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JV Beaupre May 2016
I. Long ago and far away...

Under the bridge across the Kankakee River, Grampa found me. I was busted for truancy. First grade. 1946.

Coming home from college for Christmas. Oops, my family moved a few streets over and forgot to tell me. Peoria, 1961.

The Pabst Brewery lunchroom in Peoria, a little after dawn, "Who wants my sandwich? ****, this first beer tastes good." I won't tell you what he really said. 1962.

At grad school, when we moved into the basement with the octopus furnace, Dave, my roommate contributed a case of Chef Boyardee spaghettio's and I brought 3 cases of beer, PBRs.  Supper for a month. 1962.

Sharon and I were making out in the afternoon, clothes a jumble. Walter Cronkite said, " President Kennedy has been shot…” 1963.

I stood in line, in my shorts, waiting for the clap-check. The corporal shouted:  "All right, you *******, Uncle and the Republic of Viet Nam want your sorry *****. Drop 'em".  Deferred, 1964.

He electrified the room. Every woman in the room, regardless of age, wanted him, or seemed to. The atmosphere was primeval and dripping with desire. In the presence of greatness, 1968.

US science jobs  dried up. From a mountain-top, beery conversation, I got a research job in Germany. Boulder, 1968.

The first time I saw automatic weapons at an airport. Geneva, 1970.

I toasted Rembrandt with sparkling wine at the Rijksmuseum. He said nothing. 1972.

A little drunk, but sobering fast: the guard had Khrushchev teeth.
Midnight, alone, locked in a room at the border, why?
Hours later, release. East Berlin, 1973.

She said, "You know it's remarkable that we're not having an affair." No, it wasn't. George's wife.  Germany, 1973.

"May be there really are quarks, but if so, we'll never see them." Truer than I knew.  Exit to Huntsville, 1974.

Hard work, good times, difficult times. Not fully digested. 15 years in Huntsville and counting.

The golden Lord Buddha radiated peace with his smile. Shots in the distance. Bangkok. 1992.

Accomplishment at work, discord at home. Divorce. Huntsville. 1994. I got the dogs.

New beginnings, a fresh start, true love and life-partner. Huntsville. 1995.

II. In the present century....

I started painting. Old barns and such. 2004.

I quietly admired a Rembrandt portrait at the Schiphol airport. Ever inscrutable, his painting had presence, even as the bomb dogs sniffed by. Beagles. 2006.

I’ve lost two close friends that I’ve known for 50-odd years. There aren’t many more. Huntsville. 2008 and 2011.

Here's some career advice: On your desk, keep a coffee cup marked, "No Whining", that side out. Final retirement. 2015.

I occasionally kick myself for not staying with physics—I’m jealous of friends that did. I moved on, but stayed interested.  2016 and continuing.

Honest distortions emerging from the distance of time. The thin comfort of fading memories. Thoughts on poor decisions and worse outcomes. Not often, but every now and then.
Donall Dempsey May 2016
A LATE 1962-ISH PUDDLE

It was a late 1962-ish
puddle.

A Curragh puddle
to be exact

but you
...wouldn't know that.

A moon had fallen
asleep in it

with scattered silver stars
nailing it to the ground.

I was 6-ish
by then &

had encountered more
puddles than you

could ever splash
about in.

But, this was
the first puddle

I ever
remember.

An Ur-puddle.

To the rest of the world
it was as if

it had never been &
existed only for me.

A robin stood
at my side.

Us both...staring at the puddle.

Suddenly the robin
made up its mind &

stepped defiantly
into this miniature ocean.

The robin stood on the moon
which shattered &

reformed itself about
its tiny feet.

It was the first robin
I'd seen

walking on the moon.

The puddle lived
inside my head

for many many
years until

these words came along
and took it away.

It was like the hand
of a man

long long before
history was invented

pressed against
the flickering cave wall

leaving a sooty hand print
in celebration of himself.

"This mark means
me!"

My late 1962-ish
Curragh puddle

and that robin walking
on a watery moon

is my handprint
on the cave wall

of my mind
in the long long ago.

I laugh at
the me-ness of me!
Jeff Gaines Aug 2018
Mark A. Williams
                            SEPTEMBER 14, 1962 – JULY 23, 2018

___________________­

Wow Mark,

Was so, so saddened to hear this news. I haven't seen you in over ten years, but as kids, we had some amazing adventures, didn't we? Partying, camping and swimming at the Hudson lime pits. Mowing down on Pizza and pitchers of Pepsi (and as we grew up, BEER!) at Pizza Hut. (We knew the numbers to ALL the songs on that jukebox by heart!) Hanging out and looking at the stars through Budvido's telescope, listening to Doctor Demento. Laughing hysterically as we ran through Monty Python skits as everyone looked on in total puzzlement because THEY wouldn't discover them until YEARS later!

Building underground forts in the North Woods. You, Budvido, Zeke and I playing pinball at 7-11 for hours and hours. Watching Bands, chasing girls and playing Foosball or Pool at the Touch of Class Teen Club. You gave me my first Imported beer . . . a Lowenbrau. I will always owe my passion for those German beers to you and it was fitting that Budvido bestowed you with that moniker.

