Long poem by
Joe Flach | Details |
I was a seventeen year old senior in a coed, catholic high school. Our gym classes however were still all boys and all girls. My senior year we had gym every other day and music every other day in the same time slot. The music classes, therefore, were also all boys or all girls.
She was a twenty-eight year old nun in her first teaching assignment. She was in way over her head. She was about five-foot-four and weighed practically nothing. The nuns in our school no longer wore habits and I remember thinking it was a good thing because she would probably fly away like Sally Fields. If you don’t know what I mean by that then you are too young to be reading my story.
The music class was a mad house. She could not control a room of twenty some boys bound and determined to make her life hell. I mean, music class? Really?
We never did the homework assigned; never answered her questions seriously; never believed her threats at discipline; wouldn’t accept the demerits she tried to hand out; and basically goofed off for the hour that was supposed to be dedicated to learning about music.
For some reason, she seemed too proud or too green or too determined to go to the principal or another teacher for help; and, sensing that, we knew we could get away with our childish behavior and so we did.
One day, a handful of us “got in trouble” and she said she wanted to talk to us after class. I was the only one that actually stayed. She tried to lecture me on my bad behavior but I guess my smirk was evidence it was not sinking in. Then, she started to cry, and for the first time I saw her as a person.
“What am I doing,” she cried. "I can’t do this. I am trying; I am really trying, but I am not cut out for this. Why are you boys so mean and hateful?”
I stood up in front of her not knowing what to do or what to say. I felt like a real jerk. I was a real jerk.
Tears poured down her face, which I finally recognized as being a pretty face. She bowed her head and just sobbed. In my awkward seventeen year old manner, I slowly opened my arms and allowed her to lean into me. And I hugged her while she wept.
At seventeen, I was no ladies’ man, and this crying nun was the first woman I had ever held so close to me. I could feel her breasts pressed against me; the heat emitting from her body; and, the delicate nature of her womanly form in my arms. I knew then that I was destined to go straight to hell for the thoughts that were going through my head and the feelings I felt between my legs.
She pulled away and whispered, “I am so sorry, I should not have done that. You may go.”
I simply said, “You know, you are doing fine, you just have a class of a bunch of butt holes”, and walked out of the room. It was that night that she started coming to see me in my dreams. To hell I go, for sure.
I wish I could tell you I had the moxie and the influence to whip that class into shape, but I did not. The mad house continued with one less student joining in the fun. I tried my best to behave, answer her questions, pay attention and feign interest in the topic of the day – but I was just one in a sea of monsters. I stayed after class and after school a few times to talk with her, ask her how she was doing, and see if I could help in any way. She was actually starting to get the hang of things and was able to focus on the few classes that were willing to learn.
At the end of the school year, I was one of the few students who had not enrolled in a college for the coming year. Because I was one of the better students, it caused a little bit of a fuss and a number of teachers talked to me about the huge mistake I was making taking some time off before going to college. It seems they were all convinced that if I did not start into college in the fall, I was doomed to never go to college. I challenged them by saying what they were really worried about was their statistics of percentage of students who went on to further their education.
During the last day of classes, the music teacher asked me to stay after class. It appears, it was her turn to try to talk some sense into me.
“So, I hear you are not going to college,” she said.
“No, I’m going to college … some day, just not this fall.”
“So what are you going to do?”
“I don’t know yet. Take some time off. Work. Nothing. I don’t know. Why is it so important to everyone? When the time is right, I’ll go to college.”
“They just care about you.”
“Bull loney,” I said, only it was another word.
She smiled at me. I had been dreaming about her now for six months. I changed the topic.
“Have you ever kissed a boy?”
She laughed, “You know, I grew up the same as every girl in this high school. I did have boyfriends.”
“Yeah, but have you ever kissed a boy,” I challenged.
“No. Not the way you mean.”
“Do you ever wonder what it would be like?”
“No. Never,” she lied.
“If I told you I will register for college if you kiss me, will you?”
“No. I believe you when you say you just need some time off. I think that is a good idea.”
Then she walked up close to me and stopped a heartbeat away. Suddenly, she reached down between my legs, grabbed the crouch of my pants and said, “Just don’t let this thing get you in trouble.”
She abruptly turned and walked out of the classroom while I tried to catch my breath.
During the graduation ceremony I saw her sitting with the other teachers and shared a private smile with her while walking back to my seat after being handed my diploma. I would never see her again … outside of my dreams.
I often think about my high school music teacher and my ticket straight to hell. Unfortunately, I never heeded her advice. That body part of mine she grabbed ahold of for a fleeting second those many years ago, has gotten me in trouble time and time again.
Long poem by
Glenn Johnson | Details |
Little eyes search a new world . . .
The gaze and suckle for food, body and soul.
A tiny heart tuned to the glow and tone of love.
Compelled to bond . . . drawn to the love gaze
Mother . . . Father
Chosen in soul’s life quest
Spiritually . . . what was known
now obscured by soul’s desire to be flesh.
How was I conceived?
An act of love, desire, need, lust, passion?
Unconscious of my own conception
The invisible participant
Life’s mysterious ménage a trios.
In the beginning was the word
Your sounds in my mind and mouth.
Coo and babble.
The ancient celestial winds swirled in my lungs.
The divine conductor orchestrated the mystical moment:
ma ma. . . . da da
Did you truly hear me?
My hands on a chair . . . the letting go . . . timid steps into the great void
wobbling legs, diaper descending, butt naked, I toddled
pudgy arms reached to you.
Were you there?
Being born oblivious provides no insulation
when delivered into the acetylene torch
crossed and frayed wires of bitter parents.
