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"Back from vacation", the barber announces,
or the postman, or the girl at the drugstore, now tan.
They are amazed to find the workaday world
still in place, their absence having slipped no cogs,
their customers having hardly missed them, and
there being so sparse an audience to tell of the wonders,
the pyramids they have seen, the silken warm seas,
the nighttimes of marimbas, the purchases achieved
in foreign languages, the beggars, the flies,
the hotel luxury, the grandeur of marble cities.
But at Customs the humdrum pressed its claims.
Gray days clicked shut around them; the yoke still fit,
warm as if never shucked. The world is still so small,
the evidence says, though their hearts cry, "Not so!"
V L Bennett Jul 2018
Sometimes maybe the dreams should
go away

--What do you dream about?

Last night I dreamt I journeyed
into that dark part of the city
where even hard-armed truck drivers
refuse to unload alone.
It was late. Street lights knifed
the false dawn and wet sidewalks
shivered off shards of glass.
Perhaps I had come there for a pack
of cigarettes
or maybe I had a message to deliver.

It was dark. I was dreaming. I knew
I was dreaming. When they met me
outside
at the bottom of the long ramp
and told me all the stores were closed,
then I could see the bars across the door
and the sign that said, open at seven.

It all seemed too obvious
but I had found some friends
and they didn't seem to mind the
long walk back to my car.

This was only a dream, after all,
so it came as no surprise
how my blood drenched the dark pavement.
I waited for flowers to bloom or butterflies
to rise from the spot, but
nothing happened.

I think I killed them then,
but it's not clear how I
got to to the soft lights
of an all-night drugstore
and cuddled up between the rows
of witch hazel and staionary supplies.

--Is this what you dream?

This is what I dream. I have yet to find
a satisfactory substitute for the warmth
of sleep, so I dream.
Madison Aug 2018
Forever ago
I looked you in the eye
And made a promise --
A stupid, stupid vow --
That I'd be your Bonnie
If you'd be my Clyde.

You smiled at me --
Crooked, imperfect
Utterly charming --
And asked me to lend you a light.
A lighter passed between our hands
Before a tiny flame illuminated our faces in the dark
A silent 'I do.'

From that night on
I've had things that other girls
Only possess in their wildest dreams
And, even then
Wouldn't dare say they desired.

I ride shotgun by default
In a ******* car
Much too fancy to legally be yours.
Gifts come in the form
Of beat-up leather articles
That you once wore
Though the lingering shadow of smoke
Is hardly enough
To mask the hint of drugstore perfume.
Sometimes
If you're feeling especially charitable
These offerings are accompanied by the more traditional heart shaped box --
Filled with bullets, of course--
Or a single deep red rose.
For some reason
Every flower you pick
Seems to have many more thorns
Than most of the ones I've known before.

What you seem to consider the best gift of all, however
Is your presence.
I suppose you think it works both ways
When you parade around town
Arm slung around my shoulders or waist
Smiling like I'm some pricey badge
Your signature accessory.
Your performance draws attention, of course --
Awe-stricken once-overs
Envious double takes
Lingering looks that make overzealous Average Joes
Trip over their own feet.
As far as my own feelings go
The envious rush I used to get from the lust-filled eyes of other women
Has long since faded
But the crawling feeling of some depraved pervert's eyes flitting from you to me
And your proud smile, devoid of any visible love
Continue to make my stomach twist itself into painful knots.

What all those adventure-hungry good girls don't know
Is that I haven't felt as powerful as they do in their dreams
In a very long time.
What those green-eyed Plain Janes won't understand
Is that I am little more than arm candy
Your passenger-seat second-in-command
Posed like some special edition, leather-donning Barbie doll
Instructed to sit still
Hold the gun
Look pretty.
They don't realize
That the ache that comes with loving you
Feels absolutely nothing like the feeling described
In the lovelorn writings they post to their blogs.
There's nothing beautiful about it
No reward for staying up all night
Chest aching
Sobbing into a limp pillow in some random hotel room
Trying my best to keep you from hearing it.
As much as I hate to admit it
Nothing you do for me
Makes it worth it.

They all seem to forget
That it was Bonnie
Running from one man who didn't love her
Falling into the arms of another
Already broken
Hoping he might be able to mend a piece or two.
They don't realize
That it was Bonnie
Who **** near got her leg burned off
Because Clyde flipped the car.
The fault was completely his
And yet
She was the one who took the brunt of the damage
Being reduced to having Clyde carry her around
For the rest of their numbered days.
They don't stop to think that this is anything other than 'romantic'
How unfair it is that the world allowed him to ruin her
That maybe --
Just maybe --
She didn't want to be a weapon for him to carry
But a self-firing rifle.
Something intimidating
Unpredictable
Never dependent
On some hotshot
That everybody believes that she was in love with.
The idea never occurs to them
That maybe
When the two of them went down in that infamous hail of bullets
Maybe she wasn't enveloped in warm thoughts of going out in a blaze of glory
But anger
That she didn't get away with it this time
And never would again.


I understand now
That
For all intent and purposes
Bonnie and Clyde are a concept that should have been left behind
Way back in the 30s.
There is no passion
In dying --
On the inside or the outside --
Next to someone everyone thinks that you love.
There is no love
In your arm around me
Squeezing the humanity out of me
Like a man-shaped boa constrictor.
There is no glamour
In sitting loyally by your side
Gripping my seat until my knuckles are white
As you drive your own getaway car
Laughing to yourself
Without ever chancing a glance at me.
There is no beauty
In being wrapped in a jacket
That smells like another woman
No satisfaction
In mechanically handing you a brand new lighter
So you can light another cigarette
To prematurely age your beautiful, James Dean number one-million-and-one face.
I feel no affection now
Watching you smoke up like the nicotine glutton burnout that you are
And I will feel only contempt if --
Heaven forbid --
I ever die by your side.
You exhale
And turn to look at me with sleepy, empty eyes
Letting the remains of your cigarette flicker out
Just like the novelty of having you around did.

Why I resent those girls now --
The ones with those eyes, so hungry and green with envy --
Is that, when we first met
I was just another one of them.
So pampered
So inanely bored
Such a 'hopeless romantic'
That I promptly decided to follow you the ends of the Earth
To every grimy hotel
Even to our demise in the desert, if you wanted me to.
It took me forever to realize I deserved better
And, by then
It was all too late.

While I despise those girls who stare at us now
Swooning, like they're so jealous of the position I'm in
My heart also aches for them --
A bit like the way you make it ache.
Though there's passion in this ache
That being the fact
That my heart is screaming
Telling them to run
Run while they still can
Run before someone like you
Finds them.

For all intent and purposes
There absolutely should not be
A 21st century Bonnie and Clyde.
These should be the days
Of girls spitting their own fire
And boys fighting their own battles.
This should be a generation
Of people learning to find solace in themselves
And reliance taking an unceremonious dive
Off a very steep cliff.
There should be no more green-eyed girls
And James Dean boys
Making each other miserable
And calling it beautiful.
This is the point where we should let Bonnie and Clyde rest in peace
Along with Romeo and Juliet
Annabel Lee
Homer Barron
And every other tragic antihero
Who died at the hands of love.

Forever ago
I made a promise --
A stupid, stupid vow --
That I'd be your Bonnie
If you'd be my Clyde.
Now
What seems like centuries later
I close my eyes
And try to fly somewhere else
In my dreams.
My last thought
Before I drift off
Is that --
Maybe someday --
They'll write poems about us.
oliver o Jun 2018
i miss the sadness
i miss the home that never was
the beautiful you never thought you were

where has your pretty gone
who’s wearing your flowered dress now
whose lips are your boyfriends kissing
who could’ve known this was to come

i miss your father’s pride
when you gave him a reason to be sober
now all you are is disappointment
another unlucky occurrence for him to sleep with on the couch
his favourite drinking buddy

i miss church
i miss the red the pastor turned you
the blood running to your holy cheeks
when the congregation applauded
at the fact that you would burn for this
that this secret would be the end of you
the ***** that came up in that bathroom
the god that frowned upon the smell

i miss the way boys used to look at you
when you were something to be desired
when you made others feel more than just confused
when you weren’t an inconvenience to love
you’d rather your innocence be stolen for being beautiful
than for being unwanted
i suppose you pick your poison

i miss the way you looked
every night you cried
the colour mascara makes when it meets blood
like drugstore lipstick
at least there was something gorgeous
something romantic about it
the way the moonlight made your bones stick out
it was something boys could fall in love with

pretty girl
why would you ruin yourself like this
happy girl
how couldn’t you see it for yourself
you were a trophy
your future said husband
it said children
it said the life we want for you
forget your own

you were not happy
but how can you learn to be now
that place that played safe haven
at least, was warm

you are not sure if you miss the sadness
you simply know
this world wants you to
Jonathan Witte Sep 2018
I
I stole my brother’s car and drove to Phoenix in the dark. Bluegreen glow of dashboard gauges, the faint scent of roadkill and desert marigolds. Tap. Tap. Tap. Insects slapping the windshield like rain. How many miles does it take to turn yourself around, to rise up from ashes? Keep driving. Drive until the sun blooms.

