man’s hands.

“I told you don’t fucking call me that.” “Come on, son. I’ve always called you that.” The shaking old man said and turned off the oxygen and lit a cigarette and blew the smoke towards the boy. “You always liked me to call you that.” “That’s cos I didn’t know better.” “I always used to calm you after you had a nightmare and call you Allie, remember?” He tried to calm the kid. “You were the nightmare, you sick fucking bastard.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Mother, do you know?” Lamb said slyly. “No, Big Papa, I don’t.” “I’m sure you both don’t.” Alejandro growled. “As far as I’m concerned, you’re both guilty and can both go to Hell.” “Guilty of what?” Lamb asked almost innocently, as if in front of a jury. “Don’t give me that! Both of you know damned well what I’m talking about. The sexual abuse and the torture, the mind fucks.” “Mother, do you know what he’s talking about?” “No.” She sniffed. “I don’t.”


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“Allie, son. We’ve no idea what this is all about. Are you still doing drugs?” Lamb countered, trying to confuse the boy. “What did that awful girl put in your head?” His mother fumbled nervously with her hands. “You leave her outta this.” He growled. “I am not still doing drugs, but you still are.” He glared at his mother. “Son, you’re high right now.” Lamb said in a straight forward manner. “That doesn’t make you any less guilty of the crimes you committed against us children.” “Maybe so.” Lamb conceded. “So, if we did do some unpleasant things, it was in the name of keeping people on the straight and narrow.” “Straight and narrow?” Alejandro coughed. “Do you even hear yourself? Look, here is what I’ve come to say. I want you to step down form the leadership post from The Foundation of the New Blood of the Covenant of the Lamb. Has anyone ever told you that that’s a ridiculously long name for an organization?” “It’s a Church of Christ. It’s not a cult, son.” Lamb calmly corrected him. “And if I don’t step down, are you going to kill me?” He asked almost matter-of-factly. “I see the pistol under your shirt.” “Yes.” Alejandro answered in kind. “As Cain slew Abel…” “They were brothers, we are not brothers.” “We are brothers in Christ.” “We are nothing, old man.” “As Isaac was chosen by the Lord his God to slay his son, Abraham-.” “Read your Bible, old man. For one thing, Abraham was the father…” “Oh yes, my son. I was merely…” “Shut up! Shut up! Alejandro roared and pulled out his gun. His mother ran into the bedroom, leaving Lamb vulnerable. Alejandro calmly followed her into the bedroom, knocked her into the dresser with a fist to the back of the head. He positioned the gun in his hand and took a pillow that had fallen and stuffed the gun against it and fired, muffling the shot. Ridiculously, she was covered with blood and feathers, as was the floor around her and so ended the life of the woman who gave birth to him, but was no more of a mother to him than a stranger for she chose drugs over protecting her son in exchange for her complacency in allowing such atrocious acts practiced upon him.

Alejandro returned to the tiny living room where he found a horrified Lamb on the floor, trying to weakly crawl his way towards the screen door. His eyes were wide with terror and Alejandro relished the moment. He had not envisioned it going this way. He wanted the moment to last. “Allie, p-p-please don’t do this, you know you don’t have to do this.” The Old Man pleaded. “I’m sorry, my Lord, I have sinned, oh, how I have sinned!” He said as tears began to roll down his cheeks. “Whatever I did to you, son, I am sorry. I don’t remember what you’re talking about, I honestly don’t.” He said in a frightened timbre. “That’s the God’s honest truth.” “What do you know about the God, honesty or truth, you son-of-a-bitch?” “Now, you leave my mother out of this.” He said inconceivably. “My mother was a saint.” “Well, her son was no saint.” He sneered and picked him up and dumped him back onto the sofa. “I want you to do me one last favor.” “Anything, son, anything.” The old man shook. “Sign over the leadership to me and I might let you live.” He lied. “I can’t, Allie. I wish to God I could, but I can’t. My hands are tied.” “Now, there’s an idea.” Alejandro smirked. “Please, son. A business conglomerate came in and took over the organization. They bought me out and with all of our holdings made our business ventures go public. We’re trading on Wall Street, Alejandro! If my dear, departed father could only see me now, he wouldn’t think I’m so worthless now.” Lamb said with a distant smile. “Don’t worry, you’re still worthless. You sexually abused me and all those others. You took away our childhoods and got us all hooked on all sorts of shit and prostituted my mother and the rest of your Flock just to make money.” “Is that it? Do you want money? I have a lot of money around here. I have a lot more in the bank. I’ll give you my ATM and PIN if you want, just let me live, please!” “Right, so my picture can be all over the evening news, Lamb? You may think you’re smarter than me, but I’m the one with the gun.” “I always knew you were just like your father, a no-good two-bit hustler.” “Yeah maybe, I never knew my real father, so I don’t know. But unlike me, you’re going to see yours


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right now.” Alejandro smirked and jammed the pistol into Lamb’s emaciated frame and fired twice. Lamb slumped over the tattered couch, gurgling on foamy pink blood oxygenated from his lungs and muttered: “Why? Why you little punk? Why, when I gave you everything?” “Why? Because you gave me nothing. I’m left with nothing. Now, I’m giving it all back to you.” He said and smacked his face with the gun, causing Lamb to cry out in a wheeze. Alejandro smacked him again. “I trusted you!” Alejandro shook the frightened, dying man. “I trusted you!” HE said as Lamb's eyes widened in anger. He smacked the old man into unconsciousness with his gun, bloodying the man’s pajamas. “Oh no, you’re not going to get away that easy.” He said as he shook the man awake. As he pulled him down to the floor, knocking his oxygen tank down with him, Lamb shook and asked for one last cigarette. Alejandro then got a brilliant idea. As the old man lay on the floor, gasping and gurgling for air, Alejandro took the pack of cigarettes, of which there were only five left and bent down to Lamb’s side. He turned on the valve on the oxygen tank, walked over and turned on the pilots in the kitchen just enough for the gas to seep out and looked for matches to light the four remaining cigarettes in the kitchen, dining area and living room. The last cigarette he placed between the good old Reverend’s thin lips.

