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Jason and the Argonuts

I heard about it from a coworker who thought it was a joke. Had seen it on an internet message board. Found it hilarious. I don’t. I’m certain I know what’s really going on. What’s hiding in plain site. And I want to see it for myself. Seems that most people who’ve come across it just write it off as kids messing around. After all, who would take this sort of thing seriously? If somebody were to do so, goodness knows there might be a pretty big mess.
Follow the directions I found online to this place called Joe’s Pizzeria. Find the brick oven. Press a secret button. The oven changes form. There's a mahogany door. I descend a stairwell, which opens into a small basement room. There are a number of chairs arranged in a circle. Four of them are occupied.
Without making it too obvious, I try to determine the safest place to sit. Across from some hipster with a pencil-thin mustache, I see a pair of identical, androgynous twins. Both wear identical jogging suits. A few chairs to the twins’ right sits a Native American looking fellow in full headdress. He stares blankly at the wall, making a slow chopping motion with his right hand. I take a seat closer to mister moustache.
Well, this is it. There's nothing to do now but wait.
A few minutes pass in almost complete silence, save for some giggling on the part the twins. Suddenly, the basement door swings open. In walks a portly redheaded man, wearing a neon yellow shirt and green cargo pants. He smiles and waves to everyone, then sits down next to me. I try to ignore the stench of what I believe is asparagus.
“Well, I see we have a new face here tonight!” He exclaims; “Always happy to see a new face!”
He looks at me and I realize it’s time to do what I came to do.
I stand.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
“Hello, my name is Dan, and I’m a serial killer.”  
“Hello, Dan,” the group responds in a collective droning voice, resemblant of worshipers at Catholic mass.
“Yes, hello to you, Dan!” the man in the yellow shirt huffs out, getting to his feet. “It’s splendid that you are able to join us. I’m the group leader, Jason. Welcome to Serial Killers Anonymous!”
I simply stare at him. I have no idea what to say.
“Okay, first and foremost, I want you to know that even though you’re new, I trust you like I would any of our more established members. Call me crazy, but I think we’re all in this together! So, it should go without saying that what happens in this basement stays in this basement. All members are prohibited from discussing group with outsiders, except when promoting the idea that it’s only an internet gag. Also, to help newcomers feel more comfortable, I like to share my personal history with them right off the bat, along with how it relates to the founding of this group. Once I’ve finished, one of our older members, I suppose it will be Mark, will tell the story of how he came to join us. And after that, you’ll get a chance to speak, if you choose to do so.
“Now, as should be obvious, I am a recovering serial killer. The news media referred to me as the Coat Hanger Killer. I was credited by our local Olympia County police with the murders of twenty prostitutes. In reality, though, there were a half dozen more. And there’s no telling how many more women I would have killed if I had not confronted just what it was that drove me to commit such atrocities and dealt with it.”
I return to my seat and it hits me...this man is the Coat Hanger Killer? The Coat Hanger Killer, also known as Hanger-Man to true crime aficionados, was a hero of mine when I was younger. He got the name because he was known for inserting straightened coat hangers into his victims’ vaginas. After the Coat Hanger Killings inexplicably stopped, authorities presumed Hanger-Man to be either dead or incarcerated for other crimes. There’s no way he could be this ginger with the loud shirt.
“I was born out of wedlock to a teenage mother,” he continues. “Raised in a strict Christian household. As a naturally rebellious person, my mother resented her puritanical upbringing and began engaging in promiscuous behavior at an obscenely young age. She thought it would be liberating, but her sleeping around led to an unwanted pregnancy It is not even clear who the father – my father – might have been.
“Well, my mother wanted to get an abortion. And knowing how desperate she must have felt, I cannot blame her. But when she went to a clinic, she learned that legally speaking, minors are not allowed to decide such things on their own, which lead to my being born. Mother was less than thrilled about this. In retaliation, she became more promiscuous than ever. And it did not take long for her to get pregnant again. However, this time, she decided to take matters into her own hands –’’
The narrative is interrupted when one of the twins suddenly blurts out,“With a coat hanger!” This elicits some chuckling from the other, which dissipates upon a severe look from Hanger-Man. He continues speaking.
“Yes, that's right. She went into the bathroom and after what must have been a grisly spectacle, my mother was no more. And there’s no denying just how much this damaged me. I spent a good deal of my childhood crying alone in my room, thinking about my mother’s licentious behavior. Thinking about her death. It absolutely tore my mind to pieces! To pieces! And eventually, all my obsessing over promiscuity and coat hanger abortions led me to become the Coat Hanger Killer.”
All the true crime books I’ve read dealing with the Coat Hanger Killings suggested that the killer did not hold himself in high esteem, which accounted for his tendency to violate his victims with an object so lacking in circumference. It's amusing how wrong they seemingly were...unless there’s some oedipal thing going on here, which wouldn’t surprise me.
“I was utterly consumed by my desires.” he continues. “I obsessively thought of new ways to ****** prostitutes and not get caught. Yes, the sad truth is that my entire life revolved around serial killing for a number of years.”
He stops talking and stares up at the ceiling, letting out a deep breath, apparently orchestrating some sort of dramatic pause.
“When I finally realized that serial killing had taken over my life, I knew I had to change. And I did. And you can change, too!”
At that, he looks at me with pleading puppy dog eyes. This man, who has taken at least a score of human lives, is now using the cutesy approach in an attempt to establish a connection with me.
“Do you want to change?”
“Yes,” I lie.
“Then let’s get to it! Let the healing begin!”
And it begins.

The moustached man rises from his seat.
“Yeah, I’m Mark You all know me, except for the new guy. I’m Mark and I’m a serial killer.”
I mouth along as the group drones its greeting.
“I don’t wanna be here, but I don’t have a choice. If I don’t go to these meetings, my wife says she's gona leave me. See, this one night, I had just finished up with something I saw in a Ranch Burger parking lot. Wound up getting caught by my wife, stuffing it under our bed! I like keeping my finds under there after I’m done. It helps me get my rocks off when I’m nailing the old lady. Trouble is, before you know it, the body starts to stink. Then you gotta toss it. Good thing my wife has asnomia! Anyway, I almost had the whole thing hidden, when she comes in the bedroom. I didn’t even realize she was in the house! See, I was having some trouble getting the head underneath the bed frame, 'cause this one, lemme tell you, this one had a huge ******’ head. And my wife, she starts screaming and ****. Says something like, 'Mark, tell me you aren’t shoving a corpse under our bed! Please, tell me you aren’t!’ So, I told her I wasn’t.”
Mark’s witticism leads to raucous laughter from the twins, again ended with a severe look from Hanger Man. I stifle a yawn. The Indian remains impassive. Our orator continues with his narrative.
“I’m glad you guys find it funny, because my wife sure as **** didn’t. She fell to her knees and started crying. I swear, if there’s one thing in the world I can’t stand, it’s to see that woman cry. Breaks my heart. Except all of a sudden, she stops crying and starts screaming about how she knows what I’ve done and wants a divorce! So, I go up to her, put my arm around her shoulder, and tell her how sorry I am. Then I promise I’ll never shove another body under the bed. She asks me if I mean it and I say yes, figuring that’ll be the end of it. But then she starts begging me to swear that I won’t even score anything anymore. That I’ll quit. Quit for good!
"Well, I’d do anything to make my wife happy, right? So, I kiss her on the forehead and tell her nothing bad like that is ever going to happen again.
“But I’ll be ****** if the very next day I didn’t start getting that old itchy feeling as soon as I woke up. It was so strong I just couldn’t ignore it! Knew I was gonna have to score something soon as I got the chance. Of course, being so desperate, I wound up snagging this ***** that was all fat and gross at some supermarket. I did my business, then drove home and decided to leave the body in the garage, because I thought my wife never went in there. But go figure, she just had to pick that night to go ******’ exploring! Winds up seeing me ***** ******’ the ugliest, grossest, fattest score I ever made in my life. It was embarrassing, you know? Especially with how flat-chested my wife is.
“Anyway, to my mind, I had sort of kept my promise. I mean, I wasn’t putting anything under the bed, was I? But she didn’t see things like that. Just ran off in tears. Went right upstairs and locks herself in the bathroom. I eventually talk her out, but get the silent treatment for a couple days. Eventually, when she’s finally willing to talk, she tells me about this group. Says I go or else she’ll pack her **** and leave.”
“Excuse me, Mark,” Hanger-Man interjects, “but you are misrepresenting the character of your marriage! At last week's meeting, while you were occupied in the bathroom, your visiting wife revealed very much indeed about how you really treat her!”
At that, one of the twins decides to speak at length.
“Hey! Our dear leader isn’t going to let you get away with lying about your spouse, you know. Why, I bet he likes your wife so much, he wants to stick a coat hanger up her ****. After all, that’s the only way of showing affection he really knows.”
Both twins again erupt in laughter, this time so strongly that they fall out of their chairs. Hanger-Man leaps to his feet and begins chastising them for their lack of respect, which only seems to cause them to laugh even harder. Sensing failure, he throws up his hands in frustration and apologizes to me for not getting to my story, then announces that the meeting is to end early due to Nat and Richard's unruly behavior.
I wonder which one is which, but my interest fades. I head to the exit. Walking past Mark, I hear him talking to himself. Think I catch him say something about his “***** wife leaving,” before he sits down and buries his face in his hands. It occurs to me that a group of serial killers meeting in the secret basement of a pizzeria is strange enough without one of them bringing along his wife.
Open the door and head up the stairs. A man with flour on his hands, who was not here when I arrived, watches me coming out from behind the brick oven. I’m sure I see him wink as I leave.

Five minutes pass. I am standing in front of Joe’s, having decided to take a taxi home rather than walk. I'm trying not to stare at the Indian, who's situated next to a woman who'd been waiting outside in a **** nurse costume. He rests on his haunches, slowly rocking back and forth, still steadily chopping away at nothing. Everyone else from group has departed, the twins notably in a chauffeured limousine, whose driver bore a striking resemblance to Gene Wilder.
I feel uncomfortable. Perhaps I should try to make conversation.
“I’m pretty tired. Hope a cab comes soon.”
A grin appears on the strange man's face, which seems to stretch all the way back to his ears. The tomahawking stops. I wonder what would happen if I were to reintroduce myself.
“My name is Dan, as I said inside, but I think I should make a more formal introduction. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve never met a Native American before.”
“Chief Killing ******, round eye. Pleasure is all mine. And the reason you haven't met any of us is because there are not that many of us.”
A taxi mercifully appears.
“Yes, you’re right. See you next time, Chief.”

Romance

All alone in my apartment. I can find no reason not to give in to myself.
Down the stairs. Make my way through the vestibule and onto the street. Experience love at first sight with the anorexic looking woman standing on the corner of Seton Place and Ocean Parkway, waiting for the R-13 bus.  Approaching her, I get aroused. Ask for the time. She turns to speak with me. I pretend to examine the bus schedule. I have not looked a woman in the eyes since I began ******* at the age of eleven.
She tells me the time and I thank her, then quickly turn away so she will not notice my arousal. Our brief conversation replays itself in my mind until the bus comes.
We board and I sit as far away from her as possible, trying to position myself in such a way that my ******* will remain unseen. I wonder what stop she’ll get off at. I’ll get off there, too.

Our stop happens to be 2nd Street, between Peters Avenue and Chambers. My ******* has subsided. I am able to rise from my seat without concern. She exits from the front and I from the back.
Hide behind a minivan. Peer around it and see her enter a nearby apartment complex. She lives right here. As she fumbles around in her handbag looking for the right key, somebody wearing a U.S. Navy “Fear the Goat” baseball cap storms out of the building, slamming into her. She loses her balance and falls. The man continues on his way. He reaches the corner and turns out of view. She stands and regains her bearings, giving me time to ready the handkerchief and chloroform that I always keep with me.
Soak the handkerchief in chloroform.
Look to the left. To the right. Nobody is coming. Dash out from behind the minivan and head for my patient, who is just now opening the door.
Before clasping the rag over her mouth, I realize I have not planned our session very well. Where will I take her? Will we be seen? It doesn’t matter. I’ll think of something if the need arises.
After a brief struggle, my patient slumps over, dropping her keys. I bend over to get them, trying to cop a feel on the way back up. Enter the building and head for the nearest apartment door. Suspect it will be hers.
I keep her arm over my shoulder. Hold her by the waist, keeping her semi-*****. The feeling of having her limp by my side I can barely describe.
Now we’re almost there.
Almost –
I feel the rudiments of an ******* forming as I lock the door behind us. Home sweet home.

We have been in her bedroom for long enough to prepare for our session. I gaze at my patient, supine and unmoving. Seeing such perfection makes me lose control. Open my zipper, reliving each moment of tying her wrists to her bedposts. How I bound her with old, unwashed *******. ******* I found balled up, forgotten under her dresser, just waiting to be sniffed. I start jerking myself off. And this, I believe, means our session is ready to begin.
"Well, to start things off, why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself? Just whatever comes to mind."
Silence.
“How about your your name?”
Silence.
“What do you hope to get out of therapy?”
Silence.
“Where do you tend to purchase your feminine hygiene products?”
Silence.
“Do you generally get along well with your family?”
Silence.
“What is your favorite color?”
Silence.
"What’s your favorite word?"
Silence.
“Are you perhaps feeling a bit uncomfortable at the moment?”
Silence.
“Do you find me attractive?”
Silence.
“Assuming you no longer do, at what age did you stop believing in the tooth fairy?”
Silence.
“Can you name a word that begins with the letter ‘s’?”
Silence.
Stop mid-stroke. My patient has not yet moved a muscle, made a sound, nor otherwise offered any response. Perhaps it’s not surprising that she would show so little trust in her psychotherapist.
"If you are going to be this uncommunicative, there is no reason for our session to continue. Good riddance to whatever is lurking around in your id; I see that I have no choice but to terminate our relationship."
Shove my ***** back into my pants. Hands won’t stop shaking. Stumble out of the bedroom. Out of the apartment. Onto a quiet, empty street. Still shaking. Head for the bus station, but can’t make it halfway there before feeling on the verge of collapse. Make a detour into an alleyway. Fall to my knees. *****. Curl up on my side and my mind slips away...

Going Under

Apparently, time passes. I find myself standing in front of my place of employment, the Pointer Funeral Parlor. Grasping the doorknob with my handkerchief, as I can't stand to touch it with my bare hand, I open the door. Head in. Immediately see the old man, Mr. Pointer, the owner. He approaches me. As I put my handkerchief away, he shakes a newspaper in my face.
“Singer!” You know the news about that ****** downtown?”
“The ******..?”
“Look at this paper!”
He slaps the newspaper into my chest.
“Somebody smothered a woman to death with a rag soaked in chloroform. Used so much that her heart crapped out. They found traces of it in her nose and throat. Seems she died pretty quickly.
“But guess what? She came from a loaded family and we’ve got her! Sam’s downstairs with the body right now. Probably almost done.”
“I am aware of what happened, Mr. Pointer. I knew the girl. She lived just a short bus ride from my apartment. May I go downstairs? I’d like to pay my respects.”
The old man eyes me suspiciously.
“That’s what funerals are for. I pay you to keep this place tidy, not ogle the clients.”
“I will have to sterilize the embalming room when Sam finishes, anyway.”
The old man gestures around the room, “What about all the garbage here that needs to be cleaned up? I can’t have my place of business looking like an embarrassment.”
“Shouldn’t take longer than a moment, Mr. Pointer.”
“Make sure everything is immaculate! I don’t need a custodian who is unwilling to do his work. I know what you're up to. Did you think that I’d believe your story about knowing the client?”
“She was…something of a casual acquaintance. I did not know her very well. She was not in the habit of opening up. A quiet sort of person, really.”
“Well then your grief shouldn't hinder you in performing your duties here as my employee! I swear, if not for the fact that there just aren't many people lining up for jobs cleaning funeral parlors, I’d have fired you years ago. Now get to work. You can do the downstairs later.”
              Mr. Pointer scowls at me and takes his leave. When he is out of sight, I make my way to the basement.

