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WA West Aug 2018
Airport

Covering my face with my hands, there is an incessant in-pouring of light. I feel like I am in a casket. My brain seems to be swelling, in tune with an invisible pendulum. Waves of nausea flood my body.  Small children thunder around in front of me, like hysterical nightmare projections.

I have never enjoyed being in Airports. They are morgues with an added buzz of visitors and commerce. The sterility of the interior design and the nervous excitability of the passengers sets me very quickly on edge. As a salesman for a major international e-commerce company, I am required to fly often.

To avoid excess stress and anxiety I prepare meticulously. Nothing must be left to chance. I am regimented and purposeful during my preparation. If the luggage allowance is 15kg, then I make sure that my suitcase is dead on that weight. I reweigh my suitcases on several sets of scales. Checking there is no error in their calibration.  I do not carry any prohibited travel items. I ring airline customer support several times to double-check. I rummage through my suitcase repeatedly. I allow no error to go unnoticed. I google articles about travel preparation, checklists, essential travel items and I read articles about anxiety related to fear of flying. Neither my emotional state nor practical matters are to take me by surprise. I am like a samurai undertaking pre-battle rituals.

Check-in is open. I funnel through to the check-in desk. There are several people before me; their movements generate a low pitch buzzing in my head. They are hyper-kinetic, speaking at unreasonably loud volumes in an indecipherable language. My arms vibrate down by my sides, my tongue thickens. I feel warmer and more vulnerable. I start to think about the first meal I’ll eat in Rekyjavik. I have panicked thoughts, recognition of myself in these thoughts is minimal. I swing around to check that nobody is standing directly behind me. The several people check in without issue. A man in all black clothing, I presume, a security guard intercepts me and asks me to go to desk 13. Although there is a sign hanging down from the ceiling with directions to check-in desks 10-15, I am unable to locate desk 13. I double back on myself, I ask the check-in assistant from desk 12 where desk 13 is. She says that it has been temporarily moved to the second floor of the terminal. Desk 13 on the second floor doesn't in the slightest resemble a check-in desk. A burly individual with an absence of ****** expressions or an officious manner mans an oak desk. There is no conveyor belt for the luggage, only a shopping trolley. ''Ermmm can I check in here?''. The man whom lacks an officious manner nods curtly without removing his eyes from the newspaper he is reading. "Documentation''. I hand him my documentation. ''Passport''. ''Going to Reykjavik?'' ''Erm yes''. ‘’Follow me’’.
The man, who lacks an officious manner, leads me a door behind the check-in desk that doesn’t in the slightest resemble a check-in desk. A young child with golden blonde hair in white robes pushes the shopping trolley behind me. We enter a room that is high like a cathedral and tiled in exquisite mosaic tiles; alternating gold and white into infinity. The ceiling is so high it seems to disappear off into a void. Sat down at a bog-standard mass manufactured desk in front of me, is a man who must be at least 13 feet tall, he has enormous ears like an elephant and is speaking in rounds of what sounds like the same phrase. I do not recognise the language. I am ceased from behind by the blonde child and the man who lacks an officious manner. The man with enormous ears like an elephant screams ‘’I hate Iceland’’, the blonde child laughs uncontrollably grabbing his stomach like he is holding his insides in. The ceiling begins to close in and a space opens in the floor. The man who lacks an officious manner says in a sinister tone says ‘’Do you think you would be forgiven”. I say ‘’I have got a ticket, I’m going to Iceland on business’’ I feel a prodding in my lower back and then darkness.
#shortstory #anxiety #Rekyjavik
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 3, 2019)

“Not all those who wander are lost.” -- J. R. R. Tolkien

I was an office temp for many years when I was young. All the companies: Kelly girls, Manpower, Adecco. I took innumerable tests in typing, word processing, spreadsheets.

The worst job was at a sales office for home siding. I logged complaints all day on the phone about faulty siding.

I worked at a construction site in Los Angeles, a new middle-class ghetto they were building on the Howard Hughes air strip. I worked in a trailer and had to wait until lunch break to walk a block to the bathroom in the new library.

There was one warehouse I worked in that had mice so employed a full-time cat to work alongside us. The cat left dead mice everywhere. I was always cold there.

A lot of places I was replacing someone on vacation, someone the office assumed was indispensable but there was never anything for me to do there but read. I wrote a lot of letters to pen pals and friends. Email hadn’t been invented yet. Sometimes I’d walk memos around the office. Nobody ever invited me to meetings. Be careful what you wish for. Sometimes it comes true and you end up sitting in endless meetings.

In one swanky office I prepared orders in triplicate on a typewriter. I kept messing up and having to start over. Eventually I started to enjoy this. It was a medical lab and was convinced they were doing animal testing so I left after a week.

One of my early jobs was as a receptionist in a war machine company. My contact there asked me to do “computer work” (as it was called then) but I didn’t know how to use a mac or a mouse. My contact called my agency to complain about sending out “girls without basic skills.” My agency told me not to worry about it, the war company was just trying to scam us all by paying for a receptionist to do “computer work.” So they stuck me at the switchboard up front where I found bomb-threat instructions taped under the desk.

I worked at a design store and learned a program called Word Perfect. I started typing and printing the letters to my friends. The St. Louis owner was trying to sell the company to a rich Los Angeles couple. Once, a young gay designer I admired called and referred to me as “the girl up front with the glasses.” I immediately went out and got contact lenses. Before I left, I bought a desk and a chair they were selling. Years later, I sold the desk to an Amish couple in Lititz, PA, but I still have the chair.

I once worked for a cheap couple running a plastic mold factory. The man was paranoid, cheap and houvering and I said I wouldn’t stay past two weeks. They asked me to train a new temp and I said okay. The new temp also found the owner to be paranoid, cheap and houvering and so declared to me she wouldn’t stay past the week either. She confided in me she had gotten drunk and slept with someone and was worried she was pregnant. She was freaking out because she was going through a divorce and already had two kids. I told her about the day-after-pill which she had never heard of. I don’t know if it worked because I never used it myself and I never saw her again after that to follow up.

At another office I did nothing at the front desk for three weeks, bored and reading all the Thomas Covenant novels. I would take my lunch break under a big tree to continue reading the Thomas Covenant novels.

I worked for months at a credit card company reading books and letting in visitors through the locked glass door. Week after week, the receptionist would call in sick. One young blonde woman would give me filing work. She was telling me all about her wedding she was planning which sounded pretty fun and it made me want to plan a wedding too. After a few weeks she asked me what my father did. I said he was a computer programmer. She replied that my dad sounded like somebody her dad would beat up. I was too shocked by the rudeness to say dismissively, “I seriously doubt that.” (For one, my dad wasn’t always a computer programmer.) When it became clear the woman I was replacing had abandoned her job, they asked me if I wanted to stay on. I said no, that I was moving to New York City. I wasn’t  (but I did eventually).

Some places “kept me on” like the mortgage underwriters in St. Louis. That office had permanent wood partitions between the desks, waist-high and a pretty, slight woman training to join the FBI. She fainted one day by the copier. It was there that I told my first successful joke ever. Our boss was a part-time Baptist minister and we loved him because he was able to inspire us during times of low morale. One day we saw a bug buzzing above us in a light fixture.  Before I even thought about it I said, “I guess you could say he finally saw the light.” Everybody laughed a lot and I turned bright red. I wrote my essay to Sarah Lawrence College there after hours at the one desk with a typewriter. My boss and I got laid off the same day. He helped me carry my things out to my car.

I worked at a large food company in White Plains, NY. I often came home with boxes of giveaway Capri Sun in damaged boxes. I helped a blind woman fill out her checks. She was really grouchy and I wasn’t allowed to pet her service dog. She had dusty junk all over her desk but she couldn’t see it to make it tidy. I realized then that she would never be able to use a stack of desk junk as a to-do list...because she couldn’t see it. You can’t to-do what you can’t see and how we all probably take this fact for granted with our piles of desk junk. Years later I had the same thought about to-do lists burned in phones or computer files.

They also “kept me on” at the Yonkers construction company. I was there for years. The British woman next to me was not my boss but she ordered me around a lot. She told me I looked like an old 1940s actress I had never heard of who always wore her hair in her face. I was annoyed by this compliment because when I looked the actress up on the Internet I could see it wasn’t true. At the time, everyone was just getting on the Internet and I was already addicted to eBay. I would leave meetings in the middle for three minute at a time to ****** items with my competitive late-second bids. It was my first job with email too, and I emailed many letters to all my friends all day long. One elderly man there thought it was funny to give me cigars (which I smoked socially at the time) and told me unsavory ****** facts to shock me. I thought he was harmless and funny and his attempts to unsettle me misguided because I had already grown up with two older brothers who were smelly and hellbent on unsettling me. Later the man started dating and seemed happier and I met his very nice older girlfriend at one of the laborious, day-long Christmas parties our Italian owners threw every year. Months later his girlfriend was murdered in her garage by her estranged husband. Most of the office left to go to her funeral and I felt very bad for him.

And they kept me on at the Indian arts school in Santa Fe. I loved every day I spent there, walking the halls looking at student art. I had never seen so many beautiful faces in one place. One teacher there confided in me about her troubles and I tried to be Oprah. She ended up having to take out a restraining order against a man she met online. At the trial, the man tried to attack the female judge and she awarded the teacher the longest restraining order ever awarded in Santa Fe: 100 years. He broke the restraining order one day on campus and we were all scared about where he was and if he had a gun. All around the school were rolling hills and yellow blooming chamisa and we found tarantulas in the parking lot. I was there almost a full school year until I moved away.

I was once a temp in a nursing temp office that had large oak desks and big leather chairs. The office was empty except for one other woman. The boss was on vacation and she spent all our time complaining about what an *** he was and how mistreated the nurses were. I remember feeling uncomfortable in the leather chair. The boss, who I never met, called me one day to tell me he had fired her and that I should know she was threatening to come back with a gun. When I called the agency they laughed it off. I told them I wouldn’t go back.

My favorite temp job was at a firefighting academy in rural Massachusetts. I edited training manuals along with two other temps. It was very interesting work. The academy was in the middle of the woods, down beautiful winding roads with old rock walls. Driving to work I would listen to TLC and Luther Vandross. And whenever I hear Vandross sing I still think of the Massachusetts woods. When I left, they let me have a t-shirt and I wore it for years. One of the trainers had a son who was a firefighter who asked me out on a date. I said I was moving to New York City (this time it was true) and not interested in a relationship. He insisted the date would be just as friends. He took me to Boston’s North End and we ate gnocchi while he told me how he didn’t believe it was right to hit women. This comment alarmed me. He then took me to a highrise, skyview bar downtown where he proceeded to **** my fingers. I thought about Gregg Allman and Cher’s first date where Gregg Allman ****** Cher’s fingers and how now Cher and I had something in common: the disappointment of having one’s fingers ******. My scary date didn’t want to take me home and I was living with my brother at the time, so I told him my brother was crazy and if I didn’t get back by ten o’clock my brother would freak out like a motherf&#$er. That part wasn’t true...but it worked. I made it home.

I used to be deathly afraid of talking to strangers on the phone. I used to be bored out of my mind watching the clock. I used to wish I were friends with many of the interesting people walking past my desk.

When I look back on all this and where I’ve been, it seems so random, meandering through offices in so many different cities. But it wasn’t entropy or arbitrary. I was always working on the same thing.

I was a writer.
Prompt:Write a meandering poem that takes its time to get to its point.
"Have you any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?"
~Later, towards the end~
Alice asks, "Hatter, why is a raven like a writing desk?"
Mad Hatter: "I haven't the slightest idea."
Then Alice disappears back home.*
So why is a raven like a writing desk?
Ravens symbolizes death and to me Writing symbolizes
freedom.
But when you think about it ravens fly-- come and go as they please. Writers feel like that when they write at a writing desk--
come and go as they please.
So maybe there's the answer...
Ravens are free, and a writing desk is a place to be free.
But maybe a raven is also like a writing desk because most good poems deal with some type of grief, or joy...Every good poet deals with issues with life and the grief that comes with death. Every great writer has troubles-- look at; Edger Allen Poe, Dylan Thomas, and Emily Dickerson, just to name a few. Edger often wrote of ravens and drank, Dylan also drank, and Emily was afraid to go outside. We all have troubles, but only a certain amount of people can write about them in poetry and make the words be so beautiful. So maybe in the movie there was no answer, but it all seems to random to have no answer. So here's my answer: Freedom and Troubles, Ravens have/deal with both as well as a writer at a writing desk.
Do you know why a raven is like a writing desk?
copyright; McNally Inc. 2010
6/28 Nina McNally
not a poem, just thoughts.
Cordelia Copson Jul 2015
i suppose that i am like a writing desk,
but in the way that i am like the desk
of the ******* the bus
who whispered "schizoid pop"
and "oh wow" into your stubble
after having downed a bottle of ***** and
attempted to consume you up against a fence

i am like the writing desk of a girl who did never
quite commit herself to anything
no subject nor man, only to pretty girls that would never
ever love her back
i am like the writing desk in the way that i am like the
secret garden, in that i have made myself up
inside my head to be the most beautiful thing

i am only to be unlocked with that key
y'know, the one we fought over it's beauty, before
i threw it into a black bag at the meagre age of thirteen
then learning the sentiment of "if i can't have you, no one will"
that key that had a sordid past that my mother was too afraid to
talk about and too choked up to even cry about so
i guess we were really ******

and now i've learnt the sordid past and the stagnant
nature of letters and i am like a writing desk
in the way i know that i do not have an answer
to anything at all, but least of all myself
i am like a writing desk in the way that i am bright as the sun
and in love with life and suddenly,
devastatingly aware that nothing at all
is what i ever thought it could be
i'm drunk and sad and ******* mr. carroll
Hedonic Nihilist Feb 2014
My desk, it was facing the other way

It witnessed the two of us: entwined but one whole foot apart; leaning on each other's shoulders; too afraid to get closer

It saw us, shyly, touch each other's fingers yet it couldn't stop it and no electricity flowed between us

It saw us look at each other and look away: a fear of something greater

It saw you type the name of your favorite bands and show me your favorite bands, some of which would become mine and I did the same for you except you stopped listening to all of my music

It saw me sitting, on the phone with you, solving your math problems on its surface, telling you the answers hoping you'd understand

My desk, saw us stay up until 3 in the morning talking about the future we swore would come to us

My desk doesn't face that way anymore

It saw me yelling at you and crying on the phone about you months after my desk seized to see you.

My desk, saw me listen to your favorite bands and saw me stare off into the distance remembering the moment you showed them to me

My desk, is watching me write this and is hearing the background noise of one of your favorite bands

My desk has witnessed ******.
Samuel Apr 2018
It’s fine
Is what she tells everyone
This day
Like so many others.
Fears run through her,
Her mind a mess of possibility
Infinite in number and horror.
Deaths here.
Failures there.
Maybe a grave injury at best.
Can they best this foe?
Is this the end of the Sages?
Is this the end of the world?
She ponders this
Over a cup of coffee
Poured by Moojdart,
All concern and bother.

It’s fine
Is what she says as she slinks off,
Telling Mooj again and again
Don’t worry, don’t worry
It’s fine,
She can handle it.
She always can, she always must.
Grus is worried too
And Milest
And even their leader
Who’s normally too vain to care.
She brushes past them all
To go and hide away
As she tries to fix it,
As she runs through bad ends
In search of a single good.
She can’t find one
Or even the hint of one
No matter how hard she picks
At the threads of potentiality.
There’s only more worries,
Only more failures,
Which darken the flame of Hope
Burning inside
Which she clings to so stubbornly
Even though it’s not her natural Will.
She’s got to.
She’s got to cling,
Got to be strong.
She’ll fix it, she will.

There’s a knock at her door
And it opens
Before she can even say no
Because that’s just how Fiethsing is,
Because that’s just how little she cares.
Really it’s amazing she knocked,
But there you go.
You never can guess with her,
But Zero can know she’s annoyed.
She snaps at her.
An admonition, a demand
To go, to leave.
That you shouldn’t just barge in
“I mean really, Fieth,”
And it’s fine anyway.
It’s always fine.

But that’s not what she came for.
So she claims.
She’s just here to find a book,
Steal it more like,
Like she always does
And Zero’ll never see it again.
It’s just a ploy anyway,
It’s just a ploy thankfully,
Unfortunately.
Fieth sets in on the search,
Looking for a book
And not speaking a word more,
Of concern or otherwise.
She’s simply an annoyance
That rummages through her things
After barging into her space.
Fieth’s one that’ll be ignored.
Has to be, must be.
So she drinks her coffee
And goes to reading,
Or more like looking at pages
As the words blur together
From fear
Now tinted with anger.

It’s fine
And Fiethsing sighs
Finally feeling fit
To make a sound
And even words.
“Wow, it’s hot.
Don’t you think so, Zero?”
There’s more sound too
Of rustling clothes
Falling off
Onto the floor.
A shirt gone,
More than likely.
Still searching too.
She pays no mind,
As little as she can.
She has a book to not read.

A book to not read
As a thought invades her mind
Of what Fieth must look like.
******* and slick with sweat
As she digs through her shelves
Musing to herself,
“Oh it’s not here either, oh dear.”
There’s a book to not read
As an image invades her mind
Of a hug,
Of a kiss,
A touch, anything.
Contact, warm and simple.
Memories flood
And imaginings more
As she has a book to not read.

Still it’s fine,
Just fine.
She’ll just read and think
On all the ways the world can end
Because that’s better.
Better than admitting she’s scared,
Better than admitting she needs help.
Help of any sort.
A talk, advice, a decision
Or a pair of arms
Wrapped around her waist
As she falls apart
Just for a moment.

“Oh, there it is!”
Rings out Fieth’s sing song tone
And she trots on over,
For once bothering to walk
And not float.
Just so she’ll hear,
Just so she’ll know.
It’s a kindness but it doesn’t feel like it,
More like a threat
That makes her sigh
Heavy and hard
In frustration
As she turns around to see
Fieth ******* and grinning.
It’s enough to make her sick.
With fury.
With fear.
With want.
She holds out her book
Arm outstretched
As far as it can go,
A barrier between them both.
She doesn’t want to play this game,
She wants to play this game.

Fieth takes the book with glee
And a pleased, “Thank you!”
Before she rambles on and on
About dull history being her passion
Don’t you know, Zero?
It’s charming,
It’s cute
And she just wants her gone.
Gone and away
With her mirth,
Infectious as always,
And her plans,
Impish as always.
So she turns back around
And grabs another book.
Another thing to not read
As she tells herself
That it’s fine.

It’s fine
As Fieth steps forward and
rests a hand on her
Gripping her shoulder.
It’s fine
When she says, “I went a bit far
Didn’t I, Zero?”
Which she did
But it’s fine
And it’s not.
It wasn’t far enough, not close enough.
She didn’t just grab her
Right there, right then.
She didn’t just force her down
Against her desk
And whisper in her ear
Just what she’ll do to her.

So she falls to her side
Just far enough
To fall back into Fieth,
Head resting right between her *******.
The grip becomes a hug,
Arm wrapping firmly around
Her frightened frame,
So frail,
Right now, right here.

“It’s fine,”
She says again.
This time it’s the truth,
And a lie
And she closes her eyes
And she melts
Right there, right then
In Fiethsing’s arms,
Though she wants nothing more
Than to chase her off.