Explosions of rage . . . too sudden for small and toddling legs to escape.
Tender senses scorched.
Mind’s burrows dug deep beneath the conflagration
Huddle and tremble
Await signs of fire storms extinguish.
A fearful crawl to the surface
Deciphering the face of mother then father:
Eyes, searing embers.
They trudge through rubble
charred corpses of words
shouted . . . threatened
hearts guarded, armored.
Words the mistaken enemy
Instigators of continued marital strife
Silence a simmering refuge
Frost bitten eyes of evasion
Shielded, scorched hearts
Tolerated phantoms they
An endless cold war in a place called home.
. . . Love . . .
A mere obligation to a vow?
. . . Love . . .
A mere arrangement of consonants and vowels?
A child’s confusion:
Mother . . . Father
Did I lose the magic to enthrall?
Did I fail you?
What did I do to lose your love?
Still the yearn for the joy that welcomed my birth.
I was your precious one
Your bright eyes
My joy of your joy
My delight of your delight.
Vague memories of enfolded fondness
oneness of a we.
Time and again . . . the fearful crawl to the surface
Decipher the face of mother then father
Vacant gazes to anywhere but each other
Mutual strangers carving a frozen asylum
Indifference their drug for festering wounds.
You . . . phantom to phantom
become my phantoms.
Your vacant stare my vacant stare.
The need and want of love:
How can I rekindle your love?
A desperate search for fuel.
I gather kindling in all that I do: school, sports, honors
The ritual marches to deliver pleading offerings.
A love shrouded in absence
I look down at my accomplishments:
Mere twigs and sticks, decayed dead wood
food of ungrateful insects
Burden and tears fall to earth
Healing is a foreign and alien place
The decision final
Never again return.
A youth’s anguish:
I hate you for bringing me into your hell.
I know my place . . .
Mind’s burrows dug deep beneath the carnage.
Isolation . . . the numbness of drugs oblivion.
Miracle of Miracles
Transformation . . . Before my eyes!
Girls all about me . . . beauty.
A bolt of lightning, a direct hit, burrow piercing radiance.
Wild scramble to the surface.
Drawn to the love gaze
a boy . . . a girl
chosen in soul’s life quest to love, be loved.
You . . . I
Our limbs and hearts entwined
Ethereal blazing stars
Creator’s gift in deed.
Born of wounded hearts
Witnesses to love's rebirth
A solemn vow
Spoken man-child to woman-child
In all our imperfection
In times of anger, hurt and fear
. . . No matter how difficult the task . . .
. . . No matter how great the challenges . . .
. . . together we will stand . . .
. . . arm in arm . . .
. . . embrace to embrace . .
. . . heart to heart . . .
. . . soul to soul . . .
. . . Learn what we were never taught . . .
. . . Give each other the words and touches that heal . . .
. . . Our togetherness a true labor and gift of love . . .
Long poem by
Terry O'Leary | Details |
as the PROPHETS of profits, WE lead and WE’re fair
while WE’re living the life of the poor BILLIONAIRE
– silver yachts, pearly castles, cash (plenty to spare) –
with the world on OUR backs... ah! the burdens WE bear!
being HAVES (not the have-nots) as nature decrees
means WE’re certainly the better (they’re vermin on sleaze).
if they pray for a lift in their dark fantasies,
WE just kick ’em downstairs, get ’em off of their knees.
yes, WE offer great jobs (much too busy OURSELVES!)
for maintaining the toilets, restacking the shelves,
and WE teach ’em to fear god and play with the elves,
thus dispelling ideas where the dark demon delves.
though they build mighty bridges, twin towers and more,
peddle pizzas and popcorn, sell guns door-to-door,
still they gotta have BOSSES to tell ’em the score
else WE’d never be needed, WE’d thrive nevermore.
when OUR profits are plunging, they do their part too
for they dine on the dole! yes, no hullabaloo!
soon OUR fortunes redouble, rebound and accrue –
since WE fare well without ’em, WE bid ’em adieu.
’stead of wishing for welfare and standing in queues
or parading with pickets (look! holes in their shoes!),
they’d be better off scabbing to save union dues
... while WE whistle and warble, they’re singing the blues.
whether heros or hoboes, like spiders and lice
they just crawl all around us in life’s paradise,
but WE’re patient, big hearted and oft sacrifice,
spewing charity, kindness (though each has its price).
if they’re beaten or punctured or suffer assault,
are unhealthy or crippled or walk with a halt,
or retarded or helpless, it’s all their own fault –
just like US they should worship the DOLLAR exalt!
protesters and loud mouths, you’ll find ’em aplenty
some older, some younger, the worst not yet twenty.
they’re shameless and brazen (unwashed, soiled and scenty)
impugning the prestige of brave COGNOSCENTI.
if they’ve got clashing colors (or shades in between)
or opposing beliefs in the hidden unseen,
well, WE’ll always exploit it, deflecting their spleen,
for with god on each side, would WE dare intervene?
WE promote many methods to keep ’em in chains –
daily rags and the tube spin OUR circus campaigns
“to pretend you’ve a voice”, an announcement explains,
“you can vote and decide on which ONE of US reigns”.
OUR policemen protect US, they stay on the ball
(they arrest ’em, no questions per law’s protocol,
and then jam ’em in jail with their backs to the wall) –
if you’ve lucre for lawyers there’s justice for all.
down the ROYAL road of justice WE march all alone
– WE condemn their defiance, set ways to atone –
since WE’re sinless, unsullied, WE cast the first stone
(while WE cloak REGAL fetor with eau de cologne).
politicians, bald bankers, grand idols galore,
attend meetings, fete banquets in which they explore
how to rid US of rodents (the weak and the poor) –
well, just round up the riff-raff, dispatch ’em to war!
ah! OUR wars are.... well, just...... just a thing of the past
........... and the present............... and future... WE sure make them last!
if they frown as they gaze (armageddon!) aghast,
then WE smile back with pleasure, OUR treasures amassed.
useless ranting and raving (in rags, when they’re clad),
leads to losing their teeth (my! their gums are... egad!).
