CONTENTS POETRY: 4 Mattresses and Mirrors by Anita McQueen: 5 Writing Class by Euphrates Moss: 6 Japan by Damien Healy: 11 Ass by John Grochalski: 12 Where Grey is the New Black by Maurice Devitt: 13 Note to Self by Tiffany Webb: 14 Foreign Travel by Howie Good: 16 Tea in the Cup by Simon Molloy: 17 Soul Diva by Simon Molloy: 19 These Weathers by Afric McGlinchey: 20 Blame Thoreau by John Grey: 21 Crosses and Noughts by Ashleigh Davies: 23 Saint Joe by Holly Day: 24 Doo-Dah Parade by Kevin Ridgeway: 26
PROSE: 27 Hard by Kenneth Radu: 28 The Keester Bunny by Dustin Hyman: 35 Reading Doughtnut Danny by Kent L Johnson: 39 Losing Face by Anthony Ward: 48 Strangers to Talk To by James Lawless: 51 Back Then and Write Now by Donal Mahoney: 54 Breastbone by Chuck Howe: 62 Uno Kudo, Vol. 2 Review by RS, Ed.: 65
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HOW THE WEEKENDERS GOT ITS NAME By Ryan Swofford, Ed. I decided to name this magazine The Weekenders because of a band. Really. As if there were any more original sources for the title of a publication. There’s a lot more to it, though, than just that. It wasn’t that I just liked a song and decided to name my magazine that because I couldn’t think of anything else. When I was growing up, I was going through some pretty rough times. I’m not saying I was miserable, but honestly, I was pretty close to it. Between the age of 13 and 16, all hell breaks lose in one’s head. One begins to hurt himself and cry—actually break into tears, which isn’t socially acceptable, for one. Boys don’t cry. Boys don’t have feelings except winning and losing basketball games. That’s all that matters. And sometimes they get horny. Or hungry. Or they have to shit. But that’s about all. So I was growing up trying not to have feelings. I was being tossed around, because I was in foster care, and things were hard. I think I will leave it at that, because I’ve written many essays complaining about my life that have gone unpublished for a (very) good reason. I got the name The Weekenders from a song by the band The Hold Steady. I grew up listening to them, and all of their lyrics made sense to me, even though I didn’t live in Ybor City or get drunk a lot or anything like that. But The Hold Steady really taught me about growing up and being a guy who has feelings—about getting angry when a Page | 2
girl you hardly know, but you think you love, goes and has sex with a bunch of guys she doesn’t know. Through the lyrics and the guitar, I learned the importance of not being shallow, but instead, I learned to be honest about what I was feeling and what I thought was important. It didn’t matter what anyone else said about me; all that mattered was whether or not I was being honest and, thus, helping myself. Honesty is the cure, Weekenders. That is really the mission of this magazine; don’t sugarcoat anything, but don’t try to shock people with something you don’t actually believe in. Shock people with what you’ve been burning to say, but “can’t” because of the limitations put on you by your peers or the greater world. Nothing is stopping you except yourself.
If it has to be a secret then I guess that I can deal with it you and I both know it’s a negative thing in the end, I bet no one learns their lesson— in the end, only the girls know the whole truth.
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MATTRESSES AND MIRRORS By Anita McQueen Turn out the lights I don't want to see you anymore because it makes me think how low I've settled on the bottom rung of Sexathon that fake moon shining over our bodies in a room of mattresses and mirrors on the floor and walls banging our bones across squeaking jelly I'm too slippery now crawling for the door where outside they'll take me to jail or throw me in a trash bin but at least I won't have the continual I've gotta pump you one more time!
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WRITING CLASS By Euphrates Moss
I took a publishing class Once Worst 80-something dollars I ever spent It was a one-off class And the instructor Wasn’t much, upstairs Not that I had a problem It was about what to do When you are about To get published But it didn’t explain How to get there At all… And that’s where We were confused “You’ll have to take the 400 [something] dollar Class with [insert name Here] to get that.” And you could feel All of the air go out Of the room in that moment And for the first Page | 6
Time I couldn’t Believe I was in this Room with all of These talentless Blowhards who think They have a shot. Look at these sad sacks. I wasn’t like that Dude who speaks Spanish But is somehow from Israel And expects his accent To garner interest. I wasn’t like that Dyke who writes Poetry based on her Organic, Glucose-free, Sugarless, Shortbread recipe, I wasn’t even like The instructor Who slung some Piece of shit book About avoiding the 9-to-5 Hey, I know how to Avoid work I’ve only had my Entire life Page | 7
For practice. One person spoke for all And asked, “How did You get published?” A little dismayed “Oh,” said the instructor, “My agent is a Family friend.” Even more air Left the room The rest of us would Have to learn shit On our own And get published Through talent. We were fucked. Then, to add insult To my injured wallet The instructor tells us About some writing retreat. You know, The kind no real Writer would ever attend “Oh, and by the way Only women can attend.” I’m a man, by the way Page | 8
Bad enough, but half the Room were men Where was the men’s Rights movement When we needed it? Of course, this is usual. Tons of publications accept Only work from women I’d find out later. To this day, I only Get published in mags That accept writing From men Anyways, we dispersed And someone walked Up to me, as I lit A cigarette, and said, “Boy, we sure Got bilked.” “Yeah,” I replied, “Yeah, we did.” Actually, I lie There weren’t Any non-tools And I wasn’t smoking But it was true, What nobody said: Page | 9
We got rolled. And it was one Of the few times For me We were all one and the same 80-something dollars Poorer sucker Except I was probably The only one awake To that fact
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By Damien Healy Unpronounceable words Chicken scratches for writing Cutlery that grows on trees Alien gestures Aromas that involuntarily close your throat An eye for detail Conformity is the name of the game Cultural appreciation and mass participation Punctuality and predictability Cramped confined spaces Dimly lit temples White crested volcano Autumnal hues admired Bamboo groves offering delicacies A scalpel wielding chef Soaking in geothermal ponds Diamond snow blanketing mountain stunted pines. Perspiration knitting clothes to skin Carved toothless faces expressing a lifetime of struggles Public shows of politeness A spirit of superiority A historic powerhouse still living in the past
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By John Grochalski watching me watching the curves on the ass of a seventeen year-old as she picks up a book from the floor the old woman frowns at me and shakes her head tries to make me feel guilty for looking at something that she and i both know weâ€™ll never have again.
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WHERE GREY IS THE NEW BLACK By Maurice Devitt
If you like I can stay, wrap my words around the closing of the day, pretend I will be here tomorrow. As you know, I am good at extending the mischief, just as that night, blind-folded, I drove you home and the colour drained from your dress. Luckily, it was you who was blind-folded, not me.
