Dylan Thomas at the Whitehorse

IMG_0797Dylan Thomas at the Whitehorse

John Grey

We go there –
the Whitehorse –
to indulge ourselves
in the very same place
where Dylan Thomas claimed
to have knocked back
18 straight whiskies.

A lie of course.
In his shape,
half that amount
would have dropped him
like an uppercut.

But maybe
he scribbled some lines
on an napkin just like this one.
Or he farted and belched
and the stench hasn’t quite
removed itself from the cloistered air.

It’s romantic to suffer from
a fatty liver, swelling brain,
and gout and chest pains
and still summon up the bravado,
the fury, the fight,
to rouse, out of their
schoolmarm Keats and Wordsworth,
a couple of neophyte poets
who weren’t even born at the time.

We go there –
the Whitehorse –
celebrate the myth
as much as the reality –
a couple of beers each,
but so many more
to tell the folks back home.

Vic Vogel Jazz Stories

Vic Vogel Jazz Stories

Julie De Belle

A translation from the original work by Marie Desjardins

1

I have been playing with Vic Vogel for over thirty years, since 1979, started at the end of a tour with Offenbach. My training is classical: 15 years with Les Grands Ballets, 15 years with the Montreal Symphonic Orchestra, and also as a member of the band La Bottine Souriante, so Vic taught me a lot. He is my musical father. The man has played alongside Miles Davis, Duke Ellington… knows the music of the 30’s and 50’s. His signature is his spontaneity, his astounding knowledge of repertoire and his talent for playing pieces in all 12 tones. Vic is astonishingly flexible. He is a legend in spite of the fact that he is not as well known outside of Montreal.

Bob Ellis, bass trombone

Nightlife was at its best in Montreal. It was an era born from prohibition in the United States, an era that would last half a century, from the 1920’s to the 1970’s. At the time, in every club, American and European stars were performing and having fun in what was then the very capital of music. The red light district was alive, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Women and men were elegantly dressed and every evening felt like a world premiere. Talent, love for music, rivalry and after-hour jam sessions shared the same banner, sparkling within the fireworks of guns, evening dresses and tailored suits that mingled in good faith in smoke-filled rooms, along with the wheeling and dealing, the sentimental intrigues. These were the surroundings that gave birth to Vic.

Vic Vogel, piano player.

Vic Vogel, a musician of Hungarian origin, but a Montrealer in his heart and soul.

This raging world was his home, his second skin, his amusement park where he navigated with great ease, from bar to bar, from cabarets to ballrooms, hotels and restaurants, in spite of his youth and a lingering shyness. Vic quickly learned to make his way – not without growling at times -in order to go beyond rejection or avoid the jealousy and pettiness in which rejection festered. He had quickly understood that all in all, one had to have self-confidence to survive an environment where a smile could foreshadow a sting and a sullen look, conceal admiration. He understood that the audience’s applause, the handshakes with bar owners and contract renewals were often worth more than some recognition written in some big name newspaper. Applause spoke louder than some compliment over the radio and certainly more than a slap on the back from a fellow pianist with whom one shared the fees, give or take some exceptions. In reality, there was enough work for everyone, the gifted and the less gifted, twenty-four-seven.

One Christmas Eve – he was then seventeen – Vic had managed to save up enough money, after all this time of piano playing in bars, he covered his parents’ bed with one dollar bills: a blanket of money. Having earned so much, at such a young age, and at night, was mindboggling. But for Mathias and Emilia, this was worrisome. Suddenly, they understood that all the day jobs in the world, at Birks or at the plant at Mitchell’s, and then Canadair, would rake in less money in a year than a few monthly shows on stage. However, Vic was proud and so happy to be able to counsel his parents to use the money to pay off the mortgage on their house. The Vogels had never seen so much money in their lives. And this was not a dream…

The sometime difficult prodigal child was profoundly loyal, generous, loving and discrete. One evening, while he was performing at the Montmartre Café on Saint-Laurent Boulevard, he recognized a familiar face in the room: his father’s. His father was dancing with another woman. Vic said nothing… because he was discreet. Clearly, Vic’s values were elsewhere, deeply-rooted values that would not change with success, because success can get to people, go to their heads. The night of the dollar bill bedspread had been a lesson in life. Emilia didn’t take a chance; she would not let the opportunity slip by. She had taken hold of her son’s arm and, while thanking him, begged him never to talk about the money. To no one. To avoid envy.