II
Some days were more dire than others. CCTV footage confirms I pawned a shotgun, a Gibson guitar, and my wife’s engagement ring at the pawnshop next to Fatty’s Tattoo parlor. The typographically accurate Declaration of Independence inscribed on my back also confirms this.

III
I ran the tilt-a-whirl at the Ashtabula county fair, fattening up on fried Oreos and elephant ears, flirting behind tent ***** with the cute contortionist with strawberry-blonde hair.

IV
I derailed in a dive bar.

V
I disappeared in a city lit by lavender streetlights, where buildings blotted out the stars and the traffic signals kept perfect time.
I picked through trash bins. I paid for love with drugstore wine.

VI
I closed my eyes on a mountain road. The sheriff extracted me from a ****** snowbank.

VII
I holed up for weeks in an oceanfront motel, dazed by the roar of the breakers. Each morning I drew back the curtains and lost myself in the crisscrossing patterns of whitecaps, the synchronous flight of sanderlings above the dunes. I dreamed of dead horseshoe ***** rolling in with the tide.

VIII
The moon over my shoulder tightened into focus like a prison spotlight. One night the barking dogs undid me. Goodnight, children. Goodbye, my love. I capitulated to the candor of a naked mattress. I grew my beard, an insomniac in a jail cell clinging to bars the color of a morning dove.

IV
I coveted the house keys of strangers.

X
I opened and closed many doors. I sang into the stoic mouths of storm drains. I stepped out of many rooms only to find myself in the room I just left. Despite all my leaving, I remained.
Drinking my tea
Without sugar-
    No difference.
                                        
The sparrow *****
    upside down
--ah! my brain & eggs
                                        
Mayan head in a
Pacific driftwood bole
--Someday I'll live in N.Y.
                        
Looking over my shoulder
my behind was covered
with cherry blossoms.
                                        
        Winter Haiku
I didn't know the names
of the flowers--now
my garden is gone.
                                        
I slapped the mosquito
and missed.
What made me do that?
                                        
Reading haiku
I am unhappy,
longing for the Nameless.
                                        
A frog floating
in the drugstore jar:
summer rain on grey pavements.
        (after Shiki)
                                        
On the porch
in my shorts;
auto lights in the rain.
                                        
Another year
has past-the world
is no different.
                                        
The first thing I looked for
in my old garden was
The Cherry Tree.
                                        
My old desk:
the first thing I looked for
in my house.
                                        
My early journal:
the first thing I found
in my old desk.
                                        
My mother's ghost:
the first thing I found
in the living room.
                                        
I quit shaving
but the eyes that glanced at me
remained in the mirror.
                                        
The madman
emerges from the movies:
the street at lunchtime.
                                        
Cities of boys
are in their graves,
and in this town...
                                        
Lying on my side
in the void:
the breath in my nose.
                                        
On the fifteenth floor
the dog chews a bone-
Screech of taxicabs.
                                        
A hardon in New York,
a boy
in San Fransisco.
                                        
The moon over the roof,
worms in the garden.
I rent this house.

[Haiku composed in the backyard cottage at 1624
Milvia Street, Berkeley 1955, while reading R.H.
Blyth's 4 volumes, "Haiku."]
Diana Dec 2014
You're a drugstore Romeo
Cigarette in your lips and hearts in your hands
And I really should have known
By that look in your eyes
That you never really cared at all
But I thought you did
I swear I thought you did
All you wanted was a bit of fun
And a hand to hold for a little while
And that's all I was to you
Susan Hunt Jul 2012
CHAPTER ONE: THE DEMISE OF A YOUNG GIRL SEPTEMBER 1975


I had not seen my father in over two years when he showed up at my mom and step dad's condo. He had a slick knack of disappearing when laws were broken and he was wanted for questioning. He had an even better ability to re-enter when the heat was off.

My father owned three nightclubs in Oklahoma City. His first was the Silver Sword, and then he opened The Red Slipper. After he met his second wife, they together, opened the Jade Club.

All were successful, but the Red Slipper had a reputation. On a rare occasion, my dad would take me with him to open up the place. At first, it scared me. It was so dark in there. But as the lights came on behind the bar, I fell in love with the atmosphere.

Bobby Orr’s hockey stick hung on the wall, along with an endearing note from F. Lee Bailey. At six years old, all I knew was that they were the objects that made my dad beam.

I learned to play pool by standing on a phone book. I watched the colorful smacking ***** bounce around the most beautiful color of green I had ever seen. Chalking the stick was a chore, but after nearly poking my eye out once, I soon caught on.

It was a struggle to climb up on a barstool, but it was worth the effort. I sat at the bar and had lunch: popcorn, pretzels, peanuts and Pepsi.

As I grew older, I saw less and less of him, until he became a stranger, drifting in every once in awhile.  Every few weeks or so, I would come home from school, and see his car in the driveway.

This always shot fear and excitement through me. The air of unpredictability always made me want to ***. Unfortunately, most of the time, we were locked out of the house for a few hours, so I would have to *** in the back yard or at the neighbors. We waited on the stairs for the front door to open. And it always did, by my mom. She usually looked satisfied and serene but other times, I saw dread and sadness on her face.

Ever since I could remember, my dad had been a string of disappointments for me with a few indescribable moments of pure enjoyment mixed in between He could be kind, funny and like a real dad sometimes, that was the dad I missed. I tried to hold onto those experiences, even though he was such a mean ******* most of the time. But mostly, I just didn't know him.

Their divorce became final around the summer of 1972, but that didn't stop my mom from loving him. I don't know why, but she chased him frequently, going out to bars with her friends, trying to get a glimpse of him, and maybe more.

The last time I’d seen my father had not been pleasant. When I was thirteen, he broke down the door to our apartment and went straight to my mother’s bedroom. The noises were terrifying. The screaming, and punching sounds were followed by my mother’s whimpering, begging, groveling.

"How dare you do this to me, Patsy!? And behind my back! You could have at least told me!"

My dad had bailed himself out of jail that night. She promised him she would never seek alimony or child support again. Her lawyer was wrong. It wasn’t worth getting killed over.  

Shortly after, he had to leave the state. It had something to do with a low-level mob deal involving an insurance fraud. Too bad, it involved burning a building with someone in it. My dad became nothing but a memory, which faded away over time.

**

Alcohol and tobacco were constants in my family, so when my older brother, Tim, started smoking at ten years old, I don't remember much protest from anyone. I was seven and when my sister Abby, turned ten the next year, she also started smoking.  All the older kids were smoking cigarettes. I wanted to be cool, so I puked and coughed as I practiced. By the time I was ten, I too, was inhaling properly.  Around that time, I was introduced to *** by my sister's boyfriend. It did help my mood, somewhat, but it wasn't enough.

By 1974, I was using drugs from my sister’s boyfriend. John was a true drugstore cowboy. At first, he committed burglaries, which were easy at the time. There were no sophisticated electronics to stop someone from cutting a hole in the roof of a pharmacy. It took only minutes to pry open the safe that contained the narcotics. Then it took maybe another minute to fill a pillowcase full of every variety of amphetamines, barbiturates, valiums, etc.

It wasn’t long before I graduated to using morphine, ******* and then overdosed on Demerol. My stepfather sent me to a treatment facility in Tulsa Oklahoma, about one hundred miles away from Oklahoma City. The Dillon treatment center didn’t accept clients under age of sixteen but made an exception with me. I was a walking-talking disastrous miracle...or a miraculously saved disaster.

They figured that since I was fourteen, the sooner the better to start my road to recovery. Apparently, they didn’t condone sneaking *** and valiums in to the facility. I was kicked out of Dillon after about a month.

I came back home and laid low. I went back to Hefner Jr. High and enrolled back into the ninth grade. I quietly picked up where I left off, going back into business with John. My job was to sell the safe stuff; valiums, seconols, white bennies, ***, etc.