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NOTE TO SELF By Tiffany Webb
Sand off the excess Concepts Irrelevant Correlating Patterns between Truth and godspiritreligionsignsmythsynchronicitycoincidencevision Universal Truths Are the only That Benefit the All-Being All other partial relative fallible perspectives derived from self-interest Become one Aware and awake Alive Page | 14
The universe becomes vibrant and colorful Static Blurry lines of distinction
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FOREIGN TRAVEL By Howie Good
1. Slouched in my seat beside the window, I waited for the irritable clanking of the train to resume. The conductor paced the platform, taking hurried little puffs on a cigarette. Rumors circulated among the passengers about cockneys vs. zombies. A mouth rimmed in salt pressed against my ear. 2. There were five men in the cafĂŠ with hats before them on the table. They murmured to each other while glancing frequently in my direction. Under one of the hats was a revolver. The sky tilted, but only for an instant. 3. I came to a fence and climbed over it and then realized I had forgotten my bag on the other side. A bird fluttered up. I thought I was dead. I wished I was dying.
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TEA IN THE CUP By Simon Molloy
Lay with me, please don’t get up. We’re warm in here, there’s tea in the cup. Stay in bed, we don’t have to rise. Curl up with me, and close your eyes. Sunlight through windows, warming the room. We whispered all night, and talked down the moon. We’ve nothing to do, no places to be. No goals to achieve, and no one to see. So pull me in close, and whisper my name. Tell me you love me, and tell me again. The day will come calling, and we’ll have to depart. Page | 17
Clothes will be found, blinds pulled apart. But until then… Lay with me, please don’t get up. We’re warm in here, there’s tea in the cup.
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By Simon Molloy As I lie alone chasing sleep, her voice the only beacon in the dark. Words like smoke drifting into my ear, soothing the doubt in my heart. She speaks to me and me alone, as though standing at the foot of my bed. Every breath between each word, like a beat inside my head. The song she sings of love and loss, speaking from a life hard lived. Painting pictures behind my eyes, of the dreams she is sure to give. As my waking mind gives up the fight, and turns to dark and peaceful sleep. her whispered tales of treasured hearts, are mine alone to keep.
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THESE WEATHERS By Afric McGlinchey
clouds stalk like cloaks; who wouldnâ€™t approach with caution? narcissistic rain watches its reflection drizzling the sea like icing sugar over a sponge cake: white and poor, variable, moderate, occasionally thundery spilling, and easing and falling and drenching; you grab at bollards as a one-size-fits-all gale slams shut on reflection, over and over
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BLAME THOREAU By John Grey
Throughout my teenage years, lingering at the back of my mind, was the idea that I could live in the woods off nothing but the change in my pocket. Never tested it fully, just the occasional dry run, climbing up an old oak, smoking, spitting, from the high branch, . even swearing at the docile summer birds. And there were moments of pure, blank-headed, reflection: watching dew drip from one leafâ€™s cup to a green saucer below, lazing beside rivers, especially in their August ripple of a current, plucking wild-flowers and pulling petals from bud one by one. I'd be skipping school, escaping parental wrath, or even trying on forest as a wedge between myself and boredom, loneliness. Bruised hands, scratches, torn kneecaps to my jeans, sunburn, chills, were the price I paid Page | 21
for the better life. Then I remembered that Thoreau did it for months and the first few drops of rain would drive me back to civilization. And Thoreau wrote a book about it, like he knew somehow that words would be my other wilderness.
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CROSSES AND NOUGHTS By Ashleigh Davies
Colliding like rogue blinking satellites; I couldnâ€™t shake the though of you that night As you clambered into my shadowed footprints, Trailing through the concrete map of the city; Through the rough slum neighbourhoods that alternate With streetlight and electric wires, the National Grid â€“ The power to ignite a million lives. And in the mouth of one such life I spied Our doppelgangers, intertwined, Pirouetting through chandeliers of broken light; Man and woman in arms, both caged in white Wife-beaters, and hands beneath Stirring into a wrestle of giving flesh; A weekend indulgence of kids-gone-to-bed pleasure, Like the first time you flicked the light-switch Just a short distance from rebirth, A veil of acceptance slipped over your head, Fragile skein, baptised by sheets, Then skin on skin, crosses and noughts That trailed to the window, the balcony of our lives To dive headlong into the crimson shatter of dawn.
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SAINT JOE By Holly Day
The cold of my church's stone climbs through my feet, unnoticed an unrecognized saint with a spike taped to the inside of my arm missing the holes between my fingers slow revelations, Zoroastic fire burns thick in metal trashcans light is good, dark is evil there is nothing else. There is no voice for the New Word my tongue flops helpless against my parched lips, habit curls the muscles back I preach in puke. The relic falls from my hands, brown still bubbling in its womb as I lean back and watch the evil recede as the Holy Spirit enters the room. I walk among the catacombs of the city beneath the blind ziggurat skyscrapers the muezzin's post long abandoned faith replaced by electronic eyes. Graffiti speaks new Words to me, in aerosol paint Page | 24
on the sides of the subway cars as they rattle past the entrance of my home, spreading the faith.