All through Jr. High, sharing a seat on the school bus. You, Matt, Tom, Buddy and I cruising around late night on our bikes for hours. Hanging around in the Jasmine Lakes sign with hijacked beer or getting free bags of Burgers from Burger Queen when they closed at night! Jousting with shopping carts on our bikes in the Winn-Dixie parking lot. Sitting up all night in Jimi's room after climbing in through the window or going on endless space cruises with him and Raymond in the Toyota.

(RIP Jimi Carlsen)

Sneaking into the nudest Colony and skinny dipping! Always cracking up at the school lunch table. Swimming in my pool and terrorizing my sister and her friends. (Allegedly) Trashing that crook Fast Eddie's produce stand after he refused to pay us for a full day of picking watermelons!

Good times, indeed . . . Some of my most precious memories.

I can only pray that you know that I wouldn't trade my youth or you in it for anything in the world and you will be sadly missed, Lowenbrau, my old friend.

I hope that where you are, your beers are ice cold and that you and Jimi aren't having to glue the Hookah  back together.

Jeff Gaines
July 28, 2018
Such a sad task, to say goodbye to a friend with last words that may never had been spoken up until then. As it happens, this friend and I often relished in our youthful exploits, but still ... I'd not seen him in ten years. Because ... life happens. He had fallen on hard times and was bouncing place to place and I too was moving and living all over. We had spoken on the phone here and there and that would have to suffice.

I  haven't posted in weeks and I haven't read in almost 2 months. THANK YOU to those who have the patience with me to still read me, even though I can't reciprocate at the moment. I will, when time permits, come back and catch up on all of you. It will take me days and days!
NELSON MANDELA, NUMBER 46664 IS DEAD; EULOGICALLY ELEGIZING DIRGE FOR SON OF AFRICA, HOPE OF HUMANITY AND PERMANENT FLAME OF DEMOCRACY


Alexander K Opicho
(Eldoret, Kenya; aopicho@yahoo.com)

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's anti-apartheid beacon, has died
One of the best-known political prisoners of his generation,
South Africa's first black president, He was 95.
His struggle against apartheid and racial segregation
Lead to the vision of South Africa as a rainbow nation
In which all folks were to be treated equally regardless of color
Speaking in 1990 on his release from Pollsmoor Prison
After 27 years behind bars, Mandela posited;
I have fought against white ******* and
I have fought against black *******
I have cherished the idea of a democratic
And a free society in which all persons live together
In harmony and with equal opportunity
It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve
But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die,

Fortunately, he was never called upon
To make such a sacrifice
And the anti-apartheid campaign did produce results
A ban on mixed marriages between whites and folks of color,
This was designed to enforce total racial segregation
Was lifted in 1985
Mandela was born on July 18, 1918
His father Gadla named him "Rolihlahla,"
Meaning “troublemaker” in the Xhosa language
Perhaps  parental premonitions of his ability to foment change.
Madiba, as he is affectionately known
By many South Africans,
Was born to Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa,
a chief, and his third wife Nosekeni *****
He grew up with two sisters
In the small rural village of Qunu
In South Africa's Eastern Cape Province.
Unlike other boys his age,
Madiba had the privilege of attending university
Where he studied law
He became a ringleader of student protest
And then moved to Johannesburg to escape an arranged marriage
It was there he became involved in politics.
In 1944 he joined the African National Congress (ANC),
Four years before the National Party,
Which institutionalized racial segregation, came to power
.
Racial segregation triggered mass protests
And civil disobedience campaigns,
In which Mandela played a central role
After the ANC was banned in 1961
Mandela founded its military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe
The Spear of the Nation
As its commander-in-chief,
He led underground guerrilla attacks
Against state institutions.
He secretly went abroad in 1962
To drum up financial support
And organize military training for ANC cadres
On his return, he was arrested
And sentenced to prison
Mandela served 17 years
On the notorious Roben Island, off Cape Town,
Mandela was elected as South Africa's first black president
On May 10, 1994
Cell number five, where he was incarcerated,
Is now a tourist attraction
From 1988 onwards, Mandela was slowly prepared
For his release from prison
Just three years earlier he had rejected a pardon
This was conditional
On the ANC renouncing violence
On 11 February 1990,
After nearly three decades in prison,
Mandela, the South African freedom beacon was released
He continued his struggle
For the abolition of racial segregation
In April 1994,
South Africa held its first free election.
On May 10,
Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first elected black president,
Mandela jointly won
The Nobel Peace Prize
With Frederik de Clerk in 1993
On taking office
Mandela focused on reconciliation
Between ethnic groups
And together with Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
He set up the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
To help the country
Come to terms
With the crimes committed under apartheid
After his retirement
From active politics in 1999,
Madiba dedicated himself
To social causes,
Helping children and ***-AIDS patients,
His second son
Makgatho died of ***-AIDS
In 2005 at the age of 54,
South Africans have fought
a noble struggle against the apartheid
But today they face a far greater threat
Mandela he posited in a reference to the ***-AIDS pandemic,
His successor
Thabo Mbeki
The ANC slogan of 1994; A better life for all
Was fulfilled only
For a small portion of the black elite
Growing corruption,
Crime and lack of job prospects
Continue to threaten the Rainbow Nation,
On the international stage
Mandela acted as a mediator
In the Burundi civil war
And also joined criticism
Of the Iraq policy
Of the United States and Great Britain
He won the Nobel Prize in 1993
And played a decisive role
Into bringing the first FIFA World Cup to Africa,
His beloved great-granddaughter
Zenani Mandela died tragically
On the eve of the competition
And he withdrew from the public life
With the death of Nelson Mandela
The world loses a great freedom-struggleer
And heroic statesman
His native South Africa loses
At the very least a commanding presence
Even if the grandfather of nine grandchildren
Was scarcely seen in public in recent year