“Just need a moment?”
Fieth asks
With a sincerity
That she so often lacks.
She’s not going to run off.
She’s not going to lie.
She’s not going to force the matter
Even if Zero wants her to.
It’s frustrating,
The fiendish way that Fieth
Makes her fend for herself
By pushing just enough
To get a decision.

It’s fine,
Frustrating or not,
As she pushes herself up and off.
Just enough to sit up,
Just enough to lean in
As she makes a decision at last.
Her lips part
And she kisses Fiethsing.
A moan escapes her,
A desperate plea
Muffled as Fieth’s tongue meets hers
And as Fieth’s hand crawls up her front.
Up her front, to her shoulder
To her neck,
Thumb rubbing idly, intently.
Intoxicating, it’s intoxicating
That sensation and more
As she leans forward the more,
Body pressed
Against Fieth’s.
Fieth who takes hold of her waist
With a free arm
And pulls her forward and up
To get her standing.
Two bodies, pressed together.
The kiss deepens,
Desperate all the more.

Her hands snake up Fieth’s back
And her nails dig into Fieth’s back.
Fieth who breaks the kiss
As she lets out a hiss
Of pained satisfaction
And who looks down
At her
As she buries her face
Into her chest.
She’s coming undone.
She’s starting to cry.
She’s clinging as she can,
Telling herself
Over and over
That it’s fine.

It’s fine
And Fieth’s here
Resting her cheek
Against her head
And with her hand
Stroking her hair
And her other
Holding her firmly,
Tightly
Just as she needs.
Just as she needs
Until she needs more,
More than a hug
And fingers in her hair.

She slips away,
Steps on back
One step, then two
Until a boot clicks against her desk.
She looks on
Eyes pleading
As she looks on at her
Her shirtless lover standing there
Unsure now of what she wants
But so sure of what she wants.
More, her.

So Fieth steps forward herself
Hands taking to her dress,
Undoing the buttons
As Zero tries to slip out of it.
Abandoning it on the floor,
Her bra goes there next
And her underwear
And her boots too.
It all goes
Until she is laid bare
For Fieth to look upon.
Fieth who doesn’t strip entirely,
Keeping her skirt on
And her boots too.
She dips down into her neck,
Pressing her lips against
That flesh
Vulnerable, sensitive
Enough to elicit a sigh.
Enough to get a roll of the hips.
Just enough
And not enough
As she buries her fingers
Into Fieth’s hair.
Pulling, stroking,
Needing simply to feel
Her and only her.
The her that slips a hand
Right between her thighs
Right then, right there.
A finger searching,
A finger finding
Just how wet she is.
A finger searching,
A finger finding
Just how hard her **** is.
Zero finds too
Once again
Just how skilled Fieth is.
How Fieth can circle her ****
Just the right way, just firm enough.
Enough to get her biting her lip
And resting her forehead
Into Fieth’s shoulder
As she comes apart
In her hands.

It’s fine
As her knees grow weak
And her breathing quickens.
It’s fine as Fieth slides a finger in
And a second.
The welcome stretch,
The familiar tension
Makes her shiver
As Fieth reaches deeper,
Deeper inside
And as Fieth pulls out
And pushes back in.
She pulls her head back,
And lets out a moan
Saying her name
As she pulls her hair.
God she’s near,
God she’s close,
God she’s in.
In her
Both in body and soul
And it’s all she can do
But say her name again
And again.
A fevered plea
As she begs for more,
Begs for her.
As doubts begin to clear
And leave
Just for a time.
Just right here, right now
And it’s fine.

Fieth pulls out again
This time fully
Leaving a dull ache,
An urgent need for more.
She wants to swear at her,
She wants to beg to her
To go back.
Back in,
Take her right there.
She needs it, needs her.
Desperately.
Fieth doesn’t though.
She grabs Zero’s thighs
And lifts as she can.
And she gets it
Though she’d rather not.
Rather not wait,
But she does wait and she knows
And she shifts her weight
Until she’s seated right on her desk,
Until she’s pressed down on her desk.

Fingers out of Fieth’s hair
She gropes at hard wood
That’s cold against her back
While the warmth burns
Between her legs.
She looks at her,
Looks to her.
Fieth’s hands rest on her thighs
As she looks back
Right at her,
Like she sees right through her.
Because she does,
She always does.

A hand travels up her thigh
Tracing a finger across her body.
A touch electric,
But not enough.
Not enough but enough
To get her speaking, to get her begging.
“Fieth, please.”
But Fieth just grins,
Feeling her *******,
Admiring the look in her eyes.
“Fieth please just stop looking,
Just this once and **** me.”
The words excite
And torment
And her cheeks burn red,
More ashamed to say it
Than have it happen.
Yet
The word she hears back isn’t a yes.
It’s “No.”

It’s fine
Isn’t it?
What had she done?
What could she have done?
Is it ending here, now?
Is it ending with still more to go?
What could she have done,
What could have Fieth have done?
Her fears come quick
And they’re tossed aside quick
As Fiethsing’s grin widens
And she says
“I’ve got a better idea.”
That’s fine.

More than fine.
Fine as Fieth bends down
Hand resting against the desk,
The other heading right back down
To her thighs.
Right back to part her lips
And then she feels her lips
And she feels her tongue
Against her ****.
Her fears are dashed
Right against the wall
And she lets out a cry,
A trembling moan.
So satisfied, yet not at all
As Fiethsing traces her ****
With her tongue.
As Fiethsing ***** at her ****
She claws, she scrabbles
Searching for purchase on the desk.
Which can’t be found
And she can’t find words
As she bucks her hips
Against Fiethsing’s mouth.
Not concerned about noise,
Not concerned about poise
Her worries gone entirely
And only this moment exists.
Only their bodies so close
Yet not close enough.
Time fades, distance fades.
A finger slips in again,
Then two, then three
But Fieth pulls her head up
Just to get it all situated.
Just to get it right.
Zero whines,
“Fiethsing please. ”

It’s more than fine
As Fieth dips back down
And Zero grabs wildly
Looking for something to hold
To touch.
All the better if it’s her,
If it’s Fieth and it is,
Her hair.
Her hair that Zero ***** into her fist,
Her hair that she pulls upon
As the tension builds,
As the ache grows.
Until at last it rolls over,
A rush of sensation
And feeling
That shakes her body
And gets her to cry out
Impassioned, fevered ramblings
About her, about her,
God just her.
Just.
Fiethsing.

And it’s fine
As Fieth keeps working at her
Through the ******,
Past the ******
And into the pain
Of too much sensation, too much.
She moans, she whines.
She begs, she even swears
And she bangs a fist on her desk
To stifle the pain, the pleasure.

Fiethsing slides out
And sits on up
And she laughs and prods
Right at her thigh.
“I bet even Milest heard that.”
What can she do
But roll her eyes
And groan in exasperation
At that comment.
What can she do
But be glad
Glad deep down for it,
For it all.
Glad enough that she sits up,
Glad enough that she hugs Fieth.

“It’s fine.”
I haven’t the pocket to buy antiques
But often I like to go,
To sit at the antique auctions,
See who’s there, who’s in the know,
The men with yen and the businessmen
The Lords and the Ladies too,
Still with the loot their forebears stole
In 1642.

So guys like me can only watch
As the bids creep up each time,
Some of the things they’re bidding for,
It’s like white-collar crime,
There’s better stuff in a garage sale
Or found in a pile of junk,
I come away and I often say:
‘Well, that was a load of bunk!’

But sometimes, at the end of the day
When the bids and the deals are done,
There are items that are cast away
Not even a bid, not one,
And they sit forlorn, out there on the lawn
Where everyone passed them by,
Waiting for owners to pick them up
Under a threatening sky.

That’s where I found the Georgian desk,
Beaten, battered and worn,
The side was scuffed and the top was chipped
With one side panel gone,
Someone had found it, out in a barn,
Under a pile of hay,
And brought it along on spec, they said,
They hoped it would go away.

I said, ‘Well what do you want for it,
I’ll cart it off in the truck,’
He said, ‘I’m happy with forty quid!’
I couldn’t believe my luck.
I got it home and I cleaned it up
And polished the ancient stain,
I’ll swear that the desk had smiled at me
With faith in itself, again.

And then I replaced the panel that
Was missing from times before,
But not before I’d inspected it,
Discovered a secret drawer,
And tucked in there was a parchment
Faded yet, and next to a quill,
It said, ‘Dear Margaret, hearken to me,
This love has made me ill!’

A chill ran suddenly down my spine
The hairs rose up on my neck,
The room went dark as I placed the parchment
Down, face up on the desk.
I felt my heart beginning to pound
As I read what he had to say:
‘I came, my love, at the time you said,
But the soldiers took you away!’

That was the day that changed my life
For the weather ‘til then was fine,
A cloud had come, and covered the sun
As I got to his final line,
Then thunder cracked and rattled the roof
While lightning shattered the birch,
He wrote, ‘Your father and his dragoons
Are out there, guarding the church.’

My mind was set in a turmoil, and
I paced for that afternoon,
Wondering who these people were
That had cast my life in gloom,
The only clue was the cursive date
And the name that he’d finely wrought,
For that was 1768
And his name was Jeremy Thorpe.

It seems they’d planned to elope and wed
In the church at Medlin Tort,
But the father said that he’d strike him dead
Despite what his daughter thought,
For Jeremy was a colonist,
And would take his daughter there,
To the Massachusetts colony,
Revolution in the air!

The nights that I couldn’t sleep, I paced
And wandered from room to room,
The study was faintly lighted by
A waning, rising Moon,
One night a young man sat at the desk
With a powdered wig and quill,
And wrote, ‘My Heart, all hope has fled,
But for me, I love you still.’

I went there looking for answers in
The local reading room,
I searched the shelves of the library
And I found an ancient tome,
A Margaret Evancourt had died
Imprisoned in a mill,
And left a note, ‘My Jeremy,
This heart bleeds for you still.’

That night I sat at the Georgian desk
Picked up the quill and I wrote,
Nothing of great import, but just
A simple, one line note,
I left it there on the desk, and laid
It underneath the quill,
It said, ‘Your love is imprisoned,
You will find her down at the mill!’

I never saw him again, my note
Had gone when I arose,
I couldn’t wait to be off, in haste
I struggled with my clothes,
Then down at the little church I’d found
Still there, at Medlin Tort,
Were written the wedding lines I’d sought
Of Margaret Evancourt.

David Lewis Paget
Kimberly Weber Jul 2014
It feels so forbidding,
And yet so permitting,
To be behind the teachers desk.
To be in control, and have the power to scroll through papers and mess.
It feels so pleasing to be seizing the grade book
And take a look.
Behind the teachers desk,
That's where I like to be,
Behind the teachers desk,
The chair waits for me.
The false sense of power and control,
Drive me through to be on patrol.
Behind the teachers desk,
Yes that's the place for me,
Behind the teachers desk,
Working patiently.
Oh Mrs. Weber,
Oh Misses Me!
How you work so wonderfully,
Behind the teachers desk!
Who is the teacher?
Not me!
The ghost of a 6th grade me; a lost poem found
Kate Dempsey Jun 2011
I kneeled on the polished wood floor, panting and sweating. My body was writhing in pain, having been mercilessly beaten two masked men; I knew not who they were or why they had come for me. Nor did I know where I was now. I didn’t know anything anymore; everything was drowned in a rising sea of confusion. There was nothing but my battered body, slowly letting forth blood and the wooden floor, gluttonously sapping the heat from my hands and legs and hoarding it within its cold, polished surface.
My ears perked as I heard a noise outside of my elegant prison. As I strained my ears to their fullest extent, I almost grasped what the sound was. Soon, there were several noises and they were louder than the original one. After an unknown period of time, I recognized the sounds as speech even though I could not understand it. Fear swelled within my heart. I feared that the goons who had battered me and sealed me in this room were among those who conversed in the hallway and what horrific things they would do to me if they returned. I prayed for the voices to stop, for them to leave. I waited for the worst, but prayed for the best. I silently and fervently prayed to a God that I only halfway believed in.
Silence. My prayers had been answered. I let out a sigh of relief. It was the first unrestricted breath I had taken since my troubles began. I savored this breath; I inhaled solace and exhaled fear. I rose to my knees and straightened my weary back, feeling the bones crack several times. How wonderful it felt to be upright again!
The doorknob clicked. My eyes darted toward the door. Almost immediately, five men entered, all of them splendidly dressed. They walked with elegance, like kings. Two of them stood at the back of the small room, their eyes watching me like those of a bird of prey pondering ******* a rat. A large man approached me, slowly but menacingly with his great girth shifting with every step. I felt my body tense as I waited for him to strike me. Even with this, I noticed the other two men standing in the corner, continuing their conversation. I tried desperately to listen in. Perhaps they would mention why I was here? But no understanding was to be gained as I could not understand a single word. I recognized the language, however, was Mandarin. Without a moment’s notice, I felt a shove and my chest and face came into an abrupt and painful contact with the floor. It took me a moment to realize that the fat man had kicked me. He shouted at me, in an unintelligible anger. I rose back to my knees and hands and looked into the face of my assaulter.
He was massive. His body was that of a great pig in an elegant, well-tailored suit. His skin was a very tanned yellow and his hair was combed back. He had an upturned nose and small, accusatory eyes glistening with ire as he looked down upon me. He stood before me with a sinister smile as my eyes wandered to his hands. I watched as he ran a fat, jeweled hand over a gorgeous cane. As he continued to stroke the cane, I wondered how he would abuse me next. He circled me once and stopped at my side, his patent leather shoes shining brightly. I could see nothing else of him but his shoes. At that moment, he shouted something at me, and beat me with the cane.
I could not understand his question. Had he asked me about drugs, embezzling, money? I knew nothing of such matters, for I was a simple person. The second I replied “I don’t know”, he struck me again and again, over and over. He soon began to kick me simultaneously, until I collapsed back onto the floor. My stomach and legs had had about all they could take. I was already bruised and I could feel my bones aching. I began to cry. I thought of my husband and my daughter and wondered if I would ever be able to return home. Surely they would wonder why I had not returned home by now and would worry. I somehow believed that I would not ever see them again. It was a terrifying thought.
The pig man began to giggle hideously, his voice gurgling and unpleasant, sounding simple-minded and unrefined. He then began to **** my shoulder with his magnificent cane as he began to tease me, like a demented child. I thought him to be a savage, uncivilized and impolite. For some reason though, I could not completely fear him; I could only hate him. One of the two men in the corner addressed me, and scuffled to my front. His plain face addressed me with a cool and aloof manner, showing neither disgust nor compassion. His spoke to me with a tone that was calculating and observatory and it made me long to know what he was saying even more. But somehow, I welcomed his presence. He was so much less offensive, not striking me or adding to my confusion. He turned away and addressed his companion, who was now seated at the beautiful mahogany desk at the front of the room. His gestured to me rigidly and spoke smoothly to the man.
I could not see the other man particularly well, as the room was dim and most of his form was hidden from me by shadows. How I wished they could have hidden the pig man as effectively. The cold man then knelt to my level and my eyes rose to meet his. I was afraid of what someone so stoic would do to me. I knew not what he was thinking. His slender lips parted.
“Do not fake ignorance. We know it was you.” he said slowly, the words slipping from his lips like water. I was relieved to discover that one of them spoke English. Perhaps he could help me understand why I was brought here.
“What was me? I have not done anything! I promise you!” I had no earthly idea what he believed I had done. I was completely ignorant. I wracked my mind, hoping to think of any obscure reason as to why they had apprehended me and what I might have done to anger them so. His eyes never left mine. He slowly blinked and reopened his eyes. They were cold and unforgiving, shining brightly like black, polished beads. I felt shivers travel down my spine and into my legs. His blank stare somehow felt like a death sentence. He rose and continued to speak to the man at the desk, who was shuffling through papers, and rummaging through what I believed to be a cash box.
With a quiet emission of speech from the man behind the desk, the room grew silent. He rose from the desk and floated over to my limp body. His feet glided gracefully, always stepping perfectly. With only a short phrase, the cold-eyed man walked away. I panicked. He was the only one who could understand what I was saying. I scrambled after him, grabbing onto his leg, begging him to allow me to accompany him to anywhere but this frightening room. Without so much as a glance at me, he shook his ankle free and departed. I felt my only chance at freedom leave with him. A chill passed through my body as I submitted to silent desperation. I lowered my head and cried.
The man gestured me back to him, calling to me in his exotic language as he switched on the desk lamp, allowing me to see him. I was nervous from having seen the two goons at the back of the room. His appearance alone was a relief. As I crawled toward him, I felt that I was meeting a god.
He wore a red silk jacket, embroidered intricately and elegantly with gold flowers and calligraphy that I wished I could read. His hand bore a simple ring, silver with a round stone in the middle, obviously jade. His face was no less impressive. He had smooth pale yellow skin and pleasing brown eyes, large and misty. His hair was pulled back into a ponytail. His smooth lips were wrapped around a long and slender pipe. I watched him inhale and exhale a dancing little cloud of smoke, admiring how gorgeously his chest rose and fell. He looked somehow lukewarm, neither kind nor cruel, not gracious or threatening. He spoke briefly to the two men standing steadfastly at the back. I immediately knew that the graceful one was the leader of this group.
One of the two men grabbed me by my arms, shocking me while the other proceeded to unbutton my ripped and sullied shirt. Why were they removing my clothing? Were they planning to **** me and dispose of me afterward? I feared the worst as they removed my shirt and bra, revealing my upper torso and proceeded to roughly remove my pants as I struggled to free myself. Once I was completely naked, they released me and I crouched upon the ground and cried. Soon, they would have their way with me. One of the lesser men picked up my clothing and inspected the pockets as if he was searching for something. Whatever he was expecting to find was beyond me. I looked back up at the beautiful man, wondering what horrors he had in store for me. His eyes met mine and we both stared for a long time; our gazes were only interrupted once we heard the crumpling of paper.
The both lesser men were inspecting a sheet of paper that they had found in my pocket. One of them waved it about triumphantly and handed it over to the boss. He too examined the paper as an expression of mild confusion overcame his round face, like a moon as it waxes and wanes. Once he grew frustrated with the paper, he handed it to me speaking in his foreign tongue. I did not need a translation, he wished for me to decipher the paper somehow. I inspected the paper with weary eyes and gasped. It was a shopping list! I tried to explain to the boss that the contents of the paper were merely what I planned to purchase for tonight’s dinner. I could tell that he did not completely believe me. His eyes grew suspicious and uncertain. I felt that somehow, this man’s displeasure would be enough for him to end my earthly life.
He took the paper from me and twirled his pipe in the fingers of his opposite hand. He picked up a piece of paper from his desk, comparing the two papers as he delicately balanced his pipe between his teeth. The look of confusion vanished from his face, looking as if he deciphered my language. Perhaps he would set me free? Surely, he could not draw a valid conclusion from a shopping list. He spoke to his subordinates with resolve and confidence, seeming somehow certain of something. He spoke like he uncovered a key detail that unlocked a great mystery. I knew not what he was speaking of, but I knew that he had decided what to do with me. I was somehow more afraid than ever, thinking that he would somehow ****** me, despite my innocence. He kneeled to my level and took my face into his hand and plunged his hand into one of his pockets. I feared that he would pull out a gun or a knife. I snapped my eyes shut, and was afraid to open them again. He spoke a benign and gentle-sounding word and immediately, I felt something graze my face.
Against my better judgment, I opened my tearful eyes, and saw that he was wiping my face with a handkerchief. He wiped my tears away from face. After my face was clean and dry, he swept my hair from my face. I tried to decipher his eyes, looking for a twinkle of kindness of a glint of malicious intent. He gave no such signal. Instead, he placed the handkerchief into my hand. He rose, looking mighty and fearsome and rose his pipe to his lips, but not taking a puff. Even though he looked non-threatening, his lack of emotion baffled me and I was somehow more afraid than ever, despite his fleeting moment of kindness. He rose an elegant and slender hand and waved dismissively toward me. He gestured to the two men and pointed toward the door. He was completely silent. I was about to be taken away.
The two subordinates grabbed me by the underarms, one on each side of me and stood me up clumsily. I watched as the gorgeous boss began to inhale slowly, savoring the flavor of his tobacco. I somehow felt that his breath was connected with my life, that I was doomed to die the moment that little puff had been expelled. The men began to drag me away with my bare heels dragging along the ground. I watched the boss desperately, praying that he would say something that could save me as the goons dragged me over the threshold of the door. One of them placed a bag over my head just as I saw the boss emit a thick smoke which masked his face, the way that clouds hide the elusive moon. I was blinded, but knowing that I was about to be killed. I did not need any clues to be sure of it. The boss had exhaled and I knew that by the time the smoke had cleared, I had vanished from his view.
I am aware that this is technically prose, but I still wanted to submit it. I wrote it a couple of months ago, believing that it might one day be something of merit. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I hope everyone enjoys it.
I'm back, babies.
"Go and talk to your son!". It seemed lately that every arrival at home, in the old section of Glasgow, began with "Go and talk to your son!". "Why?...what has he done this time"...answered Angus' dad. "What trouble did he get into now?". "None...so far as I can figure" answered Mary, mother of the aforementioned Angus.

