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SNOLLYGOSTER A Conversation About Politics


Snollygoster: A Conversation About Politics Cover Design: Chris Shearer Heading and Subheading Set: Haettenschweiler Text Set: Times New Roman All authors/artists retain the rights to their work. All work that appears in this journal has been published with permission of the author/artist. ISSN: 2470-7775 (print) ISSN: 2470-3834 (online)


PARAGONJOURNAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF MANAGING EDITOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR SENIOR EDITOR COPY EDITOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER INTERN

AUSTIN SHAY RISHIKA GOEL EMILY DEIMLER SARA STEVENSON KELLEIGH STEVENSON CHRIS SHEARER ESTHER HUNG SHOSHANA GROOM KENNETH NOLAN


TABLE OF CONTENTS IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE: When the World wants Fewer Hands and More Arms To the Alabama State Student Who Call us Niggers Winter Weather Advisory in June What’s at Stake Nazis on the News there must be something beyond all this Whom do I address? Have a Good Day Modern Day Women Poem for Nightmares After the Shooting Apartheid Arabic Lessons First “Lady” Limerick on Climate Change Your Land, My Land Graphic Narrative: My Letter To The President and Four Cartoons Rights for Lives Tradition Neil Perkins I Wish That, I Hope that Our President Did Not Say: BROWN ROOM IN THE WHITE HOUSE, parts III and IV Bravery BREAKING REVELATION A Tiny Slice of War Orchid Boy of Milwaukee Atrocity 11 x 106


WHEN THE WORLD WANTS FEWER HANDS AND MORE ARMS WRITTEN BY

KIERSTIN BRIDGER

Years ago when I heard the Taliban

and in me knowing the same

destroyed towering ancient

central Afghanistan ammo fest

statues of prayer,

was the same cheap thrill

deemed them profane

and dominance as in any time.

in the eyes of Allah,

Same Hindu Kush

that holy scholar thugs

or Rocky Mountain intolerance

drove tanks to fire gaping pits

same screw you, same

in the colossal Buddhas

we own this motherfucker, we own it!

packed dynamite in bored hollows

Same manifest destined train track arrow

obliterating national treasure

that pierced the tribal west.

I recalled miners I have known,

The towering Buddhas

who blasted for gems and veins of silver.

were reportedly the largest in the word

I remembered their .22 shells,

carved in sandstone 1,700 years old—

which littered

yet we know the sandstone grains are older, primeval.

the make shift gun ranges

All of this is ancient, and that to pin this spectacle

that were indeed open ranges

on zealotry, misogyny, or toxic-masculinity won’t fully explain

where I roamed free as a kid.

the upper-hand we all seem to want.

Every dangerous curves sign we passed rusted with circles of gun shot

I never fired a gun with out a kick.

constellations: redneck major and minor

I hate to love the derringers of old,

respectively.

cleavage or thigh-high-stashed, the idea of a woman having a secret weapon

As I flash back and forth

but we, the wakeful ones, feel so righteous,

from my mineral-rich homeland

locked and loaded,

to the Bamiyan Valley rubble

so intimately armed—

I see the glint is not in the desert sand

we all lie—I lie—

but in my own—mine

pretend we can make ourselves safe

which caved-in my gasping mouth—

so when those ghosts

enough to shut me up for a time— enough

of so long ago haunt our shores,

to spew glitter:

holds our neck in his grip

mica dust and granite specks

Back Up, we can whisper, back the fuck up.

like asteroids from a intergalactic opera. The glint was in both the eye of the enforcer


TO THE ALABAMA STATE STUDENT WHO CALL US NIGGERS WRITTEN BY

ADAM BIGGS

May you be reborn as a black person in your next life. May your body be blessed with freckles That glitter like stars On the night sky called your skin. May you marinate in so much melanin, That your body dissolves Into blackness. And then, may you hear your words from the other side. I hope it's as easy to "get over" as you say it is. May you be reborn as the *parent* of the child you called nigger So you can tell *them* it's just a word That these people won't hurt them, That you can protect them, For now. I hope you don't need protection too. May you inherit culture growing from calamity, Like a lotus out of mud. May you inherit jazz, The blues, Soul, Motown, Hip hop. And slavery, And Jim Crow, And racial profiling, And murder by police. May your successes also be pruned from you like flowers From a garden you once owned. I hope it doesn't sting to see it seen as beautiful only when plucked into a vase of whiteness. To the friend that wants DACA immigrants to go home: May you be reborn As the children whose parents have been stolen from them And imprisoned, Or deported. And when people tell you That your parents need to be punished More than they need to be your parents, I hope you can find some measure of solace in those words. May you be reborn as a refugee from a war torn country


That's become nothing but a bad dream. May you be fortunate enough to have a chance for a better life stolen from you in the name of safety. I hope you can reconcile that irony. May you be reborn as every immigrant you've ever met And you are told to go home to a country you don't remember And when you tell them home is where your heart is And your heart says home is here with your friends, And your family, And your job May they laugh in your face too May you be sent back to the primordial ooze we all emerged from. I hope it's not too late for you , or any of us. May you evolve -but this time with a happy, healthy, beautiful heart, Filled to the brim with compassion for your fellow neighbor. I hope you remember your histories May you meet the immigrants you're descended from. May you be reborn as Someone with enough lives under their belt that you learn humility You discover compassion For someone other than a fucking statue, For someone other than a fucking corporation, for someone other than your fucking self, May you be blessed enough To have friends and family members who Fall into those categories some day May you look them in the eyes every time Someone says the things you've said And next time, I hope you act differently.


WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN JUNE WRITTEN BY

JEZZAH HAYES

Driving down highway 34 In my tiny 2001 Hyundai With snow tires all worn out From hot summer pavement, I’m passing F-150’s spun out into the deep Powdery ditches, a Subaru cruising at 15 mph, A snowman at the side of the road In the shape of a 2014 Kia Sorento . “Idiots” I say under my breath And look down to my speedometer For just a second, and then start Fishtailing for the next 11 miles Which I know because it took 30 minutes Before my tires hit real road again. Every 3rd vehicle is a tow truck. Every 4th is a snow plow. I see a truck towing a truck Towing a midsized sedan over a Small cliff and back into the storm. I pass a sign half snowed over that reads “SPE LIM 6” but all the cops are busy Not that they could catch me anyway when I’m pushing Nearly 13 mil pe hou. The wind picks up. My windshield whites out and traffic stops for 15 minutes. A congressman throws a snowball In the Capitol building and declares, “There’s your global warming!” “Idiots,” he says under his breath.


WHAT’S AT STAKE WRITTEN BY

JEZZAH HAYES

I. Someone told me a family friend knew a Navy Seal (& this might be bullshit for all I know) Who was off the coast of Hiroshima for one of only two Clear August days in Japan that Americans would ever remember & he was in a little boat & he was waiting for the bomb to drop & kill them & he was probably just about shitting himself Because there was a shit-yourself-scared kind of chance It wouldn’t go off in the air like it was supposed to & it would hit the ground where there was still A shittable chance it still wouldn’t explode But we couldn’t let it fall into Japan’s hands So they would have to storm the beach & into the city where it fell Past the fishermen & clinics & restaurants & grocers & police stations & museums & schools To make the greatest sacrifice for their country Answer the highest call to duty Manually detonate Little Boy & kill them & kill them & kill them II. A liberal arts professor asks my class how much We remember about 9/11 if any of us watched The towers fall on live tv or on the evening news & most of us raise our hands but not all He confesses that when he saw the New York skyline Change forever he was filled with a kind of anger He had never known before & he wanted us to invade anywhere He wanted to condone torture & extrajudicial detention & he wanted to enlist & get a gun & a tank & a jet & go over there & kill them & kill them & kill them He says it wasn’t rational or right or that he thinks that way now “But when it was me, & my family, I would have done anything”


III. U.S. led airstrikes have killed 3152 Syrian civilians as of May 2018 Though the Pentagon claims responsibility for far fewer & because adult male corpses are generally tallied as enemy combatants The aftermath of even precision airstrikes can be difficult to assess According to the SOHR 12531 women & 19811 children Have been killed so far in the Syrian conflict & the President advocates for the targeting Of families of known terrorists, even when it can be avoided Recent military action has been an unmitigated success Though many homes & businesses were destroyed There have been no civilian casualties from the latest airstrikes The U.S. fired 66 Tomahawk 19 JASSM 8 Storm Shadow 3 MdCN & 9 SCALP missiles into 3 key targets With a rabid

calculated fear & killed them

We’re throwing a military parade later this year & the U.S. has accepted just 11 Syrian refugees this year At al-Bol refugee camp in Aleppo a reporter watches a mother Pull a taped box from a Dora the Explorer backpack Umm Nour says her daughter placed her favorite Barbie doll inside Whispered, “You may suffocate but at least you will be safe from the bombing” IV. The Japanese government recognizes 650000 people as hibakusha Literally, it means explosion-affected people Some gnarled with burns, blinded, or poisoned by radiation At least 165 people survived both Little Boy & Fat Man Truman never actually ordered the attacks directly But in the aftermath declared there would be no more Without his express authorization In fact Fat Man was never supposed to fall on Nagasaki It was a plan B due to bad weather over Kokura & as a result the leaflets warning citizens of the incoming bomb (Partly humanity & partly psychological warfare) Weren’t dropped until the following morning The bombs themselves were scribbled with messages Like “lots of love” & “here’s to you” on Little Boy & “a second kiss to Hirohoto” on Fat Man before they dropped &

you know

killed them & killed them & killed them

Mayor of Hiroshima Senkichi Awaya was vaporized


While eating breakfast with his son & granddaughter The nuclear heat cast permanent shadows on concrete A bicycle abandoned on the road & a plant on the wood behind it A mother on a wall & a figure with a cane on stair steps Maasaki Tanabe was seven years old at the time “Usually Hell is something people only see,” he says now “But I touched & smelled Hell & I will take it to Heaven with me” Henry Wallace who was then the Secretary of Commerce Wrote that he didn’t believe Truman had it in him To deploy another bomb, even if it was needed to end the war “He didn’t like the idea of killing all those kids”


NAZIS ON THE NEWS WRITTEN BY JEZZAH HAYES (Previously published in Peculiar Journal) When my dad talks about militant gays I imagine men in booty shorts running boot camps Shouting to recruits to “work it” and “find the moment”

Twinks with tommy guns Flannel-clad infantry, Doc Martens are standard-issue Muscle boys frantically manicuring in fox holes “If we get out of this, I’m gonna take you To that brunch place I was talking about The one with the tapas and the mango mimosas” I imagine women with undercuts Pushing little same-sex wedding toppers Across a map of the U.S. Glitter bombs falling over London Subarus rolling into Warsaw The lights, the glamour Broad-shouldered women with dark lipstick Side by side with men wearing foundation Their arms extended, their hands splayed In that notorious, effeminate manner There are white men marching With dollar store tiki torches through Charlottesville They hit a woman with a car My dad calls them “yahoos” and “crackpots” When pressed, he admits he thinks That they’re just decent people that got confused