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DOO-DAH PARADE Kevin Ridgeway
The northern New England village spring green is rolled out in lush majesty, the crowd of college kids adorned in patchwork shirts and skirts or just bare stark white winter skin they march with handcrafted puppets twirling on long sticks chanting of the earth and its creatures, beating drums in circles rotating down Main Street passed the cobblestone walkways and the waft of brew percolating in the town cafĂŠ, politicians shaking hands with drunken locals who have come to see bare breast spectacles or to counter-protest this obscene crescendo of hippie roar and the blind man who canâ€™t see any of this brouhaha with his eyes shuffles amidst the crowd with a cane in one hand, a fine cigar in the other images behind his lids flickering of this everyday sun dance
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By Kenneth Radu Opening her window to the fog, she wondered if the cat had returned. Just before dark last night she had placed a bowl of mashed sardines under the false spirea bushes surrounding the above ground pool. The fog wafted into her room like puffs of smoke. She saw very little except shadowy shapes, the top limp branches of a sun-burst locust tree floating trunkless, the smoky blue roof of the garden shed resting like a raft on a still white sea. No sound, not even birds that usually woke her up in the morning. The pool itself had all but disappeared, the surface of the water or the deck no longer visible. Leaning out, Cassie peered down, listening for the cat, but heard only her own breathing. The second storey of the neighboursâ€™ houses was swathed in wisps of fog like angel hair sticking to red brick or aluminum siding, but she could make out windows, the shape of chimneys, and the arch of a gable. Perhaps sardines from a can were not to its taste. Shivering in her thin, translucent nightie almost the same colour as the fog on the window pane, she carefully closed her bedroom door and tiptoed past her parentsâ€™ room. The hard wood floor was cool to her soft feet. She did not expect either her father or mother to be awake before noon as they had not returned home until three in the morning. Emmanuel had just left the house minutes earlier, promising to come back and wake her up if necessary, he was so horny tonight. He had dared her to let him stay the Page | 28
night in her bed, and he had forgotten his underwear on the floor. She had rolled it into a ball and stuffed it under her own panties in a drawer. Her parents no longer checked to see if she was sleeping. Emmanuel had sneezed over her stuffed bears on the bed which she refused to throw out. She heard every drunken step up the stairs, her father’s cursing on the landing when he tripped and her mother’s loud, “ssssshh, you’ll wake Cassie.” Once she heard their car pull out of the driveway, she opened the tin of sardines. Her mother would never notice one missing from the stockpile of tinned goods she kept in the pantry. Cassie had then phoned Emmanuel to say the coast was clear. She had first noticed the cat a week ago, hearing a rustle in the bushes just feet away from the deck stairs. There it was, so concentrated on ripping the head off a bird that it didn’t scurry away when she approached, but continued gnawing on the skull. When it became aware of her presence, it simply hissed. Cassie stepped back and the cat resumed his meal. A large calico with one ear bent, and one eye puckered shut, the fur knotted and tangled on its back, skin revealed in patches, scratched and pimpled with black and red sores. She stood watching it eat the poor bird, licking its paws, separating each claw, indifferent to her presence. Then it suddenly pricked up one ear and dashed into the thickness of the bushes, leaving behind a fluster of feathers and a bird’s delicate foot. Her parents had refused to let her have a dog although they had once permitted a gerbil. It died within a week and they said she was responsible for its death, so no more Page | 29
animals. She had outgrown the gerbil stage. When Emmanuel hoisted himself over the fence last year and kissed her in the pool, she stopped thinking about pets. Still, the animal looked hungry. Why not feed a stray cat? Careful that her parents, if home, did not see what she was doing, she left out food and milk and it returned each evening. Emmanuel wasn’t interested in her story of the wild cat, but pushed her up the stairs to her bedroom where he liked to caress her legs first with his hands, and then surprise her with his tongue. Outside the fog felt damp and cool to her skin and she imagined herself walking right through a cloud. A squeak, a meow, a hiss and rustle: she couldn’t quite determine the sound as she approached the ring of bushes scarcely visible herself to Emmanuel’s father who had opened his own window and noticed a shape stirring in the fog below. He had seen Cassie leaving food for the cat the other day, and wanted to tell her not to encourage the presence of feral creatures in the neighbourhood. They spread disease, wrecked gardens, and bit children, he would have said, although he had never in fact heard of a cat biting a child. Last night he roared at Emmanuel who had come home too late and smelled of recent sex. “Where the hell have you been? Do you know what time it is?” He knew of course where his son had been. Emmanuel shoved past him on the stairwell, mumbling something about needing sleep and “leave me alone.” Emmanuel was seventeen, jacked, big biceps, and a student of martial arts. The age of consent in his state was sixteen, but Cassie looked younger, maybe fifteen, he couldn’t be sure, and the sex Page | 30
could be considered statutory rape, but he wasn’t about to inform the police of the fact. He leaned over the window sill as if to move the fog aside with his hands: ah, yes, there, the fog appeared to separate to his advantage and he could make out her shape bending under the bushes, delicate, almost fairy-like. It would be absolutely reprehensible, not to mention possibly illegal, to seduce Cassie. He was afraid to speak to his son about her. A year since his wife had died in the car crash and he had been overwhelmed by grief, insurance policies, grocery shopping, depressed over the declining sales commissions at the furniture store, and Emmanuel’s sullen belligerence. Now he had to remind himself that, yes, he had loved Emmanuel’s mother and cried over her death, but he had forgotten what it felt like to caress her flesh. It was hard to sleep alone in their bed. Wondering how long his son would punish him for the death of his mother, he imagined Cassie wrapped around Emmanuel’s taut and vigorous physique, the sweet softness impaled on hard flesh. His hand reached beneath his pyjamas just as Cassie, a fog-veiled apparition, slipped among the bushes and entirely disappeared. Fog dripped off the bushes and soaked her thin nightie, but she circled the pool behind them. Not even Jackson could see her anymore. “Here, Kitty, Kitty.” “Cassie, you there?” Emmanuel had crossed over the fence. “Here, I’m here on the other side, Manny.” Page | 31
“I’m getting wet in the fog. Come to the shed. Your parents sleeping?” “I’m looking for the cat. Yes, they are.” “Forget the cat. I need to fuck you.” Jackson saw Emmanuel’s outline as he climbed the fence and pushed into the bushes. Fondling his stubborn erection, he leaned out the window as far as he safely could as if to call his boy home or warn both kids about the dangers of savage and mangy cats. As he dressed, he thought now was a good time to speak to both kids in kindly and fatherly way about the wrath they’d incur if Cassie’s parents found out --- well, he’d begin with the cat: a filthy animal that should be put down before damage was done. The fog intensified like folds of grey sheets endlessly piling. He didn’t see Emmanuel and Cassie running to the shed, nor heard the door creak shut. Downstairs he stepped outside as if he had entered a cloud chamber and lost his bearings. He could just make out the steps and the paved walkway leading to a vegetable patch. Above the garden rose the cedar fence marking the boundary between his property and Cassie’s house. He could climb that like Emmanuel whom, he recognized for the first time this morning, stood taller and broader than his own father. Should it ever come to a tussle, to a physical confrontation with his son’s hard body, Jackson knew he couldn’t win. One leg over the top of the fence Jackson admitted that he could just as well have walked to the front of his house and around the corner to Cassie’s. He didn’t want to waste time. They’d be in the bushes possibly petting the Page | 32
cat, or Emmanuel might even have hoisted Cassie on to his … Jackson took a deep breath. He’d caution them about the dangers of disease and discovery. In the shed, Emmanuel sat on a wooden tool box low to the floor, his jeans crumpled around down to his ankles. Cassie straddled his thighs, holding her damp nightie above her navel. He fingered a bit before thrusting upwards and she gasped. She couldn’t help it, but she loved how the heat and hardness of his body made her feel soft and liquidy inside and a bit fiery, too. She clung to his neck and tasted his tongue, just as his father pushed into the bushes and called their names. Their breathing was loud and their attention concentrated, and Cassie didn’t want the softness and the hardness and the heat to end, and Emmanuel was so deep inside that she could feel him, and she was afraid that he’d pull away and leave her empty. “Cassie, you there? It’s Emmanuel’s dad. Emmanuel, where are you?” The sound underbrush was sharp, unexpected, as he tripped, falling towards the curve of the above ground pool, striking his head against its grey sides. His own yell broke through the woolly thickness of the fog, momentarily distracting Cassie until Emmanuel pulled her down and he pushed his cock upwards, and she thought she screamed his name, but it was her fast breathing and fiery softness. The cat’s claws scratched one fierce time and tore the skin of Jackson’s left ankle. He had not put on socks in his haste to warn the kids. Page | 33
“Damn!” He reached for his ankle when the cat slashed again, this time ripping hard against the back of his hand. Jackson kicked, but missed, and the cat dashed away. Holding his hand close to his eyes, he saw thin streaks of red and felt the heat of new pain. Over the rim of the pool, he plunged his hand into the water. Temperatures had fallen overnight as they usually did in late August, and only the kids, braving the chill, still splashed about in the pool. Perhaps there would be a hard frost in the morning. His flesh burned. Cassie’s parents would soon close the pool.