"Then why am I going to talk to him?". " He's not selling autographs again is he".
"No dear, he's not...you should just go and have a wee chat with him...that's all."

"Alright, I will"...."will I need some hobnobs as ammunition, or should I be okay on me own?".
"You should be okay without them, but, then again, a wee plate of hobnobs never hurt anyone...least of all our Angus"

Dad, poured two glasses of cold milk, set six hobnobs on a plate and ventured up to himself's room. He knocked twice, just above the "No gurls alowd" sign that Angus had put up after last nights arguement with his Mum, over carrots. Angus refused to accept the arguement that carrots gave you better eyesight...while his Mum said they did. A snicker from Dad at Angus' response almost got him banished to the sofa for the night himself, with his own "No gurls alowd" sign going up in the living room. He remembered Angus standing up from his chair, and stating "If carrots give ye such good eyesight, how come so many rabbits get hit by cars at night?". Then he stormed off.

He knocked again, and Angus opened up the door. Angus was still in his blue school shirt and grey pants. "Can I come in?" asked his father. "I've brought milk...and hobnobs".
Angus stepped back and let his father enter the room. The walls were covered with posters, of cars, footballers, horses, bikes, cartoon characters....so much so, there was barely any space left for anything else.

"Yer mum said I should talk to you...son...do you know why?" "Nope"...said Angus..."do you?" "That's why I'm asking you lad....she told me to come see you...do you know why I'm here?"
Angus tilted his head and answered "because Mum told you too?".
It was clear they weren't getting anywhere with this, so Dad asked "How was school today?"

Angus was now in full time kindergarten at St. Martin's in The Fields Primary School in Glasgow. The school was old, dank, smelled of age and was one of the finest in all of Glasgow...for it's age. It was famous for having had two members of The Bay City Rollers as students, one for about three months and the other a little less. They never graduated from St. Martin's, but, it was something to hang their hat on.

"I got all my Christmas Cards taken away today Da." said Angus. "I was giving them out to everyone, and the teacher, Mr. McDonall came and took them away.".
"Why would he do that boy?"...."Where were you doing it?'
"I was outside before school started giving them out...." , Angus sniffed, "and he came over and grabbed them from me".
Dad, remembered Angus working away for the past two nights, printing everyone's name on the cards, as perfect as he could. It only took 43 cards to get the necessary 21 Angus needed for all of his young classmates.
"Why would he do that?"..."did he tell you why?". "No Dad" said Angus through the rapidly increasing flow of sniffles and snot that normally accompany a crying child.

"I didn't find out until I went to the office to see the Principal afterwards".
"You went to the office for handing out Christmas Cards?" . "That doesn't make any sense son, are you sure you weren't doing anything else?"
"I was just handing out cards Da, that's all", said Angus as he grabbed another hobnob, which he quickly stuffed under his pillow for later. He would get in trouble for that one, but, it would be worth it.

"The Principal said something about Christmas Cards that say Christmas on them, can't be given out at school anymore. They can only say Happy Holidays. If it doesn't say Christmas on it, how can it be a Christmas Card Dad?".

"I don't know boy"...."but I am **** sure gonna find out"....and "you'd better eat that hobnob under your pillow before Mum sees it"...smiled Dad.

The pair ventured downstairs for dinner, neither discussing what went on in the room where "No gurls were allowed". Dinner passed in silence, with Mum looking from one to the other to get some sort of reaction. Once, Angus started to talk, but it had nothing to do with what went on between Father and Son, so she continued eating. She would find out later after Angus went to bed.

After dinner, Angus went to the park with his friends for an hour to play football, and tag, and swing on the swings for a while. Mum, took this chance to corner Dad...and corner him she did...."What went on up there? What did you two talk about?" "He won't say anything to me...what did he do?"
"Nothing....he did nothing wrong at all, so as I see it....Angus didn't do anything wrong".
He kind of smiled at that, because normally after being told "Go talk to your son...", Angus had always done something wrong...this time...it was The Principal.

"Tomorrow, I'm staying home in the morning and taking himself to school....I'm going to see The Principal". "What for?...if he didn't do anything wrong, why are you going to see the Principal?".
"Well, what time of the year is it?".....asked Dad. "It's Christmas silly, you know that...why?"
"Well, apparently it isn't Christmas at St. Martin's in The Fields...at least not as far as himself's teacher and new Principal are concerned. It's now Holiday time....not Christmas Time, Holiday Time. Our wee Angus got in trouble for handing out Christmas cards at Christmas. Does that make any sense?"...said Dad.

The next morning at breakfast, Angus looked up and asked "Dad, shouldn't you be going to work? you'll miss your train.". "I'm taking you to school and going to see your Principal, son". "Why?" asked Angus. "Let's just say I'm going to give him a Christmas Card....have you seen my bible?".
"It's on the sideboard...but, why do you need that Da?"...asked the boy.
"Let's just say...to make a point.".

Mum smiled as the two men, both wee and tall, walked together hand in hand down the drive towards the school. Upon arrival, Angus went off with his friends, while Dad, went into the old, intimidating looking institution. He could smell the old wood soap and mustiness as he waled down the hall, past the class pictures and the old trophies that get hauled out and cleaned every year for games day, only to be put back again after the awards presentations.

Upon arriving at the office, he announced "I'm here to see The Principal.....where is he?".
A pair of beady, spectacled eyes looked up from behind the front desk...and in a thin, reedy, voice asked..."And who might you be, sir...to come in without an appointment?".
"Ah'm flippin' Father Christmas, that's who I am....I am Angus' Mc Dougalls dad, and I am here to see the ****** Principal. Now where is he?"
"Without and appointment.." she started, quickly stopping when Dad, walked past the desk to the door marked M. Dingwall, Principal on it.

"You can't go in there"...screeched the reedy voice..."not without an.." "I know..." said Dad..."not without an appointment.....well, I've got mine right here, and right now..." he said, waving his bible in needle noses face. He continued in to M. Dingwall, Principal's office....and sat down.

M. Dingwall, Principal...looked up from the papers on his desk, which incidentally had 5, yes...5 Christmas Cards on it, and asked Dad..."and who are you to come into my office..."...."without and appointment"...finished Dad. " As I told your chihuahua out front, all bark and no bite by the way, I am frigging Father Christmas, who I see on 3 of the 5 cards you have on your desk. That's who I am, Father Christmas !!!"

"Well, Mr. Christmas, what can we do for you? " asked a clearly shaken M. Dingwall, Principal. "I'll tell you what you can do for me....you can apologize to my son, for a start. My wee lad Angus, came here yesterday morning and was sent to see you for handing out Christmas Cards, at Christmas. What am I missing here?".

"I remember that....yes, he was disciplined and told no more Christmas Cards, it's against the policy of the school board...it's a religious holiday, and we are not allowed, with all of the various religious groups represented within our walls to favour one over another. So, no more Christmas Cards in this school. That is the policy.", said M. Dingwall, Principal.

"That's nice...then what are those 5 cards on your desk....the ones that happen to have Christmas on them and Father Christmas and a nativity scene, which if I know the book I am holding here, is a religious representation, and the reason we have Christmas in the first place. "...asked Dad.

"Those are private, they were given to me by staff" said M. Dingwall, Principal. "I don't care if they came from Jesus Christ himself " yelled Dad, crossing himself in the process, "They don't fit in with the policy you gave my son a reprimand for yesterday."  He looked about the office, and saw a small, four foot tall tree in the corner as well. "Is that a Christmas tree or a holiday tree sir?, which is it?"

M. Dingwall looked up and said, "It's a Christmas Tree, of course, haven't you ever seen a..." and he stopped. He looked at the tree, and the cards, The eyeglasses out front went back to whatever it was she was doing before Father Christmas arrived. "I see....". "You see what sir,?" asked Angus' dad, looking at the tree, and the cards and ignoring the eyeglasses with the reedy voice out front.

"I see your point....It's Christmas, not holdaymas, or xmas....it's Christmas, and I followed policy that I myself am not following myself. I will change that right now....imagine, it took a visit from Father Christmas to get me to see the light..." laughed M. Dingwall, Principal.

"My boy Angus, will be in class, expecting to be told that he can give out his cards to the rest of his friends as he was yesterday...am I understood M. Dingwall, Princinpal?" asked Dad.

"Yes sir, the mark will be stricken from the record and his cards will be returned....I appreciate you coming in to clear up this little misunderstanding...even if you didn't ..." "I know...have an appointment.". M Dingwall stood to shake Dad's hand as he left, and as Dad reached the door, he said "Merry Christmas". Dad thought a bit, smiled at what he had just accomplished and said to M. Dingwall, Principal...."and yes...It is A MERRY CHRISTMAS".
Brandon Webb Nov 2012
1
she taps he hand, twice.
across the room,
he stares, thinking
into empty air.
others, scattered
tap pencils or fingers
on desktops, booktops
and phone keyboards

the balding man
with black hair:
combed backward
and to differing angles
so that his head is split
vertically-
stands, above the room
his back turned

his words,
meant for the crowd
reverberate only
along classes fringe
but still take precedence
over nothing
even to them-
academics, outcasts


2
back of the room
reveals everything
to the observer
trying to see

blue-eyed brunette
glares vengefully
at no one,
just to glare

he looks up once
to watch
as another
pulls up
drooping jeans.
she laughs
at conversation
unmeant for,
and inaudible
to her


3
today, she smiles
and lets her lip fall
begging, like a puppy
But when they
lose eye contact,
she glares, again

he leaves footprints
on parallel desk
from lounging
then fires himself
to his feet
using stored energy,
and sugar from gum

words bounce along
the walls in the back,
and isolated eyes peer
towards the screen
but hide the fact
that they care


4
two week vacation
has left their minds
full of everything
except math,
so they listen
to him, while he speaks

but travel backward
in time, with
those closest them
while he creeps,
silent, around the room

she concentrates hard,
on her work
glaring at the page.
he sits a desk forward
feet on floor
neighboring desk full
today, but only physically

blue hat rests
on sketchbook,
its border
barely covering
closed eyes

blond head
implants itself
jokingly, into
smooth shining
white wall
with enough force
to collapse
accidental target

a hand raises
attracting gazes,
awestruck,
at her interest
in forgotten
material
of future tests


5
only a few eyes wander
from blue lined notebooks
though the left flank
still chatters, embodying
either a secretive chipmunk
or the breeze which starts the storm

storm clouds appear slowly
in sketchbook, blue hat bobbing
rhythmically in response to active pen

perched above the flock
reminiscent, split headed
papa bird scans the masks
of his shockingly silent chicks

random lecture breaks the silence.
Her eyes aren’t the only ones
Fixed into a steel laden glare
But the chipmunk wind ceases


6
his questioning glance lands
on uninhabited space,
exhibiting a yawn
which traverses through,
and twists, the faces of
those otherwise engaged

lecture ends with a question,
the scent of nuts blows through
mentally empty classroom
turning desks to predetermined
positions and swiftly inhabiting
three-quarters of the physical class

his steel glare has replaced hers
the latter’s eyes now soft as an infants

within five minutes, his voice
undergoes  a brutal, complete cycle
pleading, congratulating, yelling
and as always, lecturing


7
pre-test:

preparations for misery-
mundane chipmunk chattering,
jokes and laughs from random
oddities appearing everywhere

blue hat rests in intervals.
Blue coat rearranges
essay for another class

The girl in the sunny plaid
Rolls an orange along her hand

He points at nothing and asks
Nobody something without answer

The left flank, as always
Is turned away, conversing

A sigh rings outward loudly
Everyone glares, nervously,
Everywhere, reward of concentration


After my test:

First paper in, he scans lightly
Sets it down with a scowl
and yawns, twice, breaking the
silent shroud of heavy fog
which is hanging overhead

wandering free eyes witness
down-turned heads concentrating
as much on tests  as on moving
their hands wildly, excitedly
trying to communicate non-vocally

others have yet to detach themselves
from their seats and stride upward,
hopefully more triumphantly
than their sole predecessor

one shuffles now, slowly toward him
his hand shaking as he releases
that  paper, he turns away as it flutters
onto the desk- he replants himself in his

twelve others walk forward
smiling, shrinking, sometimes speaking
and always he glares, triumphant
knowing his success at our failure


later:

his near-sleeping form            
finds distraction, in waking
dreams, jumping back suddenly
breaking from his plank-like state
without speaking. excitement
for approaching weekend is
communicated in the left flank

two girls break the silence
running in from outside            
he glares at them, but laughs

everyone breaks into groups
after the conversation about
mysteriously nutty discarded sock

he runs to the forefront
forehead folded, finger on mouth
no-one notices, but still he glares

8
he smiles and glares at the floor
his legs swinging back and forth            
tan slacks rustling softly

exaggerated scores bubble in ears            
as they search for their destroyer

in front of forgotten faces falls
the page of a forgotten tome

several yawn, hoping, understandably
that their stretched lips
will pull themselves far enough
to barricade ears from his droning

he kills himself, twice, bumbling
into half-thought chastisements
of the  flittingly flirtatious students
intermingling hoping behind him
causing waves of whispers, laughter
and slightly strengthened chatter

he re-aligns his thoughts quickly
and rambles on again, always

9
he speaks to her softly
from across a sea of desks
she looks up, panicking calmly
distracted from distraction

in silence, blank eyes turn
surprised at the non-withering
state of her barely living corpse

he asks a question, looking up
a single answer is given
unemotional and short, buy ending
heavy hanging awkward silence

how talented the teacher
who gives his lecture while
still addressing unrelated
student self lectures

the still silence given
in his questioning lull
hangs so loudly the whispers
traversing the classroom appear
silent as finger wiggle
and pencils trace zeros

his extrication, caused by
distractingly thunderous voice
is met with a comment
causing a wave of laughter
starting at his mouth
and extending to inhabit everything

10
half the time gives
twice the attention
as they concentrate
on keeping him on
the undying topic
of the work we
have already done

they admit defeat
as dusty tome opens
spreading a nutty cloud
causing heads to turn
and words to leap.

from opens lips,
mischievous gremlins
sprout, dancing on
tables and chuckling
away from the sigh
of his down-turned, split
shining, globular mind

he scratches pink ear
with bone pale finger
reading unrelated words

in the center of the room
both mentally and physically
he sits, momentarily quiet
as dark eyes glare past
rumpled pink nose,
concentrating

blue hat rests on open palms
above dust covered open page
he slips into sleeping state
but picks himself up
and stares though thin borderline
toward shiny rambling forehead

a shutter cord flies forward
the hand at the end pulling hard
but with no affect to the shutters
neither lowering the physical
or raising the mental

the color of non-color pencils
interrupts the class momentarily
as she strides forward to compare
and then criticizes his care

he just sits, smiles and stares

11
eleven desks lie empty
of one form more than usual
amplifying the arm movements
of the ever ticking seconds

his obscured mouth flings seeds
which sprout into words
before even meeting the worn
blood-colored carpet below

in the main room, sixteen
sit silent, sketching, sleeping
or siphoning the last minute

12
those left awake, and alive
have come to understand
the numbers on the screen
this being their specialty
in a nutty shell, of course
splitting, as we are, large
crowds of numbers, and us
being teenagers, isn’t that
how we think, in numbers
and ratings of everything
and, sitting in the central
crowd are the talented
crowd-splitters
flattery-spitters

13
the silence of half absence
is pierced, as always by vocal
anomaly, centered around
rows of shining wood
bookrests, but only one
set of hollow, dark-rimmed
vacant eyeballs watches
well-welcomed interruption

he lets us work, standing.
Someone somewhere opens
A large container of nuts
Entire class starts stuffing
Handfuls into puffy cheeks
Absorbing sensations into
Eternally ravenous minds

The apocalyptic mix of noises
Is split again by central
Nutcracker, and those in corners
Glare, smiling, rubbing shadowed
Acne scarred faces
with raw-bitten nails

14
balding papa bird speaks loudly
transforming his voice, becoming
vocally legendary cartoon duck

the wave of resulting laughter
ends in un-given nut-break
spreading, without speech
the understanding that his
comedic digression will not
meet a quick extinction

we greet the weekend
by rising early
our excuse: competition
to devour the worm

15
three heads are downturned
peering into textbooks
as the tsunami breaks

the days end starts
and beady eyes peer
in the direction of his
moving head, colored
gothic gargoyle in the
dim cloudlight streaming
through dust coated
slit windows

the room transforms
becoming triumphantly,
grumpily, repeatedly
conversational

artificial silence
spreads like a wave
from right back corner
to left front corner
leaving behind
the half of the room
hidden behind the wall
of troublemakers
who will eventually
cause the wall to topple
with the sheer force
of assorted nuts

16
blue hat is scrunched
under the of a fist
pounding on his head,
result of the decibels
consumed, and produced
by the embodiment
of the thoughts around him
which fall from stuffed
cheeks. Bounce off tables
and spread a sickening aroma
as their shells split
exposing, revealing
nothing

17
red face glances upward
as harsh words split
the widening sea of snickers
his words stop, first time today
as whispers spread wildly
of his speed in delivering answers
seconds later, room is silent
as statement ends and lecturer
turns back to him, offering
as always, another wave
of deep felt, anger hardened
quietly whispered, criticisms

thunderous-rush-voice leads
out of habit and necessity
the minutes following
his behavioral digression
each word stabbing split-headed
pointy-nosed papa bird, their
form a walnut-wood spear
crafted from drifted thoughts
of those sitting nearest him

18
on his back lies a pile of nuts
professor’s earthquake
shoulder shaking causes
eyes to open, back to rise
and with a tremendous roar
both physical and meta-physical,
it topples to worn carpet
and the laugh-track plays on