WE’re unselfish, indulgent, WE’d never be mad
if they drowned in the sounds of themselves feeling sad.
as the paupers are princes in midnight’s domain,
they have pipe dreams to lose, certainly nothing to gain
if they’re hoping OUR fortunes will wither and wane –
for “WE’re here by god’s will” as WE often explain.
yes, they wish to be US, with OUR wisdom and grace,
keeping up with ol’ CROESUS, maintaining the pace.
but perverseness or rancor? they’ll see not a trace –
for WE hold ’em at bay with a fist in the face.
WE’re la CRÈME de la CRÈME, yes! the proud UPPER CRUST,
and OUR clothes are the finest, OUR hair never mussed –
WE imbue ’em with piety, duty and trust
and they’re fed bread and water (if feed ’em WE must).
but they’re thieving, aggrieved, want a piece of OUR PIE
and request WE endure ’em, see EYE to black eye.
since they live in OUR land where OUR strict rules apply,
they must feast on the crumbs that may fall from the sky.
though OUR largesse and bounty WE don’t mean to flaunt,
yet the pittance WE pay ’em they surely can vaunt –
salty peanuts and pretzels (what more could they want?)
thereby keeping their kiddies so healthily gaunt.
yes, there’s room for the rabble (the back of the bus)
’cause WE treat ’em like equals, so what’s all the fuss?
all can rise to the top (yes! it’s always been thus),
to the suites in OUR penthouse (to sweep up and dust).
while OUR CHILDREN have tutors, the finest of schools
(being bred for the forefront, THEY’re nobody’s fools),
the ol’ school of hard knocks teaches: “follow the rules”,
building brawn ’stead of brains and broad backs strong as mules’.
and to keep ’em in line (to ensure WE prevail)
WE now monitor phone calls and read all their mail
(civil rights? what a notion! at best a detail!)
and if worse comes to worst...... well...... guantanamo jail!
WE’ve OUR quandaries and questions and headaches full blown
(like deciding design and decor of OUR thrones...
whether diamonds or rubies... to ivory WE’re prone) –
when WE deign to appease ’em, WE chuck ’em some bones.
now you know all OUR problems, OUR pains and travails,
– like preparing foreclosures, evictions and sales –
but WE’ve no need for worries or gnawed fingernails,
’cause WE’re sailing OUR yachts through tempestuous gales
(with them bailing OUR banks when OUR stock market fails)
sipping daiquiri sours, champagne, ginger ales...
Long poem by
cassie hellberg | Details |
sometimes i talk to myself,
my mind is racing,
i dont know what to do...
so hard to explain.
depression isn't a stage
or a faze some kids go through
it shatters you...
i saw it all.
she cried silent in her bed,
blood stains covered her favorite jeans,
her every shirt,
long sleeve ofcourse...
she suffered through it all with few people to call friend
and more to call enemy
even more to say where quite dissappointed....
her first name in school,
not started by a bully
or a mean rival,
but by her sister,
and it echoed through her soul,
repeating in her mind... over and over again,
like the ripples of still water
when a pebble is dropped
flash frozen in time
over and over again...
It was the first name they gave her,
millions where created over the years,
some repeating again, just as the first had..
gothic they called her,
emo, fat, ugly....worse things.
but in her mind, things where worse.
everything was repeating,
over and over again,
finally she believed it.
she asked for help, from everyone
tried to explain to parents she wasnt well,
got called a psycho for asking to see a theripist,
not from a teacher,
not from a class mate,
but from her own father, who wouldn't, couldn't,
believe there could possibly be a thing wrong....
finally, crying, she confessed her bloody secret to a teacher.
rather then giving her time,
she is sent back to class crying her eyes out, as if she wherent going through enough...
she is sent to the principals office a few minutes later, after breaking down in class...
the princlipal says she needs help,
sends her and her dad for a risk evaluation,
her dads crying as she shows him her cuts...
they walk into a hospital room,
it smells of chemicals and hand sanitizer,
the lady at the desk gives her a smile.
then she goes into a room with a lady,
her cheeks are sunken in and shes wearing way too much makeup,
the girl is gaging on her perfume,
and she looks really intimidating....
her dark brown hair looks dead and flat
even though its a bit wavy,
and she wears somewhat of a mocking frown.
asks her all these questions,
is mommy beating her?
is daddy raping her?
is she doing drugs?
is anyone beating her?
did anyone molest her?
oxcarbezapine, trazadone, citalipran, clinazapam, colonipan,
valium, lithium, more.......
and thats what they gave her,
some numbed the pain
some brought it out
tearing through her organs,
she became an addict by the time she was fourteen....
over dose after over dose
some for pleasure
some for pain,
gashes on her legs getting deeper,
this time she didnt tell a soul,
not even those she had come to call friends....
wakeup she screamed in her head over and over again
as she dropped weight like it was nothing....
you cant controll it she argued as things became worse.
at age fourteen she attempted suicide,
she didnt quite succeed.
the medication took away her aappitite....
she liked it
she hated her body
felt out of controll
found a new way to cope
as she shoved tooth brush after toothbrush down her throat
to keep her body from nuitrients...
as she whent weeks and weeks spitting food into napkins and making excuses
I ate at my friends house....
