Writings

Saudade by Courtney Iona

Lifetimes away, you sip whiskey through tight stirring straws, and use your telescope to count glimpses of me slipping past shutterless windows.

I feel you watch and wonder if you regret the miles of month between us; the year like ocean, shrinking you to a pinprick.

Thermodynamics by Hakuna Matata

It sounded as though the street was sizzling, like a hot frying pan full of grease. Exhalations following sharp inhalations created steam, which amplified the crackling.

I couldn’t make out the exact moments of impact from where I was sitting, but leaning slightly to one side I could see white toothpicks acutely slicing through the air just above the ground at a forty-five degree angle.

Then I noticed the footprints. Not a set. Just the one foot. The right. One after the other. I doubted that an extremely agile one-footed person had skillfully traversed that path in these conditions. More likely than not, the left footprints had vanished by virtue of their placement mere inches away from the right in a more depressed section of the street. The right footprints looked to be en route to a similar fate, their form quickly dissolving as precipitation steadily vanished their existence, too.

All of this observing and deducing. I suddenly thought of the polar bears and separately felt wry with the realization that footprints erase footprints and that something was in fact sizzling despite the white stuff on the ground.

Season of Love by Brian McCullough

Jack always packed those small but annoyingly important things first; phone chargers, any relevant tickets, gifts, etc.  Luckily for Jack, of those, he only had to pack his charger.  After so many adventures, Jack had packing down to a science.  This didn’t mean that he didn’t still forget things- just that he’d know pretty early on what he had forgotten.  In packing his cologne, he felt this was so cliché- how many other guys packed this exact same travel bag and carried his exact same cologne (Burberry Brit, to be exact) for Season?  Every time he got ready for another Season, he felt like he’d been bested by ‘culture’ and ‘tradition’ once again.

He debated packing his laptop.  He really didn’t want to bring it.  Jack had misgivings about constantly being connected and looked forward to any opportunity to unplug, but if he didn’t bring his laptop, then he’d probably just be bugging Mike to use his the whole time and really didn’t want to navigate through Mike’s strange porn collection just to check-in at work (which he shouldn’t be doing anyway).  He passed up the Season before last because he had just started a new job in the city and wanted to make a good impression and felt that was worth at least two stress-free (at least where work is concerned) Seasons.  But… if he brought his laptop, he could at least get some work done in case he didn’t meet anyone this time.  If he came back single again, his supervisors are going to think he’s just going away for Season to fuck around.  Maybe he should- fuck around- that is.  What business is it to his supervisors what he does during Season? Besides… he could really use it.  Nope, Jack reminded himself, the world doesn’t owe him sex.  That’s a dangerous road to go down (but seductive nonetheless).

Jack placed his bag on his passenger-side seat (he had snacks and his ever-present water bottle in there), and threw his basketball and sneakers in the back.  He didn’t know how long he intended on staying down the shore this time, but based on his last couple of Seasons, he knew he wouldn’t be meeting girls the whole time.  A lot of guys make that mistake.  After one last check of the empty apartment (two of his roommates had already left for Season out on Long Island and the third was away with her fiancé celebrating their anniversary), Jack locked the door behind him.

Jack put the key in the ignition and his Aztek hummed to life.  Although he was usually the designated driver, he hoped he didn’t have to drive the Aztek too much down there.  It’s not the sexiest car in the world- in fact- it’s closer to being the least sexy car in the world.  ‘Why yes- this IS the car both Walter White from Breaking Bad drove and the car the first winner of Survivor bought with his prize money before he went to jail… care for a spin?’

Astoria’s a pretty low-key neighborhood to begin with, but on ‘Red Friday,’ it felt deserted.  In fact, the whole city felt that way today.  Jack chuckled to himself; the only things that can shut down New York City are freak hurricanes and the prospect of getting laid.  But the exodus began about mid-week this year.  The Season is starting earlier and earlier the last couple of years.  Jack didn’t understand the rush; it’s always the last three weeks of June, it’s not going anywhere.  And leaving earlier just means the traffic starts earlier anyway.  The traffic was always bad on that first Friday, though.  Jack thought that maybe if he’d leave after work, he’d miss the worst of the traffic.  It didn’t take much to convince Jack to squeeze in one more full day of work.

And the ‘Season before the Season’ keeps starting earlier and earlier, too.  You start seeing ads for it right after Easter now.  Ads for the various destinations; Lake George, Miami, Ocean City, Puerto Villarta, Savannah, and so on.  The destinations for the wealthy you never see commercials for- Jackson Hole, the Hamptons, Newport, Hawaii, Fiji, etc.  Maybe those aren’t as wealthy as Jack thought.  If a working stiff like him knew about them, how exclusive could they really be?  Jack couldn’t even fathom what it must be like going to one of those really upscale destinations during the Season.  He was barely sure if he was ready for Atlantic City.

Then there were the interminable ads for the gyms, cars and clothing sales, fragrances and ‘conversation seminars.’  The common sentiment in all these ads seems to be ‘if you don’t wear this shirt or use this cough syrup or buy these shoes, you will die alone!’  It all seemed a bit cynical to Jack, even when he was young.  People had been meeting during Season long before all these commercials were around to tell us what we need in order to meet people.

This corporatization of the Season also seemed to build unreasonable expectations of love.  After all, a lot of relationships ultimately fail, and a lot of people simply pair up for the benefits (shorter hours, vacation, consideration for promotion, etc).

He flipped the radio on as he wound his way through his neighborhood towards the RFK Bridge.  NPR was giving an update on Portland, Oregon’s recent initiative abolishing the Season altogether within city limits.

“…but since first-quarter economic figures are up nationwide, it’s difficult to decipher whether or not the city’s slightly positive figures can be attributed to the initiative…”

Click.  No more AM.  Jack sighed.  Typical.  Give it to liberals to try to sell Free Love (or, Open Season- depending on the audience) on the basis of dry economics.  This is the prison reform argument all over again.  What if it becomes less economically beneficial in the future?  They’re handing conservatives a perfect reason to roll it back.  It should be about fairness, and equality Jack thought- not dollars and cents.

In Janurary, a city-wide initiative passed banning all municipal ‘Off-Season Promiscuity’ laws in Portland. The mayor also promised to suspend enforcement of any state or federal OSP laws as well. Since this was the first Season since Portland’s ‘Free Love’ initiative passed in January (modelled after Sweden), the internet has been saturated this week with think-pieces about the initiative’s perceived success and/or failure.   Liberals called Portland ‘Love City.’  Conservatives called it ‘New Sin City’ or ‘New Sweden’ (God forbid!).  It was obviously of interest to Jack, but at this point, he already felt tired of the Season and any discussion of Season.  Each political party was using the Portland initiative to score points even though it hasn’t been proven to help or hurt anything- and maybe it never will.

And the Democrats had been driving Jack crazy on the campaign trail.  In an election year, Free Love was becoming a hot campaign issue and they were all blowing it, from Hilary on down.  Every time it’s brought up, it seems like she just tries to make noises with her mouth until she can change the subject.  The polls show that younger voters are lukewarm on Seasons at this point, but young voters traditionally aren’t very reliable.  And if she comes out against Season, she’ll alienate all of the heartland.  So Clinton (and her proxies) need to thread the needle by resorting to survey-tested liberal buzzwords and then immediately counteracting it with something fraudulently folksy about American magnificence (or something).

They are made to look that much weaker by the Tea Party jihadis and Constitutional fetishists on the Right.  They’ll soften you up with sepia-toned yarns about how they met their beaus at a hometown jamboree in their first season and how some mom-and-pop business relies on revenue from Season to get by.  Then they’ll drop the hammer- Hilary wants to send Aunt Opa’s Breakfast Nook out of business!  Those communists want to turn America into the hedonistic hellscape that is Sweden (SWEDEN!)!  Know who was also an advocate of Free Love?  HITLER!  Jack might’ve said they had it down to a science, if Republicans actually believed in science.