Media and politicians are vying
To outdo one another with their tributes
To Nelson Mandela, who himself disliked
The personality cult
That's one of the things
That made him unique,
Nelson Mandela was no saint,
Even though that is how the media
Are now portraying him
Every headline makes him appear more superhuman
And much of the admiration is close to idolatry
Some of the folks who met him
Say they felt a special Mandela karma
In his presence.
Madiba magic was invoked
Whenever South Africa needed a miracle,

Mandela himself was embarrassed
By the personality cult
Only reluctantly did he agree to have streets
Schools and institutes named after him
To allow bronze statues and Mandela museums
To be built
A trend that will continue to grow.

He repeatedly pointed
To the collective achievements
Of the resistance movement
To figures who preceded him
In the struggle against injustice
And to fellow campaigners
Such as Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Luthuli
Or his friend and companion in arms
Oliver Tambo who today stands in Mandela's shadow,
Tambo helped create the Mandela legend
Which conquered the world
A tale in which every upright man
And woman could see him
Or herself reflected,
When Prisoner Number 46664 was released
After 27 years behind bars
He had become a brand
A worldwide idol
The target of projected hopes
And wishes that no human being
Could fulfill alone,
Who would dare scratch?
The shining surface of such a man
List his youthful misdemeanors
His illegitimate children
Who would mention his weakness for women?
For models
Pop starlets
And female journalists
With whom he flirted
In a politically incorrect way
When already a respected elder statesman?
Who would speak out critically?
Against the attacks
He planned when he headed the ANC
Armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe
And who would criticize the way
He would often explode in anger
Or dismiss any opinions other than his own?
His record as head of government
Is also not above reproach
Those years were marked by pragmatism
And political reticence
Overdue decisions were not taken
Day to day matters were left to others
When choosing his political friends
His judgment was not always perfect
A Mandela grandchild is named
After Colonel Muammar Gaddaffi
Seen from today's perspective
Not everything fits
The generally accepted
Picture of visionary and genius,
But Mandela can be excused
These lapses
Because despite everything
He achieved more than ordinary human beings
His long period of imprisonment
Played a significant role here
It did not break him, it formed him
Robben Island
Had been a university of life for Mandela once posited
He learned discipline there
In dialogue with his guards
He learnt humility, patience and tolerance
His youthful anger dissolved
He mellowed and acquired
The wisdom of age
When he was at last released
Mandela was no longer
Burning with rage,
He was now a humanized revolutionary
Mandela wanted reconciliation
At almost any price
His own transformation
Was his greatest strength
The ability to break free
From ideological utopia
And to be able to see the greater whole
The realization
That those who think differently
Are not necessarily enemies
The ability to listen,
To spread the message of reconciliation
To the point of betraying what he believed in,
Only in this way could he
Serve as a role model
To both black and white humanity
, communists and entrepreneurs,
Catholics and Muslims.
He became a visional missionary,
An ecclesiast of brotherly love
And compassion
Wherever he was, each humanity was equal
He had respect for musicians and presidents
Monarchs and cleaning ladies
He remembered names
And would ask about relatives
He gave each humanity his full attention
With a smile, a joke, a well aimed remark,
He won over every audience
His aura enveloped each humanity,
Even his political enemies,
That did not qualify him
For the status of demi-god
But he was idolized and rightly so
He must be named in the same breath
As Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama
Or Martin Luther King
Mandela wrote a chapter of world history
Even Barack Obama posited
He would not have become
President of the United States
Without Mandela as a role model,

And so it is not so important
That Mandela is now portrayed
Larger than life
The fact that not everything
He did in politics succeeded is a minor matter
His achievement is to have lived
A life credibly characterized
By humanism, tolerance and non-violence,
When Mandela was released
From prison in 1990,
The old world order of the Cold War era
Was collapsing
Mandela stood at the crossroads and set off in the right direction
How easily he could have played with fire, sought revenge,
Or simply failed; He could have withdrawn from public life or,
Like other companions in arms, earned millions,
Two marriages failed because of the political circumstances
His sons died tragically long before him
It was only when he was 80 and met his third wife,
Graca Machel,
That he again found warmth,
Partnership and private happiness,
Setbacks did not leave him bitter
Because he regarded his own life
As being less important
Than the cause he believed in
He served the community humbly,
With a sense of responsibility
Of duty and willingness to make sacrifices
Qualities that are today only rarely encountered,

