Please master can I touch your cheeck
please master can I kneel at  your feet
please master can I loosen your blue pants
please master can I gaze at your golden haired belly
please master can I have your thighs bare to my eyes
please master can I take off my clothes below your chair
please master can I can I kiss your ankles and soul
please master can I touch lips to your hard muscle hairless thigh
please master can I lay my ear pressed to your stomach
please master can I wrap my arms around your white ass
please master can I lick your groin gurled with blond soft fur
please master can I touch my tongue to your rosy asshole
please master may I pass my face to your balls,
please master order me down on the floor,
please master tell me to lick your thick shaft
please master put your rough hands on my bald hairy skull
please master press my mouth to your prick-heart
please master press my face into your belly, pull me slowly strong thumbed
till your dumb hardness fills my throat to the base
till I swallow and taste your delicate flesh-hot prick barrel veined Please
Mater push my shoulders away and stare in my eyes, & make me bend over
        the table
please master grab my thighs and lift my ass to your waist
please master your hand's rough stroke on my neck your palm down to my
        backside
please master push me, my feet on chairs, till my hole feels the breath of
        your spit and your thumb stroke
please master make my say Please Master Fuck me now Please
Master grease my balls and hairmouth with sweet vaselines
please master stroke your shaft with white creams
please master touch your cock head to my wrinkled self-hole
please master push it in gently, your elbows enwrapped round my breast
your arms passing down to my belly, my penis you touch w/ your fingers
please master shove it in me a little, a little, a little,
please master sink your droor thing down my behind
& please master make me wiggle my rear to eat up the prick trunk
till my asshalfs cuddle your thighs, my back bent over,
till I'm alone sticking out, your sword stuck throbbing in me
please master pull out and slowly roll onto the bottom
please master lunge it again, and withdraw the tip
please please master fuck me again with your self, please fuck me Please
Master drive down till it hurts me the softness the
Softness please master make love to my ass, give body to center, & fuck me
        for good like a girl,
tenderly clasp me please master I take me to thee,
& drive in my belly your selfsame sweet heat-rood
you fingered in solitude Denver or Brooklyn or fucked in a maiden in Paris
        carlots
please master drive me thy vehicle, body of love drops, sweat fuck
body of tenderness, Give me your dogh fuck faster
please master make me go moan on the table
Go moan O please master do fuck me like that
in your rhythm thrill-plunge & pull-back-bounce & push down
till I loosen my asshole a dog on the table yelping with terror delight to be
        loved
Please master call me a dog, an ass beast, a wet asshole,
& fuck me more violent, my eyes hid with your palms round my skull
& plunge down in a brutal hard lash thru soft drip-fish
& throb thru five seconds to spurt out your semen heat
over & over, bamming it in while I cry out your name I do love you
please Master.

                                        May 1968

Mr Bigglesworth Apr 2013

It was only the other day you fell asleep in your old chair
The one that was in your front room decades ago
You didn't see Andy Murray lose but you didn't care
You’d eaten well and heavy eyed you dozed

I’m sorry but when I lost the house it had to go
I know throwing it out was a bit wrong
But if chairs go to heaven though
At least you’ll have something there to sit on

I wish I’d never told you off for smoking by the pump
You looked so sad that I’d made you feel a fool
But imagine how you would have made those people jump
As they were all engulfed by a massive fireball

Enjoy your new lungs and try keeping them clean for a few hours
Enjoy your time with Granddad it’s been thirty years too long
Enjoy strolling through those heavenly gardens with all your favourite flowers
But in heaven, please don’t bag cuttings; I’m sure up there it’s wrong!

howard brace Sep 2012

     He'd been conceived in Flamborough, so his little sister assured him some eleven summers ago, which was a tad hard for Rocky to swallow, she was a whole eighteen months his junior and then some... and at that age, well... what did she know, she was only a kid, "on this very rock" River insisted, kicking her heels in delight, "next to this very rock pool" they were both sitting beside, "one sunny afternoon eleven years ago..." and that was how he came by the name of Rocky... she taunted as the rest of the colourful story unfolded... and that she had it all on the best possible authority... although the more she thought about it, had she meant concealed... she wasn't quite sure now, it was all so very confusing at her tender age but thought it sounded close enough not to matter too much and that she would just wait and see which way the wind blew.
        
     It was conceivably an ill wind that blew no one any good that day, especially if you were a boy and just happened to be sat by a rock pool next to your little sister...  Having just taken a well earned drink from a neighbouring rock pool, Sockeye the floppiest Springer Spaniel this side of the Pecos decided that he was going to dig a hole and that he would be digging it deep, then changed his mind mid-dig and decided to have a more down to earth back scratching wriggle instead... then promptly flopped over and slid into the hole... life was sweet.  Now covered from nose to tail with every species of deceased shore life usually found frequenting the high water mark Sockeye, in a blinding flash of canine inspiration judged it would be in everyone's best interest were he to have a really good shakedown which always appeared to go down well on these occasions... and give everyone a good peppering, just so they could see exactly what they'd been missing all their lives.  

     "A rock of all places, for goodness sakes..." and what's more, it was this rock, "Yuk..." he jumped up and wiped his palms on the back of his jeans in disgust, then onto his tee-shirt, then sat back down again and began exploring his left nostril in quiet contemplation before finally jambing his hands back into his pockets... what in Heaven's name had his parents been thinking of..? what on earth was his little sister talking about..? and more to the point, what in fact did conceived mean..?  these were the questions that were uppermost in Rocky's mind as he poked an exploratory stick into the rock pool...  a baby crab marooned by the tide scampered sideways beneath a large pebble and stuck one beady eye out at him... Rocky's sister, seemingly in a world of her own, much like the baby crab sat on the edge of the noteworthy rock kicking her heels, an innocent smile curled the corners of her mouth as she quietly hummed a little song of tuneful bliss to herself and considered what further mischief she could possibly pass her brother's way.

     Rocky tossed a piece of driftwood over his sisters shoulder at a nearby flock of seagulls, squabbling over what appeared to be a discarded bag of fish and chips... Sockeye, simply knowing that his little master wanted to play a game of fetch gambolled after the stick, his ears flying courageously in the still Summer air and burst, amid a melee of feathers into their midst, only to romp back moments later, the stick all but forgotten in the excitement but now proudly sporting the derelict bag of leftovers and the odd splash of guano, his tail lolloping magnificently from side to side... and for the moment at least, leaving the fratching seagulls wheeling noisily overhead and to go about their daily business without further interruption... as for Sockeye, it had been a no contest situation.

     After fourteen years of valiant endeavour his father... Red, so named for his vivid shock of wiry hair, was still engaged in man's eternal struggle to win his significant other half's approbation with the manful art of deck-chair assembly, beach barbeque and other significant gentlemanly pursuits, all while strutting his manly stuff, sporting top of the range beach wear in accordance with the social etiquette of the previous decade... his masculine paunch slumping gallantly atop his waistband...  

     After the same fourteen terms of domestic servitude and the same thirteen identically overlooked anniversary cards a certain someone had no intention of allowing another certain someone to forget so much as one of them... his better half, so she insisted would ride rough shod, administering her own brand of justice at every given opportunity, in much the same way you'd brandish a royal-flush on poker night... or better still, a loaded revolver... and that she personally carried the burden of every ill-fated card that Lady Luck had dealt strung about her neck like Adam's original sin on Judgement Day.  

     Red much preferred the shorter, more condensed name of Rock for his son, rather than the longer more protracted Rocky, as he struggled with the wood and canvas lounger badly trapping the mound of his thumb in the process, "Aaargh...!!!" plunging his throbbing hand deep into the cold, soothing rock-pool "aaah...!!!"   Still marooned by the tide, the baby crab stood poised and ready for action as it considered giving this latest intrusion a good offensive nip, then hang on spitefully as it gave Red the final withering once over with the same baleful eye it had successfully used earlier.

     Acknowledging her husbands misfortune with a perfunctory grunt as she rummaged in her beach-bag for the thermos, she refused to be drawn in where thumbs were concerned right now, after all with his DNA sequencing she was convinced he could probably grow a new one within the month... whilst Tina, well... she was just plain worn-out... but still rejoiced in telling anyone who cared to lend a sympathetic ear in her direction... and who in turn was more than happy to listen to the woes of others and went somewhere along the lines of... 'and had she heard any more of poor Mrs Dorey's lingering martyrdom recently..? you know, the downtrodden lady who lives in the next street but one... and how they would all miss her when she was gone... and how she couldn't wait...' and as rumour had it, neither could her husband...

      Feigning to be otherwise engaged, Tina... as her husband, now blowing frantically on his mangled thumb, stumbled backwards over the half erected lounger and with a spine jarring "Ooomph...!!!" landed squarely in Sockeye's subsiding earthworks... professed total disassociation with the entire fiasco as she plunged her nose even deeper into the overdue library book she'd purposely brought on holiday for just such an occasion, making it perfectly clear that she was a tourist and furthermore, planned to stick with the same itinerary once they returned home... and that while she was here, she did not under any circumstances wish to be disturbed, the notice was clearly displayed hanging from the door handle... but if anyone should, then whoever it was did so at their own peril... and she was keeping score... although a mangled thumb she luxuriated, with the same roguish smile curling the corners of her mouth as the one normally found playing around her daughter's... was equally as heart warming.

      All Tina wanted was one week of uninterrupted peace and quiet in Flamborough, preferably with a certain someone out from under her feet then spend what might pass for several undisturbed hours sitting quietly by the rock pool comparing notes on eye makeup and the feminine merits of pedicure with the little crab who, still marooned by the tide was now sat busily knitting four pairs of matching leg warmers in the cool, still water but that was only if that certain someone... a shrill  "AAaargh...!!!" somewhat more desperate than the first, thrust itself upon the as yet unaggressive afternoon as it gyrated across the warm Jurrasic rock and recoiled out to sea... "now where was I", twisting her book uppermost "oh yes..! someone was going to pay..." only now it was going to be sooner rather than later, but only if that certain someone didn't finish the seating arrangements before the Sun disappeared and drift into some backstreet tea-room before all the lemon cheesecake sold out, or was that she reflected, simply too much to ask.

     It was his Surname that Rock found so objectionable, or it had been right up until his little sister's enlightening disclosure, now it was both names Rocky disliked, it would have been far kinder had Rock Salmon been sandwiched between sliced bread and given to Sockeye... who's solemn duty, from the first mouthful to the very last, was to gaze up beseechingly from beneath the kitchen table  and devour anything that passed his way, even the postman had to be quick about his business or have his arm follow the mail through the letter box... then Sockeye would just smack his lips and help himself to seconds.  

