Long poem by
Brian Johnston | Details |
- - Chapter 2: Adult Responsibility (With Some Breaks) - -
By ten years old, no weekends off,
Or Saturday cartoons,
Although I did have cash to spend,
I felt my life in ruins.
I dusted cars in my dad's store,
And cleaned its toilets too,
I fixed truck tires as I got old,
Not much I couldn't do.
A trip to two month summer camp,
I learned to shoot and sail,
At twelve years old, a pioneer,
Canoed explorer's trail.
Near tragedy on my return,
My sister paralyzed,
A late victim of polio,
My conscience brutalized.
Felt guilty leaving her alone,
While I frolicked and played,
Brotherly love had been displaced,
Her protection was waylaid.
The washers, dryers, I repaired,
And freezers with no chill,
Then televisions came along,
Tube testing my new skill.
Assembling new farm implements,
And posting parts on hand,
My driver's license opened doors,
‘Collected bills' firsthand.
On Sundays we would go to church,
To hear the preacher tell,
Because my dad was not with us,
His soul would burn in Hell.
Dad's Channelled Poem-
[‘It's bad news when a preacher comes.
They all want stuff for free.
I have to feed my children too,
I've problems they don't see.']
Three years of summer music camps,
In Junior High reborn,
I played piano in dance bands,
Took lessons on French Horn.
My French Horn teacher laughed out loud
When I walked through the door,
‘Your lips too thick, please stick out tongue, '
Now rolling on the floor!
‘To take your money is a crime, '
The German said to me,
‘You've no high notes, ' ‘I know' I said,
‘Mom loves French Horn you see.'
Most summers were our busy time,
We all worked hard till dusk,
My ‘tail rung through a ringer, ' (1) la, *
The time for ‘smart mouth' (2) brusque.
But then the job that I loved best,
Flat tractor tires in field,
A chance to meet a farmer's girl,
The country's charm revealed.
One summer worked a cattle herd,
Two thousand cows were planned,
By cutting, wind-rowing (3) the grass,
Soon haystacks dotted land.
Dakota winters could be fierce,
The temp forty below,
The stacks were shelter from the wind,
A shield from blinding snow.
We'd use a horse for round-up, la! *
My God that was a thrill,
Except for blisters on your ass,
Or when you took a spill.
I had not ridden horses much,
You're so far from the ground,
The horse not knowing you from spit, (4)
Disdain can be profound! '
There was no time for niceties,
And work to do, ‘C'MON! '
If horse and you somehow part ways,
No choice, you climb back on.
Our ranch was all on ‘Indian Res., ' (5)
By river loop enclosed,
In South Dakota's Lower Brule, (6)
A twelve year lease proposed.
Land acres more that twenty thou.
Covered by native grass,
A chance like this was very rare,
My father could not pass.
The river's edge a solid fence,
No barbed wire to maintain.
The nearest town two hours by road,
Our days were mostly work and sleep,
With meals our only break,
Except for weekend groc'ry trips,
No chance for love's heartache.
Till I discovered farmer's girl,
Who lived half way to town,
Contrived a way to go to church,
When Sunday's call came down.
The church's name not one I knew,
The people all seemed nice,
To escape Sunday's usual fare
Was worth most any price.
Played music we could sing,
The pastor beat foot-pedalled drum,
We made the rafters ring!
I told myself, ‘there's something strange,
The music's gone too long, '
Emotion peaking and yet I
Somehow did not belong.
With music's end the sermon broke,
The world's sure end was near,
Time now to sanctify all sin,
‘Repent now! God's word hear.'
For God's quite mad, this cannot stand,
No doubt that it is prov'n
Those rockets from Canaveral
Are shooting holes in Heav'n.
I was in shock, glued to my seat,
The flock their garments rent,
And I the last one in his seat,
No sin did I lament!
At last not knowing what to do,
I left and went outside,
And knew whatever happened now,
I hadn't found my bride.
August 20, 2014
* When I was in the American Peace Corps in Tanzania, East Africa we had a group of 7
surveying assistants that were always with us in the first year and that we became very
close to. Their conversation was always sprinkled with 'la' and I thought it was kind of
cute. Like they might say to me, 'Why don't we stop in this village for some food, la.'
They used this word kind of like I use the word ‘OK' in casual conversation. 'You've got
food in your teeth, la.' I really enjoyed this idiosyncratic affectation.
(1) 'tail rung through the ringer' - Early washing machines did not have a 'spin cycle.' So
to get the excess water out of your clothing you would ring out the water from each item
of clothing first before hanging it on a clothes line to dry completely in the sun. So the
phrase 'tail rung through the ringer' means that you are all out of energy, and very tired.