He lit the cigarette and watched as the fear spread across his face. It was so substantial; he wished he had had a camera or could stay for the finale. For good measure, he lit a pack of matches in each of the rooms, just in case the oxygen tank didn’t keep the cigarettes burning or if somehow Lamb extinguished it. Just as he cleared the gates and drove onto the main road and blended seamlessly in with the rush hour traffic, the gas ignited, sending his mother and the phony Reverend to Kingdom Come or at least points southward. With grocery bags stuffed with at least $100,000 that he found in coffee tins while rummaging in the kitchen for the matches, Alejandro drove self-assuredly towards the sunset over Lake Havasu City. Now that he had the money, he would now abandon his idea of taking over the ministry. That night, he would dump the gun that killed the man with a bottomless pit of enemies in the Lake. He would be among the many questioned but never officially suspected by the police. In the morning, he and Marisol would begin a brand new life without want or worry.

***

Julien Edmund Moss

Consensus - Through the Lamps of the Blind: A Free Sonnet I heard his name was Barry Quite contrary- to what I know This one’s learning lessons Sunday’s sessions watched him grow He said he’s fine, he’s black, he’s white Not quite confused… is he? Filled in the box on counting day The form he chose to be The half of him denied We died!- those who liked the man Who is he to break ties Post-demise of his Mam? But I would speak to offer him Curtains in for the ashen Dem

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Leaves Outside my window A woodpecker pecks Tap tap tap Its percussive stabs Signal to me that spring is here I watch the dew-soaked leaves And think too much of love

Shatterbird Farewell is the worst of terms As bad as the rest So I turned; “Fuck off… In the nicest possible sense,” For that bird who shattersly Just destroyed my salvation And, worse, it never replied


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Dusty Pendleton


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Ricky Garni FROM LIFE MAGAZINE, APRIL 17, 1970 GALLERY PHOTOGRAPH, PT BARNUM & FAMILY PT Barnum was compared to Shakespeare. PT Barnum was bald. He favored velvet collars. PT Barnum liked bow ties. He used to say, “I like bow ties.” There were more than one Barnum. There was only one PT Barnum. There were Barnum sisters. Eventually the Barnum sisters got married but they were still. Barnums. For example, Caroline Barnum became Caroline Barnum Thompson. Her dress coiled around her like a snake that had frilly curtain accessories to its slinky body. A frilly snake. Pauline Barnum married one Mr. Selley and liked to call herself Pauline Barnum Selley. She had a broad beam around the waist area, not slinky, and she enjoyed wearing a little white bib just for show. There also was this woman named Julie Hurd, I don’t know why. Where’s the Barnum? Ask PT Barnum. PT Barnum loved fish so much that he married Nancy Fish, I mean, after his wife died. If you ask PT Barnum what a thimblerigger is, he will tell you. He also knows all about Julie Hurd, and why. “Wild and wide are my borders,” Robert Service said in 1905, “stern as death is my sway” he said, but we wouldn’t even know that if we didn’t read the advertisement for Atlantic Richfield oil products, right next to the picture of Phineas and his family. Oh God there were more. P stands for Phineas sometimes. PT stands sometimes for Phineas Something or Other. There was Samuel Henry Hurn and Clinton Barnum Seeley and Helen Barnum Hurd and Frances Thompson who was so afraid of God that she wore a pretty gold cross around her neck that made Nathan Seeley’s moustache curl slightly when he smiled and laughed at her being afraid of God and such he would say, “Oh Frances, why are you so afraid of God and such?” For the camera, Nancy Fish Barnum, smile. Everyone Barnum, please, look at me. Everybody.


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FANUCK I bought ten bananas for $1.50, I thought that was a deal. I bought a tuxedo cheesecake for $8.00, I didn’t think that was a deal until I thought, Well, it did have the word ‘tuxedo’ in it

It’s more special than that, I know that if you are refined you don’t even use the word, you use ‘dinner jacket’ but the truth is

I haven’t worn a tuxedo in a long time, although I was stopped by the police once when I was wearing my grandfather’s tuxedo

He had one of those ‘save to die in’ tuxedos, he lived in a little house–I’m a-dyin’ now! He said, we laughed

the tuxedo cheesecake came out of my nose, which we usually only do with milk, your friends say

I once read that everyone is like a new little house in your life, and when you lose a friend, you are burning a little house to the ground, like this: FIRE!

Arthur Brown said, I believe, in the 1960’s – it was one of many songs that frightened me: the theme song to the Green Hornet, the theme song to Perry Mason, Sixteen Tons, Big Bad John, although I am not at all afraid of fires or bears or John–I am not afraid to lose my friends

Family is family, but I typed it fanuck

I think watching Yogi Bear for so many years made me more comfortable with large animals, less alone, maybe, and to this day I have a chair full of large animals I am alone, I am not really

There are a lot of things that I can never throw away: animals in chairs, ships in bottles, toy cars, songs in your heart – I think that some day I might need them all to get away, I know, I know, you are thinking

Get away? Escape? What am I thinking? I am Steve McQueen? I am Steve McQueen. Getting away doesn’t have to be exciting. It’s just about Point A. And Point B. The truth is, for all the talk, Steve McQueen only did one thing on a motorcycle in THE GREAT ESCAPE

and that was ride it through an empty field. Yes, I think that belongs to me. What you see, you are. I could get away. I wouldn’t pretend it is something that it’s not. He understood that. I am Steve McQueen.


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ENTRE~NOUS I always thought a poke was a place that you kept a pig, but actually it’s a bag, so a pig in a poke is a pig in a bag, which is a place, technically, but not a very comfortable dwelling spot for a pig, and he would be truly unhappy, until he is let out, were he to be alive, but I believe that he is not in this scenario, unlike a cat who is alive and in a bag, and unhappy to be so, very, at least until the point at which he is let out of the bag, and I suppose cats would protest even more strongly about being in a bag than a pig might, because their pleas are higher in pitch and more penetrating, and they are by nature more athletic and energetic, might put up a more convincing fight, and therefore might be released earlier, then again, it depends on the bag and the cat and the pig and the degree to which either or both are alive and the person with his bag and his feelings and tolerance levels and of course the value of the secret in the bag, or as I like to think of it, the deception.