     All Rocky's mum had thought about for the last fourteen years was seconds... every last solitary one of them since she'd suffered with an infection of matrimonial neurosis which had deprived her of common sense and her maiden name, from Chovey to that of Salmon and how with hindsight she should have taken an Aspirin instead, wedlock she asserted was everything the name claimed to be and was without doubt the worst move she'd ever made... and what's more was seen as a bad move in whoever's wedding album you just happened to be paying your condolences to.

     Rocky would never be so fortunate on that score, unlike his sister he was stuck with Salmon for good, his grandma-Ann by all accounts had been dead set against the union from word Go and saw his father as someone who would always be out of his depth in whatever rock pool he found himself in, swimming against the tide as it were, rather than going with the flow... and it appeared that Rocky, almost eleven years into a life sentence, was about to flounder in the same murky undertow as the rest of the Salmon family... only he couldn't swim.

     "There"! her husband exclaimed "all finished... better late than never eh', who fancies trying it"? his wife luxuriated over the words 'better late' and wondered whether her new earrings, her latest acquisition would complement formal mourning attire.  Red dusted off the palms of his hands with the certain knowledge of a job well done and cautiously took one step back, looking with justifiable pride at the outcome of his manly exertions of the last two hours, this was what holidays were all about he declared, one man pitted against insurmountable odds...  His wife meanwhile was getting to grips with more odds of her own than you could safely expect to shake a stick at... her husband being one of them.  

     Having gathered her offspring with the promise of verbal earache if they didn't... and finished packing the beach-bag, Tina finally located Sockeye peering out from the shade of an adjacent rock, wisps of feathers poked tellingly from the corners of his mouth, his tail beating mischievously on the shingle decided in one further blaze of canine brainstorming, as Tina attempted to slip his collar on that a game of tag would just about round the day off nicely... Tina then devoted the next ten minutes chasing him amid unrestrained salvo's of cheering from the rest of the family... then bid goodbye to the little crab who, still marooned by the tide waved a friendly pincer in return... and trusted that she wouldn't have too long to wait for the next rising tide back home, then she slid off the rock with a corrosive... "the deck-chair attendant would have shown you" she snapped "and don't forget the deposit when you take them back" then double checking that she landed squarely on his foot she marched past, her floral sun hat jammed resolutely on her head at what she considered a jaunty angle with her equally jaunty, angular children scrambling in hot pursuit, back in the direction of their lodgings.  

     "Woof "..? said a bewildered Sockeye, bringing everyone to an abrupt halt... and with paws the size of place-mats, he wasn't going anywhere he didn't want to... he hunkered down with a look of hurtful accusation on his face, "oh yes you are my lad"! said his mistress "I've met your sort before" and knew exactly where to place the toe of her dainty size-5 as Sockeye, digging his heals in even further created swathes of canine furrows up the beach, leaving her husband the unwitting holder and in sole possession of the overlooked guest-house keys... and somewhat resigned to clean up his own masculinity and dismantle the recently assembled, now redundant deck-chairs by himself... as for Tina, well... she'd had quite enough excitement for one day thank you very much.

     Morning register was always the worst he thought, as they trooped back along the shingle beach, Rocky making surprisingly good furrows of his own... but the rest of the class loved it and saw it as the highlight of each day... Rocky's form teacher, despite showing a brave face was always hard pressed to avoid bursting into hysterics every time she worked her way down the register to the letter 'S' and would attempt to bypass it altogether, jumping from 'R' to 'T' and just prayed that no one else had noticed, but it hadn't taken the class very long to point out her oversight and... "please Miss" they'd all chant "we haven't had Salmon all week" and while the rest of the class were having convulsive fits, Rocky would elbow the lad sat at the next desk in the ribs... and promptly get one hundred lines for his trouble... thank goodness it was school holidays.  Why couldn't they have been given respectable names like Seymour Legge, Rock wondered, who sat over by the window or perhaps the teachers pet, Anna Prentice or even, Robyn Banks at a pinch, but definitely not what they'd been given and certainly not Salmon, they were the most hilarious names he could imagine and if someone was looking down on them right now he thought... then they had a very unique sense of humour indeed and Rock said so... "why" his little sister asked sweetly, "what's wrong with River Salmon".

                                                      ­                         ...   ...   ...


a work in progress                                                        ­                                                              240­6

Benny Langedyk Jan 2014

January

Started all quiet—
with Gracie yelling near
Coleman crying grandmother with
Obi the doge attacking
and running from Coleman to
Wimpy's no. 1 and tears in a trenched
basement proceed to pour achey-breaky
heart into the baked cone of a short story but
cold
and cold
and cold again until trip-taking Toronto
and flashfiving on a salamander,
smoking Colts in exhaustion,
all of them drawing tattoos on my forearms with Twitter handles,
sending off Ryerson RTA pie-charts
and planning that always phosphorous birthday party
where my rock music turned into hip-hop music and
my fingers turned into magic wands and my
perception of reality turned into a waterfall where I
look for Easter eggs crying the suicide Slamming the
bedroom inevitable, wake and hear
Howl for the first time but (side note: everyone was only
there for @JamesFrancoTV) especially since I woke up
with those pretty shindig burn marks on my hairy thumbs
and I know that they're all wishing that the invention of the soul would
turn into a real-life tangible thing that you can put your dick inside.

February

This is when most people
would blame the weather but I'm not most people
so I'll blame "Warm Bodies" and I'll blame
McDonalds and I'll blame them bright ol'
lips ya got there, and I'll drag
her home from Puerto Rico
or Siberia or wherever, without the
notion I harboured of the dark/freezing pain, she got
16th place apparently, she saw me, we called it,
fade to blue, turn up the acoustic Alex Turner,
fade away for a couple of days, fade into a lucky
hand-me-down iPhone start the illustrious Snap
career on Valentines with Spree who
eventually decided that reading
my stories wasn't actually that sadomasochistic of an act
and advised me thru the wintry and blissfully ignorant poems
that I wrote and named things like
"Sad" or
"Hungry" or
"Forbidden Love" or
"Theme and Variations on my Eternal Damnation"

and then bam! (keen use of onomatopoeia)
at 11:58 on the 25th,
I listened to that lackadaisical youth song and told myself that
I was certifiably an adult two minutes later,
woke up,
bought some lotto tickets,
spent the next night with my shadow because nobody wanted us two at the fire,
we grabbed Indian food,
we enjoyed the sights and the sounds of the hammer coming down on the 401
and napped til 3am listening to Morrissey
but then I told myself to leave it and
I slipped into a joint and my
imagination and probably my
wellbeing collapsed from dysentery
on the walk home, upon realization
that I have to deal with March next.

March

Always a blur and here is where I started up with
China Ferrari Sex Orgy Death Crash, we had a gig coming up,
we escaped Brooklyn and the undulations of our shitty keyboards
pounded against tom-toms and my scratchy poetry through my
scratchy voice hole, can't hit those high notes.

Maggie made more connections to Brendan, they knew Law and
Outlaw, they knew the library and knew how to skip and I took
a few weeks off, drove somewhere different everyday, wrote
stories and read a lot and learned more than I would've had I been
in school. I learned how to drive, at least.

Came into some grass and some zigzags and tried playing around in
front of a bus and tried getting crappy rides home from "maddy" still
and tried to take bong hits but my lungs coughed too much, this newfound
serenity brought me appetite and an excuse to be out of this reality
without the shocking use of a waterfall, we'll call it a water pipe.

And I met a different Sara, too, this one kissed me in Johnny's beside Johnny
and we played Monopoly and—

April

—monopoly ended for good reason,
the reason being that we saw through the green screen making
Melnick regret the wallpaper choice, the excuse to look more like a predator falcon, the insinuation
that AidanFriend was creepy and that just because some kid gave me a high-five doesn't mean I get to break his neck and avoid him in December,
We'll be at the reservation,
We'll be at the airlock,
We'll be at the indent,
I'll be in a high security prison, due to smashing grapes into the walls,
We'll be at a Taco Bell on 4/20 where Monopoly kicks my ass into orbit,
We'll all be too hazy to share our feelings and draw our emotions,
We'll be recreating root beer hash browns and trying to be funny on Twitter,
and I'll fly out to Limeridge with
Sydney, bloody Sydney, who at this point had read my novella  
and only had the kindest words to say:

"Can you just shut the fuck up and take a compliment?"
no.

And I definitely tried my hand at
another one of those parties but
I was too filled with gin
to fully recount the details,
but it sure was a piercer.
Read about it sometime.

May

And at the beginning of May there was Tyler and vampires and ruffians
and brightness exploding from dark souls to library corners,
and while yes, I do advocate the responsible use of the cannabis plant, I do not advocate getting stupid high with Doug one day and fusing your body with an iTunes visualizer and writing a sappy stuck and irreversible "love" "letter" with all your "true" "feelings" from May 2012 seeping out the paper flipping the piss/pass of twiggy branches despondent from here until the end of the notepad...for sure.

And now that it's all out there, Gracie can advocate getting stupid fiery
flaming mad with a single outspoken foil at midnight drawing a big letter "E" on my
chest, my blood spews from my insides and all can be OK again when I rest in the laurels of
the IRA,
the Tobermory,
the chew toy expurgating reaper?
And I guess at this point all those
exciting drinkin' buddies wanted nothing more to do with me,
I assume because I can't grow a moustache.

Like all of the loud sounds that made up our fingers and toes were all being played in different octaves, with a thousand different timbres, all at once.

June

Y'know...
I'm struggling to come up with what to write down here.
Usually words just pop into my head and my fingers ejaculate them,
but that's not the case right now.

-takes a break
-eats some pizza
-general New Year's Day merriment

OK.

