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Long poem by William J. Jr. Atfield | Details |

Nowhere Man

Nowhere Man

Star dust, the stuff of a fool’s dreams.
Oh !!!, to travel upon star dust streams
- that glorious, never ending journey -
into the realms, the space of many.

This old spirit, seems, not to fit into any
mold nor on any rung of the social latter, 
that, I think, should not, ever matter. 
And so I have to wonder ?, 
as upon this planet, I wander.

Is there any place for me ?, 
where I might fit in – one day to see ?
In my youth, some perceived me to be 
Sall Minnio, even the King, 
- Elvis Presley, - this idea girls would bring
with them, in their pursuit of me.

As an adult, I came to be seen
– an Italian, a Greek, a Mexican – 
a First Nations is what I’ve been 
as folks do the best they can.
As people guessed at my race, 
looking and looking into my face,
the essence, the spirit, the soul of this man.

Yet nowhere do I fit - I belong to no place.
Nowhere do I find a fitting space
for this German, French, British, Native, 
gene pool, my heritage doth give. 
Plus the few – long forgotten – more 
that came through the genetic door 
– open for viewing the heart of this old soul – 
where there is reflection and getting to know.

There have been some who would pass 
this face of many – this face of looking glass 
refraction – to see truth – a Redman’s blood in the veins 
of this First Nation soul – the spirit which remains
for this old soul, the essence of my spirit, 
even in times when many would not tolerate it.
And so, it is not a wonder 
why this soul seems to flounder, 
cannot find anything sounder,

between the jagged, ragged edges 
of created, keen, sharp - wedges 
between who and what I am, and
where it is I could possibly stand.
There is not – it seems to me – a place
where I fit in, can stand, turn and face, 
see a possible niche – a place to belong,
before, my life is almost gone,
as I look back upon all the roads, 
- the stories, the tales, the heavy loads –

I have travelled, yet know not what will be told
of what rung, on the social ladder I hold,
what plateau to find shelter in ?,
what plane to fly above, be comfortable in ?,
what place to rest my spirit, my soul within ?,
what space can I find to forget all the sin ?
I have walked with the sane and insane.
I have talked with the educated and uneducated.
I have been in the company of intelligence and unintelligent.
I have laid with the secure and the insecure.
I have laid with passion’s fire and frigid’s cold.

I have known the moral and the immoral.
I have known those of faith and the faithless
I have known the killed and the killer
I have known those who have taken their own lives
I have known the givers and the takers
I have known the movers and the shakers
I have known the honest and the dishonest
I have known the psychic and the blind. 
I have known the truth sayers and the bullshitters,
The fast lane, the slow lane, the middle lane I’ve moved in.
The sober, the drunkard – I’ve been and been with.
The strong, the weak – I’ve been and been with.

The used, the abused  – I’ve been and been with. 
The users and the abusers -- I’ve known and know me.
The wealthy, the poor – I’ve known and know me.
Financial wealth and Spirituality -- I’ve known and know me.
The saver of a life -- I’ve known and was me.
The living and the dead -- I’ve known and know me.
Having a brush with artists has been my fate. 
Having acted up with entertainers has been my fate. 
Having had words with writers has been my fate.
Having become a rhymer, like my forth cousin, has been my fate.
I have played with players – strummed a note or two.
I have laid with singers-- sung a note or two.
I have laid with dancers – danced a step or two.

I have struck an arc alongside a welder – a time or two.
I have sprayed painted cars alongside a painter – a time or two.
Hammering out metal with body men – I have done.
Twisting wrenches with mechanics – I have done.
Busining along side business men – I have done.
Being a lover, I always thought, was my forte.
Being a husband, I thought I knew how to play.
Being a father, I thought I knew I would stay.
Being a friend, I thought was always my way.
To be a son – a child’s dream.
To be a brother – not to be it seems
as all the above drifts downstream,
leaving one to wonder, what life really means ?
Life’s journey can be a wondrous mystery !,
 
when one leafs through the pages of his history.
One’s life can also be a disastrous story ?, 
one of little hope, dim light and no glory.
So what is left for this old fool ?, 
but to carry on breaking the old rule, 
rules that make it possible to call oneself a poet, 
something I never call myself, a poet, and I know it !
I do the best I can
That is who I am !
Being a carny – traveling with The World’s Finest show.
For a couple of seasons – that is all I did know.
Being a dishwasher, a server, a busboy, a waiter, a manager 
of a restaurant, many dimensions of life. I was egger  
to come into contact with, to try and understand. 
As fate would have it, understanding never came to this hand.

Today, a bum – forty eight years ago – father said
“ the best dressed bum in town ” would be my stead.
What goes around – at some point in time – comes around.
There is some truth to this, that I have certainly found.
Even though I have touched the edges of many a life. 
Many places, pieces of each and everyone, not one has been 
a place for me, a place I felt I belonged, the places I’ve seen
do not leave pillows for my spirit,  beds to rest my soul, rife
with uncertainty, is my state, almost every day
I can find no place, no space for me to play.
Looking into this distorted collage 
I wonder if it is but a mirage ?
My flaws lie in the heart of my feeling !, it is my sin !,
this belief that there is no place, no space where I fit in.

B. J. “A” 2
May 1st 2004


Long poem by Trisha Sugarek | Details |

The Ash Can

The Ash Can  ©

I got the call on Sunday night.  I was traveling on business.  When I looked at the caller ID
 I wondered why my husband’s boss would be calling me.  I was unprepared for what
 he told me and my legs turned to water when he said that my husband was dead. 
 ‘A heart attack?  An accident?’ I asked.  ‘No’, he said, ‘John committed suicide.  
 They found him in your garage this morning.’  I heard someone screaming and 
wished that they would stop so I could hear the rest.  His voice was very far away
 and the woman just kept screaming.  ‘Shut up! Shut up!’  I need to hear.  I clapped my
 hand over my mouth when I suddenly realized it was me who was screaming.
 I don’t remember hanging up or getting on the plane. (beat)  Yes, John and I were having
 problems and we had been separated for about three months but nothing was official. 