                “Dan Singer! You little snake in the grass, what are you doing down here? Don’t you have work to do upstairs?”
“Your grandfather said I could take a break and see you.”
“Ha! I’m sure he did. “
Samantha rushes in my direction. She smells strongly of formaldehyde. I pretend to find the odor unpleasant, so as to be able to look around the embalming room as she approaches me.
“I’m so happy you’re here. I could use a little break, myself.”
My eyes settle on the body of my former patient, which rests on a table on the far side of the room. Everything else seems very far away.
“…I don’t know why I ever got into the profession of ******* around with dead bodies. Stupid family business. It’s gross. Well, I do tend to enjoy the macabre. But the way you Jews handle things is far better. Just put the corpse in the ground. Be done with it. I know you haven’t been religious since you left your family, but…”
Our session seems as if it had taken place a lifetime ago. It's almost as if it couldn't have been real at all.
“…And the fact that I’m stuck working for my grandfather is just one more pain in the ***, you know? He really is one stereotypical grumpy old man. Hey, Dan? Hello! Earth to Dan!”
“Oh, sorry about that. I’m a little bit distracted. I was a friend of that woman over there.”
Samantha’s voice takes on an almost annoyed quality.
“You were? I’m so sorry. A close friend?”
“No. More like casual acquaintances, really. I just find it strange that she'd wind up here.”
“Pretty ****** up, isn’t it? So many young women disappearing, or plain turning up dead these days. It had me on edge for a while. Remember a few months back when that lady disappeared from the Ranch Burger? I eat there all the time! Couldn’t believe it. Thank goodness I read about that goof serial killer group. Helped me laugh about the whole thing.”
“I’m sure whoever thought it up must be a real character.”
“Oh! You should totally check out the site it was on, if you haven’t. Didn’t I send you an email with the link? I forget the name offhand. With the Slinkee logo. It has all sorts of weird ****. There was a great joke on there yesterday. Something like, ‘Did you hear about the guy who liked to play Russian roulette while *******? He really shot his load!’ Ha!”
I force a smile.
“Samantha, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t have a great sense of humor.”
She seems very pleased and smiles back at me, drawing a bit closer.
“Uh, Sam. What are you doing?”
“Nothing.”
Closer.
“Uh, Sam?”
“Huh?“
I turn toward my former patient, looking for help. She is in no position to offer any. “Dan, are you all right? You don’t need to be so shy when I’m around. We’ve known each other for years. I know that you're upset about your friend. You can talk to me about it, if you want.”
“I'm sorry, but I don't.”
Samantha frowns.
“Well, if you do, you know where to find me. Anyway, I’m going to take a trip to the  restroom upstairs, then speak with my grandfather. Maybe you can say goodbye to your friend while I’m gone.”
“Oh, yes. It was nice chatting with you, Sam.”
“Yeah, you too.”
Samantha fusses with her hair a bit and heads to the stairs.
Up the stairs.
The basement door closes.
Now.
Rush across the room. Within seconds, aroused and exposed, I empty myself over the face of my object of affection. Fumble about in my pocket for the handkerchief. Clean her nose and mouth. Run to the stairs. Out the basement. Out the building. This is the last time I will ever pass through that door. I do not even think of looking back.

The Golden Fleece

It's that day again. On my way to group. I have not returned to the Pointer Funeral Parlor since reuniting with my patient. Samantha has called me several times and left messages inquiring as to my whereabouts. Mr. Pointer has called once and informed me that should I not return to work, I can consider myself fired. He seems to not have considered the possibility that I might have quit.
Approaching Joe’s Pizzeria, I see the twins. They are engaged in what appears to be a lively conversation.
“You see, ****, here’s what it is. I fear death just slightly more than I hate life. That’s what keeps me from offing myself.”
“We all appreciate that you're hanging in there.”
“Oh, *******. I’m glad you can find satisfaction being a nabob trust fund baby, but I’ve never given enough of a ****.”
“I employ my position in a number of ways that enhance our fine city’s cultural standing.”
“What? You mean like giving money to museums and the opera? You think anybody cares that you’re a patron of the farts? Opera only exists so that fat Italian guys can get laid.”
“*******.”
The twins stare at one another for a bit.
“You know, I appreciate the arts. Really, I do. I once stuck my **** in a copy of Hamlet.”
“Did you?”
“Yes. Your copy, in fact.”
“Disgusting.”
“Then I stuck it in a copy of Othello. After that, Hamlet just wouldn’t do it for me anymore.”
Both twins are overcome with fits of laughter. After the better part of a minute, it subsides.
“Ah, Dan. Good evening to you.”
“Hello, Dan!”
“Hello.”
“Off anyone recently?”
“Oh, don’t put it so boorishly.”
“No.”
“Oh really?”
“Even my sibling reads the Times.”
“There was a great story recently.”
“A crime story.”
“A ******.”
“A woman was found dead in her apartment. ******* all *****-like to her bedposts with her underwear. Nothing was taken and the woman hadn’t been sexually assaulted. She hadn't even been undressed. She'd simply been given a fatal dose of chloroform.”
“How strange so much information would be given in the paper.”
“It is curious, indeed, ****. But this is a strange world and these are strange times. And I’m willing to bet that our friend over here has been contributing to the strangeness of things. I mean, this chloroform killing was quite obviously not done by us.”
“We prefer little boys.”
“No. You prefer little boys. I also like little girls. And I have to endure as best I can our monotonous and boring escapades. Ours, as you know, is an associated effort.”
“Little girls irritate me.”
“Well wouldn’t you want to ******* **** them, then? Ugh. Brother. Anyway, we know we didn’t do this last ******.“
“And it certainly wasn't Chief Killing ******. He’d have made a far bigger spectacle of the thing.”
“So, since Jay’s no longer active and leaving bodies behind isn't Mark’s style, that leaves you.”
“It might have been somebody from outside of group,” I suggest.
A half smile spreads across one of the twins' faces.
“What! Are you denying it? Why the **** would you attend a serial killer support group if you aren’t going to dish out all the greusome details of your ***** deeds?”
“Some things are best left private,” I respond.
“Yeah, like a *****’s privates?”
One of them chuckles quietly.
“Hang on, are you intimating that our friend was unable to perform sexually?”
“I think he was limp as the left side of a stroke victim.”
“Oh, was that the case, Dan? Were you unable to attain arousal?”
“I do not want to talk about this.”
“Oh, of course you don’t. I wouldn’t.”
“Me either.”
“Well then, about what would you like to talk? We do so love making friendly chit chat, you know.”
“Nothing. There's no time. Group is about to start.”
“Oh, he's right. We should get heading in. I bet Mark has some great stories about his **** of a wife for us this week.”
“I am certain that he does.”
Wondering why I even came back for another meeting and strongly wishing that I were not in the twins' company, I enter the pizzeria. They follow closely behind. We make our way to the basement.
Everyone from last week's meeting is present, along with an excited seeming man. He wears a grey fedora and grey trench coat, under which he appears not to be wearing any pants.
“Welcome, welcome!” Hanger-Man exclaims in greeting. “We've all been waiting for you, but me especially. I must make a very important announcement! We will not be having regular group. Sadly, this means that Dan will not be able to tell us his story. Sorry, Dan. Still, everybody please be seated, so that we may begin.”
Everyone takes a seat.
“It is so wonderful to have the whole lot of you here. The twins. Mark. The Chief. Dan. What a splendid group! Truly, just the sort of people I think I need to begin the first stages of a wonderful project on which I have been working with my very good friend Marvin. Say hello, Marvin.”
“Hellooo, Marvin!” exclaims the guy in the trench coat, waving his arms above his head.
“Really enthusiastic guy, isn't he?” sneers Mark.
“I find his enthusiasm infectious!” retorts Hanger-Man. “And I am certain that you all will as well, once you hear a little bit about what he and I have been planning. You see,  I have always seen our meetings as potentially being much more than just a support group for individuals sharing our particular affliction.
“So much more! You guys don't even know the half of it!” Marvin exitedly chimes in.
“That's exactly right!” exclaims Hanger-Man, giving a thumbs up. “For you see, given my personal history, I knew I could help others overcome their murderous desires. After all, I was able to overcome my own. However, I realized that beyond simply assisting people in learning to control themselves, it would be better to also focus their energies in a new direction. Yes, to focus their energies in a new, profitable direction! For what I envisioned would function not merely as a support group, but as the core of what can only be called a great exercise in entrepreneurship! Isn't that right, Marvin?”
“Yep. Jason used to talk to me all the time about how he had these wonderful ideas, but lacked the people he needed to put them into action.”
“Excuse me!” interrupts one of the twins. “But just who's this Marvin guy, anyway?”
“I was wondering the same thing, myself,” adds the other.
Hanger-Man slaps the palm of his hand to his forehead.
“Ack! I suppose I should have made a proper introduction, what with the sensitive nature of our dealings here. Well, you see, Marvin is an old friend of mine. We grew up together. The two of us lost touch as teenagers, but rekindled our relationship a few years ago, after bumping into one another at an upscale cat house in Las Vegas.”
“I was there to **** a ******,” explains Marvin. “I'd never ****** a ******. Always wanted to, but never had the chance.”
He looks around the room as if hoping for a sign that someone else might share this particular interest. Not finding one, Marvin sighs.
“I'd seen a TV show where a guy went to Vegas and was able to **** a ******. It's how I got the idea.”
“Hey, whatever floats your boat, Marv!” shouts one of twins, barely able to refrain from laughing.
“All right, all right,” says Hanger-Man. “As I was trying to explain, Marvin and I wound up reconnecting after many years of not having seen one another. It took no time at all for us to pick up our friendship right where we had left off. And even though I was a bit wary of doing so, I found myself admitting to him that I, his old friend Jason, was the notorious Coat Hanger Killer.”
Marvin solemnly nods his head.
“It was a bit of a shock.”
“I know it was, Marv, but you took it in stride.”
“Excuse me!” again interrupts a twin. “But why the **** isn't this guy wearing any pants?”
Marvin, apparently embarrassed by this remark, attempts to adjust his trench coat so that it will hang lower below his knees. It doesn't.
“Enough!” erupts Hanger-Man. “No more interruptions! I'm trying to tell a story, here!”
He scowls at the twins. They adjust themselves in their seats and cross their hands in their laps, each smiling mischievously. Hanger-Man clears his throat, then resumes his tale.
“All right, it was not too long after my confession to Marvin that I began to reflect upon what I'd been doing with my life. I suppose finally opening up about my activities to someone else allowed me to also be more honest with myself. I searched my soul and was able to trace the origin of my behavior back to what had happened with my mother. Not too long after that, I abandoned serial killing. Yes, Marvin was the catalyst for my abandoning serial killing.”
“I was very proud of you,” says Marvin. “It was a big change to make.”
“Indeed it was, my friend. But I was able to make it, thanks in no small part to you. And so,  after forsaking the murderous path on which I was traveling, I began contemplating what I next wanted to do with my life. And it was at this time that I first began to develop the idea of forming our group.”
“We started discussing it, you see, over drinks at a return visit to the ***** house,” adds Marvin. “Jason told me that he wanted to do some outreach. I told him it would be a great idea and everything picked up from there.”
“It occurred to me,” continues Hanger-Man, “that the group should encourage its members to focus their energies on something other than committing murders.”
“You mean that entrepreneur ****?” asks Mark.
“Entrepreneurship, yes,” answers Hanger-Man.
“Jason had such a great idea, I immediately signed up,” says Marvin, “and I think all of you should as well.”
“Signed up for what, exactly?” Mark asks him.
“A no fail money making opportunity!”
The twins look at one another, grinning. Mark's face lights up.
“Well, ****! I could use some extra cash,” he says. “I need to buy a taller bed frame.”
Hanger-Man smiles in elation.
“I think, Mark, that this might be just the thing for you!”
“Well, how's it work?”
“It's quite simple, really” explains Marvin. “You first join the program, which Jason has named 'The Golden Group,' by paying an initial fee. Then you convince others to join. With their payments, you begin making back your original investment. When the people you recruit begin finding new investors, you get to collect on what they earn. So, as time goes on and more people join, the money just rolls right in!”
“Stop! Hold it right there!” cries out a twin. “You're trying to get us involved in a pyramid scheme!”
“Why, you scoundrel!” shrieks the other.
“Now just a minute, guys,” whines Marvin. “You have not even heard us all the way out.”
“Nor will we!” say the twins in unison. They clasp hands and rise from their seats.
“Hey, what gives?” asks Mark. “You telling me that this whole time we've been here, the group was really some scam?”
“That's right,” says a twin. “Jay and his friend have been waiting for enough people to arrive so that they could begin fleecing us all out of our money.”
“Come on, now,” pleads an offended looking Hanger-Man. “If I were really trying to do something like that, why wouldn't I have just targeted the two of you? You’re so well off that I'd imagine you have more money than everyone else here combined will see in their lifetimes!”
Chief Killing ******, who has been sitting silently throughout the meeting, suddenly springs to his feet and cries out at the top of his lungs. Everyone in the room looks at him. He shrugs his shoulders and walks out as if nothing happened.
“What the **** was that?” Mark wonders aloud.
“Who cares?” snorts a twin in response. “My sibling and I are out of here, too. Let's beat it.”
The Twins bow toward Hanger-Man. Before he can make an attempt to dissuade them from leaving, they turn and begin skipping away. I hear them laughing as they make their way up the stairs.
Hanger-Man tells them to wait.
“Will somebody explain to me what the **** is going on?” Mark demands. “This group's seriously just some scam?”
Hanger-Man looks at him pathetically.
“No, no, there's been a misunderstanding, Mark. Only a misunderstanding, that's all. Perhaps I should not have invited Marvin to sit in tonight. I thought that with the recent addition of Dan, the time had come to introduce everyone to my greater plans.”
I have had enough. Stand and rush for the door. Head up the stairs. Hanger-Man and Marvin yelling at me all the while. Exit the pizzeria and light a cigarette. I am halfway up the block when I hear someone call out to me from an alley not far off. I go to investigate.
“It is true, indeed, what they say. You cannot trust the white man.”
Peer into the alley and see Chief Killing ******, standing idly with his hands by his sides.
“Come here, I have something for you.”
Not entirely sure why I am doing so, I drop my cancer stick and enter the alley and approach the Chief. He smiles strangely and removes a silver whistle from behind the feathers of his headdress.
“I wonder, do you know why I am called Chief Killing ******?”
“No, I do not.”
“Then let me show you.”
              He places the whistle to his lips. A piercng shriek echoes through the alley.
               “Now you will see.”
              Nothing seems to be happening. I stare at the Chief in confusion for a few seconds, before I hear the clinking of high-heeled shoes. Dozens of pairs of high-heeled shoes, all of which sound like they are heading for the alley.
“I would like to introduce you to my *******.”
I see a series of strumpets, walking single file. They break line. Cover the wall to my left, to my right. They take formation in front of a dumpster at the back end of the alley, then finally close off the entryway. All wear pink miniskirts and black corsets. Black garters. Overly large, golden hoop earrings dangle comically from their ears as they take their places. The Chief stretches his arms above his head and yawns.
“Now they will show you what they do.”
More quickly than I can react, several of the prostitutes grab me from behind. One whispers into my ear that it will be fun to **** on my severed ****. She kisses me gently on the cheek. I am unable to refrain from getting an *******.
“Farewell, friend,” says Chief Killing ******.
A short, Arab looking ****** emerges from behind those standing at the alley's entrance. She makes her way in my direction, licking her lips and slowly drawing a forefinger across her neck. She holds a machete in her left hand.
I make no effort to struggle as I am forced to my knees. The ***** raises the machete above her head.
“This will not hurt a bit, my beloved.”
Close my eyes. Breathe in. Breathe out. I know it won't.
An ironic and contemporary take on the classic Orpheus myth by a modern Beatnik
cast off the coat
of the last eight years
cast off the coat
leave behind the arrears
cast off the coat
a new dawn appears
cast off the coat
the road ahead clears*

change who tillers
the admin's
ship
bring in a fresher
governance's
clip

Washington's clock ticks
with a timing so loud
pleading to the people
lift the heavy shroud

too long
an incumbency
too long its stay
staying for many
a long day


cast off the coat
of the last eight years
cast off the coat
leave behind the arrears
cast off the coat
a new dawn appears
cast off the coat
*the road ahead clears
Every day she goes out
Putting on her red coat
She gets her things together
Heads outside and starts her day

Woman in the red coat

She visits her favorite café
Slowly sipping her coffee
Thinking about her day

Woman in the red coat

As she finishes her coffee
She gets ready to leave
Putting her coat on
Packing up her things

Woman in the red coat

She has had the coat for years
It came with her to a new land
When she wears it it feels like an old friend
Red is a favorite color of her
In a way the coat helps define her

Woman in the red coat
That old coat, the one you wore,
You wore in laughter,
Drenched in rain, cold water  pouring, droplets of pearls,
Glistening in light of the single star, the one,
Which didn’t die yet.

That old coat, which sits by the fire,
A hearth of orange, now only black,
Devoid of colour, life, warmth,
A dead tinderbox, of passed emotion,
And happy feeling, all turned grey.