Those first few days burned up in the sun
like a sweaty time bomb from Liberty Prime, the
6th came as an extra Heineken and a pat on the back,
decided to give up on school, didn't go to graduation,
didn't go to prom, unfortunately my hibiscus
wasn't auditory, kinesthetic or visual, but hey!
I finally came up with some better poems!
Didn't matter though, rolled up my pant legs and
trudged through the sand of the alarm clock they used in
that one episode of Seinfeld that I watched in a bubbly
blanket fort saved by the hypnotizing chants of the chorus
of perpetual snotty shruggers shrugging off my insurmountable
plans,

new job!, Global Pet Foods!, in the money finally!,
although it started out rough,
boss was a drunk and she made sure to
phone me up at 2am on weekend evenings
to complain about my sloppy salesmanship,
the difference between Acana and Orijen,
the stain on my t-shirt one day,
how hard it is to be a lesbian in our post-post-post-post-modern society,
and how birds decay in Autumn due to a professor emeritus whining
on about Man's desire to sate the appetite of animal, of Cancer, the
fleshy hamburgers his friends sometimes eat,
switch to sunny and shimmery days with green outs,
and meeting the crows for new chapters, my life was supposedly saved
by a little baggy of 12.5 grams that I carried around like Linus' security blanket, it was arguably my closest friend, my alphabetical mini puzzle,
my agnostic little-dog,
my quote, unquote—oops, I forgot what I was gonna write here,
I guess it doesn't really matter.

July

Came and gone.
Played some Nintendo.
Saw some murky Jeeps.
Don't wanna talk about it.

August

Glory to the lord,
Tobermory has come.
May those scarred blisters on ya feet
always remind you of the Half-O we had,
the Funky Forest: First Contact, the
Brothers Bloom and the innumerable
dollars spent on pizza pies,
straggling the controlled fire, burnt
video screen with four awesome fold-up
chairs and a sweet table for only 40 bucks!
And this freakin' fantastic Fortinos for only
10! Woah! We turned back into ourselves
though and on the drive home we engaged
Metros and Mirelurks and Bambina chicken
burgers and Sebastian drifted-
And OK, so, I                    -into Toronto.
finally got through that
Global Pet Foods purgatory,
Janice had a problem with the frequency at which
I took out the garbage,
I grabbed a Dachshund puppy and
nestled it close to the heart of the storm
that shattered my eyeballs, that lightning
that punctured poor little-mutts ribcage,
the thunder that inspired my immediate
resignation, and left without mythologies, I
came as though a pilgrim to the shed
illuminating the way with white Bic lighters
and a Zippo that no one broke before
I tossed it into a compactor, added
some Angry playlist and some disheartened
weeping in a hotel room, it was pretty bad,
you should've seen it.

September

watery depths of the bottom of the homoerotic swimming pool,
wishing/washing the water from my ears with chocolate milk as an antiseptic,
when the leaves tumbled to the bossanova earth, Taylor recounted reggae
...and bought these terrible clove cigarettes because the sky was
yellow and stringy and the rain pelted against my sunglasses which
obnoxiously reverberated down my spine and sputtered out of my
unearthly and verboten first moments in the freshly cut shed,
the first steps into Liberty City, The Thinker, an ape, who had been there from the
utter beginning, the camera zooming in the mouthpiece, around three
bendy arm percolators, near the atom of creation, near the stem of my
ennui roses, trotting down to a homely and intensely pleasant bowl of chicken soup
...that I injected after that car crash that’s still not really my fault, the
cops are all blinded in a BDSM dungeon sucking on each others guns
or spray painting their riot vans to look more like the goopy and “dank” Mystery
machine, too busy to hear about a car made from an eleven hundred pound block of
/gold/ \flinging\ itself into warp drive and bumping up my insurance, I’m in the
worst fucking demographic, I’ve also got the worst !%$^&(@ lawyers, and
almost exactly at the hangover, a peace day occurred in the form of a woebegone
tremor shaking my rubber Rainbow Loom, pulling into an Pizzaiolo, vaporizing,
creeping up on The Taste of Tea, Xmas tea, a casual stroll around Casa Loma,
hopped down into Dupont Station and dreamed about the rest.
??? (Where am I?) ? (I left the light off.) ? (That goes in the plastic.) ???
ventilated some poems for Billy, too, found Rachel at the Trinity + Burger King
= a chance meeting with the only red-haired girl in the city. I said:
You’re the only one allowed in my car. Lock all the doors, for the whore, the
vendor, the crack house, slipping on Rihanna, closing my eyes to the sounds of
zooper Dooper, of Mickey Mouse,
Janis Joplin,
_nd our glorious Atwood!
leading lascivious Union Jacks,
ending the movie early,
Drinking all the antiseptic chocolate milk, eating all the
5 Guys fries near Brooklyn, and
verbalizing the eternal thirst-quenching and thought provoking
Question: Are all these things are still connected to the moment it began?

October

            (See? It’s Autumn now!)

            we left mushrooms on the
porch
            and regurgitated film trivia.

we guessed how
                        our lives would be shot
had we all lived in a sitcom.

We told ourselves that
        it was OK to sit in the
shed all day without motivation.

We mused Columbian
        haiku, with an extra
syllable tacked on the end.

We masqueraded our
bubblers and dressed up like
ourselves, no one would give us candy.

The lampposts revealed
that our pipes were rapidly
spinning out of control.

November

called it off
for the month
but the month
ended after a
week and I returned
to the foggy windows
of Tapleytown, this
time with a vengeance,
this time with more gas
in the car, this time with
something to write home
about, this one time in
November the Zebra
fantasy developed more
surrealistic qualities, more
knives with blades made
from human teeth, and I tried
tea and ruined my nose, all
I can smell is milky oily eggy
water and the human condition:
it’s dependency upon a field of
white poppies, glorifying
the allegory of an American
utopia, the bus itself, as an
active agent, a living synthesis
between Man and machine, a
living mechanical mobile
sterile womb, designed
to subvert the natural falling
hierarchy of my brain cells
into a graph representing just
how shitty that November was.

December

Showcase gets tougher, all the faces blend into
a Nutribullet with a fancy book and an extended
store warranty for only 5.99 with 20% off, I can’t
do that math, you do it, tiptoed into the back when
bp asked me for a no!no!, didn’t have ‘em but needed
to temporarily halt my adventure thru commercialism,
my growing distaste for the holiday season and the fact
that there’s literally a giftmas song in every genre of music,
asked the crew if the lights would go off and an icicle toppled
on our glasses in delight, still had some very intuitive customers
though.

new girl!, calls herself Avocado Baby!, we're nowhere near money, though,
stayed up all night drawing a
four wing dinosaur, paying attention
to the image on my back,
a felt tip connecting with a pimple,
she makes a fine feathered
microraptor, she had the chills at
a photoshoot and prayed to soup
god, she has a lot of fun in photo
booths, jumped into a night at
Showcase, my moral code debasing
the below freezing and esoteric temperatures
of the shed, the new Xmas TV, the
unholy snowman covered in penises,
the sold-out Santa Claus on an advertisement,
and there’s the heartsick worry about how: she
can have too much fun in photo booths,
that her sun is going to go down on Canada
Day weekend, that there are too many
clubs selling vodka and not enough me’s
buying soup, that eventually all of my
neurons will collapse in her name, that
her impenetrable cocoon will never blossom
into a much less secretive copy of
Grand Theft Auto 5 for Xbox 360,
the grandiose idea that all of 2013 wasn’t
a write off, the cryptic and frankly terrifying
notion that Eleanor and Ailie and Sara for a few
weeks and some idealized chicks on the
bus and also the girl on the cover of
Contra (she’s kinda hot, whatever)
and apparently Alannah are all secretly
in a very tight-knit group that meets up
on every other Monday night to stitch’n’bitch
about how messy my bedroom is,
that a nuclear spill into the Pacific will
negate the romance in our bath water,
that if I don’t stop vaporizing skull kid
into a magic flight, I’ll always smell like a
Harvey’s burger, and finally, that I’ll drip
down the drain hole like last years green St.
Patricks Day liquor. I’m probably a bit more
viscous though.

And, hey, it’s New Year’s Day and I had Chinese food!
It's not my favourite, but it's traditional.
I prefer Indian.
I told myself that whatever my fortune cookie said, that it’d be my motto for 2014.

It read: “You really like Chinese food!”

I have to forget this.

Effy Sky Feb 2014

I think it's crazy that they want me to type an essay over deforestation for a score or practice or to better my writing. That's 60 more minutes I'm wasting of my life. They say that sooner or later everything we do we will do with technology. So here I am now writing this essay that's supposed to be about deforestation and the effects and consequences. We are not discussing the issue. We are sitting in wooden chairs with our computers sitting on our wooden desks surrounded by wooden bookcases. So much irony right? I seem to be the only one to notice anyways.
We come here seven hours a day, do hours of homework, "study" the information, aka memorize regurgitate then forget all of it. This is not teaching us. We are not learning anything useful to help us live. It's all numbers and words that do not matter to me.
If anyone thinks that all us kids come to school to learn they're wrong and if they think that the teachers come to teach they're even more wrong. We come to pass class after class so we can leave and actually make something of ourselves. The teachers come because they have to for the money. They do not care about us or our feelings. They put all this pressure on us to be the best we can be which really means make a good grade.
I've been silent for so long now. Not expressing my feelings towards much of anything. Also toward the reason I have to wake up at five every morning to be around people I do not even like.
I feel as though the education system is unfair and cruel and does not take into consideration what the kids who go through this cycle everyday think.
So that's what I think about deforestation.

This is what I wrote on my writing assessment that was sent into the state. Many other students also wrote expressing their thoughts about the education system. This was a really big step for me to began and I hope others can relate.
Graff1980 Jul 2015

Our nation is a father
Who spends sons unwisely
Wasting their wonder
On warrior blunders

In nations swelling pride
We see our children
Committing suicide
Honor bound to pursue
Patriotic truths

If mothers ran the world
Would it all be better
Or would maternal malice
Malform modern intent

Blue eyes telling lies
Of war and all its’ glories
Grey hair sitting there
In old reclining lawn chairs
Celebrating fantastic stories

But I know the lives lost
Were not always spent wisely
Were not always sacrificed justly
Why does it feel like no one else sees
Have I become Don Quixote

Fatherland motherland
Better planned
Would be brotherhood
And sisterhood
All that love spent for the good

Like this poem
We have lost our way
Perhaps better stanza
Will return the wisdom
Of our better sages

Mitchell Duran Sep 2013

We met on the stairs
Of a 15th century cathedral in Rome.
I was wearing my
Light gray suit that she later told me reminded
Her of the color of fresh volcano ash.

She - cut in half by the moonlight -
Wore red flats,
A tight white linen dress that
Effortlessly pronounced her breasts,
While her oaken red and auburn hair
Lunged down both of her shoulders like
A waterfall or an avalanche,
Just touching the top of her belly button.