 After thirty years of marriage I never believed that we couldn’t weather this and share 
the rest of our lives together.  This was just a phase he was going through…some sort 
of mid-life crisis.  This had to be some horrible mistake, a case of mistaken identity.  
My John would never do this, leave me like this.  (beat)  

I stumbled into our home around nine the next morning.  The house looked like a woman
 hadn’t lived there for months. Dirty dishes in the sink, groceries half put away, empty 
beer cans and a full ashtray by John’s chair.  Seeking comfort I walked over to his chair. 
 Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a reflection in the mirror over the
 fireplace.  Some wild looking woman with mascara smudges under her eyes and smeared
 lipstick looked out at me. I walked closer to inspect this stranger in my house.  
She looked old and used up.  Who was she?  What had life dealt her to look so worn out? 
Oh, God, it was me.  Staring out with those eyes bleeding hot, raw pain.  (beat)  I curled
 up in John’s chair and closed my eyes.  Was this all I had left of my husband?  This slightly shabby piece of furniture that still smelled of him?  How could I tell our children?  Could I bear to go into the garage?  What would I find? 
 I knew that they had taken his body away but what had they left there for me to see?  
Maybe something there would prove that this was truly a mistake.    I rose to my feet and 
walked into the kitchen and through the laundry room to the garage door. (beat)

I slowly opened it and was knocked back by the remaining stink of gas fumes.   
John’s car sat in its parking spot, the garden hose hanging from the back window like 
some obscene snake.  I gagged and pressed the button to open the garage door.  
The passenger side window was open so I could look inside without having to touch the car.  And what I saw on the seat told it all.  There was John’s cell phone, an empty bottle of Vodka and a bottle of Excedrin.  (beat)  And something else…a second cell phone…what in the world? I was only allowed five seconds of blissful denial before it all came crashing down on me.  The second phone…the secret phone that men who cheat keep to talk to their lovers.  All those protestations he offered during the time that we were apart.  ‘No, there was no one else’, ‘I just need to find myself’, ‘I don’t want a divorce’, ‘I just need some time’. ‘I love you; I’m just not in love with you.’  Lies, all lies!  How could I have been so stupid?  Then I notice a crumpled manila envelope on the floor of the car.  Anger driven, I opened the door and picked up the envelope and the two cell phones and went back into the house.  Sitting in John’s chair once again, I smoothed out the envelope and read what was written there.  
‘Ricky, tell Sherry I love her. Tell Sherry I can’t live without her.  Tell Sherry not to cry
 for me. Sherry, I’ll love you forever. I’m sorry.....John-Boy.’  Who the hell was Sherry? 
 Did my husband of three decades kill himself over some tramp?  Some other woman 
whom he barely knew?  I picked up the second cell phone and scanned the history of calls.
  Where was area code 864? As I set the phone down my eye caught the partial title of 
a book lying on the rug under the table.  Picking it up, I read: ‘How To Keep A Long 
Distance Relationship Exciting and New.’  I opened it to the first few pages and found an
 inscription,  ‘To my tiny dancer, until we meet again.  Love forever, your John-Boy.’
My God, John, how could you?  How could you do this to us?  I yelled as I threw the 
book across the room; will this hellish nightmare never end? (beat)  I picked up the
 cell phone and scrolled down the history; Sherry Hoffman, Sherry Hoffman, Sherry Hoffman, Sherry Hoffman.  No other woman, huh, John? South Carolina…hence the long distance relationship…you’re such a fool, I told myself. There was voice mail saved and I listened to the most current ones.  Those messages told a story of a married woman who had a son and a new grandchild. 

Another sad, pedestrian story of a restless woman trapped in a loveless marriage but
 unwilling to leave.  The daughter-in-law apparently would not let Sherry see the child. 
 It seemed that John, in a misplaced attempt to help, called Sherry’s son to insist that
 he let Sherry see her grand-baby. 
 Only to succeed in blowing up that family.   The final message was not so sweet and 
sexy from his lover. Sherry had dumped my husband. (beat)  I didn’t know whether 
to laugh or cry.  I seemed to be trapped in a crazed, unbelievable soap opera.  But what 
is it that they say about truth being stranger than fiction?  I sighed.  John had always
 wanted to rescue anyone in trouble…even when they didn’t ask for help.   He had crossed
the line calling that woman’s son.  Oh, John, what were you thinking?,  I asked the empty
 room. Didn’t you know?  You were her dirty little secret.... (more)

(from my book, Monologues 4 Women) 





Long poem by Isaiah Zerbst | Details |

A Poem of Ruth

The tears well up, and scarce could she not moan
When father, brother, husband, all have died.
She now has no possessions, neither home,
But travels to a distant, unknown land:
Once so secure, yet now compelled to roam;
Once rich in love, she treads through foreign sands.
Her weary feet move forward but by faith;
For all left to her name is mere belief:
Mind, heart so far away she seems a wraith-
Love, happiness- all taken by a thief.

When, sometime since, her heart had broke in two,
The path of life, once single, parted way;
Forsake she could, but this she would not do-
All else was gone- with mother she would stay:
"Intreat me not to leave thee," was her plea,
"For whither thou wilt go, there will I; pray
Forbid me not to follow after thee,
For where thou lodgest I would also stay:
"Thy people shall be mine, thy God my God;
And where thou liest, I will gladly lie
Beside thee, overhead the selfsame sod;
That even then thou mightest be closeby.

