"Baseball, volleyball, and hockey"
L Smida 

Sports have rules
Down to every little detail
Zoned in and ready to go
You do this and this happens
There are memorized plays
Your mind reacts automatically
Rules
Every game has them
I'm good at body control
Now, controlling my emotions
That's a different story
I wish life was as easy as sports
In life, theres endless possibilities
You do this and you have no idea what happens
Baseball, volleyball, and hockey
I can play all day long
Life
I'm sick of it already

"Volleyball game"
Mitchell Duran 

To talk to the menace of man
To hear fast words belched out
Like a drunkard holding His gun
Time trickles tears
Of the one's
Left behind
How beauty moves
Is a mystery
To minds unprepared for chance
I hear year long struggles from bugles
Laced
In
Gold
And am very very bored
There are times when I speak
And I cannot recognize the voice
Somewhere far off from me
A woman pulls up her flowered shorts
Was I there to pull them down?
Or was I here?
Hump wednesday forgot its own name
Distracted by the glare of the bad masses B's
Expensive and ludicrous jewelry
To take a moment is to take a slice of life
Forgetting that you were once nothing
And soon will be
Nothing
To fret the death of the ego the work the paint splattered soul dirt
Chipped teeth line curb side markets
With trinkets and hairy arm pits
I destroyed a letter I wrote to myself today
Because the nakedness of mine own soul
Was to boring and dreary to read
For now we are the waking still lives
Of the art we all wished we could create
So close so far so long so short
Is our time here to giggle at the way a dog must walk
When it is constipated
Don't laugh at that because dog constipation
Is a
Very
Serious
Thing
Regression in the Freudian sense croquet neck tie polar bears
My mother named me after that
But not before
She shot the winning shot
In her hometown
Volleyball game



Letters of three make me sneeze

"I bounce a volleyball as I walk to my dorm"
Emily Li 

I bounce a volleyball as I walk to my dorm
just to hear that delightful sound, that satisfying, clean thud off the cement.

look up, see you in that grey hoodie that gives me bad dreams
and curse under my breath, eyes darting like a cornered fox,
            there is nowhere to hide.
we almost exchange eye contact, I almost taste blood in my mouth
            I hate how familiar you are.
you look down, cough;
I murmur a dusty hello-goodbye into the ground, hold my volleyball tighter
against my chest –
and hurry on, court sneakers straining on the pavement, trying too hard to forget your cracked smiles.

--

I remember how we used to pass for hours
no sound but the volleyball slapping against our forearms,
brushing off our fingertips,
echoing through that Choate gymnasium, that cold spring;

My head had barely reached the middle of the net,
but you were tall and brave and handsome, my Prince Charming, and
I was a freshman girl with her heart on her sleeve, who
hugged a warm volleyball to her heart and smiled,

thinking herself lucky.

--

Spring thawed your heart, eventually,
and you let me hold your hand;
you had long fingers, cold to the touch.
you taught me how to set, complimented my hands,
trained me to cradle the ball with my thumbs like it was made of glass,
your hands around mine.

I was braver than you were,
because everything felt fresh and exciting to me, like the
smell of crushed pine needles in the air;
you kissed me (I kissed you?) on that night
and I leaned forward, curious and eager, and wrapped my arms
around your neck.

--

The days melted into one another,
and we became
like chalk drawings blurring after rain,
like floor burns from sliding to save a falling ball –
but missing it, all the effort gone to waste;
the burns will still burn and still scar, for nothing.

May to June, June to July,
I hugged you and laughed, but my eyes
were cold; you said I love you
And I tried to say it back, but I couldn’t without
sticking a used to before the love –
            the honey words stuck in my throat.

Our kisses were routine, stale
like the crackers I left out the night before;
I tapped my foot and
tossed the volleyball quickly behind my back with nimble fingers
and counted the seconds before it was acceptable to pull back;
I had homework and volleyball practice and quizzes to study for, you know – I tried to smile but
it felt so wrong, I stopped –
you asked what was wrong, I shook my head, there are no answers for some questions.

