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 |
Because the charity of my native place
Obliged me, the broken branches I the picked up
Them giving back him, who was to debase.
Then we finally reached where had to leap
From the second turn to third, and just where
Horrible art of justice you can seep.
To best describe new things I saw then there,
I tell that now we arrived at a site
Which any plant destroys and impair.
The painful wood is like a garland tight
Around it, like is the sad moat to it;
Here we stopped step after step nearby quite.
The space was of sand arid and thick split
Not quite so different shape from the one
Which was by Cato’s foot canceled to grit.
O God’s vengeance, how much you ought to stun
And frighten whoever is reading now
What to my eyes then manifest was done!
Of naked souls I saw many flocks to bow
And all together wretchedly to cry,
As they were subject to a wicked law.
Some people of them supine to ground lie,
Some other sitting down fully curled up,
And other walked around with no why.
People who wandered was a larger group,
And the less ones lying to the torment,
But expressing their grief with louder weep.
Over the sandy soil, with slow descent,
Were pouring of fire very large flaps,
As snow on mountains with no wind extent.
Like Alexander in hot lands perhaps
Of India over his army saw
Flames solid down to ground to collapse,
So he designed pawing the soil to draw
With his arrays, so that the vapor hot
Faster lapsed if let alone to withdraw:
So fell there the eternal fire spot;
Making sand to ignite, like the tinder
Under fire, to double the ache shot.
With no rest were waved around to hinder
The miserable hands, just side by side
To send away from self the hot cinder.
I started: “Master, who are winner wide
In all things, except with the demons tough
Who our entrance at the door before tied,
Who is that big who is careless enough
Toward fire and spiteful and grim lies,
So it look like on him fire to snuff?”
And just that one, as had way to comprise
That I was asking my duke about him,
Shouted: ”Like when alive, as dead my guise.
If Jupiter ha to remove his smith’s vim
From which he took the lightning acute
That my last day me stroke with will grim;
Or if is tiring others to pursuit
At Mongibello where is the smithy black,
Calling “Good Vulcan,help me, and be cute!”,
As he made at Phlegraean battle attack,
And he darted me with his strength at all:
He couldn’t have his happy revenge back”
Then my duke shouted with his voice so tall
So tall, that never so strongly I heard:
“O Capaneus, since is not yet small
Your arrogance, you more with pain are spurred:
No torment, except your angry wrath bad,
Would certainly be to your rage concurred”.
Then turned to me, and better aspect had,
Telling: “He was one of the seven kings
Who Thebes besieged; had and still to add
Contempt has to God, no regard brings;
But, as I told him, his despites are then
At his breast very appropriate things.
Now follow me, and careful not, again,
You put your feet in this hot and scorched sand;
But always keep your feet in wood as den”
In silence passed over to reach the land
Out of the wood where is a tiny flow,
Whose reddish color my mind still disband.
As from the Bulicame the waters go
Which women sinners then among them share,
Likely that runlet through the sand went low.
Its bottom and too both its steep banks pair
Were of stones, and the edges on the sides;
So I realized that the pass was there.
“With anything else I have shown besides,
After we entered the main door just through
Whose trespassing ever nobody chides,
You did not notice using your eyes too
Overt as it is this present river,
Which turns off all little flames not few”
Of these words my guide had been the giver;
So I begged him the dinner had to feed
After the wish he brought in me with shiver.
“In the sea midst is a place of misdeed”,
Then told me him , “which has the name of Crete,
Whose kingdom under was chaste world indeed.
There is a mount which was of pride replete
For woods and water, which Ida had as name;
Now is a desert as thing to deplete.
Rea then chose it as cradle to acclaim
Of hers son, and she at best him to hide,
When he cried, she sound shouting overcame.
A grand old man stands up the mount inside,
Holding shoulders at Damietta town
And looks at Rome as in a mirror side.
His head of pure gold is done and crown,
Of pure silver his breast and limbs are done,
Then of copper is made to the fork down;
The part below is built of iron dun;
Except the right foot which of faience is;
And on that foot more stands, the other shun.
Each part, except the golden one, rift has
As a disruption which drips just tears’ flow
Which, gathered, drilling in that cavern does.