"And so they twain walk on, hand clasped in hand;
Both hold the only thing they yet possess:
The younger but a stranger in the land,
An enemy, a widow in distress.

She rose before the sun to find a place
Where she might gather barley ears and wheat;
A field where she might find some needed grace
To gather for their winter store of meat:
Then Boaz comes from Bethlehem, and see,
He tarries with the reapers of the wheat:
He comes to Ruth and says, "Hear'st not thou me?
Remain until the harvest is complete:
"Go not from hence, but in my fields abide,
And let thine eyes be on the field they reap;
Behold, these maidens thou may'st work beside,
And near the reapers thou may'st ever keep."
Then to her face she fell, and wond'ringly
Asked why to her, a stranger, was so kind;
And he replied that she unfailingly
Had cleaved unto her mother with one mind,
And left her father, mother, and the soil
Of her nativity, and kissed the dust
Of some strange land wherein she meant to toil;
Forsaking gods of Moab God to trust:
"The Lord," said he, "reward thee for thy deeds,
 And recompense thy labour and thy love:
The God of Israel answer all thy needs,
And make his wings a shelter from above."
 Then said the maid, "My lord, please let me find
Some grace and favour in thy blessed sight,
For that thou hast been friendly, spoken kind,
And I am but a stranger in the night."
Then Boaz said, "At mealtime here abide;
Rest in the shade, come, sit with us and dine:
So down she sat, a reaper on each side;
She ate her wheat and dipped her bread in wine.
Then Ruth arose, and to her work she leaves:
The master thus commands his servant men,
"Let this young maid glean e'en among the sheaves;
Rebuke her not, for she shall come again;
And let some handfuls fall onto the ground,
There let them lie for my sake and for hers
That she may glean and plenty may be found;
For reasons she has need of it are pure."
And as she worked, Ruth knew not what a sight
Of beauty and of diligence she made,
As in the golden field in sunset's light
She bowed her head and knelt as if she prayed.

It came to pass that in his fields she stayed
Until the end of barley harvest came,
When mother told the lovely little maid
To seek for his provision and his name.
She washed and dripped an oil filled with sweet
Perfumes of wild roses on her face:
She had not much; her beauty was complete
With but her finest clothes to seek his grace.
Her braided hair shone brighter than the gem
That never graced her soft and shapely form;
Her eyes, they sparkled brighter than the hem
Of gold and pearls that she had never worn:
Thus Ruth went down unto the threshing floor
Where Boaz winnowed barley till the night,
And peeked at him so shyly 'round the door;
She never let him leave her searching sight.
His workday done, the master ate and drank;
With happiness his heart was full when fed:
Then by a heap of wheat he went and sank
Into the furry robes that made his bed;
And Ruth, a while watching till he sleep
Kept vigil from a stone used as a seat,
Till when his eyes had closed and sleep was deep
She lifted up the cover from his feet
And softly laid her down and dreamed of brides
Until the watchman struck a dozen beats,
And being startled, Boaz woke and spied
A woman sleeping at his very feet:
"Who art thou?" queried he in sleepy voice;
"Thine handmaid, Ruth," was her unsure reply;
Then blessed he her for wise and kindly choice,
For passing poor and rich young fellows by.
"And now, my daughter, gladly shall I do
According to thy wishes, for all here
Consider thee as virtuous and true;
Howbeit, there is one to thee more near,
A kinsman who must duly have his say:
If he decline, then rest assured I will
Perform the part of kinsman." So she lay
Down at his feet, and both were quiet, still.

In grey of early morning she arose,
Before a face could be discernéd there;
To keep from what some people might suppose
And who might stand along the road to stare:
Then Boaz said, "Bring here the vail thou hast
Upon thy head and hold it in thy hand:
Six times the barley measure filled and passed
From heap to vail as much as she could stand.
Then Boaz went up to the city gate
To find the nearer kinsman, whom he sought,
To see if he would purchase the estate
Of Ruth, and she herself, but he could not;
So Boaz purchased all the widows' land;
The houses, barns, and fields, though overgrown;
And bought what pleased him most, Ruth's comely hand
To cherish and to make his very own:
Then Boaz went to find the handmaid, Ruth
And lift her from a servant to a wife;
To love her in all tenderness and truth
In every day God blessed them both with life.



[By Isaiah Zerbst. Published 9/7/14. Parts of poem have been removed due to soup's limitations.]





Long poem by Mario DE PAZ | Details |

Canto XIX Hell translation

Simon wizard, you poor under his sway
That all things of God, which then of good will
Must be always brides, and you birds of prey

For gold and silver adulterate still,
Now it's time that the trumpet sounds for you,
Because you in third circle just stay ill.

We were already, at the tomb next new,
Clambered up to the tall rock at that place
Where is the center above the ditch cue.

O supreme wisdom, how great the art base,
Which in heavens, on earth and ill world show,
And how much justice your virtue can trace!

On the banks and on the bottom I saw
The stone very full with of holes a lot,
All of the same size and each well round though.

These seemed neither be of more nor less slot
Than those you found in my Saint John church nice,
Where the baptizers their faith office got;

One of those,  few years ago imprecise,
I broke to help a guy just drowning there:
And this to testify truth and lie vice.

Out of the mouth of each hole leaned bare
Of a woeful sinner legs and feet too
To the belly, the rest down to the hair.

Both soles burned to all of them hitherto;
Their joints were strongly flickering so that,
They might be broken wacky as a screw.

Likewise the glowing of oily things fat
To move then up to reach the upper end,
So were there from the heels to tips just at.

“Who is that, master, who worries must send
Flickering than the others well much more”,
I told, “and whose flame has stronger its trend?”