I picture masc for masc Grindr profiles

Loading heterosexuals into freight cars And the children with them And they go down the tracks somewhere we don’t talk about And the gays are just the people and we’re decent people And we don’t think much about the hot August wind Blowing through the empty ghettoes


THERE MUST BE SOMETHING BEYOND ALL THIS WRITTEN BY GINA RUSSELL I have been making myself gag thinking about the inherent inequality existent between blending colors that fought half-a-century ago for a taste of freedom thinking about the backwards motion in political action: drifting away from progress, no mention of the fourteenth amendment’s equal protection clause, now only selfishness for the rich & their economy, they are blind to the poor who look a little bit too similar to themselves, looking through a mirror, forgetting what social equality looks like thinking about womanhood: still less than a dollar, still oppressed, still gasping to breathe cleanly in a man’s ocean—we are drowning in salt thinking about our president who has admitted to sexual assault, admitted to stripping a woman of her dignity, admitted to selfishly categorizing all people of color into one, admitted to racism, admitted to hate thinking about our vice president who has admitted a fear of love, a fear of freedom, a fear of modern touch thinking about the face of our country: billionaires who have not worked for their titles, whites who view color harshly and blindly, ignorant men say their names. donald trump: toxic masculinity. racism, alive and well. sexism, alive and well. mike pence: homophobia. racism, alive and well. sexism, alive and well. brett kavanaugh: sexism, alive and well. mitch mcconnell: toxic masculinity. supportive of racism & sexism, alive and well. Nancy Pelosi: persistent womanhood, fighting for universal health care, fighting for the people, fighting. Alexandria Ocassio-Cortez: womanhood, fighting for equality based on color, fighting for the earth, fighting for the green new deal, fighting for the poor, fighting for progress, fighting for action, fighting. Lauren Underwood: womanhood, fighting for equality in health care, fighting for racial justice, fighting. Ilhan Omar: womanhood, fighting for immigration reform, fighting for an equalized view of color, fighting for safety in childhood, fighting. Elizabeth Warren: womanhood, fighting for an end to gun violence, fighting for immigration reform, fighting for female voice, fighting for a chance to change, fighting for all, fighting for persistence.

fighting. alive & well. I have been making myself gag thinking about the face value of our country, but I see something growing, just beyond the horizon, something with power to destroy racism & sexism & homophobia & toxic masculinity. I see hope.


WHOM DO I ADDRESS? WRITTEN BY THE POET MJ The regional tongue

Back, tough, rough Conqueror

pierced with weather

bushfires, flooded ranges

natural world cleared

times of plenty herald

burning pikes of towers

lingering waits

like the Tower of Babel

native animals skitter like the Koala Bears Brutus A-types Caesars of the tractor, reap reel bovine mouths milking, mooing to slaughter Gems raped

Footprints Leviathan style coffee colour dirt diet duets national feeds Golden heads sway in belts pealing whispers of the Australian top soil Are you tough enough petals of the English rose? Blush burnt under sneering rays dreaming, soft dewy aqua light Briton adulating, lush fields cobbled pined with hedge rows thickets, oak streaming leaves

Whom Australia do I address?


HAVE A GOOD DAY WRITTEN BY CHRISTINE DAVIS It seems inevitable that they will come for us. Two men with guns, into your school, or the university where I teach. Into the movie theater, or yoga studio. Into, into, into they come. When the old man in the gas station forced himself on my mother she was relieved to escape, shocked at her own mother’s disbelief. But she was young. Now we know. Proof changes nothing. Collect the bullet casings, make a necklace. Count the dead in a chain of numbers to wear out. Still they come. Still doors give way to force. I Say, “Have a good day, sweetie.” I mean, stay alive. I mean, push the door back until it gives under your weight.


MODERN DAY WOMEN WRITTEN BY CHRISTINE DAVIS Girl there, on your knees, don’t beg them to see you with their broken eyes. They think we trade one identity for another. Daughter becomes wife becomes mother— but we are experts at layering. We hide inside our own painting. While we are fucking we are thinking. We are clarifying. Girl there, on your knees, what are you praying for? A governor punched his wife in the face when she didn’t undress fast enough. My father put his hand through a window. When he broke the glass another layer appeared. No matter how far he reached he could never touch her. My mother hit him dead center every time. Girl, you are letting it get to you and it should. You are a thief, but not by choice. At some point you have to stop waiting to be given anything.


POEM FOR NIGHTMARES AFTER THE SHOOTING WRITTEN BY CHRISTINE DAVIS You arrive five minutes from now. Hair wet, stinking of city. Did you jump into the fountain? Did it hurt? You arrive in five minutes. Blue shirt, headphones in. Did you hear the first shot? Any minute now, I’m expecting you, not these men with your headphones in a baggie. Not the one female officer telling me to sit down. He should be home, any minute, I say.


APARTHEID WRITTEN BY REBECCA RUTH GOULD We don’t serve Arabs, says the man behind the counter. He fixes his eyes on me & awaits my consent. My Arab taxi driver is unfazed. Racism has long inhabited these Roman ruins. Politeness takes over. We head for the car. The road bears silent witness to atrocity. Barren valleys cascade, one after another. God is a strange creature, I think to myself. What idiot would choose this sterile land for launching his career? We reach Bethlehem: checkpoint 300. I disembark. Arabs are not allowed to cross like white women with American passports. I journey by foot to the two-storied white limestone building I’ve been calling home. I pass tourists in t-shirts, Banksy portraits, & soldiers armed with kalashnikovs. Like the racist at the counter— like every well-heeled politician— like every international law— armed soldiers avert their gaze, revealing the glare of the sun.