Vic would never forget his mother’s advice.

Whether he followed it or not.

Translated from VIC VOGEL HISTOIRES DE JAZZ, Marie Desjardins, Éditions du Cram, collection Portrait, 2013.

Excavation

Õ
Õ

Excavation

Sophia Wolkowicz

 

At the bus stop where I wait, is a fenced off construction site
of what was once, an old age home.
Feel free to use the euphemism of your choice, however
wrecking balls and bulldozers are oblivious
to names given to brick structures.
In its place, a billboard advertisement gives promise to
‘sophisticated’ housing units going up
in prompt completion.
Feel free to name the development as you wish-
not that the previous building was worth saving:
Its darkened lobby was flanked with a caged parakeet, plastic hyacinths,
a paneled trough filled with dollar store tinsel, and, color marker displays heralding
upcoming festivities.
The residents who were still fortunate to totter by
my glass shielded bus shelter, would extend courtly greetings
in my direction.
They were mostly women, wearing print shift dresses and
the wispy curls of their hair, were hedged by parts.
For an assigned time, I had occasion to make acquaintance with them
in a designated basement craft room where
sunbeams and athletic shoes stole past the window view.
These participants had once been secretaries and engineers,
homemakers and teachers and by decades they
had arrived to this place to knead clay, grasp paintbrushes,
string beads and paste cut up images from magazines
to create forms that were remnants of what they did,
who they were or wished they would become.
It is said that artifacts can teach us about humanity.
Feel free to refer to a parallel existence as you wish, nonetheless
amidst the rubble of excavation, accidental discoveries
are sometimes made that converge with a valued culture.
Pools of water now collect in the crater landscape behind my stop.
The ripples reflect fast moving clouds and for a moment
I can see the previous dwellers gazing at the ponds with genuine delight.
Where I wait, there is no spot to record how it all looked beforehand-
about gentler souls and places that stand for home.

Charity Case

Charity Case

Howie Good

1

Swallowing a handful of pills solves every problem, although I didn’t necessarily want it that way. Nearby is another me that I can’t see but that sees me. It’s impossible when looking around not to imagine some prior tragedy, all the deserted cities the jungle overgrew. Whatever happened to the right to be lazy? I try to tell myself that if less is more, then nothing must be even more. A woman outside the Stop & Shop is collecting money in a can, her eyes like rusted bullet holes.

2

You look up from what you’re doing, interrupted by a chain of thunderstorms moving through the region, something that might mean something, broken people and animals, and the way they stand, and the trouble they get in. The wallpaper pattern repeats the image of a body hanging from a lamp post. It sounds horrifying, but that’s the idea. You and everyone else have begun to suffer the effects. Often eyes become red. So I press my eyes shut. This is wrong, I say and keep saying until my voice gives out.

3

A farmer and his wife, after their horse dies, want to carry machine guns so they can intimidate passing motorists. They go immediately to a lawyer. No skin off my ass. In the United States we have a curious relationship to death – a very crazy old man, unanchored by horizons, riding on a cloud beyond the beyond, where simple words look like galaxies.

4

Some years are bright and funky – and even reportedly saved a man’s life once. But she had a sad little funeral. It was rainy. It was all wrong. And I was thinking, God, she loved life so much, everything in the world, including the air. Like the Sufis say, “Life is a dream, and death is waking up.” Not that anyone will.

Source for #4: Allison Meier, “The Funeral of Artists” at <http://hyperallergic.com/179082/the-funerals-of-artists&gt;

Giuseppa’s wedding

Giuseppa’s wedding

Ilona Martonfi

It is said these are ancestors who come
during nissuin
– ceremony under a huppa
veiling of the bride

Hebrew blessing
recited for Giuseppa Mulè

here in this manor,
Baglio di Baarìa, Sicilia
gate of the winds –
slopes of Mount Catalfamo.

A mother-in-law’s secret family history
passed down over 500 years
the groom will present a gold ring

break a glass under his foot
left together alone in this chamber

skeletons around a bride
on a raised chair
the hóra circle folk dance

i morti –the dead
act out scenes from their lives:
weavers, potters, and dyers
blacksmiths and silver smiths

paint carob wood boxes,
boxes with two hinged gates:
duality of Crypto-Jewish life
on the inside a skeletal family
light a menorah on Friday night.