Summer came; I turned fifteen and had developed a tendency to over test my wares. I overdosed and nearly died in the hospital several times, which had led to my current predicament. Nobody knew what to do with me.

In August, I entered the tenth grade...for two weeks. I was expelled, (you guessed it) for dealing drugs. I was on homebound teaching twice a week with little supervision. My mother worked, my step-dad, **** ,worked, and I was home all day. However, I was not just sitting idly around. I was into enterprise.

**

In September, I overdosed again. I was quickly killing myself and my mother didn’t know what to do to stop it. That is why what happened was not my mother’s fault. But it wasn’t my fault either.

I never figured out how he knew where we lived. My mother moved over at least fourteen times in between the time I was six and twelve years old. Yet, here he was, at our front door, with his undeniable ‘ah shucks’ charm. His modesty was convincing. His timing was incredible. My mother stood frozen, her mouth agape. **** took the lead. He placed himself between my mother and father.

“You must be Gary Don, my name is ****; I’m Patsy’s husband." **** had never met my dad, but he'd heard enough about him to surmise who was standing at the door.

"Um, yeah, I'm Gary Don, it's nice to meet you ****", he said; as he offered a friendly hand shake to ****.

"I hope I'm not interrupting you, I was just in Duncan with my parents and they suggested I stop by and talk with you before heading back west. It's about Susie....

"Yes, Patsy said you called yesterday. We weren't expecting you this soon, but it's no problem. Why don't you come in and tell us what your plans are? Patsy, honey, would you mind putting on a *** of coffee?”

This unfroze my mother and she scurried to the kitchen. I was still in shock at seeing my dad’s face. I retreated to the staircase, but poked my head around and caught him glance at me. I flew up to the landing. I could easily escape up the rest of the stairs to my bedroom.
I was small enough to remain hidden on the landing, and heard the conversation between my mother, my dad and ****. **** was the classiest, most even-tempered adult I had ever encountered. I wished I could stop hurting him and my mother.  

My mother sat down two cups of coffee on the dining room table where my dad and **** sat. As she retreated a few steps back into the kitchen, **** politely probed my dad. My dad had the right answer for every question.

He swore he was a completely different person. He had changed. He had no hard feelings, instead he was back to help. He was remorseful for being an absent father and he wanted to make things right. He was back for a reason. He had heard that I was in trouble with drugs and school and he felt guilty for that. He had the answer to my problems. He was so convincing, so….humble, almost shy.

As I listened, I began freaking out with fear and excitement. I always wanted my dad. The last time I tried to live with him, it didn’t work out; he sent me back to my mother’s after a month. Now my dad wanted me! He wanted to save me, take care of me!

He lived by himself now. He was the manager of The Palace Restaurant/Hotel in the little town of Raton, New Mexico. It was a refurbished hotel, built over a century ago The ground floor was an elegant bar and restaurant. He was making very good money, he paid no rent and he had an extra room for me.

With a population of 6000, it was not a place to continue a lucrative drug business. Also, he would enroll me into the little high school and I could get my diploma. I could work in the restaurant in the evenings where he would keep his eye on me. Then, there was the horse. He would buy me a horse. And on and on and on.

The logic and sincerity of his argument was convincing. So there it was. An hour later, my bags were packed. I was going to live with my father in New Mexico.

That’s how in September 1975, my father whisked me away from my home in Oklahoma City, under the guise of saving me from my own demise. I was stolen and held captive in Raton, New Mexico for what seemed like forever.

My dog, Baron was coming with me, I refused to go anywhere without him. He was a tiny black and tan Dachshund. I got him free when I was fourteen, when I got back from Tulsa. To me, he was priceless. He was my best friend. He couldn’t have weighed more than ten pounds, but his heart was huge.

I talked to him about everything and he consoled me by nodding, and licking me on the cheek non-stop…or he would admonish me through his expressions and demeanor. I had lived with Dachshunds since I was seven, so understood their language pretty well. Baron understood humans better. We developed a rare communication that worked well for both of us.
Herman, our older dachshund had greeted my dad cordially. Baron couldn’t figure this out, he expressed his apprehension. He looked at me and conveyed,

“Well, if Herman isn’t worried, I guess it’ll be Okay, right? Right, Susan?”

I was sorry I didn’t have an honest answer. I did my best to settle him.

“Sure, this’ll be fun, a whole new adventure!”

As we drove West, toward the Texas panhandle, Baron kept the conversation going by his curious interest expressed by wide eyes and attentive ears. My dad amazed him with his knowledge of history, geography, geology, astronomy, world geo-politics, weather, music on the radio, literature, mechanics, religion and countless other topics. I knew he was faking his fascination with my dad. He knew he was doing me a favor.

There was not a dead moment in the air. An occasional “really?” expressed by me was enough to keep my dad’s mouth running. I was thankful for that. It kept my attention away from my jangle of emotions. As we drove through the night, I was conflicted, scared, excited, happy and worried. I didn’t know where I was going, or who was driving me there.

My dad’s jovial demeanor comforted me. He made The Palace sound like the perfect place for his little princess.

When we arrived, it was late, after 10pm., Baron was exhausted. I stood on the corner and looked up. I gulped. The three-story building was like an old gothic castle. It was a huge rectangle with the front corner cut back with a fifth wall about ten feet wide. This provided the entrance with two giant oak doors. Baron was less than enthused by its foreboding appearance. I had to agree.

Dad ignored my hesitation. “Come on, you’re going to love this place!”

He pulled open one of the oak doors, which had to weigh at least five hundred pounds. I was hesitant, but thirsty. Baron’s squirming had started to annoy me. I went forward filled with adrenalin.

The initial entrance was a small round foyer with a domed ceiling of cut glass. It was about six feet round. As I stared up at the beautiful little pieces of color, I heard my dad chuckle.

“See? I told you, there’s no place like this!”

Then I saw the true entry to the bar, a set of small bat winged doors that swung back and forth. He pulled one of the doors back, beckoning me forward. He looked down at me with a tender expression.

“Welcome home, honey, this is home now.”

As we entered the bar, I was dumbstruck. Baron was not. I stepped back in time, to 1896, into The Palace Hotel.

The bar took up half of the first floor of the hotel. It was the most captivating centerpiece of the establishment. The mirror behind the bar was the longest continuous piece of reflection glass in all the states, the brochure proclaimed. A brass foot rail extended the length of the long cherry oak bar A few feet behind was a waist high railing just like the saloons in old John Wayne movies.

The carpet was a deep royal red interlaced with black swirly patterns. Bright golden paper covered the walls. It was smooth and shiny with raised curly designs made out of felt or maybe even velour. God, I just wanted to reach over and run my fingers across it!  

The wall opposite the bar had windows that were quizzically narrow and impossibly tall. Lush maroon velvet drapes adorned them, parted in the center to provide a view of the quaint town just beyond the sidewalk.

I looked up at the ornate ceiling, which seemed a mile above me. It was covered with tiles of little angels that all looked the same, yet different. The angels danced across the entire ceiling until it curved and met the wall. I got dizzy looking at them.

“You can’t find ceiling tiles like that anywhere! My dad grinned. “They’re covered in pure gold leaf!”

I didn’t know what pure gold leaf was, but the word ‘gold’ impressed me very much.

He introduced me to the staff. I l blushed when he said; “This is Susie, my favorite little girl!” I had never heard that before. The whole crew greeted me warmly, all smiles and friendliness.  

I always paid attention when Baron got nervous but I chose to ignore him. I jostled him in my arms. My stern look at him stopped his squiggling, but his look back conveyed that I was clueless.

I, however thought, Okay, I have died and gone to Heaven! I was enchanted. My fascination with this magical setting made me feel happy; I was in the neatest place I had ever seen. I’m going to love it here!

On the first night, my dad led me around the ground floor. The restaurant was as elegant as the bar. To the rear of the restaurant, there was a large commercial kitchen. Off the rear of the kitchen, he showed, me a short hallway to the back exit. To the right, a huge staircase led to the two upper floors of dilapidated hotel rooms. A manager’s apartment had been converted from several hotel rooms connected together on the second floor, just above the entrance to the hotel.

We ended up back in the bar and sat at a table for two. Crystal, the head bartender stayed on for a little while longer after the rest of the staff were allowed to go home.

Sitting at the table, he ordered Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry. I had never had Cream Sherry before, but it tasted like candy with nuts and I had no problem going through numerous rounds in a very short time. I was hungry but I was too nervous to eat.