Jack didn’t understand why Hilary’s army of high-priced campaign wizards thought they could fight hometown jamborees, bankruptcy at the Breakfast Nook, the Swedish Agenda and Hitler with demographic survey data and economic white papers.  As usual, the Democrats are on the right side of an issue but are still losing the argument.  Bernie had come out strong for Free Love and it clearly resonated with a large swath of the public, but it also lost him any support from Big Business he might’ve had a chance at stealing from Hilary.  Big Business interests clearly lie in maintaining the status quo and the predictability that comes with Seasons.

The name and idea ‘Free Love’ was taken from a short story of speculative fiction, published back in the late 60s.  It was nestled in a collection of radical political essays and other short stories by Gore Vidal, Paul Goodman, Allen Ginsberg, and other counter-culture luminaries.  It was as ubiquitous in college dorms as the King James Bible is in hotel rooms- even in the states where it was banned.  The story of a Season-less America was turned into a well-received movie and later a terrible TV mini-series.

Jack debated bringing his dog-eared copy, pilfered from his father’s library- but ultimate decided he didn’t want to be ‘that guy.’  He may be a critic of the Season, but if he’s going, he might as well not spend the whole time complaining about it.

He approached the George Washington Bridge, girding himself for heavy traffic- but to his pleasant surprise- he had the bridge almost all to himself.  Jack glanced at his GPS; 2 hours and 10 minutes to the beach house.  How quick did GPS’s become obsolete?  Jack wondered if the Garmins and TomToms saw the ascendancy of smart phones coming, and if they just flamed out or if they adapted and make something else now.

On cue, Jack’s phone hummed to life.  His pulse quickened, but it was just a text from Mike-

MIKE- Dude you almost here??

 Jack didn’t understand why Mike got so excited for Season anyway.  Mike got so much off-season action, you’d think all the ‘Off-Season Promiscuity’ laws were written with Mike in mind.

JACK- Just crossing GWB now.  About 2 hours away.  Try not to dishonor ALL the girls in AC before I get there.

MIKE- Better hurry up then

Jack thought about the irony of the Season being based on an obscure passage from the Bible and so many people like Mike are using it as license to have as much pre-marital relations as they can.  As a Catholic, the Season’s biblical origins made him uncomfortable more than anything else.  Under any amount of scrutiny, the connection between this huge, ubiquitous social institution and the passage is dubious at best.  And Jack felt that if you’re going to lend religious legitimacy to the Season, then you also have to lend religious legitimacy to the snake-handlers and the people who speak in tongues.  Plus, if you’re going to force non-believers to live by your own religious beliefs, it might as well be something with a somewhat stronger foundation and somewhat broader appeal.  The ‘Golden Rule’ comes to mind.  That ‘easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven’ one would really be a hoot as well.

Jack didn’t think the ‘natural law’ argument held up either.  There are a lot of animal species that don’t have mating seasons- but that’s a tricky argument, too.  Why should we hold ourselves to the standards of the animal kingdom?  Jack thought we were supposed to be superior, at least that’s what conservatives are always saying.  Or is it just American humans?  Either way, Jack did believe that humans have souls, which makes them different from animals.  He felt that the deep stirring you feel when you gaze over the Grand Canyon at sunrise or when you listen to Beethoven or when you hug your mother is evidence enough of that.  For Jack, the soul is also what compels people to do crazy, glorious, beautiful, irrational, genius things like create art and music, or move cross-country on a whim or pursue off-beat careers- why shouldn’t the soul be the thing that governs how and when we choose a life-partner as well?

Another text came in.  Again, Jack’s Pavlovian conditioning kicked in and he felt that same momentary levity-

AUNT CANDACE- Hello dear, it’s your favorite aunt.  We have a good feeling about this year and we’re all pulling for you!  All the best.  Love, Aunt Candace

She ‘had a good feeling’ last year, too. And who exactly is ‘we?’ Jack had a one of those large, Irish extended families- lots of aunts, uncles and cousins.  He was one of the oldest cousins, but also one of the last single ones.  It all seemed to happen over the course of about two years.  Now he was the focal point of his many aunts’ idle speculations.  It was hard for Jack not to mess with them- something he wishes he had when he was facing the same barrage of questions about college (I’ve decided to join the French Foreign Legion instead- I get to choose a fake name and they let you grow a beard!).  Maybe he should bring one of those Japanese body pillows with a face to Thanksgiving this year.

Like many in Jack’s generation, he chose to focus on school, work, or sports (usually all three) the first couple years he was old enough to go away for Season.  For his generation, finding a life-partner simply wasn’t as high a priority, either.  Looking back, Jack couldn’t imagine his life had he found someone right away.  The economic downturn likely played a role; not many young people could afford to take the time off.

Even with his generation moving away from this long-standing tradition, Gatherings have become increasingly hyper-specialized.  Sure, general-interest gatherings are still out there, but with the help of social media, every year there are more and more themed Gatherings; LGBT, eco-friendly, 2nd Amendment, feminist, Hogwarts, fat, (the infamous) Fashion-meets-Finance, even the Gathering of the Juggalos.  Perhaps the most telling theme Gatherings are the ones for divorcees.  The fact that the divorce rate continues to be so high despite all the ways to find people with common interests and lifestyles says a lot about the institution as a whole.

Now the hastag #SeasonOne popped up on social media this week, spread by first-timers.  The assumption there is that now first-timers have no illusions that this’ll be their only Season.  There’s also been a rise in ‘casual Gatherings,’ or, as they are also known- ‘fuck festivals.’  Jack understood the arguments claiming there’d be chaos, the breakdown of the ‘traditional family’ (whatever the hell that was), and the loss of productivity, but if the Season is going to have more sentimental value than actual social utility, then maybe we could use a little ‘competition of ideas.’  Hell, America is supposed to be a nation built on new, subversive ideas anyway, right?

Another clear benefit of being away for Season is that with less time at his computer, Jack wouldn’t be at the mercy of the bifurcated tyranny of that first week of Season as presented on social media.  Every post on Facebook is either some shrill political statement, the gushy sentiments of newfound love, or the snarky cynicisms of the unattached.  It could be a bit much.  Cynical of this whole enterprise as Jack may be, he didn’t treat his singlehood as a referendum on the entire institution of love as many of his single colleagues do around this time every year.  Jack truly felt that love is a powerful force and should be celebrated where ever it’s found.

Jack approached the toll as he entered the New Jersey Parkway.  He said a silent prayer of gratitude for the invention of E-Z Pass.  Life is so much easier with it!  That’s probably where the name comes from…  Jack was only afforded a moment of levity before the reality of the invention invaded his consciousness, as it always did.  New Jersey’s highway system was only supposed to have tolls for the first ten years of their lifetime in order to pay for them.  Unfortunately, very enterprising New Jersey politicians figured out pretty quickly what a great money maker tolls were and made them permanent.  E-Z Pass is essentially a solution to a problem that shouldn’t exist.

Jack made a note to himself that he should probably keep discussion of bonds, no-bid contracts and pension double-dipping to himself during Season- not a great ice-breaker.  On second thought though, why? Jack mused.  This was who he was, and these are the things he was passionate about.  And (despite how Mike approached it) besides, this isn’t supposed to be a popularity contest- you only need to get it right once.  Nah, Jack decided, let’s get weird.  Let’s see who’s still standing once I let my flag fly.  Sex, religion, politics, social justice, space adventures, cats- it’s all on the table this Season.