ARABIC LESSONS WRITTEN BY REBECCA RUTH GOULD Your glasses broke on your way to our first Arabic lesson in Damascus. I found you wandering through al-Salhiyeh blind, near Ibn al-Arabi’s tomb, fording stones & broken glass, looking for my door. I did not understand all your words, but your favourite authors translated. You liked novelists best. You did not talk politics, except to tell me we were being watched & to predict that revolution would bring no resolution. At the first sign of violence, I escaped to Berlin. I called you every night. Every night, the phone buzzed to silence. I hope your glasses protect your eyes from the war’s relentless glare.


FIRST “LADY” WRITTEN BY RAFAEL SANCHEZ MONTES Media like to speculate about my marriage

The media like to speculate about my opinions,

the details they print are not based in facts.

my thoughts, my feelings

They draw cartoon in newspaper of me crying,

but it’s not deep.

they say I’m unhappy,

I really don’t care. Do u?

that is false! I am happy. I married him for money. He married me for my body. We all know this. Stop speculating! I’m not ashamed of my body or my money, the people they say things a lot of dishonest stuff. The names they calling me, the names they calling my husband, the names they calling my family, are so untrue. I love my husband, he gives me all I ever want, he eats McDonald’s like it’s sport, he fires people like a boss, his tiny hands are great down there, he makes me laugh. It’s my turn to give him what he wants. My penthouse trumps the White House, but I only have to live here eight years at worst. Being first lady is job I don’t like working. But unhappy? I’m the happiest woman alive! I’m exactly where I want to be: with my son Barron, rich beyond dreams.


LIMERICK ON CLIMATE CHANGE WRITTEN BY TIANA VILLERY To save ourselves from annihilation We’ve drafted series of proclamations Yet there are those who say: “But it’s cold today!” And somehow that ends conversations.


YOUR LAND, MY LAND WRITTEN BY BEATRIZ FERNANDEZ “There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me. The sign was painted, said 'Private Property.' But on the backside, it didn't say nothing. This land was made for you and me.” ~ Woody Guthrie’s original lyrics

Before it was your land, it was mine by the time you sang of its diamond deserts my people had crossed that line in the sand paved over by asphalt highways Before it was our land, it was theirs a patchwork quilt of tribes stitched together by bloodlines that stretched from the Bering Strait to Cape Horn Before it was their land, it was no one’s— a prehistoric playground for dinosaurs, alabaster horn of plenty spilling into the sea, bridge of stone to the summer lands Before, I believed we could own a land and it could own us, but that was before I opened my heart to the machinery, rocket fuel throbbing through my veins Before it was my land, now it is yours— so build your walls, barb your wire, I surrender my claim. Beyond your borders, all the sun-stars of the universe are mine.


GRAPHIC NARRATIVE: MY LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT AND FOUR CARTOONS ALLEN FORREST


RIGHTS FOR LIVES WRITTEN BY WK LAWRENCE A troop of angels shot On the moss plagued sidewalk As streams of red run sideways Along canyon walls Flowing around us We’re in the middle Watching, empty mouthed, waiting For someone else to do something For someone else to say something Like “what the fuck? Why another killing? Why another victim for another’s privilege?” But no one says anything And we all just stare away Adjusting the circuits Dusting off the pieces Sometimes blown to smithereens.


TRADITION WRITTEN BY WK LAWRENCE I hyperventilate with stars and stripes overhead. Put me out of my misery because I can’t be who you are bleeding from opened sores twisted in a shadow embracing the gray. Let mercy wash away the idea that blood can ever be healed and we’ll see the blue, the red of sorrow, the disgrace of lies they tell and take to the grave.


NEIL PERKINS WRITTEN BY HANNAH MARY BLANKENSHIP Insanity may be – or, by my personal definition, is – when no one can corroborate your version of reality. If this definition proves true, many will deem me insane. Former Mayor of Montgomery, Bobby Bright, certainly will. There is no doubt in my mind my father, Corporal Don Blankenship, a former Police Officer of the Montgomery PD, would, too, had he not died of cancer in late 2017. The whole state of Alabama may very well accuse me of insanity, if there is anyone left alive there today. And one can only hope that, at least in some places, someone still yet lives. There is one man I can come up with who may have had the ability to confirm my version of events – the events as they play out now in endless repetition in my mind. That man was Neil Perkins. But Neil Perkins, too, is dead. As for my father this story starts some late night in August of 2002. It starts with a disembodied voice coming through his patrol car’s radio, sending him to Carmicheal Road, right in front of the Montgomery Cancer Center. (And what if not this fact alone, to the objective observer, can be seen as life’s tendency to near poetic premonition and repetition?) A man suspected of robbing a nearby hotel had been sighted there and my father was called upon to apprehend him. The suspect was described as being in his late twenties to early thirties. African-American. Average height, average weight. He was said to be wearing a yellow shirt. Only later was it established, to those willing to acknowledge it, that this person was not only the sum of these descriptors and wrong-doings, but a man. A living, breathing man. A man with a name. Neil Perkins. For Neil Perkins this story must have started much earlier. At the time he was driving a Ford 150 pick-up truck which had been stolen in Atlanta and was bearing stolen Texan plates. So I believe I am justified in saying that he had, at the very least, come a long way. He would soon come to find he had a very long way left to go. Be it as it may, it was there, in front of the Montgomery Cancer Center on Carmicheal Road, that my father met Neil Perkins. It was a brief yet eventful meeting. Of course I was not there. That August night I was an eight-year-old child at home sleeping in my bed. So I am in no way a witness and am not capable of giving any details. Non the less, there are a few commonplace facts that I am able to report. At some point during their meeting, after my father had stepped out of his patrol car, Neil Perkins drew a gun and fired a bullet. This bullet hit my father, quite literally, head-on. If I remember correctly the bullet grazed the right side of my father’s skull, maybe an inch above his ear, splitting into two pieces when hitting the bone. One half exited through the back of his head while the other half, it’s trajectory changed through the impact, flew at an almost ninety degree angle into his brain. I am willing to admit that this particular detail may be false – may be some invention on my part to explain how my father could have survived such an injury – though I do remember someone telling me this – maybe my mother or my aunt. But memories are fallible and what makes sense often replaces that, which is true. Maybe there was no grazing, no splitting, no changed trajectory.