The energy has been squeezed out of you by your job like water rung out of newly
(2) 'smart mouth' Someone who likes to talk back to authorities, or who just complains all
(3) 'wind-rowing' - To rake newly cut grass into long rows called 'wind-rows' that could be
more easily picked up and bailed then by yet another machine.
(4) 'not knowing someone from spit' - To have no respect for the person at all.
(5) ‘Indian Res’ – Land that Indian’s were given official title to by the American
government in an attempt to placate and domesticate them.
(6) ‘Lower Brule’ – A huge tract of Indian Land contained in a large meander of the
Missouri River. Although the mouth of this loop is only one mile wide, to get from one side
of the meander by river is over 28 miles. Lower Brule is owned by the Cherokee Indian
Long poem by
Mario DE PAZ | Details |
So bridge to bridge, of other things speaking
Of which my comedy does not take care,
We walked; and reached the top, when seeking
For watching the next slit, then we stopped there
Malebolge to see and crying vain;
And I saw it strikingly with no glare.
As the Venician dockyard attain
On winter boiling the tenacious pitch
To caulk their worn out wooden boats again,
Since these can’t navigate – differ by which
Has been renewed in wood and oakum has
In panels after trips with fixing rich;
Or who cares the prow, who the poop whereas
Someone oars builds, other wraps shrouds around;
Who mizzen and main sails mends as well as -:
So, not by fire but by divine bound,
Was boiling there down a quite thick mud,
Which soiled the bank everywhere on round.
I could see it, but in I saw no dud
Else than bubbles which for the boil came out,
And all swell, and deflate as a tide flood.
While there down my eyes tried closely to scout
My guide, telling “Look at there, look at there!”,
Pulled me to himself from my place of stake-out.
Then I moved as man who acts to late bear
To see events which avoid is better
And who is strongly undermined by scare,
But, when he sees, to escape can’t fetter:
And I saw a devil black behind us
Running up the rock faster than ever.
Ouch how his aspect seemed to be vicious!
And how ruthless appeared his act to be,
With open wings and so light on feet thus!
His shoulders, which were superb as was he,
With both his hips encumbered a damned then,
And he of feet held muscles with no plea.
From far he shouted: “Malebranche again
This one of Saint Zita’s elders I throw!
Submerge him, since I go back to catch men
In that land where they much abundant grow:
But Bonturo, all barterers are there;
To yes, for money, they transform a no”.
Down he threw him, and on the hard rock bare
Turned round; and mastiff loosened was never
In so much hurry a thief to ensnare.
That dived, emerging upset however;
But devils who of the bridge had the top,
Screamed: “Here Holy Face can’t endeavor!
Here swimming like in Serchio is a flop!
But, if you do not want the bites of ours
Have care for any emergence to stop”
Then beat him with many whips and bars,
Told: “For you is better that covered dance
So that, if you can, to steal empowers.
Not different from cooks who so enhance
Their aides in middle of caldron to dip
Meat with hooks, to avoid floatage advance.
The good master “In order that you skip
That you are here”, told, “you must crouch low
After a stone, so a screen you can grip;
And for offense to me any could throw,
Don't be afraid, already I learned,
Since the last time spent here I could know”.
Then he surpassed the bridge quite unconcerned;
And when he had arrived at the sixth bank,
Important was that all fear he had spurned.
With the same fury and with the same swank
Dogs come out against a coming poor man
Who help asks at once when he fears be yank,
Those so came out behind the bridge and ran,
Against him then directing their claws all;
But he shouted: “None of yours do harm can!
Before your hook could my body appall
Should one of yours come forward now and hear,
And then the clawing me should not befall”.
All screamed: “Malacoda must go, it’s clear!”,
So one then moved on – and the others stood –
And came close telling: “Why are you here?”
“Do you think, Malacoda, that I could
Show me when here”, my master replied,
If I had not to your attacks screen good,
Without divine will and lucky fate guide?
Allow us go, since is in heaven set
That I show to other this savage side”.
At this his pride was so hardly unset,
That he let the hook to fall to his feet,
And told the others: “with no hurt we let”.
And then my duke to me: “Oh you that seat
Well crouched down here between the bridge stones
Safely now with me can the way complete”.
By which I moved to him fast to unknowns;
And devils came on forward then them all,
So I feared the treaty fault in my bones;
Same way I saw the soldiers, I recall,
Come out from Caprona after the pact,
Seeing many enemies to appall.
I got me close with all my body packed
To my duke, the eyes well fixed with no turn
Toward their appearance making me racked.
They moved down their hooks and then “His back stern”,
Telling each other, “we ought to touch?”,
And answered: “Yes, I would do, no concern”.
But the devil who spoke that way such
Before with my duke, turned back very fast
And told: “Scarmiglione, to stop you must clutch!”.
Then told us: “Beyond you cannot go past
This rock, because it is completely gone
Just to the bottom the sixth arc at last.