That old coat, frayed, torn.
The brown leather faded in patches,
Patches of memory, think back,
To happy days once before,
That old grey coat, you used to wear.

That old grey coat, stained in mud,
Undistinguished in the rough hide,
And broken seams, rough stitches,
Coarse repairs to hide the scars,
Of just been worn out.

That old coat,
You used to wear,
The one which was a part of you,
Sitting on a rusty peg, holding memories, so carefully.
The snap. The drop. The thud. The coat falls.
And the thoughts shatter again.
The coat was one which belonged to my great uncle John (Who I took my middle name from) when he went and enlisted in the army during WWII. He left it on the peg the day he went and enlisted and never returned for it because he died fighting for our freedom. It needed a story.
Ma Cherie Jun 2016
I took the pieces of our life
and I wear them as a coat
laughter painted on my face
and in my music's notes

dainty stitched embroidery
spells out
.....my dear Cherie
a quilted coat of all our dreams
I wear for you to see

I wear your red bandana
and your favorite flannel shirt
the prices of your labored hands
sent twirling in my skirt

The Faded cloth reminds me
of familiar memories
a day gone by just yesterday
sent drifting on the seas

we didn't have much money
though we never went without
we never wandered hungry
and your love was not in doubt

I'll treasure every thread you've sewn
within my closets clothes
Every button I am saving
that so carefully you chose

I hope my children wear this coat
you so gladly gave to me
with pieces of your Momma's love
a love you gave to me

I was your little baby girl
my skin a velvet piece
you comfort with your rugged hands
and press away the creases

of my  jacket ever aging
in these calluses and lines
with scars of painful tears I cried
released by stitching time

this coat has kept me warm
on coldest nights I spend alone
I always have my patchwork coat
no matter where I roam

my painted quilted family coat
it always takes me  home
Love you Daddy

Cherie Nolan © 2016
Just thinking of my father and his many great sacrifices..
I'm on a train.

One of those red ones with black trimmed windows you can imagine rolling through the suburbs on the way to NYC. Not a subway car but a classier vintage with proper rows of cushioned seats and a lever to pull if there is an emergency. There are sparse shrubberies on one side of the tracks and the ocean on the other. Young trees and bushes stroll by.  A little wind is pushing off the ocean, massaging the car ever so gently back and forth as we move along. A gentle click-clack is on the tips of our ears.

We got on together. I hadn't known you for very long but the connection was stronger than anything I had ever felt or have since. You practically sat on top of me for the first few miles. Couldn't keep your hands off me,  staring in my eyes like you were searching for something lost but you couldn't remember what. The edges of your lips turned upwards permanently as if you were always at the verge of a laugh. You interlaced my fingers with yours and held on like you would be ripped away if your grip loosened for even a second. Slender fingers holding so tightly that they were becoming red.

You were excited to to be riding with me, about where we were going and all the things we would do when we got there. I would see you peer out of the corner of your eye, then lean over to brush your soft cheek against my budding stubble. Kissing and gently biting my lips insatiably. The suns rays coming in at an angle and lighting up your perfect smile and dimple.

I had to remind you we were in public.

I was lost in your blonde curls and the incense of your neck. I had fallen incredibly hard and so fast that my face hurt from smiling and my heart beat with vibrations I had never known. Not even a whiff of anxiety or neurosis. Some of the best memories of my life, as fleeting as they turned out to be.

I yawned and you put your finger in my mouth. I bent over to tie my shoe and you would poke my **** and laugh with your own reflection in the window, like this was the first and best joke of all time. Maybe it was and maybe it is.

The waiter came and informed us that a thing called "the bar car" existed. We both jumped at the idea. I didn't exactly notice at the time, during our excitement, but that's when the train started going faster and everything out the windows began to blur.

The bar car was a wild ride and we took advantage of our lo'cal. All kinds of fine wine, liquors and illicit substances were available. We tried them all. You were beautiful, your laugh infecting everyone around you, I was charming and held a captive audience.   It was a dark, loud and glorious blur. We were the life of the party and it chugged on till dawn.

We woke up in our seats, disheveled and discombobulated. It was dark out already. Did we sleep through the entire day? The train was slowing down, maybe approaching a station. The party was amazing but we were certainly paying the price for the black out. You moved over to the seat across from me to have some more space and lay down. I saw myself in the reflection. My hat, charm and smile from the night before had vanished. I must have left them in the bar car the night before.
      You had changed, beauty uninterrupted but different somehow. I couldn't put my finger on it. Irritated maybe? I invited you to cuddle and battle the hangover together but you ignored me. Like you couldn't hear me or didn't want to. I decided to let you be.

I got up to use the bathroom and thought I would go look for my scattered belongings. Maybe I could find a scrap of leftover dignity while you rested. I inquired to the conductor who directed me to the bartender in the bar car. He hadn't changed a bit, somehow untouched and unaffected by last nights antics that had effected me so dramatically.  Same black suspenders and white pressed shirt with impeccably slicked hair. I asked him what happened and if I had an open tab. While slowly polishing a rocks glass he looked up and made eye contact for a split second before looking away.
He said:  "Oh the bar car takes its toll. In the end we all end up paying one way or another". I still don't know what he meant by that or if he knew.
      I asked him if he found my hat and he said he would check the camera. We walked in to a small back room, while he was reviewing the tape, over his shoulder I noticed a tragedy.

We were drunk. I was going on to a group of new friends on one side of the bar, they were hanging on my words and I was eagerly explaining whatever nonsense they were drooling over. You were in the corner wearing that red dress I love, with your hair up in a tight bun. A few curls had escaped and brushed your high cheekbones, a thin line of pearls dancing delicately across your perfectly symmetrical collar. You were stunning and inebriated, swaying with each bump and motion of the train. A man wearing my hat put his hand on your side to keep you from swaying over and then he left it there.
I took a sharp breath.

It looked like you put your hand on his hand to move it but then it stayed and you both swayed together. As the air left my lungs and the blood drained out of my face I watched your lips touch the strangers. A small piece of my soul slipped away forever. I couldn't watch any further. When I asked the bartender how long it went on he fidgeted for a moment and uncomfortably muttered "quite some time". I never found my hat or the other part of me that left that day.  

The train slowed. I walked to the back, as far away from you as I could get, in utter disbelief. How could you? I thought to myself.
I mourned the loss of the you as I knew you yesterday, quietly and to myself. A tear  escaped my eye and rolled down my now fully formed stubble as I fell in to a random seat in mild shock. There were a few passengers back there so I had to pull together relatively quickly. After gaining some composure I knew it was time to get off. I knew we could never get back to yesterday morning though I would have said or done anything to do so.

The train had stopped. I went back to my seat and you were sleeping. I took my coat and gathered my things. The conductor looked at me confused as to why I would leave something so magnificent, I assume he had no idea what had transpired.   

I walked to the rear of the car and slid the door open slower than required. I stepped to the stairs and put one foot down on the step and the other on the ground. I stopped, rooted with my hand on the railing, lingering between two very different paths.
     I knew that it was time to get off, I knew this was the sensible thing to do, that I couldn't get past this offense regardless of how I had felt earlier the day before. The whistle screamed from the locomotive. The conductor looked at me and shook his head, I'm not sure if he was trying to tell me to stay or go but a decision had to be made.

The train lurched forward and I watched as the station slip away slowly. I sat in between the cars for a while and watched the ocean and birds. With a heavy heart and shoes I walked back to my seat. You were waiting. Crying. You knew. The bartender had told you. You didn't mean do do it, didn't realize what you were doing and thought it was me. He was wearing my hat and the whole world was blurry and dark.

I believed you. Self anguish mixed with alcohol was dripping from your pores. I knew you didn't mean it and were drunk, but could I ever forgive you or trust you again?

I loved you still.

I caught a glimpse of my reflection, a weaker version of myself looked back. As if an invisible chip in my teeth had developed and my shoulders lowered. The charming, confident man from the bar car the day before had been replaced. Something was off but not enough for anyone else to notice, just enough to know a change has happened.
       The train started to pick up speed again as we distanced ourselves from the station.  I second guessed my decision to stay but I didn't look back.

I found the man with my hat and punished him with a few blows in the dark. He knew he ****** up, apologized and took the beating like a man. I never got the hat back.

The engineer announced that we would be going through a tunnel soon and to turn on our lights and keep our hands in the windows.

It would be dark.  

We stayed away from the bar car for a while but the draw was irresistible. After a few hours we were there again but you never left my side.  Then you did. I was looking for you but you would disappear and not answer me when I called you name. The tunnel went deeper and darker and I didn't know where you were and I suspected you liked it that way. The train began to slow down again as we exited the tunnel.

I finally found you back at our seat, you had moved one row away from me. I asked you to come back, tried to hold your hands but you pulled away with vehemence. When I came back from the bathroom you had moved another row farther.
I knew I was losing you.
I begged you to return but you told me calmly that it was time for you to get off. At some point in the tunnel you had decided that you didn't want to go anymore . Your mind was made. You were going to catch another train at the next station.

When the train stopped I thought for sure you would reconsider but you didn't. Didn't even give it a thought. You just grabbed your coat and hat with one big bag under your arm. You kissed me on the cheek like a french stranger and were off. Going somewhere else on a different train. Just like that.

I rode the rails for quite some time by myself , many people getting on and getting off, passing me by. Every once in a while I would think I saw you at a station or in a **** though the window of another train. I often thought I could smell you but when I breathed deeper it was always gone. A ghost dancing on the edge of my senses.

A young girl in a headband got on the train. She was listening to headphones and dancing to herself as she bobbed along. She sat down in the seat next to me flashing a smile. She had a wedding ring on and I dismissed her immediately.  She didn't move from the seat or stop glancing my way. Eventually she confessed that she wanted to talk. I told her I wasn't interested but she persisted.  I hadn't talked to anyone on the train for quite some time and after some more mild persistence, I gave in.

We had a lot in common. We were both riding alone, desperately wanted attention and were thrilled to receive some.  After a few laughs she slid her hand in to mine and interlaced her fingers. I left it there. It was warm, comforting and wrong. She was married but I had been riding alone so long it felt good to have some company. She stayed and we talked. She was broken and I had a knack for fixing things. After a few hours of dramatic conversation I fell asleep with her head on my shoulder.

When I woke up  the train was flying up the track on the side of a mountain. Trees and rocks were a blur of green and grey. The engineer must be trying to make up for lost time I thought to myself.

The girl was asleep with her head on my lap. I looked down at her hand and the rings were gone. I woke her briefly to ask where they went. She said she didn't need them anymore and had thrown  them out the window.  She could of sold them, I said, but she said she just wanted them gone so she could be mine and fell back to sleep.  All of a sudden I couldn't breath. This train was roaring down the tracks, the once gentle click clack had become a loud hum. Suddenly too loud. This girl in my lap who had just gotten on the train wanted to stay. I considered her for a while as she looked up at me with big blue eyes, shining and wet, like a puppy in the shelter, terrified of rejection and desperate to be adopted.

At the peak of the mountain, just when the train began to even out, you waltzed back in to the car with a champagne flute in one hand and your bag in the other.

I don't know when or where you got back on, must have been a few stations ago when I stopped looking for you. Maybe you were wearing a disguise, who knows what you had been up to while you were gone. I'm not sure how long you were away but it was quite some time. That you had been through something was obvious, a new wrinkle had formed on your brow and you're once confident stride had changed to a cautious stroll. What actually happened out there I don't know.  I never asked and I don't want answers.

You looked at me and smiled. It was good to see that smile, like sun on my face on a brisk day.  You took a step toward me and then I looked down in my lap at the girl at the same time you did. I looked up. You and your smile were gone.

Everything I had begun to feel for this broken, head banded girl in my lap dried up like a puddle in  the dessert.  I quietly and gently nudged her awake and told her I had to use the bathroom. She put her head down on my coat and fell back into what ever trance she had been in, eyelids gently fluttering, eyes searching beneath them for what I would never give her.

I dashed up the isle and threw open the door, almost shattering the glass. The conductor glared at me and rolled his eyes as I barged past to the space between the cars.

There you were. Standing on the stairs with your head out the opening. The wind was blowing your perfectly formed curls around your head like a blonde explosion of familiarity. I yelled your name and you dove in to me. My senses erupted, my mind went numb as the train was nearing another station and I inhaled your essence greedily.

We moved to another car. I abandoned my coat with the married girl and never looked back. I hope she found what she was looking for. I  never could have been the answer she was so desperately seeking but I know I  helped steer her towards it.

You told me you had encountered some other people out there on the rails and they had reminded you of what we had when we first left the station. I never forgot.  

The train started to rock and get going again. We were back in the bar car and starting to brown out. We had to get off of this train right ******* now. In a desperate moment we looked at each other and put our hands, together, on the emergency brake cord. I looked in your eyes with your hand on top of mine. You kissed me while yanking down on the cord. Time slowed, the breaks squealed and everything exploded throwing luggage, people and the entire contents of the bar car in to a nondiscriminatory chaos . We got up off the ground, ran to the end of the car, dove off the side in to a soft patch of grass and rolled down a small incline. We watched as the conductor sifted through  the mess and interrogated the passengers, trying to ferret out the party responsible for pulling the brake. He spotted us off the side of the tracks and shook his fist while shouting every conceivable obscenity combination.

We laughed, held each other in the grass and kissed deeply.

We watched the train pick up speed and disappear in to the hills as relief spread over me.

You interlaced your fingers in to mine and we both looked out to where the tracks disappeared into the horizon, wondering how far of a walk it was to the next station.
Brad Lambert Oct 2013
(I)

Whose coat is this? Sure as hell isn't my coat. I ain't got no coat with this parka ****, it's *******. I ain't no furry flamin' ******. I ain't no ****** chochy Molly-May-Ze-**** chokin' down chickens and nasalin' a'sniffin' snortin' nasty-*** choch; that ain't me. That ain't me. Look at this coat– I'm like an Eskimo *****. I'm like a butch-**** bull-**** crotch-lappin' a'swimmin' laps in that guy's swimmin' pool. Who's that guy? Who owns that guy? 'Ey, anyone here the owner of this guy– guy ain't got no owner? Whose coat is this? It's nice, real nice. Bet she said, "Does it come from France? Where do I buy one?" I want to buy one, I think I need to buy **** more. I sure as hell need to buy one of these. "And I need one these too and one of them too and I need a petticoat and a tipper-tapper and a whimpratic garfielder and one of them new bartlemores, I need more of them bartlemores. I need more, more, more, more, more, more..." That ain't enough. ****'s from France. ****'s from Paris, that's romantic. You think I'm romantic? I eat hearts for dinner, I chew down nails like nuts for my midnight snack. I smoke cigarettes and spit on concrete slabs, you think that's ****? I'll show you ****. I'll show you Paris, New York City, Rome, romance you in Rome. I'll get real ******' Roman. I'll take you to the desert and make love to you. That's how a free man does a woman, and I'm a real free man. Who's ownin' this guy? It ain't you, it ain't me. I don't own you, you don't own me. I'm a free man:

I said,
"Fire and wood, fire and wood, fire and wood. It is late, it is late, it is far, far too late."

I set
fire to wood, fire to wood; feel that fire fired fresh from that firewood.

I dug the pit,
he gathered the wood,
she started the fire.

She really does make that fire start.

O' how she makes that fire burn,
O' how the wood's wrapped in white hots,
O' how they smoke their smokestacked pipes,
O' tobacco teeming teenagers, tormented by and through youth,
O' adolescence, trending topics, and forget-me-not flowers,
O' old age, Floridan coffins, and coughing  cancers,
O' writers in the mountains writing to be,
O' painters and **** bodies in studies by the sea,
O' thinkers in their mindset, mindsetting the table for dinner,
O' tables set to bursting,
O' wallets so thick,
O' community,
O' society, our social games,
O' hope,
O' peace,
O' that I may be at peace,
O' that I may be content and pray only for peace,
O' how about them true believers,
O' how about that love at first sight,
O' sandstone. My sandstone. That guy sittin' on sandstone.

That's my guy. That's my guy. I own this ****.

Is a man breathing on a mirror the sum of his breaths?
Breaths foggin' a'mistin' my view,
my view of a body and that face,
you're a body.
You're a workin' day's bell,
you're my chill in an Icelandic draft,
you're my spare in a Middle Eastern draft,
you're my pawn in chest-to-chest chess.

You've got this. You've got this. You own this ****.