***

Still Life with a Dead Hand

Kyle Hemmings Why I Prefer a Stick of Margarine to Elvis Presley's Ghost: A Short Memoir by an Employee of Heidi Fleiss

He watched me undress and compared my backside to expensive hills of albino blubber. Or a sign over a keyhole that reads: Keep Coming again. He asked me if I swallowed bluegrass. Did Homeric verse originate in a dry vagina? His twang stung. Slipped off my silk panties and faced him, those soul-slutted see-through eyes. I waited for I'm trying to grip a brown mango with my good hand him to disrobe. The leather peeled in delicate almost painful motions. the other, the left, still flaccid from a stroke Naked, he said he felt like a child again caught at doing what he did was the same hand I tried composing a letter to so many times. I said you look like The King. Or one of his impera woman expelled from a convent, caught in bed sonators hatched in a comedy cellar. I've been dead 35 years, he said, with a soulful eyed priest, always neglecting and all these 93 yr. old lesbians claim to have slept with me in the to tie one shoe (which she faithfully pointed out gossip columns. Do you know what that does to a ghost's ego? He after sermons), his body, once obedient and still, cracked stale jokes, spoke of The Colonel as a dubious phallic sub, a sacrificial loaf of bread, but on that night, sang in a quivering voice Blue Suede Ghouls. On the bed, he was in the sisters' chambers, that body suddenly prone, pale-faced, and Mr. Dieingly sad. I tried to palm his genitals broke new life, a snake, a viper in twisted motion, then straddle him. My hands went through him like the lies of a thouexhaling various colors and recalling the laughing sand men through my ears. I felt frigid as a heirloom and I only manunderbelly of gurgling brooks, the racy thoughts aged to touch myself. No use, I stated flatly, sex is always selfof hummingbirds diving for a quick catch. The Mother reflexive with a real phantom. He asked if I were in this business only Superior shone a flashlight and the two sat up, for the money. Get out, I said. He started to laugh. pulled the sheet to their shoulders, the woman mumbling something like "God forgive us," and the man shocked but not surprised, rueful, but wanting more--the brook was no longer.


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A Letter to the Girl Who Works at the Hershey Chocolate Factory This letter is about dreaming or not dreaming. Life always slips in between. And you’re the girl who served me avocado salad and veggie burger. You were nervous and dropped my fork. Your name tag said Lola. You said you were moonlighting and your full time job was at the Hershey’s factory ten miles from here at Elizabethtown, which rhymes with just about any town. Your job was to mix bitter with sweet. When you spoke about the last visit of the Jonas Brothers (giving away V.I.P.s) or Bon Jovi, your left hand twitched and your eyes turned far away and milky. I did not say that I was here to close down one of the plants, the one you worked at. Over the speakers, Lady Gaga sang Pokerface My Pa Pokerface. ***

Hooker Potholes filled with tempestuous rain caught the reflected red glare of the traffic light above Mercer and 7th. Gently I pumped the brakes a few times screeching my old Toyota finally to a sliding stop. Despite maximum speed of the wipers, the rain pounded against the windshield, cutting visibility down to gray ghost shapes. I wasn’t sure if the light was still red or had changed. I cranked down the window, then shut it. Too much rain. Perversely I imagined the water climbing inch by inch to several feet, becoming a river down Mercer. Drowning me.

Salvatore Buttaci

Then I heard a voice screaming in the wind and rain. Close enough to make out the words. “Let me in!”

I cleaned the fog off the inside windshield and saw how I could, without much worry, yank the car to the right and park it up on the inclined curb, safe from drivers behind me. Out of habit I patted the revolver in my jacket. The pounding again. The passenger door. Leaning over, I stretched to flick up the button and she jumped in so fast she looked like a blue blur in the downpour. Peripherally I could see her pull down from her head the soaked jacket she had folded and worn to keep off the rain. She punched the button down and her door was locked. “Just keep drivin‘. Out of this shit town!” We were still parked on the slant. The engine was running but the car sat there humming. “What are you waitin’ for, Mister?” “You gonna wave a gun in my face?” I asked. “This a hold-up? You running from the cops?” She laughed. “Seems I’ve been runnin’ from cops since I cut my first teeth.” The scent of her was vaguely familiar, maybe one of Kit’s favorite perfumes though I couldn’t be positive. My sniffing nose gave me away. “You like what you’re smellin‘, Mister? It’s ‘Poison,’ ok? The perfume, I mean. Guys like it. They say it helps ‘em rise to the occasion. Whatever stokes your furnace.” The rain out there seemed to be letting up. I didn’t hear its mean tattoo on the streets. More a slowingdown wash with streaks thinning out so I could see the road between them. But it was a deception I kept falling for as the rain once more pelted the roof of my car, hushed to a slow dribble, then picked up its maddening barrage again.

Dying sounded good to a man on the eve of losing his job, and in the end, though he wasn’t convinced yet, perhaps his wife as well. It was fitting that next, if I were real lucky, I’d give myself up to the rain.

“Whatta you say, Mister?”

Horns blowing behind me signaled the light had changed. Cautiously I touched the gas pedal. Slowly aimed the car forward and prayed what I could not see out there would not all at once be an oncoming truck and instead of killing me outright, maim me bad enough I’d be hanging from a plastic I.V. deep in coma with no way out.

Her long blond hair straightened by the rain, her black mascara streaking like tears down her cheeks, the blue dress, more low-cut now as it plastered wet against her skin. I was taking it all in. She was pretty. Maybe beautiful if she hadn’t been caught out in that rain. What sent her running? At least she had something to run from.

“You want me to go where?” I asked her. “Anywhere out of this freakin’ place!”


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I wasn’t going to throw a pity bash for myself but the truth was, I was running too, but back there I had left nothing. Once everything. Now it seemed nothing at all. “Ok, twenty questions,” she said, smirking thick red lips the rain hadn’t paled. “What do you wanta know? Ask.” “You’re a hooker.” “That’s not a question.” “Are you?” “Now that is a question. Yeah, a hooker. I hook Johns and Peters right off the streets. I give ‘em what-for and they pay me so I can pay Paul. Rob Peter to pay Paul.” She laughed. Peter the John and Paul the pimp. Only Paul wants his money.” “And you spent it.” “A question, ok? ‘Did you spend it?’” “All right, did you?” “Eighteen questions left and time’s a-wastin’.” “Look, what do you want me to do? Drive you to a bridge? Watch you dive into the New River? Make believe I don’t give a damn about some pretty Mercer Street hooker?” “Keep them questions comin‘!” “I want some answers, then I’ll help you,” I said and kept myself seated twisted at the hip so my eyes bore into hers, waiting. For awhile neither of us said a word. The rain outside was a fraction of its former self. It was still falling but like some ferocious beast after a kill it was tired, working out its panting in a kind of slow motion descent. “Paul’s brother,” she said. I knitted my eyebrows. Paul’s brother? I repeated in my head. What about him? “You got to get me far away from here, Mister. If I just owed that bastard some money, I could take the beatin‘. He’s done it before. He knocks me down, I bounce back up. I’m one of those rubber sex dolls, you know. Not even Paul can get through me. No, it ain’t the money Paul’s looking for now.” “You said Paul’s brother.” Another long drawn-out silence. Then she wriggled herself closer to me, threw her damp head against my chest and began sobbing like you see in those detective movies of the long-gone 40’s. I thought of Virginia Mayo and knew damn well she might have looked like that film dame but had no clue except maybe the Mayo clinic, some place you went for some last-minute hope.