Sit shiva on a low stool
say the Mourner’s Kaddish prayer

Giuseppa’s eldest daughter
died of fever aged one.

Out of Place

Seurat Sunday on the LakeOut of Place

Kenneth P. Gurney

She kissed me a little less enthusiastically
than I wished for a Saturday night,
but her kiss’s voracity
would have been perfect for a Sunday
afternoon in a Seurat painting,
though her little black dress
would have been out of place
among the parasols
and the boats on the lake.

A Day in Three Parts

A Day in Three Parts

Jill Talbot

A Night in the McDonald’sIMG_0238

Half expecting to be kicked out, I wrote this out expecting to be drained, forgiven, but all that came was more of the same, until I’m sorry for being sorry and have forgotten why. For whatever I did, I apologize, profusely, out of the flesh of seedy bars. I have become one of those people who talks to themselves in McDonald’s and goes to church in the bathroom. The taste of regret, smell of fat and Barbie Girl playing, that hugely sexist pop song of the nineties we all hated to love and loved to hate, like McDonald’s at midnight.

Sort of like being in a fishbowl—the decorations—obviously for the people looking in and not its inhabitants and incredibly unnatural; so unnatural one does not know any longer how to behave. I could try suing McDonald’s for coffee that is too hot as that woman did down south. Sue the mechanic, the zoo, sue BC ferries. Find the missing parts in McDonald’s parking lots. Except the coffee isn’t hot at all—it tastes like charcoal and lukewarm soup. Everything is greasy in the ghetto.

The McDonald’s has been closed for an hour, if I leave I won’t be able to return. For the third time my life was saved by the cost of missed ferries and cell phone chargers. I’m going back to the mechanic.

images-2

A Day at Horseshoe Bay

What do you get if you write, “I’m sorry” a million times over? Would it mean more had you written it once? Does it make a difference if it’s hand-written, typed individually or copy pasted? Am I sorry the way Bill Clinton was or am I sorry the way his Hillary was? Am I sorry the way the caught robber was or the way the maker of the Titanic was? Stuck in a long lineup the damn truck held us all back.

A man once jumped off a Horseshoe Bay bound ferry, said that he wanted to get to a basketball game on time, they kept him in the psych ward only overnight. Sometimes I am surprised this doesn’t happen more often. Might call it a death drive but—perhaps—he just wanted to swim. Perhaps he time travelled and thought he was on the Titanic. Perhaps he was a physicist who could prove it’s possible to be in two places at once.

Maybe he was tired of BC ferries announcements or the smell of White Spot. Maybe he was a polar bear in disguise. Maybe he needed an alibi. Maybe he wanted to be written about by people like me who have nothing to do but wonder why people don’t jump and why they do. Maybe he wanted to visit a psych ward. Which are, by the way, overrated. I jumped once, too.

A Morning with the Mechanic

Snooze. “The fucking fuck is fucking fucked.” I’ve heard two people quote a mechanic that way. One was a famous poet, the other, something less noble, which is really more noble, don’t you think? Both were from saw mills where being fucking fucked was a daily occurrence. I wonder if it was the same mechanic or if this is just a new language.

This is the language I use for my alarm clock—amongst other things, such as Canada Post and feral turkeys. The clock replies with something similar so we both begin our day in such a way. No wonder the truck is fucking fucked. Karma’s a bitch.

Gay Christians

Gay Christians

William Miller

 

Gay Christians parade
up Dauphine Street.

It’s a rainbow double
line: black, white, Cajun
with Indian blood.

A marching band,
bass drum and wild horns,
leads them all.

They mix gospel
with Cher and Lady Ga-Ga,
play their own
funky jazz.

Church people threaten
them with hell fire,
unless they repent
right here, right now …

They ignore their critics
as more people, far more,
clap and whistle for them.

A young guy shouts out.
“Was Jesus gay?”

His lover wraps his
arm around his neck,
kisses the boy
on top of his head.

But the question lingers
in the air …

The Bible never says
if Jesus was gay or straight.

He could have had
a boyfriend who went
with him to raise
the dead, heal
a passing leper …

They are dancing now,
joyful, silly, and saved
for all time.

Near Canal, the parade
starts to break up,
but one last bigot shouts:

“Jesus died for my sins
but not yours!”

Laughter is the reply,
though some wave as
if they knew the man—
the same God
made them all.