--

It’s been four years since we’ve spoken,
shared secret moments under solemn oak trees, behind library bookshelves
that promised to keep us away from prying eyes,
smiled into each other’s lips,
blinked stories into each other’s eyes.
It’s been four years since people have teased you for not
hitting the ball when we passed – you gentleman, you –

I will not say I miss you, because I refuse to lie for your sake;
but sometimes as I set a ball perfectly to a hitter
I think of you for a split second, wonder where you are and if you remember as much
as I do, which is, honestly
not very much.

--

she writes letters to him and then burns them all, the smell of smoke fills the room.
It’s as if she is stealing the fury of the sun, which is cooling down, melting into lava at the horizon –
it will be another cold winter, there is already frost in the grass, the air smells chilly.

Dear you,

I broke up with you as nicely as I could –
there was no reason I fell out of love, the same way
there is no reason people fall in love.

you have no right bitching me out on the internet the way you did.
Every time I hit a volleyball I imagine your face on my palm, and I hit harder.
I will never forgive you for the things you wrote,
and I don’t know if I ever loved you at all,
because you are despicable.

Goodbye,
the girl of your dreams.


--

it’s the beginning of the end of July, everything is so hot.
the pavement is baking, the volleyballs are flat,
her arms feel weak and limp like overcooked noodles.

it’s hard to think straight. She can hardly remember
her own name before remembering that she has a boyfriend.
He calls, he says I love you and she tries to choke out that well-rehearsed lie –
what was it again? something like I love you too?

But it’s too hot, and she
can’t do it anymore –

she swallows hard and grips her volleyball tighter,
her hands sweating against the weathered sphere that has been through so much with her
as she prepares to say goodbye.

"I miss cotton, and sandals. I miss volleyball, dirty feet, and ponytails. But what I"
L E Dow 

I want summer like I want you, constantly. I’m tired of cold that snatches my breath and hope. I want the trees to regain their decency and cover their bare limbs. Wearing the greenest fullest blouses. I want the grass to grow. Thunder to roll and rain to fall. I want fat drops to bounce of the pavement, to wash my face and hair.

I want the sun to bath my skin in beauty, making it glow with warmth. I want dresses and shorts and skirts. I want brown legs and flip-flops. I want turquoise pools and florescent swimsuits.

I’m sick of cold fingers and toes. I’m tired of heaters and blankets. I want to roll down the windows. I want sweat on my back and only sheets on my bed. I’d love warm nights, drinking sweet tea, and making love beneath the stars. I wish for glowing street lights and lake nights. I want to sit in the windows of cars at sonic.

I want barbeque sunflower seeds and the fourth of July.

I want field parties with only beer and red bull, and only bonfires to see by. I want fireflies and chigger bites. Lemonade out of mason jars.
I miss cotton, and sandals. I miss volleyball, dirty feet, and ponytails. But what I miss most about summer is freedom. Those summer night driving under an endless sky of stars.

Copyright 2010 by Lauren E. Dow
"e plays poetry readings community meals volleyball after dinner volleyball games are hilar"
michael reid rubenstein 