Maybe no one told this to me, neither my mother, nor my aunt, nor, for that matter, anyone else. One absolute truth is to be said concerning their meeting in front of the Montgomery Cancer Center on Carmicheal Road some late night in August of 2002. Neil Perkins shot my father in the head. It is here madness ensued – a string of maniacal situations forming a cacophonous scream in my head. My father, after someone had called an ambulance, was transported to Jackson Hospital. Two officers were sent to our home. They pounded on our door, waking my mother to inform her of what had happened – who, in turn, woke me and informed me of absolutely nothing. I was ordered to get dressed. I remember standing at the bathroom sink, slowly brushing my teeth, only for one of the policemen to wrench the toothbrush from my mouth. He dragged me out of the bathroom by my upper arm, pleading with me that there was no time – no time! All of this left me extremely confused. It was somehow agreed upon that one policeman would drive my mother to Jackson Hospital in the police car, while I would be driven there by the other, who was to take our family van. I do not know why this agreement was made. My mother sped off into the night with blaring sirens. I climbed into the back of the van. I still had toothpaste in my mouth and, with no place to spit it out, chose to swallow it. I remember pulling out of our driveway. I remember feeling as if I were being kidnapped and suppressing the impulse to call out for help. I remember asking my designated driver what was happening. I remember it very clearly – somehow choosing the solemn words, “What is happening to my family?”, to voice my inner turmoil. He responded that my father had had an accident. Somehow this led me to the conclusion that my father had maybe broken his arm or his leg – but had, in any case, most certainly fallen down. That was the only type of accident I could come up with at eight. I remember the car going so fast it felt like flying. I remember the streets of Montgomery being empty. Though I had seen these streets many times before, they seemed completely foreign to me. I remember crying and not knowing exactly why. I remember pulling up to the hospital and reporters – camera crews with bright, blinding lights – being at the entrance. They were calling out. Calling out to me. I did not reply. I also remember their footage of me, at some later point, appearing in a clip on the evening news. I do not remember seeing my mother anywhere upon my arrival. But do remember seeing my paternal grandmother – maybe in one of the hospital’s endless halls, for she was, in my memory, harshly illuminated by clinical, neon lights. She trembled, and stayed mute throughout, but wore impeccable red lipstick. And then, suddenly, as through cinematic cut, I was in a room with my father. He was lying in a hospital bed. He was grinning grotesquely. His eyes were spinning in their sockets. He was drooling. He was alive. The attentive reader will, at this point, be wondering where Neil Perkins was while all this took place. He was, as was later written in a news article, “on the loose”, which, in my opinion, is just a flashy way of saying no one knew of his whereabouts or his exact intentions. At that point no one even knew who he was. Mayor Bobby Bright seemed dissatisfied with the situation, issuing a comment saying whoever had shot my father would be found and “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law” – the cherry on top being a $10 000 reward to anyone who could help fulfill his demonic prophecy. It seemed wishing for more victims than just my father, my family, and myself was the appropriate first response. Now it was Neil Perkins’ turn. The cycle


of violence and retaliation had to be kept going at all costs, or, better yet, at the cost of $10 000. In legal terms, Neil Perkins would have been accused of attempted murder of an officer of the law (among another things, such as armed robbery), though I am sure many people could have come up with much more hateful and damning indictments based on their personal beliefs – certainly any beliefs, held consciously or unconsciously, seeing any significance in the fact that Neil Perkins was an African-American man and his victim was white. In any case, we, as a society, have agreed, rooting in long standing tradition, that such situations are handled by throwing humans lives in the trash, or, to better explain it, locking people up and throwing away the key. We hold no hope of betterment – and forgiveness, in this context, is all but spat upon. I have never met Neil Perkins. I do not know anything of him and cannot attest to his character. Based on the events of that late night in August he must have been, at the very least, troubled. And though I can say that I have never met some one truly, irredeemably evil, I have also never met some one who shot another person. Trying to imagine a situation where I myself would shoot another human being, and how I would feel doing so, proves extremely difficult. But based on all of this, and after nearly 17 years of consideration, I will at least try to make an educated guess on why Neil Perkins’ shot my father. He may have been driven by greed. Or anger. Maybe even arrogance, ignorance, or, worse yet, hatred. But if I were truly honest – not only in my forgiveness, but in the assessment of myself and how I could be driven to irrational behavior caused by extraordinary emotions in an inescapable situation of extreme pressure – I would say Neil Perkins was, among other things, exceptionally afraid. If your objection now is that fear does not justify shooting some one in the head – and accepting that a person may die because of it – I would agree. And while Neil Perkins’ actions were unquestionably wrong my response to you would simply be: Fear also can not justify locking some one in a cage for an unimaginable period of time or, to use Mayor Bobby Bright’s terms, prosecuting them to “the fullest extent of the law”. Fear is a very basic human emotion and it seems clear that Neil Perkins’ was not its only victim that night. When I was eight-years-old everyone surrounding me during all I have described to you seemed governed by fear, and somehow, to this day, still appear to be. It’s one night of my life – every day on every news channel – endlessly repeated. And to be blunt, it makes me sick. It’s insanity. There is another indicator of the immense fear Neil Perkins must have been feeling – though, because of it, everyone’s interest quietly ended. Law enforcement finally established the identity of my father’s shooter and tracked him down in Missouri. It was there – far away from home, backed into a corner, shacked up in a motel, surrounded by officers ordering him to surrender to a terrible fate – Neil Perkins shot himself in the head and died. I believe he was absolutely terrified. I say this because I am, just thinking of his suicide, driven to the brink of terror. His death was caused not only by what he did with his fear that late night