And he: “If you like, we go to explore
Down there then to the lowest lying bank,
From him you can all about his sins score” 

And I: “So I like , as you like and thank:
You are my lord, and you already know
That your will is mine, higher is your rank”

Then we arrived at the fourth bank below;
We turned at left hand and well down we got
Just to the narrow bottom riddled so.  

Good master yet his side till end did not
Offer to me, and thus we reached this way
Where that one was crying with his foot hot

“Whichever you are, upside down then stay,
Mournful spirit who as a pole stuck are”,
I started, “If you can, your words display”

I stood like friar who confessing were
Perfidious killer, who, since stuck is,
Then asks him for death to stop his anger.

And he screamed: “Are you there erect faces,
Are you there erect , Bonifacius now?
For years about  the writing he lied has.

If you then to be full of goods allow 
For which you were never restrained from wile
To pretty woman, and then her torn sow?”.

I became as those ,who stay doubtful while,
Not understanding what herd as reply,
Almost confused, and no word is worthwhile.

Then Virgilio told: “To tell him try:
“That one I'm not, not the one you believe””;
And I replied to follow him thereby.

For this the soul his feet just ought to weave;
Then he,  sighing and with a crying sound,
Told me: “So what you want from me achieve?

If to know my person you are so bound,
That you for this down the bank now have run,
Learn that I had the great mantle around;

Really I was of the she-bear son,
So greedy well my puppies to wind on,
That up and here my assets were done.

Behind my head are here the others won
Who me preceded in simony the sin,
To the crevices of the stones put con.

There I shall fall also when will come in
The one that I believed before you were,
When I first asked you with agitation.

But for more time fire my feet incur 
And upside down longer I have been so,
Than he will be sticked with red feet spur;

Since after him then will come with worse woe,
From west, a minister with any law,
Such as is correct that he on me grow.

Novel Jason will be, of whom read raw
In Maccabees; and as to that was weak
His king, so to him whom France as king saw”

I don't know if I was with mind oblique,
Since I responded him just in this mode:
“Ah, tell me now: which treasure had to seek

Lord of ours to Saint Peter just before
Giving to the lordship of him his keys?
Nothing else rather than ”follow my core”.

Nor Pete nor others from Mathias seize
Gold or silver, when he arose by draw
To the place where his bad soul lost through these.

For this it’s right, you are damned by good law;
And now good care take of the money took
Which made you against Charles so proud with flaw.

And if I were not  hindered by the hook
Of obeisance for keys so highest then
Which you held in happy life but mistook,

I would use even more hard words again;
Because your greediness makes the world sad,
Crushing good people and lifting bad men.

Of you Pastors the Vangelist known had
When woman who on waters takes a seat
As whore he saw with kings in a way bad;

That who was born with seven heads complete,
And from five horns had power great indeed
Til hers husband could to virtue compete.

You God of gold and silver could concede;
How differ idolaters then from you,
But that they pray one, and you hundred feed?

Alas, Constantin, how  much harm could do,
Not your conversion, but that wealthy gift
The first rich pope of story you gave to!”

And while such notes singing I had to lift,
Either was bitten by conscience or rage,
Strongly both legs was pushing with strong shift. 

I truly think much liked this my duke sage,
Since he attended with so happy face
The sound of words with truth I could engage.

So with both his hands me had to embrace,
And after he had at his chest all me,
He climbed back the way then leaving the place.

Tired to hug me he didn’t seem to  be,
So he brought me up of the arch to top
Which from fourth to fifth bank is designee. 

Here weight to ground he could gently drop,
Gentle respect to rocks dirty and steep
That would oppose to goats  a severe stop.

Then I discovered a new valley deep.


Long poem by Richard Lamoureux | Details |

Watch

You might wonder what happens during the course of the day with a profiler. I'm known as the watcher. Little insignificant things can make the difference in cracking a case. A subtle glance, a dilated pupil the tightening of a jaw. Let me take you back to yesterday so you will understand.

"Rick I need you to come in here." "Alright captain, what do you have for me?" "We have an Arson on our hands, Rodrigues is interviewing the family now." "What do we know about them captain?" "Husband and wife are separated, the daughter was living with the mom in the family home. Nothing left of the home, burnt to the ground." "Do we know where the fire started?" "Yes it looks like it started in the girls bedroom. Enough talking Rick lets pay attention to what's going on."

Captain Branson is an impatient man, he thinks this watcher stuff is a pile of bullshit. He's all about old fashioned police work. Still here I am detective first class with a pile of successes under my belt. So the upper brass have thrust me upon him.  He tolerates me, in private he tells his buddy's I'm a lucky sh*t and one day my luck is going to run out. 

I looked through the one way glass into the interrogation room. The dad was sitting furthest away. He is dressed impeccably dark blue suit, white shirt and a red tie with matching handkerchief. He also sports a hundred dollar haircut and speaks with controlled precision. While he speaks he looks at Rodriguez with a certain disdain. His arms are folded and he keep looking down at his watch.

The daughter is a contrast in opposites, unkept purple hair and wearing a black loose fitting dress. There are scratches on her arm that she is picking at. Several piercings adorn her lips nose and eyebrows. On her shoulder there is a broken heart tattoo that says Daddy's Girl. 

The wife is a thirty something beauty with long blond hair. She is casual yet elegant, a natural look that has taken hours to achieve. She is on the opposite side of the table from her husband and somehow it does not seem far enough. As her husband speaks her left eye has a subtle twitch. 

Rodriguez fidgets with the earbud as he asks the dad if he wants something to drink. The dad snaps back " let's just get this over with I have to get back to work." Rodriguez just smiles and asks the wife and daughter if he can get anything for them. The daughter continues to pick at her arm. The wife politely says "no thank you." "Well then we can get started." Rodriguez gets up opens the door and a large matronly officer enters. Rodriguez asks the daughter and mom to accompany her. The daugter rises and walks with a slow detached gait, her mom follows with a practiced elegance.