And it is ****, too. I'd be set, real ******' set, with someone like you. I'll make you a woman, check this parka ****. Coat's mine. I'm a classy igloo runner, runnin' a'ragin' a'czebelskiin' meriteratin', I'll be reiteratin' your points. Check the time, it's late! It's late! ***** was in the grassy knoll turnin' trap tunes on her turntable. Would you listen to that? She sounds late to me, does she sound late to you? I like the music; I like the music. What happened to Woodstock? Where's my watergate, Nixon? Where's my generation, Ginsberg? Where's the meaning? This music's too loud! We're so profound! O' profundity!

Tell me something I didn't know, I'm craving' the new.
Give me the new while I spit on the old,
while I spit on this fine art finely art'd by and for fine artists–
******' fine artists. ******* fine artists.

(You can realize radical-realist realism but you can't be real with me?)

O' fine art!
What fine art!
Which fine artists are dead?



(II)

Looks like they're dead.

Looks like them ******* choked out all them ghettos, choked out all them rednecks, chokin' a'stranglin' by-God-oh-God straddlin' the breeders. I sure did like them babes– babes with their laughin' a'lackin' o' cynicism. They don't know the word "****."

I sure am forgetful–
I forgot that smoke doesn't dissipate,
I forgot how to smell autumn leaves,
I forgot to check the heart against the fingertips,
I forgot why my fingertips went numb,
I forgot to cue in the meaning when the sentence was complete,
I forget to complete my sentences,
I forget who you were wanting when you said, "I want you."

I got as much depth as an in-depth discussion, high hats and electropercussion have got me going. I'm goin' downtown, uptown bourgeois tricked me out, johns and yellow Hummers laid me down and cussed me out. That's not a discussion. That's not my scent scenting my towel, this breath reeks of wintry air– my fingertips went numb.

"I want you."

"Oh would you look at that moon?
Take a look at that moon.
Look at that moon with the ******' mountains.
I love that moon.
That's my moon."

I love darin' a'dusty dareelin' derailin' your dreams, whose dreams are these? They ain't my dreams– ain't no dream derailin' a'nileerad radiatiatin' some hint of joy or Jamison Scotch Liqueur. Drink that ****. That's my ****, I own that ****.
I'm sittin' on this stoop like I own this ****, like this **** owns me; I owed me. I don't own me, you owe me:

Pay up man, feet off the stoop.
Pay up man, be real with me.
Pay up man, you ever thought of a man as a man?
Pay up man, give it in.
Pay up man, give in.
Pay up man, I need you to do me a solid. Do me solid from crown-to-toe, we're toe-to-toe let's do-si-do bro-to-** I'm ready go, **, jo, ko, lo, get low… Now I'm ramblin'. You say, "Ramble in to the stoop and tell me a story."

What's a stoop– who's a stoop? That **** ain't stoop– you ain't stoop. You're stupid. You're a joke, check out the joke. Hey ladies, you seen this joke– joke ain't been seen by them ladies? I'm a joke. We ain't laughin' with you, they're laughin' at you.

O' hilarity!
Such hilarity!
What hilarious histories have passed?



(III)*

"I said I loved him once. I only loved him once."
(
And how long once has been...)

I sure did like them hand-holdins,
them star-gazin' moments,
them moon phasin' nighttime nuances,
them fingertip feelin' a'findin',
them sessions o'meshin' limber legs unto steadfast *****,
heads cocked like guns toward the sky,
beyond the horizon
but well
below the belt.

Them star-gazing moments seeing stars seemin' small, I love how they gleam- gleamin' a'glarin' comparin' shine to shine, shimmerin' a glimmer shone stumblin' her way home from the bar. She's drunk. She's brilliant, brilliance of whit and wantin' a'wanderlustin' gypsy nomads- that ***** gyp'd me, no mad man would take a cerebral slam to the face lest them moving pictures are involved. Read a ******' book, it'll last longer. Kiss me on the collar bones, clavicles shone shining with slick saliva pining for my affections. You're clammerin' to feel me, clammin' up (Just feel me.) I want to run my hands through long hair and peg the nausea nervosa to the wall. The writing's on the wall:

The sun bent over so the moon could rise, chanting,
"Goodbye and good riddance,
I never wanted to shine down
on them seas o' tranquilities anyhow."*

O' what a day. What a day.

And the wind ruffles leaves and it ruffles feathers on birds eating worms in brown soil.

What a day. What a day.

And the men under the bridge gather in traitorous conversation of governments overthrown and border dissolution and poetry with meters bent out of tune.

What a day. What a day.

And the billboards are dry for all the consumers to consume, use, and review.

What a day. What a day.

And hearts break messiest when you're not looking.

What a day. What a day.

And the ego and the id and the redwood trees are talking. They're sitting **** in the marshes, bathing in the bogwater while fondling foreign fine wines and whisperin' a'veerin' conversations towards topics kept well out of hand, out of the game, nontobe racin' in races, rampant radical racists betting bets on bent, bald Bolshevik racists wagging Marxist manifestos in the bourgeois' faces, yes. Make it be. Nontobe sanity as the captain creases his pleats, pleasin' her creases and the dewdrops of sweat trailing down the small of her back– down the ridge of her spine forming solitary springs of saline saltwater in the small of her back. Aye-aye, guy's pleasin' a'makin' choices a'steerin'– government's a'veerin' a hard left into the ice.

'Berg! 'Berg!
Danger in the icy 'berg!
None too soon a 'berg!
Bound to bump a 'berg!
O' inevitably unnerving 'berg!
Authoritative 'berg!
Totalitarian 'berg!
Surveillance of *** and the sexes 'berg!
O' fatalist fetishist 'berg!
Benevolent big brother 'berg!
Homosocial socialization 'berg!
Romanticized Roman 'berg!
O' virginal mother 'berg!
City on a hill on a 'berg!
Subtly socialist 'berg!
Nongovernmental 'berg!
O' illustrious libertine 'berg!
Freedom of the people 'berg!
Water privatization 'berg!
Alcohol idolization 'berg!
O' corrupt and courageous 'berg!
Church and a stately 'berg!
Pray to your ceiling fan 'berg!
Biblically borne 'berg!
O' godly and gorgeous 'berg!
Ferocious freedom fighters launching lackluster demonstrations far too post-demonstration feeling liberty and love, la vie en rouge, revolving revolutionist ranting on revolution tangible as
an ice cold 'berg.

'Berg! 'Berg!
O' the 'berg, the ****** iceberg–
You'll be the death of me.
Tina ford May 2015
She hid behind her coat of red,
It covered all her fears,
She put the hood around her hair,
To mask and hide the tears,

She wore the coat of red so well,
No one noticed, more,
That she was sad, and all alone,
More than she was before,

Until one day, like any other,
Her coat of red so true,
Had somehow unexpectedly,
Turned a beautiful shade of blue,

Now any other day, she would,
Be upset and quite put out,
But she felt a little bit differently,
No more of her self doubt,

She took the coat, that was once red,
She shook and put it on,
She felt a glow of happiness,
All her tears had gone,

The moral of this story,
This moral that I tell,
Is no matter what the colour is,
You can wear it well,

Don't hide behind a coat of red,
Don't let it cover fears,
Don't put the hood around your hair,
Don't mask or hide your tears,

For in this world of rainbow coats,
There are people all the same,
Stop and smile, say hello,
Talk and ask their name,

They could be lonely and so sad,
So stop and make them right,
Make friends, be friends, it's easy,
Be a shining light.
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.
**** 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 *******?
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 cafe 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 delta
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.

Sandburg 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
countrymen 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 ****
saves money
to bring his family over from Gdansk.
**** 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 slaves
spin it into
gold lame'.

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 *******.

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
these 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 everymans 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
from 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 courses 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 *** 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
whispered like
a quiet prayer.

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 ****** 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:

Robert Johnson
Sweet Home Chicago


jbm
Chicago
1/7/99
Added today to commemorate the birthday of Carl Sandburg
robin moyer Oct 2011
A cold snap: focus sharpens. Crystal clings to every branch
defining more than outline: Long frozen memories want to play.
Youth, buried in years, drifts; re-emerges in layers as I carefully button my coat.
Frigid air; a sharp crack of winter’s whip—for a brief moment I cannot breathe.
Combination of stark colors: world reduced to winter green, black and white.
My own world's akin to the front step; encased in ice.

Laughter shatters the perfect silence as children spill out to play.
Stark softens to water-colored blends. Children: each zipped in winter coat,
with scarf flapping as they run, whitened puffs of air trailing as they breathe.
Boots crunch, footstep designs break ****** white
as I balance, frozen: Journey begun on steps of ice.
When did the magic cease? Somewhere I took a lonely branch.

Burning bush edges the stairs; fiery leaves still stubbornly cling—a coat
of frost blurring red to pale, not unlike distant memory. I breathe
time. Wind whisks snow - nature’s blender. White
out. The bottom step vanishes, but the ice
remains. With naught to grasp, I reach for a branch,
but fall into the fire. The ice burns my face. I am too old; tears play.


Yet muscles defrost, bones aren’t splintered ice and I breathe
a sigh of relief. Flailing flightless wings I snow angel the white
powder on the walk in efforts to rise. I am conquered, the ice
is master here. Direct line of vision: A walking stick stuck to branch;
frozen in time. Dead. Realization sears, I won’t play
that game. A cardinal perches on the split rail fence, his scarlet coat

a crimson memory flash. I remember soaring: red rails against white
on my flexible flyer as I raced the wind down hills worn to ice.
The sharp turn at the bottom taken tilted to shoot across the branch
of the river, scattering skaters. For hours, I’d play
returning, blue lipped to my grandmother’s warm bread. My coat
soaked through, the hearth blazing so hot I could barely breathe.

Smiling at myself, sitting in the snow, I feel the ice
of age crack and my mittened hands form a snowball. I eye the branch
but begin to build a snowman. I haven’t forgotten at all. Rising, I play
with the day, feeling joy as brisk air renews. No matter, now, my coat
isn’t nearly warm enough, I am warmed by the past remembered. I breathe
in and the canvas that is I, again, is white.

No longer shrouded in ice, I branch
off in new directions. For in play, imagination takes mere white
and paints a fresh new coat. It takes more than air to breathe.
BECAUSE there is safety in derision
I talked about an apparition,
I took no trouble to convince,
Or seem plausible to a man of sense.
Distrustful of thar popular eye
Whether it be bold or sly.
Fifteen apparitions have I seen;
The worst a coat upon a coat-hanger.

I have found nothing half so good
As my long-planned half solitude,
Where I can sit up half the night
With some friend that has the wit
Not to allow his looks to tell
When I am unintelligible.
Fifteen apparitions have I seen;
The worst a coat upon a coat-hanger.

When a man grows old his joy
Grows more deep day after day,
His empty heart is full at length,
But he has need of all that strength
Because of the increasing Night
That opens her mystery and fright.
Fifteen apparitions have I seen;
The worst a coat upon a coat-hanger.
I had a coat
Made from skin
That was a goat.
My coat made me thin
I was a skeleton
and my friends
Thought I was torn
They worried of my trends.
I was born to poor
They mocked me of poverty
Tears,I could pour.
In me was genuine liberty
I summoned my few kids
And I told them about courage ,
For Holes in life had lids
And we had not to be discouraged
"we have to face it courageous
This life is ours to live
We,being gorgeous
This life is our beautiful leaf
We have to remain hawk eyed
And clever like non
To always live today
And hope for tomorrow
Our past to control we can't
Today,our future we can ruin
So my kids,
Let us work to our best of ability !"
That day,
I threw away my coat
I focused on life
And
In less than a year I had what I called mine
I grew better
Wiser and
Today,I see the change.
Hope is my song
Change is my rhythm
Determination is my guitar
Devotion is my soloist
And my dancer is perseverance.
I am on my way to my destiny
Further away from my coat
That was a goat!
Life has shown me fruits
Fruits I never saw before
The only problem now
I don't reach them
But because I am  growing
Tall I be,and reach them
I thank God for prosperity !

You can have my story too
Believe in yourself.
Wide Eyes Jun 2014
Come spring, she leaped across the grassy dune,
Beaming with sheer joy as she hummed a halcyon tune.
Her beauteous almond eyes- the biggest, the brightest.
A bonnie spotted doe in her warm, homely forest

Come summer, by her gushing little lake she played.
When upon a solitary, pensive buck her eyes she laid.
Eyes met across the smiling lake; too soon gazes parted.
While his eyes curiously lingered, hers wandered on ahead.

Come monsoon, he adored her eyes, her gilded coat, her bushy tail.
The passionate warmth in her eyes with affection made him frail.
Yet, she went on with her blissful life- devoid of any care.
Oblivious of the buck who always stopped to stare.

Come winter, by his side chattering happily she grazed.
Soon, his feelings faded; by almond eyes no longer crazed.
Like currents in the water, apart they drifted and drifted.
New lake. Nonchalant silence. No words were said.

Come fall, she found that he still leaped through her mind.
The emotion she once scoffed in her heart now enshrined.
Eyes met across the smiling lake; too soon gazes parted.
While her dull eyes wistfully lingered, his wandered on ahead.
Terry Collett May 2015
Fay was waiting for me
at the top of Meadow Row

I was on my way home
from school
-I'd walked home
as I’d spent my fare money
on doughnuts that morning-

she looked agitated
her blonde hair
was in two ponytails
her eyes looked red
as if she'd been crying

thought I’d missed your bus
she said

no I walked
I said
what's up?

she took my hand
and we walked down
Meadow Row
walking past
the bomb sites
and the ruins
of other houses  

I’ve lost my rosary
she said
I can't find it

what's a rosary?
I asked

a crucifix with beads
I showed you
the other week

O that bead thing
so what's the problem?
can't you buy another?

it was my grandmother's
old one

well buy her another one
I said

I can't she died
last year

well she won't
need it then
will she
I said

she stopped
but Daddy will want
to know why I lost it
and then he'll go off
the deep end  
and I know
he'll punish me
and it wasn't my fault

she began to cry
and I didn't know
what to say or do

where do you keep it?
I asked

in my coat pocket
so it's handy
if I want to use it

and it's not there now?

she shook her head
and put her hand
in the pocket
of her coat

is that the coat
you always wear?
she nodded

what about Sundays?

she looked at me

today's Monday
maybe you left it
in your coat you
wear on Sundays
I said

she looked at me
with reddened eyes
of course I forgot
it must be in
my Sunday coat
from yesterday

let's go find out
I said

but what if Daddy's there?

so what?
I said

he doesn't like me
being with you
because you're not
a Catholic

I’ll wait outside
on the balcony
if he is
I said

so we walked up
Meadow row
and crossed over
Rockingham Street
and up the *****
and into the Square
and along to the flats
and up the concrete staircase
to her parent's flat
which was above
where I lived

she knocked and her mother
let her in
and I stood on the balcony
looking into the Square

after 5 minutes or so
she opened the door
smiling and said

it was in my Sunday coat
all the time
and she kissed my cheek

I knew then
I’d not wash
that area of my face
the whole week.
A BOY AND GIRL IN LONDON IN 1960.
If my life were a painting,
It would be of the night.
Of rain on pavements,
Reflecting street lights.
And sat on a bench,
shadowed and dark,
Would be a boy in a coat,
Too big and covered in marks.

But life isn't painting,
But a series of stills,
And if you wind the reel forward,
The boy grows, the coat he fills.
And now, another figure joins him,
Pulls him off the bench, to his feet,
And now, they start dancing,
In each other's arms, down the street.

Drenched in rain,
He takes off his coat,
Wraps it around her,
And pulls out a ring and a note.
With a tear of joy, she nods,
With a nervous laugh, he stands,
The sun starts to rise,
As they hold each other's hands.

Then, just a frame or two on,
A small figure runs up to the pair,
And the boy - now a man,
Lifts the child in the air.
Smiling, he holds his wife and child close,
And wipes the rain from their faces,
As the sun is overhead,
And light shines onto their embraces.

And so a new painting forms,
Brighter, now the sun's above,
And the coat around her shoulders,
Reminds her of his love.
You wait in the elements, for a man who never comes.
You walk to the bus stop feeling hungry.
"There's a sandwich in my bag, but I have no box, it must be wet."

Ugh.

The elderly are getting in the way,
The teenagers making too much noise.

The bus is packed,
It's very steamy, yet cold.

You think about his no show.
You ponder whether he still thinks about it.

But before you know it...

Your thoughts turn back to;
The way my feet are cold and damp,
The way my coat smells like a wet dog,
The way my sandwich is soggy,
and
The way I waited 2 hours for a person who was never turning up.*

I am Miserable
Misery, misery, misery
Steve Page Nov 2019
The man stood in his thick red coat and sore shiny feet, square in the threshold, charged with a ready welcome and ruddy face.