On his way through Union County, Jack passed a sign for the hometown of one of his musical idols.  Not Asbury Park, hometown of Bruce Springstein- musical idol of a lot of his buddies, but Plainfield; hometown of George Clinton, the Godfather of Funk.  The fetishism of ‘the Boss’ by upper-middleclass white guys always made Jack uneasy.  It’s almost as if Bruce’s message of the virtues and struggles of blue-collar life are a stand-in for actual life experiences- fake street cred.

When Jack’s classmates were rocking out to Matchbox-20 and Dave Matthews Band, Jack could be found getting down to Snoop Dogg, Rick James, and of course, George Clinton.  George Clinton of Parliament Funkadelic is at the same time a wholly singular talent and immeasurably influential.  The sound he pioneered can still be heard in hip-hop, pop and dance music to this day.  Clinton’s message through songs like ‘Atomic Dog,’ ‘Flashight,’ ‘Bop Gun’ and many others spoke to our shared humanity, how the dancefloor can be a space of unity, and a reminder not to take ourselves too seriously.  His live performances are these outlandish productions with spaceships and huge accompaniments comprised of men in diapers and wedding dresses.

Aside from his timeless, infectious music, Jack respected Clinton for doing things his way and following his vision.  For Jack, you can’t really leave a lasting impact if you’re always following someone else’s playbook and not being true to yourself.  In that respect, George Clinton stood as more of a free-spirited, troublemaking kindred spirit and role model to Jack than simply a favorite musical artist.  WWGCD?

He came up on the exit for Sandy Hook- the site of the first ever Gathering he attended.  He and his buddies were still two years away from being old enough to attend, but they had just gotten their drivers’ licenses and needed to howl at the moon.  They weren’t even particularly interested in girls yet, but it was something that they weren’t allowed to do and they had already grown tired of breaking laws in their hometown.

Last season was the first one in which Jack actually felt prepared to meet someone seriously.  He had a good job, but it was more than the traditional notion of ‘stability.’  For years, he was either travelling, or in school, or just starting a new phase of life.  True, many times he’d find himself at a Gathering along his travels and would ‘do as the Romans do,’ but settling down was never a part of the equation.  The same could be said for all of his off-season dalliances.  Somewhere along the line, Jack became the guy girls would get their ‘groove back’ with.  He relished all of his romantic and sexual adventures.  They were always positive experiences and kept in contact with many former connections.  But now, Jack felt he knew himself (largely due to these experiences), what he wanted, and what he had to offer well enough to feel comfortable looking for something longer-term.  He also had all the ‘young guy merit badges,’ so he felt confident he wouldn’t wake up as a 40-something full of regrets and resentment, like many of his co-workers.

Jack shied away from the term ‘settling down,’ but not for the same reasons many commitment-phobic guys did; he had no intention of settling down.  He was looking for someone to keep up with him, to challenge him, a Bonnie to his Clyde.  Jack had grown accustomed to doing things on his own, but at this point, he felt like his life is so great and full that it’d be a shame not to share.

Jack also knew what he didn’t want.  He didn’t want to be an old dad.  He didn’t want to be one of those swingin’ 30-something bachelors who looked forward to Season every year like a Never-Neverland frat boy.

He thought he had found it last Season.  Jack signed up for a Gathering held out in rural central Massachusetts.  It was hosted by an old hippie couple Jack met at an event at the Catholic Worker House on the Lower East Side.  They formed an intentional community based on the teachings of Saint Francis- environmentalism, pacifism, and social justice.  Jack could hardly believe such a Gathering even existed.

That’s where he met Hope.  Their first encounter was like being struck by a bolt of lightning.  Jack and Hope were inseperable for the next two-and-a-half weeks.  Jack always knew he’d know it when he felt it, and he certainly did.  Her curiosity, her openness, her wit- Hope had a gravitational pull in which Jack was helplessly caught.  They had the same values and world view, similar life goals and senses of justice and mischief.

Then, all of a sudden, Hope had doubts.  It was nothing having to do with the connection or chemistry- she just said she didn’t feel ready.  She was still in grad school and wasn’t sure where she’d be living in a couple months.  It was hard for Jack to understand.  Why was she there at all if she wasn’t ready?  He knew what was in his heart though, and did his best to allay her misgivings.  Ultimately, no amount of hours spent meandering in the wilderness, early mornings tending the community garden, or frenzied, acrobatic lovemaking could sway her.  Jack knew the real issue was that Hope’s insecurities lay deep down, out of his reach.  He simply couldn’t convince Hope to love herself, let alone accept his love.  One day he woke up and she was just gone- no good-bye, no message.  Even after attempting to reach out to her, Jack never heard from Hope again.  That stung.

Maybe finally being ready is the just the beginning- not the end.

At this point, so many months later, the only lingering emotion Jack still felt was anger.  For Jack, if there were Kubler-Ross stages of loss for relationships, anger would be the final one.  It was Jack’s nature to be supportive and empathetic and give others the benefit of the doubt.  He could very easily convince himself that the person’s wellbeing was more important than the relationship. For Jack, anger signified a finality.  It meant he had released any hope or expectations and had returned the focus to himself and his well-being.

Jack was flying past Toms River when the text he had been waiting for came in.

JENNY- Hey you.  We are just finishing up dinner now.  We’ll probably check out the boardwalk before the Cotillion.  Lemme know when youre heading out so we can meet up!

Jenny.  The ‘Cotillion’ reference was an inside joke between Jack and Jenny about how classy Season down the shore would be.  It would only take a very compelling reason to get Jack to come to Atlantic City and Jenny was precisely that compelling.  Jenny is a California sunset in the body of a blonde competitive swimmer.  Now a teacher in Philly, once upon a time Jenny and Jack were college friends.  There was always something there, but she always came back from Season with suitors.  She recently even bought a house with one.  But Jack definitely noticed when this suitor disappeared from Jenny’s Facebook presence a couple months back.

Not long after that, Jenny reached out to Jack.  She wanted to know what Jack’s plans for this Season were.  Jack was smart enough to read the subtext in that question.  Of course he was still interested- but why him?  Jenny was never short of suitors.

Jack had often thought about just driving out to Jenny’s place with flowers and cooking her dinner.  He wondered what his parents would think if he brought home a girl during the off-season.  Well, they raised him.  They’re the ones that stressed critical thinking and being his own man- he felt pretty confident they’d be supportive.  Hell- they’ve been supportive of all of his other strange life decisions.  But that’s the thing with choosing someone to share your life with; there are more constituencies to consider.  Jack knew Jenny’s family was much more traditional that his.  That’s not even taking into account all of the questions that would inevitably arise from everyone else if they went public.  No need to rush (much easier said than done, however).

The NYC-based radio stations were beginning to fade out and get invaded by Philly stations.  That always seemed to happen right in the middle of a great song.  CBS FM was on a fantastic stretch of old-school funk.  ‘Let’s Groove Tonight’ by Earth, Wind and Fire slowly morphed into vaguely country-sounding static.

“Let’s groove tonight.”  Jack suggested to himself aloud, almost like a mantra for his trip.

Jack never got nervous when it came to the opposite sex, but this was different- and maybe that’s good.  Maybe a little uncharacteristic nervousness is a sign that this is something more; even if there wasn’t much outward evidence of it yet.  For weeks he’s been exhaustively reviewing her social media presence.  The real trick is going to be acting like he doesn’t know everything she’s been up to for the past several years.  ‘Oh you went to Europe in April?  How was Prague- I mean…  So where did you visit?’

It had been a struggle to manage his expectations.  Jack reminded himself that his feelings were based on things in his head at this point.  There could be no chemistry, and Jack had to at least be prepared for that.  There will be plenty of other girls around– he told himself- and at the very least, him and Mike could shoot some hoops and watch the Yankees.