Danielle’s Dog Tags

Danielle’s Dog Tags

Ruth Z. Deming

 

A good postal team at the
19040 post office in
Hatboro, Pennsylvania, so-named
for the hats they made
in the American revolution
thousands perished but are
forgotten in this little town
no one’s ever heard of.

How quickly we forgive
the Brits, we slurp their
tea in fine Royal Albert
China, pinkies lifted

Danielle of the page boy
shining black hair I have
never seen at the post office
her short sleeved blue blouse
reveals a pair of jangling
dog tags upon her breast
A loved one, I am certain,
has died in one of our wars
most likely in the Afghan or Iraq
where we send our black men
to die instead of cherishing
these descendents of our
“peculiar institution” and
helping them become
architects or doctors or wealthy
entrepreneurs, it’s
only right

Danielle tells me
with a shy smile
her gleaming
teeth white as a
pearl necklace
that he is a victim
of another one of
America’s peculiar atrocities.
Her black brother was
shot
shot dead
by a sniper’s fire
not overseas
but here in Philadelphia
in what we call a
drive-by shooting
black turning on black,
cannibalization

“The worst day in my
mother’s life,” she smiles
her eyes brimming
like a river overflowing
Thirty-five. His whole life
before him. Danielle’s dog tags
clink together
a Hail Mary full of
grace, or
chimes on the old
clock tower tolling
twelve times
lest we forget
lest we forget.

A Good Day for Nudnik Fish

A Good Day for Nudnik Fish

Larry Lefkowitz

coelacanth-blue-990x366

I prefer my Tel Aviv from the vintage days – before the upper crust skyscrapers disturbed the eyes and the hype the ears, and most of all, before the arrival of the glitzy marina. I berth my skiff wherever I find a bit of sand on the shore that hasn’t yet been taken for private development. Nobody disturbs the boat — it’s been around so long they know it’s mine — vintage, like me. I make it a point to fish with my back to the skyscrapers, facing the horizon.

Usually it takes me a while to catch the first fish. But that day as I sat in the skiff on the sea, they simply weren’t biting. Changing bait, changing fishing spots – gornisht. “Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook?” asks Job. I would settle for a fish far smaller than leviathan, I mused — and then the fish jumped into the boat. I pounced on him before he could jump out of the boat. “Wait long enough and they come to you,” I shouted triumphantly the old fisherman’s wisdom.

He turned out to be a disappointingly small fish, though a pretty one – a type I had never seen before — with gold scales that put those of your aquarium goldfish in the shade. I picked him up to toss him back. He was too small for frying.

“Don’t do that,” the fish pleaded. “Not before using your three wishes.”

A talking fish. Trouble. If you tell people a talking fish jumped into your boat, even bait-sellers will give you the fish eye.

Continue reading A Good Day for Nudnik Fish

Said July to an August Afternoon

Said July to an August Afternoon

Joy Carter

“Did you know
You’re pretty?”
Said July to an
August afternoon,
Burnt umber in its skies
Bite in its air
Holding in autumn
Clinging to summer sun
No expectations
Of a flawless fourth of July
Or sweat mixed
With chlorine on your skin
Dandelions burned in those days
In Pentwater, Michigan
As the skies, the lakes
Dried away
Along with my skin
Still too white
From long winters
Whiteness turning to pink, to red
A flaming sun spot, dotted
With constellations
Across nose and cheekbones.

Fishing in the Belly of the Whale

Humpback_whale_jumpingFishing in the Belly of the Whale

Joy Carter

I went fishing inside
the belly of a whale
just to see if I could find the bones
of a man one old book called Jonah
or the wreckage of the ship Ishmael sailed,
if he swallowed my religion,
if I could force him to vomit
his secrets of tomorrow, or yesterday
his sea stained eyes \\
so wise, so sad.
he held up the world and smiled so slow
I called him God,
he told me he saw the beginning,
the end too, and who was I
to call him Liar
while he lay beached, mouth wide
so I could fish in his belly,
old chair perched on his tongue
while he tasted the sand between my toes.