I, looking up toward the marble spires
Spinning into the scattered stillness of the nights
Opaque and cream colored stars,
Did not know she was hovering behind me watching me,
Until she had decided to speak;

If I had known, I would have ran inside.

"The cathedral is very nice, isn't it?"
I heard her ask to my back.
At the sound of her voice, I was not
Filled with that melodramatic cliché dripping
With soap opera fused emotions.

No, I
Was dipped into a large cauldron of ice-water.

There was a tremor
Somewhere
Inside of me and a heat
Ricocheting in her.

"Yes," I replied,"It is
Very nice and very old and I wonder why it is still here."

I did not know what I meant, but
From the pause and inhalation I heard immediately after, I
Believed she must have thought what was said profound.
Was I profound? Why would she believe that if it was only from
The spontaneous question that held no real physical weight? Or
From me jumping so quickly into this little

Game,

No question's asked?

"These buildings still stand because they
Are a physical memory of what we have achieved
And what we must continue to achieve
In the future
." She had come up beside me now.
Vanilla lavender lotion and mint
Toothpaste were the first smells that came to mind.  

"The future..."I said, trailing off, "The future."

"Yes, the future is very important."

"It is all we have."

"Well, all we truly have is the present, don't you agree?" I asked,
Slightly turning my head to look at her.

She was still looking up at the cathedral. She was focused on the large church bell
That hung there like the moon in the night sky. I continued
To stare at her, my question hovering vulnerable in
The air as a butterfly with its wings damaged would. Then, a
Couple passed by us in a hurry. Their hands were clasped tightly together, the man
In front and the woman looking to be dragged by him. I saw
Neither of their faces, but I imagined them both to be calm and red.

"They look to be in a hurry," she said, "Where do
You think they're going?
"

"Somewhere very important I'd imagine."

"And where is very important for you, sir?"

She turned
To meet
My gaze a

As if challenging it.

Her lips were full and painted with red lipstick. Where I thought her eyes would prove to be light colored or forest green, they were actually colorless and black. I inhaled at the sight of her, then immediately blushed. Again, our questions back and forth to each other were more of an interrogation of one's hearts and minds than flirtation. As she stared at me, I sensed that we had met before. There was something in her face that brought the feeling of an old friend or an acquaintance, like the feeling one gets when they see a past school teacher or love interest back in grade school. There was a warmth and giddy tension between us that made me feel eight years old again. I had felt so old recently. There was a sudden wink in her eyes and I then remembered the question I had asked her before.

"You haven't answered my first question," I stated seriously.

"I agree," she answered quickly, "The present is the only thing we have truly and
Do not have, all at the same time."

"What do you mean?"

"Being present 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is a very exhausting,
Trying thing,
Isn't it?

"Yes, I would agree with that."

"And being present for whatever reason, be it socially, romantically,
Professionally, etc., is really all for the future. One's own's private future goals.
Something one desires in the moment and wishes to have for oneself in the future. Our
Motivations are our desires. Our wishes. The lives we wish to own in the future."

"At times, yes, I do believe
One is present for those reasons, but
Sometimes, and I speak for myself,
I wish to lay back and let the sun burn my skin and
The clouds to blanket me, chilling me, so to remind myself
Of my placement on this planet and the miniscule and
Tremendous affect I have on my surroundings. For example...
"

"You are very talkative," she said cutting me off, "I could
Tell from the way you looked up at this cathedral all by yourself,
Lost in thought or lack thereof, that you were a talker."

She smiled and I forced a tight-lipped smirk.

"Well, I am
So talkative because you have made
Me so.
"

"So be it."

"It is so."

"Are you mad? she asked.

"Not the least bit," I returned, unsure whether I was lying to
Her because I didn't want to offend her and scare her off or because
She was so extremely beautiful.

"Well, I am glad that I can do that to you." She looked back
Up at the church bell, trying to hide her satisfied smirk.

"I have said too much. Let us both watch
The cathedral stand on her own for a bit in silence, ok?"

"That sounds good."

She took a step down from the step she had been on with me. Two steps.
There she let her head and hair fall back, taking everything in she possibly could.
I needed a drink and she needed the sky, the cathedral, the city, but I
Could only give her my company, unsure whether she truly needed it or not.
I shifted my glance from the bell tower to what was behind me. There, I saw
A wooden trolley up against the far wall near a trickling fountain
With puppets hanging from their thin clear strings. The light from the oiled lamp posts
Was a dark orange and cast an array of bodily shadows along the walls that
Encircled the square which me and the woman and many others were standing around. Night
Had set on the square, but no one had decided to go anywhere.
The square was perfect for them; anywhere else would have seemed uncomfortable.

She looked at me from two steps back and asked,
"We are being present for a better future, yes?"

"What we hope will be a better future," I said, turning
My head away from the bottom of the square back to the
Cathedral. I emphasized the word hope.

"Yes, men and women must have
Hope for something better."

"Life does not guarantee anything, does it?"

"No, I guess it doesn't. It gives you chance and we give
One another choice."

"Or," I hesitated to say what I wanted to say, "Or God does."

"God," she laughed, "What's He got to do with anything?"

"Everything and nothing, I hear."

"Don't be so vague," she grinned, turning her body completely around to me
So I could see her full figure. Her dress outlined a woman's body,
But I knew, inside, there was so much more precious things then flesh. "Hear
From who and where?"

"You choose what you wish to believe
And no one can tell you otherwise. What
You need and
What others may need can be different and should be.
This does not mean that we cannot get along.

Is there a way to be wrong in what one believes in?
She looked to want an honest answer, so I gave her one.

"Yes."

"That's it?" she asked, wanting more.

"That can't be it?"

"Yes is a decent enough answer,
But because you looked to be so talkative before,
I assumed you would have more to say on the matter."

"Assuming something
Is a very dangerous, childish thing.

"Yes," she agreed, "It is."

"If one believes in something and tries to share
Those beliefs in an unaggressive, listen-if-you-will,
Dangerously friendly, perhaps even musical way, then
The listener has their choice in the matter. They can

Walk away

No questions asked or feelings hurt.

"That," she said, "Sounds good for the listener,
But perhaps not so great for the speaker.

"
Why?"* I asked, surprised.

"Because then the speaker may turn into something
They originally did not want to be. A prophet or voice for something
They may honestly have no interest or passion for.

"I see."

"
But, please, go on."

"
On the other side, someone may believe in something fully, to their bitter core, but there needs to be a validation from another to prove their conviction. This is a weakness in their faith. They secretly doubt themselves and are trying to prove, by the obedience and following of others, that
Their belief, system, God, what have you, is a truth, a fact like the sky is blue or that fishes swim in the sea. These people with their thoughts and beliefs are the one's that are wrong. The one's that push their way onto other's without any room for being challenged or accused of falsity."

"
There are some that do not want follower's, but as soon
As they turn around, there they are.

"Yes," I nodded, "I can think of a few thinker's
That I've read or heard of that happening."

"
God, though," she laughed again lightly, "It
Is
Funny that you bring Him up."

I didn't have anything to say, so I said nothing.

"
Are you a religious man...?" she asked.

"
My name is Robert Commento and no, I am not religious man."

I gave
Her my name
Out of my uncomfortable stance on religion and
To change the subject to less formal and conversational matters.

She put out her hand and I slipped my palm under hers. I was
Never taught to shake a woman's hand - for it is too delicate -
but to let their hand rest atop mine.

I bowed and gently kissed her hand.
Her skin smelled of fresh milk and uncut grass and
What morning dew feels like across raw fingertips.
I tried to force myself not to trip too quickly into love,
But there are some things
Men are absolutely unable to do.

"
Luria Rose," she said, bowing her head, "Very ncie to meet you
Robert Commento."

"
And very nice to meet you."

"
You are from here?" she asked.

"
Yes,"* I said, "Well, not exactly."
"From a city over where the tail of the river ends."

"I know this place, but I cannot recall the name." I could see
She was embarrassed by not knowing the location, telling me she
Was obviously from Rome and proud of it.

"Cuore Tagliente," I told her with zest,"That is where
I am from and where I was raised. My family still lives there to

Manage their small farm of olive trees.

"Do they make very much money?" At this question, I turned
On my heel and stared at her. By her look, she seemed to be
Unsure whether I meant this in seriousness or in jest. So not to scare her
Off again I forced a smiled, left my eyes upon her as if viewing a painting or a statue, and
Answered as truthfully as I could without insulting the name of my family
In truth, I lied a little.

"They were very
Well off when they bought the
Olive farm and they are still very well off
Due to savings and the like, but, because of the business they sold
And the expenses of starting from scratch in the scorching fields of where olives are grown,
They took quite a beating financially. We are quite fine now, very, very fine now,
But not as fine as if we had stayed with the old company. In a way, we were
Asked very professionally and cordially to step down. Of course, my mother, bless
Her body and soul, was very destroyed by this matter and that is why I find it hard to continue.

Luria, staring at me blankly, but with a slight hint of fascination,
Walked up the two steps she had just stepped down and
Two more past where she had been beside me.
She swiveled around on her flats and faced me. Her
Eyes were now impossible to see in the night, though I knew she was
Looking directly at me. Curious why she decided to say nothing in return
To my story, I said something in her place.

"I say so much about myself...well, then, what about you?"

Instantly, she pounced on the question,
"I am
An orphan of Roma
And grew up on the streets stealing and
Running amok quite happily, though
Sometimes I regret what I stole. Every single one was a

Necessary action."

This took me back, for she looked tanned, healthy, and
Well fed, instantly making me think she must be a very skilled
Thief. Eyeing her up and down, I wondered if this was why
She was even talking to me presently. I checked my wallet. It was there,
Though this fact made me feel only slightly better. I watched her
Blow a thick, crescent moon shaped strand of dark brown hair from her eye,
Seeing if the story had settled. Was she lying? Was she telling me the truth?

Why would she tell me anything at all?

"Let us get dinner someplace," I offered, "You can
Take me to your favorite, local restaurant in the city and I
Will pay. No favors thought to receive or anything. All I'd like
Is to have a conversation through the night with whom I have in front of me."

She nodded, said nothing with a smile, and stood still.

"You must lead the way for
I have no idea where you would like to take me. I, of
Course can take you to any of the many restaurants
I know of in my Rome, but I want to go to the one the thieves knows of.

Suddenly, her face contorted into a shape like
A razor had been dragged down the length of her face.