Baron, however, was ravenous. My dad fed him little pieces filet mignon and French bread with real butter. He played cute for my dad, sitting up and begging. He jumped up, putting his paws on my dad’s leg, wagging his tail like crazy.

I was a little befuddled until I caught his sideways glance that said, “I do not like this guy, but I gotta eat, I’m starving. You’re the one falling into his into his trap, not me.”

Ouch. “Baron, sometimes I wish you would shut the hell up.”

After having his fill, he settled into a wary sleep on top of my feet. I never worried about losing Baron. Where I went, he went, period.

I wasn’t aware when the bartender left. The bottle was on the table before I knew it; he kept my glass full. I was five feet tall and weighed 106 pounds. I had a lethal level of alcohol pulsing threw my entire body…and I had my daddy.

I was in a haze. Actually, it was more of a daze than a haze. My vision was
Susan Hunt Jul 2012
CHAPTER ONE: THE DEMISE OF A YOUNG GIRL SEPTEMBER 1975


I had not seen my father in over two years when he showed up at my mom and step dad's condo. He had a slick knack of disappearing when laws were broken and he was wanted for questioning. He had an even better ability to re-enter when the heat was off.

My father owned three nightclubs in Oklahoma City. His first was the Silver Sword, and then he opened The Red Slipper. After he met his second wife, they together, opened the Jade Club.

All were successful, but the Red Slipper had a reputation. On a rare occasion, my dad would take me with him to open up the place. At first, it scared me. It was so dark in there. But as the lights came on behind the bar, I fell in love with the atmosphere.

Bobby Orr’s hockey stick hung on the wall, along with an endearing note from F. Lee Bailey. At six years old, all I knew was that they were the objects that made my dad beam.

I learned to play pool by standing on a phone book. I watched the colorful smacking ***** bounce around the most beautiful color of green I had ever seen. Chalking the stick was a chore, but after nearly poking my eye out once, I soon caught on.

It was a struggle to climb up on a barstool, but it was worth the effort. I sat at the bar and had lunch: popcorn, pretzels, peanuts and Pepsi.

As I grew older, I saw less and less of him, until he became a stranger, drifting in every once in awhile.  Every few weeks or so, I would come home from school, and see his car in the driveway.

This always shot fear and excitement through me. The air of unpredictability always made me want to ***. Unfortunately, most of the time, we were locked out of the house for a few hours, so I would have to *** in the back yard or at the neighbors. We waited on the stairs for the front door to open. And it always did, by my mom. She usually looked satisfied and serene but other times, I saw dread and sadness on her face.

Ever since I could remember, my dad had been a string of disappointments for me with a few indescribable moments of pure enjoyment mixed in between He could be kind, funny and like a real dad sometimes, that was the dad I missed. I tried to hold onto those experiences, even though he was such a mean ******* most of the time. But mostly, I just didn't know him.

Their divorce became final around the summer of 1972, but that didn't stop my mom from loving him. I don't know why, but she chased him frequently, going out to bars with her friends, trying to get a glimpse of him, and maybe more.

The last time I’d seen my father had not been pleasant. When I was thirteen, he broke down the door to our apartment and went straight to my mother’s bedroom. The noises were terrifying. The screaming, and punching sounds were followed by my mother’s whimpering, begging, groveling.

"How dare you do this to me, Patsy!? And behind my back! You could have at least told me!"

My dad had bailed himself out of jail that night. She promised him she would never seek alimony or child support again. Her lawyer was wrong. It wasn’t worth getting killed over.  

Shortly after, he had to leave the state. It had something to do with a low-level mob deal involving an insurance fraud. Too bad, it involved burning a building with someone in it. My dad became nothing but a memory, which faded away over time.

**

Alcohol and tobacco were constants in my family, so when my older brother, Tim, started smoking at ten years old, I don't remember much protest from anyone. I was seven and when my sister Abby, turned ten the next year, she also started smoking.  All the older kids were smoking cigarettes. I wanted to be cool, so I puked and coughed as I practiced. By the time I was ten, I too, was inhaling properly.  Around that time, I was introduced to *** by my sister's boyfriend. It did help my mood, somewhat, but it wasn't enough.

By 1974, I was using drugs from my sister’s boyfriend. John was a true drugstore cowboy. At first, he committed burglaries, which were easy at the time. There were no sophisticated electronics to stop someone from cutting a hole in the roof of a pharmacy. It took only minutes to pry open the safe that contained the narcotics. Then it took maybe another minute to fill a pillowcase full of every variety of amphetamines, barbiturates, valiums, etc.

It wasn’t long before I graduated to using morphine, ******* and then overdosed on Demerol. My stepfather sent me to a treatment facility in Tulsa Oklahoma, about one hundred miles away from Oklahoma City. The Dillon treatment center didn’t accept clients under age of sixteen but made an exception with me. I was a walking-talking disastrous miracle...or a miraculously saved disaster.

They figured that since I was fourteen, the sooner the better to start my road to recovery. Apparently, they didn’t condone sneaking *** and valiums in to the facility. I was kicked out of Dillon after about a month.

I came back home and laid low. I went back to Hefner Jr. High and enrolled back into the ninth grade. I quietly picked up where I left off, going back into business with John. My job was to sell the safe stuff; valiums, seconols, white bennies, ***, etc.


Summer came; I turned fifteen and had developed a tendency to over test my wares. I overdosed and nearly died in the hospital several times, which had led to my current predicament. Nobody knew what to do with me.

In August, I entered the tenth grade...for two weeks. I was expelled, (you guessed it) for dealing drugs. I was on homebound teaching twice a week with little supervision. My mother worked, my step-dad, **** ,worked, and I was home all day. However, I was not just sitting idly around. I was into enterprise.

**

In September, I overdosed again. I was quickly killing myself and my mother didn’t know what to do to stop it. That is why what happened was not my mother’s fault. But it wasn’t my fault either.

I never figured out how he knew where we lived. My mother moved over at least fourteen times in between the time I was six and twelve years old. Yet, here he was, at our front door, with his undeniable ‘ah shucks’ charm. His modesty was convincing. His timing was incredible. My mother stood frozen, her mouth agape. **** took the lead. He placed himself between my mother and father.

“You must be Gary Don, my name is ****; I’m Patsy’s husband." **** had never met my dad, but he'd heard enough about him to surmise who was standing at the door.

"Um, yeah, I'm Gary Don, it's nice to meet you ****", he said; as he offered a friendly hand shake to ****.

"I hope I'm not interrupting you, I was just in Duncan with my parents and they suggested I stop by and talk with you before heading back west. It's about Susie....

"Yes, Patsy said you called yesterday. We weren't expecting you this soon, but it's no problem. Why don't you come in and tell us what your plans are? Patsy, honey, would you mind putting on a *** of coffee?”

This unfroze my mother and she scurried to the kitchen. I was still in shock at seeing my dad’s face. I retreated to the staircase, but poked my head around and caught him glance at me. I flew up to the landing. I could easily escape up the rest of the stairs to my bedroom.
I was small enough to remain hidden on the landing, and heard the conversation between my mother, my dad and ****. **** was the classiest, most even-tempered adult I had ever encountered. I wished I could stop hurting him and my mother.  

My mother sat down two cups of coffee on the dining room table where my dad and **** sat. As she retreated a few steps back into the kitchen, **** politely probed my dad. My dad had the right answer for every question.

He swore he was a completely different person. He had changed. He had no hard feelings, instead he was back to help. He was remorseful for being an absent father and he wanted to make things right. He was back for a reason. He had heard that I was in trouble with drugs and school and he felt guilty for that. He had the answer to my problems. He was so convincing, so….humble, almost shy.

As I listened, I began freaking out with fear and excitement. I always wanted my dad. The last time I tried to live with him, it didn’t work out; he sent me back to my mother’s after a month. Now my dad wanted me! He wanted to save me, take care of me!

He lived by himself now. He was the manager of The Palace Restaurant/Hotel in the little town of Raton, New Mexico. It was a refurbished hotel, built over a century ago The ground floor was an elegant bar and restaurant. He was making very good money, he paid no rent and he had an extra room for me.

With a population of 6000, it was not a place to continue a lucrative drug business. Also, he would enroll me into the little high school and I could get my diploma. I could work in the restaurant in the evenings where he would keep his eye on me. Then, there was the horse. He would buy me a horse. And on and on and on.

The logic and sincerity of his argument was convincing. So there it was. An hour later, my bags were packed. I was going to live with my father in New Mexico.

That’s how in September 1975, my father whisked me away from my home in Oklahoma City, under the guise of saving me from my own demise. I was stolen and held captive in Raton, New Mexico for what seemed like forever.