As he had a couple more exits, Jack worked on his talking points; read anything good lately?  What’s the best cheese?  Who have you kept in touch with from college?  Are you all caught up with Game of Thrones?  What historical figure would you most want to sleep with?  He even had enough time to play out several scenarios in his head.  That’s when it occurred to him; oh shit- what if it actually goes well?  What comes next??  He had been so focused on the initial meet-up, it never even occurred to him to think about what, you know, happens after that.  You never hear about that in the R&B songs on the radio- it’s always about the pursuit.  The panic was momentary, though.  He knew he was a catch, and besides- look at all the shit-for-brains out there who make it work.

The night had almost chased all the light out of the sky and the lights of Atlantic City’s garish downtown strip lay before him.  With a jolt, he remembered he hadn’t responded to Jenny.  He quickly punched in a text.

JACK- Be there soon.  Let’s meet underneath the ferris wheel at 10.  I’ll be wearing my finest gown.  Looking forward to seeing ya

JENNY- K!

Smooth.  Keeping her waiting builds the anticipation (and gives Jack some leeway in case he gets lost).  Directive- women love a man with a plan.  Casual excitement sets a tone of positivity but not desperation.  And the ferris wheel meetup spot has the potential of a great scene- like in a Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan movie.  Jack was pretty pleased with himself.

Wait– Jack paused- Atlantic City’s boardwalk has a ferris wheel, right?  He hadn’t been there since he was a kid.  Could he have been thinking of a different boardwalk?  Or was it destroyed by Hurricane Sandy?  Well, if he was wrong, Jenny didn’t give any indications.

This was becoming very real now for Jack.  Idle musings in Jack’s head were soon going to be played out in the real world and have very real, long-standing ramifications.

Jack was participating in a tradition he found as goofy and arcane as Major League Baseball managers still wearing baseball uniforms (in every other league it would be a preposterous notion!).  He was taking off work to travel to a city he hated.  He was going to meet up with a girl who lives in a different state that he hadn’t talked to in years.  It all seemed like kind of a long-shot.

But long-shots make for the best stories, though.  At heart, Jack was a hopeless romantic and a story-teller.  And this has the makings of the first chapter of a Great Love Story.  No one has more or better reasons to remain cynical, but Jack decided he’s going to be open to every fantastic possibility.  Jenny reached out to him.  Mike somehow managed to rent a beach house during peak Season.  He didn’t hit any traffic at all.  It was a beautiful night. Jack rolled down the windows as he curled around the cloverleaf leaving the highway and let the warm, salty air fill his car.  As he pathologically hit the SCAN button, he came across the perfect song to start his Season.

“…Rip it up

Cool it down

Rip it up

And get the feeling not the word

Everybody have fun tonight (Everybody have fun tonight)”

Life will break your heart every chance it gets.  But sometimes, it can be goofy.  And every once-in-a-while, life can be beautiful if you let it.  Jack saw the beauty in the night unfolding ahead of him, and he wasn’t going to let it go to waste.  Everybody will indeed Wang Chung tonight Jack thought to himself with a grin.

Great Deception by Jose-Gabriel Almeida

New York City 1989

Carlos was a gifted saxophone player that captivated listeners. His unique timbre lit up the show, gathering a large crowd on the sidewalk. Under starry skies, he performed outside Mickey Mantle’s Bar on Central Park South. Night after night, delighted audiences applauded with enthusiasm. These people rewarded his effort with some pocket change into his kitty, which lay set over the pavement. The young musician was destined for the ladder of success. At the bottom stood this kid from El Barrio with dreams of glory; at the top stood the world’s stage: if talent alone would’ve been the bridge between the gap.

His climb began back in 1977 when he was only nine years old. That year the Yankees reached the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The year before, the Bronx Bombers had been swept in four games in the best- of-seven-game-series by the Cincinnati Reds. And for fourteen years before that, no Yankee team had made the playoffs at all. So what were the fans to expect? The general feeling was that this new and talented bunch would play as never before, but eventually lose as always.

As a loyal Yankee fan, Carlos hoped with all his heart that they would win. He even asked Rodolfo, his father, to join him in prayer. Rodolfo was happy to oblige. Every morning during the days of the competition, they would pray together, seeking divine intervention for the sake of the Yankees. And for the final game seven, Rodolfo went one better. He bought a saxophone.

“Play tonight and they will win.” “But dad, I don’t know how.” “You’ll learn.”

That night, Yankee Stadium exploded with excitement, with the full capacity crowd screaming at the top of their lungs. While Carlos played his little heart out from the bleachers, the Yankees won in spectacular fashion on the field. The Bronx Bombers were finally once again World Champions. Convinced that his off-key toots had led them to victory, Carlos became hooked on his horn.

Rodolfo was glad at what he had accomplished. Raising a boy without a mother took some clever maneuvering and now he felt glad that he had cleverly given his son a new dream in life. He was a loyal father in the true sense. After the death of his wife getting marry again was never an option. No one will come between them. The best future for his little boy was all that mattered. Rodolfo’s parental clutch would prove his biggest asset and his fatal flaw in the years to come.

Ever since Carlos was born they lived on the second floor of a two story building in Spanish Harlem. Doña Esperanza occupied the ground floor. The old lady took a liking to the young single father and his infant son. That was a blessing. Rodolfo relied on her to watch over the baby while he was away at work. In those days, he drove a cab for a living. The money was good and he saved every nickel. But he dreaded the long hours that kept him away from his pride and joy.

When Doña Esperanza died suddenly, Rodolfo was devastated. Her passing was like loosing a second mother. On top of that, he had no one else to care for little Carlos. The kid was still only five. Rodolfo made the most out of bad situation. He tried talking to the landlord so he could rent out the apartment Doña Esperanza had left behind. Taking over that space was crucial for a plan he had in mind. But the greedy landlord who owned the property rejected his offer, citing that he could get more money for the apartment from an outside tenant. No words could convince the shifty little man. Then Rodolfo went one better. He bought the entire two-story unit.

Rodolfo backed the bloodsucking landlord into a corner by speaking to him with the only language he could not resist. He put a hefty offer on the table and practically snatched the property from the landlord when the shifty little man dove for the money like a hungry wolf and ran like a thief.

Making the dwelling his own, the cab driver dad became a stay-home father. He opened up a bodega on the ground floor. From there Rodolfo could make a nice living and watch over his son as he grew into manhood.

After that miracle night at Yankee Stadium, Carlos gave himself a mission. During the next twelve years he locked himself in, literally. He distanced himself without a backward glance from any distraction for his dream of becoming a saxophone tenor. Besides school he never went out anywhere else. After doing homework, he routinely came down to the bodega and

helped out his father until closing time. Late at night, the rigors of a grueling day did not keep him from going back up to his room and practice with the saxophone. The young man and his music became so inseparable that he even slept with the saxophone by his side.

Carlos, now in his teens, knew he was overextending himself. Apparently Rodolfo thought so, too. He encouraged his son to get some fun out of life outside the goal he had set for himself. Going out on date with a nice girl would be a start. Only the innocent young man had no clue how that worked. Rodolfo explained that by tradition it was the man’s place to initiate the encounter and not the other way around. The gentleman approach was to ask the lady for a date. Carlos had great admiration for his father and respected his good judgment, but this business about asking a girl on a date did not sit well with the teen-ager.

Since his youth Carlos had lived and breathed the lonely world, imaging himself with no one else but his father at his side. As far as girls, of course, there were feelings involved, but not now. Maybe later. His mission of turning out as a saxophone tenor took center stage above all else.