He stood with no name but the one assumed for him and, unbeknown to him, inherited from his predecessor who too stood in a similar red coat and sore shiny feet and with his own style of smile.

He stood until he fell one March morning, in his thick red coat and his sore shiny feet and with a heart that failed to live up to the responsibility that came with the threshold and the coat and the shiny feet and instead chose to take its rest.

The man stood in his thick red coat and sore shiny feet square in the threshold, charged with a duty to smile with an open face, with no name but the one assumed for him and, unbeknown to him, inherited from his predecessor.

And he stood.
And he smiled.
As charged.
With thoughts of London hotels and the retirement job my father sought.
Chris Reed Feb 2019
Every morning I wake up
I turn off my alarm
And in the dead silence, and pitch blackness,
I stare at the ceiling for a bit
As my eyes adjust to being awake
I just lay there. Thinking.
About life
About the hell of getting up
For all of about five minutes

Every morning I wake up
I get out of bed
I go to the bathroom
I splash some water on my face
I brush my teeth
I swirl around some mouthwash
I put on some deodorant
I brush my hair
I wash my face
I put on some face lotion

Every morning I wake up
I put on some warm clothes
I get a drink of water
I eat an apple or a banana or sometimes an orange



Every morning I wake up
I grab my backpack and put it on my bed
I put on my belt
I slip on my shoes
I wiggle into my coat
I get at least two decks of playing cards into my coat pocket
I get my wallet in my back pocket
I get my phone in my front pocket
I get my earbuds into my coat pocket
I get my pen into my inside coat pocket
I get my flashlight into my coat pocket
I get my hand driver tool into my pocket
I get my phone charger into my backpack

Every morning I wake up
I go through this routine
Without much thought anymore
It's natural to me
To do the same thing each and every morning

Every morning I wake up
Whether I want to or not
I lock up the dogs
I feed my turtle
I turn off all the lights
I walk out the door and lock it behind me

Every morning I wake up
I follow this routine
Step by step
Without fault


Every morning we all wake up
Even if we don't want to
Even if the only thing we want to do is just lie in bed
And not deal with today
Even if the only thing we want is just a couple more minutes of precious sleep
Just a little longer in the warmth of our blankets
Just a little longer not having to go through the true hell that is today
Just a little longer to be by ourselves

But we wake up
Every
Single
Morning

We wake up
We'll continue to wake up for the rest of our lives
Each and every morning.
I think that says something about us.
I think that shows just how resilient we really are

Every morning that we wake up
It's a big ******* to all who say we can't do it
To anybody that says we aren't strong enough
Even if you're a weeping mess all day long
Even if you don't get your schoolwork done
Even if you aren't prepared to get up
You still do.
I still do
We all
Still
Do.

I think that's just incredible.
Anubhav Sheoran Dec 2015
A thick coat - from the world that is all he takes.
And whatever filled the coat's pockets - he gives it all away.

Piece by piece,
so that people may smile.
To the old, to the young,
and to every child.

Giving everything he had inside his coat.
Till another old man came by the road.

By body and by means,
was he so cold and crude,
That he asked the man
to give his coat away too.

With only a warm heart
The man did what he'd always do.
Letting out shallow breaths
against the thick winds that blew.

And later he laughed
at how his fate had served -
like a madman, crying, dying
and unheard by the suburbs.
M Feb 2015
There are those you get over,
Those you let go of and let float away like balloons in the breeze.
There are those you take off
Like the heavy winter coat when the sun comes out and introduces spring,
A new life without them.

Then there are those that you learn to live without.
The ones that you take off like a coat and learn to embrace the chill when you find out the coat is no longer your size.
The ones that you let go of but watch as they dance away in the breeze so freely now that you've released your grip.

You kept out the cold
And now I get chills
Because I can't ever put you on-

There are those you let go,
And those you wish you still knew.
You're the coat I wish I never outgrew.
.
Terry Collett Dec 2018
The coat hangs
on the hanger.

His wife's coat;
the red one
he'd bought her
for her birthday
some years before.

He tries to think
when she wore it last.

Hard to remember;
his memory is full of files,
images, words,
but he can't pinpoint
the last time
she wore it.

The first time
was her birthday
when he took her out.

He can see her in it;
can see her lifting the collar
to keep out the cold.

That twirl she gave;
that hand to her lips
to blow him a kiss.

Gone now;
suddenly slipped away
into death's cruel hold.

He brushes the coat
against his cheek;
tries to inhale her scent,
her perfume;
looks for a hair,
a strand to hold
between fingertips;
searches the pockets
for some note
or part of her there.

Her coat,
red coat,
empty now;
a shed skin
and she no
longer within.
A coat and memories
Clem N Tine Mar 2014
Perhaps this is just me being too metaphorical again when
i say, it’s strangely fitting
that as summer’s thick air gave way to
the slow set-in of Fall season, I was
falling too.


Or maybe I am only acknowledging now.
Because, you see, day to day
Summer looks the same.
Sometimes it rains or the
temperature fluctuates,
but unlike the other seasons,
new buds don’t bloom
Leaves are the same verdant hue every day
the trees don’t go barren.
Summer is redundant.
But in redundancy there is
simplicity and
predictability
from which I pry comfort
and happiness.
The same way I found comfort in the
predictability
that each humid day would be spent with you.
And we continued like summer, nothing changing,
but enjoying the
simplicity and
predictability.
Because everyone knows,
after summer there is always a
Fall.


And Fall has this way of
sneaking
right up under you.
The temperature will drop a couple of degrees
every day.
The air gradually grows brisk more and more
brisk.
And it’s not really noticeable.
Until the morning when I walk outside and decide
Wow it is really chilly-- I might need
a coat.
And I finally see
and feel
that Fall is here.
Although I admitted I wanted
a coat,
that it would be in my best interest,
I didn’t yet
need it.


I denied a true desire, pushed it to
the side,
forced the thought out of my head,
because giving in to the
warmth of
a coat
would mean that this Fall was all too real-
When what I really miss is the summer,
the sunny days,
the predictability
the simplicity
of us.


But of course as this Fall progresses
the wind’s teeth grow sharper
and the air is biting and more
biting.
My denial for a coat becomes more irrational,
no longer do I want
a coat--
it is a need
a craving, the same raw craving i have for
you.


And now here we are at Autumn’s close,
the air is growing frigid and more
frigid
and I can’t fathom going a day or even
part of a day without
a coat.
Dear, you
are
my coat. And I swim in my regret for
denying avidity
for so long.
I guess I just didn’t want
this Fall to start because
where there is a start there is an
end. And trailing
the heels of Autumn’s cusp,
is winter’s dreadful near.
So daunting is December’s bareness,
how Trees in the winter are experts at letting
things go.
I don’t want to have to
learn from the trees, please--
Don’t make me write about
Winter.
for my love
Emily Aug 2014
her grandmother’s hand feels like an overripe peach and there’s not much behind her glossy eyes. the nursing home smells like disinfectant and the powdery smell of old women. jane tucks her feet under her chair as she watches the vacant stare on her grandmother’s face and wonders if her grandmother will notice when she stops coming. the soft buzz of television and the chatter of nurses feels very far away and the room feels too big for the two of them. jane’s grandmother raised her when her own parents were too drunk or coked up to remember they had even had a daughter and her first, second, third stroke had left her soft and empty. jane kisses her forehead, leaving a strawberry-colored mark on her grandmother’s pale skin and she slips a paperweight from the nurse’s desk into the pocket of her dress

the coat is heavy and camel-colored and hangs off jane’s small figure, nearly obscuring her. the collar nestles under her ears and she’s warm, even in the chill of the dusty second-hand shop down the street, with the watery-eyed cashier who watches her suspiciously and waits for his cigarette break. the weight is comforting and she hugs it in closer to her before removing it and stroking the shiny polyester lining. jane waits a few minutes before she pulls out a bundle of carefully stacked bills and quietly buys the overcoat without making eye contact.

at home, jane’s neat handwriting fills the last page of the journal she’s been keeping for the past few months. from her desk drawer she pulls two more of the same. the details of her life coat the pages and it occurs to her how small, how ordered, how utterly unremarkable her days have been. this elicits no real emotion and jane pours herself a half glass of wine and lies on the couch, fully clothed, and breathes so slowly her chest hardly moves. she wonders if it will hurt.

she places the coat on her neatly-made bed and stands in front of her bathroom mirror. her hair is long enough to touch the waistband of her skirt and it tangles over her shoulders and back like a mass of seaweed before she gathers it into a ponytail and snips it off, just beneath her ears. there’s nearly ten inches of her soft hair in her fist and in the mirror jane looks sharper and meaner than before. she takes the same scissors and cuts a slit in the hem of the coat and drops the hair into the space between the lining and the thick wool. next falls the paperweight, the journals, a bottle of pills she will no longer take twice daily. the coat is sewn up with small, neat stitches.

down the road from the home is a wide stretch of anemic sand and silvery water. the breeze off the ocean tugs and twists the coat like the hands of insistent children yet jane walks solidly on, feeling more opaque than she has in years. the rocks along the beach are smooth and slightly warm from the sun and she slips the most beautiful into her pockets as she nears the sleepy waves of the shore. jane never stops walking. her shoes are the first to become soaked but soon the water infiltrates her hemline, her waist, her chest, her neck. the short strands of her once flowing hair float momentarily before the water slips over her head like a sheet. jane’s body does not float, does not struggle, does not resurface.
Audrey Bautz Mar 2013
I remember the frost that morning,
- painting the window in a satin-white.
How it burned my throat when I inhaled;
the distant scent of someone’s open-fire,
- curling through the atmosphere a thick fragrance of Maple.
The trees dressed in winter’s coat of freshly lain snow.
The sky was hanging low in the mountains as I looked ahead.
I even heard the soft landing of snowdrops
- From the surrounding branches.

My skin felt rough and tight
- as I walked further on,
My nose feeling of someone else’s.
I could feel the pangs of old age hit me
- like a time-bomb.
But it was no use returning,
I only had to march on. Crunch, crunch,
below my snow-boots,
When at last I realized I had reached a gravel road.

The dawn awoke behind the somber mists of clouds.
I could just catch a glimpse of sun-rays within a break.
Oh, how glorious
she bathed me in a pool of warmth
before dispersing at once,
alone again in my frozen world;
Though, I never faltered
and continued to walk down the snowy path.
Crunch, crunch, continued my boots,
my arms swinging right after the other,
Front-to-back, front-to-back.
I scaled the peak of the hill,
(the hill I’d spend all my days upon as a child)
covered in a thick layer of snow;
Its’ features all too familiar to hide.
It aged with me through a life of joy and pain
as though an old friend. And now I stood
- in the place no longer welcoming like it used to be.
My heart filled with a void that I could not process,
- could not or would not.
And the sad scene of my past
only plunged deeper into my consciousness
- pulling from its’ depth a Charles Dickens’s quote.
It is as follows:
“Happy, happy Christmas that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home.”
And deep within a melancholic-faze,
I departed from the distant view of my home.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The bag I carried seemed to grow with each step
and after what I only could have guessed was hours in,
I found myself stooped over a rock
- rummaging the contents of my pack.
I leaned back beneath a frozen Willow and munched on an apple.
Gazing out at the flourishing scene God had bestowed me; the trees mid-thought,
and I wondered what they must have been thinking
- when at that moment, winter’s angry hand
- broke the silent beauty of autumn and shook the trees bare;
their life strewn upon the ground
- and replaced by a thick layer of ice.
But what of the brushes or flowers?
Were they not too silenced, frozen in time?
A thousand questions buzzed through the hemispheres of my brain.

When the clouds would split
- the sunshine would pour in heaping rays of gold in my walk,
- just as she ripened through the morning hours.  
The snow had stopped falling and the stillness of the land comforted me;
Only my thoughts and the random flutter of birds broke the silence.
The snow surrendered beneath my feet,
crunch, crunch,
- gravel shooting high into the air.
My legs carried me aimlessly unbeknownst of the destination.
And overtime, the cold seemed to eat away through my suit, wrapping tightly around my joints;
the pain was more than my aged body would let me bear
- with my heart pumping bitterly through the frozen hemisphere.
The very thought of the beautiful landscape which beheld my gaze,
having ever play a part in bitter sorrow of those even most fortunate,
- boggled the very life of me. And Mother Nature seemed not quite finished,
as she whipped a brisk chill breeze through the bristly oaks.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sun was my only comfort and I longed for its’ presence.
It danced around the complexities of my synapses with a cruelness,
- Its image just as vibrant in thought, as it would have been before me;
- As though, someone, had pulled the earth closer to the sun.
And the excruciating thought only made the ice colder,
- snow deeper, and wind harder.
I felt tiny needle-like ****** where my skin was bare
- and a cruel pressure as though a force was splitting my flesh in two.
Then, that blinding flash flooding my sight;
I couldn’t see my feet. So strong and powerful,
- I thought I had unknowingly fallen into the center of the earth.
Though my eyes adjusted before any real panic set in, becoming clear.
I looked up and marveled in the exposing warmth;
God smiled upon my weak, aging soul, one last time.
Colors in majestic tones and lifetimes apart
- overlapped the silk shimmer of afternoon sunlight.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Two o’clock and I trudged through the thick snow
- as adamant and determined as the moment I first set foot outside.
My moist hair protruded from beneath my hat,
- a result from the sporadic snowfall.
The trees echoed with the call of birds; their beautiful songs
- bellowed clear and shook the boughs in harmonious celebration.
I felt as though a surge of relentless joy lifted me from the heartache of the walk.
I, was a part of something bigger than I could ever imagine,
- the unity of blood and soul, the bond of humanity and their heritage.
I could see my Ancestors pillaging the forest floors for scraps of food
- walking this very path. Such dream was mine,
to walk hand-in-hand with my family again,
- to rejoice at the sight of snow rather than cringe.
To hear the floorboards creak from the mass of human pressure
- rather than the creeping age of the foundation;
- to hear the echo of my sweetheart down the hall.
There was nothing left to show for a lifetime of love
- but a broken heart and memories, all of which haunted me.
I became so distracted from my journey that I hadn’t realized
- how far off course I was. I gazed at the empty, bare trees,
- for the first time unfamiliar with their presence.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hours passed and I could feel the wind grow heavy and frequent.
The sky showed no sign of improvement, but only seemed to increase in clouds.
I pulled my coat to me tighter and tucked my hands beneath my arms.
It was not long after, that I found a suitable place to rest.
I gathered all the sticks nearby and cleaned a shallow area of snow.
The wood burned slowly as the surrounding snow liquefied at light-speed.
Its’ immense heat covered my frozen-self in a blanket of warmth
- and I felt the bulk of the journey fall over me.
My eyelids became as heavy as cement blocks.
I decided to compromise this by giving in
- and falling deep into unconsciousness.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
It was not too clear at first
- the hazy grounds in which I found myself.
There wasn’t snow but that of soft spring grass
- and I was no longer aching from frostbite.
I smelled an overwhelming ample of spring blossoms
- accompanying the gentle breezes. The sunlight sat upon my cheek,
- no cloud in sight. Birds swarmed the open sky
- rejoicing the beautiful weather. What was this place? Where was I?  
There were the plumped-fields encircling the full oak trees,
- the wonderful sun showering the land in a ravishing golden light.
“There you are! I’ve been waiting for you.”
The voice startled me in its’ familiarity.
I opened my mouth to speak but no words came.  
“I’ve missed you so much!” It continued.      
Still not a single syllable could I form.
I looked all around,
- but no source could be found as to the whereabouts of the voice.
I forced myself up and stood at a loss.
Searching every corner, every shaded area but returned with no results.
Crunch, crunch, sounded the pitter patter of feet;
I looked around frantically but just as the voice, I remained alone in the field.
Only the crunch, increased, in speed and numbers;
I closed my eyes tightly and covered my ears
- until it was only the pounding of my heart that broke the silence.
A harsh, cold wind began to blow violently against my face
- and my hands stung with the feeling of my skin being pulled from my fingernails.
I strained to open my eyes and then
- found nothing but the thick suffocation of darkness.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Charred-wood remained beneath the remnants of smoke;
Its base still grasping a hint of light within the pile.
My face felt exposed and raw to the chill,
- burning with the intensity of a bonfire.
My fingers beyond that, to the point of numbness;
I couldn’t even feel my lips. I had lost control of my nerves;
I felt a madness possess my senses
and I struggled to contain as much rationality as possible.
I reached into my coat pocket for my matchbox
and with one strike of the flint,
- a tiny brilliant flame danced in direction with the wind.
And the light as though a disease,
- spread rapidly to the remaining wood. My environment became clear
- and I gazed up noticing the presence of the moon.
What time was it?
A sudden grumble arose from within the darkness
and I, continuing to fall in and out of unconsciousness.
But it wasn’t until I nearly dozed off
- that I recognized a most foreign presence; I was no longer alone.
A fierce set of eyes had been watching me; inching closer and closer.
They stared with the intensity of a 1000 hungry eyes
- coming closer until at last I caught a glimpse more of my visitor.
Her fur displayed sheen like that of the ocean at dawn;
Her eyes radiated a beautiful emerald hue.
She refrained from baring her teeth, though I knew why she was there.
I leaned up and between my chattering-teeth I spoke:
“I know why you’re here,”
The words did not come without consequence
for my lips split wide open from the sudden ****.
“. . . But it's not your job . . . not today!”
She studied my indigent-state, as grasped my coat to me tighter.
She sat down where she stood gazing with a longing.
her full-coat folding over her joints as she sunk further into the snow
- resting her head upon her paws, slowly closing her eyes.
And soon I followed suit, closing mine, and drifting off. ©
This is the first chapter in my poetry book called, "The Howl of the Wolf."
Mitchell Duran Dec 2013
In the Fall, when the temperature of the Bay would drop and the wind blew ice, frost would gather on the lawn near Henry Oldez's room. It was not a heavy frost that spread across the paralyzed lawn, but one that just covered each blade of grass with a fine, white, almost dusty coat. Most mornings, he would stumble out of the garage where he slept and tip toe past the ice speckled patch of brown and green spotted grass, so to make his way inside to relieve himself. If he was in no hurry, he would stand on the four stepped stoop and look back at the dried, dead leaves hanging from the wiry branches of three trees lined up against the neighbors fence. The picture reminded him of what the old gallows must have looked like. Henry Oldez had been living in this routine for twenty some years.