How small and pathetic his successors now seem
Their battles for power will probably now be fought
Even more unscrupulously than in the past
How embarrassing are his own relatives
Who argued over his legacy at his hospital bed
Mandela was no saint
But a man with strengths and weaknesses,
Shaped by his environment
It will be hard to find a greater person
Just a little bit more Mandela every day
Would achieve a great deal
Not only in Africa
But in the bestridden geographies
Epochs and diversities of man,

In my post dirge I will ever echo words of Mandella
He shone on the crepuscular darkness of the Swedish
Academy, where cometh the Nobel glory;
Development and peace are indivisible
Without peace and international security
Nations cannot focus
On the upliftment
Of the most underprivileged of their citizens.
Terry Collett Jul 2015
After the ball game
on the high school
playing field
Shoshana is still

sitting there
with another girl
so I go over to her
and she blushes slightly

and I say
what did you think?
she looks at me
and says

not very good
are you?
I smile
no not much

but they will
insist I play
at least you're honest
she says

I am
best way
I reply
the other girl

stands up and says
don't want to play
gooseberry see you
later Shoshana

and she walks off
something I said?
I say
no I think she finds

boys embarrassing
Shoshana says
I look at her
sitting there

dark hair
long straight
bell will ring
in a minute

she says
best get back
towards school
she stands up

and I say
where do you live?
I live a little way away
I get a school bus home

she says
so do I
I say
I know you do

she says
you get on
the same bus
as I do

I look at her
do I?
yes you've not seen me
I get on as quick

as I can
she says
I see you though
a bell rings

from school
well see you later then
I say
and she's off

leaving me there
and I wander back to school
across the grass
watching her go

her slight figure
in the afternoon sun
taking note
of her neat ***.
A BOY AND GIRL AT HIGH SCHOOL AFTER BALL GAME IN 1962
CHAPTER ONE

My geographic movements during the past year could be called “A Tale of Two Couches.” So as June draws to a close, I assume the position here again on Couch California. I am back in Hemet, the place the smug among us call Hemetucky--as if there was nothing a couple of Mint Juleps and a **** of Blue Grass wouldn’t cure. It is the year of our Lord, 2014: so far an interesting year for women. There was a woman who wore socks to bed. There was always my long-time, here today-gone tomorrow, long time companion, currently teaching somewhere remote on the Big Rez, a southwestern Navajo concentration camp near the 4 Corners.  Next, there’s my current object of affection, that fine and frisky lady from The Bronx by way of Bernalillo--currently at home in Laguna Beach, Orange County. Trixie: my main squeeze at the moment.

And now, completely out of the ******* blue this afternoon, my cell phone rings and it’s ******* Juanita--my all-time favorite woman, Juanita Mi Favorita de La Quinta--a Coachella Valley town and desert wadi, extending its lucrative winter tourist season to become a significant, year-round retirement venue and a robust service economy feeding off it.  Juanita arrived there in the late 80s, in middle of her early forties.  She was unemployed, homeless, just a suitcase to her name and a two-year old toddler in tow. Her parents were there, as was her Aunt Peggy.  Juanita was always Peggy’s favorite niece, her favorite child, actually, Peggy herself being childless, never married.  Aunt Peggy put her maternal instincts to work on Juanita Rodriguez, her Sister Rosalia’s second favorite twin daughter.

Maria, Rosalia’s first favorite daughter, Juanita’s twin sister—MARIA: lives in Newport Beach and acts as an extra in many commercial ads shot in southern California and elsewhere, an irony never without sting for Juanita. “Que lastima!” Poor Juanita: as her would-be Hollywood Movie star aspirations disintegrated over the years, along with her unrealized lower expectations to be TV star, and even those semi-glamorous modeling gigs at trade shows and fairs—the elephant’s graveyard of the acting profession—failed to materialize, and now her celebrity habitat shrunken even further, to that sporadic but consistent mockery of stardom, I refer to any would-be thespian’s ignominious one-celled visual protozoan: The Extra Call List.  And—*******-- what happens next? Juanita’s sister Maria starts getting these parts, starts getting hired by filling out a ******* postcard, starts getting paid to look good in the background. *******: no professional education or instruction, no agent, and no need to **** off both the producer, the producer’s cousin Morey, the director and the director’s wife’s huge Golden retriever, Genghis--actually a mighty handsome animal--or needing to spill $4K on that Derma-brasion, Juanita inflicted on herself last year.

Juanita, as you already know, was the second favorite daughter and the second favorite twin of the family. She became the third favorite child in her three-child family upon the arrival of her slick baby brother Nico-- the Golden Child, who grew up to be a glib Merrill-Lynch stockbroker, office and residence, Beverly Hills 90112.  (Enter forcefully into the narrative, His Nibs himself, Sir Nicodemus of Hollywood, Juanita and Maria’s baby brother Nico. He speaks: “Excuse me, stockbroker my ***, as it says in a 11 point Rockwell Boldfont, right here on my gold-leaf embossed business card: Senior Large Capital Investment Counselor.”)

No, Juanita had a hard time just treading water in that Cleveland shark tank. And though she lacked nothing in the cuteness department, she had this one fatal flaw, namely, the gift of ***** and sass and a reflex to speak truth to power. Juanita: rejected by Rosalia as a threat to her hegemony as Boss of the Girl’s Club, was cast adrift on a tempestuous childhood cruel Montserrat sea, out there on the briny deep . . .  
                