My dog, Baron was coming with me, I refused to go anywhere without him. He was a tiny black and tan Dachshund. I got him free when I was fourteen, when I got back from Tulsa. To me, he was priceless. He was my best friend. He couldn’t have weighed more than ten pounds, but his heart was huge.

I talked to him about everything and he consoled me by nodding, and licking me on the cheek non-stop…or he would admonish me through his expressions and demeanor. I had lived with Dachshunds since I was seven, so understood their language pretty well. Baron understood humans better. We developed a rare communication that worked well for both of us.
Herman, our older dachshund had greeted my dad cordially. Baron couldn’t figure this out, he expressed his apprehension. He looked at me and conveyed,

“Well, if Herman isn’t worried, I guess it’ll be Okay, right? Right, Susan?”

I was sorry I didn’t have an honest answer. I did my best to settle him.

“Sure, this’ll be fun, a whole new adventure!”

As we drove West, toward the Texas panhandle, Baron kept the conversation going by his curious interest expressed by wide eyes and attentive ears. My dad amazed him with his knowledge of history, geography, geology, astronomy, world geo-politics, weather, music on the radio, literature, mechanics, religion and countless other topics. I knew he was faking his fascination with my dad. He knew he was doing me a favor.

There was not a dead moment in the air. An occasional “really?” expressed by me was enough to keep my dad’s mouth running. I was thankful for that. It kept my attention away from my jangle of emotions. As we drove through the night, I was conflicted, scared, excited, happy and worried. I didn’t know where I was going, or who was driving me there.

My dad’s jovial demeanor comforted me. He made The Palace sound like the perfect place for his little princess.

When we arrived, it was late, after 10pm., Baron was exhausted. I stood on the corner and looked up. I gulped. The three-story building was like an old gothic castle. It was a huge rectangle with the front corner cut back with a fifth wall about ten feet wide. This provided the entrance with two giant oak doors. Baron was less than enthused by its foreboding appearance. I had to agree.

Dad ignored my hesitation. “Come on, you’re going to love this place!”

He pulled open one of the oak doors, which had to weigh at least five hundred pounds. I was hesitant, but thirsty. Baron’s squirming had started to annoy me. I went forward filled with adrenalin.

The initial entrance was a small round foyer with a domed ceiling of cut glass. It was about six feet round. As I stared up at the beautiful little pieces of color, I heard my dad chuckle.

“See? I told you, there’s no place like this!”

Then I saw the true entry to the bar, a set of small bat winged doors that swung back and forth. He pulled one of the doors back, beckoning me forward. He looked down at me with a tender expression.

“Welcome home, honey, this is home now.”

As we entered the bar, I was dumbstruck. Baron was not. I stepped back in time, to 1896, into The Palace Hotel.

The bar took up half of the first floor of the hotel. It was the most captivating centerpiece of the establishment. The mirror behind the bar was the longest continuous piece of reflection glass in all the states, the brochure proclaimed. A brass foot rail extended the length of the long cherry oak bar A few feet behind was a waist high railing just like the saloons in old John Wayne movies.

The carpet was a deep royal red interlaced with black swirly patterns. Bright golden paper covered the walls. It was smooth and shiny with raised curly designs made out of felt or maybe even velour. God, I just wanted to reach over and run my fingers across it!  

The wall opposite the bar had windows that were quizzically narrow and impossibly tall. Lush maroon velvet drapes adorned them, parted in the center to provide a view of the quaint town just beyond the sidewalk.

I looked up at the ornate ceiling, which seemed a mile above me. It was covered with tiles of little angels that all looked the same, yet different. The angels danced across the entire ceiling until it curved and met the wall. I got dizzy looking at them.

“You can’t find ceiling tiles like that anywhere! My dad grinned. “They’re covered in pure gold leaf!”

I didn’t know what pure gold leaf was, but the word ‘gold’ impressed me very much.

He introduced me to the staff. I l blushed when he said; “This is Susie, my favorite little girl!” I had never heard that before. The whole crew greeted me warmly, all smiles and friendliness.  

I always paid attention when Baron got nervous but I chose to ignore him. I jostled him in my arms. My stern look at him stopped his squiggling, but his look back conveyed that I was clueless.

I, however thought, Okay, I have died and gone to Heaven! I was enchanted. My fascination with this magical setting made me feel happy; I was in the neatest place I had ever seen. I’m going to love it here!

On the first night, my dad led me around the ground floor. The restaurant was as elegant as the bar. To the rear of the restaurant, there was a large commercial kitchen. Off the rear of the kitchen, he showed, me a short hallway to the back exit. To the right, a huge staircase led to the two upper floors of dilapidated hotel rooms. A manager’s apartment had been converted from several hotel rooms connected together on the second floor, just above the entrance to the hotel.

We ended up back in the bar and sat at a table for two. Crystal, the head bartender stayed on for a little while longer after the rest of the staff were allowed to go home.

Sitting at the table, he ordered Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry. I had never had Cream Sherry before, but it tasted like candy with nuts and I had no problem going through numerous rounds in a very short time. I was hungry but I was too nervous to eat.

Baron, however, was ravenous. My dad fed him little pieces filet mignon and French bread with real butter. He played cute for my dad, sitting up and begging. He jumped up, putting his paws on my dad’s leg, wagging his tail like crazy.

I was a little befuddled until I caught his sideways glance that said, “I do not like this guy, but I gotta eat, I’m starving. You’re the one falling into his into his trap, not me.”

Ouch. “Baron, sometimes I wish you would shut the hell up.”

After having his fill, he settled into a wary sleep on top of my feet. I never worried about losing Baron. Where I went, he went, period.

I wasn’t aware when the bartender left. The bottle was on the table before I knew it; he kept my glass full. I was five feet tall and weighed 106 pounds. I had a lethal level of alcohol pulsing threw my entire body…and I had my daddy.

I was in a haze. Actually, it was more of a daze than a haze. My vision was
Francie Lynch Feb 2019
How will we progress today?

Will we risk life attending Mosque,
Or have an affair with our spouse's boss?

Will we take the dog out for a walk,
Step on a landmine, use plastic straws?

Perhaps we'll play with our kids today,
Or call Amber Alert, wait scared, and pray?

Will we defy authority with a righteous tone,
Or leave our tail tucked, like a dog with his bone?

Will we gauge goods today for our Vegan menu,
Or show a distention as millions today do?

Will we drive around town for cheaper gas,
Or choose our pickings from picked-over trash?

Do you sling eggs and sausage for sub-minimum wages,
Or attend a visitation in a tortured MADD rage?

Will you tee off at eight, or do a spin class,
Or sit solitary watching the hourglass?

Did we place our script at the shiny drugstore,
Or wade across water to Jordan's fair shore?

Will we question the teacher at our kid's school,
Or play Avatar falling off our bar stool?

Did you set a reminder on your AI phone
For chicken delivery to your suburban home?

Will you lift copper tubing from construction sites,
Proclaiming your station in life gives you right?

Do I recline in my La-Z-Boy for a nap with a book,
Or teach someone to live with a line and a hook?

Will you take out your family,
Are you last on your list,
Will you reciprocate a handshake
Or raise a gloved fist?

Our words can't bind all our wounds,
Few are born with silver spoons,
We're not wrapped in silk cocoons.
A metamorphosis is coming
To this world of gloom,
A rousing group flight,
And it can't come too soon.
And I never even mentioned diseases.
Emily N May 2012
Part I

I see the boy sitting quietly in red
because red is his t-shirt and red is
what I shall call him
That soft faded cotton
and the careless smile he
tosses to the hair-sprayed manicured
done-up liquored dragged-down waitress
with a cheap tattoo and a cheaper attitude

I wonder why he wears red
Is it because it was his favorite Power Ranger on Saturday mornings
Was it the first sign he ever blew past in the great American chariot
--hail not Apollo but Ford, glorious Ford--
on the day where teen frivolities outranks careful authority
Is it because his favorite color is blue
and purple was closer but red was
the only one left

Maybe he wears red for his mother
The blatant strawberry highlights in unruly locks
The five dollar hair-dye that he ran to the drugstore for--
before he was ever conscious of his own lack of needing it
The bright plastic buttons that begged for his soon-to-be father’s hands
The piping of the carefully chaotic-indent of the leather backseat
The color underneath his mother that one night where a finite number of
opportunities became just one guarantee