Rodriguez looks at the man and says, "let's start with what we know, we know the fire wasn't accidental. There was an accelerant used in your daugters room." The dad looked Rodriguez in the eye and said "so why are you talking to me? I don't even live there anymore." Rodriguez asks the dad where he was between nine and eleven that morning. The man quickly responds that he was working at the office with his assistant. Rodriguez asks if anyone else may have seen him that morning. He says not that he's aware of.  Talking through the earbud I ask Rodriguez to end his questioning for now.

Captain Branson says, "we checked the Navigation on his BMW, it shows his vehicle didn't leave the parking lot till three this afternoon. Personally my money is on the crazy daughter, I checked and she started a fire a few years ago behind their neighbors shed."  "Ok captain we'll start with her next. I'll be back in a minute I need a cup of coffee." I leave the room just as the dad leaves the interrogation room. Rodriguez motions for him to sit down. As he sits he crosses his legs and I notice he is wearing a new pair of shoes and there is a small white stain on his cuff.  Once again I notice him looking at his watch. I walk by him to the coffee machine  without him even giving me a glance.

Back in the interrogation room Rodriguez is sitting with the girl, she has yet to make eye contact with him. I tell Rodriguez to start the interview. He does the usual attempt at rapport building but it garnishes no warm and fuzzies. Enough of that he asks her where she was this morning. She says she was out behind the bleachers at school. He asks if anyone can verify her being there. She says no, she was by her self. He asks about the fire behind the neighbors shed. She says "it looks like you have already made up your mind. Why don't you just lock me up?" This is the first time she looks him in the eye.  Rodriguez says he just wants to get to the truth. "The truth? No one cares about the truth, why would I burn down my own room?" She looks defiant and hurt, the look of someone who has been accused of many things. I tell Rodrigues enough for now. The captain says "what? Is that it?"  "Relax Captain she's not your girl. Rodriguez bring the wife in."

The wife looks a lot more relaxed without the husband in the room. She sits back easily in the chair with her legs crossed gracefully at the ankles. She pulls out a lighter and cigarette and asks if it is okay if she smokes. Rodriguez apologizes and says there is no smoking on the premises.  She says "that's okay I'm trying to quit." She tells him she started again after the separation. Rodriguez asks her who she thinks started the fire. She says she has no idea but she can't imagine who would want to burn down their home. She loses her composure for a moment and starts to cry. She looks up at him with her big blue eyes filled with tears. Rodriguez passes her a tissue and asks if she is okay to continue. She says sure she just needs a moment to compose herself. He asks her to tell him about her husband.


Long poem by Darryl Ashton | Details |

WELCOME TO COALITION AIRWAYS

WELCOME TO COALITION AIRWAYS!


(After being treated to a flight on Air Force One recently, the Prime Minister could be tempted to order his own official plane. But he’d have to work hard to get the Lib Dems on board. So what might a flight on Coalition Airways be like?)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, not forgetting members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community. This is Captain Cameron speaking, but you can call me Dave.

Please allow me to apologise for the lengthy delay in our boarding process, caused by unforeseen technical glitches with our state-of-the-art automated retina recognition scheme and the arrest of several passengers for alleged racist remarks while passing through security.

We also apologise for any inconvenience caused by our new seating allocation system, which is based on proportional representation and is designed to ensure equality of access to all sections of the aircraft.

I am also very proud to announce that in keeping with our fairness agenda, passengers earning less than £10,000 a year fly free on Coalition Airways. This is being paid for by a 50 per cent surcharge on passengers in Tycoon Class.

Flying duties today are being shared between the Captain and Co-Pilot Clegg. Please don’t be alarmed if the aircraft experiences sudden changes in direction. Your safety and your comfort is our number one priority.

Would all passengers being extradited to America please keep their handcuffs and shackles fastened at all times and remember to wear the special orange sleep-suits provided. 
Passengers fitted with electronic ankle tags are asked to switch them off for take-off and landing as they could interfere with our navigation equipment.

Our purser, Mr Osborne, will be passing among you collecting airline duty, carbon taxes, mansion taxes and VAT at 20 per cent. In our efforts to keep costs down, we regret to announce that full-fare passengers in the higher-rate tax bracket are not entitled to free children’s meals.

Alcoholic beverages will be available, priced at a minimum 50p per unit ABV. Sales of intoxicating drinks will be tightly restricted to prevent anyone going berserk in the Strangers Cabin and head – butting other passengers.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome aboard those couples embarking on same-sex honeymoons. They will receive unlimited complimentary champagne for the duration of our flight. Cabin crew will also be distributing landing cards, which must be completed in full. I would remind you that the terms ‘husband’, ‘wife’, ‘mother’ and ‘father’ are now illegal and should not be used on any official documentation. The correct term is either ‘partner/spouse’ or ‘progenitor’. Failure to comply will result in arrest by our air-marshals, a fine of £10,000 and six months in prison.

Those of you planning to connect to onward flights to Scotland will have to complete separate customs and immigration forms and produce your passport at border control. We do hope all the passengers enjoy our in-flight meal service, which is being freshly prepared in the galley on the top-of-the-range barbecue presented to the Captain on his recent visit to America.

We try to source as much as possible from reputable British companies. All the crockery in Tycoon Class has been supplied by Royal Doulton, from its factories in Indonesia, and our cutlery is forged from the finest Sheffield steel, in India. 