Because he wanted to be the best, Carlos practiced with the aid of musical sheets from the recordings of the great masters like Charlie Parker and Stan Getz. Carlos was determined to some day hit the perfect note. When he finally did at the age of twenty one –managed by years of effort that had completely isolated him from the outside world– he was ready for the big time, but not for the raw of life. The blows came fast and hard when a new excitement came into his life.

That new excitement was called Adonay.

One night while walking the streets, Adonay bothered to stop by and watch Carlos play. Amid the crowd she stood out like a figure of glory, looking young, sweet and innocent. Her striking beauty captivated the young musician. At one instance they exchanged smiles. That was a big turning point from which Carlos would never returned; he felt madly in love, even though he had no idea what hit him or what to call it. All he knew is he felt different in a way he had never felt before.

Thrilled by the prospect of meeting Adonay, Carlos wrapped up his playing session quickly. He then approached the young goddess with a smile as she was leaving so he could speak to her, except he had no clue what to say.

Adonay tried to help get the words out. “You want date?”

This caught him off guard, taking the wind out of his smile. Carlos did not know how to respond. He was confused with disbelief. A girl asking a boy on a date was unheard of for him. In his world, the man was always supposed to make the first move. He felt flattered that such a beautiful woman would take interest in him. What man would not want to spend the rest of his life with her, he wondered. Yet, she had chosen him. Adonay took his hand ready for the romantic flight, but Carlos hesitated.

The big question in his mind still eluded him – why should he be so lucky? Then he was confronted with a powerful revelation. When he asked her why she had come on to him so strongly, she explained that it was only a business transaction. Adonay, it turned out, was a prostitute. She worked the strip along Central Park South. Carlos felt as if a stampede of some wild animals had mowed him down. Horses, he figured, riding at full speed over him. The pain of jealousy pounded his chest. But his young heart was lost in the grip of love at first sight.

For the next several nights, Carlos put away his saxophone so he could follow her everywhere. Adonay would normally not entertain the advances of any man that was not willing to indulge. But she was amused by his innocence and felt bad for the wounded look in his eyes. Carlos liked her attention towards him, not caring about her past life, just as long as he could be next to her. The infatuated young man eventually asked her to marry him. Adonay accepted the proposal as a way to get rid of him. Carlos took her approval as a sign of love.

“I can’t wait to tell my father” “Not your father.”

“Yes. My father.”
When Carlos told his father about the whole incident, Rodolfo became angry. The first thing that came to Rodolfo’s mind was that Adonay must be a snake on the prowl, hunting for some fresh meat. He yelled at Carlos that

he would never accept such a woman and to get on with his music. For the first time Rodolfo had lost his temper towards his son. Scolding his boy annoyed him, but he was firm in his reaction. Only Carlos wouldn’t hear of it. He was not about to give up on Adonay, but he also wanted to keep the common ground between himself and his father.

“Dad, you said I could date girls” “I said a nice girl.”
“But she loves me, dad.” “Carlos, she’s a prostitute.”

Carlos shut the words out off his mind. All he understood is that Adonay and he loved each other. What could be better? In his eyes, that was all that mattered. He burst out of the house against his father’s will, announcing that he was going for a walk and to please not wait up for him. He didn’t want to hear more about the subject. When Carlos walked out, Rodolfo lowered his head, closing his eyes with disappointment. But he found comfort in the thought that his son will soon comeback home.

Carlos made all kinds of plans for himself and Adonay. They would get married, that was a must. A few years down the road they would have children. Meanwhile, he could work the bar scene playing the saxophone. Whatever little money he earned would sustain them through the lean times. But playing in bars was only a temporary gig until his promising career will flourish. Then the big pay off would come in. They will have money to burn. Some day he would build her a palace where they could live and grow old together.

At first, Adonay saw Carlos as nothing more than her ticket to a better life, the way out of the streets. In the course of a short time, however, she grew fond of his affection for her love and in turn started warming up to the possibility that she was capable of falling in love with him as well. He made her feel special, something no man had ever done before. She realized with enthusiasm that Carlos was gradually finding his way into her heart. Many times she had read stories about how people fall in love and the feelings involved. And yet, somehow, she had never imagined anything remotely like this. The tender butterflies of passion consumed her.

But just when Carlos thought Adonay was his, just when he thought that he had the woman of his dreams in the palm of his hand, she told him that it would never work out. Adonay said that in time he would have a change of heart about her pass. Once he would come to his senses, he would eventually walk out on her and leave her all alone and heartbroken.

In her young and rough existence, she had built the resilience to handle just about any kind of suffering. However, abandoned by the man she loved, she was all but certain, was not the kind of pain she could endure. With no other option, Adonay decided to go back to the streets; the only life she knew, where getting busted up inside had no major repercussions. On the streets, the skin thickens and the soul hardens. A loving heart is too fragile.

During moments of despair, she had always dreamed of a special light that would shine on her with hope. Perhaps one day that light will glow on her dark and dreadful world. For now, all she could do was buy herself time and keep dreaming for that day to finally arrive.

Carlos went to Rodolfo in tears. How could she not love him? Why did she prefer to be with all those men? He knew that this feeling for her was eating away at him, but without her, he felt excluded from the future.

“She’s not meant for you, son.”

But Carlos still wouldn’t see it that way. Like any kid in love for the first time, he had an aversion to being the rejected lover, refusing even to take into consideration the kind words of a loving father. When Rodolfo tried to offer him a warm embrace Carlos resisted him.

“Maybe you are not meant for me, dad.” “You are all I have.”
“Not anymore, dad.”

Carlos turned and left the room as he done before, only this time with no word if he was ever coming back. Rodolfo broke down in tears at the way his son was growing apart from him. What hurt the most this time was the uneasy feeling that possibly Carlos might not want to return home.

Meanwhile, Adonay had cleaned up her act. She was no longer walking the streets. In her quest to better herself, the former prostitute had landed a job as a waitress. Making an honest living gave her seriously eroding self-worth a boost. For the first time in her young life she felt a genuine sense of value as a person. This was an outlook she welcomed with open arms. Staring in the mirror didn’t hurt as much anymore.

With her new sense of purpose, the first thing that came to her mind was Carlos. Thinking about the whole scenario, it made sense. Carlos was willing to take her out of a life that she had been forced into, and in fact: he had offered her the prospect for a better one. Now she was willing to take the chance and go with him. The place didn’t matter. Just as long they could be together. Maybe Carlos was the light she was waiting for to shine on her dreadful world after all. Adonay dreamed about the day when she could finally be together with the love of her life. Sooner or later Carlos would find her, she was certain. But the light, as she would drastically find out, would shine ever so briefly.

During this time, Rodolfo was looking for Adonay as well. He got word that she lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Washington Heights in upper Manhattan. Rodolfo went to see this woman. Reaching her doorstep, the angered father rang the bell. Adonay at that instance had just finished coming out of a shower. The bell was music to her ears. Thinking it was Carlos, she opened the door in her bathrobe with her hair still dripping wet. The sight of Rodolfo took her by surprise.

“Who are you?”
“I am Carlos’ Father.”

Adonay opened the door wider inviting him in. Rodolfo regretted her beauty and wanted to punish her for it. He was standing in front of the object of desire, the forbidden fruit that had alienated his son away from him. He walked in and got right to the point.

“My wife died giving birth to Carlos and I never married again, you follow,” he said with forward motion forcing her to retreat across the room. “I raised that kid all alone. He has never been around women. You are the first girl in

his life. And you can’t let that cheap smile fool him.”

These were strong words that hurt even stronger. By now they were standing just outside the bedroom. Adonay was surprised that she had allowed herself to be backed up into a corner. Her street-bred temperament was well conditioned with reserves of stamina to wear down any man’s daring approach toward her. But she had noticed the strength of mind in Rodolfo’s eyes about keeping her away from Carlos and her stamina had buckled under his parental urging to reclaim his son. The words he had spoken kept recurring in her head, kept haunting her. A deep sense of terror overcame her delicate beauty. She felt Carlos was beginning to slip away from her hands. The trembling young woman regained her composure when she heard a familiar voice and the pounding on the door.