                                      



High Seas: where many a tuna has a Sorry Charlie moment: “Star-Kist don’t want no tuna with good taste; Star-Kist wants a tuna that tastes good.”

Finally, Juanita is rescued, taken aboard the Good/Soul Aunt Peggy—that wayward bark Elisabeta Rodriguez, home-ported in Southside, Chicago, Illinois—the rescue at sea performed in classy, rather low-key manner; no Andrea Doria drama, but understated:

{Camera One, Helicopter above, zooms over turbulent ocean surface. Peggy, an oasis of calm, aboard the raft Kon Tiki with Thor Heyerdahl and his crew, floats by, whispering, “Going my way, Honey? Climb aboard. Have a homemade oatmeal cookie and a small glass tumbler of Jack Daniels.” Okay, no, that’s not fair. Sure Aunt Peggy drank, but never got round to offering you a drink until you were well into your 30s. Let’s just say she offered you a warm glass of milk, the mother’s milk deprived you by your mother, her sister Rosalia. Dear Aunt Peggy: a seasoned survivor herself, flawed by early childhood deafness and grotesque speech.  Yet, she had refused to settle for life in an asylum. She made a go at life.  She learned; she prospered; she flourished. And when the time came, she was there for you in the Coachella Desert, there for her feisty niece Juanita Ann.  Aunt Peggy: a loving spirit personified, became Juanita’s special confidant and counselor, her personal cheer squad of one. Juanita, of course, a former cheerleader herself--an early hint of greatness to be sure, a highlight, perhaps the highlight of her life, shown off every Halloween, still celebrated at American high schools each Fall. She is the Principal’s secretary at a huge suburban high school in Indio. Each Halloween, if the date falls on a school day, Juanita arrives for work wearing that scrupulously preserved, vintage 1966 cheerleader uniform, looking real foxy still, snug now in all the right places. Eternal Truth: Juanita has always and will always be good looking. Life with Juanita is perpetual “ooh la-la.”

So, I am on the couch that afternoon, reading more of Gramsci’s prison notebooks, specifically the philosophy he calls “Praxis.”  Completely out of the ******* blue, Juanita calls me on a RESTRICTED phone, as I said, Juanita, a torch I’ve kept burning for years, flaring up like a refinery flame--oil still very much in the present energy mix--hope springing eternal as they say, and instantly my mission in life is rekindling our lost love. Juanita’s conceived her mission prior to her phone call:  using me to keep her son from being whacked by the local Eme--the Mexican Mafia—that ethnic-pride social club that the RICO-squad-- using family tree socio-grams and other expensively-printed graphics, the one RICO keeps trying to convince us is some sort of organized crime conspiracy. The Mexican Mafia: like everything else practical and utilitarian in this world: THAT’S ITALIAN! And, if you are starting to sense a bit of ethnic chauvinism on, between & below the lines, you are barking up the right tree.
                                                           ­     
      
                                                            
(AUTHOR’S POST-SCRIPT EDIT: And, an ad for dog food right here? Not the best choice of sponsors, perhaps, at the moment. Juanita was far off from the ****** ***** that start looking not half-bad at 2:30 in the glazy morning, not anywhere near those beasts you find lingering in the airport bars you usually frequent near closing time on Saturday nights. No, I remind you that Juanita was all “ooh la-la.” In my next printing—and my Lord, there have been so many, haven’t there, Paulie “Eat-a-Bag-of-****” Muldoon? I will change out the Alpo ad, plugging in a spot for Aunt Jemima pancake syrup or Betty Crocker whipped cream, you know, something more apropos.)

Juanita, I really must hand it to you. You showed the greatest staying power, year after year as I moved further and further away from La Quinta, California. Juanita: you embraced what was good in me, ignored my flaws and strengthened me with your love for so many years. As far as you and Peggy, I guess it was a case of the “apple not falling far from the tree” one of many endearing Midwestern metaphors you taught me.  Peggy taught you, taught you to be kind and then you taught me. No matter what bizarre venue I pulled out of my ***, you showed above-average staying power, continued to visit me wherever I went, Casa Grande & Buckeye, Arizona, Appalachia, West Virginia, and even Italy, when I thought I’d try Europe again after so many years.  With each move, each time, Juanita renewed her commitment to the relationship. Meanwhile, I continued to test her, quantifying her dedication, undermining her sense of mission to disprove my worldview on the expendability of women. Surely, you know that one: the unreliability of women, women who disappear without saying goodbye. That old deeply etched conviction to never get attached to a woman, any woman, based on the empirical fact that women have been known to suddenly die, a fact seared into my still tender metal by the surprise death of my mother on 11 January 1962.