19
silence- pierced into being
by shrill, violent, mountainous
rise, and fall, of thunderous decibels-
hangs, heavier, louder than
the quick gone loudness replaced
or, in all actuality, displaced
mere seconds before being scrawled
into eternal memory
of those whose noses
sniff, daily, nutty clusters
of letters, which exclude
always, the ever-present x
the destructive π
and that y, which of course
flies as high as forgetful
nut-bearers




©Brandon Webb
2012
This is a series of observations, and. collectively, is the longest thing i've ever written, at 8847 words
Ed C Apr 2019
I got a new desk today,
I thought "HEY!
if I get a new desk
I'll be able to fix this mess!"
I put together the desk,
it wasn't hard,
I didn't sweat.
I put it in my room
and I got upset
because despite the desk
being beautiful and tall
wooden and long
perfect for that corner in my room,
it was not big enough for the clutter
and the mess
and the stress
and all the books and the stuff
that I need around me.
So now I have a desk and my things
and we all float together in my solitude.
Sometimes you need a desk and sometimes the desk doesn't need you.
Sentimeantall May 2018
Yesterday was a day of fluent escape,
helpless weight in my heart,
draped in a nebula
in which I didn't see.
From the beginning
I just wanted to sleep again.
Tried to distract from
inevitable action,
lacked the bravery to mention,
to attend the portal of reflection
in this nebula,
which must be an embodiment
of my surrendered,
mindcontrolled body fraction.
I  knew I couldn't run away,
so I forced myself to sleep again.
-
Light out, darkness in my room,
just the crack in the shutter
delivered some light.
Darkness in grey,
still perceiving the outlines
of matter,
lying on the bordeaux matress,
eyes arriving at the ceiling,
but the feeling still stuck.
So I started to listen to Mogwai,
to their longplayer "Rock Action."
To this day,
it always took me somewhere nice
and cleaned me from my wave of sin,
relaxed me into deep sleep.
Screen blacked out,
closed my eyes
and this time I arrived
directly in a dream.
At first I didn't know,
lay on my matress,
light circumstances the same,
could change my perspective,
but couldn't move.
Observed the shelves in front and the door beside,
the desk on my left
and again,
the ceiling,
everything like before.
I started to recognize the dissonances,
differences to reality,
I couldn't change the position of my head
and though I was able to switch
between these three living pictures.
Only these three pictures.
Desk,
Shelves and door,
ceiling,
desk again
and on and on and on.
Music was playing throughout the dream,
must have been "2 Rights Make 1 Wrong"
in this moment,
when I started to panic.
Body and mind disconnected,
paralyzed,
eyes wide,
desperately trying to move my arms and legs,
but not even an inch
in success.
Ceiling,
ceiling,
door
and desk.
I kept trying,
put a lot of effort into
my commands to move,
looked for proof, if I would be really sleeping,
while I was screaming,
just in my mind,
no sound would leave my mouth.
I realized,
I was trapped,
closed my eyes
and tried to sleep in my dream.
It beamed me back,
immediately,
Ceiling,
shelves,
door,
desk.
For a moment I thought
I was awake,
could move a bit,
though still stuck in these perspectives.
As if I'd have to carry a thousand mountains
in my heart,
it felt,
while I tried again
to induce my limbs
with energy
and it worked to a degree,
could place my right knee
on the sheets,
wanted to push up,
but always fell flat
with my stomach on the bed.
And that's when the repeating reset started,
every little move lead me into the initial position on my back.
Shelves,
desk,
ceiling,
door.
The door opened
and my little brother walked in,
he's not living with me,
but sometimes visiting,
another dissonance,
he must have been at least 4 years younger
than he is.
He ignored or didn't recognize me,
sat down on the chair in front of my desk
and that was it.
I screamed, tried to communicate,
no reaction.
I closed my eyes,
reset.
Brother gone.
Everything like before again.
Okay, I am on my own,
have to keep trying,
defying the trap.
Move,
move,
move!
Moved,
reset.
Sweat
all over me.
"Robot chant",
steady,
rythmic
resets.
I stopped,
nothing happened for a while,
I was thinking,
don't remember the content,
the whole time staring at the ceiling.
No more trying,
just lying on my back.
That's when I started to see a devilish,
almost transparent light form,
shaped like a inhuman face in liquid,
with my left eye,
it slipped in
and an ******* feeling rushed through
every synaptic connection in my head.
My head in convulsion, uncontrollable.
It felt brutally satisfying,
can't deny,
but also very wrong,
as if something touched me,
which isn't supposed to be.
Who was visiting?
Is it still in?
Back,
ceiling,
door,
shelves,
desk.
Exhausted,
**** the tries,
again, closing my eyes,
please no more visitor!
I just screamed "help!"
and woke up.
Sweat bathed,
able to move,
"O I Sleep" playing through my speakers,
something extremely different,
the helpless weight in my chest dissolved
or was left in this multilayered dream,
at least for a moment
and I felt like a feather,
standing up, no problem
anymore,
at least for a moment.
Edward Coles Nov 2013
My desk is scattered with
notes, drafts, prototypes,
of my love letters to the world.

Ugly, thin spider-scrawls
of hieroglyphic ink,
pleading for my future self
to flesh the bone,

of the skeleton in my thoughts.

Beside them, the trusted red wine
to chase down the pressures
of the world, hold them in line.

Each sip, a godsend,
each bottle a promise
that love will never end.

The simple pleasure of a desk;
a confounding beauty,
the collage to your life
and all that preoccupies you.

Your personality is laid before you;
each picture, beer bottle, notebook,
a fragment of yourself.

My desk is scattered in
the loves, hates and frustrations
of my place within this world.

Ugly, thin spider-scrawls
of unintelligible ink,
pleading for some higher power
to flesh the bone,

of the skeleton that is myself.
Terrifying are the attent sleek thrushes on the lawn,
More coiled steel than living - a poised
Dark deadly eye, those delicate legs
Triggered to stirrings beyond sense - with a start, a bounce,
a stab
Overtake the instant and drag out some writhing thing.
No indolent procrastinations and no yawning states,
No sighs or head-scratchings. Nothing but bounce and stab
And a ravening second.

Is it their single-mind-sized skulls, or a trained
Body, or genius, or a nestful of brats
Gives their days this bullet and automatic
Purpose? Mozart's brain had it, and the shark's mouth
That hungers down the blood-smell even to a leak of its own
Side and devouring of itself: efficiency which
Strikes too streamlined for any doubt to pluck at it
Or obstruction deflect.

With a man it is otherwise. Heroisms on horseback,
Outstripping his desk-diary at a broad desk,
Carving at a tiny ivory ornament
For years: his act worships itself - while for him,
Though he bends to be blent in the prayer, how loud and
above what
Furious spaces of fire do the distracting devils
**** and hosannah, under what wilderness
Of black silent waters weep.
Nigel Morgan Dec 2013
A Tale for the Mid-Winter Season after the Mural by Carl Larrson

On the shortest day I wake before our maids from the surrounding farms have converged on Sundborn. Greta lives with us so she will be asleep in that deep slumber only girls of her age seem to own. Her tiny room has barely more than a bed and a chest for her clothes. There is my first painting of her on the wall, little more a sketch, but she was entranced, at seeing herself so. To the household she is a maid who looks after me and my studio,  though she is a literate, intelligent girl, city-bred from Gamla Stan but from a poor home, a widowed mother, her late father a drunkard.  These were my roots, my beginning, exactly. But her eyes already see a world beyond Sundborn. She covets postcards from my distant friends: in Paris, London, Jean in South America, and will arrange them on my writing desk, sometimes take them to her room at night to dream in the candlelight. I think this summer I shall paint her, at my desk, reading my cards, or perhaps writing her own. The window will be open and a morning breeze will make the flowers on the desk tremble.

Karin sleeps too, a desperate sleep born of too much work and thought and interruption. These days before Christmas put a strain on her usually calm disposition. The responsibilities of our home, our life, the constant visitors, they weigh upon her, and dispel her private time. Time in her studio seems impossible. I often catch her poised to disappear from a family coming-together. She is here, and then gone, as if by magic. With the older children home from their distant schools, and Suzanne arrived from England just yesterday morning, they all cannot do without lengthy conferences. They know better than disturb me. Why do you think there is a window set into my studio door? So, if I am at my easel there should be no knock to disturb. There is another reason, but that is between Karin and I.

This was once a summer-only house, but over the years we have made it our whole-year home. There was much attention given to making it snug and warm. My architect replaced all the windows and all the doors and there is this straw insulation between the walls. Now, as I open the curtains around my bed, I can see my breath float out into the cool air. When, later, I descend to my studio, the stove, damped down against the night, when opened and raddled will soon warm the space. I shall draw back the heavy drapes and open the wooden shutters onto the dark land outside. Only then I will stand before my current painting: *Brita and the Sleigh
.

Current!? I have been working on this painting intermittently for five years, and Brita is no longer the Brita of this picture, though I remember her then as yesterday. It is a picture of a winter journey for a six-year-old, only that journey is just across the yard to the washhouse. Snow, frost, birds gathered in the leafless trees, a sun dog in the sky, Brita pushing her empty sledge, wearing fur boots, Lisbeth’s old coat, and that black knitted hat made by old Anna. It is the nearest I have come to suggesting the outer landscape of this place. I bring it out every year at this time so I can check the light and the shadows against what I see now, not what I remember seeing then. But there will be a more pressing concern for me today, this shortest day.

Since my first thoughts for the final mural in my cycle for the Nationalmuseum I have always put this day aside, whatever I might be doing, wherever I may be. I pull out my first sketches, that book of imaginary tableaux filled in a day and a night in my tiny garden studio in Grez, thinking of home, of snow, the mid-winter, feeling the extraordinary power and shake of Adam of Bremen’s description of 10th C pre-Christian Uppsala, written to describe how barbaric and immoral were the practices and religion of the pagans, to defend the fragile position of the Christian church in Sweden at the time. But as I gaze at these rough beginnings made during those strange winter days in my rooms at the Hotel Chevilon, I feel myself that twenty-five year old discovering my artistic vision, abandoning oils for the flow and smudge of watercolour, and then, of course, Karin. We were part of the Swedish colony at Grez-sur-Loing. Karin lived with the ladies in Pension Laurent, but was every minute beside me until we found our own place, to be alone and be together, in a cupboard of a house by the river, in Marlotte.

Everyone who painted en-plein-air, writers, composers, they all flocked to Grez just south of Fontainebleau, to visit, sometimes to stay. I recall Strindberg writing to Karin after his first visit: It was as if there were no pronounced shadows, no hard lines, the air with its violet complexion is almost always misty; and I painting constantly, and against the style and medium of the time. How the French scoffed at my watercolours, but my work sold immediately in Stockholm. . . and Karin, tall, slim, Karin, my muse, my lover, my model, her boy-like figure lying naked (but for a hat) in the long grass outside my studio. We learned each other there, the technique of bodies in intimate closeness, the way of no words, the sharing of silent thoughts, together on those soft, damp winter days when our thoughts were of home, of Karin’s childhood home at Sundborn. I had no childhood thoughts I wanted to return to, but Karin, yes. That is why we are here now.

In Grez-sur-Loing, on a sullen December day, mist lying on the river, our garden dead to winter, we received a visitor, a Swedish writer and journalist travelling with a very young Italian, Mariano Fortuny, a painter living in Paris, and his mentor the Spaniard Egusquiza. There was a woman too who Karin took away, a Parisienne seamstress I think, Fortuny’s lover. Bayreuth and Wagner, Wagner, Wagner was all they could talk about. Of course Sweden has its own Nordic Mythology I ventured. But where is it? What is it? they cried, and there was laughter and more mulled wine, and then talk again of Wagner.

When the party left I realized there was something deep in my soul that had been woken by talk of the grandeur and scale of Wagner’s cocktail of German and Scandinavian myths and folk tales. For a day and night I sketched relentlessly, ransacking my memory for those old tales, drawing strong men and stalwart, flaxen-haired women in Nordic dress and ornament. But as a new day presented itself I closed my sketch book and let the matter drop until, years later, in a Stockholm bookshop I chanced upon a volume in Latin by Adam of Bremen, his Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum, the most famous source to pagan ritual practice in Sweden. That cold winter afternoon in Grez returned to me and I felt, as I had then, something stir within me, something missing from my comfortable world of images of home and farm, family and the country life.

Back in Sundborn this little volume printed in the 18th C lay on my desk like a question mark without a sentence. My Latin was only sufficient to get a gist, but the gist was enough. Here was the story of the palace of Uppsala, the great centre of the pre-Christian pagan cults that brought us Odin and Freyr. I sought out our village priest Dag Sandahl, a good Lutheran but who regularly tagged Latin in his sermons. Yes, he knew the book, and from his study bookshelf brought down an even earlier copy than my own. And there and then we sat down together and read. After an hour I was impatient to be back in my studio and draw, draw these extraordinary images this text brought to life unbidden in my imagination. But I did not leave until I had persuaded Pastor Sandahl to agree to translate the Uppsala section of the Adam of Bremen’s book, and just before Christmas that year, on the day before the Shortest Day, he delivered his translation to my studio. He would not stay, but said I should read the passages about King Domalde and his sacrifice at the Winter Solstice. And so, on the day of the Winter Solstice, I did.

This people have a widely renowned sanctuary called Uppsala.

By this temple is a very large tree with extending branches. It is always green, both in winter and in summer. No one knows what kind of tree this is. There is also a spring there, where the heathens usually perform their sacrificial rites. They throw a live human being into the spring. If he does not resurface, the wishes of the people will come true.

The Temple is girdled by a chain of gold that hangs above the roof of the building and shines from afar, so that people may see it from a distance when they approach there. The sanctuary itself is situated on a plain, surrounded by mountains, so that the form a theatre.

It is not far from the town of Sigtuna. This sanctuary is completely covered with golden ornaments. There, people worship the carved idols of three gods: Thor, the most powerful of them, has his throne in the middle of the hall, on either side of him, Odin and Freyr have their seats. They have these functions: “Thor,” they say, “rules the air, he rules thunder and lightning, wind and rain, good weather and harvests. The other, Odin, he who rages, he rules the war and give courage to people in their battle against enemies. The third is Freyr, he offers to mortals lust and peace and happiness.” And his image they make with a very large phallus. Odin they present armed, the way we usually present Mars, while Thor with the scepter seems to resemble Jupiter. As gods they also worship some that have earlier been human. They give them immortality for the sake of their great deeds, as we may read in Vita sancti Ansgarii that they did with King Eirik.

For all these gods have particular persons who are to bring forward the sacrificial gifts of the people. If plague and famine threatens, they offer to the image of Thor, if the matter is about war, they offer to Odin, but if a wedding is to be celebrated, they offer to Freyr. And every ninth year in Uppsala a great religious ceremony is held that is common to people from all parts of Sweden.”
Snorri also relates how human sacrifice began in Uppsala, with the sacrifice of a king.

Domalde took the heritage after his father Visbur, and ruled over the land. As in his time there was great famine and distress, the Swedes made great offerings of sacrifice at Upsal. The first autumn they sacrificed oxen, but the succeeding season was not improved thereby. The following autumn they sacrificed men, but the succeeding year was rather worse. The third autumn, when the offer of sacrifices should begin, a great multitude of Swedes came to Upsal; and now the chiefs held consultations with each other, and all agreed that the times of scarcity were on account of their king Domalde, and they resolved to offer him for good seasons, and to assault and **** him, and sprinkle the stall of the gods with his blood. And they did so.


There it was, at the end of Adam of Bremen’s description of Uppsala, this description of King Domalde upon which my mural would be based. It is not difficult to imagine, or rather the event itself can be richly embroidered, as I have over the years made my painting so. Karin and I have the books of William Morris on our shelves and I see little difference between his fixation on the legends of the Arthur and the Grail. We are on the cusp here between the pagan and the Christian.  What was Christ’s Crucifixion but a self sacrifice: as God in man he could have saved himself but chose to die for Redemption’s sake. His blood was not scattered to the fields as was Domalde’s, but his body and blood remains a continuing symbol in our right of Communion.

I unroll the latest watercolour cartoon of my mural. It is almost the length of this studio. Later I will ask Greta to collect the other easels we have in the house and barn and then I shall view it properly. But for now, as it unrolls, my drama of the Winter Solstice comes alive. It begins on from the right with body of warriors, bronze shields and helmets, long shafted spears, all set against the side of Uppsala Temple and more distant frost-hoared trees. Then we see the King himself, standing on a sled hauled by temple slaves. He is naked as he removes the furs in which he has travelled, a circuit of the temple to display himself to his starving people. In the centre, back to the viewer, a priest-like figure in a red cloak, a dagger held for us to see behind his back. Facing him, in druidic white, a high priest holds above his head a gold pagan monstrance. To his left there are white cloaked players of long, straight horns, blue cloaked players of the curled horns, and guiding the shaft of the sled a grizzled shaman dressed in the skins and furs of animals. The final quarter of my one- day-to-be-a-mural unfolds to show the women of temple and palace writhing in gestures of grief and hysteria whilst their queen kneels prostate on the ground, her head to the earth, her ladies ***** behind her. Above them all stands the forever-green tree whose origin no one knows.

Greta has entered the studio in her practiced, silent way carrying coffee and rolls from the kitchen. She has seen Midvinterblot many times, but I sense her gaze of fascination, yet again, at the figure of the naked king. She remembers the model, the sailor who came to stay at Kartbacken three summers ago. He was like the harpooner Queequeg in Moby ****. A tattooed man who was to be seen swimming in Toftan Lake and walking bare-chested in our woods. A tall, well-muscled, almost silent man, whom I patiently courted to be my model for King Dolmade. I have a book of sketches of him striding purposefully through the trees, the tattooed lines on his shoulders and chest like deep cuts into his body. This striding figure I hid from the children for some time, but from Greta that was impossible. She whispered to me once that when she could not have my substantial chest against her she would imagine the sailor’s, imagine touching and following his tattooed lines. This way, she said, helped her have respite from those stirrings she would so often feel for me. My painting, she knew, had stirred her fellow maids Clara and Solveig. Surely you know this, she had said, in her resolute and direct city manner. I have to remember she is the age of my eldest, who too must hold such thoughts and feelings. Karin dislikes my sailor king and wishes I would not hide the face of his distraught queen.

Today the sunrise is at 9.0, just a half hour away, and it will set before 3.0pm. So, after this coffee I will put on my boots and fur coat, be well scarfed and hatted (as my son Pontus would say) and walk out onto my estate. I will walk east across the fields towards Spardasvvägen. The sky is already waiting for the sun, but waits without colour, hardly even a tinge of red one might expect.

I have given Greta her orders to collect every easel she can find so we can take Midvinterblot off the floor and see it in all its vivid colour and form. In February I shall begin again to persuade the Nationalmuseum to accept this work. We have a moratorium just now. I will not accept their reasoning that there is no historical premise for such a subject, that such a scene has no place in a public gallery. A suggestion has been made that the Historiska museet might house it. But I shall not think of this today.

Karin is here, her face at the studio window beckons entry. My Darling, yes, it is midwinter’s day and I am dressing to greet the solstice. I will dress, she says, to see Edgar who will be here in half an hour to discuss my designs for this new furniture. We will be lunching at noon. Know you are welcome. Suzanne is talking constantly of England, England, and of course Oxford, this place of dreaming spires and good looking boys. We touch hands and kiss. I sense the perfume of sleep, of her bed.