1969 Hartford art school is magnet for exceedingly intelligent over-sensitive under-achievers alluring freaks congenital creeps and anyone who cannot cut it in straight world it is about loners dreamers stoners clowns cliques of posers competing to dress draw act most outrageous weird wonderful classrooms clash in diversity of needs some students get it right off while others require so much individual attention one girl constantly raises her hand calls for everything to be repeated explained creativity is treated as trouble and compliance to instruction rewarded most of faculty are of opinion kids are not capable of making original artwork teachers discourage students from dream of becoming well-known until they are older more experienced only practiced skilled artists are competent to create ‘real art’ defined by how much struggle or multiple meanings weave through the work Odysseus wants to make magic boxes without knowing or being informed of Joseph Cornell one teacher tells him you think you’re going to invent some new color the world has never seen? you’re just some rowdy brat from the midwest with a lot of crazy ideas and no evidence of authenticity another teacher warns you’re nothing more than a bricoleur! Odysseus questions what’s a bricoleur teacher informs a rogue handyman who haphazardly constructs from whatever is immediately available Odysseus questions what’s wrong with that? teacher answers it’s low-class folk junk  possessing no real intellectual value independently he reads Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium Is The Message” and “The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci” he memorizes introductory remark of Leonardo’s “i must do like one who comes last to the fair and can find no other way of providing for himself than by taking all the things already seen by others and not taken by reason of their lesser value” Odysseus dreams of becoming accomplished important artist like Robert Rauschenberg Jasper Johns Andy Warhol he dreams of being in eye of hurricane New York art scene he works for university newspaper and is nicknamed crashkiss the newspaper editor is leader in student movement and folk singer who croons “45 caliber man, you’re so much more than our 22, but there’s so many more of us than you” Odysseus grows mustache wears flower printed pants vintage 1940’s leather jacket g.i. surplus clothes he makes many friends his gift for hooking up with girls is uncanny he is long haired drug-crazed hippie enjoying popularity previously unknown to him rock bands play at art openings everyone flirts dances gets stoned lots of activism on campus New York Times dubs university of Hartford “Berkeley of the east coast” holding up two fingers in peace sign is subversive in 1969 symbol of rebellion youth solidarity gesture against war hawks rednecks corporate America acknowledgment of potential beyond materialistic self-righteous values of status quo sign of what could be in universe filled with incredible possibilities he moves in with  painting student one year advanced named Todd Whitman Todd has curly blond hair sturdy build wire rimmed glasses impish smile gemini superb draftsman amazing artist Todd emulates Francisco de Goya and Albrecht Durer Todd’s talent overshadows Odysseus’s Todd’s dad is accomplished professor at distinguished college in Massachusetts to celebrate Odysseus’s arrival Todd cooks all day preparing spaghetti dinner when Odysseus arrives home tripping on acid without appetite Todd is disappointed Odysseus runs down to corner store buys large bottle of wine returns to house Todd is eating spaghetti alone they get drunk together then pierce each other’s ears with needles ice wine cork pierced ears are outlaw style of bad ass bikers like Hell’s Angels Todd says you are a real original Odys and funny too Odysseus asks funny, how? Todd answers you are one crazy motherfucker drop acid whenever you want smoke weed then go to class this is fun tonight Odys getting drunk and piercing our ears Odysseus says yup i’m having a good time too Todd and Odysseus become best friends Odysseus turns Todd on to Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” and “Ariel” then they both read Ted Hughes “Crow” illustrated with Leonard Baskin prints Todd turns Odysseus on to German Expressionist painting art movement of garish colors emotionally violent imagery from 1905-1925 later infuriating Third Reich who deemed the work “degenerate” Odysseus dives into works of Max Beckmann Otto Dix Conrad Felixmulller Barthel Gilles George Grosz Erich Heckel Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Felix Nussbaum Karl Schmitt-Rottluff Carl Hofer August Macke Max Peckstein Elfriede Lohse-Wachtler Egon Shiele list goes on in 1969 most parents don’t have money to buy their children cars most kids living off campus either ride bikes or hitchhike to school then back home on weekends often without a penny in their pockets Odysseus and Todd randomly select a highway and hitch rides to Putney Vermont Brattleboro Boston Cape Cod New York City or D.C. in search of adventure there is always trouble to be found curious girls to assist in Georgetown Odysseus sleeps with skinny girl with webbed toes who believes he is Jesus he tries to dissuade her but she is convinced