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She was sobbing so loud she turned down the volume of the rain. I patted her blond head, told her what my mother used to say to me when I fell and got hurt, “It’s ok. It’s ok. You’ll be all right. Nothing can be so bad you can’t––” She pulled her head away, stabbed me with those green eyes glaring from a mascaraed face, and whispered from a trembling mouth, “I killed Lenny.” The teeming rain splashed so vociferously against the windshield it made me imagine the desperation of a caged man out there banging his fists on the glass, begging me to let him into the car and away from whatever demons were hot on his trail. A loud rain that warned me to keep the Toyota right where I had turned it up onto the curb now made outside look so nightmarish, I wondered if we’d be marooned here till morning. Kit was home I knew lying in bed biting her fingernails, wondering if she should call the police or wait just a little longer. She was hearing the same heavy rain stampeding on our roof, and yet maybe she was thinking, “That bastard‘s drinking again!” What had I gotten myself into? A hooker, a stormy night, a murder. Sounded too much like some mystery writer’s raw materials for a blockbuster novel which I wanted absolutely no part of and yet… “What makes you so sure you killed him?” It was a dialogue line I’d read or heard in a movie once so I thought I’d give it a run. She looked at me with a sneer that hinted she had either seen the same film or read the same book. “Dead is dead, ain’t it?” “What happens now?” I asked her. Tell me the rest of story. You killed Lenny and then what? For a long minute it seemed she had allowed the falling rain to mesmerize her so that her eyes remained peeled straight ahead on the opacity of the windshield, but then she turned her blond head towards me and said, “You get my ass out of here! Find me somewhere to hide so that pimp don’t find me!” The old adage flashed like a neon sign on the blackboard of my mind: “No good deed goes unpunished.” I had tried to do my job and guys on the take figured better I go down than I blow the whistle, so by tomorrow it’d be goodbye job and double-goodbye pension. My last night employed and I was spending it inside my car next to a blond who committed murder while the rain fell with a vengeance. How was that for drama! What could I tell her? If she expected me to risk going to jail for harboring a murderer no matter how pretty she was, she had sawdust for brains. I had just graduated with honors from Alcoholics Anonymous and no way was I going to let them take back my diploma. It was hard enough distancing myself from the lure of the street-corner bars and


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liquor stores where once I was a regular and booze was the nectar that transformed me into a foul-talking minor god. Now I was sitting like a trapped man in a vise, a beautiful blond hooker in the passenger seat beside me, the unrelenting rain. Just two unlikely strangers trying to come up with an escape plan. “So you killed this guy. In something like cold blood.” “Lenny had his hands on me. Said he’d tell his brother I was a rogue hooker. Out there earning my own livin’. Keepin’ from Paul the cash I made sweatin’ on my back. Which I wasn’t. Lenny started choking’ the life out of me. Paul once gave me a small pistol in case a John got too rough, wanted more than he paid for, and I’d have to kill him to save my life. So instead of a John it was Lenny.” “Self-defense then.” “Oh, yeah. Whatta you, some big-shot lawyer? Self -defense. Oh, yeah yeah. I’ll tell that to Paul. He’ll understand.” Sarcasm. She was damn good at it, but it floated like spoiled milk curds on the top of her fear. I had met so many like her. They wear their bravado like a banner and wave it when what they really want is to jump in a deep hole and hide from their own selves. She was crying now. I handed her a tissue from the half empty box where my sunglasses used to sit. “Here,” I said, “blow your nose. I hate it when women cry.” She honked and carefully dabbed away at her eyes. It didn’t help. Between the raindrops and the teardrops her black mascara had smeared so bad she looked like a raccoon with a blond wig. A very frightened raccoon. The boys at the precinct said I was a sucker for hardluck stories. I gave them all a bad name. They preferred bad cop, bad cop. I had to laugh at that. They liked pulling rank and gun and their blue-jacket power over alleged perps. I saw a few of those beserko-cops, instead of bringing a drug pusher to the station, shoot the guy, confiscate his wares or the money he made selling them and keep it all for themselves. This was where I was expected to step in line––their line!––and keep my mouth shut. There was plenty for everybody and anyway, they kept the streets clean with a sweep of their hard steel police specials. Easy as pie. Who could argue with it? I could argue, but because I did, I was staring at the end of the road. Dreams of becoming captain were about as surreal as this whole damn rainy night. “You gotta help me, Mister. My sister in Paducah. She’ll hide me. Paul don’t know nothing’ about my past. Connie’s a good kid. Shoulda turned out like her. I’d be eatin’ popcorn tonight, watchin’ a DVD, wonderin’ how long that friggin’ rain out there would go on floodin’ the streets.”

I put my best cop face on and said, “What’s your name?” “My real one?” I nodded. “Those creeps called me Ronnie but it’s really Flora like my grandma.” “Listen, Flora. I can’t drive you to Kentucky or anywhere else.” She let her mouth droop like a deflated upsidedown half-moon, her dark-blue eyes boring holes through me. “What did I expect!” she said and turned so the back of her blond head faced me. “I’m a street whore. Why help me.” “You run and when they find you––the cops, I mean––they’ll tag you with murder. Or why else would you take off? I say it was self-defense. There ain’t a lawyer anywhere who wouldn’t win the case hands down. Lenny could’ve killed you. What else does a person do where life’s involved? You had every right to kill the bastard. Worse scenario they get you for gun possession and that you can pin on Paul the pimp. Tell them it was standard procedure when he sent his girls out on the street. Each hooker got a plugger. It came with the job and the territory.” “You lyin‘, Mister?” “Is this a dry summer night?” She laughed. “Maybe it’ll keep up and we could row this tincan canoe all the way to Paris!” It was still a squinter’s trick to see anything out there the rain descending sideways like silver-gray sheets covering everything. It would slacken for awhile, then return full-force. It raced like galloping horses tattooing the roof above us. Maybe all this rain was a good thing. Maybe had the night been clear, Paul or one of his henchmen might have easily found Flora hiding somewhere on Mercer. Flora seemed calmer now. I put a fatherly arm around her shoulder. “Look, everything’ll work out. Trust me.” “You a cop?” “Good question. The night’s still young. When dawn breaks, so will I. They’re taking my badge and my gun and twenty years of trying to be an honest cop. Like my father.” I expected her to recoil, push her pretty body as close to her door as humanly possible, but instead she raised her shoulders, took a deep breath, and exhaled like one trying hard to rid herself of more than she could han-