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THE KEESTER BUNNY Dustin Hyman
I bought an ounce of coke for $700. A good deal, even though it was cut up with a bunch of speed. I pre-weighed all of it—I wasn’t about to cram a triple-beam-balance up my ass too. The street price for a gram of blow is about $60. The going rate inside any respectable Las Vegas county jail is $150. There are 28 grams in an ounce. So, 28 little bags of the Devil’s Dandruff sold for about $4,200 on the inside. I shoved the individual baggies inside a condom, tied the end closed, and shoved it inside another condom. Then the third condom. If they came in four packs, I would have used that last one too. You never get used to cramming that slimy latex tube inside your ass. Or at least, I never did. I use the word “cram” because that’s exactly what it is. The butthole is a one way valve and shoving things back inside gets messy. It’s hard to explain what it feels like. Maybe it feels like getting pumped in the butt? I was already on informal probation, so a possession charge or drunk in public were good options. The idea was to get arrested for a petty crime without receiving fines. I pounded three 40s and went a-walkin. It was a good night to fight. If I had won the fight, everything would have gone according to plan. If you’re wondering why coke and not meth, it’s because too many fights broke out when I brought meth. Page | 35
I’ve tried weed, but the smell was always getting people busted when they smoked. Besides, it’s hardly addictive. I’ll never forget the time I brought acid. Three people went to the psych-ward. One of the guys never came back. Acid was too dangerous for me anyway. What if something went wrong and 50 hits of acid seeped into my colon? Ecstasy, despite the drug’s great reputation as a mood enhancer, had the opposite effect in jail. You can’t be happy with a bunch of convicts—you can only numb pain. And when they spent money to feel good, but they still felt bad, the drug made the angry. Concentrated, expensive, brief high, extremely addictive: cocaine was the perfect drug to sell in jail. Some guys could stretch a bag out and be high for an entire day. Booger Sugar during the night was a bad idea. I once saw somebody get hit for farting too loud. “You assaulting my nose-piece, homie!” then the big guy punched the farter twice in the head and the night went quiet again. The point is, 45 grown men don’t want to hear some coke-head rambling on about his patent ideas, work history, favorite fucks, or anything else, during lights out. I only sold grams and no more than 3 to any one person. The last thing I wanted was somebody reselling my product. I created a PayPal account. I had my girlfriend relay the books during visiting hours. She could tell me who paid and how much. When the inmate’s friend or family member paid from the outside, I gave them coke from the inside. My girl had the password, and could view the Page | 36
account information, but she couldn’t touch the money. I liked her, but I’m not about to trust somebody who dates a person like me. I got greedy. Instead of buying the regular three pack of lubed rubbers—I grabbed that big gold box of MAGNUMS. I fit an extra 14 grams of blow up my butt. Nobody wants to look inside a man’s hairy asshole, and even if he did, he wouldn’t have seen anything besides that little brown star. I think they were mainly checking for weapons—nobody can touch their toes with a blade inside their belly. Usually it was just one guard, but they had three the day I got busted. All of them had their night-sticks out. They were waiting for the pigs to hand me over. “Plenty of rich white boys here on C-block. Right, Mule?” “What?” I said. The tall guard with a bald head struck me in the gut and I hunched over in pain. I didn’t hear the ‘snap’ but I felt it. Like a rubber-band breaking inside your stomach. “What did you bring for us this time, Donkey?” I started to feel a burning sensation up my ass. I pulled down my pants and one of them kicked me in the ribs. “Keep your pants on, Donkey. Plenty of time for rape in prison.” The drugs were taking effect. I felt hot and angry and strong. When I reached into my underwear, to remove the package, the fat guard kicked my stomach, releasing more coke into my body. I thought that much blow might kill Page | 37
me, so I fought back. I watched myself attack those men, like watching a National Geographic movie. I grabbed that bald head and brought it close to my face. When I spit out his nose, some inmates cheered behind me like wild animals. When the remaining guards backed away, I sprinted down the hall. I didn't get far with my pants around my ankles. Each little step grinded more cocaine into my bloodstream. I fell onto my stomach and started digging into my ass. When they cracked my skull, I went to sleep: a grown man lying face down with a bag of coke sticking out of his ass.
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READING DOUGHNUT DANNY Kent L Johnson
“You want a refill? “Sure,” I say. “Still got a cobweb or two stuck up here.” I point to my head “I've known you too long. Another cup of coffee isn't gonna clear that cobweb out. You got a big spider sitting in there.” She fills my cup and gives me a smile I watch her backside as she walks back inside the cafe. Nice. Sometimes I like to sit and drink a cup of coffee and try to clear my head. I come down to Russ' Cafe, cause they got tables sittin' out on the sidewalk and Jenny serves me sweet and walks with a wiggle that makes a man lose track of things inside his noggin. I like sittin' outside, listening to the ambient noise of the city, feelin' sunlight wash over me. Then I hear it, a motorcycle cruisin' up the street, loud and fast. I look, and it's Doughnut Danny passin' by. My mind wanders back in time. Danny sittin' at a table in the break room at work, smilin' and eatin' a doughnut. Most times he had a smile on his face. He had an in with the doughnut shop, always brought a box of doughnuts to work. He operated a mixer at the bakery. I was a batch man. I weighed all the dry ingredients of a cake, cookies or whatever we were makin' into a container, then used a hand lift to move it over to a mixer operator, like Danny. The mixer operator placed the container onto his mixer and added liquid until the consistency was just right. Some days it takes more liquid, some days less. Depended on the temperature and weather. Danny was Page | 39
good at this, and fast. He could take 100 pounds of dry and make it 200 pounds, in no time, and always perfect too, not too wet, not too dry. It was art. Brandy, Danny's girlfriend, worked at the factory also. When they had break together, they always sat with each other. Brandy was the first true platinum blonde I'd ever seen. I didn't realize hair could actually be that color. I was young, not too long out a school. I looked at her like she was some sort of mythological Goddess with that platinum hair and ideal proportions. You saw, even under her baggy white work gear that she had a body, and smiled with nice white teeth. A young man's poster girl, but she was Danny's girl. Seemed like the whole crew hit the bar after work, late afternoon. Danny and me, we'd talk, Brandy and Rowdy Rhonda talked girl things. Rhonda was a looker too. I spent half my time at work trying to get Rhonda warmed up to me. We had a lot in common: Rhonda, she liked readin' a good book and she liked to tell jokes. Me, I've always been a reader and a smart-ass. I just needed to figure out how to get a little more personal with Rhonda. “So Brandy, have you told Rhonda what a great guy I am yet?” I grinned and took a sip of beer from my glass. Rhonda, she was sittin' right next to Brandy when I said this. I looked Rhonda in the eyes. “She's never said nothing about you,” Rhonda retorts, “'cept she said that Danny said you got a short one.” A smile wide as Broadway crossed her face.