1962. It was already an insecure world, to wit:  The Cuban Missile Crisis. Nikita Khrushchev, in his time both Dr. No and Dr. Evil, namely the Premier whom we Baby Boomers saw as Boogey Man of All Time (Although Putin is showing potential, lately)—the Kennedy ****** (what else could you call it?). All these events scary, whether or not I got the chronology right . . . I remained on high alert for any threat to my delicate adolescent psyche.  My mother-Rosa Teresa Sekaquaptewa-died at 2 o’clock in the morning, screaming in agony while apologizing to my father for not having his dinner on the table when he walked in from work that prior afternoon. She’d already been in bed since noon, attended by two of my aunts--both my father’s sisters--who loved their Hopi sister-in-law, Rosa.  Also present was Lafcadio Smirnoff, M.D.--last of the house call medicine men--a dapper, mustachioed, swarthy gentleman, misdiagnosing her abdominal pain as a 24-hour virus, while she bled out internally for at least eight more hours, her whimpers alternated with screams, well into the wee hours of the morning.

I was upstairs in that dormer bedroom listening to her die. An hour later, Father Numb-nuts of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish teleported in, beaming directly into my bedroom from the parish rectory.  Father Seamus Numb-nuts, an illuminated Burning Bush . . . not quite the bush I ‘d conjured at other times, so many times alone with Gwen Wong, ******* Playmate of the Year, 1961, one of Hefner’s hot centerfolds. No, give me a ******* break, you momo! Whacking off is the last thing on a libidinous, adolescent guinea’s brain when his mama is being tortured and killed by God. Even Alexander Portnoy, Philip Roth’s early avatar would have drawn the wanking line at that unforgettable moment.

No, perhaps what I’d had in mind was The Burning Bush Golf Course where so much of Fletcher Kneble’s political mischief and government shenanigans got cooked up. You remember his books, some of the Cold War’s finest: Seven Days in May, Vanished, etc.

Or better yet, perhaps the greatest political slogan of the 20th century: “STAY OUT THE BUSHES!” Thank you, Jesse. “Thank you, Reverend Jackson,” I slip into my Excellence in Broadcasting mode, my very own private Limbaugh. Announcing my on- air arrival is El Rushbo’s unmistakable, totally recognizable bass line bumper, courtesy of Chrissie Hynde’s Pretenders band mate, guitarist Tony Butler: Dum, dum, dum-dum, Da-dum, dum-dum-dum-dum-da-dum-dum. Single, “My City Was Gone” by The Pretenders
Rush Limbaugh Song– YouTube www.youtube.com/watch?v=SScW9r0y3c4

I become Reverend Jackson. I emerge from the vapors, an obscure abyss of deep family pangs and disappointments, ever-diminishing public relevance and fade to black (no pun intended) and media oblivion. The only thing left is that line:  “STAY OUT THE BUSHES!” You will always own that line, Jesse--true political genius (to wit: Rainbow Coalition) Jackson that you are, despite El Rush-Bo’s virulent anti-Black animus, his predilection to mock you, Al Sharpton, Corey Booker, Barack “Hussein” Obama, and any other professional ***** in America. Isn’t it time someone came right out and tagged Mr. Limbaugh as the Father Coughlin of our time.

Meanwhile back in The Bronx, enter another man of the cloth:  It’s Seamus Numb-nuts, making one of his many well-documented spectral visitations, his splendiferous miracles and wonders. How much longer will the Vatican ignore this humble Bronx priest, this epitome of Sainthood; this reverent man, lacking only the stigmata for a unanimous consent vote? Quote the Numb-nuts: “God Works in Mysterious Ways.” An old standard to be sure, but a lovely, all-purpose bromide for explaining why evil exists in our world. Needless to say, I was underwhelmed; I lost God at that moment, consequently shooting myself in the foot--metaphorically-speaking-condemning myself to an unshielded life, life OUT THE BUSHES!  I went forth into the world without God, without that handy divine crutch, that Andy Devine metaphor for when one’s legs grow weary: a puff of smoke, a reverb twang and a nasty frog croaking “Hi-ya, Kids. Hi-ya, Hi-ya. Hi-ya.”

   Andy's Gang - Pasta Fazooli vs. Froggy the Gremlin - YouTube
► 3:55► 3:55
www.youtube.com/watch?v=H35odPm7b3w Aug 8, 2012 - Uploaded by jmgilsinger
Froggy the Gremlin -Tuba ... Andy Devine (Aug 24, 1952)

Life for me became lonely and purposeless. And probably explains my susceptibility to military discipline and a subsequent career in clandestine government service. In 1968--the very day I turned nineteen, September 25th of that year—that fateful day when I should have shot myself in the foot—literally not metaphorically--earning that coveted 4-F physical rejection, a draft deferment to be desired, that 4-F classification of unfitness for duty, a necessary loophole in U.S. conscript service law.  The Draft: last used during that great commonwealth Cold War purge, that culling out of the unwashed, uneducated children of immigrants, that cut-rate, discount, lower socio-economic ***** bank—the only bank where after you make a deposit, you lose interest, to wit: most Black, Hispanic and Poor White Trash parents.  We were cannon fodder, many of us got to be planted at Arlington and other holy American shrines, still wrapped in black or olive drab leak-proof body bags, doing our generational bit to strengthen the gene pool left behind. A debt, some would say, we owed the country and, given the sorry state of the global wicket, increasingly an obligation to the species. And if I had to predict an outcome, Fascism in America will arrive riding the white horse of the environmental, anti-nuclear Bolsheviks. One could argue that Communism has moved so far left on the political spectrum that it’s now the far right.  Concoct a legislative policy goal, accomplish it legally as the bill becomes Law, signed by the President, endorsed and blessed by The U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.