in August of 2002, but also by what we did with ours. I see his blood everywhere. On former Mayor Bobby Bright’s hands. On law enforcement’s hands. On the hands of our criminal justice system. On society’s hands. On my own. But maybe I have simply gone insane.


I WISH THAT, I HOPE THAT OUR PRESIDENT DID NOT SAY: WRITTEN BY TAMARA MC “An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud” “Arianna Huffington is unattractive, both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man he made a good decision.” “You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass.” “I will build a great wall and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’ll bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.” “Our great African-American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore.” “If I were running ‘The View’, I’d fire Rosie O’Donnell. I mean, I’d look at her right in that fat, ugly face of hers, I’d say ‘Rosie, you’re fired.’” “All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.” “One of they key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people don’t go into government.” “The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.” “It’s freezing and snowing in New York – we need global warming!” “I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” “My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.” “I have never seen a thin person drinking Diet Coke.” “I think the only difference between me and the other candidates is that I’m more honest and my women are more beautiful.” “You’re disgusting.” “The point is, you can never be too greedy.” “Sorry, there is no STAR on the stage tonight!” “My Twitter has become so powerful that I can actually make my enemies tell the truth.” “My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.” “I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist.” “The other candidates — they went in, they didn’t know the air conditioning didn’t work. They sweated like dogs…How are they gonna beat ISIS? I don’t think it’s gonna happen.” “Look at those hands, are they small hands? And, [Republican rival Marco Rubio] referred to my hands: ‘If they’re small, something else must be small.’ I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee.” “Thanks sweetie. That’s nice” “I was down there, and I watched our police and our firemen, down on 7-Eleven, down at the World Trade Center, right after it came down” “The only card [Hillary Clinton] has is the woman’s card. She’s got nothing else to offer and frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the woman’s card, and the beautiful thing is, women don’t like her.” “Number one, I have great respect for women. I was the one that really broke the glass ceiling on behalf of women, more than anybody in the construction industry.”


BROWN ROOM IN THE WHITE HOUSE, PARTS III AND IV WRITTEN BY HOKIS Part III 2017 Trump’s House. Where tricks are turned for dicks and souls for phallacies #Metoo. Permission granted - forced {BROWN ROOM. BROWN ROOM.} {{remember. remember.}} 1974 Nixon is the decade’s distraction. The abstraction of the world’s ailings, dosed down to the TVeaspoon we can swallow and still keep down. Gets us just angry enough, but not angry enough. It happens in that little box we can turn off. In that other neighborhood. In that other house. In that other person. Nixon distracted people. Nixon killed my cat. Nixon raped me. 2018 24-hour news Pocked sized TVeaspoons “Likes” and “Friends” Trump. (the decade’s distraction)


The resulting cognitive dissonance silences alter boys and children in cages “Be quiet and wait.”

They will say.

“What happens in the meantime?”

I reply.

MY ears turn towards the sounds inside MY House, {inside ME.} Part IV Inside MY house. They move towards the attention they seek.

Familiar way of connecting, or, perhaps the familiar ache for connection. Mocumentaries. Political satire. Women in bathings suits. Alter boys. TVeaspoon sized playgrounds.

Fallacies. Rightness Anger. Truth in politics Truth from death. {Truth, I do the same} In MY house,


I ache for marathon ears.

I ache for exposed eyes. I ache for vouchsafe hands. For not waiting until death do us part. I don’t seek reporting. new(s) fallacies and the hushing of trickster dicks I seek to share stories. ME stories. YOU stories. WE stories. In MY house I no longer wait. I listen and speak from my soldier hip, in MY inside’s outside voice.


BRAVERY WRITTEN BY EMILY DROMGOLD O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, Red hats, howling masses, man before the microphone What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming, Words bending to hands creating fists with the air of a deflating balloon, regardless of the fall, spinning Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight On a TV screen today O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming? Another child dies separated from her family And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, A mother holds her child closer at home stroking soft brown poking out in pigtails Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there, “Mom I want to go to the protest.” O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave “Mom, I’m old enough…” O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? “We’ll go together.”