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“I can show you different, or maybe with your help I can get to the size you like.” I moved my head to the side and gave her puppy dog eyes. “Why don't you play pool with Danny and let me and Brandy talk. Maybe we'll talk in a while?” We never talked that night. Danny and me, we played pool. Rhonda slipped out the door without sayin' bye. Danny spent his day's off workin' on his motorcycle. He was in some sort of motorcycle club. Sometimes they rode somewhere on a weekend. I didn't see him much except for work and at the bar after. We worked a lot and it wasn't very exciting work. Same thing, day after day. Me and Rhonda, we talked at lunch sometimes. We'd talk about what she was readin', sometimes just put a playful dig in to each other. She wanted to move on and go to college. Her dream was to move up to something better, and she had a plan. She'd read about different countries, interesting people, philosophies, all kinds of stuff. She knew there was more than the bakery. I did too. I really wanted to see more of her. After work, it'd be her and Brandy at the bar, and me and Danny at the pool tables. One day Danny had a motorcycle club meeting and it was just Rhonda, Brandy and me sittin' at the bar. Rhonda and Brandy both started askin' me questions. Had I ever been out of the city? Out of country? What was I planning on doing with my life? After a day of mindless work, I don't want to think heavy thoughts. The difference between men and women Page | 41
sometimes seems starker when it's just you against two gals that want to talk serious. “You're smart, plus we know you got a degree,” Rhonda said to me. “Why are you working at the bakery? Are you planning on moving up into management? “Haven't given it much thought. Right now, I need a job to pay the bills, rent and stuff. I'm always lookin' for a better gig, but they don't just drop in your lap.” “Ever thought of joining the military? See the world, learn about other people?” Brandy asked. “Thought about the military, yeah, but I don't lie. I can't pass their test to get in.” “What test?” “Have you ever used marijuana or other drugs for recreational purposes? I checked, that's a question you got to answer.” “You don't do drugs,” Rhonda said. “Except the crosstops we all use to stay awake during the heavy season.” “Cross-tops are drugs. I smoked my share of pot before I quit, snorted some stuff too for recreational purposes. I don't do it any more, but I did at one time, I won't lie about it.” “It's not like you're hooked or anything.” “It'd still be telling a lie.” “Not really.” Rhonda lifted her glass to her mouth and took a sip. A thin line of foam remained on her upper lip. I watched her move her tongue over the line and it was gone. “Yeah, really. Why? Are you two gonna join?” Page | 42
“It's a possibility,” Brandy announced. “I got to do it soon, if I'm going to do it. They have age limits.” “What's Danny say about this?” “Danny don't know and don't tell him.” Brandy's voice was firm. “I don't want to be at the bakery forever. Danny will be though.” “I gotcha. I'm not sayin' anything.” “Me and Brandy, we like, know we're going to get married some day and have kids. I want my man to be doing a job that pays well so that our kids get the best. Where do you meet men like that?” “I'm here for you kid,” I grinned at Rhonda. “I may not make anything now, but with my brains, who knows where I'll end up.” “In prison probably.” “Girl...” “No really, where does a girl meet upscale men? You got to go where they are. They aren't at the bakery.” Brandy put a five on the bar for another beer. “They're not in this bar either.” Rhonda's eyes moved momentarily toward me, then she nodded to the barmaid as she placed a five on the bar too. “You think they're in the military?” I gave Rhonda a look for that last comment. “Maybe. Young college educated officers. Doesn't have to be the military, maybe I take some classes and work in the court or for a lawyer. Get my foot in the door at a hospital or something. I see stuff on TV, I mean, I never Page | 43
seen a show about bakery factory workers.” Brandy scanned the room, her eyes looking for something. “You ever notice how most of the people in the factory are young?” Rhonda asked. “The factory just chews people up and spits them out. You want to work all that overtime we work for what we get paid forever? Brandy and I are both smart enough to know. We haven't got knocked up yet, 'cause we know there's more out there. We read, we see there's a life outside of this.” “How do you get there?” “That's what we're tryin' to figure out. How would you get there?” I sit dumfounded. “I don't know. I guess when you see an opportunity, take it.” “We're trying to make our own opportunity.” “How ya doin' that?” “We just are." “I'll be back.” I got up to use the restroom. On my way back, I saw Rhonda leaving. I hurried to the door and opened it. I saw her get into a car with one of the supervisors from the bakery. They kissed. I closed the door, disappointed, and went back to my glass of beer. “Brandy, you know who Rhonda's goin' out with?” “Yeah. Do you?” “I just saw her get into the car with him. Rick from Cost Accounting. He's married.” “He's having problems with his marriage. He 'n' Rhonda been going out about a month now.” “I hate to say this, but I don't see nothin' good comin' from this.” Page | 44
“You just want to be in Rhonda's pants. She's trying to better herself.” “That's not true. Sure, I'd love to be in her pants but I mean...she's goin' out with a married man. If it was someone else, no problem, but a married man? And from the bakery too? Trouble. Someone's gonna get hurt.” “Rhonda can take care of herself.” “How about you?” “What do you mean? I can take care of myself too.” “I like you. I like Danny too. I just hope you don't get...” “That's my business,” she interrupted. “I like...I love Danny, but I got to do what I got to do. Me and Danny, we're not gonna be together forever. Maybe not another week.” She stared me straight in the eye. “Not a word from you either. Don't spread it around.” “Okay.” “I gotta leave,” Brandy said. “I'll see you at work.” I left the bar feelin' down. I don't know why, not my life, but it involved people who touched my life. My minds distracted on the way home. I walked not paying attention to things around me as I replayed the fact that people I know are gonna be hurt soon and there was nothin' I can do about it. A couple weeks go by and I'm deliverin' a load of dry ingredients to Danny. I forgot the conversation from the bar. Danny smiled at me, like always. “Hey, can you do me a favor?” Danny asked. “Depends on what it is?” Page | 45
He handed me an envelope. “Can you tell me what this says?” I took the envelope and opened it up. I read the first line and averted my eyes. The writing was cursive and feminine; the curves in the letters were wide and fragile, the t's crossed with a slight slant and the i's dotted with an angled line. It was a Dear John letter to Danny. “Danny, it's kind of personal. You should probably read it alone.”’ “I can't read.” He begged me with his eyes to read it to him. It was hard reading the letter. It had lots of emotion and a kick in the stomach at the end. It had an excuse for breaking up while placing blame on an abstract. It had dreams of one person only, and left a one time partner out to dry in the wind. It was one of the hardest things I ever did. I felt bad for Danny. He didn't deserve to hear this from me, from a letter that he didn't know how to read. I finished and put the letter back into the envelope and handed it back to him. “Thanks.” Danny had a tear at the corner of this eye and he wasn't smilin'. I didn't last much longer at the bakery. Opportunity knocked and I left. The bakery moved too, and I lost track of the people I once worked with. I always wondered what life brought those I used to know. Seeing Danny on his motorcycle... “You seem more lost than usual.” I come out of my trance and see Jenny standin' over the table. Page | 46
“You want somethin' to eat? Another cup of coffee?” She's got the coffee pot in her hand and I watch the coffee spill back and forth inside trying to find level. “When you gonna marry me Jenny?” “Soon. You're my future ex-husband as sure as I'm standing here.”