He had moved to California with his mother, father, and three brothers 35 years ago. Henry's father, born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, had traveled across the Meixcan border on a bent, full jalopy with his wife, Betria Gonzalez and their three kids. They were all mostly babies then and none of the brothers claimed to remember anything of the ride, except one, Leo, recalled there was "A lotta dust in the car." Santiago Oldez, San for short, had fought in World War II and died of cancer ten years later. San drank most nights and smoked two packs of Marlboro Reds a day. Henry had never heard his father talk about the fighting or the war. If he was lucky to hear anything, it would have been when San was dead drunk, talking to himself mostly, not paying very much attention to anyone except his memories and his music.

"San loved two things in this world," Henry would say, "*****, Betria, and Johnny Cash."

Betria Gonzalez grew up in Tijuana, Mexico as well. She was a stout, short woman, wide but with pretty eyes and a mess of orange golden hair. Betria could talk to anyone about anything. Her nick names were the conversationalist or the old crow because she never found a reason to stop talking. Santiago had met her through a friend of a friend. After a couple of dates, they were married. There is some talk of a dispute among the two families, that they didn't agree to the marriage and that they were too young, which they probably were. Santiago being Santiago, didn't listen to anybody, only to his heart. They were married in a small church outside of town overlooking the Pacific. Betria told the kids that the waves thundered and crashed against the rocks that day and the sea looked endless. There were no pictures taken and only three people were at the ceremony: Betria, San, and the priest.

Of course, the four boys went to elementary and high school, and, of course, none of them went to college. One brother moved down to LA and eventually started working for a law firm doing their books. Another got married at 18 years old and was in and out of the house until getting under the wing of the union, doing construction and electrical work for the city. The third brother followed suit. Henry Oldez, after high school, stayed put. Nothing in school interested him. Henry only liked what he could get into after school. The people of the streets were his muse, leaving him with the tramps, the dealers, the struggling restaurateurs, the laundry mat hookers, the crooked cops and the addicts, the gang bangers, the bible humpers, the window washers, the jesus freaks, the EMT's, the old ladies pushing salvation by every bus stop, the guy on the corner and the guy in the alley, and the DOA's. Henry didn't have much time for anyone else after all of them.

Henry looked at himself in the mirror. The light was off and the room was dim. Sunlight streaked in through the dusty blinds from outside, reflecting into the mirror and onto Henry's face. He was short, 5' 2'' or 5' 3'' at most with stubby, skinny legs, and a wide, barrel shaped chest. He examined his face, which was a ravine of wrinkles and deep crows feet. His eyes were sunken and small in his head. Somehow, his pants were always one or two inches below his waistline, so the crack of his *** would constantly be peeking out. Henry's deep, chocolate colored hair was  that of an ancient Native American, long and nearly touched the tip of his belt if he stood up straight. No one knew how long he had been growing it out for. No one knew him any other way. He would comb his hair incessantly: before and after a shower, walking around the house, watching television with Betria on the couch, talking to friends when they came by, and when he drove to work, when he had it.

Normal work, nine to five work, did not work for Henry. "I need to be my own boss," he'd say. With that fact stubbornly put in place, Henry turned to being a handy man, a roofer, and a pioneer of construction. No one knew where he would get the jobs that he would get, he would just have them one day. And whenever he 'd finish a job, he'd complain about how much they'd shorted him, soon to move on to the next one. Henry never had to listen to anyone and, most of the time, he got free lunches out of it. It was a very strange routine, but it worked for him and Betria had no complaints as long as he was bringing some money in and keeping busy. After Santiago died, she became the head of the house, but really let her boys do whatever they wanted.

Henry took a quick shower and blow dried his hair, something he never did unless he was in a hurry. He had a job in the east bay at a sorority house near the Berkley campus. At the table, still in his pajamas, he ate three leftover chicken thighs, toast, and two over easy eggs. Betria was still in bed, awake and reading. Henry heard her two dogs barking and scratching on her bedroom door. He got up as he combed his damp hair, tugging and straining to get each individual knot out. When he opened the door, the smaller, thinner dog, Boy Boy, shot under his legs and to the front door where his toy was. The fat, beige, pig-like one waddled out beside Henry and went straight for its food bowl.

"Good morning," said Henry to Betria.

Betria looked at Henry over her glasses, "You eat already?"

"Yep," he announced, "Got to go to work." He tugged on a knot.

"That's good. Dondé?" Betria looked back down at her spanish TV guide booklet.

"Berkley somewhere," Henry said, bringing the comb smoothly down through his hair.

"That's good, that's good."

"OK!" Henry sighed loudly, shutting the door behind him. He walked back to the dinner table and finished his meal. Then, Betria shouted something from her room that Henry couldn't hear.

"What?" yelled Henry, so she could hear him over the television. She shouted again, but Henry still couldn't hear her. Henry got up and went back to her room, ***** dish in hand. He opened her door and looked at her without saying anything.

"Take the dogs out to ***," Betria told him, "Out the back, not the front."

"Yeah," Henry said and shut the door.

"Come on you dogs," Henry mumbled, dropping his dish in the sink. Betria always did everyones dishes. She called it "her exercise."

Henry let the two dogs out on the lawn. The sun was curling up into the sky and its heat had melted all of the frost on the lawn. Now, the grass was bright green and Henry barely noticed the dark brown dead spots. He watched as the fat beige one squatted to ***. It was too fat to lifts its own leg up. The thing was built like a tank or a sea turtle. Henry laughed to himself as it looked up at him, both of its eyes going in opposite directions, its tongue jutted out one corner of his mouth. Boy boy was on the far end of the lawn, searching for something in the bushes. After a minute, he pulled out another one of his toys and brought it to Henry. Henry picked up the neon green chew toy shaped like a bone and threw it back to where Boy boy had dug it out from. Boy boy shot after it and the fat one just watched, waddling a few feet away from it had peed and laid down. Henry threw the toy a couple more times for Boy boy, but soon he realized it was time to go.

"Alright!" said Henry, "Get inside. Gotta' go to work." He picked up the fat one and threw it inside the laundry room hallway that led to the kitchen and the rest of the house. Boy boy bounded up the stairs into the kitchen. He didn't need anyone lifting him up anywhere. Henry shut the door behind them and went to back to his room to get into his work clothes.

Henry's girlfriend was still asleep and he made sure to be quiet while he got dressed. Tia, Henry's girlfriend, didn't work, but occasionally would put up garage sales of various junk she found around town. She was strangely obsessed with beanie babies, those tiny plush toys usually made up in different costumes. Henry's favorite was the hunter. It was dressed up in camouflage and wore an eye patch. You could take off its brown, polyester hat too, if you wanted. Henry made no complaint about Tia not having a job because she usually brought some money home somehow, along with groceries and cleaning the house and their room. Betria, again, made no complain and only wanted to know if she was going to eat there or not for the day.

A boat sized bright blue GMC sat in the street. This was Henry's car. The stick shift was so mangled and bent that only Henry and his older brother could drive it. He had traded a new car stereo for it, or something like that. He believed it got ten miles to the gallon, but it really only got six or seven. The stereo was the cleanest piece of equipment inside the thing. It played CD's, had a shoddy cassette player, and a decent radio that picked up all the local stations. Henry reached under the seat and attached the radio to the front panel. He never left the radio just sitting there in plain sight. Someone walking by could just as soon as put their elbow into the window, pluck the thing out, and make a clean 200 bucks or so. Henry wasn't that stupid. He'd been living there his whole life and sure enough, done the same thing to other cars when he was low on money. He knew the tricks of every trade when it came to how to make money on the street.

On the road, Henry passed La Rosa, the Mexican food mart around the corner from the house. Two short, tanned men stood in front of a stand of CD's, talking. He usually bought pirated music or movies there. One of the guys names was Bertie, but he didn't know the other guy. He figured either a customer or a friend. There were a lot of friends in this neighborhood. Everyone knew each other somehow. From the bars, from the grocery, from the laundromat, from the taco stands or from just walking around the streets at night when you were too bored to stay inside and watch TV. It wasn't usually safe for non-locals to walk the streets at night, but if you were from around there and could prove it to someone that was going to jump you, one could usually get away from losing a wallet or an eyeball if you had the proof. Henry, to people on the street, also went as Monk. Whenever he would drive through the neighborhood, the window open with his arm hanging out the side, he would usually hear a distant yell of "Hey Monk!" or "What's up Monk!". Henry would always wave back, unsure who's voice it was or in what direction to wave, but knowing it was a friend from somewhere.

There was heavy traffic on the way to Berkley and as he waited in line, cursing his luck, he looked over at the wet swamp, sitting there beside highway like a dead frog. A few scattered egrets waded through the brown water, their long legs keeping their clean white bodies safe from the muddy water. Beyond the swamp laid the pacific and the Golden Gate bridge. San Francisco sat there too: still, majestic, and silver. Next to the city, was the Bay Bridge stretched out over the water like long gray yard stick. Henry compared the Golden Gate's beauty with the Bay Bridge. Both were beautiful in there own way, but the Bay Bridge's color was that of a gravestone, while the Golden Gate's color was a heavy red, that made it seem alive. Why they had never decided to pain the Bay Bridge, Henry had no idea. He thought it would look very nice with a nice coat of burgundy to match the Golden gate, but knew they would never spend the money. They never do.

After reeling through the downtown streets of Berkley, dodging college kids crossing the street on their cell phones and bicyclists, he finally reached the large, A-frame house. The house was lifted, four or five feet off the ground and you had to walk up five or seven stairs to get to the front door. Surrounded by tall, dark green bushes, Henry knew these kids had money coming from somewhere. In the windows hung spinning colored glass and in front of the house was an old-timey dinner bell in the shape of triangle. Potted plants lined the red brick walkway that led to the stairs. Young tomatoes and small peas hung from the tender arms of the stems leaf stalks. The lawn was manicured and clean. "Must be studying agriculture or something," Henry thought, "Or they got a really good gardener."

He parked right in front of the house and looked the building up and down, estimating how long it would take to get the old shingles off and the new one's on. Someone was up on the deck of the house, rocking back and forth in an old wooden chair. He listened to the creaking wood of the chair and the deck, judging it would take him two days for the job. Henry knew there was no scheduled rain, but with the Bay weather, one could never be sure. He had worked in rain before - even hail - and it never really bothered him. The thing was, he never strapped himself in and when it would rain and he was working roofs, he was afraid to slip and fall. He turned his truck off, got out, and locked both of the doors. He stepped heavily up the walkway and up the stairs. The someone who was rocking back and forth was a skinny beauty with loose jean shorts on and a thick looking, black and red plaid shirt. She had long, chunky dread locks and was smoking a joint, blowing the smoke out over the tips of the bushes and onto the street. Henry was no stranger to the smell. He smoked himself. This was California.

"Who're you?" the dreaded girl asked.

"I'm the roofer," Henry told her.

The girl looked puzzled and disinterested. Henry leaned back on his heels and wondered if the whole thing was lemon. She looked beyond him, down on the street, awkwardly annoying Henry's gaze. The tools in Henry's hands began to grow heavy, so he put them down on the deck with a thud. The noise seemed to startle the girl out of whatever haze her brain was in and she looked back at Henry. Her eyes were dark brown and her skin was smooth and clear like lake water. She couldn't have been more then 20 or 21 years old. Henry realized that he was staring and looked away at the various potted plants near the rocking chair. He liked them all.

"Do you know who called you?" She took a drag from her joint.

"Brett, " Henry told her, "But they didn't leave a last name."

For a moment, the girl looked like she had been struck across the chin with a brick, but then her face relaxed and she smiled.

"Oh ****," she laughed, "That's me. I called you. I'm Brett."

Henry smiled uneasily and picked up his tools, "Ok."

"Nice to meet you," she said, putting out her hand.

Henry awkwardly put out his left hand, "Nice to meet you too."

She took another drag and exhaled, the smoke rolling over her lips, "Want to see the roof?"

The two of them stood underneath a five foot by five foot hole. Henry was a little uneasy by the fact they had cleaned up none of the shattered wood and the birds pecking at the bird seed sitting in a bowl on the coffee table facing the TV. The arms of the couch were covered in bird **** and someone had draped a large, zebra printed blanket across the middle of it. Henry figured the blanket wasn't for decoration, but to hide the rest of the bird droppings. Next to the couch sat a large, antique lamp with its lamp shade missing. Underneath the dim light, was a nice portrait of the entire house. Henry looked away from the hole, leaving Brett with her head cocked back, the joint still pinched between her lips, to get a closer look. There looked to be four in total: Brett, a very large man, a woman with longer, thick dread locks than Brett, and a extremely short man with a very large, brown beard. Henry went back
Anna Aug 2013
the locked, glorious empire emboldened with gold and silver
adorned with the flowers grown from the Garden of Eden
within the lingering scent blended with the thrilling chirping of the bird

the haggard man in the darkest corners of LA's scariest
trying to breathe despite the strong odor of ***
licking the burnt part of the cinnamon roll dropped accidentally from a red coat's pocket
only possession being a rusty old key from his father years back

the secret palace: the new buzz in Hollywood, New York
billionaires spending millions looking for this key
a peculiar shape, indeed, impossible to mold
just one key, the world is upturned

the man, living on months-old underwear and torn coat
broke, tired, poor, hungry
until a red coat offers him something else,
a hand, a place to stay, and a day's meal

red coat, lives in the ghetto
still with a roof, a table,  and a book
the red coat is happy with the minimum wage at Burger King

In return for the kindness
the man gives the red coat a key
not much, just to show gratitude
***** and rusty
a peculiar shape indeed...
this one is for Roald Dahl
andy fardell Nov 2011
woken by the stir as mother nature
turned her coat...
wind blown in the new as leaves fallen
fated will.....
twigs scatterd without a care.. branches beaten
all is fair
winter taketh soon be there
frost still wanting freezing out
winters hardeness...
birds still singing
what a song..
time of year this must be wrong
autumn closing feel the cold as
mother nature turns her coat
John Stevens Aug 2010
The years have flown by, it seems like
yesterday we met, quite by chance.
Me, a backward country boy,
You, a beautiful girl in a red coat...
And a walk that made my heart skip.
Little did I realize that moment
would last forty five years.

As we grow old together
As we we stand at each others side
in happiness and sorrow,
in sickness and health,
May we always remember what
brought us together.

“John?” “yes.”, says I
“You are supposed to take Pennye,
in the red coat over there, to the party.”
Being backward and stupid in the ways of
“setups”, I said,  “OK.” and
walked over to you and said,
“You are supposed to go with me to the party.”
“Ah, OK.” you said, looking a little shocked.