spoken as a whisper
heard like a sentance
echoing in her mind over and over again,
along with that word, all the words,
ugy, anoying, stupid, fake, worthless, nothing...
one bite she would say
rocking back and forth
craving nothing but food
her body racked with hunger pain
one bite and there she was again
over and over and over again
back to a toothbrush
this time she sees blood
she saw her ribs
she saw her bones,
it wasnt good enough,
she almost died, again....
choking on this deep dissappointment in herself,
gaging on everything they where pushing down her throat,
their words, and their insults, their criticism.... their drugs
all shoved down her throat like candy
and just as she was was trained to do she swallowed despite the bad taste
or the hurt
or the fact that at the rate she was going she would be dead soon...
and you know why?
because daddy yelled
and couldnt accept what was happening
not because he wanted to hurt her
but because it hurt him,
and she let him believe,
because she could take the hurt if it meant he didnt have too.
because mommy didnt want to sit in her room all day
practically having us raise ourselves,
she didnt mean to take anger, or frustration or hurt out on her daughter
she suffered everyday in her solitary confinement,
and from a young age she accepted her bedroom was the cage
her mother had created for herself.
because sister didnt want to effect her the way she did
she was just frustrated
fed up with the way things where
scared, she needed someone to take her cruelty
and to help heal her pain...
because people in school
who where so cruel
had to have learned from somewhere
and she wasnt going to play into their games,
and they knew she was an easy target
because she would never attack someone so weak
and she accepted her suffering was a sacrafice
to help all these people....
to help her dad,
every person who was beaten abused or hurt
and felt so weak at home they wanted to feel strong in the one safe place they had.
because depite the fact she had died inside,
and almost passed away on the out,
it was a saccrafice she was willing to make
so that no one else would have to feel that kind of pain,
and they all inflicted it and broke her down'untill there was nothing left but a shell
of somthing that could have been
and never had the chance
because she would take it and wouldnt strike back,
because sometimes "just taking it"
isnt so much about the weakness not to do anything
but about the strangth not to hurt others the way they hurt you...
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
Brian Johnston | Details |
- - - Chapter 1: Early Days - - -
My father was a rich man, la, *
Though schooled in poverty, (1)
As such he seldom raised his head,
The center of the ‘Dust Bowl' years,
Just thirty miles from home.
And children, seniors died from this
(Their lungs were clogged with loam) .
A huge tornado struck Woodward, (2)
Destroying our downtown,
It, cut a swath near one mile wide,
Dad fought back, doubled down.(3)
When storm had cleared, sky was fire red,
Dad put me in the car,
But roads were blocked in just three blocks,
The world become bizarre!
Barbed wire that penetrated trees,
Homes cracked like eggs insides,
Our home had grass blades drove like nails,
Into its wooden sides.
The biggest storm in history,
My dad was gone for days,
Storm victims sleeping on our floor,
The whole town in a daze.
Dad's rebuilt store, nicest in town,
Our home ‘across the track, '(4)
Attended too the poorest school,
But did not suffer lack.
Appearance was Dad's calling card,
No pretense there to see,
For ‘living too high on the hog, '(5)
Caused bankers misery.
The school board melted to Mom's charm,
(Or to her tongue of fire) ,
For with Dad's stature in the town,
Few dared to risk her ire!
Good teachers forced to leave rich schools,
Complained it wasn't fair,
Till they encountered Sis and I,
And found that they could care.
That was my mother's legacy,
And ‘ART' (6) the air she breathed,
Though slight she strongly stood her ground,
Our future she bequeathed.
We did not know the difference,
Just sometimes things were tough,
Our clothing did set us apart,
We always had enough.
There were some very poor kids there,
The same clothes thru the week,
Impoverished not just in clothes,
But that which all men seek.
I had a bike to ride around,
Of course it was a Schwinn,
And almost always home for lunch,
For Mom thought we were thin,
With two desserts at every meal,
(And Mom was quite a cook.)
But if you didn't clean your plate,
From Dad you got a look,
The waste of food a mortal sin,
A thump upon the ‘bean, '(7)
Made every meal traumatic fare,
And tears a daily scene.
My guess is Dad got worse than me,
Depression's (8) oldest child,
I mourn the innocence he lost,
That made his wrath seem mild.
Our parent's roles were well defined,
My dad brought home the bread,
My mom the joy of hearth and home,
Dad's entrance met with dread.
My dad did most the punishments,
But whippings weren't enough,
We even weren't allowed to cry,
To show we had the stuff!
Small wonder romance frightened me,
(So sure I'd be like him) ,
To challenge violence I feared,
Chose music over gym.
An auto-biographical look at family life impacted by both the American Great
Depression and the Dust Bowl years (1930-1950) in the Mid-West, divided into
This is a work of love and homage to the courageous and desperate people who
survived both. I hope that you enjoy it. New Chapters will be released as I complete
* 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) ‘poverty' - born in 1911, my father was just 19 years old when ‘The Great
Depression' hit the US economy. The Dust Bowl began shortly after.
(2) Woodward, Oklahoma - the town that I grew up in.
(3) ‘doubled down' - after Dad's business was destroyed completely by the tornado,
he doubled his efforts to be successful in Woodward, borrowing heavily from the
local banks to do so.
(4) 'across the track' or 'wrong side of the tracks' referred to the part of town where
poor people lived, frequently, but not always, meaning 'colored people' as well. In some
towns no 'colored people' were allowed to live in the more prosperous 'white only'
area. Some towns (like Woodward) had no Negros at all. I take that back. One black
male did have a job shining shoes in the local 'Baker Hotel' but I think his home was
in the country somewhere (He did not live in town).