BREAKING REVELATION WRITTEN BY JAMES PH. KOTSYBAR We accept that our politicians lie. Most have become a mere corporate tool. We know it’s a given computers spy, and take in stride that governments are cruel. There is no respect for a woman’s choice, nor her word, nor her worth in legal courts. Minorities struggle to have a voice. Taking-a-knee’s still an issue in sports. Should person(s) be found guilty or absolved, This will not mean our problems are solved yet. Despite our wish to have it all resolved, in fact, most balances will stay upset. Once through this current period of grief, don’t breathe too heavy a sigh of relief.


A TINY SLICE OF WAR WRITTEN BY STEPHEN NATHAN I'd love to be an angry man with embers that flame from the slightest breeze of indignity I'd join the side that has the answers and believe as they do. I'd cherish the bloodletting and slaughter righteous and necessary as we crush nuance for muddying the water But for me the venom's just not there As history writes its next rabid chapter I sit here and wonder how much the crack of guns changes the raindrop's path down the window glass And when they win those certain men their anger victorious and sculpted in the park and we all for a time see the world with the same eyes then can I rub her tired feet and make some tea


ORCHID BOY OF MILWAUKEE WRITTEN BY JOHN MCDONOUGH Last night I had a dream that I was me and that you were Jeffrey Dahmer You had big thick wire rimmed glasses And that shirt you took off that boy from Puerto Rico You were Jeffrey Dahmer and I was falling in love with you My mother was there and she was crying She asked why She told me you smoked She said I was full of flowers That I didn’t have any organs at all just flowers She tried to say that you were gonna cut me open and out they would come Big thick bouquets of Orchids and Azaleas Watery things that just then would see sunshine She said you were going to plant me like a flower box outside your window And why don't you find a nice boy who looks like Ted Bundy? No single boy ever looked liked Ted Bundy They have wedding bands and 401k's because they look like Ted Bundy I would too if I looked like Ted Bundy a dog too, and a closet full of shirts with a French collar But, Mama, guys that look like Ted Bundy never remember birthdays I asked her to leave She was only half right anyway I am all full of Daisies and Kudzu Cheap things that grow unabated But If she was right about you And right about me spilling onto the floor like the first day in May Pluck my pedals from the hardwood and save them Press them in a book Press them in The Scarlett Letter Try and remember that once you held their hand


ATROCITY WRITTEN BY PI STAKER We stole a guy in broad daylight Not our citizen Not in our waters But nobody who’s anybody put up a fight The bobbies booked him on withdrawn charges The “resistance” declared loyalty to fascists they claim to fight The feds claim it’s illegal to publish and report Press shrieks he betrayed a land he’s foreign to The prosecutable case is straight from Kafka Pundits ignore it to push thy sacred narrative When the narrative is god then truth is sin At that point you’re ruled by criminals and led by liars Partisans run laps celebrating, drunk off insane rationalization Elephants hug the flag, “all nations are ours, we own the world” Jackasses scrounge for justifications, “truth embarrasses our queen” As our system slips closer to the totalitarian hellscape that we fear A rancid prescient goes unnoticed that awful day We've became a nation the makes critics disappear Our journalists have become propagandize to serve the system As detractors are killed off without a second thought This is what our homes become


11 X 106 WRITTEN BY JAKE HUNTER


CONTRIBUTOR Notes Kierstin Bridger is a Color ado wr iter and author of Demimonde (Lithic Pr ess), the 2017 Women Wr iting The West's Willa Award. She is also author of a full collection, All Ember (Urban Farmhouse Press). Winner of the Mark Fischer Poetry Prize, the 2015 ACC Writer’s Studio award, and short-listed for the Manchester Poetry Competition in the UK, Bridger is both editor of Ridgway Alley Poems and Co-Director of Open Bard Poetry Series. She co-hosts Poetry Voice with poet Uche Ogbuji. Find more of her work in December, Prairie Schooner and Painted Bride Quarterly. She earned her MFA at Pacific University. Kierstinbridger.com Adam Biggs is a self tr ained photogr apher , wr iter , and poet fr om the Hudson Valley ar ea in NY. Twice now, he has gone to the national poetry slam where he has competed against poets from all over the country. Common themes in his writing include politics, current events, love, heartbreak, and he hopes to write about topics that inspire future generations. As a photographer, he has taken photos for a variety of social and formal events, and enjoys photographing everything from nature, animals, the environment, and portraits of people. When taking pictures of people, he tries to take candid photos as a way of capturing his subjects in the midst of authentic moments. My name's Jezzah Hayes, and I ruin everything Thanksgiving by talking about imperialism and how the pilgrims ate each other. Let's talk about how we're all going to die. The Poet Mj wr iter , spoken wor d ar tist with explor ations in soundscapes, installation ar t, impr ov music in the performing arts. Artist who performs at festivals, galleries. Published poems in Mekong Review, Dime Show Review, cahoodaloodaling, The Paragon Journal, Hawai‘i Review, The Anti-Languorous Project, The Felt, Poets Reading the News. Christine Davis lives in Flagstaff, AZ with her husband, J ustin, son, J ett, and Molly the Adventur e Dog. She teaches composition at Northern Arizona University, where she earned her MFA. Her work can be found in Clarion, Four Ties Lit Review, Crack the Spine, Sanctuary Literary Journal, and more. She can be reached at Christine.Davis@nau.edu. Rebecca Ruth Gould's chapbook is Ber lin-Damascus-Bethlehem (Origami Poems Project, 2019). She translates from Persian, Russian, and Georgian, and has translated books such as After Tomorrow the Days Disappear: Ghazals and Other Poems of Hasan Sijzi of Delhi (Northwestern University Press, 2016) and The Death of Bagrat Zakharych and other Stories by Vazha-Pshavela (Paper & Ink, 2019). She was a finalist for the Luminaire Award for Best Poetry and (together with Kayvan Tahmasebian), Lunch Ticket's Gabo Prize (both in 2017), and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. Rafael Sanchez Montes is a r ecent gr aduate of Inter national Relations and Cr eative Wr iting fr om the University of Rochester.