Outside I must walk quickly to be quite alone, quite apart from the house, in the fields, alone. It is on its way: this light that will bathe the snowed-over land and will be my promise of the year’s turn towards new life.

As I walk the drama of Midvinterblot unfolds in a confusion of noise, the weeping of women, the physical exertions of the temple slaves, the priests’ incantations, the riot of horns, and then suddenly, as I stand in this frozen field, there is silence. The sun rises. It stagge
To see images of the world of Sundborn and Carl Larrson (including Mitvinterblot) see http://www.clg.se/encarl.aspx
Nigel Morgan Nov 2012
There’s a film by John Schlesinger called the Go-Between in which the main character, a boy on the cusp of adolescence staying with a school friend on his family’s Norfolk estate, discovers how passion and *** become intertwined with love and desire. As an elderly man he revisits the location of this discovery and the woman, who we learn changed his emotional world forever. At the start of the film we see him on a day of grey cloud and wild wind walking towards the estate cottage where this woman now lives. He glimpses her face at a window – and the film flashes back fifty years to a summer before the First War.
 
It’s a little like that for me. Only, I’m sitting at a desk early on a spring morning about to step back nearly forty years.*
 
It was a two-hour trip from Boston to Booth Bay. We’d flown from New York on the shuttle and met Larry’s dad at St Vincent’s. We waited in his office as he put away the week with his secretary. He’d been in theatre all afternoon. He kept up a two-sided conversation.
 
‘You boys have a good week? Did you get to hear Barenboim at the Tully? I heard him as 14-year old play in Paris. He played the Tempest -  Mary, let’s fit Mrs K in for Tuesday at 5.0 - I was learning that very Beethoven sonata right then. I couldn’t believe it - that one so young could sound –there’s that myocardial infarction to review early Wednesday. I want Jim and Susan there please -  and look so  . . . old, not just mature, but old. And now – Gloria and I went to his last Carnegie – he just looks so **** young.’
 
Down in the basement garage Larry took his dad’s keys and we roared out on to Storow drive heading for the Massachusetts Turnpike. I slept. Too many early mornings copying my teacher’s latest – a concerto for two pianos – all those notes to be placed under the fingers. There was even a third piano in the orchestra. Larry and his Dad talked incessantly. I woke as Dr Benson said ‘The sea at last’. And there we were, the sea a glazed blue shimmering in the July distance. It might be lobster on the beach tonight, Gloria’s clam chowder, the coldest apple juice I’d ever tasted (never tasted apple juice until I came to Maine), settling down to a pile of art books in my bedroom, listening to the bell buoy rocking too and fro in the bay, the beach just below the house, a house over 150 years old, very old they said, in the family all that time.
 
It was a house full that weekend,  4th of July weekend and there would be fireworks over Booth Bay and lots of what Gloria called necessary visiting. I was in love with Gloria from the moment she shook my hand after that first concert when my little cummings setting got a mention in the NYT. It was called forever is now and God knows where it is – scored for tenor and small ensemble (there was certainly a vibraphone and a double bass – I was in love from afar with a bassist at J.). Oh, this being in love at seventeen. It was so difficult not to be. No English reserve here. People talked to you, were interested in you and what you thought, had heard, had read. You only had to say you’d been looking at a book of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings and you’d be whisked off to some uptown gallery to see his early watercolours. And on the way you’d hear a life story or some intimate details of friend’s affair, or a great slice of family history. Lots of eye contact. Just keep the talk going. But Gloria, well, we would meet in the hallway and she’d grasp my hand and say – ‘You know, Larry says that you work too hard. I want you to do nothing this weekend except get some sun and swim. We can go to Johnson’s for tennis you know. I haven’t forgotten you beat me last time we played!’ I suppose she was mid-thirties, a shirt, shorts and sandals woman, not Larry’s mother but Dr Benson’s third. This was all very new to me.
 
Tim was Larry’s elder brother, an intern at Felix-Med in NYC. He had a new girl with him that weekend. Anne-Marie was tall, bespectacled, and supposed to be ferociously clever. Gloria said ‘She models herself on Susan Sontag’. I remember asking who Sontag was and was told she was a feminist writer into politics. I wondered if Anne-Marie was a feminist into politics. She certainly did not dress like anyone else I’d seen as part of the Benson circle. It was July yet she wore a long-sleeved shift buttoned up to the collar and a long linen skirt down to her ankles. She was pretty but shapeless, a long straight person with long straight hair, a clip on one side she fiddled with endlessly, purposefully sometimes. She ignored me but for an introductory ‘Good evening’, when everyone else said ‘Hi’.
 
The next day it was hot. I was about the house very early. The apple juice in the refrigerator came into its own at 6.0 am. The bay was in mist. It was so still the bell buoy stirred only occasionally. I sat on the step with this icy glass of fragrant apple watching the pearls of condensation form and dissolve. I walked the shore, discovering years later that Rachel Carson had walked these paths, combed these beaches. I remember being shocked then at the concern about the environment surfacing in the late sixties. This was a huge country: so much space. The Maine woods – when I first drove up to Quebec – seemed to go on forever.
 
It was later in the day, after tennis, after trying to lie on the beach, I sought my room and took out my latest score, or what little of it there currently was. It was a piano piece, a still piece, the kind of piece I haven’t written in years, but possibly should. Now it’s all movement and complication. Then, I used to write exactly what I heard, and I’d heard Feldman’s ‘still pieces’ in his Greenwich loft with the white Rauschenbergs on the wall. I had admired his writing desk and thought one day I’ll have a desk like that in an apartment like this with very large empty paintings on the wall. But, I went elsewhere . . .
 
I lay on the bed and listened to the buoy out in the bay. I thought of a book of my childhood, We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea by Arthur Ransome. There’s a drawing of a Beach End Buoy in that book, and as the buoy I was listening to was too far out to see (sea?) I imagined it as the one Ransome drew from Lowestoft harbour. I dozed I suppose, to be woken suddenly by voices in the room next door. It was Tim and Anne-Marie. I had thought the house empty but for me. They were in Tim’s room next door. There was movement, whispering, almost speech, more movement.
 
I was curious suddenly. Anne-Marie was an enigma. Tim was a nice guy. Quiet, dedicated (Larry had said), worked hard, read a lot, came to Larry’s concerts, played the cello when he could, Bach was always on his record player. He and Anne-Marie seemed so close, just a wooden wall away. I stood by this wall to listen.
 
‘Why are we whispering’, said Anne-Marie firmly, ‘For goodness sake no one’s here. Look, you’re a doctor, you know what to do surely.’
 
‘Not yet.’
 
‘But people call you Doctor, I’ve heard them.’
 
‘Oh sure. But I’m not, I’m just a lousy intern.’
 
‘A lousy intern who doesn’t want to make love to me.’
 
Then, there was rustling, some heavy movement and Tim saying ‘Oh Anne, you mustn’t. You don’t need to do this.’
 
‘Yes I do. You’re hard and I’m wet between my legs. I want you all over me and inside me.  I wanted you last night so badly I lay on my bed quite naked and masturbated hoping you come to me. But you didn’t. I looked in on you and you were just fast asleep.’
 
‘You forget I did a 22-hour call on Thursday’.
 
“And the rest. Don’t you want me? Maybe your brother or that nice English boy next door?’
 
‘Is he next door? ‘
 
‘If he is, I don’t care. He looks at me you know. He can’t work me out. I’ve been ignoring him. But maybe I shouldn’t. He’s got beautiful eyes and lovely hands’.
 
There was almost silence for what seemed a long time. I could hear my own breathing and became very aware of my own body. I was shaking and suddenly cold. I could hear more breathing next door. There was a shaft of intense white sunlight burning across my bed. I imagined Anne-Marie sitting cross-legged on the floor next door, her hand cupping her right breast fingers touching the ******, waiting. There was a rustle of movement. And the door next door slammed.
 
Thirty seconds later Tim was striding across the garden and on to the beach and into the sea . . .
 
There was probably a naked young woman sitting on the floor next door I thought. Reading perhaps. I stayed quite still imagining she would get up, open her door and peek into my room. So I moved away from the wall and sat on the bed trying hard to look like a composer working on a score. And she did . . . but she had clothes on, though not her glasses or her hair clip, and she wore a bright smile – lovely teeth I recall.
 
‘Good afternoon’, she said. ‘You heard all that I suppose.’
 
I smiled my nicest English smile and said nothing.
 
‘Tell me about your girlfriend in England.’
 
She sat on the bed, cross-legged. I was suddenly overcome by her scent, something complex and earthy.
 
‘My girlfriend in England is called Anne’.
 
‘Really! Is she pretty? ‘
 
I didn’t answer, but looked at my hands, and her feet, her uncovered calves and knees. I could see the shape of her slight ******* beneath her shirt, now partly unbuttoned. I felt very uncomfortable.
 
‘Tell me. Have you been with this Anne in England?’
 
‘No.’ I said, ‘I ‘d like to, but she’s very shy.’
 
‘OK. I’m an Anne who’s not shy.’
 
‘I’ve yet to meet a shy American.’
 
‘They exist. I could find you a nice shy girl you could get to know.’
 
‘I’d quite like to know you, but you’re a good bit older than me.’
 
‘Oh that doesn’t matter. You’re quite a mature guy I think. I’d go out with you.’
 
‘Oh I doubt that.’
 
‘Would you go out with me?’
 
‘You’re interesting.  Gloria says you’re a bit like Susan Sontag. Yes, I would.’
 
‘Wow! did she really? Ok then, that’s a deal. You better read some Simone de Beauvoir pretty quick,’  and she bounced off the bed.
 
After supper  - lobster on the beach - Gloria cornered me and said. ‘I gather you heard all this afternoon.’
 
I remembered mumbling a ‘yes’.
 
‘It’s OK,’ she said, ‘Anne-Marie told me all. Girls do this you know – talk about what goes on in other people’s bedrooms. What could you do? I would have done the same. Tim’s not ready for an Anne-Marie just yet, and I’m not sure you are either. Not my business of course, but gentle advice from one who’s been there. ‘
 
‘Been where?’
 
‘Been with someone older and supposedly wiser. And remembering that wondering-what-to-do-about-those-feelings-around-*** and all that. There’s a right time and you’ll know it when it comes. ‘
 
She kissed me very lightly on my right ear, then got up and walked across the beach back to the house.
Dark Jewel May 2014
Hardly concentrating,
The night before irritated me.

Head hits the desk,
I'm out cold.
In a wonderland of eternal sleep.
Just woke from a nap in class... To **** tired
Nigel Morgan Oct 2012
When Zuo Fen woke day was well advanced into the Horse hour. In her darkened room a frame of the brightest light pulsed around the shuttered window. A breeze of scents from her herb garden brought sage, motherwort and lovage to cleanse the confined air, what remained of his visit, those rare aromatic oils from a body freed from its robes. Turning her head into the pillow that odour of him embraced her once more as in the deepest and most prolonged kiss , when with no space to breathe passion displaces reason in the mind.
 
The goat cart had brought him silently to her court in the Tiger hour, as was his custom in these summer days when, tired of his women’s attention, he seeks her company. In the vestibule her maid leaves a bowl of fresh water scented with lemon juice, a towel, her late uncle’s comb, a salve for his hands. Without removing his shoes, an Emperor’s privilege, he enters her study pausing momentarily while Xi-Lu removes himself from the exalted presence, his long tail *****, his walk provocative, dismissive. Zuo Fen is at her desk, brush in hand she finishes a copy of  ‘A Rhapsody for my Lord’. She has submitted herself to enter yet again that persona of the young concubine taken from her family to serve that community from which there seems no escape.
 
I was born in a humble, isolated, thatched house,
And was never well-versed in writing.
I never saw the marvellous pictures of books,
Nor had I heard of the classics of ancient sages.
I am dim-witted, humble and ignorant,
But was mistakenly placed in the Purple Palace . . .

 
He loves to hear her read such words, to imagine this fragile girl, and see her life at court described in the poet’s elegant characters. Zuo Fen’s scrolls lie on his second desk. Touching them, as he does frequently, is to touch her, is to feel mystery of her long body with its disregard of the courtly customs of his many, many women; the soft hair on her legs, the deep forest guarding her hidden ***, her peasant feet, her long fingers with their scent of ink and herbs.
 
He kneels beside her, gradually opening his ringed hand wide on her gowned thigh, then closing, then opening. A habit: an affectation. His head is bent in an obeisance he has no need to make, only, as he desires her he does this, so she knows this is so. She is prepared, as always, to act the part, or be this self she has opened to him, in all innocence at first, then in quiet delight that this is so and no more.
 
‘A rhapsody for me perhaps?’
‘What does Liu Xie say? The rhapsody is a fork in the road . . .
‘ . . . a different line’, he interrupts and quotes,’ it describes people and objects. It pictures appearance with a brilliance akin to sculpture or painting.’
‘What is clogged and confined it invariably opens. It depicts the commonplace with unbounded charm.’
‘But the goal of the form is beauty well-ordered . . . . as you are, dearest poet.’
‘You spoilt the richness of Lui Xie’s ending . . .’
‘I would rather speak of your beauty than Xie’s talk of gardening.’
‘Weeding is not gardening my Lord.’
 
And with that he summons her to read her rhapsody whilst his hands part her gown . . .
 
Over the years since he took her maidenhead, brusquely, with the impatience of his station, and she, on their second encounter deflowered him in turn with her poem about the pleasure due to woman, they had become as one branch on the same tree. She sought to be, and was, his equal in the prowess of scholastic memory. She had honed such facility with the word: years of training from her father in the palace archives and later in the mind games invented by and played with her brother. Then, as she entered womanhood and feared oblivion in an arranged marriage, she invented the persona of the pale girl, a fiction, who, with great gentleness and poetry, guided the male reader into the secrets of a woman’s ****** pleasure and fulfilment. In disguise, and with her brother’s help, she had sought those outside concubinage - for whom the congress of the male and female is rarely negotiable. She listened and transcribed, then gradually drew the Emperor into a web of new experience to which he readily succumbed, and the like of which he could have hardly imagined. He wished to promote her to the first lady of his Purple Chamber. She declined, insisting he provide her with a court distant from his palace rooms, yet close to the Zu-lin gardens, a place of quiet, meditation and the study of astronomy.
 
But today, this hot summer’s day, she had reckoned to be her birthday. She expected due recognition for one whose days moved closer to that age when a birthday is traditionally and lavishly celebrated. Her maid Mei-Lim would have already prepared the egg dishes associated with this special day. Her brother Zuo-Si may have penned a celebratory ode, and later would visit her with his lute to caress his subtle words of invention.
 
Your green eyes reflect a world apart
Where into silence words are formed dew-like,
Glistening as the sun rises on this precious day.
As a stony spring washes over precious jade,
delicate fishes swim in its depths
dancing to your reflection on the cool surface.
No need of strings, or bamboo instruments
When mountains and waters give forth their pure notes . . .

 
Her lord had left on her desk his own Confucian-led offering, in brushstrokes of his time-stretched hand, but his own hand nevertheless, and then in salutation the flower-like character leh (joy)
 
‘Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart’.
 
Meanwhile Xi-Lu stirred on the coverlet reminding Zuo Fen that the day was advancing and he had received no attention or conversation. It was whispered abroad that this lady spoke with her cat whom each afternoon would accompany his mistress on a walk through the adjacent gardens. It was true, Zuo Fen had taught Xi-Lu to converse in the dialect of her late mother’s province, but that is another story.
 
Lying on her back, eyes firmly shut, Zuo Fen surveyed the past year, a year of her brother’s pilgrimage to the Tai Mountains, his subsequent disappearance at the onset of winter, her Lord’s anger then indulgence as he allowed her to seek Zuo Si’s whereabouts. She thought of her sojourn in Ryzoki, the village of stone, where she discovered the blind servant girl who had revealed not only her brother’s whereabouts but her undying love for this strange, ungainly, uncomfortably ugly man who, with the experience gained from his sister’s persistent research had finally learned to love and be loved in equal measure for his gentle and tender actions. And together, their triumph: in ‘summoning the recluse’, and not one alone but a community of five living harmoniously in caves of the limestone heights. Now returned they had worked in ever secret ways to serve their Emperor in his conflict against the war-lord Tang.
 
She now resolved to take a brief holiday from this espionage, her stroking of the Emperor’s mind and body, and those caring sisterly duties she so readily performed. She would remove herself and her maid to a forest cabin: to lie in the dry mottled grass of summer and listen to the rustle of leaves, the chatter of birds, the sounds of insects and the creak-crack of the forest in the summer heat. She would plan a new chapter in her work as a poet and writer: she would be the pale girl no longer but a woman of strength and confidence made beautiful by good fortune, wise management and a generosity of spirit. She needed to prepare herself for her Lord’s demise, when their joyful hours living the lives of Prince and Lady of Xiang, he with his stallion gathering galingales, she with her dreams of an underwater house, would no longer be. She would study the ways of the old. She would seek to learn how peace and serenity might overcome those afflictions of age and circumstance, and when it is said that love’s chemistry distils pure joy through the intense refinement of memory.
This short story with poetry introduces the world of Zuo Fen, one of the first female poets of Chinese antiquity.
Amber Jade Jul 2011
i'm sitting at my desk,
i'm completely oblivious,
phone in hand,
waiting for something to happen.
sitting at my desk,
on my laptop typing,
music in the back ground,
mood as bad as possible.
trying not to cry,
i never knew it was possibal,
that the person that makes me so happy,
could make me feel this bad.

he's supposed to shield me from the pain,
protect my heart from the world,
save me from myself.
but he's making me cry,
feeding me the pain,
kicking me in the guts.
he was supposed to be there for me,
since i was born,
i was supposed to be able to rely on him.

sitting at my desk,
thinking about how much he missed,
how much he's not here,
how many good byes I've said to him,
there's 386,
how many tears have fallen from my eyes,
because he said good bye
or simply because he's not here.
what happened to dad's,
girls best friends,
here to stay,
not flying away.
Nigel Morgan Oct 2012
The courtesan and poet Zuo Fen had two cats Xe Ming and Xi Ming. Living in her distant court with only her maid Hu Yin, her cats were often her closest companions and, like herself, of a crepuscular nature.
      It was the very depths of winter and the first moon of the Solstice had risen. The old year had nearly passed.
      The day itself was almost over. Most of the inner courts retired before the new day began (at about 11.0pm), but not Zuo Fen. She summoned her maid to dress her in her winter furs, gathered her cats on a long chain leash, and walked out into the Haulin Gardens.
      These large and semi-wild gardens were adjacent to the walls of her personal court. The father of the present Emperor had created there a forest once stocked with game, a lake to the brim with carp and rich in waterfowl, and a series of tall structures surrounded by a moat from which astronomers were able to observe the firmament.
      Emperor Wu liked to think of Zuo Fen walking at night in his father’s park, though he rarely saw her there. He knew that she valued that time alone to prepare herself for his visits, visits that rarely occurred until the Tiger hours between 3.0am and 6.0am when his goat-drawn carriage would find its way to her court unbidden. She herself would welcome him with steaming chai and sometimes a new rhapsody. They would recline on her bed and discuss the content and significance of certain writings they knew and loved. Discussion sometimes became an elaborate game when a favoured Classical text would be taken as the starting point for an exchange of quotation. Gradually quotation would be displaced by subtle invention and Zuo Fen would find the Emperor manoeuvring her into making declarations of a passionate or ****** nature.
       It seemed her very voice captivated him and despite herself and her inclinations they would join as lovers with an intensity of purpose, a great tenderness, and deep joy. He would rest his head inside her cloak and allow her lips to caress his ears with tales of river and mountain, descriptions of the flights of birds and the opening of flowers. He spoke to her ******* of the rising moon, its myriad reflections on the waters of Ling Lake, and of its trees whose winter branches caressed the cold surface.