It is also our policy to feature a selection of traditional British dishes. Today we are offering a vegetable lasagne, prepared by the gourmet chef Ed Balls-Cooper in his subsidised second  home kitchen. Unfortunately, the steak and kidney is not available, as Mr Pickles, the chief steward in our Community Class cabin, ate all the pies.

We also pride ourselves on the stringent security measures taken for your safety and convenience. In the unlikely event of you spotting a fellow passenger trying to explode his underpants, please alert a member of the cabin crew. There is no cause for alarm. It may simply be a case of mid-air turbulence caused by Chef Balls-Cooper’s vegetable lasagne. 

The hacking of mobile phones in flight is not permitted. Smoking is strictly forbidden anywhere on the aircraft, including the washrooms. Dogging and cottaging are allowed, once we are airborne, but we would kindly request that no more than four passengers use a single washroom at the same time.

Given the need for budgetary restraint, this aircraft has been designed to perform a joint civilian  and military role. Consequently, we will be diverting via Syria to bomb Damascus and descending to 3,000 feet to allow members of our special forces to deploy their parachutes.  

During this time, we may experience some anti-aircraft fire, so all passengers will be asked to fasten their seat belts and assume the brace position. Ladies and gentlemen, I do apologise for the continuing delay. I have just heard from our ground crew that our flight today will have to be postponed.

Even if we do manage to get airborne, there is a possibility that Co-Pilot Clegg and several members of the cabin crew will abandon the aircraft and parachute to earth in an attempt to save themselves, in clear breach of both health and safety guidelines and the Coalition Airways Agreement.

So I’m afraid I must ask you to deplane in an orderly fashion and take all your belongings and rubbish with you. As part of our ongoing commitment to combating climate change, we intend to empty the bins on this aircraft only once a fortnight.

Thank you for choosing Coalition Airways. Normal service will be resumed in 2015.

Here endeth the flight.

THE END


BY
DARRYL ASHTON   

      


Long poem by Just That Archaic Poet | Details |

Bionic Betty: Another True Tale from the Mental Ward

Betty was bonafide crazy. She had shot her husband after a night of drunken quarreling, and was in the state mental hospital instead of being in the slammer. She'd shot the louse in the stomach and he had lived, fortunately for her. I never tired of hearing about Betty's attempted escape and eluding of the police in the aftermath. Over the river and through the woods she ran, but not to grandmother's house, sadly; she didn't know where she was going; all she knew was that she HAD to get the hell outta there.

Down a steep embankment she had tumbled, right next to the highway. As she attempted to orient herself, a car slowed down, it's lights blinding her as she tried to pick off the brush, debris and twigs that clung like glue to her hair and muddy nightgown. The car stopped, two cops sprang forth and yelled, "FREEZE!". The jig being up, Betty did as instructed, was cuffed and read her Miranda rights. She never bothered to elaborate how she wound up in the loony bin instead of staying in the pokey, but I can only imagine it was due to her obvious derangement.

Betty was a hoot; funny as could be and an excellent card player. She had long, shaggy salt and pepper frizzy tresses that looked more like a Halloween wig than an actual coiffure. She was well into her fifties but seemed much older with her deep smoker's wrinkles and heavy, sunken eyes, like a soul that's known too much wear, tear, pain and heartache and aged prematurely. On more than one occasion I questioned her actual insanity, but on one night, when the moon was full and all the crazies were, admittedly, much more maniacal than normal, my doubts about Betty's "playing possum" dissolved. It's true, you know, what they say about a full moon and the impact it has over the mind; I've witnessed it first-hand too many times in different psych wards to discount it as "old-wives" folklore. Nurses never fail to mention when there is a full moon; they know it to be true as well.

I don't know what set her off. I was enjoying a game of rummy with Angela, a paranoid schizophrenic with a penchant for identifying supposed conspiracies within the hospital, when I heard Betty screaming furiously and cussing up a hurricane. Well, something didn't suit her, obviously, and she was having none of it. This is when I began to wonder if Betty was not part "Bionic Woman". Next thing I knew, she wailed like a banshee, took off sprinting down the hall at incredible, breakneck speed that defied her rather plump figure and stubby legs, and drop-kicked the heavy, locked steel door that barred the exit of ward "Grag". Nurses hit the panic button and made urgent phone calls which signaled the goons and heavy muscle to race toward our ward to subdue the unsubduable. Soon as Angela heard the nurses all in a frenzy, she yelled, "CONSPIRACY LEVEL UP! TOP FLOOR!" ("Top Floor" being the ward that housed the most violent or dangerous loons.) Paranoid schizophrenics are such a suspicious bunch!

As Betty raced by, Angela immediately stood up, cheering her along, chanting "GRAG STYLE, BABY; YEAH!". In total astonishment I watched this Wonder Woman drop-kick this barricade (which was most definitely designed to keep us confined) in total kung-fu, samurai, ninja style with such force that it burst wide open! Talk about jaw-dropped incredulous! By the time Betty the She-Hulk nearly drop-kicked her way to freedom, the goons (as the big orderlies were dubbed) descended upon her, but she fought with such ferocity that for just an instant I thought she might break free, given that she had picked up a nearby chair and was using it to fend them off with the skill of a lion-tamer (or so I mused). But poor Betty was helplessly and hopelessly outnumbered and the whole incident must have happened in the span of maybe two minutes, but time has a funny way of slowing down and stretching in instances such as these, when the eyes and mind are trying to comprehend the incomprehensible. She was tackled on all sides, but not before one of the stooges took a whack upside his empty head. Nurses rushed forth, syringes in hand, and gave Betty the usual knock-out serum of hefty doses of Haldol and Benadryl (don't ask me how I know this!). Then, as was the procedure in all such cases, Betty was strapped down on a gurney and wheeled away to the "Quiet Room" where she was to be closely monitored by some muscle.