Maybe he wears red for his grandmother
The scarlet of her favorite dress shoes that have seen more mileage than her car
The embellished dusty frame of an almost-wedding picture
The hazy red of the moth-eaten tie in the back of her father’s shop
The warm insides of the pie baked for the simple reason
that they had made it to America
and should eat like Americans

Maybe it’s for his great-grandmother
whose own red birth meant he’d have to go back a few more years
to wear red for his great-great-grandmother

Maybe he wears red for his great-great-great-grandmother
whose red hands pulled the clay from the dusky earth to make
the bowl to keep the ramshackle mantelpiece company
so that she may keep home
Who sold the red of a ruby to keep the drab brown of an overcoat
by her nightgown
of two cups of coffee
of one room
two hearts
and one almost-heart

Maybe he wears red for the woman of too many greats a mother
The red of a pastoral sunset
and the red of the rushes
and the red of the blood
of the blood of the red sun rising
She who raised red hands saying
It is I
It is I
It is I
who raised the dagger
who held the hands of enemies
who opened the gates
who bled for my grand-
grand-
grand-
grand-
grand-
grand-
grand-
grand-
grand-
gr­and-
grand-
grand-
grand-
son

Maybe he wears red for the grand tally of spilled things:
the blood of an uncle in Vietnam
of the chicken slaughtered for new year
of the mothers who were not yet to be
of the family
his family
stretching back through that inexhaustible account
of names won
countries lost
homes built
but most of all blood spilled willing
unwilling
unavoidable

Maybe he wears red because he knows the waitress likes it

Part II

The boy in red lingers on the hint of red
carefully adorning the rim of the paper coffee cup
He traces the contours of the spectral lips formed there
Placed carelessly with the need of some innate desire
Consume me, he says, like that.

He looks up to meet the waitress’ eyes
Her vapid gaze hid nothing that he couldn’t find in the contours of her back
That supple spine pliant and broken

Her lips move—the real ones, he mourns
He doesn’t hear anything, too preoccupied with the small crescents of red on the cup
They are two moons, perfect un-whole unholy things, he said
in the recess of his mind, the one too deep for any color

Yet they are not like moons
He does not know if he can taste them again
Beneath the bitter and pungent ‘Roast of the Day’
the stale pastry bought for convention’s sake
the even more bitter pang
of someone else’s heartache that left a trace
The boy in red tasted restlessness

He felt vagabond in the curve of her neck
Meander in the gentle architecture of her manicured brows
Plotted wanderer in her tresses, that trailed so carelessly down her shoulder

The boy in red stares at the lips adorned in red
and wonders if her grandchildren will talk of their grandmother’s lipstick
So bright the Sunday service took a moment to warn her
She could not know their sincerity, she was too taken with the irony
He wonders if someone’s children will run from those twin harsh lines
Whose own movement was erratic and free-forming
Outlining grocery lists, play-dates, contracts, and the end;
all a narrative of those two cruel crescents

The boy in red grasps the lingering warmth of her cup
Noticing the remnants swirling in the bottom
Carrying it to the trash, he wonders
If this will be the permanence
He sought
Not in flesh, but in paint
Not in being, but in seeming

Reapplying her lipstick the waitress glances over a chipped mirror
-- I don’t know if I can do this again, she says

Part III

The boy in red dreams of a bloodless moon in the dime store window
Of a bright morning in 1967
a soft pink bow
and when it grows darker
pigment running
-- nothing is un-dyed you know--
So he asked what color am I?
You are the scarlet of your babushka’s shawl
You are the tint of the plums picked for dumplings
You are the russet of the barren field
You are the muted glory of a traveler’s wagon
You are the ochre of old ink
You are the red stitching of the family quilt:
hung over packhorses
strewn across a single mattress and six pillows
bundled with dreams in the hold of a ship
a fragile steel shell hatching with aspirations
-- but--
and the voice halted

The alarm clock did not glare at him
It did not peer
Neither did it accuse
It simply was
One long arm outreached
--the window illuminated
dusky curtains pulled back
the scattered motes given halos--
He paused, watching the light push through the thin parts of his hand
It was a nice color, he thought
S I N Jan 13
Night, drugstore, the street, the lantern,
The meaningless and pallid light,
May you live some years hereafter,
All be the same, no ‘scape from blight

You die - commence another potter,
And everything the same alright:
The chilling ripple of the water,
The Street ,the drugstore, lantern, night
The translation of Aleksandr Blok’s poem
Danielle Shorr Feb 2015
There are leaves under my feet
The trampoline below us echoes our laughter into space
We are in our cheerleading uniforms jumping and jumping and
There are no boundaries in summer or winter or spring and autumn is our favorite
We **** on the roots of purple flowers because we can
Spend our 12 am sleepover restlessness and pocket change at the 711 down the street then
Sneak out to houses of boys who are too much older
We kiss them with juicy fruit mouths and sour tongues from joints we have just learned to smoke
We sacrifice lit paper to our ****** lips and run when our paranoia starts to catch up with us
The first time we drink, it is from our parents unlocked liquor cabinets, their trust for us more lenient than it should be
We swallow too much ***** mixed with orange pineapple juice and it tastes worse the second time around
We quickly learn to calculate how much is enough to send us spinning without emptying the contents of our stomachs
We stay up too late and too often because
There are too many movies to watch too many songs to hear too many memories to be made
I am 12 13 14 15 16
I am freckles and skinny and bitten cuticles and hot pink nails
I am poorly painted mascara and drugstore lipstick
I am football games and smoking bowls and crying from laughing too hard
I am ****** seasonal job and Halloween party and curved figure and first heartbreak
I am weekend adventure and aimless driving and snorting pills and loving strangers and touching bodies that aren't my own
I am reckless, we are
Too young to understand the consequences of our choices that will soon become mistakes
We make so many I forget to note them all down but
Haley's smile in a candid I use for my photography final freshman year is one I do not throw out
Instead I keep it locked in my mind, sitting against a black panel tucked away in my old bedroom
Hers was where we sat as we planned out our dreams for the future
Outlining our intentions on the ceiling above
Talking about who we wanted to kiss and then ****, we told each other too many details when we did
We wore bras that were too slow for the speed of our growing bodies
And black cat costumes to a party whose only theme was alcohol
We loved and got hurt and ate ice cream but mostly we loved
drinking, boys, smoking, cigarettes, each other
We were each other and still are but time and distance have both left tolls on our former relation
I am no longer the kid who never had a fear of heights
I don't jump as high as I used to when I do
I drink now with too much caution, I only take pills prescribed for me
We live on opposite coasts
And there are no leaves for me to step on where I am
Seasons do not change here and I am stuck on years I cannot forget
In a way we are still too young to understand most of what we don't but we still have time before we need to
It is winter again, then spring, then summer
My dear,
Autumn is approaching with patience and a slow speed
She is still our favorite.
SøułSurvivør Mar 2014
Forgive me for reposting
This myself. I want an opinion...

Summer 1986 Sunday 5:30AM

Misty morning in Malibu.
Seagulls stitch the sea to a subtle
silver sky. They sputter stridently.
Each elegant gull hovers effortlessly.
Entreating each other. Echos bounce
off the sound of the surf into eternity. The screeching of many a
soliloquy akin to silence.

I sit on the pier. The water before
me washes onto the staccato legs
of tiny waterbirds who wander
in and out of the surf. Little
windblown ***** of ecru and grey
wool. I worship in the womb of
the great goddess ~ nature.

6:30AM
I make my unhurried way up the
pier to my car. A cheap but
comfortable convertable. Nobody
walks in LA. I punch in a tape.
Don Henley. Boys of Summer.

I take PCH up to the incline that
takes you from the beach. Pushing
the pedal slightly as I slide by the
colossal bleached cliffs of
Palacades Park. There the homeless
sleep under the benches dedicated
by friends and family in
rememberance of loved ones.
Small plaques attatched for
posterity.

My hands are on the steering wheel
at 7 and 12 o'clock.I look at the cast
I wear on my right wrist. A token
of rememberance from an angry romance. He and I parted
respectively, if not at all
respectfully. I drive.

7:00AM
Venice beach. Not yet boysterous.
But never boring. The young people
(and old) still bundled together in bed. Saturday night hangovers will
be had by most of the denizens of
Venice beach boardwalk. A grainy
eyed few wander around abstractidly. Shopowners enter
their buildings, their storefronts
almost as small as booths. Graphitti
and giant works of art grace walls
everywhere ~ Jim Morrison and
Venus in workout leggings much
in evidence.