To wit: “Three generations of imbeciles is enough?” declared Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., an Associate Supreme Court Justice at the time, buttressing a majority argument harnessing the power of U.S. law as a legal means of purifying the race.  When euthanasia failed to win over American hearts and mind, the Federal Government played the war card again and again. Vietnam: undeclared and therefore unconstitutional--except for that Gulf of Tonkin ******* resolution. Vietnam: a cost-plus eugenics project, if ever there was one, although responsive, of course, to the needs of the Military-Industrial Complex.  ******* Ike: he warned us against Fascism in America. As usual, we ignored the man in charge.

Eugenics? Why didn’t the government just put all the retards on the stand, as John Frankenheimer did in Judgment at Nuremberg, a crafty Maximilian Schell humiliating a feeble-minded Montgomery Clift?  Why not, make everyone face a public tribunal, forcing all of us to testify in court, exposing our many substandard and borderline substandard cerebral deficits?  Why not force everyone to demonstrate just how ******* dumb we are, using some clever intelligence test, something l
Terry Collett Jul 2018
Mother listens
while I play Schubert
on the piano,
said Yochana,
my fingers travel
the keyboard
from memory.

Not so fast, she says,
it slows at this passage.

I slow down,
and think of Benedict,
that time he kissed me
on the cheek
on the playing field,
and the time
he watched me play
the piano in the classroom,
his breath on my neck,
his hands on my waist.

Softer here,
my mother says;
I press the keys softer;
I sense her eyes on me
as she sits
in the armchair
as I play.

And the weekend
he stayed here
in our guestroom,
and I crept along
to the room
and climbed
into the bed with him.

My mother
never knew
nor suspected.

I come to the end
and lift my hands away
and cease to play.
A girl thinks if a boy while playing the piano 1962
Vamika Sinha Oct 2015
She contemplated death
as coolly as the opening of
a lotus.

Its light spread on
her mad-locked smile
drained
of his mournful red,
like unfinished smears
of butter on toast.
Recently watched Sylvia Plath's biopic.
Terry Collett Jun 2015
As she plays
the Schubert
piano piece
Yochana thinks

on Benedict
even as her mother  
stands behind her
listening to her

every note
Benedict's image
fills her mind
the kiss still

feels damp
upon her lips
and cheek
and as she fingers

the Schubert
she senses her fingers
wanting to finger him
her mother says

you missed a note
you are not focusing
Yochana pauses
her fingers

over the keyboard
of black and white
senses her mother's breath
upon her neck

her mother's fingers
tapping her shoulder
and even as
she begins

to play again
it's Benedict whom
she thinks on
and his eyes she sees

in the reflection
of the piano wood
it must flow
her mother says

let Schubert speak
but Benedict's fingers
on her back
as he held her close

are all she feels
as she moves
to the music's pulse
on the piano stool

and as her mother's breath
floats upon her neck
it's his breath
she imagines

is there
and she and he
not there at the piano
but closer elsewhere.
A GIRL PRACTICES HER SCHUBERT WHILE HER MOTHER WATCHES BUT IT'S THE BOY BENEDICT WHO IS ON HER MIND IN 1962
Ken Pepiton Oct 2018
The imaginers of now were children once,

each day they each imagined tomorrow.

Their daddies had just won the war
happy days were really here again, this time.
---
Now, we see what we see, it's not what we saw.

And this is better than I imagined.
My first oral book report was on 1984, in 1962.

Percentages and stats, the odds,
out of 8 billion…

I carry my weight, saltwise,
I'm light, too. Immaterial in fact.
I watched the internet take form
before my very eyes,
magi technic never seen since Darius the Mede.

Good job, geeks.
Reared on radio waves your
grandfathers never heard,

your signal receptors from mito-mom,
oh, what a plan. The promised ones.

Many sons.
hmmm 60 cycle white noise in the field,
the field of fields,
Future Farmers of America and stuff

Powers we imagined,
a color TV we could watch
in the backseat for days on Route 66,

a restaurant just for kids

Toys 'r' Us oh, wow,
those came and went

and our Grand kids
are imagining tomorrow,
doin' fine with less of what we thought was cool,