And if going on you like as was drawn,
You now should go just up this cavern through;
Nearby you find a rock with new way dawn.
Yesterday, five hours more among now flew,
Twelve hundred and sixty six years ago
This way was broken while before was true.
To that end I send of my guys a row
To inspect if someone from pitch gets out;
Go with them, no bad behavior will show”.
Alichino, and Calcabrine come about”,
He started, “and Cagnazzo also you;
And Barbariccia will drive all-out.
Libicocco and Draghignazzo come through
Graffiacane and Ciriatto fanged hard
And Farfarello and Rubicante mad too.
Around the boiling lime you have to guard;
These ones must be safe until the next rock
Which as a whole over stands the sinners yard”
“Ouch, master, what is I see to unlock?”,
I told, “I pray, with no escort let go,
If you know how, I prefer alone walk.
If you are wise as normally I saw,
Do not you see that their teeth harshly gnash
And with their lashes bad intention show?.
And he to me: “I want you don’t abash;
Let them to gnash as much as they are sod,
Because they do so for the sores who splash”.
They turned along the left embankment odd;
But each first had his tongue to strict pass
Between teeth, toward their duke, as nod
And he had done loud trumpet of his ass.
Long poem by
Mario DE PAZ | Details |
(Continuing the trip through Hell of Dante with poet Virgilio)
Pah-peh Sah-tan, Pah-peh Sah-tan al-ept!”,
Started Pluto with his hoarse voice toss
And that gentle wise, who any knowledge kept,
Told to encourage me: “don’t have a loss
By your fright: since any power has he,
Shall not forbid us this rock down to cross”.
Then he turned to that face swollen to see,
And told him: “You have to shut up, wolf damn!
To consume your rage in yourself agree.
A good why there is to go in this dram:
It is willed up there, where Michael just
Could the wild pride with revenge lam”
Like the ship canvas by blowing wind thrust
Fall totally wrapped, when breaks down the mast
So fell to ground the cruel monster bust.
So we got down in the fourth circle vast,
Of the mournful bank then achieving more
Where every sin of universe is massed.
Ow divine justice! Where find anymore
New travails and pains as the ones I saw?
And why our fault reduces us so sore?
Like a wave does over Cariddi raw
Crashing on that which meets while rebounding,
So here people fights for a tragic flaw.
Here people was more than else abounding,
On one part and the other, with high screams,
With hard back force just heavy weights rounding.
Jostled each other; and after in such reams
Each one turned around, then rounding back,
Screaming: “Why do you hold? And “Why joke themes?”.
So they were turning in the circle black
From every side to the opposing side,
Shouting in turn with their ribaldry thwack;
Then each one turned again, when to end lied,
Through his half circle to the opposing end.
And I, with my heart in pain almost tied,
Told: “My master, now you some word expend
About these guys, and if clergy where all
These with tonsure who stay at our left trend”.
And he to me: “All had of blindness fall
In their minds during their previous life,
That money spent or save with restraint small.
Too much their voice barks with clear strife,
When they reach the two parts of circle round
Where are unpaired when odd faults are rife.
These were clerics, who are not crowned
With top hairs, popes and cardinals as well,
Whose greedy stinginess had to abound”
And I: “Master, among these who here fell
I should be able to recognize some guys
Who for certain failed in these sins for hell”.
And he to me: “In vain this hope can rise:
Their shameful life that made them to be dirt
Renders beyond recognition their guise.
Eternally these two will fight and hurt:
These ones will rise again from their tomb
With closed fist, the others with hairs curt.
Bad giving and bad holding gave them doom
To lose the heavens, forcing them to fight:
Without any regard, for other words no room.
Now you can see, my dear, how much is tight
The use of goods which with Fortune come,
To which the human beings commit quite;
Since of existing gold and too the sum
With ancient one, of all these weary souls
What tempers their hunger could not become”.
“My master”, then I told, “tell me the roles
Of this Fortune which you evoked to me,
What is it, which so the world’s goods controls?”.
And he: “Ow humans fool to high degree,
So much ignorance is offending you!
Now with my sentence you must just agree.
The one whose knowledge transcends any view,
Created heavens and a guide them gave
In order to any place the shine ensue,
An even dealing out of light to save.
Similarly with the human shines he made
Titling general minister, guide brave
Who could exchange goods of any vain grade
From people to people and among breeds,
The adverse will of humans to dissuade;
Thus one people grows faint and other leads,
Fortune judgment to follow they are bound,
Which is as occult as a snake in weeds.
Your knowing can make to her no rebound
She provides, judges, and pursues as well
Hers reign as do other gods being crowned.
Hers changes are then frequent and impel:
She must for necessity have great speed;
Is frequent who succeeded to excel.
She is the crucified often indeed
Even by the ones who should her commend,
Her giving blame with fault and bad read;
But she is blissful and does not intend:
With other prime creations has delight
Turns hers sphere and is joyful with no end.