I fell in love with the “girl in the red coat” that night.
A love that has not wavered,
Has withstood the test of Time
A love built on God's love.

Here we are, raising two grand-kids
who puts a smile on my face and
sometimes a frown..
You remind me, “He's only five.”
“Yes, but, but, I think he is fifteen.”

Then,
I must remember how much God loves me and
try to do the same for those close to me and
not so close to me, who irritate me at times..

Your love for me is amazing, Babe.
I would be a most miserable, old man
without your love.
It shall forever be mine and
My love shall forever be yours.
Oh, and that little blue dress with the white strip
at hip level?  Sigh. They don't make those any more.
(c) 08-29-2010
To my Love, more to follow.
Nick Strong Dec 2015
Hanging by the post box red front door
Since 71
A long trench coat, shade of green
With flat cap on top, peak smudged
From fingers that had gripped
Pulled it from a head,
Both, an umbra of post war world gloom
To the boy, now the man who looks at it
Memories contained within its pockets and creases
Of boiled sweets handed to his bairns
Of neatly folded plastic bags,
For the necessary emergencies
He was so convinced he’d meet
Of hands that belonged to the coat,
Strong, firm that tousled this man’s hair,
Yet gentle and playful, full of fun
Of the head that wore the cap, the grin,
The mischievous glint, when his Peg wasn’t looking
As he slipped some coins into this boy’s tiny hand
Stories told, of times before the war,
Of stopping trams, driving pigs through N’castle
As a butcher’s Boy, on slaughter day
Of the day he met his Meg, down by the coast
Of showing off, and coming a cropper
And oh, how his Meg laughed
A coat holding so much of the past,
Of shipbuilding by the dark, ***** Tyne,
Boats that loomed over the houses
Taking this boy to see them launch
Dreaming of exotic, oriental places
He would never visit
Of betting slips, crumpled in pockets
From long gone nags, who caught his eye
Torn envelopes with Megs writing,
Bread - brown, tin of carnation milk (small)
Rich tea, sultanas, flour – plain
A use for his plastic bags,
My Granda's love was called both Meg and Peg.
Mitch Nihilist Nov 2016
a man in a trench coat
walked though construction
after dark,
dead branches grew
from the holes in the
end of his sleeves,
the night painted
over retinas
but his skin still seemed pale,
dyed dark hair
shined without hygiene,
and his boots
kicked the road torn,
I though of columbine
when I saw his trench coat,
I saw guns and children hiding
I heard shotgun shells
breathing smoke
onto the pylons,
I saw brand new
blood pained lane lines
in the middle of the road,
I couldn’t make out his face
but I looked at a smiling maniacal,
and I was just driving by
and it seemed cold,
I had the window down for a smoke and
I smelled tired exhaust
from sleeping machines,
and it was then that I realized
he was most likely walking home
from work or going to get milk
from the convenient store,
perception will always drape over us
in a cloak no one else can see,
it will never disappear and
to the trench coat man I apologize.
The media is a funny thing.
Joy Nov 2019
I woke up in the pocket
of my dark blue duffle coat.
The one which smells of cinnamon,
with the shiny metal knobs.

I woke up in the pocket
of my dark blue duffle coat.
I was the size of Thumbelina,
barely grander than a toad.

I woke up in the pocket
of my dark blue duffle coat
in a pitch black woolen warmth.
(All my raincoats should take note.)

I woke up in the pocket
of my dark blue duffle coat
where I fiddled with the coins
and the keys and washed out bank notes.

I woke up in the pocket
of my dark blue duffle coat
and the day was such a thrill
with its fluky lazy stroll.

I woke up in the pocket
of my dark blue duffle coat
where I felt small again.
Immaturity - my poison's antidote.
Tim Knight Oct 2012
Grab your Kerouac coat,
get on the road and
find everything you lost about yourself,
reclaim it from city street code.

Dust travels with the wind
when the wind is hesitant to go alone.
Along with the clouds that
cover the sky, cover the unknown.

Cars with driver and passengers
flee the mounting mess,
the debris of souls, money,
cash around the necks-

Choking on greed and new sofas,
deep porcelain baths, chunks of
meat: expensive, not kosher.

So grab that Kerouac coat
and get on the road.
Find something worth doing, before dusk becomes sweet-taste cold
ConnectHook Feb 2016
by John Greenleaf Whittier  (1807 – 1892)

“As the Spirits of Darkness be stronger in the dark, so Good Spirits which be Angels of Light are augmented not only by the Divine Light of the Sun, but also by our common Wood fire: and as the celestial Fire drives away dark spirits, so also this our Fire of Wood doth the same.”

        COR. AGRIPPA,
           Occult Philosophy, Book I. chap. v.


Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow; and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight; the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.


                                       EMERSON

The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.
The wind blew east; we heard the roar
Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
Beat with low rhythm our inland air.

Meanwhile we did our nightly chores, —
Brought in the wood from out of doors,
Littered the stalls, and from the mows
Raked down the herd’s-grass for the cows;
Heard the horse whinnying for his corn;
And, sharply clashing horn on horn,
Impatient down the stanchion rows
The cattle shake their walnut bows;
While, peering from his early perch
Upon the scaffold’s pole of birch,
The **** his crested helmet bent
And down his querulous challenge sent.

Unwarmed by any sunset light
The gray day darkened into night,
A night made hoary with the swarm
And whirl-dance of the blinding storm,
As zigzag, wavering to and fro,
Crossed and recrossed the wingàd snow:
And ere the early bedtime came
The white drift piled the window-frame,
And through the glass the clothes-line posts
Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts.

So all night long the storm roared on:
The morning broke without a sun;
In tiny spherule traced with lines
Of Nature’s geometric signs,
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below, —
A universe of sky and snow!
The old familiar sights of ours
Took marvellous shapes; strange domes and towers
Rose up where sty or corn-crib stood,
Or garden-wall, or belt of wood;
A smooth white mound the brush-pile showed,
A fenceless drift what once was road;
The bridle-post an old man sat
With loose-flung coat and high cocked hat;
The well-curb had a Chinese roof;
And even the long sweep, high aloof,
In its slant spendor, seemed to tell
Of Pisa’s leaning miracle.

A prompt, decisive man, no breath
Our father wasted: “Boys, a path!”
Well pleased, (for when did farmer boy
Count such a summons less than joy?)
Our buskins on our feet we drew;
With mittened hands, and caps drawn low,
To guard our necks and ears from snow,
We cut the solid whiteness through.
And, where the drift was deepest, made
A tunnel walled and overlaid
With dazzling crystal: we had read
Of rare Aladdin’s wondrous cave,
And to our own his name we gave,
With many a wish the luck were ours
To test his lamp’s supernal powers.
We reached the barn with merry din,
And roused the prisoned brutes within.
The old horse ****** his long head out,
And grave with wonder gazed about;
The **** his ***** greeting said,
And forth his speckled harem led;
The oxen lashed their tails, and hooked,
And mild reproach of hunger looked;
The hornëd patriarch of the sheep,
Like Egypt’s Amun roused from sleep,
Shook his sage head with gesture mute,
And emphasized with stamp of foot.

All day the gusty north-wind bore
The loosening drift its breath before;
Low circling round its southern zone,
The sun through dazzling snow-mist shone.
No church-bell lent its Christian tone
To the savage air, no social smoke
Curled over woods of snow-hung oak.
A solitude made more intense
By dreary-voicëd elements,
The shrieking of the mindless wind,
The moaning tree-boughs swaying blind,
And on the glass the unmeaning beat
Of ghostly finger-tips of sleet.
Beyond the circle of our hearth
No welcome sound of toil or mirth
Unbound the spell, and testified
Of human life and thought outside.
We minded that the sharpest ear
The buried brooklet could not hear,
The music of whose liquid lip
Had been to us companionship,
And, in our lonely life, had grown
To have an almost human tone.

As night drew on, and, from the crest
Of wooded knolls that ridged the west,
The sun, a snow-blown traveller, sank
From sight beneath the smothering bank,
We piled, with care, our nightly stack
Of wood against the chimney-back, —
The oaken log, green, huge, and thick,
And on its top the stout back-stick;
The knotty forestick laid apart,
And filled between with curious art

The ragged brush; then, hovering near,
We watched the first red blaze appear,
Heard the sharp crackle, caught the gleam
On whitewashed wall and sagging beam,
Until the old, rude-furnished room
Burst, flower-like, into rosy bloom;
While radiant with a mimic flame
Outside the sparkling drift became,
And through the bare-boughed lilac-tree
Our own warm hearth seemed blazing free.
The crane and pendent trammels showed,
The Turks’ heads on the andirons glowed;
While childish fancy, prompt to tell
The meaning of the miracle,
Whispered the old rhyme: “Under the tree,
When fire outdoors burns merrily,
There the witches are making tea.”

The moon above the eastern wood
Shone at its full; the hill-range stood
Transfigured in the silver flood,
Its blown snows flashing cold and keen,
Dead white, save where some sharp ravine
Took shadow, or the sombre green
Of hemlocks turned to pitchy black
Against the whiteness at their back.
For such a world and such a night
Most fitting that unwarming light,
Which only seemed where’er it fell
To make the coldness visible.

Shut in from all the world without,
We sat the clean-winged hearth about,
Content to let the north-wind roar
In baffled rage at pane and door,
While the red logs before us beat
The frost-line back with tropic heat;
And ever, when a louder blast
Shook beam and rafter as it passed,
The merrier up its roaring draught
The great throat of the chimney laughed;
The house-dog on his paws outspread
Laid to the fire his drowsy head,
The cat’s dark silhouette on the wall
A couchant tiger’s seemed to fall;
And, for the winter fireside meet,
Between the andirons’ straddling feet,
The mug of cider simmered slow,
The apples sputtered in a row,
And, close at hand, the basket stood
With nuts from brown October’s wood.

What matter how the night behaved?
What matter how the north-wind raved?
Blow high, blow low, not all its snow
Could quench our hearth-fire’s ruddy glow.
O Time and Change! — with hair as gray
As was my sire’s that winter day,
How strange it seems, with so much gone
Of life and love, to still live on!
Ah, brother! only I and thou
Are left of all that circle now, —
The dear home faces whereupon
That fitful firelight paled and shone.
Henceforward, listen as we will,
The voices of that hearth are still;
Look where we may, the wide earth o’er,
Those lighted faces smile no more.

We tread the paths their feet have worn,
We sit beneath their orchard trees,
We hear, like them, the hum of bees
And rustle of the bladed corn;
We turn the pages that they read,
Their written words we linger o’er,
But in the sun they cast no shade,
No voice is heard, no sign is made,
No step is on the conscious floor!
Yet Love will dream, and Faith will trust,
(Since He who knows our need is just,)
That somehow, somewhere, meet we must.
Alas for him who never sees
The stars shine through his cypress-trees!
Who, hopeless, lays his dead away,
Nor looks to see the breaking day
Across the mournful marbles play!
Who hath not learned, in hours of faith,
The truth to flesh and sense unknown,
That Life is ever lord of Death,
And Love can never lose its own!

We sped the time with stories old,
Wrought puzzles out, and riddles told,
Or stammered from our school-book lore
“The Chief of Gambia’s golden shore.”
How often since, when all the land
Was clay in Slavery’s shaping hand,
As if a far-blown trumpet stirred
Dame Mercy Warren’s rousing word:
“Does not the voice of reason cry,
Claim the first right which Nature gave,
From the red scourge of ******* to fly,
Nor deign to live a burdened slave!”
Our father rode again his ride
On Memphremagog’s wooded side;
Sat down again to moose and samp
In trapper’s hut and Indian camp;
Lived o’er the old idyllic ease
Beneath St. François’ hemlock-trees;
Again for him the moonlight shone
On Norman cap and bodiced zone;
Again he heard the violin play
Which led the village dance away.
And mingled in its merry whirl
The grandam and the laughing girl.
Or, nearer home, our steps he led
Where Salisbury’s level marshes spread
Mile-wide as flies the laden bee;
Where merry mowers, hale and strong,
Swept, scythe on scythe, their swaths along
The low green prairies of the sea.
We shared the fishing off Boar’s Head,
And round the rocky Isles of Shoals
The hake-broil on the drift-wood coals;
The chowder on the sand-beach made,
Dipped by the hungry, steaming hot,
With spoons of clam-shell from the ***.
We heard the tales of witchcraft old,
And dream and sign and marvel told
To sleepy listeners as they lay
Stretched idly on the salted hay,
Adrift along the winding shores,
When favoring breezes deigned to blow
The square sail of the gundelow
And idle lay the useless oars.

Our mother, while she turned her wheel
Or run the new-knit stocking-heel,
Told how the Indian hordes came down
At midnight on Concheco town,
And how her own great-uncle bore
His cruel scalp-mark to fourscore.
Recalling, in her fitting phrase,
So rich and picturesque and free
(The common unrhymed poetry
Of simple life and country ways,)
The story of her early days, —
She made us welcome to her home;
Old hearths grew wide to give us room;
We stole with her a frightened look
At the gray wizard’s conjuring-book,
The fame whereof went far and wide
Through all the simple country side;
We heard the hawks at twilight play,
The boat-horn on Piscataqua,
The loon’s weird laughter far away;
We fished her little trout-brook, knew
What flowers in wood and meadow grew,
What sunny hillsides autumn-brown
She climbed to shake the ripe nuts down,
Saw where in sheltered cove and bay,
The ducks’ black squadron anchored lay,
And heard the wild-geese calling loud
Beneath the gray November cloud.
Then, haply, with a look more grave,
And soberer tone, some tale she gave
From painful Sewel’s ancient tome,
Beloved in every Quaker home,
Of faith fire-winged by martyrdom,
Or Chalkley’s Journal, old and quaint, —
Gentlest of skippers, rare sea-saint! —
Who, when the dreary calms prevailed,
And water-**** and bread-cask failed,
And cruel, hungry eyes pursued
His portly presence mad for food,
With dark hints muttered under breath
Of casting lots for life or death,

Offered, if Heaven withheld supplies,
To be himself the sacrifice.
Then, suddenly, as if to save
The good man from his living grave,
A ripple on the water grew,
A school of porpoise flashed in view.
“Take, eat,” he said, “and be content;
These fishes in my stead are sent
By Him who gave the tangled ram
To spare the child of Abraham.”
Our uncle, innocent of books,
Was rich in lore of fields and brooks,
The ancient teachers never dumb
Of Nature’s unhoused lyceum.
In moons and tides and weather wise,
He read the clouds as prophecies,
And foul or fair could well divine,
By many an occult hint and sign,
Holding the cunning-warded keys
To all the woodcraft mysteries;
Himself to Nature’s heart so near
v That all her voices in his ear
Of beast or bird had meanings clear,
Like Apollonius of old,
Who knew the tales the sparrows told,
Or Hermes, who interpreted
What the sage cranes of Nilus said;
A simple, guileless, childlike man,
Content to live where life began;
Strong only on his native grounds,
The little world of sights and sounds
Whose girdle was the parish bounds,
Whereof his fondly partial pride
The common features magnified,
As Surrey hills to mountains grew
In White of Selborne’s loving view, —
He told how teal and loon he shot,
And how the eagle’s eggs he got,
The feats on pond and river done,
The prodigies of rod and gun;
Till, warming with the tales he told,
Forgotten was the outside cold,
The bitter wind unheeded blew,
From ripening corn the pigeons flew,
The partridge drummed i’ the wood, the mink
Went fishing down the river-brink.
In fields with bean or clover gay,
The woodchuck, like a hermit gray,
Peered from the doorway of his cell;
The muskrat plied the mason’s trade,
And tier by tier his mud-walls laid;
And from the shagbark overhead
The grizzled squirrel dropped his shell.

Next, the dear aunt, whose smile of cheer
And voice in dreams I see and hear, —
The sweetest woman ever Fate
Perverse denied a household mate,
Who, lonely, homeless, not the less
Found peace in love’s unselfishness,
And welcome wheresoe’er she went,
A calm and gracious element,
Whose presence seemed the sweet income
And womanly atmosphere of home, —
Called up her girlhood memories,
The huskings and the apple-bees,
The sleigh-rides and the summer sails,
Weaving through all the poor details
And homespun warp of circumstance
A golden woof-thread of romance.
For well she kept her genial mood
And simple faith of maidenhood;
Before her still a cloud-land lay,
The mirage loomed across her way;
The morning dew, that dries so soon
With others, glistened at her noon;
Through years of toil and soil and care,
From glossy tress to thin gray hair,
All unprofaned she held apart
The ****** fancies of the heart.
Be shame to him of woman born
Who hath for such but thought of scorn.
There, too, our elder sister plied
Her evening task the stand beside;
A full, rich nature, free to trust,
Truthful and almost sternly just,
Impulsive, earnest, prompt to act,
And make her generous thought a fact,
Keeping with many a light disguise
The secret of self-sacrifice.