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LOSING FACE By Anthony Ward
John entered the bathroom with his usual sense of self, picked up a neatly folded towel from the rack, and headed towards the sink, where he stood admiring his physiognomy for some time. He filled the basin with water, watching his reflection undulate on the surface, before lathering his countenance with the fatty lye until his skin was so smooth his eyes could practically slide. He rinsed his face with water, closing and opening his eyes, making his face appear intermittently. But as John looked closely into the mirror, rather than his head been tilted back and slightly lifted, it suddenly jerked forward and down. For, staring back at him, though there were no eyes to stare back at him with, where his face should have appeared, animated upon his head, it was blank, featureless窶馬othing more than a membrane pulled down over his skull, with holes, or voids, where his eyes and mouth should have been. He washed his face again in the water, rigorously rubbing his hands up and down. But it was gone. He looked down to the basin and saw a familiar image floating upon the water. He looked back into the mirror feeling his face with his hands, then back into the sink where his face bobbed up and down with the commotion. The rest of the day was spent in a state of agitation as he tried to catch the mirrors out; creeping up on them, jumping out at them. But they were not to be startled into revealing any expression. Page | 48
Eventually he would approach the mirror with a dignified grace, walking up to it as if about to give a speech. As he looked into it, he thought of the painting by Magritte—except his head was more pear than apple. John thought he must have lost his mind rather than his face, and decided to go out into the street to see if anyone would notice him. But before he stepped out of the door he pulled his coat up over his cheek,—his defiance mollified by his self consciousness—and walked out into the open, hiding his face, (or the fact that he didn’t posses one), looking straight towards the ground. But, when he finally dared to look up, he discovered to his astonishment that everyone else possessed no more face than he did. They were all distinguishable by their different shaped heads, different hairstyles and clothes, but, they too, bore no face. He looked directly at the faceless crowd, who in turn looked directly at him. They did not appear to be as bemused as he felt, but it was impossible to tell whether they were or not. John stopped for a second, and, looking down at his feet, realised that he was standing over a manhole cover. He imagined all the faces sloshing about in the sludge below him. Where they still intact? He thought, or had they disintegrated like toilet tissue? Would he want his face back after it had been down there amongst all the other bodily wastes people flush away? He decided to head for the nearest bar. There was one on the corner he had drunk in on occasion, and so he hurried towards it. Page | 49
Once inside, he climbed upon a bar stool, waving his hand towards the barman who he recognised from his voice and his posture that tended to incline to the left. “What’ll it be?” the barman asked “I was wondering,” said John, “do you recognise me? I’ve been in here once or twice before?” The barman shook his head. “Sorry, can’t say I do. I get loads of people coming and going in here.” He was about to ask the barman if he could see a face, but, since the barman didn’t have one, decided it best not to and ordered a drink. “Can I have a whisky?” He could almost make out the barman’s expression by the way he lifted his head before turning to get his drink. As he did this John caught sight of a women sitting on a stool at the corner of the bar, he followed the contours of her body, starting from the hanging heels, up the length of her legs, curving round her thighs, onto her arms, up to her shoulders—pausing considerably to take in her bust— before continuing up to her chestnut hair that framed what would have been her face turned towards him. Everything about her, from the way she sat, to the way her body harnessed the space around her, made him think she was beautiful. Where his eyes would once have shined, they were now projecting an image upon the blank canvass of her countenance. Her brown cervine eyes pierced by shards of light as he imagined that she too could see his face, and that she was admiring it as much as he admired hers. Page | 50
STRANGERS TO TALK TO By James Lawless
I try to talk to as many people as I can. I'm beat. That's my nature. There are so many people running around Milan Italy and its hinterland, and it seems like they all ignore one another. It's not like they're a bunch of snobs; there's a reason for this. The world famous zoologist Desmond Morris in 'The Naked Ape' explains that when the human race began uniting in tribes everyone knew each other because the number of people in any one tribe never exceeded 80. Everyone exchanged glances and looked each other in the face, and faces became memorized and familiar. In these modern times, especially in large urban centers like Milan, individuals pass thousands of people a day, causing a sort of mental confusion. So the tendency of memorizing faces and gazing into each other's eyes for any length of time has been substituted by a split second meeting of the eyes, and in large crowds even that rapid encounter cannot be made with everyone. This produces a type of stress that gets channeled into neurosis, disease and other malfunctions of our mental and physical capacities. Ever since I read Morris' Naked Ape, I have been very attentive of this phenomenon, which has prompted me to go out of my way to observe and communicate with as many people as I can. That has brought me to the realization of heavy and light relationships. A heavy Page | 51
relationship can be with a family member, a boss, close friend or someone who has a control over us in some way or form. These relationships I call heavy because they are calculated in that we don't want to exceed established parameters for fear of ruining a set routine that we, perhaps mistakenly, believe makes our lives better or easier. Instead, light relationships are casual encounters with people we never met before and might never meet again, or even people that we know and see infrequently that have little or no control on the routine we have established in our life patterns. I've noticed that these light relationships are very honest and liberating and very psychologically sound. I was thinking about this yesterday when I met a young overweight guy that I hadn't seen for years on a subway. He told me he was on his way to work...a job in a computer call center where they initially gave him a temporary work contact for three months and then laid him off. "And now they rehired me again with a one month contract." He made a face when he told me this. When I saw the face he made I gave him a talk about how time is the valuable thing in life and not money. "Being laid off is the best thing that could happen to you because working as a wage slave, doing something one's not interested in, is a waste of one's life. When we work as wage slaves we are taught to look at ourselves as productive, but in reality it is one of the most unproductive things we can do." He looked me in the eyes as I spoke listening to me attentively. Then he blinked his eyes as if Page | 52
they were switches turning on meaning and then his head nodded. I took that as a signal to continue. "The wealth of life is measured in 'good time' and 'bad time'. Good time is when we are the boss of our actions; bad time is its antithesis." He nodded faster. "We eat when we're hungry" I continued. "That hunger has to be cultivated; eating without hunger creates fat and indigestion." He tilted his head, and his eyes opened wide as if I said something wrong or too personal. "I mean hunger as a metaphor for interest in what we do," and then he smiled and nodded. The subway we were traveling on reached my stop and the doors opened. He shook my hand tightly, and as I moved away he pulled me back and embraced me. I exchanged his hug with a quick tight embrace of my own and quickly exited before the subway doors closed. I stopped to take a deep breath as the train clamored away. I was moved. I immediately went to another subway platform and my eyes searched for strangers to talk to.