(5) 'living too high on the hog' - an idiom referring to people who have to have the
most expensive things in life and buy them frequently on credit even though they
can't really afford them.
(6) ‘ART' - My mother was a gifted painter and wood carver, but even meals she
prepared were done artistically. Art was always spelled with capital letters in her life!
(7) ‘thump on the bean' - to hit the offending child hard on the head with the
knuckles of your closed fist.
(8) 'Depression' - Hard times, not mental issues. (Actually works both ways though
I guess!) Born the oldest of 3 brothers and one sister, my dad's father worked him
hard and used a leather shaving strap to whip his boys when he was upset with them
about anything. Grand Dad Johnston made my father seem like Florence Nightingale.
I believe that he beat his wife as well (just a guess) .
Long poem by
Kim van Breda | Details |
OUR BABY GIRL TURNS 21
ON 1ST JULY 1990~ THE ANGELS DID SOMETHING ALMIGHTY
FROM HEAVEN THEY SENT US OUR LIFE-LONG DESIRE-A PRECIOUS DAUGHTER TO LOVE AND ADMIRE.
TRUE TO YOUR NATURE YOU ARRIVED WITHOUT FUSS OR PAIN--THE FIRST TIME OUR EYES MET WE KNEW OUR LIVES WOULD NEVER BE THE SAME
AS A BABY AND TODDLER YOU MADE US SO PROUD
YOUR VERY LONG HAIR, GREEN EYES AND SMILE-
ALL THOSE GOOD LOOKS MADE YOU STAND OUT IN A CROWD
YOU STARTED TALKING EARLY WITH MANY VOICEPRINTS
YOUR CHARM AND GOOD LOOKS HAVE NOT STOPPED SINCE
YOU LOVED YOUR DOLLS AND PRAMS-- DREAMT OF BEING A “SINGER”
AND VERY QUICKLY LEARNED HOW TO WRAP YOUR DAD AROUND YOUR LITTLE FINGER
YOUR BIG BROTHER DEVON--BEST FRIEND AND PROTECTER
MOST OF THE TIME YOU GOT ON PERFECTLY TOGETHER
FROM AN EARLY AGE YOU SHOWED YOUR LOVE OF SWIMMING
AGE TWO AND A HALF YOU WERE ABLE AND WILLING
TO SWIM UNDER WATER AND DO MANY LENGTHS
THIS WAS CLEARLY ONE OF YOUR SPORTING STRENGTHS
AT AGE THREE YOU COULD BARELY WAIT TO START PLAYSCHOOL
“MISS INDEPENDENCE”, WAS YOUR GENERAL RULE
THE SLIDE AND JUNGLE GYM WERE YOUR FAVOURITE SPOTS
AND TO OUR HORROR YOU WOULD CLIMB RIGHT TO THE TOP!
AT AROUND THIS TIME, YOUR FIRST BOYFRIEND YOU MET-
HE LIVED NEXT DOOR, AND HIS NAME WAS BRETT
SOON IT WAS TIME FOR PRE-SCHOOL
YOU LOVED YOUR TEACHER--YOUR NEW FRIENDS WERE COOL
‘SPRING BONNETS’ AND THE END OF YEAR SCHOOL PLAYS
THE TEDDY BEAR CLASS GAVE YOU SOME REAL SPECIAL DAYS
NEXT WAS ‘BIG SCHOOL’ AND YOUR FIRST CLASS
WE WERE SERIOUSLY ANXIOUS BUT FOR YOU JUST ANOTHER ‘MISS INDEPENDENCE’ TASK
LETTERLAND, MATHS AND LEARNING TO READ
YOU EXCELLED AT ALL THAT WITH INCREDIBLE SPEED
YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS CONTINUED THROUGH GRADES 2, 3 AND FOUR
YOUR PLACE IN THE SWIMMING TEAM HELPED YOUR SCHOOL WIN MORE
OUR MOVE TO AUSTRALIA… SAD FAREWELLS TO YOUR FRIENDS AND YOUR PETS
BUT, GREAT EXCITEMENT YOU FELT AT ADVENTURES TO BE MET
A NEW SCHOOL--“METHODIST LADIES COLLEGE”
NEW FRIENDS--JUMPING A GRADE-- MET WITH SUCH POSITIVE COURAGE
YOU MADE US SO PROUD IN THE WAY YOU ADAPTED
MRS. WILLIAMSON SAID YOU WERE THEIR NEW CLASS ‘ASSETT’
THE ‘MR BEE’ SPELLING AWARD AND MANY MERITS LATER
WE ALL GOT HOMESICK-- BUT YOUR POSITIVE NATURE DID NOT WAVER
THE DECISION WE MADE TO RETURN TO CAPE TOWN
CAUSED YOU HEARTBROCKEN TEARS AND A PERMANENT FROWN
ONCE AGAIN A SAD FAREWELL TO YOUR NEW FOUND FRIENDS
RETURNING TO S.A. FOR OLD ONES TO MAKE AMMENDS
IT WASN’T VERY LONG THAT YOU PICKED UP WHERE YOU LEFT OFF AT ALL
ADDED TO YOUR TALENTS WERE NOW TEAM HOCKEY AND NETBALL
AS YOU APPROACHED THE FIRST OF YOUR TEEN YEARS
WITH YOUR LOOKS AND CHARM, INEVITABLY THE BOYFRIENDS WOULD APPEAR
SHOPPING, MOVIES AND MANY PARTY SLEEP-OVERS
CHOOSING TRUE FRIENDS AND DUMPING THE LOSERS
DANCE SHOWS AND DANCING EXAMS… YOU EXCELLED AT HIP- HOP
FUN AND OF COURSE THE DESIRE TO SHOP
THE END OF JUNIOR SCHOOL-- THE FINAL ASSEMBLY—AWARDS
TROPHIES FOR SPORTSMANSHIP AND YOUR S.R.C. PRIZE GOT MANY APPLAUDS
SAD FEELINGS AT LEAVING YOUR OLD SCHOOL BEHIND
EXCITEMENT AT STARTING HIGH SCHOOL WOULD SOON COME TO MIND
NO PROBLEM TO YOU, IT WAS ALL JUST A BREEZE
AS YEAR BY YEAR YOU CONTINUED TO ACHIEVE
SWIMMING AND ‘A’ TEAM HOCKY MATCHES ON THE ASTRO TURF
YOU EVEN STARTED TO LEARN HOW TO SURF
FRIDAY AFTERNOON CHRISTIAN MEETINGS AND EVENING CHURCH YOUTH
WE WERE SO HAPPY YOU FOUND GOD AND HIS TRUTH
THE REST OF HIGH SCHOOL PASSED IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE WHILE
YOUR LIST OF ACHIEVEMENTS REMAINED EXCEPTIONALLY HIGH
YOUR ORGANISATIONAL SKILLS WERE ASTOUNDING
COPING WITH TOUGH SUBJECTS LIKE MATHS, SCIENCE AND ACCOUNTING
IN HOCKEY AND SWIMMING YOU MADE THE TOP TEAMS
NO SURPRISE AT ALL THAT SWIMMING COACHES MOVED IN ON THE SCENE.