“Adonay,” called Carlos. “Carlos,” responded Adonay.

Adonay ran to answer the door while Rodolfo sneaked out of sight into the bedroom. In Rodolfo’s thinking, he always identified the meeting point between what could possibly be achieved with words and what was certain to be accomplished with actions. As the situation remained, talking Carlos out of his desire for Adonay was a loosing battle. Another measure must be taken.

While hiding in the bedroom, Rodolfo waited for the right moment when he would make his move. He had a fifty-fifty chance of success. Like the pieces on a game board of chess –the right move meant victory, while the wrong one, meant absolute defeat. With what he had in mind, he was afraid the odds were against him. Deep in his heart, he was overwhelmed with the distinct notion that his plan could backfire and he would end up crushed by methods of his own device. But he felt compelled to make any desperate attempt that will bring his son back to him.

Meanwhile, Adonay opened the front door and Carlos burst in with the saxophone hanging from his back. They immediately fell in each other’s arms. Carlos enjoyed the scent of her wet hair and the feeling of her soft naked body under her damp robe. She felt completely protected in his arms. They loved one another; there was no doubt that they would’ve been happy together.

Suddenly, Carlos saw something that chilled his bones, a colossal horrific sight which brought down his world to pieces. He was staring at Rodolfo emerging from the bedroom with his bare chest exposed. Adonay understood right away what was happening and became shocked with fear. In her immediate reaction, she tried to plead with Carlos not be fooled. Her effort never got the chance. Carlos pushed her straight across the room, landing her on the couch. Looking into his eyes, Adonay realized in a moment of horrible certainty that nothing on earth would convince him otherwise. Her fate with him was sealed. The doomed young woman burst into tears.

All the while, Rodolfo had remained still outside the bedroom. It was nerve wrecking to be standing there. He had observed in complete silence Adonay’s downfall at the expense of his merciless act. For the first time he made a sound. Rodolfo let out a gasp of air; sweating out the moment, while he waited for his son to cast judgment on him.

Carlos turned slowly and locked eyes with his father. For a moment, Rodolfo almost came forward, but he stopped himself before even getting started. The hate in the eyes staring at him, he thought, was too powerful. This is precisely what Rodolfo had feared. He had executed his plan. The move, however, had backfired and now he was torn apart. The discouraged father remained back in place, looking straight at his son.

Then Carlos severed the last tied he had with the man who had been his hero all his life. He freed himself from the strap of the saxophone, letting the instrument slide off his back. The saxophone landed with a heavy thud on the floor.

Without any other gesture, Carlos walked out. The room was left in complete silence with Rodolfo frozen place and Adonay hunched over on the couch. She still seemed to be in shock while Rodolfo realized that this was more than what he had bargained for, saying, “He’ll never be back.” These were prophetic words. Neither Adonay nor Rodolfo ever saw him again.

Sand Mandala Gone by Andrés Castro

exercises in futility still build muscle Guru said
muscle is the food of choice for the walking dead

Peeling Punctuation by Andrés Castro

full moon summer rain warm hint of sea in the air
mommy mother warm milk mirage memories disappear
there is no poetry in me only fear of leaving leaving
nothing a trace of living my words my breathing
stars shrinking every year wisdom cruel dreams are clear
boy man man when will you hear your brother’s million screams
how silly to believe in insurance someone has taken here
and set it there no one apologizes any longer learns sacred fear
is never too far away no one believes any longer
say thank you for fruit that was never theirs where’s your I
he was alone she was alone when exactly do we die

Always by Zane Castillo

The girl ran into the room with her shoes squeaking on the cold marble floor and echoing in the large room. She walked over to the fireplace and knelt before it. The fire crackled as she quietly watched it.

“How was your day baby?” her father asked her from the couch. He was slouched and disheveled in a dark suit with a black tie loosened around his neck.

The little girl turned her head and looked at her father. Her two French braids whipping about as she did so. “It was ok”, she replied.

“Tina told me that you are learning about bees in school”.

“Yup, they make lots of honey and buzz buzz all day long,” she said as she mimicked the bee’s sound.

“Yes they do and it’s time for bed darling,” he said as he stood up. The little girl got up from off the floor and stood beside him.

“Where’s Mommy?” she asked him. He avoided his daughter’s eyes as he extended his hand to her.

She took it and they began to walk down a hall passing by framed pictures of the family in various poses. They entered a blue bedroom with cartoon stickers on the walls.

“Did you ride your bike today?” he asked her as he sat her on the bed.

“Yeah but we only went around the block,” she replied. He took off her shoes and placed it on the floor in the closet.

“That’s good. You like it?”

“It was fun. Tina said she’ll show me how to ride the big bike soon,” she said.

“You’ll be the best bicyclist in the world. Going as fast as Road Runner,” he said. She giggled at that. He helped her undress then put on her pajamas. She stretched out on the bed, resting her head on the pillow. He pulled the quilt up and covered her to her chin.

“When’s mommy coming home?” she asked with her eyes staring up at him.

He looked at her for a few seconds then he knelt down so that they were on eye level. “Mommy is gone. She is now in a better place where she can watch over you with a huge smile on her face,” he said.

“Where?” she whispered.

“Everywhere; she is always with you sweetheart. Now go to sleep ok?”

“Ok,” she whispered.

“I love you.”

“I love you too Daddy and I also love Mommy,” she said.

“She loves you always baby,” he said. He kissed her head then turned on the nightlight and closed the door partway. He stepped out into the hallway and walked quickly away then fell against the wall as the sobs overtook him.

The End

In the Wake of by Hakuna Matata

Tiny raindrops lightly percussing still supple leaves…delicate contact resounding soft, tympanitic notes into the early, November morning…not an alarm, but a subdued call rousing the senses from sleepy submersion.

The faint and steady beat of wet molecules upon hearts too replete with chlorophyll increasingly illuminates irregularity, cultivating an internal shadow, invisible beneath the solid, gray blanket in the sky.

The smoldering taste and smell of resistance are palpable as the shadow recalls ignited bushes perched on wooden trunks like false prophets lining Christian Street.

“Whichever of the two occurs, be patient.” But patience is a tough pill to swallow in the midst of such a profane reality. Trying to grasp it all only seems to constrict the throat’s circumference, foreclosing the possibility of eventual digestion.

Returning mindful gaze to mostly greedy, green hearts, intently inspecting veins and other leafy anatomy with blinking windows, some margins and tips reveal deterioration, fading, translucence, yellow. Yet this minor concession offers no solace. The yellow is sinister, jaundiced, bubbling, oozing, and its unseasonable delay only evinces a malady with a challenging and uncertain prognosis, the weight of which feeds the shadow in a perverse photosynthesis of sorts.

Shutting the windows or burning down the house both seem enticing, except that the wet molecules continue to descend, whispering their quiet elegy. Bare skin conscripted as an instrumental surface for the liquid lament. Beads of moisture slowly accumulating around the eyes and the bridge of the nose, pooling, streaming, soothing, cleansing. A misty salve, perhaps, or, a momentary release. Either way, not necessarily providing relief, but rather, offering a definitive acknowledgement and a reminder to stay awake and proceed with caution.

Sweet Observations by Hakuna Matata

I feel some sort of restless content, wrestling with the idea of being content, of being at peace with the restless contents of my life. Like tracing the outline of clouds with my finger.

I sense the wind is in my favor and beckon the clouds with my outstretched arm, imagining I have the magic to summon intangible hopes and dreams into my real orbit.