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BACK THEN AND WRITE NOW By Donal Mahoney
When I began writing in 1960, there were no website "magazines." Print journals were the only place to have poems published. Writers used typewriters, carbon paper, a white potion to cover up mistakes and â€œsnail mailâ€? to prepare and submit poems for publication. Monday through Friday I'd work at my day job. Weekends I'd spend writing and revising poems. Revising poems took more time than writing them and that is still the case today, decades later. On Monday morning on the way to work, I'd sometimes mail as many as 14 envelopes to university journals and "little magazines," as the latter were then called. Some university journals are still with us. Some are published in print only and others have begun the inevitable transformation by appearing in print and simultaneously on the web. "Little magazines," especially those published in print without a presence on the web, are rare in 2012. One might say, however, that their format has been reincarnated in hundreds of website publications that vary in design, content and frequency of publication. Depending on the site, new poems can appear daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually. For many writers, these websites are a godsend. Some "serious" writers, however, still feel that a poem has not been "published" until it has appeared on paper. Page | 54
I can't remember what postage cost in the Sixties but it was very cheap. Nevertheless, it would often take six months or more to hear back from many editors of university journals and little magazines. Sometimes I would get no response despite my enclosing the mandatory stamped self-addressed envelope (SASE). Submission etiquette at that time required that a writer send nothing other than the poems, usually a maximum of three, and the SASE. What's more, simultaneous submissions were universally forbidden. I don't remember any editor wanting a biographical note until the piece was accepted and sometimes not even then. All that mattered was the poem and how much the editor liked it. Today, in contrast, some web editors want a letter from the author up front "introducing" the poems and/or some aspect of the author's life. I've never been comfortable providing that kind of information in front of poems I'm submitting. I can't imagine lobbying for poems that I hope speak for themselves. In the Sixties, my average acceptance rate was roughly one poem out of 14 submissions of three poems each. Two or three poems accepted rarely happened but my hopes were always high. The rejected poems I'd revise if I thought they needed it; then I'd send all of them out again to different publications. Often the poems would have to be retyped because the postal process or some editor's fondness for catsup or mustard would result in messy returned manuscripts. I followed this pattern of writing, revising Page | 55
and submitting for seven years. I loved it because I didn't know any other way. I had no idea that in 30 years there would be an easier way to submit poems, thanks to the personal computer. What a difference. No more carbon paper. No more catsup or mustard. In 1971 I quit writing after having had a hundred or so poems accepted by some 80 print publications ranging from university journals to hand-assembled little magazines. I even made it into a few commercial magazines and received checks for as much as $25.00. I was on a roll or so I told myself. The reason I quit writing poems is because I had accepted a much more difficult day job as an editor with a newspaper. Previous editorial jobs had not been that taxing. I still had enough energy to work on poems at night as well as on weekends. But the new job wore me out. The money was good and helped me deal with expenses that had increased as my responsibilities had increased. Other demanding jobs would follow in subsequent decades. As a result, I didn't return to writing poems until 2008 after I had retired. I hadn't really thought about working on poems in retirement but my wife bought me a computer and showed me where I had stored--37 years earlier--several cardboard boxes full of unfinished poems. It took a month or more to enter drafts of the 200 to 300 poems in my new computer. It took longer to revise and polish them. Finally, I sent out the â€œfinishedâ€? versions by email to both online and print publications. Page | 56
It took a few weeks at the start but eventually lines for new poems began to pop into my noggin. Alleluia! I was ever so thankful to "hear" them because it answered an important question--namely, could I still write new poems after such a long hiatus? I found submitting by email a joy. For a while I sent an occasional poem by snail mail to journals that did not take email submissions. But in six months I stopped doing that. I did not want to lick envelopes any longer. Looking back over the last four years, I'm thankful for the response my work has received from various editors in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. Since I am an old-timer writing and submitting poems, I'm sometimes asked if I notice any difference in the "market" for poetry in 2012 compared with the Sixties. I'm also asked if I would I do anything differently if I were starting out today. Yes, I notice a difference in the "market" today, and, yes, I would do some things differently if I were starting out now. If I were starting out now, I would revise poems even more than I did when I was young. I revised a lot back then and I revise a lot today. I believe strongly in something Dylan Thomas once said窶馬amely, that no poem is ever finished; it is simply abandoned. It's taken four years for me to gain some sense of how the "market" for poetry has changed over the last 40 years. In preparing my own submissions, I have had a chance to read a lot poetry by young writers, some already established and many unknown. Sometimes I compare Page | 57
their work in my mind with the work of poets I remember from the Sixties. Although Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, among others, had their followers back in the Sixties, and still do today, I find that in 2012 "confessional" poetry has become even more prominent. Some of it strikes me as good, both in content and technique, but that is a subjective assessment. Much of it, however, strikes me as "raw," for want of a better word. In some cases I also find it difficult to distinguish certain poems from prose disguised in broken lines. I don't remember "prose poems" as a category unto itself when I started out. Today prose poems seem to be very well accepted in some circles but I suspect they would have been a hard sell in the Sixties. I suppose as a stripling and now as a codger I have written what some might call "confessional" poetry, both good and bad. Nevertheless, I think a young writer does well to write about someone or something other than one's self. Observing other people carefully and writing about their mannerisms and aspects of their behavior can help to develop one's craft. This is important because as most writers know, writing poetry or fiction is as much a craft as it is an art and without craft, writing may never reach the level of art. Perhaps it is my imagination but it seems that over the last couple of years there has been an increase in poems written about broken relationships or other distressful matters of the heart. The writers of these poems Page | 58
seem to be primarily women who sound very angry and no doubt with good cause. Apparently male poets find it easier to move on from a break-up and seek love or companionship in all the right or wrong places. I don't think that's a new development, men being who they are. I hope it's not chauvinist of me to suggest that the power to motivate a man to behave better usually lies with the woman. I feel that a woman has a gift she should not unwrap too quickly no matter how eager a man may be to undo the ribbons. Not many ribbons were undone in the Sixties prior to vows. In that era, of course, women were old-fashioned by current standards. The ones who were not "old-fashioned" were called a lot of things but not "liberated." There are other types of subject matter common in poetry today that didn't appear too frequently in the Sixties. Graphic sex, science fiction and horror seem to appeal to many male writers, although some females also like to write about these subjects today. I've never been interested in horror and I doubt that I would have the imagination to handle it well. I never fantasize about anything that even borders on science fiction. Sex, on the other hand, is a different matter. But sex has always struck me as the easiest subject to write about. I could write about sex well, I believe, but why should I? Why should I make my wife angry? Even if I were single, I suspect I'd be restrained by a line from Emily Dickinson that I first read it in college. Ms. Dickinson wrote, "how public like a frog." Page | 59
In contrast with my early years in writing, I am never satisfied today with a poem even when it has been published. If I go back and re-read a published poem a year later, I am certain to find something "wrong" with it and I feel obligated to fix it. Sometimes I can't fix it but in the process of trying, I occasionally find that I am suddenly in the middle of writing a different poem, an offshoot of the original piece or something entirely different. I've found benefits and problems in that. Rodin's "The Thinker" is set in bronze and marble and not subject to revision but few if any of my poems acquire that status in my mind. And if one of them does, I eventually come to feel the poem could be improved, even if at that moment I might not know how to make it better. Maybe in six months I'll read it again and hear something errant in the lines that I will suddenly know how to fix. It doesn't hurt, I believe, for a writer to listen to a poem the way a mechanic listens to a motor. Both want to get everything right. My purpose in writing this piece has been to record "for the ages" what it's been like writing and submitting poems in two distinct eras. I certainly like the ease with which technology today has enabled me to compose a poem. The "delete" key is wonderful. But there is something to be said for the anticipation caused by finding an envelope in the mailbox from an editor, the way a contributor might have done back in the Sixties. One knew immediately by the thickness of the envelope whether all three poems had been rejected or one or two of them had Page | 60
been accepted. That was a wonderful time for a young writer to cut his or her teeth.