Toby Mantis is visiting New York City artist at Hartford art school he looks like huskier handsomer version of Ringo Starr and women dig him he builds stretchers and stretches canvases for Warhol lives in huge loft in Soho on Broadway and Bleeker invites Odysseus to come down on weekends hang out Toby takes him to Max’s Kansas City Warhol’s Electric Circus they wander all night into morning there are printing companies longshoremen gays in Chelsea Italians in West Village hippies playing guitars protesting the war in Washington Square all kinds of hollering crazies passing out fliers pins in Union Square Toby is hard drinker Odysseus has trouble keeping up  he pukes his guts out number of times Odysseus is pot head not drinker he explores 42nd Street stumbles across strange exotic place named Peep Show World upstairs is large with many porn cubicles creepy dudes hanging around downstairs is astonishing there are many clusters of booths with live nude girls inside girls shout out hey boys come on now pick me come on boys there are hundreds of girls from all over the world in every conceivable size shape race he enters dark stall  puts fifty cents in coin box window screen lifts inside each cluster are 6 to 10 girls either parading or glued to a window for $1 he is allowed to caress kiss their breasts for $2 he is permitted to probe their vagina or ass for $10 girl reaches hand into darkened stall jerks him off tall slender British girl thrills him the most she says let me have another go at your dickey Odysseus spends all his money orgasms 5 times departing he notices men from every walk of life passing through wall street stockbrokers executives rednecks mobsters frat boys tourists fat old bald guys smoking thick smelly cigars Toby Mantis has good-looking girlfriend named Lorraine with long brown hair Toby Lorraine and Odysseus sit around kitchen table Odysseus doodles with pencil on paper Toby spreads open Lorraine’s thighs exposing her vagina to Odysseus Lorraine blushes yet permits Toby to finger her Odysseus thinks she has the most beautiful vagina he has ever seen bulging pelvic bone brown distinctive bush symmetric lips Toby and Lorraine watch in amusement as Odysseus gazes intently Tony mischievously remarks you like looking at that pussy don’t you? Odysseus stares silently begins pencil drawing Lorraine’s vagina his eyes darting back and forth following day Lorraine seduces Odysseus while Toby is away walks out nude from shower she is few years older her body lean with high breasts she directs his hands mouth while she talks with someone on telephone it is strange yet quite exciting Odysseus is in awe of New York City every culture in the world intermingling democracy functioning in an uncontrollable managed breath millions of people in motion stories unraveling on every street 24 hour spectacle with no limits every conceivable variety of humanity sucking in same air Odysseus is bedazzled yet intimidated