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Boring Resized by Sergio A. Ortiz

dle. I took her hand in mine and promised, “I’ll drive you to the station. I’ll make sure things go right for you, Flora.” Then I reached for my revolver a jiffy after I heard the crashing sound of my driver’s window spraying glass shards like tiny mosaic stars at my back. Shielding Flora, without even turning my head, I swung my left arm behind me and fired once, then again, and one more time for good measure. All the while Flora was screaming almost louder it seemed than my heart that threatened to burst from my chest. I pushed hard enough on the driver’s door to open it where behind it the dead man had fallen against it. By now Flora had joined me outside the car. We stood on the high incline of the curb, staring down as the rain washed the blood away from the dead man’s torn-away face. “Paul?” I asked Flora. “Yeah, it’s him. Now what? You gonna cry self-defense too?” The scene was grim but I chuckled anyway. “I’m a cop, remember?” I made the call to precinct. The sergeant at the night desk, young guy named Walters, sounded surprised to hear my voice. “Yeah, it’s me. What? Last-minute tidying up, Walters. Send somebody down here. I got a body soaking in the rain.” What tomorrow would bring I wished I had a clue, but as for tonight, things worked out better than I would have guessed. If it happened tomorrow they’d turn me away, at least I was a cop right up to the end. I would finally get home tonight and explain it all to Kit. Maybe it would help. I had been tight-mouthed for too long. It was high time to come clean, tell the woman I loved what had been going on at precinct and where I stood. I’d tell her I loved her. No matter what, we wouldn’t let hard luck rain on our parade. “Ready, Flora?” We got back into the car and with the shattered window admitting a hard rain to blow in our faces, we silently drove towards the police station. “I’m stayin’ off these streets,” she said, “even when this friggin’ rain stops someday! ***


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Stephen Jarrell Williams

Crossing Over

Making Waves Enough of fears. Let's go for it... Bury me between your breasts. Show me your birthmark. Wrap your long hair around my tower. Laugh at the smoke we create. Red grapes in the dark, ripe taste.

Thighs, hair, heels digging into the bed. Glittering eyes anticipating a rainbow bridge... Crossing over this fantasy into the next.... www.blogcatalog.com/blogs/barbara-fox-daily-paintings

Taking My Time

Cigarette You smoke that cigarette like I want to be... Between your lips as you talk, telling me things cloudy in my mind, faraway and here, burning me up, puff after puff.

Duel Meaning We are a divided creation struggling to reach the other.

Picking up my brush, waving it in front of you. Painting jungle green leaves, purple flowers, Inch-by-inch over your entire body.

The dark angel of destiny holding us apart, until I become strong enough to break her embrace.

www.redbubble.com

Shadows nylon-brown, slipping to the floor.

Dunking ourselves in the bathtub at 4AM.


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Hugh Fox

The Insides Me davidsongalleries.com

Alternatives Feet that never antique out, How many, where, New What mountains And a life of thistles or Pass the Sun-steaks.

From Now Now (diagnosis) EVERYTHING ground into stephanievegh.ca

Obituary dust as I lie down and the diving board iron stairs start pre-groining into me, just the backyard catalpas and barbecue fires, Bermuda water and a touch-taste of forbidden everything.

A thousand years from now,

Now

Records, remembrances, A billion astral memories

Now that she’s thirty two And I’ve just gotten the Final judgement from the Cancer- Jury, I can’t believe Her taking me around to Perfect napkin places with Her babies,as if I were one Of them instead of her Creator.

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Remembering this screen And the papagayo birds out in The forest getting used to me As I leave for eternal nowheres.


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April A. The Voice Of Despair ipaintfish.com

Triangles of half-open doors Reveal all the truth that is hidden: Just condoms and cans on the floor, Black papers with verses, forbidden Unfinished remakes of the song, Deprived of the right to speak loud Of wicked intentions gone wrong Erasers have muffled the shout. The only illusion-proof mind A poet, the voice of despair, Sincere, the one of this kind Throws verses far into the air Right there, in a dirty old flat Among once great talents, now rotten. They all have deserved more than that, But even their names are forgotten.

Victim You wake up at six: intercourse with your spouse. You're under the blanket with tightly shut eyes. At seven a postman arrives to your house With two printed portions of scandals and lies. You turn the TV on. Your damn daily dose Of lies is exceeded with fresh morning news. You firmly believe global changes are close You have no idea they've hidden the truth. In life you've achieved less than nothing, you're poor Though you were the best both at college and school. Well, man, who are you? You are not even sure. In fact, you're a pawn in the game of a fool.

A Desperate City Hello to you from the gray gloomy city, Where crowds unconsciously worship despair, Indulging in dangers of constant self-pity With naive belief in the world's being fair. They have no trust in a man's inner power, And fortitude sounds like something unknown. They have no poets, just ones of an hour, Who drown at once in the thoughts of their own. With greed they consume plain illusions for dinner, And dress them with lies when they serve the new dishes To those so-called "pathological sinners" Who find someone else's delusions delicious. They have Friday liter-mates rather than friends To mark that the week of no favor is ending, But even with glasses of spirits in hands They look worse than misery. Are they pretending?

Every Single Evening's Plot I closed the door of my dirty old flat, I went outside for a short evening stroll. I bought some cheap hooch and a condom instead. I'd only arrived when I heard a phone call. It was so persistent, so deafening loud. Who failed to forget me? I wanted to know. I took a deep breath for a desperate shout, Picked up the receiver: "Hello! Hello?" Just silence. An error? Wrong number? Or what? A quick thought of you. Stupid me! Would you care? I started to feel all the spirits I'd bought Dissolve in my blood, neutralizing despair. In less than an hour my neighbours arrived And asked me for something they needed. Okay. I gave them a condom and bade them hot night I wouldn't have sex for some number more days. I spent the next hour listening to moans, But envy and anger were still neutralized. I'd made through the day, and I'd done it alone. The neighbours calmed down. I closed my eyes.


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Michael Lee Johnson

Electric in the Sun

Hookers on Archer Avenue Late evening, early morning, I search the night for whores, young and bloody with desires. The night streets are silent streets accept for the hookers and the Johns. One wants the pushing of groins the other green eyes in dollar bills are sacred treasures the snatch of the wallet, a consecrated craft. Both hit the streets quickly satisfy the needs quickly finish in different directions quickly. I’m an old buck now rich with memories more than movement, talking the trash, taking the porn pictures, peeking Tom expert with a naked eye, snooping around department store corners, and dumpy old alleyways. My hair is gray, my teeth eroding, my thoughts leaning toward prayer A.M. Catholic mass, finishing off the early morning with a lethargic walk to pick up my social security check comforts my needs.