Now almost we descend to major blight;
Any star then already falls which rose
When I first moved, and delay isn’t right”.
We cut the circle at the else bank close
Over a seething water source to spill
Into a ditch deriving from its flows.
Water was darker than its dirt to fill;
And we, following the course of waves dark,
Went below through a different way still.
In the so called Stix quagmire as a mark
Goes then this wicked stream, when it went down
To the grey beaches evil to remark.
And I, while closely was looking around,
Saw muddy people down in that morass,
Were naked all of them, with an aspect frown.
These one to other hit with hands in mass,
But with head and with breast and with feet too,
With teeth cutting each other in contrasts.
The good master told: “My dear son now you
See just the souls of those by anger won;
And I would also like that you sure knew
That underwater sighing still goes on,
Which then makes this water boiling on top,
As your eye can tell you wherever spun.
Steeped down in slime they tell: “Our faulty drop
Had place in sweet air where is happy sun,
We brought with us a very slothful flop:
We are now with gloom in the black sludge spun”.
This anthem they are gurgling in the throat,
Since any full word from them can’t outrun”.
So then we turned around the dirty moat
A long way, between the pond and dried bank,
Looking guys in mud cramming and no float.
We reached then a tower back foot from flank
Long poem by
Mario DE PAZ | Details |
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 |
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
Desheya Swaby | Details |
The large, bright Winter moon shone it's heavenly light over and out amongst the snow-covered city. The city was large, the city was noisy. It was midnight and the bustling still urged on. People ached for a screaming, gangs clutched for their money, the elderly walked the icy sidewalks alone and or in couples; such a beautiful sight it was. At the very top of the Empire State building, a young-looking woman with ivory, glowing skin slumped her spine up against one of the boxed structures set over, preferably the corners. Her eyes glimmered with a soft red shine in them, her gaze was holding and even dangerous but yet a calmness instilled in her body, instilled in her soul. She was confused, she was.. What was the emotion long forgotten? She pushed her head up against the upper part of the ventilator before closing her eyes lazily, then did she turn her head, watching the moon pester her with it's large size. She rolled her head a moment. "Why do these feelings still exist? Why does unhappiness set the mood? The consecrated belief of this form was for the lovely destiny of being what I am now.." Her long, wavy hair danced with the cold breeze that swept in her direction. She found herself entranced in the lustrous sphere, floating there in the confines of the atramentous skies, dotted with sparkling partners.
As she sighed, her breath came in a swirl of thick fog. She felt no cold, she felt no warmth. She just felt sick.
Suddenly, as if everything stopped in the undeniable present of the moment, the sound of civilization cut off completely. Not a honk was heard, not a gunshot was sounded, not even the wind that whispered to her so dreamily could tell her secrets now. There was a presence. A strong presence, and a voice; a deep, rough voice;
"Child, have you not learned? Have you no shame? Have you no comprehension to the reasons of your being?"
It was a male's voice and it was most familiar out of a lot of voices, she heard it so much that sometimes, she thought herself to lose even her own infernal sanity. If she lost that, all hope was lost for her soul to linger somewhere as it did now. The woman turned around, folding her arms over her breasts as she did so, her eyes set upon a large silhouette that hid within the shadow of one of the large ventilators behind her. The male stepped out from the shadow, staring over her with spine-shattering, shimmering crimson irises. He stood six foot nothing and had long white hair just as she possessed. His jaws were squared out and his chest was large. "I have but more shame than you may know, but, in general, do you know too much.." She frowned. The man smirked only slightly to where it wouldn't even be considered a half smile or any in relation. "You're unhappy. You're dissatisfied. When clearly, you are to be neither. You have been a Devil of Dis for some time now and I think, perhaps, it's time for you to control it."
It was only their voices and behind their voices and words were soft echos. As every city commotion went on down below, as the lights flashed and cars crashed, nothing seemed like reality to her anymore, not even in her moments of thoughts. She was always being watched, no matter what. She couldn't feel shame. She never had that chance. She never had that chance to suffer the right way and die the right way as well. A faded memory of her Mother transitioned into her thoughts. She turned around, her back facing him now. She kept her arms crossed. She said nothing.