St. Agnes Hospital Final Tableau

St. Agnes Hospital Final Tableau

Gerard Sarnat

“When I am laid, am laid in earth,
May my wrongs create
No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;
Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.”
— aria from Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas

My conference with Dad’s oncologist and infectious disease doc
goes as expected: Nothing suggests the sepsis which declared itself

is resolving. We reconcile not to further biopsy his medicalized life,

what to stop, what to begin to diminish pain, make breathing easier.
Brother-in-law inserted next to my wife — we shapeshift, share roles

seeing Poppy through. At the helm of the bed, I channel how to lean in,

lay on hands, where to kiss, when to cry, back off, exhort, forgive, let go.
MD finger on MD wrist, his pulse slowing, I guide Daddy’s journey

then posit everyone but my sister head out. She says to me,

“Gerry, you’re the overpriced doctor, so remove his nasal prongs.”
Just wanting to be a Father’s dutiful son, fingering

the room’s wondrous but alien crucifix, I try to hedge,

“Why don’t you check at the nursing station first?” Unmoved,
Sis counters, “Let’s take off the oxygen together.” We strip tape

from Pa’s mottled forehead. Other tasks fall to me — cut off

DNR bracelets. Shave. Change his gown. Detach paraphernalia,
daub his cheek. Wheel Mother in for last time alone. Regather.

The Christians Arrived

The Christians Arrived

Michael Lee Johnson

Salvation Army and
the Christians arrived today,
Christmas, like every other Sunday morning
feed the homeless, chasing the rats from the bathroom,
basement, kicking the dead flies out of the corner spots
where the cat used to lounge-
clean the toilet bowl, a form of revival and resurrection.
I privately pastor to these desires though I myself am homeless.
I forgot what it’s like to be a poet of the cloth,
savior in street clothing with a warm home to blend into.
I watch them clamp the New Testament in one hand,
And pull a cancer stick out of the pocket with the other.
It’s all a matter of praising the Lord.
Everything is nonsense when you’re in a place where you don’t belong.
Even praying to Jesus from a dirty dusted pillow seems strange and bewildering.
Someday I will walk from this place and offer spare meals by myself to others;
feed the party in between the theology, the bingo of sins and salvation.
I forgot the taste of a Stromboli Sandwich with a six pack of Budweiser
with or without the Chicago Bears – it would make every Sunday a Salvation
Army holiday.
Today is a fairy creating miracles from the dust of the floor
multiplying fish and chips, baked ham, ribs with sauce Chi-Town type,
dark color of greens and veggies tip me to the Christian
clock on the wall peeking down on lost and unsaved.
I feel like a fragment.
A birth date the way again to begin, fragmented.
Pinto beans mixed with graffiti fingers,
Christians arrived on Christmas day-
they always do every Sunday morning.
I pastor to these desires.
It’s all a matter of praising the Lord.
The Christians arrived today.

Breakup Haiku

Breakup Haiku

Virginie Colline

the intimate words
they should or shouldn’t have heard
the lessons they learn

nothing specific
a minor change in the air
her phantom has left

yet another tear
cracking the rosy façade
demolition ball

suitcase on the mat
his own tabula rasa
in the nascent sun

Girl in “hygge” refugee hut

Crackling_Fire

Girl in “hygge” refugee hut

Ilona Martonfi

In the mountains on the
other side of a fjord
winter solstice, 60 degrees north,
where the sun sets before four
one room timber cabin, attic loft
Magyar refugee family from Budapest

what’s hygge about grandmother’s
homemade lingonberry compote?

hygge at Yuletime
it sounds like “hYOOguh
–it’s even harder to translate
now that we have a name for it
–warmth, togetherness, family
and in the Nordic darkness unaware
five children, four girls and one boy
we’re hygge’ing right now
around an oak table for a meal:
spiced meatballs. Potatoes, carrots and cabbage.
For all of you to cuddle around the woodstove
on a December evening.
Ah, så koselig –so cozy.

Laced ankle boots, wool mittens
tobogganing on a snowy hill

tucked under sheepskin,
sipping tin cup of hot cocoa,
hygge by curling up on a bench
with a fairy tale book
mother brought from the old country,

teddy bear, a rocking horse
the glow of a log fire

spruce bright with white candles.