Their course in this valley deep falls and throw;
Acheron, Stix and Phlegethon they form;
Then through this narrow penstock down they go,
At last, there where more drop cannot perform,
Produce Cocito, and how is that pond
You can’t see here, but you shall see as norm”.
And I: “If this stream has to correspond
To a source like that in our world up there,
Why too in this fount we it see beyond?”.
And he: “This site is round, you are aware;
Although you already walked that much,
Even moving left, getting down to fare,
You did not yet complete the circle such;
So that, if it looks strange to you this thing,
Your face should not wonder and touch”.
And I again: “Master, where is the spring
Of Phlegeton and Lete? Of one are still,
Of other you tell it’s of this rain fling”
“With all these questions, I admire your will,
He answered, “but the boiling water red
Should have just solved a question you made still.
Lete you shall see, not in this hole of dread,
Where souls go to wash out their pain indeed
When their sin repented has then been shed”
Then he told: “It’s time, to move now we need
From the wood, so follow and come me back:
Road is done by borders, which let accede,
And on them hot vapor will of course lack”
Long poem by
Brian Johnston | Details |
My love is light (a fairy kiss?)
Like the pressure of sunbeams on your cheek,
Ineffable, and yet capable of changing lives…
Darkening skin to a more attractive hue,
Pushing spaceships to distant stars (given time) ,
Even causing cancer given sufficient lack of love for self.
For love is not about just getting needs met by another,
No, love is more like a laser's coherent beam….
For in reflecting back a portion of what is given,
The power of what is being created grows
Until it can cut through the hardest steel
And span the gulf between galaxies.
Poetry too grows through the cross-fertilization of newborn lines,
The lines of this poem insist that I record their birth.
Each new line grabs me by the scruff of the neck,
Forces me to hit the brake, grab my pen,
And claim it in my family bible…
My only children, clamoring to be set in ink.
As these Voyagers' pass into the present state of my art
(Some that I barely recognize in their profligate parentage
Of older verse's new verse's newer verse still) …
Somehow still carriers of my own genetic code.
They press my design against the blank page
Flying in search of, homing on… your heart.
My love's intent is simply truth (do you want less?)
Would you have me downplay
The warmth of our connection
Because it is complicated by here-to-fore
Unacknowledged passion, spiritual connection,
And the remnants of former relationships
(Even those still gasping for breath) ?
Or feign a lack of attachment to it's denouement
In a solitary attempt to feel safer?
No matter can restrain the effects of gravity
On the orbits of other bodies in its field of influence,
Gravity that binds us all in deep wells of space-time.
Your kiss of greeting…
After so many years of imagining such a possibility,
Imprinted deeper than even my memory of our first meeting,
Our moonlit shadows touching as we soaked naked
In the steaming waters of a volcanic mountain spring.
This new conjunction of souls occurred in God's clear view,
Without artifice or scheming on our part
And rocked my inner core to it's depths,
Organizing molten currents of confused turbidity
Into a magnetic flare of such intensity
That iron flew to my spine
Inspired me to finally declare my love
To acknowledge your impact on my life…
And after a period of gestation
Gave birth to this poem of celebration.
Back to Nebraskan reality and a new mystery…
I pass an overturned car,
Its wheels tied by yellow police tape,
A metaphor for my life perhaps
'Damaged but still salvageable.'
The windows are broken out,
The occupants removed to a distant hospital somewhere
(Hopefully arriving alive) ,
Their odds and ends of life scattered like garbage
On the inverted ceiling of their car.
The explanation, perhaps, is the water still standing
Several inches deep on the road side near the wreck?
A sudden orgasmic release of cloud in a desert….
The car tops the hill to find the highway
Buried by a lake of dimensions only God can know.
Who would expect such a thing in Nebraska's sand hills?
And what does it say about me finally
That I am so drawn to distant objects,
That the two women given access to my heart are
Both still tied to failed marriages
By dark chapters I am not part of
And innocent children who need their love?
And at our age where is the partner without a past?
Is this all that God has planned for you and me,
That we 'just miss' every thirty years or so?
I know there are times I am afraid to trust another's love,
Cannot even hear words of genuine affection.
Perhaps this explains my attraction to women
Whose availability might really be in question?
Maybe I'm afraid to let a real lover in?
Is the simple dream of love a better choice
Than the chance of finding real love anew
(Even love with an expiration date) ?