He walked up behind her before placing a single, large, talon-tipped hand upon her right shoulder, gripping firmly. His palm was warm. She didn't look up. "You fight with yourself.. Often and you know it all too well, girl." She could feel the gaze of his aura-seething eyes pierce into the back of her head. She parted her pale lips to speak; "I've got to find myself, I suppose. But, underestimate me not. It's harder than I've realized." Her back pushed up against his muscle-bound chest absentmindedly as she leaned into the fiery warmth of his massive form. The pit of her stomach felt as though it would close in on itself at any moment just not too long ago and now, it felt the growing ball of fire that set ablaze to her chest and overwhelming her beating heart. Hot breath caressed her slim jawline as she soon snapped from her flow of thoughts. She closed her eyes, nudging her body into his suddenly when she found herself facing him unexpectedly. Did she move here on her own?.. She let her head rest against his chest, his large hands running over her curved sides and behind, brushing his fingertips along her lower back with almost fervent passion before she tilted her head up, meeting up with his sharp structured face and the demand in his eyes, feeling the same breath brush over her face. The female fiend leaned up, placing her hands upon his broad shoulders and just as she tilted her head, brushing her lips over his own once. He disappeared.
In the same moment, her body posed in the same form just as if he was still there before she stepped back, her large, black wings folding up against her form. His voice rang through the air or her own air even before it entered into her subconscious, acting as such; "Act on your own, for I will be watching you..." And as his words faded into the soft echoes of tomorrow, the shuttering noises of New York followed in from soft to normal volume once again. She stared into the velvet skies, spying a single star that remained larger than the rest of it's comrades. She sighed softly, contemplating this.
Long poem by
Suzette Richards | Details |
It was a visit long overdue by most people’s standards. I had last seen my daughter two years prior to that during a whirlwind trip which she and her fiancé had made to Cape Town. I had an unexpected financial windfall and the money was burning a hole in my pocket. On the spur of the moment, I called my daughter and asked her to source accommodation for me in London over the Christmas season. A few days later, she called me back with the news that all the hotels had been booked up, save for the Ritz. I chuckled at the idea of having to spend my entire holiday budget on just one night at the Ritz. Then reason asserted itself and we put our heads together to come up with an alternative solution. I could hear her flatmate in the background, chipping in with her penny’s worth of advice. My daughter hung up and I was feeling down in the mouth about the plans for the trip being derailed in such a fashion. Later that evening, my daughter called back with the offer that if I did not object to sleeping on the settee in the lounge, I would be most welcome to stay with them at their London flat. I gladly accepted. She is a chef at a top restaurant and I was looking forward to gourmet meals prepared by her - including the Christmas turkey.
screeching seagulls dive
at sushi scraps on a plate -
the urchin watches
The evening of the booked flight to London, arrived. It was an uncomfortable hot day and I showered and dressed with only minutes to spare before my friend took me to the airport to book in the statuary two hours before international flight departures. At the airport everything was in chaos. We were given the unwelcome news that our flight had been cancelled. This was the third direct flight to London which had been cancelled that week due to London experiencing the worst weather and snow since records began in 1890! We were offered alternative flights and had to stand in queues for hours in order to procure a new airline ticket. Some people became very verbose and insisted on being granted passage on other airline carriers (at the cost of our local airline carrier).
I do not know whether it was due to the weather or the disappointment I was feeling, but when my turn came at last to book a new flight, I readily agreed to fly on Christmas Eve ( three days hence) to London. If I had been given time to reflect on this date, I would not have accepted it. Arriving in London on Christmas Day would have been disastrous: The tubes and other public transport would have been curtailed on Christmas Day and shops and other amenities would have been closed for the day. This I knew from previous trips to the UK over the festive season. To add insult to injury, taxis would have charged triple for cab fare and no amount of quibbling would have swayed them. I phoned my friend to collect me and when we got home, I poured a large glass of Merlot and retired on the sun lounger in the garden. It was *full moon that evening and it was almost worth missing the trip to witness its beauty. I left my bags in the hallway and retired early – after phoning my daughter and giving her an update on the status quo.
between moon flowers -
Six am the following morning, I was woken up by the phone ringing. Sleepily I took the call. It was the airline inquiring whether I could get to the airport by seven am. My friend was dancing up and down in agitation and already had the car out by the time I had brushed my teeth. I offered to pay any speeding fines which she might incur during our mad dash to get to the airport on time.
The flight was an additional service which was laid on to get the backlog of passengers to their desired destinations. Heathrow had given our pilots permission to proceed, hence the call to me that morning. We were a total of thirty six passengers on the Boeing 747 – it translated to two passengers per crew member. We were treated to five in flight movies which were current and could eat and drink as much as we wished to. By the time we landed in London at seven pm that evening, there was a festive spirit among us. A radio taxi (which my daughter had organised) was waiting to collect me at Heathrow airport. It was a chilly four degrees Celsius below zero and I was grateful for my leather coat and wool accessories.
steep steps to flat
shut out the bitter world -
a heart pounds
*The December 2010 lunar eclipse occurred from 5:27 to 11:06 UTC on December 21, coinciding with the date of the December solstice. It was visible in its entirety as a total lunar eclipse in North and South America, Iceland, Ireland, Britain and northern Scandinavia.
"bitter" means piercingly cold..... A term commonly used by Britishers...