 

 

ONE WAY WEST

FullSizeRender-11

 

Excerpt from the novel Un passage vers l’Occident, by Didier Leclair, translated by Elaine Kennedy with Sheryl Curtis

The small fishing boat taking Africans to the coast of Spain was heaving in high waves. Each time the hull pounded the water, the passengers cried out in panic. None of them was used to being on a boat. For some, it was their first time out on the open water and they vowed it would be their last. Drenched with spray, they clung to their seats and the side of the boat, determined to set foot on Spanish soil. All seven were desperate to reach Europe and escape the poverty and fratricidal wars in their homelands. Some intended to stay in Spain; others hoped to go on to Italy, Germany, France or Belgium. Their final destinations varied, but their goal was the same—to flee to a rich country. Each of them had an infallible plan for disappearing into the night when they arrived. They would join an uncle or a brother who had already settled in the West. They knew the names of cities and streets, along with a few words in several European languages to help them find their way. The bolder ones even imagined meeting another African who would provide information, assistance or shelter. Yet all these schemes were no more than dreams until they managed to cross the Strait of Gibraltar. Their new life could not begin until they had completed this first leg of the journey across fifteen kilometres of water up to three hundred and fifty metres deep. Across a treacherous arm of the sea that can be smooth when it’s supposed to be rough and that can slam the cliffs when it seems to be calm. But then, this gateway to the Mediterranean separates Africa from Europe. A natural divide filled with age-old waters, it marks the boundary between two worlds of growing disparity: Western Europe, capable of providing for its citizens, and Africa, unable to meet the basic needs of the majority. This contrast, spawning envy and hatred, is mirrored in the rough and unpredictable waters of the strait. Continue reading ONE WAY WEST

BREAD AND SALT

Bread and Salt: What a Jewish Cemetery in Poland Taught Me about an Arab Cemetery in Israel

© Robert Brym (2014)

Department of Sociology                                                                                            University of Toronto                                                                             rbrym@chass.utoronto.ca

1977

On a wet spring morning, Marek drove southwest out of Warsaw toward my father’s hometown. During the two semesters he had spent as a postdoctoral student in Canada, he and his wife had rented the basement apartment of my parents’ house in Fredericton. My mother would periodically invite them upstairs for a meal, giving my father an opportunity to recount his youth in Poland and the war years in Russia. The two couples – one Jewish and in their mid-60s, the other Catholic and in their early 30s – liked each other, and when it came time for me to attend my first international conference, in Poland, I had little compunction about contacting Marek and asking him if he might be willing to drive me to Bodzanów, the little town 90 minutes outside Warsaw where my father lived until 1939. When I met Marek and his wife in their Stalin-era apartment bloc an hour before we set out on our trip, I saw immediately why my parents were so fond of them. They offered me bread and salt, a traditional Slavic welcome for a respected guest. Their intelligence and generosity of spirit shone.

Continue reading BREAD AND SALT

The Once That Was

The Once That Was

Joe Renzler

Your smile
Slit my throat
From ear to ear

The time it took
Was the brief forever
Of a child on a swing

Just a tick
Not even a tock.

I’ll never feel the joy
Of sadness again.

The fairy tales have sprouted wings
Their pages blind as kites
They now wander among daylight’s invisible stars

As darkness descends with its burning lights
I sit in the slow rush of traffic
From inside my car
The rain’s gallop sounds distant
While windshield wipers wave warily
As if sweeping the glass for mines.

 

*photo image: Wikimedia Commons

Sedalia, Missouri

Sedalia, Missouri

by
Jacob Potashnik

Winter, 1990. The walk from the hovercraft to the train station was short but left me wet and thoroughly chilled to the bone. The weather, a mix of wind and pelting rain and snow was an affront. On the quay for the train from Boulogne to Paris, Mr. Six/Four bent low and easily hoisted a limp sack of a young man out of a wheel chair and into his huge arms. A porter folded the chair and lead the way. A woman, grey-haired frail, thin, at least sixty-five, follows.

My seat was across the aisle from theirs and they were quick to smile and nod to me as they settled in. He who I had taken for a young man, was not a young man and his story was very clear. Forty, remarkably thick dark hair falling like a wave over his forehead, thin, gray, gleaming skin, Kaposi’s sarcoma, full blown AIDS.

At the first pass of the car snack service Six/Four ordered coffee.

“Teddy,” the woman stage whispered, “Will you look at that?”

It was the standard French train café filtre, a two stage plastic unit, hot water goes in the top, filtered coffee drains into the bottom. Six/Four was so pleased he was beaming but Teddy has seen it all before.

“Wait till you taste it,” he muttered, smiling gamely.

“Well, I never,” said the woman in admiration. “They make such a fuss.”

“Smells heavenly,” Six/Four agreed. “After the English stuff.”