She shouted,"Do not call me a thief, Robert!
Your a poor son of olive farmer's! What do you know about
Anything of the street? So much so that you can ridicule and
Mock whoever's from it? You know nothing!

I immediately tried to tell her I was teasing, but she ran past me, down the stairs, and across the square. I stood stunned, embarrassed to see if anyone had noticed this outburst. No one
Had. Groups of people were still sitting around the fountain, throwing
Coin into the water as some children played and dipped their toes into the
Clear, tranquil water. The puppets waved back and forth in a light, chilled wind,
And the lamp posts still burned casting a curing light over the square. There,
I saw Luria cast in the dark orange light for just a moment. She turned around to look at
Me in the light and there, I saw her eyes were not black, but sky blue, like
The fresh melted ice I had once seen on my travels to Antarctica. Then she was gone.

Pausing, letting myself be hugged by the cathedral behind me,
Half of me wanting to stay in her embrace and the other wanting me to be in hers.
I could not hug stone forever," I told myself, "Man needs to hug a woman
Into eternity, not the church. Maybe later in life, but now, man needs the physical,
Not the metaphysical. There, I see her as she goes through the alley behind the fountain on the
Path toward my favorite bakery, Grano Gorato. I will follow her and find her.

I ran down the stairs carefully for they had become wet and slick from the light
Fog that sometimes rolls into Rome when it is night. There, I moved through the crowd
Which looked to have double in size with people. Where had they all come from?
The alleys, no doubt. They all felt the warmth and comfort of this secret square with Her
Majesty looking down on them from above, the church bell and moon like two great eyes,
The tinted cathedral windows depicting ancient actions Her heart, and the hard square
Slabs of concrete and smoothed stone Her skin. But, Luria did not care for such comforts, She
Believed in no comforts other then the one's another could give. Did she want that from me?

Once through the alley and passing Grano Gorato, I swiveled my head three-hundred-and
Sixty degrees hoping to spot the white dress with the long brown hair. There were many
Women about, but none that were Luria. I sat on the edge of another fountain in a smaller
Square which I had found myself in. Inside the café in front of me, I observed an old man order
A glass of red wine and a mini-short bread crust filled with cream with bright, light green
Kiwi on top. It is was brightly lit inside and everyone was smiling, even the servers. Looking up
At the sign for the restaurant, I saw its name was Mondi. I made a note to go there with
Luria when I found her.

"Luria! I shouted. The name echoed about the numerous walls that
Surrounded me. A few tourists dressed in sandals with socks and cameras
Wrapped around their shoulders and "fanny-packs" around their waists

(Terrible Things)

Gave me a concerned glance, but I continued to
Shout, "Luria!

"Yes, Robert?" I heard Luria's voice ask me from afar.

I quickly stood and looked over the fountain to see Luria sitting on the other side.
She had not turned to look at me when she had made herself noticed. She was looking into
A woman's clothing store. It was closed, but the clothes, shoes, and scarves were
Well light by a bright orange flame whose oil was new and glass casing was recently cleaned.
Seeing her, I could see her head was poised so her stare was focused on the silk scarves
That hung from the cloth mannequins. Their colors all appeared to be dark reds, blues, and greens,
Though I could have been wrong because the light from the lamp post was not so good
To see any kind of detail. Anyway, she had made herself known and the present was at hand.

"Which is your favorite?" I asked as I walked toward her.

"The burgundy made with silk. That is my favorite," she said. Not turning to look
At me. She was still angry.

"Burgundy reminds me too much of blood."

"Now that you say it," she sighed, "It reminds me of the same. Now
I'll have to find a new favorite."

"Do you need to be somewhere?" I asked. She looked up at
Me
Then motioned for me to sit down next to her.

Moonlight sang over the dim square. There was a bite of cold in the air, and I felt a temptation of
chivalry, but my ego wouldn't allow me the pleasure. Luria sat there like a fine chocolate or an old house who refused to be torn down. Her strength seemed to tremor out from her pores and out onto the slick stones of the square. As I watched the moonlight make diamonds on the millions of crystals that lay invisible atop the stone, Luria sat still, searching for another scarf to call her favorite. I had nothing else to give her except my body, my voice, and my mind.

"How long does the night last?" she whispered, still looking into the window with the scarves. Moonlight leaked across her cheek like a ghost man's hand.

"Until the morning comes."

"And what if the morning decides not to?"

"Well then, I guess it would be night until it decides to do so."

"I hope the morning never does come." With this, she
Laid her head on my right shoulder. I wasn't surprised. Her voice had sounded afraid
Since I had heard it echo when she made herself known. On her lap rested her two small hands.
They were clasped tightly together looking very cold. My ego kept me at bay once again.

"That would be unfortunate for some individuals that need
The morning to go to work."

"True," she said simply and without fight in her voice.

The couple that we had seen run up the stairs of the cathedral passed by us as we sat on the rim of the fountain. They were hand in hand and looked very much in love. The girl's long hair was tangled around the man's waist and he seemed to be looking up into the sky as if trying to thank God that he was with her. "There's that God stuff again," I thought to myself, "He's always coming up at the worst moments. Luria may be right about many things, but I wonder if she is right about laughing at the one they call God. There's not much changing her if she's already made up her damn mind. I wouldn't want to. Whose got the time?" She shifted the weight of her head and body so it came closer. Then I noticed she had started to slip one of her cold hands underneath mine. I always ran hot - snow or rain I did - so I was happy to let them under.

"You're so warm," she sighed, "I'm always so cold."

"What's wrong with you?" I asked. I felt like I could be frank with her now.

"Not always. Whenever I am at the beach
And I have been laying out for a long time and the sun starts to burn the skin
Like it does when you have been laying out for along time, that is when
I feel the most warm in my own skin. Sorry if I am sounding a little crazy, but
I really like those scarves and I really am enjoying spending this time with you Roberto.
It has been a very long time since I have met someone who I can stand to be with for so long."


I nodded and didn't feel a need to explain myself about my warm condition. Instead of taking her hand, I let it alone under mine. By not gripping it or holding it, I would allow her to do what she wanted and let her lead. The mood had settled in a content, still silence and I preferred it that way for the moment. The couple had gone - I knew not where - but I wondered what they would be doing with themselves for the rest of the night. Moonlight was still flooding the square and the diamonds that had been shining so brilliantly before had vanished. Where had they gone to so quickly? No one other then the young couple had walked upon them, but they, the young couple, seemed to have been gliding over the stones and imposing nothing on the bright reflections to arouse fear. With Luria's head still resting softly on my shoulder, a small pocket of grief and longing began to burn in the pit of my stomach. I wanted the light back, but I knew I would not be able to see it again that night and was very afraid I would not be able to the next night or any other. Sometimes a certain kind of beauty is meant to be seen only once in a lifetime. Rarity gives it its magic.

"Where do you live?" I asked Luria. My eyes had grown tired and I was beginning to get hungry. We could go out to eat or have dinner in her flat, if she happened to have one.

"Like I said, I am a thief, so I live everywhere."

"Where did you wake up this morning?"

"In my cot by the lake on the Southern outskirts of town. The
Sun was skipping across the lake like the round, flat stones the little one's
Sometimes play with when they visit. They call me la sirena."


"I almost like that name more than Luria Rose."

"Really?" She looked hurt and took her head off my shoulder. "You're serious?" She
Was looking me straight in the eye and I had nowhere to look but right back at her.

"Both are beautiful. Perhaps it is because it is a new name that I like it."

"I like Luria, no, I love the name Luria. My
Mother gave me that name and I refuse to be called la sirena or Sirena because
Some kids down by a dirty lake think it is funny or clever and you think
It is prettier."


"Put your head back on my shoulder. It felt very nice there."

"It did?" Surprise was not on her face, only a smile with the
Moons milky glare reflecting in her eyes.

"Yes, it did," I said, as if under oath.

"Kiss me and I will."

I kissed her. Her lips were moist and warm, confusing me because
Her hands were so damned cold.

"Let's eat," she said, "Getting up. There is a place I want to take you."

"Ok." I got up off the steely cold seat and let the night wrap us up.

She held my hand as if I was going to be pulled away by someone behind me. The street people had trickled out and the alleyways were slowly becoming as they had been before everyone had come along. From somewhere, I heard the echo of slapping water against old stone and I remembered the tall standing cathedral where Luria and I had first met and imagined if I had just continued on and never met her and where I would be. Back up flat and straight against the pew; wishing I was with another; watching the flickering candles dance and waver in a passing wind smelling of tangerines and sand; old men and women filing in and out to pay respect to an apparition that produced faith, guilt, and the promise of a better place after this one; stained windows of burgundy depicting honey sliding out from their jars and holy men with rings of light symbolizing glory and something to strive for waving their hands around like they're trying to hail a cab in a busy street in a busier sidewalk in even in a busier city; children there, but wishing they were elsewhere, either in the stream or licking the cream off the top of their favorite gelato; no rain ever entering the house of the lord, for if their robes get wet, man and women would see their chest. We came upon a three-story building that looked to be made of mud, sand, and spotted patches of concrete. The windows were boarded up save one, which was at the very top and to the left. I squinted to see what the shadow was that sat in the window and Luria saw me doing this and stopped me by taking my face in her hands and kissing me again.

"It's a candle, you fool."

"A candle for who?" I smiled, keeping my lips hovering over hers.

"I thought a candle only for me, but now that you are here,
A candle for you and I."

"I don't want to intrude," I said playfully, but sincerely.

"Don't be silly," she said, "You will come up and we will both enjoy it. I
Have food too."

She pushed the large, splintered wooden door open. The rusted hinges creaked and cracked like old men's knuckles do. Up the stairs, I watched the grey outline of her thighs and back as it was cut by the slivers of silver that came from the light of moon through the boards that covered the windows. The smell of sweet fruit and fresh bread came down from the top floor and my stomach clenched and rolled over on itself. I stood up straight and tall, taking away the pressure from my middle. I watched her feet lightly lift and land on each step that made a small cloud of dust and sand I could see in the darkness and felt and tasted on my tongue. I knew we were almost to the top floor when I saw the moonlight pouring in brighter and stronger from the unboarded window.

We reached the top of the stairs and walked into a small room suited with a table with two wooden chairs with a single apple resting in the center of it. Three glass candle holder's were circled around the apple, but no candles inside of them. Where the candle sat was actually on the windowsill and there was no glass holder to secure it there. This worried me, the candle sitting there without burning, having no purpose at all. The darkness was damp and the shadows danced with the moonlight that came in through the window. Luria was sitting at the table, gazing out the window. There was no mistaking it that she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my life.