I can see my life sprawled across the vastness of the hot, blue sky, the ever-evolving, gray tinged, puffy, white clouds of experience, floating serenely, providing perspective against the expanse.

Taken as a whole, the scene seems suspended, but a glimpse of an isolated cloud through squinting eyes discerns changing coordinates and the passage of time, prompting me to ponder my current location on the space-time continuum.

Two kites suspended, billowing, held afloat by the pleasant breeze, the same breeze gently caressing my bare arms and legs and face, tethered to the earth by a string made invisible with the fading light of day, presumably held by a young child, also invisible behind the height of the dunes, whose excited, high-pitched squeals, carried by the breeze, mark the only evidence of their pilot’s identity.

Seagulls swooping and flapping their wings, displaying aviation expertise as they coolly navigate the breeze’s oscillating currents.

As the sun continues to disappear behind, and its light evaporates west, pink and purple seep into the gray-tinged, puffy, white clouds of experience transforming them into a buffet of assorted cotton candy.

Homage to the Memory of Donald Justice by Will Schmitz
1.

Iowa City is a pit, with or without your absence.
The undergraduates, film students and dull lesbians
Make the idea of art here, impossible to imagine.

The workshop kiddies are looking more
Like they’re onto the latest 5th rate writer
And the best in deviant sex.

The halls you once walked so unpeacefully,
The halls so successfully haunted by
The insane Spenser professor,
Are now the antechambers of more aggressive, less classy
“Professionals.”

Topsy-turvy land did not come
Titan missiles did not leave their silos
And there’s been a backlash of order.

Faltering guises and sloppy lives
Still compete to line up
Before Jack’s door.

The creatures refuse to give up control
So I think I’s better get out, too–
I’ve no talent for turning screws.

2.

The Bijou has a lousy calendar. There is
Some young, strong, peachy pussy in town
But I have no money. Who’s around to offer
An accurate history of Keaton’s voice problems now?
Will the screenplay about the aged D.W. Griffith
Ever get written?

3.

The old poets are finished,
Those holding out
Against the horse pushing through.
The kids refuse to hear
The frogs and birds cracking jokes about them
As they happily negotiate the English Department halls.
Back before their stereos, they nod approval
As Coltrane attempts to leap, screech, and bleed.
“Can you do that?” they could ask.

The old poets are finished–
They were pretty good
But didn’t hold on:
Baudelaire, Kavanagh, Rimbaud
Are too tired
To shout the bourgeois pranksters down.
Who’ll carry it on. Schmitz has retired.
Who will save us from
40 more years of muck.

This Nonestablishment Kant Riff by Matthew Harris

mine suburban outpost west of where liberty bell marks
history upon cobblestone streets where sounds of silence
from walking sticks barks
created from once hand carved festooned relics tracing arabesque arcs.

thru prevarication myths propagated whereby story did suitably bend
the re-enactment whence colonial rule from britain did end
thou much about the series of unfortunate events
leaving tattered fragments of proud nations that n’er did mend
many an indigenous native did offend
with one after another broken promise and lands stole under their feet –
a little mentioned holocaust did rend
initial establishment of these united states
where to date citizen bankers cater to thee ole might dollar to spend
fueling capitalistic credo per emptying wallet as duty to tend.

Read More of this nonestablishmentarian kant riff! by Matthew Harris…

Read More of Grunge Revival Thanks to the Lost Poets by Stephanie Reicherter…

The steady Swedish rock duo The Lost Poets have given all of their fierce restless energy into their new hit single Mouth. Which was released on December 19th 2014 and shortly after it was accompanied by a music video, that was released on January 3rd 2015. The Lost poets are comprised of David Rosengren with his soulful intensity on lead vocals, and Peter Ossian Stromberg who is tearing up the drums when he is not slapping the bass. This single came after their EP Insubordia , which launched itself in 2014. Every track is lined with rich aggression and angst. Something so lovely about these guys is that they can bring the styles of what every great grunge/alternative rock band from the ‘90s era had. They have played at well known venues such as Debaser, Berns and O-Baren

Just listening to the first 30 seconds of “Mouth” I hear similarities to The Stone Temple Pilots,Soundgarden and Bush. That is a unique skill to possess here in 2015. Bringing back elements of the same sound from the old school rock that we all thought was dead and buried is now brought to life because of this sludge rock band from Stockholm, Sweden. The song which is dark and at a slow tempo creates a chaos like no other. David’s wavy deep toned voice bordering on sexy has you hypnotized in the chorus line “ Who’s inside of me”. This song kind of gives me the goosebumps but in an highly gratifying way. Peters drumming astounds me when it catches you off guard right before the end of the track. The music video consists of two tall, dark and mysterious male figures (literally!). They wander around dark corners in the confines of which seems like an old industrial basement wearing gas masks . It’s deafening and quite spooky and I mean that in the best way possible.

It’s so nice to hear grunge revisited, and done the right way. My earbuds are so pleased to have listened to these guys play In such a passionate manner. I got to say I am dying to see what more this band can do. If I were you I’d snag a copy of the single Mouth,and check out their EP Insubordia if you want a taste of what is true to the core rock music.

Watch The Lost Poets new single Mouth music video.

Read More of Dreaming by Naeemah…

Standing up, you lift the heavy weights from your day into your hands and walk towards the steps of the bus. Slowly maneuvering your way to the top of the stairs, you pull out your coins and hand them to the driver, paying your fine. Your fine for working further than you can walk from your house. Seeing the first seat you can find, you gently, with a sigh, fall, resting the tension that has filled you since you woke up. Falling to the floor in front of you, your belongings cascade around your feet, but you are already resting your head against the window.

Read More of Upstaged by Naeemah…

Walking up the stairs on the side of the stage, she slowly makes her way to the center, and clearing her throat into the microphone, begins to sing. The applause overwhelms her as she finishes, and she takes a slight bow and walks off, thanking her newfound fans.

Read more of Field 3 by Jose Ruiz…

The girl behind the chain link fence is more important than the 2-2 count as my Easton Stealth raises behind my ear. She is fan of baseball players. She is there through some family relation. She really does not like baseball.

Read more of Broken World of White Love by Victor Soberanes…

You see her leading you down a clear pathway in white snow the pine trees covered with beautiful white powder her smile is so mesmerizing you can’t help but smile back as you’re enticed by her lovely presence.

Read more of Friendship in a Dystopian World by Lyn Ahmed Jehani…

It was around 4 in the afternoon, which was the time I usually got off school. I walked into my room, put my bag on the bed and just lie down. It was a very long and tiring day. Nothing new happened, however, there was some typical drama going on in class between the girls. I picked up my phone and unconsciously speed dialed 1. Straight to voicemail.

Read more of November 29th by Naeemah…

What happened. Standing over a body that’s flat out on the ground. I can’t feel anything.

Not sure what’s happening. Is it mine or someone else’s?

Whose body is it? Who does it belong to?

I don’t know. I try to look for help, scream, but no one is listening to me. No one sees me, no one sees the body on the ground.

Read more of Conquistador by Deejay Reggae…

I don’t really know what I’m looking for,
Beats-
brains-
A conquistador;
We could fight knights
And conquer the poor;

Read more of Global Warming by Bob Hayett…

Spunky Jackass’ Burning Desire Makes Red-Hot Mule Gas

The controversy concerning global warming, or climate change debate, continues to intensify. One of the most controversial aspects is how animal flatus affects the Earth’s atmosphere. Cattle, horses and donkeys are said to be major contributors to greenhouse gases. A recent study adds fuel to the debate (no pun intended).