"flat" means apartment. The Londoners I know, refer to it as just "flat" with no adj or possessive noun or article. Please see the About section for explanations regarding the 1ST AND LAST haiku.
Haibun(literally, haikai writings) is a prosi-metric literary form originating in Japan, combining prose and haiku. The range of haibun is broad and includes the autobiography, diary, essay, prose poem, short story and travel journal. ~ Wikipedia
Long poem by
S.Jagathsimhan Nair | Details |
The Story of History
Beyond those beaten days’ depleted daylight
Beyond the bathos of a pandemic bondage
With the resurrected sashay’s charmed night
Down in the dumps at the pretentious proscenium
A shy orchestration sans bark and bite
Afloat in the air of inarticulate mind games
Intuitive rains, first ever, like the touch of Midas
Informed dense minds and filled their dented bowls
Birthing the quartet of Vedas and similar works
There was this epic, longest ever , they say
Bales and bales of tales in miscible moral wraps
With a natal nugget, on tall righteous props
The Mahabharata with the Gita, like Mata, Pita
And its transcendental twin revered more
For a daily hosanna..the Ramayana with a deep lore
Banish-evil-battle-cries, confronting blasted minds
Search lights, self’s unfoldment and its kind
Her children made but never did dig history
But loved digging up its bedraggled mystery
To find bone dry drains, history’s torn veins
Below multi layered mud and muddled bricks
Twisted and labored logic on tensile testaments
Sites that suffered blights thru unknowable nights
To find the four battens , the debacle, to follow
Someone on the way labeled it Harappa .
All the while Light ruled, but rigours too brewed
Calling often for a reordering of ways so crude
Then there were slices of truce..
Of collapsed black holes the horizon was full
Faded for once their gravitational pulls
Exploding back as eternal stars ..
Alongside kings ruled and kingdoms rolled
‘ Ruler’-coaster-rides on thrones and thorns followed
Till bandit chieftains erased the all important lines
To the dance of dust from an advancing west
Battling to drop anchors on motherly chest.
Bare-faced brigands. Among their odious offspring
Some stood out to shine with a stupendous ring
Either putting up statecraft’s show pieces
Or scripting epitaphs in eponymous edifices
Till dissipated and deterred they too heard
The trenchant call of folks come from far to trade
That would spell , in time, your damnation
In manacles of measured manipulations.
Against its prolonged , protracted reticulation
Rose legit gripes from gregarious formations
That would coalesce under the one and only Gandhi
Into their momentous waking into life and freedom
Split up, as it were, into two bickering fragments
To play fitfully, for ever, their petulant fiddles
Averse to complement under demagogic detours
Falsely comfy under the convenience of inheritance
Six decades of self rule on, your children feel conned
Not for failed hopes, but for the disharmony that haunts.
An one- sport -nation fixated with a fixing -fame-game
Movie-obsessed , and with its TV
Blank beyond trivia and brand names.
Money and food are no problem for many
But, for too many, they are; vehicles are plenty
But roads aren’t ; laws are varied and abundant
Some redundant , but every pervert who counts
Interprets them different and funnily implements.
Health care wears a five star halo sans humaneness.
It never frees a dying adult or kid from its kinky tubes
Nor permit the company of kin to them for one last time
Ignores the terminally and unmovably sick stuck at home.
Agriculture does well, but farmers don’t ,.. and kill themselves
Petty retailers are swell making a killing, selling farm produce.
Stupidity grows muscles to muzzle humanity
Hunks grow on vitamins, video games and vanity
Freed millions press after pelf and power, plays hell
With the weak and the women , their perennial fair game
Profiteering, covert, overt, and across the board
The sick, the student, the seeker after any service
Any victim or one with a gripe being its victims
That’s by the very cream , no less, all the same
Media scream with scam and spam all the time
Even the ones,( that’s about all), with their own aims
The combined do’s of brash bravado and venality
A rash on governance and a blot on name.
Effete ethics and moribund morals, seniors mumble..
‘Equality before law’ means ’ Advantage to the outlaw’
Freedom for the grabs means restraints to many
Succour often hard-to -reach and reaching-too-late
Louts and lousy offices dot street corners and roads
Governance press after targets too disparate
To cohere or collaborate towards a wholesome goal,
Leaving holes for private or pet agendas to infiltrate.
Front-end-folks or prickly pears?
Menace, malice, avarice, lies, police…
Unrestrained delight in deliberate discourtesies.
Why -dad-anyway-Why- not- call-him-uncle-attitudes…
What does not tempt is in for contempt,
Being irreverent to the important, and indifferent
To the different, is the norm and the trend.
Democracy could well slip into demonocracy
Like when “Two wolves and a goat vote to decide dinner”**
In the absence of the Will to lift it to meritocracy?
PS: This poem ( 100 lines, 777 words, as it turned about to be ) is about INDIA, my country.