I think I'm more distrustful of my own heart's passion
Than I am of women being unreceptive to my love.
Do you struggle with similar feelings?
And is it my lot to only remember passion like this in a poem
While you spiral away to unimagined rendezvous'?
The coldness of space is not after-all
The simple absence of heat…
No, in human dimensionality it is more the absence of others…
Others who both shine life force toward us
And reflect our own light back to us,
Who collide with us physically and emotionally
Altering our pathways forever,
And who crater the façade whose design
We imagine belongs to us alone.
The void of human space-time is a true 'black hole'
Sporting only star death fragments of the 'Big Bang.'
This is all I really know…
I treasure the memory of our 'fly-bys'
Even if that's all they ever are.
And if I'm lucky this joy,
This celebration of your existence,
Will continue to pour out of me in songs and verse…
For your ears always (if I am so honored) ,
For God's heart (as I was born to honor Him) ,
And to the stars alone if I have only them for company.
This poem, like 'A Walk Near Blunt, ' began during an actual drive from South
Dakota to Oklahoma and then took on a life of it's own. These 'real life
narrative' poems are part of an attempt on my part to give precedence to truth
and content over form and rhyme. For readers with an interest in science, I
hope you also enjoy my attempt in this and other poems to bring my love of
Physics into the world of poetic imagery.
Long poem by
Mario DE PAZ | Details |
The great poem by the italian poet Dante is the DIVINA COMMEDIA
I have tried to translate in english a few verses of the first canto of INFERNO (HELL).
It was a very difficult task.
The result below was obtained with hard work and
probably is far away from the original spirit of our greatest poet.
The italian rhymes are of 11 syllables as requested by italian terza rima. In english language several verses sound well with 10 syllables, few with 9 or 11. I assume that in english there is no fixed rule for syllables in terza rima and I simply try to obtain a good sound of verses resembling the original italian poem.
I continue to translate and to add new verses until the characters reach the limit.
I submit to soupers expecting their sincere comments and criticism
CANTO I Inferno Original italian
When half the journey of my life was crossed Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
I found myself within a forest dark Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
Because the correct way was harshly lost. Ché la diritta via era smarrita
Oh, it's so hard to say and to remark Ahi quanto a dir qual era è cosa dura
How strong and savage was the forest core Esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte
That now again I am of fear stark! Che nel pensier rinova la paura!
So amara it is that death is lightly more; Tant'è amara che poco è più morte;
But to describe the sake that there I found Ma per trattar del ben ch'i' vi trovai,
I shall relate what I saw before. Dirò de l'altre cose ch'i' v'ho scorte.
How there I went surely I confound Io non so ben ridir com'i' v'intrai,
Since of slumber I was full so much Tant'era pien di sonno a quel punto
That I abandoned any pattern sound. Che la verace via abbandonai.
But with a hill foot when I got in touch, Ma poi ch'i' fui al piè d'un colle giunto,
There where the valley was close to end Là dove terminava quella valle
Which to my heart gave a fear clutch, Che m'avea di paura il cor compunto,
I looked up and saw its abrupt trend Guardai in alto e vidi le sue spalle
Already dressed by the planet rays Vestite già de' raggi del pianeta
Which the path to everybody always fend. Che mena dritto altrui per ogne calle.
So my fears were calmed in some ways, Allor fu la paura un poco queta,
Which in the lake of my heart had lasted Che nel lago del cor m'era durata
During the night I spent in so much haze. La notte ch'i' passai con tanta pieta.
And similar to one with lena labored, E come quei che con lena affannata,
Got out of open sea reaching the shore, Uscito fuor del pelago a la riva,
Looks the perilous water behind his head, Si volge a l'acqua perigliosa e guata,
Just so my soul, which was fleeing more, Così l'animo mio, ch'ancor fuggiva,
Looked behind to behold the pass Si volse a retro a rimirar lo passo
Which no living person ever left before. Che non lasciò già mai persona viva.
After a while to rest the body harass, Poi ch'èi posato un poco il corpo lasso,
The way resumed along the desert slope Ripresi via per la piaggia diserta,
So that was always lower my foot fast. Sì che 'l piè fermo sempre era 'l più basso.