O heart sore-tried! thou hast the best
That Heaven itself could give thee, — rest,
Rest from all bitter thoughts and things!
How many a poor one’s blessing went
With thee beneath the low green tent
Whose curtain never outward swings!

As one who held herself a part
Of all she saw, and let her heart
Against the household ***** lean,
Upon the motley-braided mat
Our youngest and our dearest sat,
Lifting her large, sweet, asking eyes,
Now bathed in the unfading green
And holy peace of Paradise.
Oh, looking from some heavenly hill,
Or from the shade of saintly palms,
Or silver reach of river calms,
Do those large eyes behold me still?
With me one little year ago: —
The chill weight of the winter snow
For months upon her grave has lain;
And now, when summer south-winds blow
And brier and harebell bloom again,
I tread the pleasant paths we trod,
I see the violet-sprinkled sod
Whereon she leaned, too frail and weak
The hillside flowers she loved to seek,
Yet following me where’er I went
With dark eyes full of love’s content.
The birds are glad; the brier-rose fills
The air with sweetness; all the hills
Stretch green to June’s unclouded sky;
But still I wait with ear and eye
For something gone which should be nigh,
A loss in all familiar things,
In flower that blooms, and bird that sings.
And yet, dear heart! remembering thee,
Am I not richer than of old?
Safe in thy immortality,
What change can reach the wealth I hold?
What chance can mar the pearl and gold
Thy love hath left in trust with me?
And while in life’s late afternoon,
Where cool and long the shadows grow,
I walk to meet the night that soon
Shall shape and shadow overflow,
I cannot feel that thou art far,
Since near at need the angels are;
And when the sunset gates unbar,
Shall I not see thee waiting stand,
And, white against the evening star,
The welcome of thy beckoning hand?

Brisk wielder of the birch and rule,
The master of the district school
Held at the fire his favored place,
Its warm glow lit a laughing face
Fresh-hued and fair, where scarce appeared
The uncertain prophecy of beard.
He teased the mitten-blinded cat,
Played cross-pins on my uncle’s hat,
Sang songs, and told us what befalls
In classic Dartmouth’s college halls.
Born the wild Northern hills among,
From whence his yeoman father wrung
By patient toil subsistence scant,
Not competence and yet not want,
He early gained the power to pay
His cheerful, self-reliant way;
Could doff at ease his scholar’s gown
To peddle wares from town to town;
Or through the long vacation’s reach
In lonely lowland districts teach,
Where all the droll experience found
At stranger hearths in boarding round,
The moonlit skater’s keen delight,
The sleigh-drive through the frosty night,
The rustic party, with its rough
Accompaniment of blind-man’s-buff,
And whirling-plate, and forfeits paid,
His winter task a pastime made.
Happy the snow-locked homes wherein
He tuned his merry violin,

Or played the athlete in the barn,
Or held the good dame’s winding-yarn,
Or mirth-provoking versions told
Of classic legends rare and old,
Wherein the scenes of Greece and Rome
Had all the commonplace of home,
And little seemed at best the odds
‘Twixt Yankee pedlers and old gods;
Where Pindus-born Arachthus took
The guise of any grist-mill brook,
And dread Olympus at his will
Became a huckleberry hill.

A careless boy that night he seemed;
But at his desk he had the look
And air of one who wisely schemed,
And hostage from the future took
In trainëd thought and lore of book.
Large-brained, clear-eyed, of such as he
Shall Freedom’s young apostles be,
Who, following in War’s ****** trail,
Shall every lingering wrong assail;
All chains from limb and spirit strike,
Uplift the black and white alike;
Scatter before their swift advance
The darkness and the ignorance,
The pride, the lust, the squalid sloth,
Which nurtured Treason’s monstrous growth,
Made ****** pastime, and the hell
Of prison-torture possible;
The cruel lie of caste refute,
Old forms remould, and substitute
For Slavery’s lash the freeman’s will,
For blind routine, wise-handed skill;
A school-house plant on every hill,
Stretching in radiate nerve-lines thence
The quick wires of intelligence;
Till North and South together brought
Shall own the same electric thought,
In peace a common flag salute,
And, side by side in labor’s free
And unresentful rivalry,
Harvest the fields wherein they fought.

Another guest that winter night
Flashed back from lustrous eyes the light.
Unmarked by time, and yet not young,
The honeyed music of her tongue
And words of meekness scarcely told
A nature passionate and bold,

Strong, self-concentred, spurning guide,
Its milder features dwarfed beside
Her unbent will’s majestic pride.
She sat among us, at the best,
A not unfeared, half-welcome guest,
Rebuking with her cultured phrase
Our homeliness of words and ways.
A certain pard-like, treacherous grace
Swayed the lithe limbs and drooped the lash,
Lent the white teeth their dazzling flash;
And under low brows, black with night,
Rayed out at times a dangerous light;
The sharp heat-lightnings of her face
Presaging ill to him whom Fate
Condemned to share her love or hate.
A woman tropical, intense
In thought and act, in soul and sense,
She blended in a like degree
The ***** and the devotee,
Revealing with each freak or feint
The temper of Petruchio’s Kate,
The raptures of Siena’s saint.
Her tapering hand and rounded wrist
Had facile power to form a fist;
The warm, dark languish of her eyes
Was never safe from wrath’s surprise.
Brows saintly calm and lips devout
Knew every change of scowl and pout;
And the sweet voice had notes more high
And shrill for social battle-cry.

Since then what old cathedral town
Has missed her pilgrim staff and gown,
What convent-gate has held its lock
Against the challenge of her knock!
Through Smyrna’s plague-hushed thoroughfares,
Up sea-set Malta’s rocky stairs,
Gray olive slopes of hills that hem
Thy tombs and shrines, Jerusalem,
Or startling on her desert throne
The crazy Queen of Lebanon
With claims fantastic as her own,
Her tireless feet have held their way;
And still, unrestful, bowed, and gray,
She watches under Eastern skies,
With hope each day renewed and fresh,
The Lord’s quick coming in the flesh,
Whereof she dreams and prophesies!
Where’er her troubled path may be,
The Lord’s sweet pity with her go!
The outward wayward life we see,
The hidden springs we may not know.
Nor is it given us to discern
What threads the fatal sisters spun,
Through what ancestral years has run
The sorrow with the woman born,
What forged her cruel chain of moods,
What set her feet in solitudes,
And held the love within her mute,
What mingled madness in the blood,
A life-long discord and annoy,
Water of tears with oil of joy,
And hid within the folded bud
Perversities of flower and fruit.
It is not ours to separate
The tangled skein of will and fate,
To show what metes and bounds should stand
Upon the soul’s debatable land,
And between choice and Providence
Divide the circle of events;
But He who knows our frame is just,
Merciful and compassionate,
And full of sweet assurances
And hope for all the language is,
That He remembereth we are dust!

At last the great logs, crumbling low,
Sent out a dull and duller glow,
The bull’s-eye watch that hung in view,
Ticking its weary circuit through,
Pointed with mutely warning sign
Its black hand to the hour of nine.
That sign the pleasant circle broke:
My uncle ceased his pipe to smoke,
Knocked from its bowl the refuse gray,
And laid it tenderly away;
Then roused himself to safely cover
The dull red brands with ashes over.
And while, with care, our mother laid
The work aside, her steps she stayed
One moment, seeking to express
Her grateful sense of happiness
For food and shelter, warmth and health,
And love’s contentment more than wealth,
With simple wishes (not the weak,
Vain prayers which no fulfilment seek,
But such as warm the generous heart,
O’er-prompt to do with Heaven its part)
That none might lack, that bitter night,
For bread and clothing, warmth and light.

Within our beds awhile we heard
The wind that round the gables roared,
With now and then a ruder shock,
Which made our very bedsteads rock.
We heard the loosened clapboards tost,
The board-nails snapping in the frost;
And on us, through the unplastered wall,
Felt the light sifted snow-flakes fall.
But sleep stole on, as sleep will do
When hearts are light and life is new;
Faint and more faint the murmurs grew,
Till in the summer-land of dreams
They softened to the sound of streams,
Low stir of leaves, and dip of oars,
And lapsing waves on quiet shores.
Of merry voices high and clear;
And saw the teamsters drawing near
To break the drifted highways out.
Down the long hillside treading slow
We saw the half-buried oxen go,
Shaking the snow from heads uptost,
Their straining nostrils white with frost.
Before our door the straggling train
Drew up, an added team to gain.
The elders threshed their hands a-cold,
Passed, with the cider-mug, their jokes
From lip to lip; the younger folks
Down the loose snow-banks, wrestling, rolled,
Then toiled again the cavalcade
O’er windy hill, through clogged ravine,
And woodland paths that wound between
Low drooping pine-boughs winter-weighed.
From every barn a team afoot,
At every house a new recruit,
Where, drawn by Nature’s subtlest law,
Haply the watchful young men saw
Sweet doorway pictures of the curls
And curious eyes of merry girls,
Lifting their hands in mock defence
Against the snow-ball’s compliments,
And reading in each missive tost
The charm with Eden never lost.
We heard once more the sleigh-bells’ sound;
And, following where the teamsters led,
The wise old Doctor went his round,
Just pausing at our door to say,
In the brief autocratic way
Of one who, prompt at Duty’s call,
Was free to urge her claim on all,
That some poor neighbor sick abed
At night our mother’s aid would need.
For, one in generous thought and deed,
What mattered in the sufferer’s sight
The Quaker matron’s inward light,
The Doctor’s mail of Calvin’s creed?
All hearts confess the saints elect
Who, twain in faith, in love agree,
And melt not in an acid sect
The Christian pearl of charity!

So days went on: a week had passed
Since the great world was heard from last.
The Almanac we studied o’er,
Read and reread our little store
Of books and pamphlets, scarce a score;
One harmless novel, mostly hid
From younger eyes, a book forbid,
And poetry, (or good or bad,
A single book was all we had,)
Where Ellwood’s meek, drab-skirted Muse,
A stranger to the heathen Nine,
Sang, with a somewhat nasal whine,
The wars of David and the Jews.
At last the floundering carrier bore
The village paper to our door.
Lo! broadening outward as we read,
To warmer zones the horizon spread
In panoramic length unrolled
We saw the marvels that it told.
Before us passed the painted Creeks,
A   nd daft McGregor on his raids
In Costa Rica’s everglades.
And up Taygetos winding slow
Rode Ypsilanti’s Mainote Greeks,
A Turk’s head at each saddle-bow!
Welcome to us its week-old news,
Its corner for the rustic Muse,
Its monthly gauge of snow and rain,
Its record, mingling in a breath
The wedding bell and dirge of death:
Jest, anecdote, and love-lorn tale,
The latest culprit sent to jail;
Its hue and cry of stolen and lost,
Its vendue sales and goods at cost,
And traffic calling loud for gain.
We felt the stir of hall and street,
The pulse of life that round us beat;
The chill embargo of the snow
Was melted in the genial glow;
Wide swung again our ice-locked door,
And all the world was ours once more!

Clasp, Angel of the backword look
And folded wings of ashen gray
And voice of echoes far away,
The brazen covers of thy book;
The weird palimpsest old and vast,
Wherein thou hid’st the spectral past;
Where, closely mingling, pale and glow
The characters of joy and woe;
The monographs of outlived years,
Or smile-illumed or dim with tears,
Green hills of life that ***** to death,
And haunts of home, whose vistaed trees
Shade off to mournful cypresses
With the white amaranths underneath.
Even while I look, I can but heed
The restless sands’ incessant fall,
Importunate hours that hours succeed,
Each clamorous with its own sharp need,
And duty keeping pace with all.
Shut down and clasp with heavy lids;
I hear again the voice that bids
The dreamer leave his dream midway
For larger hopes and graver fears:
Life greatens in these later years,
The century’s aloe flowers to-day!

Yet, haply, in some lull of life,
Some Truce of God which breaks its strife,
The worldling’s eyes shall gather dew,
Dreaming in throngful city ways
Of winter joys his boyhood knew;
And dear and early friends — the few
Who yet remain — shall pause to view
These Flemish pictures of old days;
Sit with me by the homestead hearth,
And stretch the hands of memory forth
To warm them at the wood-fire’s blaze!
And thanks untraced to lips unknown
Shall greet me like the odors blown
From unseen meadows newly mown,
Wood-fringed, the wayside gaze beyond;
The traveller owns the grateful sense
Of sweetness near, he knows not whence,
And, pausing, takes with forehead bare
The benediction of the air.

Written in  1865
In its day, 'twas a best-seller and earned significant income for Whittier

https://youtu.be/vVOQ54YQ73A
THAT HE SANG AT THE COUNCIL ROCK WHEN HE DANCED ON SHERE KHAN’S HIDE

The Song of Mowgli—I, Mowgli, am singing. Let
      the jungle listen to the things I have done.
Shere Khan said he would ****—would ****! At the
      gates in the twilight he would **** Mowgli, the
      Frog!
He ate and he drank. Drink deep, Shere Khan, for
      when wilt thou drink again? Sleep and dream
      of the ****.
I am alone on the grazing-grounds. Gray Brother,
      come to me! Come to me, Lone Wolf, for there
      is big game afoot.
Bring up the great bull-buffaloes, the blue-skinned
      herd-bulls with the angry eyes. Drive them to
      and fro as I order.
Sleepest thou still, Shere Khan? Wake, O wake!
      Here come I, and the bulls are behind.
Rama, the King of the Buffaloes, stamped with his
      foot. Waters of the Waingunga, whither went
      Shere Khan?
He is not Ikki to dig holes, nor Mao, the Peacock, that
      he should fly. He is not Mang, the Bat, to hang
      in the branches. Little bamboos that creak to-
      gether, tell me where he ran?
Ow! He is there. Ahoo! He is there. Under the
      feet of Rama lies the Lame One! Up, Shere
      Khan! Up and ****! Here is meat; break the
      necks of the bulls!
Hsh! He is asleep. We will not wake him, for his
      strength is very great. The kites have come down
      to see it. The black ants have come up to know
      it. There is a great assembly in his honour.
Alala! I have no cloth to wrap me. The kites will
      see that I am naked. I am ashamed to meet all
      these people.
Lend me thy coat, Shere Khan. Lend me thy gay
      striped coat that I may go to the Council Rock.
By the Bull that bought me I have made a promise—
      a little promise. Only thy coat is lacking before I
      keep my word.
With the knife—with the knife that men use—with
      the knife of the hunter, the man, I will stoop down
      for my gift.
Waters of the Waingunga, bear witness that Shere
      Khan gives me his coat for the love that he bears
      me. Pull, Gray Brother! Pull, Akela! Heavy is
      the hide of Shere Khan.
The Man Pack are angry. They throw stones and talk
      child’s talk. My mouth is bleeding. Let us run
      away.
Through the night, through the hot night, run swiftly
      with me, my brothers. We will leave the lights
      of the village and go to the low moon.
Waters of the Waingunga, the Man Pack have cast me
      out. I did them no harm, but they were afraid of
      me. Why?
Wolf Pack, ye have cast me out too. The jungle is
      shut to me and the village gates are shut. Why?
As Mang flies between the beasts and the birds so fly
      I between the village and the jungle. Why?
I dance on the hide of Shere Khan, but my heart is
      very heavy. My mouth is cut and wounded with
      the stones from the village, but my heart is very
      light because I have come back to the jungle.
      Why?
These two things fight together in me as the snakes
      fight in the spring. The water comes out of my
      eyes; yet I laugh while it falls. Why?
I am two Mowglis, but the hide of Shere Khan is under
      my feet.
All the jungle knows that I have killed Shere Khan.
      Look—look well, O Wolves!
Ahae! My heart is heavy with the things that I do
      not understand.

Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
      And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us
      At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow;
      Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
      Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.
Lily Peacock Feb 2016
I know you weren't the one because you didn't like my yellow coat,
The one Sacha told me made me look like a whale watcher,
When Sacha said that I felt tall and strong,
The coat made me feel prepared
And I wore it like a suit of armour,
Shield in hand, sword raised high. Ready!
The weather makes me feel like a bird,
Frenzied and beautiful,
Swaying in a tree,
Hot, damp and alive.
I'll always love my yellow coat,
To wear on handsome grey days,
Sharply defined in dimly lit doorways,
Like a honey eater in a stark, dead tree,
That's how I know you weren't for me.

— The End —