*”Mata, Pita ‘ mean Mother, Father
** Based on a quote seen somewhere.
S.Jagathsimhan Nair, 26 May 2013,
For Cyndi MacMillan’s contest.
Long poem by
Darryl Ashton | Details |
The misery guts on Christmas Morning!
Christmas Morning...With Alf Garnett jnr!
(This is based on both the classic US and UK TV sitcoms of All In The Family,
which starred Archie Bunker - and the Til Death Us Do Part - starring Warren
Mitchell as the bigoted and loud mouth Alf Garnett - which actually did inspire
All In The Family.)
(Some strong language is included in this feature)
(Alf wakes up with a hangover)
ALF: "Oh, my head!"
ELSIE: "Serves you right! Stopping out till all hours, drinking and smoking.
Now you're fit for nothing!"
ALF: "Shaddap, you silly moo!"
ELSIE: "Do you want some breakfast?"
ALF: "No, I bloody don't! Just a cup of tea!"
ELSIE: "I don't know what I'm gonna do with this!"
ALF: "With what?"
ELSIE: "This, turkey, you bought from the market! It's too big!"
ALF: "Just cook it...and we'll all bloody well eat it!"
ELSIE: "A nice bit of pork would have done us! This will be wasted!"
ALF: "Oh, stop yer nagging, will you! Just bloody well cook it, and we'll eat
what we can! Bloody women!"
ELSIE: "But this won't fit in the oven! I don't know why you had to buy such a
big fat bird, in the first place!"
ALF: "Only you is doing the bloody complaining, my dear! Only you is bloody
moaning about the bloody turkey! The good lord has seen fit to bless us with
ELSIE: "Well, he hasn't got to cook it, has he!"
ALF: "Well, perhaps if you pray a bit harder - he just might come down and
bloody well cook it for you!"
ELSIE: "You pig!"
(Knock on the door)
ALF: "Bloody hell, who's that, bloody knocking? Shouldn't be bloody knocking
on people's houses - not Christmas morning! Tell them to sod off!"
ELSIE: "They're carol singing! Can you hear them?"
ALF: "Yes! Bloody yes! I don't want to bloody well hear them! Bloody annoying
it is! Begging, they are! Bloody parents I blame!"
ELSIE: "What's on the TV?"
ALF: "The same as every bloody Christmas - bloody garbage! Repeats! Carol
bloody singers, news readers, spitting out the bad news all the bloody time.
Should be illegal, it should!"
ELSIE: "Well, I like the carol singers! I like the fairies, too!"
ALF: "What bloody fairies?"
ELSIE: "The fairies on the tree!"
ALF: "Bloody trees, waste of bloody money! Too much mess on the floor!"
ELSIE: "Well, you don't clean up, do you, I do it! Just like I do all the cooking,
and cleaning, and you go up the pub! Christmas is hard work for me!"
ALF: "Oh...shaddap, you bloody silly moo! Bloody Christmas! Should be
banned - too expensive! Bloody three wise men - starting a bloody panic they
ELSIE: "The hotels are always full at Christmas!"
ALF: "Yeah, poor baby Jesus, was born in a bloody stable! Bloody cold he was,
ELSIE: "Yes, it was terrible! He was born in the stable with them cows and
everything! You see, all the hotels were full! So they couldn't get in one!"
ALF: " You bloody silly moo!!!! They didn't have hotels back then - it wasn't
known as bloody Christmas! Sometimes your intelligence really does bloody
well astound me!"
ELSIE: "I love them carol singers! They sound like they're happy!"
ALF: "Of course, they're bloody well happy - they going round and annoying
people - singing their bloody heads off - when they should be home with their
mom and dads!"
ELSIE: "Look on the TV, all them stars are on! All working Christmas Day! Even
America has been on!
Elsie: "I like the America!"
ALF: "The people on the TV are recorded, they don't work on Christmas Day!
There'd be bloody riots if they had to come in to work!"
ELSIE: "But they're there, look, on the TV? How can they be at home - and on
our televisions at the same time?"
ALF: "You bloody silly moo! You really are going bloody well senile! Here, have a
bloody drink! They prerecord their shows!"
ELSIE: "Look? Obama's on the TV!"
ALF: "Sod, Obama!!!!"
ELSIE: "Well, I like him! He's got a good suntan!"
ALF: "You bloody silly moo - he's naturally bloody brown! He's running around
bloody well gloating! Bring back yer George Washington!"
ELSIE: "What, Washington? Oh, the pub/bar!"
ALF: "If you listened a bit more to the news - you'd bloody well know which
Washington! It's yer American stuff!"
ELSIE: "Well, I want to see the Queen! When she on?"
ALF: "She's in her bloody palace - having her dinner! She's managed to cook
her bloody turkey! Unlike you! You silly moo!"