Continue reading Sedalia, Missouri

The Good Air of Buenos Aires

The Good Air of Buenos Aires

 James F. Olwell

The waves of sun shine dance
upon the leaves, under the floss silk tree,
fall in the pond in the Japanese garden ,
given by the Japanese community
to commemorate it’s own founding.

The enormous Koi carp (goldfish) there,
perceiving movement upon the pink arched bridge,
arrive as a multi-colored mob, open mouthed,
Certain there will be food.

While the Plaza Allegmana
presents it’s park, perhaps,
in honor of whom it was permitted
to let in, to keep out.

Elsewhere, even the pigeons seem
to have isolated the weak.
You can recognize the unsleek,
over-scratching, immobilized
while they rot in the corner.

Little green mountains of bags
appear at end of day,
neat and clean upon the sidewalk
‘til they meet a small army
of families or young boys or men,
pregnant women, an inclusive world,
to pick through, pluck any edible
combine into a meal, no
assurance here for open mouths.

No country from which tourists come
gave a park or leafy garden
to honor the hungry, ill begotten,
disrespectable mobs of mouths, worthless
to the great buildings, as of Europe,
great avenues of eleven lanes of cars.
No, no country gave, neither here nor home,
—in honor of the hungry families,
nor Argentina neither that,
oh one of many, one of many,
let in Nazis, didn’t let in Jews.

 

 

photo: by Luis Argerich, Buenos Aires, licensed by Wikimedia Commons

In Passing

In Passing

by Violet Neff-Helms

In the quiet moments when you pause above your books,

Lifting slowly your wine glass, casting back your looks at times now gone.

Watching firelight dancing shadows on the hardwood floor,

Smiling slyly, shaded eyelids, savoring Golden Never Mores.

Sifting like sand your memories where Time and Thought are kept,

Will you recall as I shall recall, or will you just forget.

A meeting of minds so long ago in a corner of this Earth,

A sharing of thought in passing there,

A moment of Peace and Mirth.

Brief as the breath of the living,

Quick as the flight of a dart,

I left with a smile and a memory,

You left with the wind and my heart.

She brings you down

DSCN0156

She brings you down

Louise Carson

She brings you down to her level,
splits with a flick.

Personally,
I don’t mind her house of moods.

Trumpets swell,
chocolate boxes rattle, full of shells.

Once you’re there, give up;
there won’t be any signals.

And what’s so funny about dipping your knife in tea,
when what you wanted was honey?

The fields begin to sheathe themselves

The fields begin to sheathe themselves

Louise Carson

The fields begin to sheathe themselves in some
soft metal underfoot as they ripen
into hardness. The air quiets. Except
for Christmas’ three-week hum, traffic thins.
Some life has left the earth, been driven down
and in. The metal spreads its silent hymn
that sings of hardship, night; of frozen beings,
their signals lost; records the broken keen
of almost dogs. They spread out as they run
for meat. Under the trees their lines bisect
the rabbits’ shorter curves. Life joins life:
gray fur, brown fur, metallic scent of blood.

Nothing Will Suffice

Nothing Will Suffice

by Andre Narbonne

The Facebook notice follows the funeral in short order. Joan has just lost her husband, Bryce, and now the children she grew up with in a Northern Ontario mining town in the days before computers are back and posting pictures.

Is this my Joannie Crebb? My name is Marie Benoit. If you’re the right Joannie you’ll remember me as Marie Boutin. I’ve married into a new B. LOL. The kids from Balmerville have formed a group and we’d like you to join – if this is the right Joannie. Can you be the first hit on Google? We’re all so hard to find except Geoffrey. LOL. Always in jail.

She accepts the invitation: clicks “Join Group” and scrolls through their lives.

The pictures are curiously similar. The girls she ran with the last time she ran for the sheer pleasure of it have grown into chubbier versions of themselves. In the seventies they came across as daring but the daring didn’t take. They housewife – or trailer-wife, depending on the northerness of the mining town into which they’ve gravitated. They proud parent twenty-year-old children or they adoringly grandparent toddlers. Their Facebook walls are the record of a generation enamoured of fantasy to the point of being prosaic. They have little interest in current events but post daily on the afterlife. Aphorisms substitute for self-evaluation, conspiracies for politics.