"How long have you lived here?"

"I can't remember, to tell you the truth. There is a certain talent
I've acquired over the years of bouncing and bounding around
To let time not be something you think about. It is as if time were a fly that you know is
In the room and you hear it and in some way you feel it, but there is
Really nothing one can do about it because the stupid fly is too quick or too fast."

I nodded, still just looking at her in that moonlight.

"Do you know what I mean?" she asked.

"Yes, very much so. Time is a very illusory, but real fact in life."

"Sit down, Roberto," she said, motioning to the chair across from her.

I walked to the chair and sat down. Luria's face
Was now impossible to see in the shadows. The only thing I was able to make out
Was her hair that was illuminated white like a pearl.
The one apple and the three candle holders sat still, much like Luria.
Then, I remembered the food she had promised.

"You said you have some food...?"

"Yes," she said motionless, "But let's sit here for a minute, not talking."

Well, there we are. She wants to sit. I want to eat and she wants to sit.
There is something torturous about this and I sensed she was enjoying all of it.
She looked beautiful though, cast in all that light with the clouds slowly floating
Behind her like a grey, surging river. Although I wasn't exactly comfortable,
I felt happy, full, and not hiding anything from Luria
As we sat in that darkness in a small room where I could still hear water clapping against
The clay walls of the other buildings. I eyed the candle on the windowsill. Luria
Saw me through the darkness and got up from her chair. A large flash of blazing orange burst
Over the candle and I felt like a child again seeing light overcome the night. There she
Stood by window lit now by the candle. My whole foundation shook for a moment, so I rose
And went to the window. I stood behind her and gingerly pressed my chest
Against her back. I could feel a light mist sprinkling over us both. My arms around here now,
hands clasped and my palms pressed lightly over her stomach, I kissed the side her neck. It was moist from the mist and we breathed like that close to each other in that silence for a long time.

"Let's sit and eat," she whispered out the window. The wind carried her voice
Back to me.

"Yes, let's sit and eat. Let's do that."

We turned from the window and sat at the table. She pulled a long baguette from underneath the table that was wrapped in a thick red cloth. Also inside was a small jar of purple jelly, butter, and a single stainless silver knife. Taking the top off of both of the jars, she gently knifed out the butter and jam and spread it across the tip of the baguette and ripped it off and handed it to me. She did the same to hers and she smiled as she did it. Here, now, was like being in a dream, yet I knew where I had started.

"Let's eat."

"Yes," I said, "Let's eat."

Frank Brown Aug 2012

Seven or eight people lounged about in a small back room. I had no expectations before arriving so I’m neither surprised nor disappointed by what I discover.  I find myself sat in one of those reclining gaming chairs and think “This must be the best chair in the room”.

Just playing it cool. I don’t know anyone here. There’re a few guys playing the Xbox. I eye them over, none of them look to challenge my presence, either too engrossed in the screen, or intimidated in some way. To my left sit the women in the place. I have their attention. Relief that the journey here wasn’t in vein, I give them all a nod and a smile. I casually introduce myself, and then find myself playing on the Xbox. I know I can’t play, but that’s the act. I ask what buttons to press, and laugh at my own hopelessness, eventually relinquishing the controller. It soon finds its way back into my hands. By this time, some bird is sat up on the arm next to me. She’s watching my actions, how I take command of the situation. Why don’t I take command of her? Sitting and waiting has never been a good tactic. I pass the controller over to her and say a few words in an attempt to get the conversation rolling. The drink clouds my thoughts and I forget that I’m talking to her. In the distance I hear them remark, “He’s a cool guy.”

I sit, reclined, legs outstretched, coat open revealing buttoned collar, slicked back hair, that look of pure relaxation in ones surroundings. She’s diggin’ it. I know she’s digging it. Her leg starts to press into my arm, and then her hands are down by my side. Commotion in the room. Some fat bitch needs to make her presence known. Everyone chilled. She obviously wants the attention. Not my type. She leaves for an upstairs room, and moments later, a spliff finds its way into my hands, courtesy of the girls to my left. I take a few drags, telling myself not to get too high; too late for that. I pass it on and fall back into the chair. Forgot I hadn’t smoked in a month.

Still a laid back guy, although not sure if it’s a choice anymore. I know it’s taking me over now. Slowly, I find myself entering that zone where weeds been taking me lately. Thoughts of everything; no filter; the need to verbalize things. Suddenly I’m Mr Charismatic, and you are all my audience, whether you like it or not. I stopped caring or stop noticing people’s reactions and forget about myself. I let my ego out to play, unregulated by the discipline of consciousness.

There are people in the room. Pretty sure they weren’t here earlier. One of them says something to me. “Is he been aggressive?” I think to myself. Judging from the tone of my reply, I obviously felt the need to establish my position. Taking no shit from these guys it seems; I’m still the Don in the room. Remember myself, remember the girl. Mr Cool again.

Filling up water in the kitchen, find myself chatting to random guys. Banter flying around the place. She’s watching me. Some powder is under my nose. “Kind of you to offer, but that better not be ket.” Turns out it was Mandy. Can’t say no to a bump. Pretty sure I’m the most fucked in the room right now, but I’m riding it well. Door frame seems like a necessity to keep me upright. Don’t want to brave the assault course back to the recliner, plus, I’m talking to the guys in the kitchen, don’t want to walk away.

We’re meeting J’s bird in thirty minutes. Twenty minutes. Five minutes ago. “We’ll go in five minutes.” She’s there again. Her presence known to me. She's up against me, but time is also against me. Too fucked up to keep playing this game. We’re leaving now. Out the door, I attempt to say a few words as we leave. My eloquence abandons me and leaves me in the shit. Flag a taxi; turns out we’ve booked one. Send him on his way. Tip the driver more than I can afford.

FIRST DAY

1.

Who wanted me
to go to Chicago
on January 6th?
I did!

The night before,
20 below zero
Fahrenheit
with the wind chill;
as the blizzard of 99
lay in mountains
of blackening snow.

I packed two coats,
two suits,
three sweaters,
multiple sets of long johns
and heavy white socks
for a two-day stay.

I left from Newark.

Damn the denseness,
it confounds!

The 2nd City to whom?
2nd ain’t bad.
It’s pretty good.

If you consider
Peking and Prague,
Tokyo and Togo,
Manchester and Moscow,
Port Au Prince and Paris,
Athens and Amsterdam,
Buenos Aries and Johannesburg;
that’s pretty good.

What’s going on here today?
It’s friggin frozen.
To the bone!

But Chi Town is still cool.
Buddy Guy’s is open.
Bartenders mixing drinks,
cabbies jamming on their breaks,
honey dew waitresses serving sugar,
buildings swerving,
fire tongued preachers are preaching
and the farmers are measuring the moon.

The lake,
unlike Ontario
is in the midst of freezing.
Bones of ice
threaten to gel
into a solid mass
over the expanse
of the Michigan Lake.

If this keeps up,
you can walk
clear to Toronto
on a silver carpet.

Along the shore
the ice is permanent.

It’s the first big frost
of winter
after a long
Indian Summer.

Thank God
I caught a cab.

Outside I hear
The Hawk
nippin hard.

It’ll get your ear,
finger or toe.
Bite you on the nose too
if you ain’t careful.

Thank God,
I’m not walking
the Wabash tonight;
but if you do cover up,
wear layers.

Chicago,
could this be
Sandburg’s City?

I’m overwhelmed
and this is my tenth time here.

It’s almost better,
sometimes it is better,
a lot of times it is better
and denser then New York.

Ask any Bull’s fan.
I’m a Knickerbocker.
Yes Nueva York,
a city that has placed last
in the standings
for many years.
Except the last two.
Yanks are # 1!

But Chicago
is a dynasty,
as big as
Sammy Sosa’s heart,
rich and wide
as Michael Jordan’s grin.

Middle of a country,
center of a continent,
smack dab in the mean
of a hemisphere,
vortex to a world,
Chicago!

Kansas City,
Nashville,
St. Louis,
Detroit,
Cleveland,
Pittsburgh,
Denver,
New Orleans,
Dallas,
Cairo,
Singapore,
Auckland,
Baghdad,
Mexico City
and Montreal
salute her.

2.

Cities,
A collection of vanities?
Engineered complex utilitarianism?
The need for community a social necessity?
Ego one with the mass?
Civilization’s latest perversion?
Chicago is more then that.

Jefferson’s yeoman farmer
is long gone
but this capitol
of the Great Plains
is still democratic.

The citizen’s of this city
would vote daily,
if they could.

Chicago,
Sandburg’s Chicago,
Could it be?

The namesake river
segments the city,
canals of commerce,
all perpendicular,
is rife throughout,
still guiding barges
to the Mississippi
and St. Laurence.

Now also tourist attractions
for a café society.

Chicago is really jazzy,
swanky clubs,
big steaks,
juices and drinks.

You get the best
coffee from Seattle
and the finest teas
from China.

Great restaurants
serve liquid jazz
al la carte.

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they serve is Jazz
Rock me steady
Keep the beat
Keep it flowin
Feel the heat!

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they is, is Jazz
Fast cars will take ya
To the show
Round bout midnight
Where’d the time go?

Flows into the Mississippi,
the mother of America’s rivers,
an empires aorta.

Great Lakes wonder of water.
Niagara Falls
still her heart gushes forth.
Buffalo connected to this holy heart.
Finger Lakes and Adirondacks
are part of this watershed,
all the way down to the
Delaware and Chesapeake.

Sandburg’s Chicago?
Oh my my,
the wonder of him.

Who captured the imagination
of the wonders of rivers.

Down stream other holy cities
from the Mississippi Valley
all mapped by him.
Its mouth our Dixie Trumpet
guarded by righteous Cajun brethren.


Midwest?
Midwest from where?

It’s north of Caracas and Los Angeles,
east of Fairbanks,
west of Dublin
and south of not much.

Him,
who spoke of honest men
and loving women.
Working men and mothers
bearing citizens to build a nation.

The New World’s
precocious adolescent
caught in a stream
of endless and exciting change,
much pain and sacrifice,
dedication and loss,
pride and tribulations.

From him we know
all the people’s faces.
All their stories are told.
Never defeating the
idea of Chicago.