As one of the orderlies passed, carting the drowsy Betty past us, Angela barked one of her customary insults of, "YOU SMELL LIKE ASS AND NACHOS!" which never failed to tickle me to no end. The excitement over, Angela and I went back to our game of rummy and she accused me of cheating when I won, flipped over the table, and stormed off (but she always did this whenever she lost.) Ah, Angela; what I'd give to play rummy with you again! 

A few days later, after a two week stint, I was finally released and never saw or heard from Betty (or Angela) again. Whenever I see someone fly into a rage, I am often happily reminded of Betty, Super-Woman of ward "Grag". Why was I there? I'll never tell!


Long poem by James W Johnson | Details |

LETTER ONE

February 27, 1861

My Dear Miss Holly Winegardner,

   After saying goodbye to you, Johnny Birdeye and I traveled from Columbus to Nashville by train, then west to Memphis arriving home two days ago. Johnny’s family was glad to have him back and were grateful to me for going to Ohio to fetch him for them. You and I did not talk about young Johnny while I was there in Newark so perhaps I should tell you how I came to journey so far north and to eventually meet you.

   As I mentioned in our passing conversations, I live on our family farm on Crawley’s Ridge in Arkansas. It is located some fifty miles west of Memphis on a ridge overlooking the Mississippi River basin. Our farm belonged to Mr. Raymond Bennett Dobbins, my mother’s second husband, until his death eight years ago. It amounts to about five hundred acres now, including the acreage of my father's farm, of mostly rolling, hilly land - a great deal of it wooded and untamed, but filled with a variety of lakes and natural springs. That which is arable provides deep rooting for generous orchards and vineyards. We farm some and graze some but mostly fruit out the land as much as possible.

   Every year, we load some ten wagons with fruits, vegetables and nuts, and travel to Memphis several times for money crops during the harvest season. There is never enough to sell and we are constantly clearing land for more orchard space. We raise a variety of apples, plums, peaches, cherries, pears, apricots and persimmon. Our pecans are widely known, and sought after even in an area with an abundance of such nuts. We have several vineyards of grapes for jams, jellies, and wines. Even wild muscadine grapes are in abundance. We also have a wonderful stable of horses and, as you know, this is my passion.

   As I told your father while in Ohio, my mother married Mr. Dobbins, after my father’s death, on the condition that there be no slaves kept by him. At the time, he owned some fifty slaves and willingly freed them so that Mother would accept his proposal. Most of them moved away to Memphis and some further west but a few remained on our place, and worked along side the rest of the family. I will tell you sometime of John, our blacksmith, and Ethel, his wife, of Alice, who works in our home with my mother. Of young Tobacco Dobbins, my friend as a child, who now lives in California, having taken muscadine grapes there to grow. He has become quite a legend there and we are all proud of him.

   Johnny Birdeye’s family lives in the basin at the eastern foot of Crawley’s Ridge bordering our property. Their spread is vast covering thousands of acres of timber and at least a thousand acres of cotton farming. Johnny is younger than me by a few years, and in some ways not very mature for his age. Perhaps it is due to his upbringing in a rich family; perhaps it is just the way he is.

   A year ago, he left home with a gypsy girl, and it has taken the family this long to locate him and to dispatch me to Ohio to bring him home. I think he grew up some in this year, and realized that not everything in life is as it seems - meaning the girl was already married and leading him on. Perhaps I have said too much even now.

   Miss Holly, it is a trying time in which we live. Since Lincoln’s election, so much has transpired. South Carolina’s secession followed by so many other southern states is unbelievable. If Lincoln is inaugurated in March, there will likely be a fight. There is talk that my own beloved state will resign the Union in the spring.

   More chilling is the cold aspect of war. Many of my friends are arranging to travel to Little Rock or Fort Smith in case such a terrible turn brings us to incivility.

   The Birdeye family has a friend in Memphis whose name is Bedford Forrest. He is a plantation owner and slave trader, but says that he will build a fighting unit, if war breaks out. Mr Birdeye has offered to introduce me to Mr. Forrest, and I have considered it. Given my attention to horse flesh and Mr. Forrest’s expectation that he will raise a cavalry brigade, I am leaning toward such a prospect.

   Please understand that I want no part of war - it is a horrid thing to take a life. But, if we are invaded, as I told your father I will be compelled to defend our home.

   This is not the letter I sought to write to you, Miss Holly. I wanted to tell you about my time with you and how I felt since I saw you last. I wanted to tell you about my home, for I wondered how you would like it here. Though warmer, it is somewhat like your rolling hills in Ohio. Perhaps you will consider visiting us some time; my mother would love to meet you.

Yours most sincerely,

Jas. W. Johnson,
-late of Ohio,
-now on Crawley’s Ridge near Cherry Valley,
-and west of Memphis.