Whilst Zuo Fen walked in the midnight park with her cats she reflected on an afternoon of frustration. She had attempted to assemble a new poem for her Lord.  Despite being himself an accomplished poet and having an extraordinary memory for Classical verse, the Emperor retained a penchant for stories about Mei-Lim, a young Suchan girl dragged from her family to serve as a courtesan at his court.
      Zuo Fen had invented this girl to articulate some of her own expressions of homesickness, despair, periods of constant tearfulness, and abject loneliness. Such things seemed to touch something in the Emperor. It was as though he enjoyed wallowing in these descriptions and his favourite A Rhapsody on Being far from Home he loved to hear from the poet’s own lips, again and again. Zuo Fen felt she was tempting providence not to compose something new, before being ordered to do so.
      As she struggled through the afternoon to inject some fresh and meaningful content into a story already milked dry Zuo Fen became aware of her cats. Xi Ming lay languorously across her folded feet. Xe Ming perched like an immutable porcelain figure on a stool beside her low writing table.
Zuo Fen often consulted her cats. ‘Xi Ming, will my Lord like this stanza?’

“The stones that ring out from your pony’s hooves
announce your path through the cloud forest”


She would always wait patiently for Xi Ming’s reply, playing a game with her imagination to extract an answer from the cinnamon scented air of her winter chamber.
      ‘He will think his pony’s hooves will flash with sparks kindling the fire of his passion as he prepares to meet his beloved’.
      ‘Oh such a wise cat, Xi Ming’, and she would press his warm body further into her lap. But today, as she imagined this dialogue, a second voice appeared in her thoughts.
      ‘Gracious Lady, your Xe Ming knows his under-standing is poor, his education weak, but surely this image, taken as it is from the poet Lu Ji, suggests how unlikely it would be for the spark of love and passion to take hold without nurture and care, impossible on a hard journey’.
       This was unprecedented. What had brought such a response from her imagination? And before she could elicit an answer it was as though Xe Ming spoke with these words of Confucius.

“Do not be concerned about others not appreciating you, be concerned about you not appreciating others”

Being the very sensible woman she was, Zuo Fen dismissed such admonition (from a cat) and called for tea.

Later as she walked her beauties by the frozen lake, the golden carp nosing around just beneath the ice, she recalled the moment and wondered. A thought came to her  . . .
       She would petition Xe Ming’s help to write a new rhapsody, perhaps titled Rhapsody on the Thought of Separation.

Both Zuo Fen’s cats came from her parental home in Lingzhi. They were large, big-***** mountain cats; strong animals with bear-like paws, short whiskered and big eared. Their coats were a glassy grey, the hairs tipped with a sprinkling of white giving the fur an impression of being wet with dew or caught by a brief shower.
       When she thought of her esteemed father, the Imperial Archivist, there was always a cat somewhere; in his study at home, in the official archives where he worked. There was always a cat close at hand, listening?
       What texts did her father know by heart that she did not know? What about the Lu Yu – the Confucian text book of advice and etiquette for court officials. She had never bothered to learn it, even read it seemed unnecessary, but through her brother Zuo Si she knew something of its contents and purpose.

Confucius was once asked what were the qualifications of public office. ‘Revere the five forms of goodness and abandon the four vices and you can qualify for public office’.
       For the life of her Zuo Fen could not remember these five forms of goodness (although she could make a stab at guessing them). As for those vices? No, she was without an idea. If she had ever known, their detail had totally passed from her memory.
       Settled once again in her chamber she called Hu Yin and asked her to remove Xi Ming for the night. She had three hours or so before the Emperor might appear. There was time.
        Xe Ming was by nature a distant cat, aloof, never seeking affection. He would look the other way if regarded, pace to the corner of a room if spoken to. In summer he would hide himself in the deep undergrowth of Zuo Fen’s garden.
       Tonight Zuo Fen picked him up and placed him on her left shoulder. She walked around her room stroking him gently with her small strong fingers, so different from the manicured talons of her colleagues in the Purple Palace. Embroidery, of which she was an accomplished exponent, was impossible with long nails.
       From her scroll cupboard she selected her brother’s annotated copy of the Lun Yu, placing it unrolled on her desk. It would be those questions from the disciple Tzu Chang, she thought, so the final chapters perhaps. She sat down carefully on the thick fleece and Mongolian rug in front of her desk letting Xe Ming spill over her arms into a space beside her.
       This was strange indeed. As she sat beside Xe Ming in the light of the butter lamps holding his flickering gaze it was as though a veil began to lift between them.
       ‘At last you understand’, a voice appeared to whisper,’ after all this time you have realised . . .’
      Zuo Fen lost track of time. The cat was completely motionless. She could hear Hu Yin snoring lightly next door, no doubt glad to have Xi Ming beside her on her mat.
      ‘Xe Ming’, she said softly, ‘today I heard you quote from Confucius’.
      The cat remained inscrutable, completely still.
      ‘I think you may be able to help me write a new poem for my Lord. Heaven knows I need something or he will tire of me and this court will cease to enjoy his favour’.
      ‘Xe Ming, I have to test you. I think you can ‘speak’ to me, but I need to learn to talk to you’.
      ‘Tzu Chang once asked Confucius what were the qualifications needed for public office? Confucius said, I believe, that there were five forms of goodness to revere, and four vices to abandon’.
       ‘Can you tell me what they are?’
      Xe Ming turned his back on Zuo Fen and stepped gently away from the table and into a dark and distant corner of the chamber.
      ‘The gentle man is generous but not extravagant, works without complaint, has desires without being greedy, is at peace, but not arrogant, and commands respect but not fear’.
      Zuo Fen felt her breathing come short and fast. This voice inside her; richly-texture, male, so close it could be from a lover at the epicentre of a passionate entanglement; it caressed her.
      She heard herself say aloud, ‘and the four vices’.
      ‘To cause a death or imprisonment without teaching can be called cruelty; to judge results without prerequisites can be called tyranny; to impose deadlines on improper orders can be thievery; and when giving in the procedure of receipt and disbursement, to stint can be called officious’.
       Xe Ming then appeared out of the darkness and came and sat in the folds of her night cloak, between her legs. She stroked his glistening fur.
       Zuo Fen didn’t need to consult the Lu Yu on her desk. She knew this was unnecessary. She got to her feet and stepped through the curtains into an antechamber to relieve herself.
       When she returned Xe Ming had assumed his porcelain figure pose. So she gathered a fresh scroll, her writing brushes, her inks, her wax stamps, and wrote:

‘I was born in a humble, isolated, thatched house,
and was never well versed in writing.
I never saw the marvellous pictures of books,
nor had I heard of the classics of earlier sages.
I am dimwitted, humble and ignorant . . ‘


As she stopped to consider the next chain of characters she saw in her mind’s eye the Purple Palace, the palace of the concubines of the Emperor. Sitting next to the Purple Chamber there was a large grey cat, its fur sprinkled with tiny flecks of white looking as though the animal had been caught in a shower of rain.
       Zuo Fen turned from her script to see where Xe Ming had got to, but he had gone. She knew however that he would always be there. Wherever her imagination took her, she could seek out this cat and the words would flow.

Before returning to her new text Zuo Fen thought she might remind herself of Liu Xie’s words on the form of the Rhapsody. If Emperor Wu appeared later she would quote it (to his astonishment) from The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons.

*The rhapsody derives from poetry,
A fork in the road, a different line of development;
It describes objects, pictures and their appearance,
With a brilliance akin to sculpture and painting.
What is clogged and confined it invariably opens up;
It depicts the commonplace with unbounded charm;
But the goal of the form is of beauty well ordered,
Words retained for their loveliness when weeds have been cut away.
This green desk
is something beyond
my mind
because
it goes back
to the twilight
of my frat brother
and my fat father
who are long gone
my dad is dead
and my brother
divorced the family
so the green desk
remains
with me sitting here.
Nat Lipstadt Oct 2013
The Editor

Late in office,
sour coffee taste
the single constituent
of his yellow bloodstream,
The Editor.

Way up high,
72nd floor.

The city's twinklers mocking.

Life is ours, outside,
where explorers dare,
not inside your
cubicle.

That word, cubicle,
a sugar-substitute for
coffin.

Another 12+ day.
Empty apartment waiting.

But that no matter.

Old news, her scent,
almost unnoticeable
except for the lavender hand-soap.

On the desk, a manuscript.
A child's coloring book,
vibrant, original word verses.

The older man lived, loved words,
An editor now, by trade.

Once, he baby-dreamed.

Shaping moments in the lives
of thousands, with tastings of,
with his words.

The answer given, graded, long ago.
Offered a choice,
outrageous misfortune elected,
the arrow taken, his was the
"or not to be."

Instead,
on the desk, a manuscript.
a child's coloring book,
vibrant, original word verses.

An unsolicited gift.
By the hundreds, they arrived.

To his desk, the mail room delivered,
trained to snicker by prior generations,
at this lowly assignment.

This one different.

Original, raw,
full of ingredient-courage that
posed the questions
we all ask, answered,
in a nouveau riche way,
not a poseur-way.

Well, so well, he knew Brutus's words:

We at the height are ready to decline.
There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
^

His tide, his high tide, missed,
gone out

Instead at the heights, on the 72nd floor,
in the shallows, the bad miseries of
chances missed, ventures lost,
his own words, measured down,
never up,
yet he floated on a sea of others,
drowning but never dying.

On the desk, a manuscript.
a child's coloring book,
vibrant, original word verses,
a young author, unaware,
his gifts could rule the world.

Just another submission.

No one would notice,
the missed fortune,
if it were lost at sea.

Just another tsunami body,
thousands of worn words
suffocating, still born,
still dead.

Just another Brutus omission.

Another tide, washing in,
another washout day,
except for the
coloring book, someone else's
on his desk.

Dear Sir/Madam.
Thank you for bringing your manuscript to our attention.
We receive many unsolicited submissions and at this time, we are unable to...


Yours truly,


Some are artists,
Some are house painters.
Some craft, other just tidy up
the empty studios of the real.
Did the windows in his office open?
Somewhere his best effort,
paper tarnished by metallic dust,
sweat garnished,
vanquishing tears bookmarks,
a homeless one.

No place to return to,
for to be homeless,
words had to have had a home.

Whose?
His.

^ Julius Ceasar
(IV.ii.269–276)
Saw pieces of Julius Ceasar. Came home did some editing.
This corny poem, an embarrassment, came out of the the intersection.
At the crossroads, post, publish, or ****** thyself more in little ways.
onlylovepoetry Mar 2018
Friday night immodesty

theater on East 4th street @ 8:00pm,
so the girlie stuff commences on schedule
90 minuets a-priori and the medley music
(adele+amy+alicia+ pink bach for some zing)
a harbinger, a pioneer Greek heralding of
Friday night immodesty

the clothes laid out upon the bed, the shoes,
pumps selected and already on,
(always a puzzler to me,)
the subdued lower east side jewelry possibilities,
on the dresser drawer,
indifferently hoping for selection, but
casually beaming quietly,
like those kids waiting for interviews in the waiting room
of the college Admissions Dean’s office,
all with serious smiles
and tiny tearing eyes

aside:
helloooooo, I am in a poetry polo with my best jeans ready to go
2 hours before the curtain calls out,
hellooooooo

she sits at the makeup mirrored desk,
clad in only her underneath garments of varying utility,
when I sweep in imperially
and with one hand twist gentle her hair upwards,
betraying
her neck nape which is again
the sujet of a poem aborning

lips,
like a Greek lyre strings, pluck, the tiny hid hairs never seen,
her instant moans at the never fully expected motion poem,
beg more mercy but no quarter given despite repeated cries
of you’ll mess my makeup,
the best defense known to a lady!

god gave men two thumbs to lift up,
simultaneously stimulating,
slide down each of the thin black brasserie strap invitations,
upon each, a writ,
upon her flesh colored shoulders,
stating
“what was she thinking!”

my lips,
now polar explorers, those power (filled) poles side by side,
(east/west for the designer was a smart
bipolar guy-person);
the lips play silent night progressive jazz,
tinkling with higher noted keys,
nape to shoulders moving down to the back’s prefrontal lobe,
the small of her back, the body’s quivering,
a con-federate flag of surrender

her last defense swept aside, we drink honey and milk,
celebrate the week’s mellifluous finish with immodest touching,
the lower east side will belong tonite
to only the hipsters, the millennials,
as our hips are milling and  otherwise
pre-theater and post, occupado

some hours later, watching TV and eating delivered Chinese,
she laterally and literally arm punches my arm
intensely to mark her discontent,
still annoyed,
for I

1) messed up her makeup,
2) best blouse to the dry cleaner and
3) the tickets wasted, and worse,
hits me again!

after I laugh and giggle upon proffering
most modestly, most assuredly,
seconds of
onlylovepoetry

9.21am Saturday
thank you all who liked this tale of
the poetry in the details
of our lives.
olp
Either peace or happiness,
let it enfold you

when I was a young man
I felt these things were
dumb, unsophisticated.
I had bad blood, a twisted
mind, a precarious
upbringing.

I was hard as granite, I
leered at the
sun.
I trusted no man and
especially no
woman.

I was living a hell in
small rooms, I broke
things, smashed things,
walked through glass,
cursed.
I challenged everything,
was continually being
evicted, jailed, in and
out of fights, in and out
of my mind.
women were something
to ***** and rail
at, I had no male
friends,

I changed jobs and
cities, I hated holidays,
babies, history,
newspapers, museums,
grandmothers,
marriage, movies,
spiders, garbagemen,
english accents,spain,
france,italy,walnuts and
the color
orange.
algebra angred me,
opera sickened me,
charlie chaplin was a
fake
and flowers were for
pansies.

peace and happiness to me
were signs of
inferiority,
tenants of the weak
and
addled
mind.

but as I went on with
my alley fights,
my suicidal years,
my passage through
any number of
women-it gradually
began to occur to
me
that I wasn't different

from the
others, I was the same,

they were all fulsome
with hatred,
glossed over with petty
grievances,
the men I fought in
alleys had hearts of stone.
everybody was nudging,
inching, cheating for
some insignificant
advantage,
the lie was the
weapon and the
plot was
empty,
darkness was the
dictator.

cautiously, I allowed
myself to feel good
at times.
I found moments of
peace in cheap
rooms
just staring at the
knobs of some
dresser
or listening to the
rain in the
dark.
the less I needed
the better I
felt.

maybe the other life had worn me
down.
I no longer found
glamour
in topping somebody
in conversation.
or in mounting the
body of some poor
drunken female
whose life had
slipped away into
sorrow.

I could never accept
life as it was,
i could never gobble
down all its
poisons
but there were parts,
tenuous magic parts
open for the
asking.

I re formulated
I don't know when,
date, time, all
that
but the change
occurred.
something in me
relaxed, smoothed
out.
i no longer had to
prove that I was a
man,

I didn't have to prove
anything.

I began to see things:
coffee cups lined up
behind a counter in a
cafe.
or a dog walking along
a sidewalk.
or the way the mouse
on my dresser top
stopped there
with its body,
its ears,
its nose,
it was fixed,
a bit of life
caught within itself
and its eyes looked
at me
and they were
beautiful.
then- it was
gone.

I began to feel good,
I began to feel good
in the worst situations
and there were plenty
of those.
like say, the boss
behind his desk,
he is going to have
to fire me.

I've missed too many
days.
he is dressed in a
suit, necktie, glasses,
he says, 'I am going
to have to let you go'

'it's all right' I tell
him.

He must do what he
must do, he has a
wife, a house, children,
expenses, most probably
a girlfriend.

I am sorry for him
he is caught.

I walk onto the blazing
sunshine.
the whole day is
mine
temporarily,
anyhow.

(the whole world is at the
throat of the world,
everybody feels angry,
short-changed, cheated,
everybody is despondent,
disillusioned)

I welcomed shots of
peace, tattered shards of
happiness.

I embraced that stuff
like the hottest number,
like high heels, *******,
singing,the
works.

(don't get me wrong,
there is such a thing as cockeyed optimism
that overlooks all
basic problems just for
the sake of
itself-
this is a shield and a
sickness.)

The knife got near my
throat again,
I almost turned on the
gas
again
but when the good
moments arrived
again
I didn't fight them off
like an alley
adversary.
I let them take me,
I luxuriated in them,
I made them welcome
home.
I even looked into
the mirror
once having thought
myself to be
ugly,
I now liked what
I saw, almost
handsome, yes,
a bit ripped and
ragged,
scares, lumps,
odd turns,
but all in all,
not too bad,
almost handsome,
better at least than
some of those movie
star faces
like the cheeks of
a baby's
****.

and finally I discovered
real feelings of
others,
unheralded,
like lately,
like this morning,
as I was leaving,
for the track,
i saw my wife in bed,
just the
shape of
her head there
(not forgetting
centuries of the living
and the dead and
the dying,
the pyramids,
Mozart dead
but his music still
there in the
room, weeds growing,
the earth turning,
the tote board waiting for
me)
I saw the shape of my
wife's head,
she so still,
I ached for her life,
just being there
under the
covers.

I kissed her in the
forehead,
got down the stairway,
got outside,
got into my marvelous
car,
fixed the seatbelt,
backed out the
drive.
feeling warm to
the fingertips,
down to my
foot on the gas
pedal,
I entered the world
once
more,
drove down the
hill
past the houses
full and empty
of
people,
I saw the mailman,
honked,
he waved
back
at me.
Keith Collard Jan 2013
"PRIVATES, if an attractive woman is interested in you down Waikiki-- she is a spy."--Army Espionage Briefing.


Today, I am up early and ready for 'reveille' to blare over the entire base. I watch the cheap beige -colored shade start to emit light, as if it was an eyelid of a late night reveler waking up on the unrivalled Hawaiian north shore; I can start to see dark figures through the cheap barracks shade: two tall structures for rope climbing--in the faint form of gallows, and soldiers scrambling by my room on the balcony--in the silhouette of black lightning bolts.  They are grunts, who are up early like me....might they sense what I feel, that the shade of light of the Hawaiian sun is in the form of present memories and that things were to change; and not till an old tradition is paraded back for one more drill and ceremony on that parade field down below.
          Down below the three tiers of balconies, a soldier, up all night on duty at a desk overlooking the parade field, looks down at a piece of paper--rubs his eyes and sees a memo entitled "From higher, possible' Zonk' for mourning Pt."  His only reply: "Well “I’ll be danged." Then shoves some beef jerky in his mouth.