THEY CULTIVATED YOUR TALENTS FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH
EVERY YOUR NIGHT YOUR PASSION SAW YOU DOING MANY LENGTHS
WEEKENDS OF GALA’S AND NATIONAL SWIMMING
S.A.SHORT COURSE, YOUR P.B’S, AND FAIR SHARE OF WINNING
TOGETHER WE CELEBRATED YOUR PLACE IN W.P. SCHOOL CHAMPS THAT YEAR
SO PROUD OF OUR BEAUTIFUL SWIMMER ALWAYS AHEAD OF HER PEERS
FIRST YEAR AT UNIVERSITY YOU BECAME SO INDEPENDENT
STARTING YOUR STUDIES AS A B.Sc. STUDENT
IT WAS ALSO THE YEAR YOU LEARNED TO DRIVE
GOT YOUR LICENSE—DAD SPOILT YOU—NEW CAR—RESPLENDENT
YOUR FAITH AND TRUST IN THE LORD STILL REMAINS FIRM
AS YOU WALK AND GROW SPIRITUALLY DAILY WITH HIM
SO MUCH HAS CHANGED, AND YET SOME THINGS REMAIN
YOU BEAUTY AND TALENTS SO EASILY MAINTAINED
YOUR LOVE OF SWIMMING AND OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENTS IN WATER
YOU KNOW WE WILL ALWAYS BE YOUR NO. 1 SUPPORTERS
AND NOW YOU ARE 21, SWEETHEART
YOUR WHOLE LIFE AHEAD OF YOU-- TODAY IS JUST THE START
IT SEEMS LIKE JUST YESTERDAY THAT YOU WERE BORN—
OUR DAUGHTER~LOVES BRIGHT SHINING LIGHT~ WE ADORE
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL AND TALENTED IN EVERY WAY
WISHING YOU GOD’S RICHEST BLESSINGS ON YOUR SPECIAL DAY
HAPPY 21ST BIRTHDAY TO OUR BABY GIRL
TO HAVE YOU AS A DAUGHTER HAS BEEN A REAL PLEASURE
-YOU HAVE AND ALWAYS WILL BE OUR MOST BEAUTIFUL TREASURE-
(FOOTNOTE: OUR DAUGHTER WILL BE 23 THIS YEAR, HAS COMPLETED HER BSc. AND HONOURS DEGREE’S IN PHYSIOLOGY AND GENETICS AND NOW DOING HER MASTERS DEGREE IN EXERCISE SCIENCE. SHE IS ALSO A PROFESSIONAL TRIATHLETE—DOING SWIMMING, CYCLING AND RUNNING AS ONE DISCLIPLINE)
Long poem by
Terry Trainor | Details |
Sometimes I have the courage to think of the things that made me what I am today,
My memory takes me back to terrible things far away far off into my bitter past,
My mind like a maze of dirty black alleys that smell of waste, loss and disgust,
The losses, the drink ripped away, not happy until it was all gone respect as well.
Invisible thinks of a garden where roses clustered with lilies scent on the breeze,
Bees found stores of honey in the petals of a thousand and one different flowers,
Lovers walked hand in hand along its winding path a beautiful dream of the man,
Bright with the embroidery of nature where children played in new myrtle flowers,
As Invisible thinks of this garden it is neglected but flowers can grow with weeds,
It could put a smile upon his face, a face that had never known any joy recently,
He hopes a gardener can covert this garden get rid of ruined waste, back into Eden,
Tending all the beautiful flowers that spring up with the weeds and smell gladness.
If he helped the gardener in his quest a hand might hold his and guide him through,
Maybe a hand would go around his waist to support him as well as guide his hand,
Dare he wish that the guiding hand and the support would be his angel from heaven,
A dear person to help him clear his garden and walk down the winding path as lovers.
An angel that would smile at him maybe hold his hand and squeeze it so very gently,
Would the angel talk to him and tell him that one day they would be together again,
Her beautiful grace shining warmly as she looks up to him, to her he is her hero,
Not a drunken mess that cannot cope, not a dirty vagrant, but her knight her love.