Long poem by Vee Bdosa | Details |

LIPOMA

        LIPOMA
There did they go into the cyberspace
where none but the great of heart
have ever gone before
and they did find great pleasure unto the night
for it was a time of love and understanding
and she did say it is good.
And when they did awake unto the dawn
then he did see a mass onto his shoulder
that had not ever been there before
and he was sore afraid.
Then he did say unto his mate, whose name is Mae,
what is it that has aflicted me in the night
and bonded itself onto the very body of me?
And she did reply unto her husband,
I know not.
And so they did consider the mass
and it was firm and round as a gooses egg,
yet it was of the mass that was thrice the size.
So she did lay her hands onto the mass
and did say,
is it now with pain, for I have given it a great charge?
But he did reply, nae, I feel it not.
And so they did go with the coming day,
even as the sun was high, unto his physician,
who counseled with some of his own, as to the matter.
And they did touch, and poke, and wonder
at the mass, and then they did say
it is a lipoma, and it is nothing more.
But one of physicians did ask
of what great need do you have of this arm,
and the man did reply, it is not the one
with which I write my name.
And the husband, whose name is Fred, did inquire
as to how this mass ever came to be
and so has attached itself onto me?
And there it sits, as if bad things to come.
Then his physicians did reply and say
nae, it is naught to worry about
but we can remove it if you have the desire.
And the wife did say unto the physicians,
who were with great skill in the matter,
this he does have,
so the husband did say, it is so my desire,
I have great needs that it be gone.
But the physicians did reply
it shall be taken away in twelve days,
for that is the only time
that is not already spoken for.
And so they did agree.
Now when the night came and he did lay again with his wife,
there came a great trembling from deep within
his body, and he did shake to his very toes.
And she did say, husband, why is it that you shake?
And what is it that maketh your body wet all over,
as if a rain has fallen on the very place you lay?
And he did reply, I know not.
But he was with great fear and did wonder
as to what the mass could be.
And his wife did then say,
it is a lipoma, and it is nothing more.
But he did think on the matter and then did say,
this must surely be as unto a sign from the maker
that my time is at hand.
Surely my life has been filled with goodness
but has brought me unto this very day.
And she did say,
it is a lipoma, and it is nothing more.
And as the day grew near,
but was even the second day unto the removal,
the husband did worry and say some more,
my life is at an end
for the very inside of me does now quake
and my hands tremble at the sight of the mass.
Yea, mine eyes cannot bear to gaze upon it
and it has become an abomination unto my sight.
But his wife did say,
it is a lipoma, and it is nothing more.
Then there came onto the tube, as if an omen
and a sign unto its own,
that a man had a mass and surely it had taken him away,
as if a robber had come in the night.
And he did grieve, for the day was almost at hand,
but did go unto his physicians and did say,
see how my body is wet and trembles at its' sight?
How is it that this thing has come unto me?
And what are the tingles unto my skin
is it what cometh from a lipoma?
But the physicians did shake their heads
and then they did say
you have the stress.
And so he did wonder at what they did tell him,
and when he looked, the mass was still there.
But the physicians did say,
it is a lipoma, and it is nothing more.
And one of the physicians said
if it is not a lipoma, the betting is off.
And then the man did return to his home
but trembled in the night.
Now when the morning did come
and the woman reached for her husband,
she found his space to be empty
and wet where he had layed.
and she did say, husband,
where is it you have gone?
But she heard not a reply.
And so she did go into the bottom of the house
where she did see him hanging from a beam
and then she did cry.
And so the constable did come, along with the scribes,
but the wife was with great grief
and did say o! that my life has such dismay
because of the lump that has taken him away.
What manner of thing has fallen to me?
And the scribe, who was to tell of the matter,
asked of her, what is it that has made you grieve?
And then the constable did say
is it the mass, that has made your husband
to end his life?
And she did say, it was a lipoma,
and it was nothing more.
....© ron wilson aka vee bdosa the doylestown poet


Long poem by Christine Phillips | Details |

So It Was

So it was that the night transcended peacefully over my head
Taking me through thick clouds,landing me upon parched land
Spilling  tranquil moments into daylight complexity.
So it was that I found myself among a crowd of unfamiliar people
People who I have perhaps seen in the city or on TV 
So it was that an influential woman hosted a dinner in a sizable hall in town
A gloomy  dinner with little food just to wet the appetite of the starving crowd.
So it was  that  the courageously dressed host gave a short speech to amuse the
hungry lot, while her husband stood silently summarizing the plot.

So it was that she gave a short speech when everyone was expecting her to preach but the starved guests devoured the tiny portion and scrambled through the door. Hundreds of them instantly streamed through the hallway leaving the host to deeply ponder.So it was that the host came running to me pouring out her heartfelt misery."The people did not interacted",  she said, "they just swallowed the food and fled". I told her not to worry they came for dinner because they were hungry.

The night still had me bounded taking me from town to town,
Propelling me into another space, showing me Saudi riyals all over the place.
So it was that I entered this remarkable place and an official man came through a little gate. He handed me a stash of Saudi rial, piled up with one hundred notes with three one riyal notes to keep afloat.I separated the 100 notes from the one riyal notes and muse deeply over such astounding happenings hoping to find some plausible answers. So it was that as I stood there, the woman and her husband that hosted the dinner appeared.The authoritative man  tenderly placed some riyal in their empty hands.The husband seemed very pleased but his wife was intensely displeased. And so it was that she walked away and uttered these words in dismay,"I will see to It".

The nights mystery kept me drifting and  wandering all over the city
forcing me to submit to its rigorous rules.With nothing to say I drift with the night all the way. So it was that I ended up in a beautiful church in the center of town and walked silently in the church hoping to get some encouraging words.But the entire right section of the pews was blocked off and covered with a tall screen from the back leaving  just the front row vacant.Whats the meaning in all of this I tried so hard to understand but nothing seemed to fit.

Three women dressed in white sat composedly towards the back on the left side of the pews.Two of them sat on the very last rows while the other sat further up leaning her back against the corner  praying. And so it was that I walked through the pews praying a powerful prayer. I held the hands of the women sitting in the back rows and prayed ''Luke 12: 22-30 from the scriptures with them.

 "Then He said to His disciples,Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? 25 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind.For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you."

So it was that I walked up to the third woman and prayed with her when suddenly the man and woman that was hosting the dinner walked towards the right of the church straight up to the front row.And so it was that as I walked towards them to pray, the night grabbed me vigorously and tossed me back into my bed. I woke up at three fifty eight am at the crack of dawn and mulled over the strange nights adventure.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ©2014 Christine Phillips


Long Poems