  The Last Zonk

                      If you look into my barracks room, you would see tall lightly stained pine wall lockers separating two "kinds of stupid," as my squad leader would say. The first kind of stupid is my roommate Sleepy Turtle.  An odd nickname I know, mine is Freshwater and no, our nicknames are not related.
          Sleepy Turtle is a neat, hip Californian, with no bends in the brim of his hats; who hangs every piece of clothing out of the dryer up in his wall-locker.  I on the other hand, load my green army laundry bag full with hot cloths, and leave them in there until the designated day of dressing.   Sleepy turtle calls me a Bostonian slob, but this Californian hipster is really mad that I use it as his alarm clock in the morning. For Sleepy cannot wake up in the morning, or stay awake when still for more than 15 minutes, so you can put that quality with the fact Sleepy is in the infantry, and surmise your own summation.        So, my laundry bag moonlights as a chain mace, in which its target is Sleepy's face, at the nautical twilight hours of early morn. You might think that is downright mean, however, if a green bag with numbers in poor black marker penmanship, which is my social security number labeling it as mine,were not launched at his unaware face, well, it would be our squad leader's fist.
            Sleepy and I are buds, battle buddies, but we just have a lineage stemming from basic training following us to Hawaii (when he fell asleep on guard, and it was me that was punished).
          I remember it was like yesterday.  Georgia, the state we should have let succeed (as Greece let Atlantis).  In the field after a firing range Sleepy and I had first guard, six o’clock, the sun don't set in Georgia till nine, and this kid.....well, he fell asleep under the rockets red glare and the firing range still bursting in air and missed a radio report.
             Well by the time I woke him up the drill sergeant was on me and only wanted me.  He didn't like my Boston accent too much to begin with. Punishments in the army, are either a "smoking,"(physical exercise) or the option they offer: in which case the drill sergeants would physically exercise their minds to think of a humiliating punishment.
              Well, my punishment was self-replenishing like that Greek myth when the guy rolls the boulder up to the top of the hill, only to have an eagle come to eat his liver--
            if the chow hall sent their cooks out to feed us in the field(that is we weren’t eating our mur's(meals ready to eat)) then they would set up a chow line with servers. My beloved drill sergeant, selflessly took over the role of server (at the end of the line)...."would you like some beats Private Freshwater?" he asked.  I kindly declined his solicit...."oh a growing ******* like you must have his protein, “and he would proceed to soak all my precious sustenance with bright red, beat juice, the color of an octogenarian's veins. I watched my bread dissipate, and my chicken would part from its previous structure (the parting of the red sea came to my mind those two months). Now I cringe when I see blood, it reminds me of beet juice.

         It is already 0515, thirty minutes before first formation, and the halls are filling up with sergeants, along with the pale light of the Hawaiian rising sun. In garrison (when we are not in the field) we ‘Pt.’(physical training, i.e. running and death marches) every morning, and the soldiers who live off base(mostly sergeants) come upstairs in the barracks, barking and singing, and barking. Even with all my defects in uniform and room hygiene, I am an early bird, and this morning I decide to let Sargent Leghorn(our squad leader) into our room to strangle Sleepy awake.
          But I am taken aback when he declines a Sleepy Turtle thrashing to speak to me.
            "Freshwater, Poncho (our platoon sergeant) wants me to help you make a decision about re-enlisting."
          I've been getting a lot of flak for sitting on the fence about re-enlisting, but honestly I want to get out.  I haven’t told them that.
   "Look," in his big southern drawl, “you know your too dumb to live out there, the army wipes your ***, you two idiots would be drinking your **** within the first day out in the world.  Look, speak to the retention officer and then make the decision...."
        He kept talking, but I heard the sound. Our barracks forms a ‘quad’ with three other multi-tiered buildings-- forming a rectangle. The ground floor are where the headquarters(offices where you go when you’re in trouble), and out in front is narrow roads circumscribing  a grass parade field; well, in front of our headquarters is a mango tree; on that mango tree ,eternally perched is a Hawaiian Military Macaw, we call the "******* bird." Every time our lieutenant shows up, he is proceeded by the loud chuckle of the "******* bird," whereas the sounds are thus , "Platoon attenhuuut,"then the mad bird laughter of "******* ******* fu..."  The bird is the harbinger of annoyance, and that annoyance is our L tee(lieutenant),and his name is Lt.Wheat Thin, and he hates me(understatement of the year).
              Now doors with card readers are opening to reveal drowsy, skinny privates, who in the morning, before PT are like baby gazelles ,birthed in the African Serengeti --they are vulnerable for predators, and those predators are sergeants who smell the birth slime on them.        
      The favorite past-time of (any rank above a private) is to enter into a privates rooms and "**** with him." They will look at your pictures, call your girlfriend ugly, gig you on your uncleanliness, even look around for contraband.
        Well, while the Lt Wheat Thin is making his way through the halls yelling "twenty miler today,hahah......hey Specialist Nifkin where is your reflective belt?"  The sergeants are more relaxed, it is a Friday, and they are still in ecstatic shock from the "toad, “contest on Monday. Now since I mentioned the "toad," I have to elaborate, even though I have to get to formation.
          Every Monday, our First Sergent (company sergeant) has a contest after mourning pt.  The rules are such: the contestants are the ones who did the stupidest thing over the weekend, and only they would compete for the toad( a small porcelain toad).
            When we are all standing in formation on the small lane in front of the parade field, our Pt uniforms turning into tiger fatigues from our sweat, the First Sargent, in his raspy voice (he was shot through his voice box in Somalia) would call the contestants in front of the company. He would yell(or rasp) "get down", then the contestant, instead of doing pushups (which is usually linked to "get down," or it is if your me) would have to dance with no music,untill you are the last private standing thus not being eliminated by boos caused by lousy dancing.
          With that said, four days prior ,the winner of the "toad “was from our platoon , and we even boasted of two runner ups. I remember watching Private Catfish, Private Beachstick, and Specialist Hamburger going at it.  For if you won the 'toad' statue, you got out of Pt for two days, but you more than likely danced the calories away of those two days while you had all those dip spitting southerners yelling "dance catfish dance."
             Pvt. Catfish was nominated for getting caught with a ***** pump in the ceiling tiles during a room inspection and Beachstick was nominated due to the fact he caught stealing a cell phone down Waikiki. Poor old Beachstick, once he was turned over to army chain of command by the police, they conducted their sadistic physical exercise in their head to determine his punishment.  He was to carry a cinder block around painted like a cell phone.  He actually danced with the block might I add.
                The third contestant from our platoon wasn't a new guy, he was of specialist rank like me--Hamburger--he got so drunk he walked home in his bright orange, white and red bowling shoes.
                 The bowling alley actually called the General of the entire Hawaiin base. So it was like a dixie cup communication line of "what?  bowling shoes....Hamburger?"  That finally tickled its way down to the ear of Poncho the platoon sergent with the concise army telephone call "Hamburger in bowling shoes, nominated Toad, out copy over?"
           Well Sergent Poncho got the key to Hamburger’s room that next day, and found Hamburger passed out in his roommate Hotdog's bed; with all his clothes off, but the bowling shoes sticking out on his feet still. Hot dog was passed out too, and woke up in state of exasperation for Hamburger had urinated all over him. Hamburger and Hotdog were inseparable, it almost seemed like that big Kentuckian Hamburger even carried around that skinny Hotdog,(who was also from Boston, but I didn't sound like him, he just sounds ridiculous).

             So Pvt Catfish won the "toad," and he is in the hallway.  All the sergeants are making a bee line for his room to admire the "toad," amulet. Sleepy Turtle is getting up faster than usual, and the air feels a little different this morning. The rumor in the air, is that there will be "Zonk," and there hasn't been a "Zonk" for years. But Lt.Wheat thin is going around dispelling that rumor at its inception...."No Zonk you bunch of pansies, twenty mile run, on sand, up hill..."  
             Yeah I’m not going to lie, I like to put one of those Hawaiian ear wigs in his ear so it would eat his brain then go up to him,"hey lieutenant , how bout ultimate frisbee for Pt today," in which I could see it clear as day, him drooling ,"sure Freshwatah, frisbeeee."
                I’m on the' lanaii' now, which is a balcony in Hawaiian. Three tiers of lanaii encompass  a parade field, filled and overhanging with soldiers getting ready for morning Pt similar to a roman coliseum readying for a gladiator fight . It is Friday and we usually do company Pt on Fridays (bigger formations)…but looking across the parade field, the sister battalions are overflowing as much as us.    
             The light reflecting off the sand in the volley ball court, which we were not allowed to use(why make it then??),  was glowing yellow, soon to be white in the hot sun. We are shooting the ****, dipping, smoking and just straight lollygaggin like we always do in garrison before Pt.
I see my friend Rich, and we start talking.  He's a cool dude, a Californian like Sleepy, but Rich got his **** wired tight, we arrived here at the same time from the same basic training platoon.
"Freshwater man, you gunna re-enlist or what?'
"You’re crazy Rich for re-enlisting, this **** *****."
"Mang, Fresh, remember when Poncho made all the cherries(new privates) get in short shorts and get on the back of his motorcycle for a drive to Waikiki?"
"Yeah, he's nuts, he's a big reason for getting out."
"Why is that,"--
"**** changes so quick in the army, one day you’re playing volleyball for Pt, the next it's a death march, one day Poncho is your friend, the next he's handing out all your sandwich meat to Sargent Leghorn or Catfish.  Too friggin erratic, and when it rains it pours, and there is nowhere to find shelter--"
"Man Fresh, they want you to move up ,be a leader, go to sergeant school, just do it bra...."
" I’m all set with that Rich, I don't have your discipline, you keep clean in the field bro, and cross yourself before every meal, me , I don't have that discipline, I don't like strictures, and I don't think I can be myself here."
"What I have, you don't have, but you have what I don't have Fresh."
"Ya, I got everybody breathing down my neck."
"No Fresh, you’re a tough dude, Poncho told me he don't try to flick your eyes while your copping Z's in the field anymore like the other 'joes' (enlisted soldiers, not sergeants). Said you almost kicked him unconscious while you were still sleeping and Wheat Thin hates you from when you were his radio man, he got jealous of you because you could handle the mission stuff...you read well....."
             My attention was arrested by Beachstick, he was staring at the training schedule, man, everyday he would study this calendar with all our planned Pt on it. Like he could visually alter it with is mind, to change "15 mile road march," to "pocket pool" or something. Then his face changed from melancholy to total disbelief when he saw todays planned Pt--"friday,aug 12 2001, 20 mile brigade run." It was like he was reading a Steven King novel or something, that was the only thing that didn't change, Beachstick always thinking he would get out of running or *******, and he would probably steal another phone, carry another cinder block.  I could never relate, because I never forget, when it rains it pours in the army.
               I remember we were on this mountain, in this valley up north shore, we could see the ocean; it looked so beautiful, inviting, yet we were on a mountain with 80 lbs. on our back, sleeping in dirt with poisonous centipedes. The sun was relentless when you were in uniform, but a goddess near the beach, or when you were just stripped down to shorts(we were not even allowed to roll our sleeves up like the marines).
It must have been even rougher on Hamburger, he hated the army more than me, and he got a fungus, jungle rot from that field problem. The medic said it was a fungus that only grew on cows and trees in Hawaii, and to cure it you have to jump in the ocean.  Man, I hope he didn't see the same ocean I saw. The infantry is sweat and soreness, that's all.  They tell you to keep putting camo on your face, just to have it come off in a deluge of sweat, ****,  army infantry is for the birds, the '*******' bird.
              We're heading downstairs, to be ready for when one ******* yells "formation, “then it reverberates like a game of annoying telephone. The first person who yelled "formation, “is contrasted by the last person who yodels it, or hollers it like a wild Indian.  It is a true transformation of sound.
                At the base of the building, under the first floor balcony, is a cq desk(charge of quarter) where a fellow grunt has been up all night logging vistors,answering phone calls from higher up. He is in uniform unlike us in Pt attire. He was spied eating beef jerky,and a gang of grunts are surrounding him…"Hey let me get some jerky Fancy Pants...." is there zombie moan as they converge on him. With a mop handle, he is pushing them away- like a lucky survivor of the titanic in his life boat, pushing away swimming clingers on, that might swamp his boat, or in this case eat all his beef jerky(we like our beef jerky, and it is not heavy).
           As I walk out from the ground level landing I hear Sleepy Turtle on the top lanaii: "Freshwater you dumb Boston Kennedy sounding dirt merchant....."
      "What Sleepy, what do you want?" I yelled up back at him.
       "What is this?, “he asked. He was holding a sardine can Rich gave me.  I ate one and almost puked.  I don't know how Rich could eat those things, maybe b
ZONK: informal infantry tradition of lastminute cancel of morning exercise to boost comraderie.
Kunzite Hewitt Aug 2010
First, I would like to introduce Grayasety. She was a young girl, had soft strands of medium-short caramel hair, and she had green-blue eyes that looked like miniature earths. She was indeed a pretty girl and she was of average height, and had a healthy body. She also had a slight southern drawl; her mother was from Texas. She loved going on boat voyages as her father was the captain of a ship named Gray Asety, named after Grayesty, so she was often training to go on voyages.
                  One morning, just like any other ordinary morning, Grayasety left her house for the next-door stable with her baby sitter, Kinberly, which was part of her father’s crew.  Today was the big day, the day when Grayasety was going to go on a voyage with her father as an official crewmember. Today was Grayasety’s 13th birthday; today was the day when she was old enough to work on her father’s ship! Therefore, she gaily whistled and skipped along the road. It had always been her dream to work on her father’s ship, and today, finally, her dream was coming true. When she got to the stable she blew her small, pink whistle that, to human ears would make no sound, and like every morning her best friend, (which had the ability to morph into animals) trotted tiredly out of the stable in the form of a beautiful brown mare. The huge animal yawned and said, “Morning Kin!” And then addressing Grayasety she said, “ Well, well, little missy what do you want me to be today?” Today Grayasety wanted Mila to be a green parrot, Grayasety was obsessed in the color green, and Mila had reluctantly obeyed, the trio set off for the fresh smelling bay.
Kinberly, and Mila worked on the Gray Asety. Mann Forumest, or Captain Daddy as Grayasety called him had met Grayasety’s mom working as a crewmember on the Majesty, a steamboat. Grayasety’s mother, Magnolia Scott Forumest was the assistant cook. They married, but kept their jobs until one day when Grayasety was about five, the Sea Bandits, a notorious group of pretty woman stealers, kidnapped Her mother.
                        While on sea, Grayasety shared a rather large suite in the ship with her father. In the Bedroom were two desks, one big and one small, and in the corner was a bunk bed, the top bunk badly painted in green and the bottom bunk still bearing its natural mahogany color. Grayasety was sitting in her little green desk, scribbling madly in her deep green diary. Grayasety *** a liking of scribbling and those who have know her long enough could read her scribbles like one would writing. She could read and write although she was nowhere near a strait A student.
                   After a while Grayasety decided to bother her father and, forgetting to switch into her lime green boots, shinnyed up the main stairs to the deck in her faded fluffy mint green slippers. Mila, perched comfortably on Grayasety’s shoulder, started telling her that she was wearing her slippers when Grayasety shoved a faded green pacifier in Mila’s mouth; Grayasety often did this to keep Mila quiet.
Mila, not enjoying the dusty, stale taste of the pacifier unhappily decided to keep her mouth shut until Grayasty got in a better mood. In truth Grayasety was in a marvelous mood and rather liked shoving pacifiers in Mila’s mouth. As the girl got closer to the deck, she started to hear chanting from the kind crew. She especially heard Kinberly’s familiar raspy voice chanting,” Laaa dee daaa, the Gray A rolls along,” and as she emerged to the *****, wet deck she noticed that her father was talking to someone else already. “Botherin’ will have to wait some,” she whispered to Mila. Then she took the pacifier out of Mila’s mouth and scolded,” why didn’t you tell me that I was still wearin’ my slippers eh? Wanted to make me look like an idiot?” Mila simply rolled her eyes.
                    Right then, Captain Daddy, apparently finishing his conversation, came over to the pair and said affectionately, “How are my darlings doin’ today?” Mila especially enjoyed this for Captain Daddy always gave a loving stoke on her back and a whole chocolate chip cookie if he had one. Although Grayasety always stole some of the cookie Mila was happy enough with half. Grayasety, on the other hand was happy with a whole cookie so she begged Captain Daddy to give her another one. Captain Daddy gave her another cookie but chided her not to steal any more from Mila.
                    After the lecture on not stealing other people’s food, Grayasety clambered up the crow’s nest and almost knocked over Franz, a tall, but gaunt boy a couple years older then Grayasty getting in. ”Anythin’ unusual yet?” asked Grayasety hopefully. “Nope,” answered the calm boy quietly. ”Hi Franz. Do you have any cookies?” asked Mila mockingly, Franz just laughed and said,” If I had any I would of eaten it by now! Gray, can you get me somethin’ from the kitchen?”.
                   Grayasety got Franz a basket of food and got her self the same amount; Grayasety was basically always hungry, and had a little picnic on the roomy crow’s nest. After they finished their meal Grayasety decided to let Franz rest and did lookout. Franz had a small room to himself, which was about the size of a normal bathroom with all the stuff taken out. In the corner was an old, squeaky army cot and next to it was a rotund desk with a stack of blank paper, a jar of Indian ink, and a fountain pen laid precariously on it.
                    Franz was quite a writer and he spent his free time eating, sleeping, or writing and unlike Grayasety he actually wrote not scribbled. He was working on a story about gargoyles that came to life at night. It was an interesting story, really. He would of loved to stop working on the Gray Asety and go get his books published but he stayed for his family was a poor one and needed his help to make a living and also, Captain Forumest provided free paper. And, his daughter was the first friend he ever had; Franz was convinced that she was the best one.
                   Grayasety enjoyed being on ships. She liked feeling the cold air rush through her hair and she enjoyed the great view of the vast sea that surrounded her. She even liked the feeling of being so small compared to the humpbacks that swam by. She thought that the ship food was good, and she felt that the sea was truly where she belonged. Grayasety was very cranky when she was not at sea, (though she did like their big, ocean green house), so her father tried to include her on as many voyages as he could.
                     Captain Daddy, or Mann as I will call him spent most of day in a booth on the deck. He often worried about his daughter’s mental health (even though it was completely unnecessary). He talked to Grayasety’s doctor about this and Dr.Metalos, Grayasety’s doctor, gave them a list of mental deceases she could have, but none of them seemed like some thing she would have. Mann was sure that his daughter did not have one sickness; Much Too Much Time At The Sea Syndrome. If any one knew where Grayasety belonged it was Mann and he knew perfectly well that his daughter would go insane if she wasn’t at sea for too long. For one thing she preferred to sleep on her uncomfortable bunk at sea rather then on her fluffy green bed as soft as a feather at home.
                        Right then the ship did a tummy- flopping lurch and knocked off the map and compass from Mann’s desk, which interrupted his thoughts for a while. Below deck Franz’s desk toppled over, and Franz accidentally made a long and ugly scribble across his writing and on the crow’s nest Grayasety was having trouble standing up and she almost vomited right onto Kinberly’s hair. This was rare for Grayasety for she lived on the sea and was used to lurches; she had once survived a shipwreck, which explains her golden earring on her right earlobe.
                   That night as Grayasety lay in bed Mann quietly crept out of his bunk and scurried up the stairs to the deck. He wanted some time to himself. Ahead was Cape Horn; a very dangerous place where so many ships had sunk it could fill the biggest port in the world, but more personally, this was near the Sea Bandits main head quarters, 8 years ago the beautiful Magnolia Scott Forumest was captured here. Even though it was impossible in the foggy mist, Mann tried to make out the cave that marked the entrance to the headquarters. Only few people knew this entrance, and publicity stated that it was a “mere mystery” why most captives were capture near Cape Horn. Mann felt a chill run down his spine and then he thought he felt someone’s hand grab his shoulder. He looked down and saw what he dreaded most; a hand tinged with brown firmly held his shoulder.
                      Grayasety woke up feeling wonderful but apparently Mila didn’t. She kept screeching something about Captain Daddy being kidnapped and soon she found that what Mila had just screeched in her ear was true. She stormed into Franz’s cabin and told him what she discovered and they soon agreed to do what no one else wanted them to do; steer the boat right into the Sea Bandits’ headquarters and take back what, and who was theirs no matter how hard it could be.
                      Grayasety had Franz steer the boat and she herself navigated, Kin was lookout and the rest of the crew helped out. Franz dropped the passengers off at Puerto, and Mila morphed back into a human; what she really is, and helped out. Separated from the frenzy, Grayastey was quietly thinking to herself. She wondered why the Sea Bandits captured her father. They were well known for capturing pretty woman but not average looking men. Just then she heard a knock on the door. “Grayasety?” said the raspy voice of Kin. “There ya are. I just thought ya might wanna know why ya daddy was captured.” “Can you please tell me,” asked Grayasety, trying not to sound too eager. “Well rememba when ya daddy would be gone when ya woke up at mid night an’ I told ya that he had gone to the store to get some groceries? Well if you had thought some you woulda noticed that the store was closed.” Grayasety interrupted Kin in mid-sentence and said irritably, “Of course I rememba. Just get to the point Kin!” Kin flinched at Grayasety’s frustration and mumbled,” Well ya daddy was a spy. One of the best ones at that. He did all he could to stop organized crime, an’ he specialized in the Sea Bandit’s. They captured him ‘cause one less police the better for them.” Grayasety sat with her mouth hanging wide open. She never imagined that her father was a spy. But now every thing made sense. “ Sorry I didn’t tell ya before. Ya fatha simply wouldn’t allow it.” Kin apologized. Grayasety managed a squeak and then Kin left her.
                      After she repeated this to Franz and then Mila, Grayasety went down to her bedroom, she hated having to be near Her father’s belongings but she hated having people see her crying much more and cry she did, leaving her father’s mattress a soggy mess. Then she decided to clean that mess up for if they rescued her father she was sure he did not want to sleep in a soggy bed. Noticing it, she picked up her dad’s picture of her dad and mom’s wedding and became suddenly aware of how much she looked like her dad. The hair, the eyes, the quirky grin, every thing. Her mother had soft blonde hair and violet eyes that almost made you smell the pungent smell of lavenders and had a beautiful smile with bright red lips. All in all she was the most beautiful woman Grayasety had ever seen. She almost made Grayasety feel jealous.
                     “Hey! Gray. So are we gonna bring any weapons? Kin was a whole chest full of ‘em!” Said the distinctively low voice of Franz. “Well, I dunno. I suppose we should bring a couple guns. Always nice to be well prepared.” Replied Grayasety.