Here, when I started with the rise to cope, Ed ecco, quasi al cominciar de l'erta,
Sudden a very rapid panther light, Una lonza leggera e presta molto,
Coated with spotted fur and little hope; Che di pel macolato era coverta;
Which didn’t leave apart from my front sight, E non mi si partia dinanzi al volto,
Or better so forbidding my path line, Anzi 'mpediva tanto il mio cammino,
That more than once I gave up to go right. Ch'i' fui per ritornar più volte vòlto.
It was the time for morning starting shine, Temp'era dal principio del mattino,
And sun was rising moving with those stars E 'l sol montava 'n sù con quelle stelle
Which joined it when the love divine Ch'eran con lui quando l'amor divino
Moved for the first those full of beauty jars; Mosse di prima quelle cose belle;
So that I had more reasons to hope the best Sì ch'a bene sperar m'era cagione
About that beast whose pelt had many scars di quella fiera a la gaetta pelle
The hour of time and the season blessed; L'ora del tempo e la dolce stagione;
But not enough to forbid the fright Ma non sì che paura non mi desse
After my eyes a fierce lion guessed. La vista che m'apparve d'un leone.
This looked like against me pounced right Questi parea che contra me venisse
With ravenous hunger and head up high, Con la test'alta e con rabbiosa fame,
So that surrounding air looked to excite. Sì che parea che l'aere ne tremesse.
And a lupa, which greedy coming by Ed una lupa, che di tutte brame
Burdened looked as only skin and bones, Sembiava carca ne la sua magrezza,
And many people already made to sigh, E molte genti fé già viver grame,
This put on me indeed so heavy stones Questa mi porse tanto di gravezza
With the scare created by the appearance, Con la paura ch'uscia di sua vista,
That I lost the hope to reach the upper zones. Ch'io perdei la speranza de l'altezza.
And such as guy acquiring with decision,
And comes the time which brings him then to lose,
So that his thoughts with sorrow find collision;
Similar the peaceless beast with strong abuse
Coming against me direct bit by bit
Constrained me with shadow to confuse.
(No enough space left.
Continues in the next part.
The last rows of original italian will be repeated there)
Long poem by
Mario DE PAZ | Details |
That color vileness painted on my face
When coming back my duke to me I saw
His new squeezing inside much more took place.
He heedful stopped as man hearing to draw;
Because his eye could not reach much far more
Through the black air and too for the fog flaw.
“At end we have to win this battle bore”,
Started him, ”Unless…. Someone offered aid.
Oh how late is other reaching this shore!”.
I saw clearly well how he had to fade
His speech at start when he reminded then on,
Telling different words respect he made;
But not less frightening gave his speech gone,
Because I bethought the truncated say
Probably the worst unwilled sentence con.
“In this hard bottom of the mournful tray
Never is who descends from the first grade,
Which only for his pain no hope must pay?”.
I asked this question; and he “I’m afraid
It’s quite rare”, responded, “That among us
Be somebody who my same journey made.
It’s true that here I had one time to pass,
Conspired by that Eritòn cruel indeed
Who retrieved the spirits to their corpus.
It was recent that my flesh was naked freed,
When she allowed me enter through that wall
A Giuda’s circle’s soul to keep had need.
That’s the lowest and darkest place of all,
And the furthest one from the turning sky;
I know well the path; thus do not appall.
This swamp whose stench around is very high
Encircles the mournful town all around
Where to go without wrath now we can’t try”
And told me more, but memory I confound;
Because my eye attracted full my mind
Toward the tower burning top then bound,
Where toward one point were fastly aligned
Three hellish furies fully with blood stained,
Who had members and acts female defined,
And with greenest hydras looked like were chained;
Small snakes and sidewinders they had as hair,
So that their fierce temples were hard constrained.
And he, who well recognized their despair
Of the eternal weeping the wild queen,
“Look”, he told me, ”The wild Erinni scare.
This is Megera whose song is grim obscene;
Aletto is the one crying on the right hand;
Tesifon is in the middle”; and hushed serene.
With nails each one hers breast there wildly panned;
They stroke themselves by hands emitting cries,
So high that alarmed I held the poet grand.
“Medusa will make him of stone in guise”,
All of them were telling while looking down;
“Teseo’s assault we did not yet chastise”.