The tenderness of this beautiful scene in his poisoned mind became real he smiled,
He grinned as she sat down next to him as close a she could get then wriggled closer,
Warmth from her body not only warmed him but gave hope this what he has waited for,
She whispered sweetly she loved him and would be waiting for him and they kissed.
Invisible woke with a start and was she not by his side, was she ever with him,
A dream another heart wrenching let down and how could he have dreamed the dream,
It was so real he still felt the warmth, the impression of her hand holding his,
But it must have been a dream his own mind conspired to deliver the hardest blow.
Lost in a grief so deep, his loneliness complete he talks to Sam his imaginary friend.
These days get worse Sam they really do please help me,
I need to change but I need my drink more what can I do,
But I need to change so desperately Sam can you help?
My world has cracked and I've fallen into the crack,
But what I don't understand Sam that I was once good,
If I had any courage Sam I would be laying in my coffin,
Why does life drag you along with it I don't want to go,
Just a bit of icing on my cake Sam it is freezing cold,
Did you know this is where I was brought up my friend,
Did you know that most of the people that walk past I knew,
Sam! I know many of there people but they don't know me,
Why do they all walk past I wish somebody would help,
Maybe when I have drunk more cider I might feel better Sam,
I can remember being happy but not what being happy is like,
As Invisible sits drinking shoppers give him a wide berth and they look at him with hate.
These people Sam they look at me as if I have hurt them,
The people they are not our sort of people they hate me,
Has the world changed like I have but in opposite ways,
My life is full of sorrow drunkenness and dreams Sam,
Old sorrows wont go away new sorrows should take over,
So we have to face both the old and the new that's bad,
At night I try to close my drunken eyes it all returns,
Sam is that the same as you can you close your eyes,
Can you remember the valleys Sam the ones we used to play,
When we ran about all day Sam in the sun rolling in grass,
The old stream that twisted and turned, it had lost its way,
Floating lolly sticks watching them bounce away on ripples,
Buying bangers in November and throwing them into the water,
What I wouldn't do to go back for just a couple of hours Sam,
Just to feel the innocence and try to bring it back to now,
To enjoy what there is to enjoy and maybe get better Sam,
But that will never happen Sam we are lost on an island,
A well populated island but an island all the same Sam,
People are not like ships they don't bother to rescue people,
They just walk around or just walk away all the nice ones gone,
I remember my school Sam it's now been knocked down and left,
It has all gone, all gone no primroses in spring or bluebells,
Do you remember Sam the bluebells used to nod in the wind,
But they have all been built on, whats the use in talking,
Nothing changes from bad to good Sam remember that, eh Sam,
Still drinking his cider tears well into his eyes his nose runs and begins to quietly
to sob. He sits on the shopping parade seat, shaking as he sobs. His throat has a lump
in it so he stops talking to Sam. Invisible sinks his wet face into his overcoat
hides his misery from the people that walk past he just sat there lost and confused. His
greatest sadness an angel paid a visit to the maze of dirty black alleys that smell of waste,
loss and disgust,
Long poem by
Terry O'Leary | Details |
Well, GI Jack is welcome back, he left his legs in 'Nam.
He wakes at night in sweat and fright, then drinks another dram.
He doesn't know quite where to go, so seeks his uncle, Sam.
One can't ignore - his ma was poor, and life was sometimes cruel,
yet Jack was brave and well behaved and surely no one's fool
so joined the ranks that man the tanks, as soon as he left school
He learned to kill our foes at will (ordained a sacred rite),
and packed his bag and wrapped his flag and went away to fight.
And yes, the tide was on our side (for, clearly, might makes right)
Through tangled days in jungles' maze, he sought the enemy
behind the trees where, ill at ease, he fought the Yellow sea -
Upon the waves of sunken graves he sailed a killing Spree
The napalm dropped and cooked the crops, burnt huts along the way
and tanks, with ease, mowed down the trees and villages of clay.
Yes, turret guns were loads of fun with roaring roundelays
While on the hunt with other grunts, he burned some babes alive
and wondered why frail things must die, while evil's phantoms thrive -
When folly ends, he'll make amends if only he'll survive
With booby traps (sticks dipped in crap)... yes, Charlie fought unfair.
He hid in holes like snakes and voles and snuck up everywhere
and like a mite beneath the night, caught Jackie unaware
At battle's end, Jack sought his friends - their souls were washed away
and only he and destiny were left in disarray -
With bed and pan, just half a man, the man of yesterday
When Jackie woke, beyond the smoke, his frame no longer whole,
he found instead a medalled thread, some wraps to hide the hole,
and realized another prize: a chair on wheels to roll
Across his chest (you've surely guessed) his medals shone, arrayed.
His head felt light, as well it might, at Victory Day Parade
for when he rolled, while others strolled, his boots no longer weighed
Well, Jack stayed home (no roads to Rome) to start his life anew
receiving dole (that took its toll) which fell in Sam's purview,
but soon enough, when times got tough, his uncle, Sam, withdrew
To walk the streets with fine elites (or someone else who begs)
or find a job (or even rob) requires both your legs,
and those that don't and those that won't are those we call the dregs
For getting by he tried to ply and mine his medals' worth -
A tinny cup, a hungry pup near loamy pits of earth,
and best of all, per protocol, beneath a bridge, a berth
He clutched a sign 'A dime to dine?', if anybody cared,
but soon he found, as time unwound, that victors seldom shared.