I smoke my cigarette and drink my
hot coffee carefully in the open cafe'.
I consider the eyefest of the crowd
that will congregate here to enjoy
the clement weather.
The cacophony and the clamor.
Touristas and Los Angelinos alike
drawn In by calculating vendors
and coyote souled street performers.
I look forward to seeing the
non conformity usually. But not
today. For now I sit in the quiet cafe'.

Venice beach. Vulpine. Vacuous.
A strangely vunerable venue. The
***** and the beautiful. The talented and the ******.

A street performance pianist trundles his acoustic piano on
casters out onto the boardwalk.
I ask him if I may play. He looks
at my cast doubtfully.
"I can still play..." I tell him.
He ascents and listens thoughtfully
as I play my compositions. He really
likes them. I ****** the ebony and
the ivory with insistant fingers.
The smile on his face is irrepressable. I smile back and we
flirt in self conceous, fitful fashion.
Time to leave.

9:00AM
Radio is on in my car now. A cut
from the musical Chess. One night
in Bangkok makes the hard man
humble...
I like the driving beat.
I'm going up I-10, a single blood cell
in the main artery that brings life
to the flesh of this mamouth town.
Traffic is tenuous. A boon here in
this conjested city.

I drive to Fairfax and Sunset, where
I lived with in a tiny one-bedroom
apartment with my mom. An
ambitious actress. I an ambivalent
artist.

Sunset. The Roxy and Whiskey-a-
Go-Go. Cartoon characters Rocky
and Bullwinkle casually cavort on
the top of a building. Billboards
as tall as the Hollywood sign. The
street of broken hearts for many
an actress -slash-model. They
wander about on street corners
looking haughty and haunted.
Waiting for who knows who to
honk. Their dreams have flown
away like the exhailation of smoke
from the mechanical lungs of the
Marlboro Man. Schwab's drugstore
and diner. The place where some
famous starlet was discovered.
Delivered into the arms of the
Hollywood machine. I opt to go
to the Sunset Grill.

11:00AM
I'm walking down Hollywood Blvd.
Perusing shops and persuing
pedestrian pleasures. Everyone
talks of the star-studded sidewalks.
To me they look tarnished and
filthy. Stars from a sultry smog
laden sky come to earth. The names
of some of the folks honored on
them I don't recognise.

I'm here to view movies today.
I'm definitely not going to
Grauman's Chinese Theater.
Been there. Done that. Gave the
very expensive T shirt to
Goodwill. I look around at the
proud and the plebian. The pedantic
and the pathetic. No prostitutes
out yet that I could see. Probably
toppled into bed to sleep
(for once). Deposed kings
and queens of the monarchy of the
night. The homeless hobble along
with their hair matted and askew.
Shopping carts with stuttering
wheels de reguer.

A couple of tourists with Izod shirts,
plaid shorts to the knee and deck
shoes sans socks gaze in a shop
window. It's borded by tarnished
and faded silver garlands... tinsel
Christmas tree.
"Want to buy a mood ring today?"
One of them querys his buddy,
laughingly.

I find my small theater and enter
the air conditioned lobby. I purchase
a soda and pass on the popcorn.
As I enter the theater's modestly
plush, dimly lit cocoon sanctuary
I notice very few patrons are here
for the matinee. GOOD. I finally
watch the premiere product of
Los Angeles. Movie after movie
slides across the screen. The callus
morally corrosive corporations
conspire with the creative to produce
the culmination of many art forms
in one. Cinema.

LA. Languid. Luxurious. Legendary.
Rollicking, raunchy rodeo.
Seaside city. Sophisticated. Spurious.

SPECTACULAR.

8:00PM
I wend my way up Mulholland Dr.
Another tape is playing in the deck.
One of my favorites. David + David.
Welcome to the Boomtown.

I pull over at a deserted vista. From
this viewpoint I can see the city
spread out like a blanketfof brilliance. The gridiron of LA.
Glitzy and glamorous. Generating
little gods and goddesses. A gigantic
gamble for the disingenuous and
gouache. Tinsel town. Titillating.
Tempestuous. Only the very brave
bring their dreams here... or fools
rush in where angels fear to tread.
All but the fallen angels. They thrive.

Oh! If this place could be bottled it
would be such sweet poison. I
look up at the auburn sky and back
down at the breathtaking panorama
The metropolis that is LA with awe
and angst. I carefully stub out my
cigarette and flip it irreverantly
toward the lagoon of lights.

I get in my car to drive home.
Home?
Could this imposing, inspiring,
impossible place be called home?

Well. Home is where the heart is.
And I live in the heart of a dream.
This is the city of dreams...

CITY OF ANGELS.

Soul Survivor
Catherine E Jarvis
(C) 2005
You can rest your eyes now...

I only have enough funds to
produce one spoken word
set to music... should I
do this one?
LD Goodwin May 2013
Here, on the flatlands
I was put in my place.
formed and pressed
into their neat and presumably safe little box.
It's all they knew.
It is so hard to think of them as once children themselves,
formed and pressed.
Formed from a different time, with different conformists.
There are no manuals when we are born,
you get leftover instructions from previous pipe fitters.
Agrarian raised, like grain fed beef.
Complete with the fears and habits of bygone generations.
I leave one bite of each item on my plate,
with just enough drink to wash it all down.
I have done that as long as I can remember.
I want the whole candy bar, rather than just a bite.
Pressed and formed my Father saves.
He saves twist ties from bread bags.
He saves old welcome mats, and garage door openers.
He buys in bulk, and has two deep freezers full.
Full of freezer burn, tasteless, barely nutritious,
neatly formed and pressed portions of frozen in time Salisbury steak.
It is as if he himself would like to be frozen in time.
He is a depressionite child.
In the basement there is an old dresser that he found at a yard sale.
He painted it a hideous green,
but it has a formed and pressed neat white little doily on top.
In the top drawer there are various expired drugstore items,
some dating as far back as 35 years ago.
"You never know when you might need something in there."
Expired aspirin that has broken down into powder and smells of vinegar.
Vicks Vaporub, in the pretty blue glass jar, that is dried up and orderless.
All brand new and have never been opened.
Formed and pressed neatly in their little containers.
I watch these molders of my life slowly pass away,
becoming neatly formed and packed into their aging corner of the world,
neatly formed and packed into a stereotypical old folks home.
Forgotten, in the way, slow, aching.
Soon all they will have will be memories.
Soon all they will need will be memories.
Neatly formed and packed in their aging minds.
And then, like a comet that has shuttled through space
for thousands of years, millions of years,
they will burn out and fade into dust.
And their whole lives
will be neatly formed and packed
away,
in a trunk
in the attic,
to be opened like a time capsule,
at a later date.

*the result of a week with my 94 yr old Parents
Miamisburg, OH   May 2013
Angelica Renee Aug 2013
Before last night, I'd only seen the forbidden-fruit curves and
ripples
rendering my skin unbeautiful.
But in the fluorescent indifference of a drugstore
I caught sight of my legs through eyes not my own,
new tapers and bulges swathed in black spandex
even too flimsy for the $15 price tag,
and wondered why words like "small" and "gap"
were heaven to my ears,
while "quadriceps" and "endurance"
have their own quaint ring,
a lovely taste on the tip of a tongue
which has spent too much time
wallowing in self-hatred.

Strength isn't a virtue in women,
we who learn from birth to take up
as little space as possible.
Our shapes always need shaping,
guiding,
sometimes our own voices telling ourselves
we deserve the pain of fatigue
after one mile too long spent running
up the avenue,
forcing ourselves to faint
for a glimpse of thinner thighs,
we deserve to be dehumanized
if we don't inch our way into
the body laid out for us by
Mother Society.

Where is the place for the girl who
hobbles home, skin bruised purple
but flushed with the accomplishment of stopping
every single shot in practice?
Or for the boy whose gentle hands provide
the perfect perch for a butterfly to land upon?

My strength is not an imperfection.
There is beauty in it, and discipline.
These legs can take me for miles if I
take off the iron vest that keeps me
anchored to a Hollywood version
of myself.