“Turn back your face and cover it facedown;
Because if Gorgon shows and then you see,
You could never go back to upper town”.
So spoke my master; and exactly he
Turned me back, and did not hold my hands,
Before that with his hands I covered me.
Oh you who have a mind which understands,
Admire the doctrine which is hidden here
Under the veiling of strange verses stands.
And was just coming up with waves’ smear
A din of noisy sound, so full of scare
That both sides were then trembling as for fear,
Not so different from strongly blowing air
Vehemently coming from opposite heats,
Which hits the wood and no defense aware
Breaks the branches, strongly strikes and out beats;
Full of powder goes on and full of pride,
Wild animals and shepherds to flee hits.
He moved to me and told: ”Your sight now guide
Up there toward that very old dirt grime
And look closely where that smoke is more wide.”
As frogs which seeing forward on time
The adverse snake in water away flee
Until each one is hidden in the slime,
I saw more than thousand souls very stray
To escape from one front to them whose pace
Was moving on the Stix in dry foot way.
He removed that sticky air from his face,
Roughly moving oft ahead his left hand;
And only looked jaded of that disgrace.
I perceived that from heavens he was planned,
And I turned to the master; and he made sign
To keep me quiet and bow to his command.
Oh how much to disdain looked to incline!
He reached the door and with a little rod
Opened it, which made no flak to resign.
“Oh by heavens expelled, folks dirty sod”
He started on the horrendous threshold then,
“From where does come this hubris of your squad?
Why do you kick against that will, you men,
To which nobody can cut off the end,
And many times hurted you in this fen?
What does it profit against fate contend?
Your Cerberus, if you remember, still
Now has goiter and chin to amend”
He then moved his pace toward the road ill,
And didn’t speak to us, as to appear
A man who aims to perform a strict will
More urgent than the one of people here;
And then we moved on feet above that ground,
Safer after the saint words and no fear.
We entered there freely and with no bound;
And I, having desire of looking more
The condition that fort tightens around,
As I was in, my eye turned to explore:
And I see everywhere a country wide,
Full of pain and of vicious torment sore.
As at Arli, where Rhone stagnant is tied,
As at Pola, to the Carnaro close
Which Italy ends and wets its coast side,
The graves make ragged all the site at most
So there in everywhere and part just made,
Except a bitter way was shown by those;
Because between the graves high flames stayed,
So that they were in full completely lit,
That fused iron would not require more grade.
Were all open the covers of any pit,
And so much mournful laments then came out,
That plain was dreary people to emit.
And I: “Master, of people tell me about
Who, buried in those arks now we there see,
With mournful sighing we can hear to shout?
And he: “Here the heresy-arks must be
With followers, of any sect, and much
More than you think in tombs are with no plea.
Similar is buried with being such,
And their penalties are hot more or less”
And when he turned right to go in touch,
We passed through the borders of that sad mess.
Long poem by
Trisha Sugarek | Details |
The Ash Can ©
I got the call on Sunday night. I was traveling on business. When I looked at the caller ID
I wondered why my husband’s boss would be calling me. I was unprepared for what
he told me and my legs turned to water when he said that my husband was dead.
‘A heart attack? An accident?’ I asked. ‘No’, he said, ‘John committed suicide.
They found him in your garage this morning.’ I heard someone screaming and
wished that they would stop so I could hear the rest. His voice was very far away
and the woman just kept screaming. ‘Shut up! Shut up!’ I need to hear. I clapped my
hand over my mouth when I suddenly realized it was me who was screaming.
I don’t remember hanging up or getting on the plane. (beat) Yes, John and I were having
problems and we had been separated for about three months but nothing was official.
After thirty years of marriage I never believed that we couldn’t weather this and share
the rest of our lives together. This was just a phase he was going through…some sort
of mid-life crisis. This had to be some horrible mistake, a case of mistaken identity.
My John would never do this, leave me like this. (beat)
I stumbled into our home around nine the next morning. The house looked like a woman
hadn’t lived there for months. Dirty dishes in the sink, groceries half put away, empty
beer cans and a full ashtray by John’s chair. Seeking comfort I walked over to his chair.
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a reflection in the mirror over the
fireplace. Some wild looking woman with mascara smudges under her eyes and smeared
lipstick looked out at me. I walked closer to inspect this stranger in my house.