He had the courage to say
what was in the heart of the people, who:
Defeated the Indians,
Mapped the terrain,
Aided slavers,
Fought a terrible civil war,
Hoisted the barges,
Grew the food,
Whacked the wheat,
Sang the songs,
Fought many wars of conquest,
Cleared the land,
Erected the bridges,
Trapped the game,
Netted the fish,
Mined the coal,
Forged the steel,
Laid the tracks,
Fired the tenders,
Cut the stone,
Mixed the mortar,
Plumbed the line,
And laid the bricks
Of this nation of cities!

Pardon the Marlboro Man shtick.
It’s a poor expostulation of
crass commercial symbolism.

Like I said, I’m a
Devil Fan from Jersey
and Madison Avenue
has done its work on me.

It’s a strange alchemy
that changes
a proud Nation of Blackhawks
into a merchandising bonanza
of hometown hockey shirts,
making the native seem alien,
and the interloper at home chillin out,
warming his feet atop a block of ice,
guzzling Old Style
with clicker in hand.

Give him his beer
and other diversions.
If he bowls with his buddy’s
on Tuesday night
I hope he bowls
a perfect game.

He’s earned it.
He works hard.
Hard work and faith
built this city.

And it’s not just the faith
that fills the cities
thousand churches,
temples and
mosques on the Sabbath.

3.

There is faith in everything in Chicago!

An alcoholic broker named Bill
lives the Twelve Steps
to banish fear and loathing
for one more day.
Bill believes in sobriety.

A tug captain named Moe
waits for the spring thaw
so he can get the barges up to Duluth.
Moe believes in the seasons.

A farmer named Tom
hopes he has reaped the last
of many bitter harvests.
Tom believes in a new start.

A homeless man named Earl
wills himself a cot and a hot
at the local shelter.
Earl believes in deliverance.

A Pullman porter
named George
works overtime
to get his first born
through medical school.
George believes in opportunity.

A folk singer named Woody
sings about his
countrymens inheritance
and implores them to take it.
Woody believes in people.

A Wobbly named Joe
organizes fellow steelworkers
to fight for a workers paradise
here on earth.
Joe believes in ideals.

A bookkeeper named Edith
is certain she’ll see the Cubs
win the World Series
in her lifetime.
Edith believes in miracles.

An electrician named Lech
saves money
to bring his family over from Gdansk.
Lech believes in America.

A banker named Leah
knows Ditka will return
and lead the Bears
to another Super Bowl.
Leah believes in nostalgia.

A cantor named Samuel
prays for another 20 years
so he can properly train
his Temple’s replacement.
Samuel believes in tradition.

A high school girl named Sally
refuses to get an abortion.
She knows she carries
something special within her.
Sally believes in life.

A city worker named Mazie
ceaselessly prays
for her incarcerated son
doing 10 years at Cook.
Mazie believes in redemption.

A jazzer named Bix
helps to invent a new art form
out of the mist.
Bix believes in creativity.

An architect named Frank
restores the Rookery.
Frank believes in space.

A soldier named Ike
fights wars for democracy.
Ike believes in peace.

A Rabbi named Jesse
sermonizes on Moses.
Jesse believes in liberation.

Somewhere in Chicago
a kid still believes in Shoeless Joe.
The kid believes in
the integrity of the game.

An Imam named Louis
is busy building a nation
within a nation.
Louis believes in
self-determination.

A teacher named Heidi
gives all she has to her students.
She has great expectations for them all.
Heidi believes in the future.


4.

Does Chicago have a future?

This city,
full of cowboys
and wildcatters
is predicated
on a future!

Bang, bang
Shoot em up
Stake the claim
It’s your terrain
Drill the hole
Strike it rich
Top it off
You’re the boss
Take a chance
Watch it wane
Try again
Heavenly gains

Chicago
city of futures
is a Holy Mecca
to all day traders.

Their skin is gray,
hair disheveled,
loud ties and
funny coats,
thumb through
slips of paper
held by nail
chewed hands.

Selling promises
with no derivative value
for out of the money calls
and in the money puts.

Strike is not a labor action
in this city of unionists,
but a speculators mark,
a capitalist wish,
a hedgers bet,
a public debt
and a farmers
fair return.

Indexes for everything.
Quantitative models
that could burst a kazoo.

You know the measure
of everything in Chicago.

But is it truly objective?
Have mathematics banished
subjective intentions,
routing it in fair practice
of market efficiencies,
a kind of scientific absolution?

I heard that there
is a dispute brewing
over the amount of snowfall
that fell on the 1st.

The mayor’s office,
using the official city ruler
measured 22”
of snow on the ground.

The National Weather Service
says it cannot detect more
then 17” of snow.

The mayor thinks
he’ll catch less heat
for the trains that don’t run
the buses that don’t arrive
and the schools that stand empty
with the addition of 5”.

The analysts say
it’s all about capturing liquidity.

Liquidity,
can you place a great lake
into an eyedropper?

Its 20 below
and all liquid things
are solid masses
or a gooey viscosity at best.

Water is frozen everywhere.
But Chi town is still liquid,
flowing faster
then the digital blips
flashing on the walls
of the CBOT.

Dreams
are never frozen in Chicago.

The exchanges trade
without missing a beat.

Trading wet dreams,
the crystallized vapor
of an IPO
pledging a billion points
of Internet access
or raiding the public treasuries
of a central bank’s
huge stores of gold
with currency swaps.

Using the tools
of butterfly spreads
and candlesticks
to achieve the goal.

Short the Russell
or buy the Dow,
go long the
CAC and DAX.

Are you trading in euro’s?
You better be
or soon will.


I know
you’re Chicago,
you’ll trade anything.

WEBS,
Spiders,
and Leaps
are traded here,
along with sweet crude,
North Sea Brent,
plywood and T-Bill futures;
and most importantly
the commodities,
the loam
that formed this city
of broad shoulders.

What about our wheat?
Still whacking and
breadbasket to the world.

Oil,
an important fossil fuel
denominated in
good ole greenbacks.

Porkbellies,
not just hogwash
on the Wabash,
but bacon, eggs
and flapjacks
are on the menu
of every diner in Jersey
as the “All American.”

Cotton,
our contribution
to the Golden Triangle,
once the global currency
used to enrich a
gentlemen class
of cultured
southern slavers,
now Tommy Hilfiger’s
preferred fabric.

I think he sends it
to Bangkok
where child
slave labor
spin it into
gold lamay.

Sorghum,
I think its hardy.

Soybeans,
the new age substitute
for hamburger
goes great with tofu lasagna.

Corn,
ADM creates ethanol,
they want us to drive cleaner cars.

Cattle,
once driven into this city’s
bloodhouses for slaughter,
now ground into
a billion Big Macs
every year.


When does a seed
become a commodity?
When does a commodity
become a future?
When does a future expire?

You can find the answers
to these questions in Chicago
and find a fortune in a hole in the floor.

Look down into the pits.
Hear the screams of anguish
and profitable delights.

Frenzied men
swarming like a mass
of epileptic ants
atop the worlds largest sugar cube
auger the worlds free markets.

The scene is
more chaotic then
100 Haymarket Square Riots
multiplied by 100
1968 Democratic Conventions.

Amidst inverted anthills,
they scurry forth and to
in distinguished
black and red coats.

Fighting each other
as counterparties
to a life and death transaction.

This is an efficient market
that crosses the globe.

Oil from the Sultan of Brunei,
Yen from the land of Hitachi,
Long Bonds from the Fed,
nickel from Quebec,
platinum and palladium
from Siberia,
FTSE’s from London
and crewel cane from Havana
circle these pits.

Tijuana,
Shanghai
and Istanbul's
best traders
are only half as good
as the average trader in Chicago.

Chicago,
this hog butcher to the world,
specializes in packaging and distribution.

Men in blood soaked smocks,
still count the heads
entering the gates of the city.

Their handiwork
is sent out on barges
and rail lines as frozen packages
of futures
waiting for delivery
to an anonymous counterparty
half a world away.

This nation’s hub
has grown into the
premier purveyor
to the world;
along all the rivers,
highways,
railways
and estuaries
it’s tentacles reach.

5.

Sandburg’s Chicago,
is a city of the world’s people.

Many striver rows compose
its many neighborhoods.

Nordic stoicism,
Eastern European orthodoxy
and Afro-American
calypso vibrations
are three of many cords
strumming the strings
of Chicago.

Sandburg’s Chicago,
if you wrote forever
you would only scratch its surface.

People wait for trains
to enter the city from O’Hare.

Frozen tears
lock their eyes
onto distant skyscrapers,
solid chunks
of snot blocks their nose
and green icicles of slime
crust mustaches.
They fight to breathe.

Sandburg’s Chicago
is The Land of Lincoln,
Savior of the Union,
protector of the Republic.
Sent armies
of sons and daughters,
barges, boxcars,
gunboats, foodstuffs,
cannon and shot
to raze the south
and stamp out succession.

Old Abe’s biography
are still unknown volumes to me.
I must see and read the great words.
You can never learn enough;
but I’ve been to Washington
and seen the man’s memorial.
The Free World’s 8th wonder,
guarded by General Grant,
who still keeps an eye on Richmond
and a hand on his sword.

Through this American winter
Abe ponders.
The vista he surveys is dire and tragic.

Our sitting President
impeached
for lying about a blowjob.

Party partisans
in the senate are sworn and seated.
Our Chief Justice,
adorned with golden bars
will adjudicate the proceedings.
It is the perfect counterpoint
to an ageless Abe thinking
with malice toward none
and charity towards all,
will heal the wounds
of the nation.
Abe our granite angel,
Chicago goes on,
The Union is strong!


SECOND DAY

1.

Out my window
the sun has risen.
According to
the local forecast
its minus 9
going up to
6 today.

The lake,
a golden pillow of clouds
is frozen in time.

I marvel
at the ancients ones
resourcefulness
and how
they mastered
the extreme elements.

Past, present and future
has no meaning
in the Citadel
of the Prairie today.

I set my watch
to Central Standard Time.

Stepping into
the hotel lobby
the concierge
with oil smooth hair,
perfect tie
and English lilt
impeccably asks,
“Do you know where you are going Sir?
Can I give you a map?”
He hands me one of Chicago.

I see he recently had his nails done.
He paints a green line
along Whacker Drive and says,
“turn on Jackson, LaSalle, Wabash or Madison
and you’ll get to where you want to go.”