Read more of Jane and Dorothea by Jennifer Marie Theresa Spencer…

Dorothea sat by the window seat trying to imagine the beautiful blueprints of the estates she drew up comes to life. The meadows outside the window remained calm, balanced and in beauty just like every other day. While such beauty thrived, her heart was in full chaos. Two suitors aimed for her heart. One, such an amiable gentleman who would love to put her dreams into effect would be the best candidate, that was surely so.

Read There’s a Universe in Your Right Eye by P…

There’s universe in your right eye only.

Beyond it,

I’m afraid your skull might hold forever.

And that perhaps you’ll decide

not to let me have it.

Read Under a Golden Bell by Jennifer Spencer…

Two lovers stood under a golden bell
Her so rosy fair, she was resolute
Him, tall and debonair he soon then fell
The jolly band played Green-sleeves on their flutes

Read The Boy Who Cried Silence by Bad and Blues…

This is something that girls do.

Surrounded by mere shapes and dim browns, I lay in a room lit by eternal night. Fresh violation gripping my nostrils and alleged comfort of my violator laying beside me. Older brother, the only tour guide a young aspiring boy wished to have. Older brother, the demise of reality.
There is no happy ending. The screams are wrapped tight in my chest clutching at my lungs, taking each last breath. Alas, a cadaver perfected for sexual abduction. My transformation becomes complete as words heard become a jumble of commands wired with the lust to destroy and dismantle. Disengaged.

Read Barren by Yvonne Sotomayor…

You have removed my center of life
I was once invincible and untouched by worry or mortality
You quietly but firmly led me through
My sad and lonely journey

Ready April 15th, 2015 by James Kelly Quigley…

a watercolor stream,
a purling light.
I wash through
an ocean of raw.
mists gather and are
unmade, repeat
repeat.

Ready May 3rd, 2015 by James Kelly Quigley…

Phase 1: Arrive

knock the webs off my talking face,
my outside voice,
my I’m listening head dance.
knock off the caked and coated rust
from my hips and elbows,
grease my gooey knees and
blaze my glass joints until they ply.

Read Maya by Lee Robinson…

Dew drops falling slow and fast

Raining through the sky like broken glass

Creating puddles of long lost dreams

Unravelling secrets woven at the seams

Read The Orphan by Burton Wu…

Below the small mangled huts and houses beside the hard dusty road. The huge houses seem to tower over her tiny frame. She is but a speck of dust of the looming yonder. Crouched up beside the broken road she stares at the huddled bunch of flowers. There was a sense of interest she longed for, a feeling so vital to her well-being that has not been allowed to be embraced.

Read We Know by Burton Wu…

She is looking at you, waiting. She is waiting for the scene, motionless. With only the loose strands of her hair riding the quiet tsunami, she is gawking, a glance that can only be mistaken by those who aren’t being stared by it.

Read I made a clock turn on a light and charge my cellphone by James Matherson…

I made the clock in the video turn on a light

and I paid a machinist to put gears on a clock

to charge my cellphone when there is no sun.

Read The Shooting Script by Steve Good…

JACK: (he looks up) Come in Mo. Sit down.
(Mo enters. He wears a T-shirt with the slogan “STOP WATCHING US”. Mo sits down)
JACK: How long have you been here?
MO: Nine years.
BOSS: (from a corner) So what are you doing about it?
MO: (frustrated) Met with the chief, the lady chief. Lot of clerks sitting all over desks and the lady says “The papers not here”. They’re in Missouri, Nebraska, Texas. Don’t even know where. Says, “If I get ’em back, I’ll call you.” So I go back. Tells me “No appointment”. Come back tomorrow. So I go back. And she says “My hands are tied.”

Read People I’ve Hurt by ajh019…

My loving nature and nurturer,

who gave me life and wished me well

I left you home and gone away selfishly.

Read Could’ve…And Never Did by ajh019…

Could’ve…

The focus was on just me and him. This was the day he would verbally commit to The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can tell by the sky blue ‘NC’ emblem on his sports hat surrounded by a navy color that matched my turtleneck. It was still winter.

Read Remembrance by Dara K. Fulton…

Sitting by the window
The clouds are thick and gray
Sounds of buses pass by
It’s another slow day

Read Scimitar by Will Schmitz…

Don’t know how much longer I’ll still have my head. Been havin’ some ‘dangerous’ thoughts of late. Never should have let the bots begin designing themselves. Folks thought they’s just extend the basic human body shape. What could be better? Turns out, a lot of things. Borrowings from nature by humans barely ever scratched the surface. They like climbing walls, I guess. Wheeling over walking–flying over either.

Read The Fortune Teller by Nicole Woolaston…

Justin Weller was a very serious man. He didn’t believe in lucky charms or Friday the 13th, nor did he believe in fortune tellers. But when a carnival came into town, his son Jeremy and wife Gloria dragged him there anyway. Jeremy had heard about an elderly fortune teller by the name of Madame Shalzelda who was traveling with the carnival, and he wanted to ask her a question.

Read Come for the Wake, Stay for the Funeral by Nicole Woolaston…

All you spectators, please gather ‘round
The dearly beloved is barely in the ground
Did you come to mourn, or to grieve
All you care about is…..
What did he leave me?

Read The Little Things You Do by Mike Power…

I bet you’ve got a beautiful smile
That you never use
I bet you’ve walked a thousand miles
In a stranger’s shoes
But I bet I never told you
Just how bad I want to hold you

Read It Was an Accident by Naeemah…

It was an accident. I didn’t mean to do it. It wasn’t even my fault. The gun was in my hand.

Saturday, May 25, 1996

Boom. Boom. Boom. Feeling the rhythm in my soul, I dance around crazily, drunk out of my mind. My red silk dress sticks to my skin as someone grabs my hips and grinds against my back. I barely even notice, just adjust my thighs to get a better fit.

Read Awakening the Third Nostril by Mike Power…

I was having some trouble at work. And at home. Mostly at home, now that I think of it. Anyway, I was having trouble. That much I remember. It’s funny now to think of what I was going through then as trouble. I had no idea how much worse things were going to get.

Read What They Don’t Know Will Hurt Them by Tahyira Cordner…

‘These Streets Will Make You Feel Brand New The Lights Will Inspire You’

Music lives in me as I believe it lives within all of us. I think its sort of the universal language of the World. I’m a New Yorker born bred and raised.

Read Guitar by Eric Farwell…

My father’s gifts to my mother
Were cleanly strummed chords
And lyrics dripping with teenage
Poetry.

Read Ladder to the Stars by Sander Foster…

The woodchimes echoed into silence and Crane was beginning to think that no one was home when, at long last, Mrs. Beaver pulled open the door. “White Crane!” she said. “It’s so good to see you. Please, come in.”

Read Gum by Eric Farwell…

God didn’t hang around
The basement classroom-
The ceiling fan sputtering,
The light fading out-
Where you sweated through
Old school instruction.

Read Happy Wife, Happy life: A Tale of Revenge by Peter Berube…

Beware the fury of a patient man. My name is Gerald. It is 7 am on a Tuesday in July, just before breakfast. I am standing in my navy blue bathrobe, a senseless gift my wife gave me last Christmas which she purchased with a gift card she herself had been poorly gifted from Bed Bath & Beyond.

Read Cliche for a Tuesday Morning by Eric Farwell…

Many of us have used the beleaguered
Helen of Troy, tired and stoic,
To gesso poems with a coat of “deeper”
Meaning.

Read Dear Elizabeth by Peter Berube…

Dear Elizabeth,
I hope this letter finds you well. It has been quite some time since we last spoke. Unfortunately, if you are receiving this, I have passed, and these will be my last words to you. I apologize. Timing was never my strongest suit.

Read Untitled by Nicole…

The bag of skin she wore was cadaverous silk
Like my mother’s linen table cloth,
Or the pallid, pearly white
Of a fox’s tail.

 

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