She looked old and used up. Who was she? What had life dealt her to look so worn out?
Oh, God, it was me. Staring out with those eyes bleeding hot, raw pain. (beat) I curled
up in John’s chair and closed my eyes. Was this all I had left of my husband? This slightly shabby piece of furniture that still smelled of him? How could I tell our children? Could I bear to go into the garage? What would I find?
I knew that they had taken his body away but what had they left there for me to see?
Maybe something there would prove that this was truly a mistake. I rose to my feet and
walked into the kitchen and through the laundry room to the garage door. (beat)
I slowly opened it and was knocked back by the remaining stink of gas fumes.
John’s car sat in its parking spot, the garden hose hanging from the back window like
some obscene snake. I gagged and pressed the button to open the garage door.
The passenger side window was open so I could look inside without having to touch the car. And what I saw on the seat told it all. There was John’s cell phone, an empty bottle of Vodka and a bottle of Excedrin. (beat) And something else…a second cell phone…what in the world? I was only allowed five seconds of blissful denial before it all came crashing down on me. The second phone…the secret phone that men who cheat keep to talk to their lovers. All those protestations he offered during the time that we were apart. ‘No, there was no one else’, ‘I just need to find myself’, ‘I don’t want a divorce’, ‘I just need some time’. ‘I love you; I’m just not in love with you.’ Lies, all lies! How could I have been so stupid? Then I notice a crumpled manila envelope on the floor of the car. Anger driven, I opened the door and picked up the envelope and the two cell phones and went back into the house. Sitting in John’s chair once again, I smoothed out the envelope and read what was written there.
‘Ricky, tell Sherry I love her. Tell Sherry I can’t live without her. Tell Sherry not to cry
for me. Sherry, I’ll love you forever. I’m sorry.....John-Boy.’ Who the hell was Sherry?
Did my husband of three decades kill himself over some tramp? Some other woman
whom he barely knew? I picked up the second cell phone and scanned the history of calls.
Where was area code 864? As I set the phone down my eye caught the partial title of
a book lying on the rug under the table. Picking it up, I read: ‘How To Keep A Long
Distance Relationship Exciting and New.’ I opened it to the first few pages and found an
inscription, ‘To my tiny dancer, until we meet again. Love forever, your John-Boy.’
My God, John, how could you? How could you do this to us? I yelled as I threw the
book across the room; will this hellish nightmare never end? (beat) I picked up the
cell phone and scrolled down the history; Sherry Hoffman, Sherry Hoffman, Sherry Hoffman, Sherry Hoffman. No other woman, huh, John? South Carolina…hence the long distance relationship…you’re such a fool, I told myself. There was voice mail saved and I listened to the most current ones. Those messages told a story of a married woman who had a son and a new grandchild.
Another sad, pedestrian story of a restless woman trapped in a loveless marriage but
unwilling to leave. The daughter-in-law apparently would not let Sherry see the child.
It seemed that John, in a misplaced attempt to help, called Sherry’s son to insist that
he let Sherry see her grand-baby.
Only to succeed in blowing up that family. The final message was not so sweet and
sexy from his lover. Sherry had dumped my husband. (beat) I didn’t know whether
to laugh or cry. I seemed to be trapped in a crazed, unbelievable soap opera. But what
is it that they say about truth being stranger than fiction? I sighed. John had always
wanted to rescue anyone in trouble…even when they didn’t ask for help. He had crossed
the line calling that woman’s son. Oh, John, what were you thinking?, I asked the empty
room. Didn’t you know? You were her dirty little secret.... (more)
(from my book, Monologues 4 Women)
Long poem by
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
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 |
I tell, to follow, that long trait before
We reached the back foot of the tower tall,
Our eyes went up to the top core
For two little flames we saw install,
And another responding from so far
That barely I perceived being so small.
And I turned my face to the full sense star:
I told: “What does this mean? and what reply
Gives then the other flame? And those who are?”
And he: “Above the dirty waves and by
You can perceive already what to expect,
If the fume of the swamp does not deny”.
Rope never pushed an arrow to eject
Which faster and thin too rushed out through air
As I saw a shorty boat well direct
Through water toward us with no compare,
Under the drive of just one only oar,
Who shouted: “Now you arrived soul unfair!”