Indolent Sun In early March an indolent sun persists in tossing volunteer rays of soft flickering sun silk through dark desolate willow tree branches melting remnants of snow diamond crystals from weathered wooden planks on my balcony. I’m starting to think life is an adjective exaggerated by the sway of seasons. It’s normal feeding time. Below two floors wild Canadian geese wait impatiently for the tossing of morning feed; the silent sound they hear─ no dropping of the seed.

California Summer Coastal warm breeze off Santa Monica, California the sun turns salt shaker upside down and it rains white smog, humid mist. No thunder, no lightening, nothing else to do except sashay forward into liquid and swim into eternal days like this.

theatlantic.com

I’m electric in the spring sun nomad in the summer dust my lantern burns without fuel, I lie in the deep grass with microphones tossed over my ears and feel like I’m on a high psychedelic blue-green grass pink sunglasses in my left hand, teeth pearly white ivory tusks, muscle tee shirt, with brown sash from shoulder to hip, crazy beads around my neck yellow-orange shaped like candy corn life is but a blitz, I’m electric in the sun, and there is no cell phone by my side.

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Muhamed Riyaz Crimes of the Flesh Mafia: An International Crime Report from Dubai It is high time that people all over the world who have some humanity left, should be aware that trafficking of humans especially women and children are serious crimes of International stature. The Interpol and many agencies like the International Organization for Migration (IOM) supervises and puts pressure upon the Police forces of various nations regularly to be more vigilant and humane when rescuing and repatriating people who are trafficked. But in global business hubs like the city of Dubai belonging to the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E) the officials apply a totally different attitude on such issues unofficially. To say, they consider normal trade practices even in the case of sensitive issues such as Human Trafficking since everything is considered in terms of profit and loss only. It is a quiet normal practice in Trade at these regions, when there are demands in the market for some specific products available exclusively in some other nations; lots of suppliers somehow immediately try to bring those new products in the market, as much as they can in order to extract maximum profit and name, out of such deals. Sadly, imagine, What if women and children were sold like these commodities and that too by force and deception? How terrible and horrifying would it be? That’s what exactly happened after the break of the Soviet Union in the 1990’s. It is rated one of the most vulnerable regions in the world where Women and children are trafficked in large numbers since then. Thousands of people lost their jobs and various businesses were crushed or became bankrupt. Confusion and political and economic disasters were prevalent in Russia and its break away regions. Both men and women thought of migrating to various rich nations as the only option for a better life. This situation caused much social unrest apart from adding salt to injury to the already collapsed life conditions since most of the men in these countries were under the heavy influence of drugs and alcohol apart from lack of work and mental frustration due to long years of conflicts in the Russian mainland and breakaway regions. Average monthly salaries were even less than US $50 with which basic expenses cannot be met. Government officials were corrupt and didn’t find any practical solution to help the masses to emerge from this situation. Hence young women and girls were forced to think of making easy money somehow. Ultimately, this situation gave opportunities to many human traffickers and they wooed these helpless young women to migrate to rich nations including U.A.E for jobs that never existed. They were coerced and forced to become prostitutes since they were in demand in the ‘Dance clubs” among large numbers of local and expatriate working classes who considered them just like any other product as it was practiced since the era of the Infamous “Slave” markets of Arabia. Recently the U.A.E has taken some positive and effective supervision in this regard by increasing the number of prosecutors in the National Human rights commission due to International pressure from WTO and other International bodies. But things have not changed much in the ground as one can easily spot crowds of these girls and women thronging the streets of Dubai, begging to possible clients even in the late hours of night when the dance clubs get closed. The authorities don’t seem to take any action to defuse these daily scenarios since the unofficial government policy is to facilitate “Sex Tourism” along with other trades, as per the information shared to this reporter by a top secret official who refused to take any further action on my report and also gave a hidden warning not to get involved with the affairs of the “Flesh mafia” as they are called for my own safety. Here is the experience of the 21 year old Nadia, who was one among the trafficked victims about how she was duped and trafficked to Dubai forced into prostitution from Moldova, as I heard from her tearfully. I was in need of some big money badly to support my family and easily felt prey to the trap of the human trafficking mafia in her country, (Note: Her original name has been changed to protect the Identity) She was from Bender city of Transnistria, a breakaway region of the Republic of Moldova. She lived with her Moldovan mother who got separated from her Ukrainian father who remarried and live somewhere else from her house. Her younger brother was a drug addict and had to face some police cases in her country. Even though her elder brother works in Russia he doesn't take care of the family. Hence she took the decision to earn some money for the family by migrating abroad. It was informed by a recruiter that she will be provided some decent job at Moscow through a telephonic interview as a response to the application she posted for an overseas job vacancy advertisement which had appeared in a local newspaper. But when she reached Chisinau, the capital of Moldova at the recruitment agencies office, the recruiter who spoke to her on phone earlier informed her that the her job was already filled up, but he could arrange a similar job in Dubai without paying the travel expenses via Moscow for a better salary to which ultimately she agreed.


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She arrived in Dubai on a two month visit visa along with some other girls who were sent along with Nadia. There a woman named Julia who she refers as her ‘Boss’ from Uzbekistan who talked her language Russian received her along with her passport in the airport itself and then took her to an apartment. Then later, I realized I had been sold, said Nadia. “Because I saw her paying money to an Arab guy along with my passport whom she later understood is her local sponsor. Nadia was then warned by the Uzbek lady that she was required to spent time for a minimum period of 3 months in the local disco clubs as a Call girl for the clients for money with an approximate daily target of US$680 of which she will not be entitled for any penny. She understood from other Moldovan women already at the Uzbek woman’s place that they too were working as prostitutes in similar terms paying the “Travel debts” to the “She-pimp,” who claimed, they owed her. Their clients were mostly local Arabs apart from many other nationalities who throng the clubs for the “Night life”. The Uzbek lady was very aggressive, Nadia said. Julia physically abuse and threaten them regularly to make them subservient to her.