Odysseus spends summer of 1970 at art colony in Cummington Massachusetts it is magical time extraordinary place many talented eccentric characters all kinds of happenings stage plays poetry readings community meals volleyball after dinner volleyball games are hilarious fun he lives alone in isolated studio amidst wild raspberries in woods shares toilet with field mouse no shower he reads Jerzy Kosinski’s “Painted Bird” then “Being There” then “Steps” attractive long haired girl named Pam visits community for weekend meets Odysseus they talk realize they were in first grade together at Harper amazing coincidence automatic ground for “we need to have sex because neither of us has seen each other since first grade” she inquires where do you sleep? Todd hitches up from Hartford to satisfy curiosity everyone sleeps around good-looking blue-eyed poet named Shannon Banks from South Boston tells Odysseus his erection is not big enough for kind of intercourse she wants but she will suck him off that’s fine with him 32 year old poet named Ellen Morrissey from Massachusetts reassures him erection is fine Ellen is beginning to find her way out from suffocating marriage she has little daughter named Nina Ellen admires Odysseus’s free spirit sees both his possibilities and naïveté she realizes he has crippling family baggage he has no idea he is carrying thing about trauma is as it is occurring victim shrugs laughs to repel shock yet years later pain horror sink in turned-on with new ideas he returns to Hartford art school classes are fun yet confusing he strives to be best drawer most innovative competition sidetracks him Odysseus uses power drill to carve pumpkin on Halloween teachers warn him to stick to fundamentals too much creativity is suspect Todd and he are invited to holiday party Odysseus shows up with Ellen Morrissey driving in her father’s station wagon 2 exceptionally pretty girls flirt with him he is live wire they sneak upstairs he fingers both at same time while they laugh to each other one of the girls Laura invites him outside to do more he follows they walk through falling snow until they find hidden area near some trees Laura lies down lifts her skirt she spreads her legs dense pubic mound he is about to explore her there when Laura looks up sees figure with flashlight following their tracks in snow she warns it’s Bill my husband run for your life! Odysseus runs around long way back inside party grabs a beer pretending he has been there next to Ellen all night few minutes later he sees Laura and Bill return through front door Bill has dark mustache angry eyes Odysseus tells Ellen it is late maybe they should leave soon suddenly Bill walks up to him with beer in hand cracks bottle over his head glass and beer splatter Odysseus jumps up runs out to station wagon Ellen hurriedly follows snow coming down hard car is wedged among many guest vehicles he starts engine locks doors maneuvers vehicle back and forth trying to inch way out of spot Bill appears from party walks to his van disappears from out of darkness swirling snow Bill comes at them wielding large crowbar smashes car’s headlights taillights side mirrors windshield covered in broken glass Ellen ducks on floor beneath glove compartment sobs cries he’s going to kill us! we’re going to die! Odysseus steers station wagon free floors gas pedal drives on back country roads through furious snowstorm in dark of night no lights Odysseus contorts crouches forward in order to see through hole in shattered windshield Ellen sees headlights behind them coming up fast it is Bill in van Bill banging their bumper follows them all the way back to Hartford to Odysseus’s place they run inside call police Bill sits parked van outside across street as police arrive half hour later Bill pulls away next day Odysseus and Ellen drive to Boston to explain to Ellen’s dad what has happened to his station wagon Odysseus stays with Ellen in Brookline for several nights another holiday party she wants to take him along to meet her friends her social circles are older he thinks to challenge their values be outrageous paints face Ellen is horrified cries you can’t possibly do this to me these are my close friends what will they think? he defiantly answers my face is a mask who cares what i look like? man woman creature what does it matter? if your friends really want to know me they’ll need to look beyond the make-up tonight i am your sluttish girlfriend! sometimes Odysseus can be a thoughtless fool

Laura Rousseau Shane files for divorce from Bill she is exceptionally lovely models at art school she is of French descent her figure possessing exotic traits she stands like ballerina with thick pointed nipples copious pubic hair Odysseus is infatuated she frequently dances pursues him Laura says i had the opportunity to meet Bob Dylan once amazed Odysseus questions what did you do? she replies what could i possibly have in common with Bob Dylan? Laura teases Odysseus about being a preppy then lustfully gropes him grabs holds his balls they devote many hours to sexual intimacy during intercourse she routinely reaches her hand from under her buns grasps his testicles squeezing as he pumps he likes that Laura is quite eccentric fetishes over Odysseus she even thrills to pick zits on his back he is not sure if it is truly a desire of hers proof of earthiness or simply expression of mothering Laura has two daughters by Bill Odysseus is in over his head Laura tells Odysseus myth of Medea smitten with love for Jason Jason needs Medea’s help to find Golden Fleece Medea agrees with promise of marriage murders her brother arranges murder of king who has deprived Jason his inheritance couple is forced into exile Medea bears Jason 2 sons then Jason falls in love with King Creon’s daughter deserts Medea is furious she makes shawl for King Creon’s daughter to wear at her wedding to Jason  shawl turns to flames killing bride Medea murders her own sons by Jason Odysseus goes along with story for a while but Laura wants husband Odysseus is merely scruffy boy with roving eyes Laura becomes galled by Odysseus leaves him for one of his roommates whom she marries then several years later divorces there is scene when Laura tells Odysseus she is dropping him for his roommate he is standing in living room of her house space is painted deep renaissance burgundy there are framed photographs on walls in one photo he is hugging Laura and her daughters under big oak tree in room Laura’s friend Bettina other girl he fingered first night he met Laura at party is watching with arms crossed he drops to floor curls body sobs i miss you so much Laura turns to Bettina remarks look at him men are such big babies he’s pitiful Bettina nods