“Flegiàs, Flegiàs, useless is shouting your”
Told then my lord, “It’s only this time now:
Once crossed the marsh you’ll never see us more”
Like the one who listens a great false vow
Which he undergoes, and regrets then,
So was Flegiàs owing rage to allow.
My guide entered now the boat on the fen,
And then he let me enter after him;
So it looked fully loaded once again .
After my guide and I were on wood grim,
Cutting across just goes the ancient bow
The water even more than used to trim.
While we were running in the deadly flow,
In front of me then came a muddy man,
Who told me: “Who are you coming here now?”
And I: “If I come, to remain don’t plan;
But who are you, so unsightly to see?”.
Answered: “You see that I just grieve for ban”.
And I to him; “With mourn and of tears sea,
You damned spirit, now you can stay on still;
I know you, even though dirty you be”.
Then he aimed both hands to the board until,
So that my mindful master then pushed him,
Telling: “Get off from here, stay there, damned will!”
And then with arms he cuddled my neck rim;
Kissed my face, and told me: “Disdainful core,
Blessed woman who gave you birth with vim!
That guy was a person proud in his life yore;
Kindness you don’t find recalling his acts:
So his soul is here angry as before.
Plenty of people up like king enacts
And here after as swine in mire shall stay
Leaving of themselves just horrible facts!”.
And I: “Master, I would have happy play
If I see him to plunge into this slush
Before that from this lake we get away”.
And he to me: “Before ending our rush
To reach the bank, you full sated will be:
You must enjoy along your wish to hush”.
After short while the torture I could see
Performed by people lying in that mire,
To God much praise and thanks go still from me.
All screamed: “To Filippo Argenti dire!”;
And the Florentine spirit queer indeed
In his own body flesh sunk his teeth spire.
Here we left him, and no more words I need;
But in my ears I felt a beating pain,
Which made me cross eyes forward as my deed.
The good master told: “My dear, get again,
Now the city called Dite is getting close
With grievous citizens, many restrained”
And I: “ Master, its towers already shows
There in the valley distinctly I see,
Vermillion like from fire just arose
Now”. And he: “the eternal fire sea
Which is burning inside makes them so red,
As in this base hell you can see to be”
We then inside the deep ditches were led
Which corrugate that disconsolate land:
And looked of iron made the walls ahead.
Not without moving around a turn grand,
We reached a place then where the helmsman strong
“Get out”, shouted: “Here is the entry stand”.
I saw more than thousand coming along
As poured from above, who with nasty huff
Told: “Who is this one of the living band
Who goes around the kingdom of deads gruff?”
And my sage master then motioned to me
He aimed to them speak secretly enough.
Then they reduced a bit their disagree
And told: “Come you alone, and he must go
Being in this reign entered of scare free.
He must get back alone the street so fow:
Let him try, if able: you remain here,
Who guided him in this land without glow”.
Think, reader, how much I had then to fear
While hearing the sound of those words so damn,
Because I thought I couldn’t be back clear.
“Oh dear guide, for seven times saved I am
By your help giving assurance to me
In high distress I encountered as a dram,
Don’t abandon me”, I told, “without lee;
And if to pass it is denied beyond,
Let us find our path backward to fast flee”
And that lord who guided me there so fond,
Told me: “Don’t be afraid, because our stride
Nobody can stop: from so high gets bond.
But wait me here now, and your spirit tied
Encourage strongly and feed with hope good,
Since I will not leave you in this world bide”.
So went away, and abandoned I stood,
My sweet father then leaving me in doubt,
So yes and no to fight in me then could.
I did not hear what he to them gave out;
But he did not remain with them long time,
To observe that all in turn left the bout.
Closed the doors those people faulty of crime
Against my lord breast, who remained outside
And came back to me so slow as to climb.
The eyes to ground and lashes had to hide
Any pride, and telling sighs in between:
“Who the sorrow houses now me denied!
And to me “You, if I am not serene,
Don’t dismay, since I shall the battle win,
No matter which against us be the screen.
This arrogance of their not new has been;
They used it for a door secret much less,
Which without any lock is still therein.
On that you saw of dead write the impress:
And on this side descends the terrain steep,
Then passing through the circles with no stress,
So for him the ground be open to sweep”