Her country Moldova was part of ex-soviet union. It is the most poorest and corrupt country in Europe as per the EU. Moldova is a major source, and to a lesser extent, a transit country for women and girls trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation in Eastern Europe. Moldovan women are trafficked to countries like Turkey, Israel, U.A.E, Ukraine, Russia, Cyprus, Greece, Albania, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Italy, France, Portugal, and Austria. Every year, hundreds of thousands of girls and young women are lured abroad by offers of waitress, beauticians or secretary jobs — and then find themselves trapped there working as prostitutes. A few of these women manage to escape, but for some, the only way out is to recruit another young woman as a replacement,” said Stella Rotaru whom this reporter approached as a final hope to save Nadia and her other friends from the clutches of these butchers. Stella Rotaru is a Moldavian counter trafficking expert, who works with the International Organization for Migration which is a U.N supervised body having global offices in many countries, who rescue such women ensnared in the global sex trade. She said that the mafia people are very clever since they traffic Moldovan girls only to countries like the United Arab Emirates where Moldova does not have an embassy or consulate. Hence the victims cannot get any legal help from those nations and also they will be sent on exit only to another country from where these women were trafficked. Stella has rescued many girls like Nadia in the past with the help of the Interpol and some good local authorities. She says that the Moldovan government in 2006 provided a new building for the IOM-managed and funded rehabilitation center for trafficking victims. Victims are granted a 30-day reflection period. Victims generally do not assist law enforcement with investigations or prosecutions because the government is largely unable to protect victims from retaliation by traffickers to them and their families. But anyway she promised to do whatever is possible to help them.

urbanchristiannews.com

She never reveals her identity or her secret position to the outside world by going to the dance clubs along with the girls but they were supervised by a salaried Moldovan lady named ‘Tania’ who also was an ex-prostitute, brought in Dubai four years earlier whom Nadia refers as her ‘Manager’. After lots of persistent questions she told this reporter a secret that there is no way out from this work for her or the other girls. Their families will be threatened or killed by the mafia in their country who brought them here if they try to escape. Also Nadia who has completed the three month period was even forced to work again by her Boss. She along with many others have already been trapped here as per law of the land since their visit visa status becomes automatically illegal after the two month period. It is a usual tactic followed by the traffickers. The women too hesitate of complaining to the Police due to the language barrier and fear. Nadia’s visit visa has been expired for more than a month. Now she cannot exit the country without serving a jail term followed by deportation. She also needs to pay a huge amount of money as fines to the immigration offices before she could exit the country. Even she succeeds in reaching her country; the immigration officials there will torture her since they are hand in glove with the mafia. Nadia has been mentally and physically exhausted in the last 3 months and is not sure when she will be able to return to her country at least for a temporary period before being trafficked to some other country on some forged passport by the mafia again. Also she or her other room mates are not aware of the risks of HIV. As per a study conducted recently by the World Heath Organization majority of HIV virus spreads through such vulnerable woman like Nadia who are forced to migrate as sex slaves for a good part of their lives.


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She says with pain, that in cities like Dubai, the huge demand for women from many countries like hers is the prime reason which makes them more vulnerable at the hands of the traffickers. Hence people need to change their attitude towards women and stop encouraging prostitution for a better society and expose them which will ultimately force these traffickers to change their tracks. The irony is that these types of inhuman practices do not stop with Nadia alone. It goes on repeating among thousands of women like her who are trafficked everyday all over the world from many poor countries like Moldova unless the International community takes some strong common action plans for the prevention of such situations which acts in favor for the so called “Global flesh trade”

(Reported by Muhamed Riyaz, Freelance Crime Reporter for the ‘Khaleej Times’ National English Newspaper based in Dubai, U.A.E) Comments can be sent to his email at riyazppmc@gmail.com LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/riyazppmc

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Contributors John Grey lives in Providence, Rhode Island. He has been published recently in the Georgetown Review, Connecticut Review, South Carolina Review and The Pedestal and has work upcoming in Poetry East and The Pinch. Roger Cornish aged 51 has been married for 31 years and has a son who is 22. He had a daughter Sarah, who died at the age of 9 due to Cystic fibrosis. Roger was a Coal Miner for 23 years and now works in a cannery making pet food. He studied English literature and Language to A level standard at night school some years ago. He says, “that’s my only claim to academia I’m afraid, having left school with no qualifications.” He has always enjoyed reading and accidentally found Bukowski’s novel ‘WOMEN’ in a bookstore. That got him into poetry, although he had memorised Byron’s “She walks in beauty” years ago. He has a Westie and a Scotty terrier who dominates everything! He has also been published in 'One Night Stanza' and ' Gloom cupboard'. E-mail: cornirog.1@btopenworld.com Joseph Grant's short stories have been published in over 200 literary reviews such as Byline, New Authors Journal, Underground Voices, Midwest Literary Magazine, Inwood Indiana Literary Review, Hack Writers, Six Sentences, Literary Mary, NexGenPulp, Is This Reality Zine , Darkest Before Dawn, strangeroad.com, FarAway Journal, Full of Crow, Heroin Love Songs, Bewildering Stories, Writing Raw, Unheard Magazine, Absent Willow Literary Review. Julien Edmund Moss has been writing since age 3. He has published various illegitimate sketches in the Jibsheet, a weekly newspaper published at Bellevue Community College. He graduated BCC with an A.A. Degree in Spring 2007. He’s been published in Always Looking, Love’s Chance, Poet’s Espresso, The Stray Branch, Straylight, Soul Fountain, Languageandculture.net, Litsnack, Expressions, Eskimo Pie, Blink Ink, Open Minds Quarterly, Poetic Matrix Press (poeticmatrix.com), and Northern Stars magazines, The Sheltered Poet blog (http://theshelteredpoet.blogspot.com/) under August, December, and January 2008-9, and Record Magazine blog under July 2009. He also has a chapbook out called 24 Poems. Dusty Pendleton, b 1946 Houston, Tx. A professional artist since graduation from Texas State University in 1970, Pendleton has lived and worked in Texas as well as England, France, Spain and Oaxaca, Mexico. Primarily a painter in oil and watercolor, Pendleton is represented in private collections in Europe, Mexico and South America as well as the United States in addition to book and music publications. Currently resides in his studio in Bandera, Tx. with his wife of 39 years, Martha. (www.pendletonart.com) Ricky Garni was almost certain that he would draw pictures of Spiderman for a living until he found himself in a faraway country at the age of 16 that only offered two books in English: Richard Brautigan's REVENGE OF THE LAWN and Jacqueline Susann's ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH. Brautigan's "Pale Marble Movie", the first story he read, knocked him down and over and out completely and he woke up saying "You can do that? It's OK?" and automatically wanted to do that, just what Richard Brautigan had done, for the rest of his life. He liked ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH, too. After all, he was 16. It didn't make him want to write, though, particularly. Kyle Hemmings lives and works and dies in New Jersey. He's been pubbed in a number of places. Salvatore Buttaci is an obsessive-compulsive writer who plies his craft many hours a day. His poems, stories, articles, and letters have appeared widely in publications that include New York Times, U. S. A. Today, The Writer, ShortPoem, Cats Magazine, The National Enquirer, Christian Science Monitor, and Six Sentences. He was the recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award in 2007. His collection of 165 short-fiction stories, Flashing My Shorts, is available from All Things That Matter Press at http://allthingsthatmatterpress.com or from http://www.amazon.com/Flashing-My-Shorts-Salvatore-Buttaci/dp/0984259473 He lives with his wife Sharon in West Virginia.