Tiana Villery is a Califor nia State Univer sity Chico gr aduate with a B.A. in English Liter atur e. Her work has appeared in Levee magazine. As a native to Northern California, Tiana draws inspiration from the natural landscape of the Sacramento Valley and additionally from the many cultural and political happenings of contemporary and historical America. When she's relaxing, Tiana enjoys her reading and writing excursions with a warm cup of chai. Allen Forrest is a wr iter , gr aphic ar tist, and filmmaker , the winner of the 2015 Leslie J acoby Honor for Art at San Jose State University's Reed Magazine, he lives in Vancouver, BC, Canada. His Bel Red landscape paintings are part of the Bellevue College Foundation's permanent art collection in Bellevue, WA. WK Lawrence is the author of the novel The Punk and the Professor. He holds an MFA from the Southampton Writers' Program and a doctorate in education from Northeastern University. Born and raised in New York, he has also lived in Oregon, Virginia, Florida, and Rhode Island. He currently lives in North Carolina. Hannah Mary Blankenship was r aised in Montgomer y, Alabama and now lives in Br emen, Ger many. She is a law school drop-out, a writer, a musician, and a convenience store clerk. Her writing has been published in Oxford Magazine. Her EP "Born Among Wild Beasts" was released in March 2018. Beatriz F. Fernandez is the author of The Ocean Between Us (Backbone Pr ess, 2017) and Shining fr om a Different Firmament (Finishing Line Press, 2015) which she presented at the Miami Book Fair International. She has read her poetry on WLRN, South Florida’s NPR news station and was the grand prize winner of the 2nd annual Writer’s Digest Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Falling Star Magazine (2014 Pushcart Nomination), Label Me Latina/o, Thirty West Publishing House (2017 Pushcart nomination), Verse Wisconsin, and Writer’s Digest, among others. Contact her at www.beasbooks.blogspot.com or @nebula61. Dr. Tamara MC is an Applied Linguist and focuses on issues r elated to language, cultur e, and identity in the Middle East and beyond, specifically her hybrid and juxtaposed identity of growing up simultaneously Jewish and Muslim in a Sufi commune in Texas. Hokis channels zir tr auma-inoculated mistrust in humanity and love for puzzles into unfolding poems. Ze has worked as community organizer, high school teacher, and mindfulness coach. Ze is currently on sabbatical, exploring creative ventures. Zi recent work is found in Tiny Seed Literary Journal, The Valiant, and Caustic Frolic Chosen for special recognition by NASA, James Ph. Kotsybar is the first poet published to another planet. His haiku orbits Mars aboard NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft, appears in Hubble Space Telescope’s mission log, and was awarded at NASA’s Centaur Art Challenge in Ohio. Honored by The State Poetry Society of Michigan and Balticon 48 Poetry Competition, last Summer, he read before actual Troubadours, in their founding city of Toulouse, France, at the EuroScience Open Forum, becoming a regular guest of this European biennial event. Published in The California Quarterly, TheBubble, Askew, Cathexis Northwest Press, The Menteur, Yhe Poetry Box, The Society of Classical Poets, LUMMOX Press, Sixfold, Mason’s Road, and Scifaikuest. Nathan began his pr ofessional life as an actor (or iginating the r ole of Jesus in Godspell) but moved into a career as a writer in the late 70s. For over 40 years he has primarily written for film, television and theater winning, among other acknowledgements, the Humanitas Prize, Writers Guild Award, and two Emmy nomina-


tions. Nathan has been writing poetry for years and has just started sharing it. He has recently been featured in Cathexis Northwest Press and Typishly. John McDonough is a New England tr ansplant living in Dickinson, Nor th Dakota with his wife, two dogs, and lizard: John Jr. He enjoys fossil hunting, smoking cigars, and playing disk golf. His poetic inspirations include Sid Vicious, Roberto Clemente, and CM Punk. Pi Staker is a tr ans woman fr om Phoenix, she wr ites poems and stor ies about politics; pop cultur e and her viewpoint of the world. Her biggest inspirations are Hunter S. Thompson and Franz Kafka, while style is Pi's feelings upon her first impression about an event and dark comedy surrounding it. Former girl scout Laura LeHew is obsessed with the creepy, creaky underbelly of life and whatever lies beyond. Widely published her latest collections include: Buyer’s Remorse (Tiger’s Eye Press) poems on abuse, Becoming (Another New Calligraphy) a non-linear discourse on alcoholism and dementia, and Willingly Would I Burn (MoonPath Press) math and science poems. Laura received her MFA from CCA, co-hosts the reading series Poetry for the People, and edits/owns a small press Uttered Chaos. (utteredchaos.org | lauralehew.com).


SNOLLYGOSTER: A CONVERSATION ABOUT POLITICS

Profile for The Paragon Press

Snollygoster: A Conversation About Politics  

Snollygoster: A Conversation About Politics is a special issue surrounding politics released by the Paragon Press.

Snollygoster: A Conversation About Politics  

Snollygoster: A Conversation About Politics is a special issue surrounding politics released by the Paragon Press.

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