taking for granted all I
accepted as granted, in the "It is Finished"
Golden Parachute
Package deal,
Grace and Peace
that multiplies.
I can't sleep
Terry Collett Jun 2015
Yiska wants to take Benny home with her after school and whisk him past her mother and up to her room but she knows her mother would watch her like a hawk especially if she had Benny in tow and would ask her all sorts of questions and where do you think you are going with him? but she can dream about it dream she has brought him home and as she passes her mother in the kitchen her mother in one of her dark moods preparing dinner she climbs the stairs slowly imagining Benny is behind her walking up the stairs probably watching her legs or her *** his eyes glued but she doesn't know so she imagines he is and when she gets to the top of the stairs she pauses on the landing and looks down the stairs and waits listening to the radio her mother has just turned on some classical stuff she pauses there pretending Benny has stopped her and has put his arms around her waist and has laid his hands on her *** and she believes she can feel it his hands his fingers moving but it's in the head in her imagination but no harm in pretending so she lingers there for a short duration looking along the landing wrapping her own arms about herself kissing her shoulder don't forget to change out of your school uniform her mother calls out from below stairs I won't she calls back hugging herself extra tight patting her own *** with a hand as she hoped he would do if he were there and they were standing where she is now and put your ***** blouse in the linen basket her mother calls up ok she calls back unhugging herself walking along the landing walking past her parent's room tempted to peek in wondering if she should just a quick glimpse she stops outside her parent's room and opens the door quietly and peers inside imagining she has Benny beside her and she's showing him inside at the big double bed the tallboy the dressing table where her mother has all her make up and perfumes and drugs for her depression and hairbrushes and the mirror facing her and she says to herself-and the imagined Benny- nice bed what you reckon? make a good bed to do it in? the room smells of perfume of all kinds and a scent of bodies and staleness she is tempted to go lay on the bed and feel it beneath her and makes out they are doing things him beside her touching her and she kisses him and he putting his hand along her thigh and make sure you fold up your school skirt and jumper I don't want it just thrown anywhere her mother calls up to her from downstairs she closes the door to her parent's room and says loudly down the stairs I will fold them up and walks to her own room taking Benny’s imagined hand in hers and enters her own room and closes the door behind her and looks around the room as if through his eyes her mother has been in here and tidied up put things away picked up stuff from the floor taken away the tea plate she'd left there the night before and the soiled linen she'd let drop by the bed she stands there and sighs a window is open to let in air-breath of fresh air her mother calls it-the curtains flap in the breeze sounds from neighbours in their gardens kids from down the street she goes to the window and closes it and looks out at the surrounding area making out Benny’s still behind her his arms around her waist his lips kissing her neck she closes the curtains and stares around the room focusing on her single bed with its pink flowery cover her mother bought her Teddy Bear  now ageing by her pillow not that big she says over her shoulder to the pretend Benny but we could still do it if we're careful she whispers to herself she sits on the bed and stares at her Teddy some nights he is Benny and she hugs him and kisses him and has him next to her as she settles down but Teddy's a lousy lover he does nothing and says nothing she sits the make believe Benny next to her on the bed imagines his hand is tapping the bed be ok Benny says using her voice she stands up and begins to take off her school jumper unbuttoning the green buttons and pulling off and dropping it on the bed then unties the green patterned tie and takes it off and tosses it over her shoulder she sighs closes her eyes you unbutton the blouse she tells the make believe Benny and her fingers unbutton the blouse one by one slowly and once it is unbuttoned she lets his fingers-hers really- take it off of her body and drop it onto the floor what do you think? she asks him shall l take off the skirt or you? her fingers unzip the zip and pulls it down and once loose the skirt falls to the floor and she kicks it across the room and stands there eyes closed pretending he is studying her in her small bra and ******* she waits for his words his comments what are you doing there? and why are the clothes scattered all over the place her mother says from the open door Yiska opens her eyes and stares at her mother standing sullen faced by her bedroom door day dreaming Yiska says about what? her mother asks picking up the school skirt from the floor and folding it neatly and gazing at her daughter stern eyed just day dreaming Yiska says watching her mother putting the clothes in a pile and picking the ***** blouse from the floor and holding the soiled linen in her hands this room was tidy why untidy it? her mother says sorry wasn't thinking Yiska says glad her mother couldn't read her thoughts or see the imagined Benny kissing her neck and whose right hand was fondling her right *** because if she could she'd have a fit.
A GIRL DAYDREAMS OF A BOY AT SCHOOL AND TAKING HIM HOME IN 1962.
Terry Collett Jun 2015
What did that bit of skirt
want with you
this morning?
Ro asks

I look past him
outside the fence
at kids walking
onto the high school
playing field

just to talk

skirt's don't want
just to talk
they are always
after something
Ro says
want to tie you
down to something
or be their boyfriend
or something sad
like that

no just talk
and not much
of that
I say
she seemed nervous

with you
who wouldn't
and he laughs
anyway how about
a ball game?

Ok
I say

I look away from him
hoping to see
the Shoshana girl
but I don't see her

so I walk with Ro
on the field to play
and other boys
up ready to play

then I see her
sitting on the grass
with some other girl
and she waves
and I wave back

but don't go over
I'm playing ball
on the right wing

but gazing at her
was like hearing
an angel sing.
TWO BOYS AND A GIRL IN 1962 AND A BALL GAME.
Terry Collett Jul 2018
John is on the playing field
with other boys,
says Sheila,
I am too shy
to talk to him now;
I watch him
from a distance
by the wire fence,
my nerves on edge
wanting him alone.

Other girls pass me by
on to the field;
they giggle and laugh
loudly on their way.

I watch him
as he sits and talks,
take in his gesturing
hands and laughter.

I saw him that time
in the playground
when it rained
and the sun shone
and he said about
a monkey's wedding.

I think of him often
in the day: from early dawn
until bed at night.

He is alone now,
the other boys
have gone,
I hesitate to walk
to where he sits;
my nerves are taut
and still I wait;
he rises
and walks away:
too late.

— The End —