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Sergio A. Ortiz has a B.A. in English literature from Inter-American University, and a M.A. in philosophy from World University. His photography is forthcoming in The Monongahela Review. His poetry has appeared in over 200 online and print journals He has been recently published, or his poems are forthcoming in: The Battered Suitcase, Zygote in my Coffee, Right Hand Pointing, Poui: Cave Hill Journal of Creative Writing, Writers’ Bloc and Temenos: Central Michigan University’s Literary Journal. Flutter Press published his chapbook, At the Tail End of Dusk (2009). Stephen Jarrell Williams loves to write, listen to his music, and dance late into the night. He was born in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. His parents are native Texans. He has lived most of his life in California. His poetry has appeared in Anthology, Avocet, Blue Collar Review, The Broome Review, Byline Magazine, Chronogram Magazine, Fissure Magazine, Freefall, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Hawaii Review, HUNGUR, Liquid Imagination, Nerve Cowboy, Mirror Dance, POEM, Poesia, Posey, Purpose, REAL, Tales from the Moonlit Path, and many others. Email: stephenjarrellwilliams@hotmail.com Hugh Fox was born in Chicago in 1932, spent his childhood immersed in violin, piano, musical composition, was a member of the All Childrens’ Grand Opera run by Zerlina Muhlman Metzger from Vienna, was pushed into pre-med and medicine by his frustrated-violinist father who had been pushed into medicine by his wife, dropped out of medicine and got an M.A. and Ph.D. in English/American Literature, taught at Loyola (now Loyola-Marymount) in Los Angeles for 10 years, then taught Freshman Comp at Michigan State until he retired in the late ‘90’s. He also taught for two years at the Instituto Pedagogico and the Universidad Católico in Caracas (Fulbright Professorshiop), a year at the University of Hermosillo in Mexico (Fulbright Professorship), two years at the University of Santa Catarina in Brazil (again a Fulbright Professorship), received a grant to study Latin American Literature at the U. of Buenos Aires for one year, and another grant as an archaeologist (from the Organization of American States) to spend a year in the Atacama Desert in Chile, also spent one year in Spain on sabbatical and travelled throughout Spain, England, Germany, France, Portugal, Italy various times. He had married the Peruvian poet Lucia Ungaro de Zevallos back in 1956 and after visiting all the pre-Columbian ruins in South and Central America and Mexico, he began to see things no one had ever seen before -- like the fact that the writing of the Mochica Indians in Peru was ancient Lebanese, and that the writing on monuments on the ruins at Lake Titicaca in Bolivia was ancient Sumerian. That was the beginning. He has had over a hundred books published, novels, poetry, three books on archaeology, a book of his plays, literary criticism, cultural history, his latest being The Collected Poetry of Hugh Fox (540 pages, WorldAudience, NYC,2008) and Icehouse/ The Thirteen Keys to Talmud (Crossing Chaos Press, London, Ontario, Canada, 2010), The Place of the Yellow Woodpecker (Drill Press, 2010), Where Sanity Begins (Cervena Barva Press, 2010). April A. has been writing for almost five years, getting inspiration from various experiences seen by the eyes of a thinker. The purpose of her creativity is urging people to see beyond the bounds, to be themselves, to speak their minds loud, not to be afraid to differ from the crowd. She creates to destroy. To destroy the naive beliefs. To destroy the stereotypes. April lives in St. Petersburg with her beloved one at the moment and hopes to succeed further both as a poet and a songwriter. Her work can be found on http://april-abd.bravehost.com/Homepage.htm Michael Lee Johnson is a poet and freelance writer from Itasca, Illinois. His new poetry chapbook with pictures, titled From Which Place the Morning Rises, and his new photo version of The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom are available at: http://stores.lulu.com/promomanusa. The original version of The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom, can be found at: http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?isbn=0-595-46091-7. He also has 2 previous chapbooks available at: http://stores.lulu.com/poetryboy. Michael has been published in over 22 countries. He is also editor/publisher of four poetry sites, all open for submission, which can be found at his Web site: http://poetryman.mysite.com. All of his books are now available on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&fieldkeywords=michael+lee+johnson.


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Borders: www.borders.com.au/book/lost-american-from-exile-to-freedom/1566571/. Now on You-Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ih5WJrjqQ18. E-mail: promomanusa@gmail.com Audio Mp3 poems available; open to interviews. Follow Michael Lee Johnson On: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/poetrymanusa Twitter: http://twitter.com/poetrymanusa MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/469391029 Muhamed Riyaz is an International freelance Journalist, Press reporter, Writer, Social worker & Human rights activist for the past 10 years who has worked in India, Saudi Arabia & U.A.E. Apart from that, he has gained expertise and owed many designations during these years in various sections of the Corporate world like Media, Sales, Marketing, Public Relations, Business Development, Events, Conference, Career Counseling, Administration, Customer Service, Strategic consulting, Project Handling, Database & Call Management in various industries like Newspapers, Advertising, Event Management & Information Technology. He is currently a Business consultant for multiple organizations. His core interests are analyzing global political relations between various nations and other burning issues. Muhamed writes articles on general topics which are of importance to day to day life of the common man as well as many important topics which are of grave concern to the global community. He is also a Crime & Investigative reporter besides being associated with projects of media and human rights organizations globally. His volunteering activities include participating in various Global Peace, Human Rights & Social rights campaigns. He has actively associated in the last decade on many programs conducted by Global Organizations viz Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Organization for Migration, Red Cross, Journalists against Nuclear weapons, etc. with prominent personalities like Prof. Noam Chomsky, MIT, USA (Global political speaker & critic of Imperialist nations). Email: riyazppmc@gmail.com

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The Neglected Ratio E-zine 1st Issue