Continue reading Nothing Will Suffice

Right of Way

Right of Way

by Kate Sheckler

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Words her mother repeated so often that Holly cannot think of them without hearing her mother’s tone, the inflection of superior wisdom shaping each rounded vowel and clipping the T at the end with decision and a sure knowledge of the meaning of those two words – wrong/right. For Holly, it’s a distinction that is never obvious, one that hides behind details each of which changes the picture suggesting options and alternative views, details that remind Holly of all the reasons things have turned out the way they have – so it is with indecision that she stands at this counter covered with melamine, cool, chipped, and engrained with grime. She considers the embedded pattern of grunge as if it holds an encoded message, some decisive statement that offers an opinion on this thing she is about to do. But the grub gray lines, set permanently in the textured surface, offer nothing, and she turns her attention to the papers waiting for a signature. Her signature. Holly Baxter nee Holly Meredith. The forms sit, flat and unobtrusive, yet still Holly can feel their pressure and bites her lip, wincing as the cut opens again with an additional tearing of the delicate skin. The salt metallic of blood on the tip of her tongue, she considers the papers once more. Black and white, they offer no middle ground.

Continue reading Right of Way

Murmur

Murmur

by Jill Talbot

 

I have a heart murmur—they say

I’ve had it since birth, not to worry.

 

I’m afraid I have the same

off beat arrhythmia as you—

a beat no one can dance to—

 

awkward.

 

I tried to rid of your

crooked smile

but instead forgot

how to smile.

 

I tried to use reason

to put this off-beat-heartache-out—

damn straight.

I failed, again.

And again and again.

I didn’t even try to dance.

 

I don’t want to miss you

but it’s the only way to not

lose you completely.

 

Born with a murmur at St. Paul’s,

downtown,

a pink beaded bracelet.

 

And that was the end of the beginning—

until I got on my knees

and begged to have it back.

 

Again and again.

Beating, beating,

I missed you

again.

 

I missed you until

 

I could face a mirror,

beating harder,

I needed you.

MEETING THE ONE

MEETING THE ONE

by John Grey

 

So loneliness is an airless, colorless, dungeon

and nowhere drearier than in the heart,

with, as a food source, the worms at the base of the well,

slithered up by kiss-less lips.

 

And the joining up is what they will remember,

when they feel gratitude from all directions,

these young men marching hi full light,

chests swelled, arms reaching out.

 

Each one may have been a martyr to his ditch of darkness,

in the depths of a crevasse, in the shadows of the blind.

It could have been be a black hole maybe twenty miles deep,

with only the rats who occupy their minds.

 

And then there’s the one –

and that’s the last they’ll see of all that darkness.

For dungeons and wells, ditches and crevasses –

only the pit of a heart resembles these.

But press it soft against the breast of a lover

and shoot and explode, destroy and sabotage all dark places.

 

So here they all are, happier for being proudly selfish.

It’s a great day. It apologizes for the days not like this.

Waiting

Waiting

by Kerri McCourt

Late at night, I am up devouring various adoption blogs. A woman posts a video of herself as she receives the first peek of her soon-to-be daughter. I watch, voyeuristically, as the woman views the photo on her computer screen, and simultaneously talks with her social worker via speaker phone.

Seeing the photo, the woman’s eyes light up. She places a hand over her heart, staring at the photograph. She narrows her eyes, tilts forward. She peers closer, and suddenly gasps.

“Are those penguins?”

Around the photograph is a decorative border of distinctive black and white birds.

“Yes, I think so,” comes the voice of the social worker.

“You don’t know what this means! Oh my goodness!” She turns, gesturing to a shelf behind her that holds numerous ornaments. “I’ve gathered penguins my whole life.”

Earlier in her blog entry, this woman had pondered: upon seeing this child chosen for her, would she know, feel it in her heart that the baby was hers? Penguins confirmed the verdict with a resounding yes.

I close the lap top and pick up my latest cross stitching project. Stitching centers me, passes time in a meditative way. Over the years, I stitched many designs: birds, flowers, landscapes. Many Christmases ago, I finished a stocking for my baby-to-be. It sits, unused, on a shelf in a closet filled with never worn clothes, waiting. Now I work on a ballerina, the most intricate of the pieces I’ve done. The kit contains many colors and hues, including metallic threads that catch the light, sparkle in the sunlight when it pours in the windows. In the stillness of the night, I thread the needle.

Continue reading Waiting

writing from the soul and the mind

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