A walk of 14 or 15 blocks from Streeterville-
(I start at The Chicago White House.
They call it that because Hillary Rodham
stays here when she’s in town.
Its’ also alleged that Stedman
eats his breakfast here
but Opra
has never been seen
on the premises.
I wonder how I gained entry
into this place of elite’s?)
-down into the center of The Loop.

Stepping out of the hotel,
The Doorman
sporting the epaulets of a colonel
on his corporate winter coat
and furry Cossack hat
swaddling his round black face
accosts me.

The skin of his face
is flaking from
the subzero windburn.

He asks me
with a gapped toothy grin,
“Can I get you a cab?”
“No I think I’ll walk,” I answer.
“Good woolen hat,
thick gloves you should be alright.”
He winks and lets me pass.

I step outside.
The Windy City
flings stabbing cold spears
flying on wings of 30-mph gusts.
My outside hardens.
I can feel the freeze
deepen
into my internalness.

I can’t be sure
but inside
my heart still feels warm.

For how long
I cannot say.

I commence
my walk
among the spires
of this great city,
the vertical leaps
that anchor the great lake,
holding its place
against the historic
frigid assault.

The buildings’ sway,
modulating to the blows
of natures wicked blasts.

It’s a hard imposition
on a city and its people.

The gloves,
skullcap,
long underwear,
sweater,
jacket
and overcoat
not enough
to keep the cold
from penetrating
the person.

Like discerning
the layers of this city,
even many layers,
still not enough
to understand
the depth of meaning
of the heart
of this heartland city.

Sandburg knew the city well.

Set amidst groves of suburbs
that extend outward in every direction.

Concentric circles
surround the city.

After the burbs come farms,
Great Plains, and mountains.
Appalachians and Rockies
are but mere molehills
in the city’s back yard.

It’s terra firma
stops only at the sea.
Pt. Barrow to the Horn,
many capes extended.

On the periphery
its appendages,
its extremities,
its outward extremes.

All connected by the idea,
blown by the incessant wind
of this great nation.

The Windy City’s message
is sent to the world’s four corners.
It is a message of power.
English the worlds
common language
is spoken here,
along with Ebonics,
Espanol,
Mandarin,
Czech,
Russian,
Korean,
Arabic,
Hindi­,
German,
French,
electronics,
steel,
cars,
cartoons,
rap,
sports­,
movies,
capital,
wheat
and more.

Always more.

Much much more
in Chicago.

2.

Sandburg
spoke all the dialects.

He heard them all,
he understood
with great precision
to the finest tolerances
of a lathe workers micrometer.

Sandburg understood
what it meant to laugh
and be happy.

He understood
the working mans day,
the learned treatises
of university chairs,
the endless tomes
of the city’s
great libraries,
the lost languages
of the ancient ones,
the secret codes
of abstract art,
the impact of architecture,
the street dialects and idioms
of everyman expression of life.

All fighting for life,
trying to build a life,
a new life
in this modern world.

Walking across
the Michigan Avenue Bridge
I see the Wrigley Building
is neatly carved,
catty cornered on the plaza.

I wonder if Old Man Wrigley
watched his barges
loaded with spearmint
and double-mint
move out onto the lake
from one of those Gothic windows
perched high above the street.

Would he open a window
and shout to the men below
to quit slaking and work harder
or would he
between the snapping sound
he made with his mouth
full of his chewing gum
offer them tickets
to a ballgame at Wrigley Field
that afternoon?

Would the men below
be able to understand
the man communing
from such a great height?

I listen to a man
and woman conversing.

They are one step behind me
as we meander along Wacker Drive.

“You are in Chicago now.”
The man states with profundity.
“If I let you go
you will soon find your level
in this city.
Do you know what I mean?”

No I don’t.
I think to myself.

What level are you I wonder?
Are you perched atop
the transmission spire
of the Hancock Tower?

I wouldn’t think so
or your ears would melt
from the windburn.

I’m thinking.
Is she a kept woman?
She is majestically clothed
in fur hat and coat.
In animal pelts
not trapped like her,
but slaughtered
farms I’m sure.

What level
is he speaking of?

Many levels
are evident in this city;
many layers of cobbled stone,
Pennsylvania iron,
Hoosier Granite
and vertical drops.

I wonder
if I detect
condensation
in his voice?

What is
his intention?

Is it a warning
of a broken affair?

A pending pink slip?

Advise to an addict
refusing to adhere
to a recovery regimen?

What is his level anyway?
Is he so high and mighty?
Higher and mightier
then this great city
which we are all a part of,
which we all helped to build,
which we all need
in order to keep this nation
the thriving democratic
empire it is.

This seditious talk!

3.

The Loop’s El
still course through
the main thoroughfares of the city.

People are transported
above the din of the street,
looking down
on the common pedestrians
like me.

Super CEO’s
populating the upper floors
of Romanesque,
Greek Revivalist,
New Bauhaus,
Art Deco
and Post Nouveau
Neo-Modern
Avant-Garde towers
are too far up
to see me
shivering on the street.

The cars, busses,
trains and trucks
are all covered
with the film
of rock salt.

Salt covers
my bootless feet
and smudges
my cloths as well.

The salt,
the primal element
of the earth
covers everything
in Chicago.

It is the true level
of this city.

The layer
beneath
all layers,
on which
everything
rests,
is built,
grows,
thrives
then dies.

To be
returned again
to the lower
layers
where it can
take root
again
and grow
out onto
the great plains.

Splashing
the nation,
anointing
its people
with its
blessing.

A blessing,
Chicago?

All rivers
come here.

All things
found its way here
through the canals
and back bays
of the world’s
greatest lakes.

All roads,
rails and
air routes
begin and
end here.

Mrs. O’Leary’s cow
got a bum rap.
It did not start the fire,
we did.

We lit the torch
that flamed
the city to cinders.
From a pile of ash
Chicago rose again.

Forever Chicago!
Forever the lamp
that burns bright
on a Great Lake’s
western shore!

Chicago
the beacon
sends the
message to the world
with its windy blasts,
on chugging barges,
clapping trains,
flying tandems,
T1 circuits
and roaring jets.

Sandburg knew
a Chicago
I will never know.

He knew
the rhythm of life
the people walked to.

The tools they used,
the dreams they dreamed
the songs they sang,
the things they built,
the things they loved,
the pains that hurt,
the motives that grew,
the actions that destroyed
the prayers they prayed,
the food they ate
their moments of death.

Sandburg knew
the layers of the city
to the depths
and windy heights
I cannot fathom.

The Blues
came to this city,
on the wing
of a chirping bird,
on the taps
of a rickety train,
on the blast
of an angry sax
rushing on the wind,
on the Westend blitz
of Pop's brash coronet,
on the tink of
a twinkling piano
on a paddle-wheel boat
and on the strings
of a lonely man’s guitar.

Walk into the clubs,
tenements,
row houses,
speakeasies
and you’ll hear the Blues.

Tidewater Blues
from Virginia,
Delta Blues
from the lower
Mississippi,
Boogie Woogie
from Appalachia,
Texas Blues
from some Lone Star,
Big Band Blues
from Kansas City,
Blues from
Beal Street,
Jelly Roll’s Blues
from the Latin Quarter.

Hell even Chicago
got its own brand
of Blues.

Its all here.
It ended up here
and was sent away
on the winds of westerly blows
to the ear of an eager world
on strong jet streams
of simple melodies
and hard truths.

A broad
shouldered woman,
a single mother stands
on the street
with three crying babes.

Their cloths
are covered
in salt.

She pleads
for a break,
praying
for a new start.

Poor and
under-clothed
against the torrent
of frigid weather
she begs for help.

Her blond hair
and facial features
suggests her
Scandinavian heritage.

I wonder if
she is related to Sandburg
as I walk past
her on the street.

Her feet
are bleeding
through her
canvass sneakers.

Her babes mouths
are zipped shut
with frozen drivel
and mucous.

The Blues live
on in Chicago.

The Blues
will forever live in her.

As I turn the corner
to walk the Miracle Mile
I see her engulfed
in a funnel cloud of salt,
snow and bits
of white paper,
swirling around her
and her children
in an angry
unforgiving
maelstrom.

The family
begins to
dissolve
like a snail
sprinkled with salt;
and a mother
and her children
just disappear
into the pavement
at the corner
of Dearborn,
in Chicago.

Music Selection:

Muddy Waters
I'm Ready

Robert Johnson
Sweet Home Chicago

jbm
Chicago
1/7/99

Added today to commemorate the birthday of Carl Sandburg
Abby Orbeta Dec 2014

Hi! I love you. Yes. You. I know that this might be too bold a declaration considering we barely know each other and we’ve only recently become Facebook friends. It hasn’t even been 48 hours since we first met, but I’ll say it again with much passion in my heart. I LOVE YOU. If you ask any of my friends if I’m serious about this, they’ll tell you that indeed I am. Like a fucking heart attack. Possibly to scare you to see if you’ll run away or to warn you that I do fall hard in love way too quickly with anything and everything or to see if you’ll respond positively so that maybe we can live happily ever after. I am serious though. I love you.

I love you because of the way you made eye contact with me when I entered the room and didn’t break it until after I mindlessly followed your invitation to sit beside you by the window sill and introduced yourself and asked for my name. I love you for the way you repeated my name three times after learning it as if to imprint it in your mind that I am called as such. My name as ordinary as it sounds, felt extraordinary with your voice. Love is in the way that we discussed how dangerous it is for small boats to try and traverse large oceans but it is possible. Dangerous, but possible. Just like you and me. I feel like my heart wants to spontaneously combust at the mention of car engines. I am not someone who is well versed into how a car works but oh dear Lord I came out of that conversation an expert. Expert in God knows what, I’m not entirely sure. But you know what I am sure of? You. You are the stuff of lovey dovey poetry. You are my “person next door”, my “white picket fence”, my “ice cold beers on a warm Sunday afternoon”, my “screaming at youths from our rocking chairs on the porch”. I have already pictured our forever from our short time together.

You might be wondering why I am telling you all this now, it’s because in a few moments I will forget. In a few moments, I will probably meet someone new and this cycle will repeat all over again. Just like with names, I am bad, no, horrible with butterfly romances. I’m sorry, but my heart has ADHD. We had great fun. Maybe writing this down will make the moment last longer, you know? So before I go, remember these three things: I love you. I love you. I love you. I hope never to forget this moment, but that’s wishful thinking. Oh hey, hi! Wait, what was your name again?

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