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BREASTBONE By Chuck Howe
It all lies with the bones. No one realizes that when they are alive, but you know it when you die. It's not all the bones either. Each ghost has a particular bone that they are most attracted to. For me it is the breastbone. And we live in our bones much longer than we live in our skin. Not everyone. We have a choice. We always have a choice. We can go whenever we want. Just cease to be. But why? I find this world very interesting, no matter if I am of flesh or not. It is the sailors lost at sea, and those who wanted to leave the earth while they were here. They want to leave their bones. They want to cease to be. Not me. If I had ceased to be, then I would have never made it to New York. In fact there was no New York when I died. Now I am but a faint spirit in the giant City. This city that is so alive. This city that is so welcoming to the dead. A spirit can see a lifetime in a minute here in New York City. I lived, when I lived, in Thebes. We believed we were the Jewell of the world. There would never be a finer city, or a stronger Empire. It's like that for every spirit. When you first die, you feel like your lifetime was the best. Your age the brightest. Slowly you see the world mature. You see Empires rise and fall. You see war. You see love. Each time there could be no worse war. Each time there could be no love greater. Each moment is the best. In life and in death. Oh how many would live differently, or lament what could have been, but why bother. I lived my life. I served Page | 62
my time. Mine was an unremarkable life, but a very interesting afterlife. As I said we are tied to our bones. That's not to say that we cannot leave them. We can. For long periods if need be. But we long to return to the bones. That is why most spirits never stray to far from their bones. Many a spirit has lost its bones while traveling. They return to find their bones gone. Many search for years. Many simply cease to be, the longing so strong. I believe, as long as I continue to be, I shall travel. I'm lucky that I had returned to my bones when the professor was slowly removing them from the earth. For 2000 years they had lay undisturbed. I figured I was home free. I traveled for long periods, knowing my bones would be there to calm the yearning when I needed them. Then came the professor. I watched him slowly dig. Softly brush. He used such care. He showed great respect. I liked that. Even though it really makes no difference when you are a spirit. As long as the bones exist you are whole. I was happy to see this professor show care just the same. He removed each bone carefully, and kept them together in a strange box. For some, seeing their bones dug up, it is a very hard experience. I did not mind. I know I am dead. As long as the breastbone exists, I will follow it. The professor took my bones into a car, and a plane, and to New York City. Imagine me, a simple farmer from Thebes, seeing sites that many Kings would never see. I traveled in the breastbone, careful never to leave, at least until I knew where it was going. I got to New York safely, Page | 63
and was brought to a laboratory in a University. Both teacher and student studied my bones. Small pieces were taken for test. The men and women studied long and hard, and knew things about my life that I thought impossible. They knew of the pain in my teeth. They knew of the wheat I harvested and the grain I mulled on a stone. I learned that this grainy wheat caused my tooth pain. It wore at my teeth in a lifetime of eating. It is amazing to learn things about yourself 2000 years after your death. They even knew I was almost 40 years old when I died. I was very impressed by this modern science. The slowest among them would be wise men back in my days of life. All of the teachers and students treated me with respect. I enjoyed it very much. Every night my bones would be packed in a box, and left alone till morning. I soon learned that I had all night to search the city without fear of my bones being moved. So I searched the city every night. I learned the stories. There are many languages, but I have time, so I try to learn them all. Today I heard that my bones were going to be moved to a museum across town. I am afraid that I may miss the move, so I will stay in my bones until I get settled in my new home. I will miss the University, but there may be some great stories from the museum. At least I get to stay in New York.
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UNO KUDO, VOL. 2: THE VERDICT By Ryan Swofford, Ed.
Unfortunately, I did not think that my friends—the ones that I know and have a pretty good idea about their abilities as artists, writers, and producers—could produce such a magnificent body of art. I was mislead to believe that while they were good, they could never be good enough for me to want to shoot myself in the head because I’ve become so ashamed about my own publication. I did not even begin to think that I would be so blown away—to be honest, there is no other way to put it at this time: Reader, if you haven’t picked up a copy, you must do it. Here’s why. I got a .PDF copy of the book from one of the editors and writers, Chuck Howe (who is included in this issue as well). I downloaded it, went home, and forgot about it for a day or two because I was tied up with other stuff. When I finally got around to taking a look at it—now, keep in mind, I thought that it would be something worth reading—I was immediately enthralled by all the eyecandy available to me. It was really like a candy shop. I could just flip to a random page and be shocked by the level of intensity some of these illustrations and photographs display. While I cannot show you the artwork (as it would be illegal to use work that is not mine without prior permission), I assure you that you will be blown away. The writing’s wonderful, too. Bud Smith, Executive Editor and Writer, has a great story in there, called Page | 66
“Everything.” I didn’t think he could pull something off like that, either. Adam Dietz, the Editor in Chief, has included his own poem, spanning a few pages of pure beauty. Lydia McDonald’s “Skin” is another strange but perfect piece. The artwork is complimentary to the writing, but ultimately, both of these aspects of the books play into making it one of the best anthologies I have ever picked up. Again, I would highly recommend picking up a copy today. Be sure to check out their Facebook page, at Facebook.com/unokudo for more information.
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