                     Franz was on lookout when the carrier pigeon came. The note it had on its leg was from Mann. It said:

Dear Grayasety and friends,

Do not come to save me. I’m with my wife in their dungeon but they want you guys to come too. You see, I’m like a bait. You’re the fishies. They want to erase all traces of the Forumest family. That means they have to dispose of those who would remember them. I will manage okay. Kin, Please take Grayasety and Franz home and forget about me for you and the children’s sake. Grayasety, I love you. Dispose all of my belongings and try to tell yourself that Kin is your mother. Believe me. It’s all for the better. Franz, I meant to tell you but your parents caught tuberculosis and died the other day. Your sister committed suicide soon after. Please take care of Grayasety.

             Mann

                    The trio stood silent for a long moment and then without warning Franz burst into tears, and scrambled to his cabin. Kin and Grayasety looked at each other sadly and went to their cabins themselves. Grayasety tried to sleep that night but images of Mann and her mother strapped up in chains kept her staring into the darkness with wide eyes. She reached over and got her personal music player, trying to distract herself but after a few seconds she turned it off again, for she could not bear listening to the lyrics; “It’s past midnight and something evil’s lurking 'round the dark” of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.
            The next morning, Mila and Kin steered the boat near the cave that marked the entrance to the Sea Bandits secret headquarters. Mila then morphed into a seagull and flew into the old, damp cave. From a safe distance Grayasety and her crew awaited Mila to return with some news. After swooping into the creepy cave Mila found the opening to the headquarters and perched on a ledge near it. There, she morphed into a rat, and scurried up into the opening.

                 After crawling along several hallways, Mila came across a steel door bolted very firmly marked “CELLS”. Luckily Mila was small enough to crawl under it. Scurrying along the bureau of prisons, Mila finally saw a cell with Mann and a stunningly beautiful woman captured in it. Mila slipped between the bars and trying not to gain the woman’s attention for fear that she would scream, climbed the steep hill of Mann’s arm to try to reach his ear. “Mann?? Don’t make any sound OK?? I’m Mila. I’m the rat on your shoulder. Kin, Grayasety, and Franz say they miss you a lot.” Whispered Mila. Then she saw a humongou
A short story instead of a poem, but I hope you enjoy!
Any corrections, edits, suggestions etc. and greatly aprecciated!
Kittu Nov 2012
I see thoughts scattered on my desk,
By the window on the crest.
I see memories pasted on the wall,
Along with memos and notices from them all.
I see colors making their way,
To the papers crumbling away.
I see the black ink blotted today,
From last years accident, but the scars remain.
I see my desk will its way,
To beckon me to come,
and write my way.
'Twas midnight in the schoolroom
And every desk was shut
When suddenly from the alphabet
Was heard a loud "Tut-Tut!"

Said A to B, "I don't like C;
His manners are a lack.
For all I ever see of C
Is a semi-circular back!"

"I disagree," said D to B,
"I've never found C so.
From where I stand he seems to be
An uncompleted O."

C was vexed, "I'm much perplexed,
You criticise my shape.
I'm made like that, to help spell Cat
And Cow and Cool and Cape."

"He's right" said E; said F, "Whoopee!"
Said G, "'Ip, 'Ip, 'ooray!"
"You're dropping me," roared H to G.
"Don't do it please I pray."

"Out of my way," LL said to K.
"I'll make poor I look ILL."
To stop this stunt J stood in front,
And presto! ILL was JILL.

"U know," said V, "that W
Is twice the age of me.
For as a Roman V is five
I'm half as young as he."

X and Y yawned sleepily,
"Look at the time!" they said.
"Let's all get off to beddy byes."
They did, then "Z-z-z."
Amara Dec 2012
I'm getting a desk tomorrow
To be sitting in a chair
I can write, and paint
I couldn't do those things
Before
Not the way I needed
I need this metaphorical
Structure
I believe that a desk will
Always be a staple in my life
Solid & mine
© Amara Pendergraft 2012
samasati Nov 2013
at the desk, applying for jobs
there is coffee in my cup
and paint in the creases of my fingernails,
on the wall, a whiteboard with new song lyrics
and a list
of things I need to buy,
of course, once I have the money to buy them,
which brings me back to the desk
which an empty bottle of Cabernet Merlot
sits with an empty glass
and notebooks and a mason jar
with cloudy brown-red water
from the bristles of my paintbrushes
my coffee is cold
the french press is in the kitchen
but my flatmate is filming in there
so I’m stuck at my desk
with two sips of cold coffee left,
applying for jobs.
I feel very fragile
right now,
partly because I didn’t go to a job interview
today,
partly because I didn’t go to a job trial,
on friday
though I don’t want to be a waitress
and **** modelling for art classes scares me.
there’s a plant on my windowsill
named Lucy
and she doesn’t have to do anything
and there are two vanilla candles and an incense holder
with lavender incense burning
but **** all the things that
"bring peace"
like small plants, candles, incense, crystals and photographs;
I want a healthy and clean life,
so I have these things
part as a protection
from my own mind
but to be perfectly honest,
I’m at the desk, browsing jobs online,
saving them for later into a bookmark folder entitled
"Wellington Jobs"
instead of actually applying.
Mitchell Duran Jun 2014
'There wasn't a beer in the house. The wind pushed the branches and the leaves of the trees outside like bullies does its prey. There wasn't a single beer in the house while the moon hung in the night sky like a thick toe nail. The stars were splatters of milk on an endless blackened canvas. I looked at my watch. It read 1AM. I had an hour.
My dog Wino laid next to me on her side. She was a miniature french bull dog who took pleasure in sleeping, eating, and occasionally drinking wine mixed with cocoa cola and water. The perfect dog if one had a small attention span and could keep them fed, petted, and fit. The coke and water trick had not come into fruition by my mind, but from my friend, Penny. He drank at a place called The Lounge, a dive of dives meant for locals and young kids with old souls. Luckily we were still young and somehow blessed with the formalities and general manners opposite of a drunken frat boys bent solely on intoxicating themselves on red bull and jager shots mixed with an aperitif of bud light.
The Lounge was four blocks toward downtown from where I lived. It was the kind of place that served microwaved hot dogs until closing if you're wondering what I meant about dive of dives. Penny was there, dead drunk or pain-stakingly sober, depending on how much money he had. I don't know why I thought of him at that moment, most likely trying to figure who else to drink with other than myself, but right when I thought of him, I knew it was already a lost cause. It was 1:05. The hour was too late to reconvene with anyone. I knew I'd have to go alone.
*******, there's got to be something, I thought, this God forsaken house is empty? A beer? A shot? Anything? Nothing! How can it be? My good for nothing roommates must have drank it all...or maybe it was me? Maybe I'm to blame? No...that couldn't be right. I would have remembered? But why so sure? I could have easily forgot from all the beer I was drinking before...people make mistakes...happens all the time. Jesus, I told myself, get yourself together and start thinking straight.
I felt like a handicapped, bloodthirsty hyena. Pensive, I looked down at Wino. She was dead asleep with her tongue oozing out between her lips. The stench of wine coke hung around her. She would be no help at all.
I got up from the kitchen table and looked in the refrigerator. Hungry gripped me as well. Getting attacked on the front of drink and food was not an enjoyable place to be. Moves would have to be made...but where? When? Well, before 2AM of course and where, well, that would take some thought. As I scrounged around in the deep crevices of the refrigerator, pushing aside moldy mashed potatoes and old plastic tins of Chinese food, furry oranges and near empty bottle of ketchup, dark soups with mysterious things swimming around inside and a very large bowl of what looked to be sugar, but was actually Arm and Hammer. We would eventually get a dating and signature system to avoid all of these unwanted science experiments, but that's another story.
There was nothing of nourishment in the fridge so I closed it, discouraged, weighing my options. There was a liquor store on Geary, the main drag in the inner richmond, my neighborhood. But it was a Wednesday and they were most likely closed. Why would they stay open late on a weekday? For people like me? Not a chance. I stepped into the laundry room and looked out the window. The sky was clear and the moonlight and the stars were white florescent shining down on the tops of the leaves hanging from the branches of the trees like a prisoner dead on the gallows. The roofs of the apartments across my ours were painted with this same cream white. I could smell the salt of the ocean from sporadic gusts of a sharp wind. In the distance, an ocean tanker heading into the city or out to sea blared their fog horn. It sounded like a whale in heat. There was a party going on in an apartment across the way. I saw people with glasses in their hands and listened to their chatter and their laughter. I knew they would have *****. I also wondered who throws a party on a wednesday night in the middle of June in San Francisco's winter of all the times. The fog had been rolling in hard the last few days and that night was no different. I was in a thick sweater, pants, and knee high socks and my teeth were still chattering. No use staring over plaintively at their apartment, I thought, I probably look like some kind of shadowy, drunk apparition. Better go inside before they call the cops on me...
Inside, I ran the faucet with hot water into a bowl. When it was almost full, I stopped the water and submerged my hands. That sting that happens when extreme cold goes to extreme hot began. My entire body started to tingle, go numb, especially my hands. The reason for this action I never fully understood for I really wasn't that cold, but the image of a hot water filling a bowl just popped into my head and I gave it no thought, only action. If anyone had walked in at that moment, I'm sure they would have thought me drunk and craze and, well, maybe I was? I was no longer sure. The only thing I did know that needed to happen was to get down the stairs, out the door, down the street, and to the 8th and Geary where my liquor store hopefully, was open.
My phone read 1:21 PM. I'd be cutting it close. Luckily, I had cash, so they wouldn't have to be bothered with a debit card transaction. I recalled trying to use a debit card there once and they were convinced it was OK to charge me $5 for a purchase under $10. Most places would charge you 50 cents, a dollar at most, but these hustling swindlers were trying to push $5! I wouldn't have it. I walked outta' there quick and knew the next time I ever was forced (I usually bought alcohol at grocery stores where their inconvenience offered more deals) to step foot into a liquor specific store, I would have cash in hand, poised in the ready position.
There was a problem with my departure though: I couldn't find my shoes. I thought back to when I got home from work, beers in my backpack as well as a pint of whiskey in the secret zipper department. My shoes were on at that point, I was sure of it. When I had arrived say around 3:30 - 4 o'clock in the afternoon, no one was home. They were still all at work and in no way taken my shoes by accident. This had never happened, so I was curious why I thought that that specific day, when I would later need my shoes so desperately, somebody would have mistakingly took them to thwart whatever plans I may or may not make to go out. In truth, I couldn't see any of my roommates devising such a plan, at least on a week day, even more so a wednesday. But where were they? Had they slipped under the couch? I checked, but was only to discover a few quarters, which I pocketed for pool and juke box use in the future, various types of potato and tortilla chips, a hat, *****, lint covered socks, and a remote control to the TV which I had been searching since the week I had moved in a year ago. No shoes though. Where could they be?
I lightly ran downstairs to check the shoe rack that no one ever used. The middle of our door is a rectangular piece of glass, so one could see right through and down to the street. The stale light of of a single street lamp beamed an orange streak across the pavement. Besides that, the block was black. There was a car parked in the space in front of our steps. No one was inside, at least it didn't look like there was. It was very dark. I could have been mistaken. The car sat underneath a large tree with heavy, thick branches that blocked any light that may have been coming from the lamp or the stars, so very possibly there could have been a mysterious person, thing, entity, what have you in vicious wait. But, I asked myself, waiting for what? For me? Why for me?. All I'm looking for is a six pack and another flask. What would this thing in that car even want with me except twelve bucks? I stared out the window, thinking these things until I remembered why the hell I was there in the first place. The shoe rack was filled with old bills, coupon brochures, voting ballots, and neon pink Chinese menus. I rummaged around this heap, with no sign of my shoes. Well, I thought, there's only one more place these ******'s could be.
My desk, which holds most of my books, looks out onto the street. It holds stacks of papers in deep drawers that should be thrown away but are kept due to the fear of tossing something potentially important, condoms, pens, checkbooks, candies, film canisters, notes from friends, headphones, cards, hair gels and deodorants, and really anything I don't want on my desk. Occasionally, there will be a left over dinner or breakfast plates lingering around the edge of the desk, flirting with its own demise and even more so if I have left the window open, which is  half a foot away. If not plates then bills that have yet to be paid or notes on old papers, probably old bills, that I never got around to flushing out or did and just never got rid of. A large oak desk, it sits and feels a little small for my size, but, I make it work, for it was a gift. I try to use whatever I receive for free to the utmost until the discomfort is either too much or I come across something better that I can afford, which is rare. But, there they were, pushed up against the wall that faced the street. My chair was jammed all the way up into the desk as well , so much so that it was tipped slightly upward, like someone had been trying to throw the thing out the window. I didn't remember doing this at all which made me think perhaps it wasn't me, maybe someone else had been in here...but who? Why would anyone trespass on such a simple, lowly place with no real worth or chance of treasure? It just couldn't be, so I threw the thought into the wind and got my shoes on. I checked my phone again. It read 1:37. That gave me 23 minutes.
I stumbled down the stairs, out the door, and down the stairs. A car drove by me as I walked down the street toward Geary. Their headlights were off. I turned to see the driver of the car as they passed me, but they were mere shadow, their faces black, blurry smudges. I paused and turned around back toward my apartment. Something in me told me the car would stop at my house, but it continued on to the stop light, then up the hill toward the park. Where we they going?
At Geary, I took a left and walked quickly toward 8th avenue. There were no cars on the main drag. Both sides of the streets were completely empty. A large gust of wind from the west forced me to pause, almost making me take a step back. I looked up into the sky. It was thick with a rolling grey fog. At night, the fog always rolled in the hardest. I never knew why. It just did. And there were no stars. Everything was black and grey, but when I pushed forward through the wind, I saw the neon yellow and red shell station ahead as well as the flashing stop lights which hung over the streets. As I came to 8th avenue, I saw the liquor store. It was closed. The only light that shone was a rotating blinking light in the shape of a beer bottle. I wanted that beer bottle, even if it wasn't real.
The store windows were grated and there was a large metal gate before the actual door to the store. This told me they had had trouble before, probably from guys like me. Inside there was everything I would need to get me through the night and to the morning. Out there, on the cold sidewalk with a violent fog swirling around me like a hurricane, I was just cold and dangerously sober. Reality rapped on my temples like a ravens beak on a thin window. There was nothing I could do. I was forced to go home, empty handed.
As I brushed my teeth in nothing but my underwear, I wandered to the back deck and opened the window. The fog was still rolling heavy and would continue to do so until the sun came to burn it all away. Sometimes, the fog was too much and it would hang there all day like a heavy shawl. Those days were nice. They didn't make me feel guilty about staying inside all day reading or sleeping or really doing nothing at all. Sometimes that is necessary. I spit my toothbrush saliva mixture into a dead plant that rested on the banister near the ladder that lead to the roof. I hadn't ever been up there. Terrified of heights, I figured I never would be.
My clock read 2:13. It had taken me a long time to walk home after such a defeat. I had spent so much time thinking about moving I had failed my overall goal. Too much discussion with oneself can make you go crazy. I've seen it happen to friends, family, ****...myself. I closed my eyes and told myself there is plenty of value in talk, in discussion, but it takes a true human being to act after all of that talk. I would have to remember that one. Yes, I would have to write that one down.
Amanda Fawcett May 2012
there was an orange on my desk.
i ate it.
it tasted like any other orange might taste.
but i didn’t eat the rind.
no, I left that part on my desk.
i wonder what the orange thinks of this.
or thought of it, I might add.
because its shell,
the part of the orange that it once called
home and safety and protection and security
well, it has been discarded,
dismissed from its duties.
the insides were picked clean,
they were good.
but the outside is shriveling under my desk lamp.
i wonder what the orange thinks of this,
or thought of it, i might add.
JV Beaupre May 2016
I. Long ago and far away...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. In the present century....

I started painting. Old barns and such. 2004.

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

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

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

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

Honest distortions emerging from the distance of time. The thin comfort of fading memories. Thoughts on poor decisions and worse outcomes. Not often, but every now and then.
Sass V Aug 2014
I still catch your scent on things every so often.
Isn't that dumb?
But they're things that have nothing to do with you.
Like my roommate.
Or a complete stranger.
Or this one corner of my desk.
Not one of your old T shirts
(because you never gave me one).

I hate these strangers and desk corners for smelling like you.
How dare they remind me of such euphoria?
My nostrils fill with the scent of laundry, soap, cotton, and loyalty.
******* loyalty.
My eyes flutter closed
My brain fuzzes
The corners of my mouth turn up slightly
And I expect to see you in front of me
And feel your flannel against my cheek
And your dry, cracking fingers against my palms.
But you aren't there.
I get disoriented for a moment.
I spritz. Sanitize. Breath deeply.
Avoid that stupid desk corner
Because I'm sick of being reminded that I'm still in love with you.

— The End —