ELSIE: " Are you going down the pub tonight?"
ELSIE: "You should stay here, with me!"
ALF: "I've got to go! It's traditional!"
ELSIE: "Yes, but it isn't traditional to come back home like a drunken pig!"
ALF: "Shaddap! Stop yer bloody moaning, woman! It's Christmas! I'll bring yer
a bottle of beer and some nuts back! Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!!"
ALF: "Baa bloody humbug!!!!"
Long poem by
Nii-Ayi Solomon | Details |
It was in the early days of our lives
She was so beautiful
My eyes could not stop admiring
My heart kept racing
Every time it sensed
her good-looking approaching
But we were too young
To give full meaning
To the love language
Time kept flying
We lost contact
But the memory of our past
We lugged with us
Fate found us
And brought us together
We have now grown
So big and sweet
We both glitter
At each other’s presence
We were ready to do a recap
of where we left off
We laughed and joked about our past
We talked about our hey days at the National Theatre
We remembered the beautiful past that reflects our true self
We both haven’t changed after all
At that moment my heart spoke
The love language again
I knew I was in love with her
It wasn’t today
It started from when we were kids
Man must gather confidence
And speak out his feelings
Thoughts of what she would say;
Don’t laugh at me,
We all do it sometimes
We were sweet friends
But now, I want to take
The friendship a step further
My heart in full swing
Of abnormal beating,
It beat faster
It spoke two different languages
Say it; and keep it
Don’t know which of these to believe
I was shy
I was afraid
I was confused
I was happy
I was sad
I felt insane
There she was,
Standing in front me
In their house
Beaming with smiles
Nii, she said tenderly,
‘I thought you said you had something to tell me,
Come on, I can’t wait any longer
My ears are itching’
My heart just jumped out
And now I want to escape from her presence
I wish I could vanish into thin air
Stop laughing at me
I’m not mouth lazy
I was just afraid of the outcome
What if she said NO?
What if I lose her as a friend?
What if she vanishes into thin air?
And the what if’s continued …
Once in a man’s life time
He must draw together courage
To speak out his feelings
After all, I would not have violated any law
For telling a sweet scented woman
Gorgeous, attractive and stunning
About what I feel for her
So my nerves were clamed
This was how I started…
Esther, I mean, Naa Adjeley
The confusion has started
Errrmmm, you see,
Still didn’t know what to say
Hmmm, hope you are doing great?
‘I guess your brother, Thomas,
Is doing fine?’
She stared at me intently
The smiles on her face kept
My hopes alive
And my heart awake
I knew she was expecting
Something more than making those comical remarks
It’s was now time to speak
Naa Adjeley, I travelled from Cape Coast
To Accra to come see you
To tell you I miss you
Please let it out
The small voice inside me whispered
I left campus to Accra just to let you know that
I AM IN LOVE WITH YOU
She laughed aloud and said
‘’are you serious!’’
‘Oh! Yes I am’
I said confidently,
Her face suddenly darkened
The smiles misplaced
I wanted to fade away from her presence
After all I’ve let my feelings out
That was what mattered to me
But I did not have that special magic
How long have you felt this way towards me?
The next question to answer
‘When we were kids,
But it was revamped quite recently’
I could see the confusion on her face
She needed some more time
To think things through
I was excited let it out
But she was confused
I went back to school,
We enjoyed chit chatting on the phone
But the answer to my request was still hanging
She mentioned in one of our conversations
She might be travelling
But didn’t say when
She was a nursing student
I was a tourism student
The beauty of having a friend
You know and love
kept my mind awake in school
School was on recess
I arrived in Accra
Left my things unpacked
Borrowed money from my old girl
Picked a cab to Banana Inn
To see the woman
That has taken my heart hostage
I kept bagging at their gate
Agoo! agoo! agooo!
Waiting in anticipation to see
Her fine looking face
And present her with my first gift
Her brother, Thomas opened up
‘Hey! Where have you been?
It’s been a while’
Was the first question
The only interest I had was to see her face
I wanted to see the woman
That makes my heart beat
She was all I cared about
Where is Naa Adjeley?
I enquired from Thomas
I saw the shock on his face
My breathe was not catching up
with me properly
I knew something was wrong
‘Where is she’,
I asked again
‘Didn’t she tell you
She was travelling?’
My face dropped dead at once
I felt a sharp heart ache
I almost fainted
She left for the U.K
Without even saying bye bye
Was that why, she didn’t give any reply
to my proposal?
Why did she keep my heart awake?
I left her house, depressed
Her gift was a bonus for the cab driver
My face drenched in pool of tears
I know it hurts
But I felt more relieved
My feelings had been made lucid to her
I now walk with my chest out
Ready to move on
Ready to open myself up to happiness
I still remember
My first love story
The one I have kept furtive
Over the years
My old time love.