following summer he works installing displays at G. Fox Department Store besides one woman gay men staff display department for as long as he can remember homosexuals have always been attracted to him this misconception is probably how he got job his tenor voice suggesting not entirely mature man instead more like tentative young boy this ambiguous manifestation sometimes also evidences gestures thoroughly misleading after sidestepping several sexual advances one of his co-workers bewilderingly remarks you really are straight manager staff are fussy chirpy catty group consequently certain he is not gay they discriminate against him stick him with break down clean up slop jobs at outdoor weekend rock concert in Constitution Plaza he meets 2 younger blond girls who consent to go back to his place mess around both girls are quite dazzling yet one is somewhat physically undeveloped they undress and model for Odysseus radio plays Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song” both girls move to rhythm sing along he thinks to orchestrate direct decides instead to let them lead lies on bed while curvaceous girl rides his erection slender girl sits on his face they switch all 3 alternate giggle laughter each girl reaches orgasm on his stiffness later both assist with hands mouths his climax is so intense it leaves him paralyzed for a moment

in fall he is cast as Claudius in production of Hamlet Odysseus rehearses diligently on nights of performance he stirs audience to tears when he prays for forgiveness Odysseus somehow conveys how unworthy Claudius feels for killing his own brother in order to be king he realizes he is too insecure in his appearance to be an actor considers himself somewhat appealing but not handsome like Hollywood actors having enjoyed stage experience he organizes street theater group with fellow art students they stage several public performances heads turn local public TV station offers him spot he hurriedly writes treatment inspired by Futurist Dadaist influences show airs is a weird flop Odysseus realizes he is not ready yet for commercial success he constantly clashes with parents Mom and Dad are aware yet standoffish of his inner confusion they feel it is his selfish stubborn own fault they financially support him yet use leverage to push him in directions they choose Mom and Dad want Odysseus to give up his true self for their expectations Dad insists on sales Mom leans towards advertising they believe he will finally come around pick practical career and marry nice Jewish girl his greatest struggle is defining himself against parent’s wills he is compromised conflicted his parents are only ones who stand behind him they bail him out of a 1000 jams his parents are the ones who love support look out for him Mom and Dad pay for school rent health insurance all other incidental amenities he owes them it dawns on him conceivably his entire life destiny may not be about getting married raising a family achieving fame or accumulating wealth power rather his life is about freeing himself from his parent’s oppression healing from troubled traumatized childhood everyday he wakes up with disturbing memories mistrusts Mom’s berating Dad’s violent outbursts his parent’s ceaseless rulings corrections he does not want to carry hurt but it follows him everywhere everyday he tries to put his past behind him wonders why do i hate myself? when will i stop punishing myself? realizes his life will be a difficult one

art school 2 goes here

he sees her carrying tray in cafeteria from first moment he lays eyes on her he knows she is the one it is overwhelming feeling she moves lithe skinny long light brown hair dreamy sleepy eyes suede clogs Levi’s jeans light blue clingy top hinting slight breasts it is fall semester of senior year Hartford art school approaches table where she sits with girlfriend she is spooning bowl of vanilla ice cream he can smell vanilla she looks up at him he blurts hi i’m Odys what’s your name? uhhhh hi hello Odys i’m Bayli tone in her voice ebbs flows as if foreknowing would you like to sit ? she catches him off balance his heart races beats questions you’re not confusing me with someone else? she responds positively not we’ve never met before  blue eyes sparkle smile glows he wants things to work this time goes slow gentle he pitches there’s a full moon out did you see it? she answers i’ve been stuck in English Lit. since 1 is it dark enough yet to see the moon? he replies kind of dark enough where are you from? Bayli talks about her father mother 2 younger brothers growing up as Navy brat she seems genuine caring he knows from start she is special whatever happened in Bayli’s or Odysseus’s past does not matter anymore because they have finally found each other Odysseus with Bayli at art school is happiest time of his life she is most important girlfriend he will ever know

tonight i feel like an orphan

Mom and Dad seem so far away

tonight i feel like an orphan

you make me feel this way

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