And Jackie's pride was slowly fried by vacant eyes that stared
He took to drink to break the link with thoughts of what he'd done,
though threads of doubt began to flout the yarns Big Brother spun
of freedom's ring and other things like what it was we'd won
He told the breeze his vague unease; his words infused the air
and like the fogs above the bogs, soon floated through the square
where people sat at tea to chat, and thought 'How could he dare'
But freedom's price is never nice: like storms before the flood
the Daily Rag was on a jag, was looking out for blood,
deemed Jackie's thoughts untamed and fraught, then dragged him through the mud
By snooping clues, they plucked his views like grapes upon the vine.
Big Brother came, blamed Jackie's name for thinking out of line,
shut Jack away from light of day while letting freedom shine
The Junta Brass, with eyes of glass, were dressed in fine array
to hear the words (though slightly slurred) the witness gasped to say,
while Justice snored (the water board awash with Perrier)
Well, Jack was charged with laws enlarged in secret dossiers
within the guise of spreading lies and leading thoughts astray -
The Jury's out... the rabble shout 'well someone's gotta pay'
The Judge (who fears the mind’s frontiers), he turned his head to yawn
while making haste through courtroom waste, though slightly pale and wan -
The voodoo Lune withdrew as soon as Night condemned the Dawn
While in his cell, the verdict fell - the sighs of Silence, rife
While in his cell, the verdict fell - the Reaper played a fife
While in his cell, the verdict fell - the price was Jackie's life
While censor’s cooks are roasting books (and truth) on stakes ablaze,
well, Jackie's head (though chopped and shed) still thinks about the praise
for deeds once done in victories won when cruising in a craze,
and then again about the sin of thinking, nowadays,
where, absently, humanity is served in urns on trays -
And, reconciled, it simply smiles at fortune's funny ways
A mind was caught while thinking thoughts neath Sammy’s prying gaze
and forced to stop by concept cops, else join the castaways.
For now it's law to hold in awe the brave new world's malaise
and dance like mimes to rigid rhymes (which no one disobeys)
and celebrate with white-washed pate, adorned with dead bouquets -
With freedom’s death, time holds its breath, and waits for better days...
Long poem by
Princess Poetry | Details |
To all who have never known, it's time that you've been told.
Tell the population to change its ways before these lost lives and souls are all in vain.
Tell the girls to think long and hard before they let a man twice their age break their heart. Tell
them to think about who they are and what they want to be before they choose to conceive.
Tell the boys who think they're men to think and think again when fatherhood is calling their name and
they're hanging their heads in debt and shame.
Tell them what it's really like to go to school, then work three jobs or more to pay child support, then
beg a stranger for a ten dollar gas tip to fill up their tank just get home at night and make the trip.
Tell them that their parents were right when they go to sleep, crying themselves to sleep at night.
Tell them their friends are traitors in disguise, watching and waiting for opportunities to tell them lies
and sabotage their lives.
Tell the preteen girls in every walk of education and life to take control of their lives and souls. Tell
them it's okay to tell the teenage boys that no means no.
Tell them that being different is something to be proud of. Tell them that being different will save them
for their true love. Becoming a Mother at thirty is a whole world better than being one at sixteen.
Remind them of the wishes they made when they were little girls when they still dwelt in their hopes
Tell them to value who they are and listen to their hearts. Their unspoken, sweetest dreams are what
and who they're meant to be.
Tell the young men and women who don't know what to do that with their lives not to rush into being
husbands and wives. Tell them to become who they were born to be. Tell them not to lose their passion
five or six days a week because they were given innate goals, hopes and dreams to fulfill their
Tell the girls who just discovered they're going to be a mother that they will make it one way or
Tell them that when the guy they thought loved them was only telling them a lie, that he's not what's
important anymore. Their little girl or their little boy is going to be their pride and joy.
One day, they'll have a reason to forget the hopelessness and sorrow they once met.
Tell the men who came home from war to find an empty house and home that there is so much more.
Tell them they are our honored heroes. That is something that goes far deeper than anyone truly knows.
Tell the children who were moved from countless foster homes that they are not alone. Tell them there
is someone who cares. Tell them that there is an end to their nightmares.
Tell the parents who lived their lives through their children that they can no longer run and hide.
They have seen, heard and ignored when their children have begged and cried. Tell them it is their loss
for living with their regrets and the lost expectations they never met.
Tell the criminals that live inside a demented state of mind that hell is reserved for the lessons they re-
fused to learn. Tell them insanity is never an excuse for abuse.
Tell every man who ever hurt a woman and forced her child to watch has their time ticking away on the
clock. Tell them they can't use violence to get what they want anymore. Karma is kicking down every
window and every door.
Tell the women who chose their boyfriends and their drugs over their babies that an apology will never
be enough. Tell them that nothing is ever worth the price they'll have to pay for who they hurt.
Tell the orphans that Heaven remembers them and hears their prayers. Tell them that Someone
truly cares. Tell them that there will be someone to tuck them in at night and greet them each
morning when they wake up to the sunlight.
Tell the women in abusive relationships that it won't get better. It will only get worse. Tell them to get
now before they're not the only one who gets hurt. Tell them to get out before he steals more than their
keys and their purse.
Tell the countless girls who struggle with their weight to go beyond the hate. Tell them they are
beautiful and perfect in every way and it doesn't matter what anyone else has to say.
Tell the widows who feel the most alone that the Universe empathizes and it knows. Tell them they are
loved and they are on their way Home.
Tell those who have lost it all, but still stand for what they believe in, that they are the reason we still
have a chance to win. Tell them their bravery is what we stand for. Their courage is our open door.
Tell them. Tell them all we are here with open arms and loving hearts. Tell them this is the perfect place
to start. Tell them they can be all they are. Tell them that. Tell them then. Tell them now. Tell
them time and time again. Tell them loud and clear. Tell them right here. Tell them. Oh yes, please tell