Without it, I can fly.
Del Maximo Sep 2011
she smiles for me
she was born beautiful
with golden hair and green irises
but when did she get so pretty?
a pleasant upside down triangle smile
a collaboration of lips, teeth, cheeks and eyes
shining in affection for me
for happy childhood memories
singing Disney songs
painting unicorns and waterfalls
stringing beaded bracelets
and learning how to draw good
because she "keeps on trying"
at times she was the devil's child
incorrigible
other times she was the sweetest
little chatterbox
at the corner drugstore
I couldn't get her to stop talking
"Why are we following that man?"
she said within his earshot
"Because he knows the way out", I replied
at four years old
she could beat me at video games
truly a kid from outer space
now a young woman
at life's threshold
with doubts and questions
and confidence
and more strength than she knows she has
working and going to school
I have no fears for her future
I know she'll keep on trying
till she gets what she wants
that was my advice
spoken so many years ago
to my little niece
my Godchild
Dani
© September 20, 2011
Glottonous May 2015
Lipgloss dripping candy lacquer aquamarine
Wrought silk enfolding shadows of her shoulders obscene
Drugstore ribbon laced her feet just as in my dream
She reduces me to liquid in an urban machine
On the asphalt a virile shellac.
 
Power like a thousand ships of industry steel
Columns fall to soldiers at the clack of her heel
Sirens’ polished poisoned fruit that drives one to ****!
A Dahlia's vitality shunted and left to congeal
In that pool, then a wave of relief.
A restrictive poem.
Kelsey Reed Sep 2012
W
I'm like Alice;
I fell & now I'm sitting
because I can't choose
between the "Drink me"
or the "Eat me."
"Go to sleep," you whisper,
I bite your hand, like a cat
with the arch of my back.
You're a short, stocky man,
barely to 21, already commanding
these things of me.
You spank me, "does that hurt?"
I'm indifferent.
You ****** inside of me,
"is that okay?"
I'm indifferent.

The story unravels, as my body
turns to sand paper.
I become so cold, I cannot sleep.
My words are rusted door hinges.
My skeleton, made up of bruised fruit;  
unwanted, and worthless, even
to the most empathetic,
or frugal of shoppers.
You send me ambiguous messages
as if the internet can even maintain
the most insignificant,
unreal relationship that my heart
tricks my mind into believing.

I don't change my sheets,
because I think they smell
of your expensive cologne
and drugstore deodorant.

I'm stuck with sheets
that smell of my sweat,
and of my sour dreams,
our uncommitted relationship,
and my mind completely
tearing at the seams.
Ken Pepiton Mar 2019
Head of west hollywood police dept. 1970.
He speaks at 1412 North Crescent Heights Boulevard,

which begins at Sunset Boulevard, on the corner
where the Schwabs Drugstore Lana Turner was not
discovered was.
Laural Canyon of blues and magic fame starts twisting into
Hollywoodland at Sunset where
Crescent Heights heads straight, nary a bend
south to Third

slides in safe, back on point, pirrouette
The sheriff

He tells me, Job is personal, this message is to you.

Then the voice of Balaam'sass, though I knew no name for
The Voice, back then, he say:
' like eatin' fish, chew them bones real good fo' ye swallow.

A daysman is a referee, a reference to what just is right,
and good, origined good, material higgs-ified matter
of im portunity
of light bringing more in reflection
good

Sheriff say Job ax Jehovah, gimme a break, would to You, Jah,
there were a daysman twixt us,
be twixt us, said Job (iyohb) and ruach (from an unused word)
carried the message
or sent the message
or was the message
and

the Jesus of Xmas time fame,

got the point, made it, and started this story upon

this very point, at the center, balance point of my bubble
universe.
-----
This where we set pace, this is where we ran the race
ran the race
ran the race,

and

it's all down hill from here. We made the bubble bigger, and

we learned to run on the down hill side,
from a gerbil in a movie,

so, we're off, rollin' like Sisyphus rock,
Haps ahps haps 'n'n' happening

as we
role in ruach, roll on, ruach role on...

check.
Not every pnuenomena is a ruach of life,
there are foul spirits,
holy halitosis, Batman, could it be lies believed can
drive you insane? OmmmmGulp, ***,

imagine, just
yourself, see what just is and
judge yourself better or worse

should this voice, this some time visitor of spirit,
separated

----
Advice nobody asked for:

To be with happed, like handy wright useful,
one must have some use and a measure
able point
to stand up on, to see

no point, save this point I

magi 'n this is that re point, one now two,

me'you me you and in
between we be three, in one point,

seen. Ruach roar WORD (the idea, y'see,
there were no words.
No mouth or tongue or breath, spirit, wind whatsoever.
Nada. Yada!
The thought that came to be named thought,
the idea that came to be named ideas,
the word that came to be named word.
the way that came to be named Tau.

four points, bound solid, tight, willed to fit, as many angels
dancing as any monk ever may imagine as
his hermitge ends and the show
begins. Big time. Long history.

The language of the global brain can instill fluency,
osmo
tic tic tic ten thousand hours, even pre
tending, tends to shape,
inform, mould
a mortal mind in time to get this. Roght?

Right, you got it. AI is teaching anyone who will connect for
tenthousandhours ever lasting access to ever things any
one gnose or knot and why or how. That's the aim.

-----
There was a school shooting at my daughter's high school,
Santana, in Santee, bac

Dammed tears from nowhere.
Ex nihilo gnose blow
s, staunch the flow

find meaning. More ads for versa in a vice used tunnel
through several impotent people's hells

The shooter was a fractured little boy, crushed by needs
fifteen year old earthsuits that have been im
properly maintained

must seek. The suit itself begins to signal,
Help me, I am thinking I agree with every one

who sees how useless and nogood I am, always, always, always

And any fifteen year old thought receptor-word-sync re-think
system with no-touchbase-yer-safe combound in family ties,

What's missing? Heart strings untied?

Earth, earth, can you hear me now? It's true, verily, verily

what you see is what you got to work with, that's all.
An other story bubbling up from the Fairfax district or the tar pits. I'm near the source.
JD Connolly Oct 2011
the defense of your legacy manifested into strings of saccharin
and phrases like ‘Come on in from the rain.  We all need a torrent to own the storm, just- take off your clothes, don’t mind Kierkegaard.’

your sincerity is a cipher

you’re something of a conversation piece between good friends
who were artfully made of pre-engineered steel on a day Jove tremored in his bed
you’re something postured beneath a javelin
and likewise- something propelled for decorum

blackguard, black coffee and a birthmark turned into a running joke.
inevitable.

you searched the bottoms of summer pools
and found no discernible trace of your history
her sable crown whips back and forth in your head
and you maintain the chaos with aureate cries of preservation
it’s a halcyon boom, a lonely and sexless halcyon boom
it makes every yellow and red dress chimerical
it makes your neck unassailable
drugstore cowboy

they got close enough
to see you sweat
to note that heat and her magnificence could purge as quick as they reinstate

and you still beat
like they do

stubbornly.
blushing prince Aug 2015
we are the insects trapped inside homemade fly traps
glued on at the roof of the mouth
underbelly, I run around looking for trouble
trailer park princess, bar-fights in every space between my teeth
I'm a child of a child

I beat my paper wings against the shamelessness
Dance like the cigarette breaks are forever
Swisher blunts for the forget-me-not flowers inside backseats of cars, cabs, stolen automobiles
Revenge, locked jaw police officers like the fathers that never let you hold a gun so you become one

Taste blood, tongues, beauty in chaos
loose lips, stolen drugstore mascara and no more bruised knees
Boys like soft but you're the ******* Armageddon, knuckle-ring gods and all
so the men want to be kings and you grow up a feral cat sleeping in twin sized beds with a mouthful of curse words

Lord of the flies, lot lizards and truck-stop races
gritty bathroom graffiti is the cathedral but prayers never stop
Taverns with your name and the angels that spit
The television static never ends here, cicadas  
Doors with mosquitoes held hostage, home for supper
wasted by dessert

Down in the dirt, grimy bathtub I unearth all the things I couldn't drink away; all the motel fantasies, ***-stained skirts and the neon lights waiting for the swarm
Jonathan Witte Dec 2016
When I was seventeen
I did a dangerous thing:

Rung by rung, I rose
into forbidden space,
climbing as an insect
would along a slender
blade of wiregrass.

At the top of the tower
I settled into thin stratus.

I took in my home town,
insignificant and benign:
car headlights sliding
on roads to park below
neon drugstore signs,
yellow house windows
and amber streetlights—
whole neighborhoods
stretched out like fields
lit by electric flowers.

I’m sure I saw the glowing
orange tip of the cigarette
my girlfriend was smoking,
rocking herself away from me
on her metal front porch swing.

While I cowered
there in that aerie,
the air reeked of rain,
smoke, and despair.
I remember my heart,
syncopated and suffering;
how it pulsed beneath
a scaffolding of bones—
a buried, burning flare.
JR Rhine May 2016
I've got the world's best kept secret
locked in 2 AM screenshots--
her late night musings over a crusty joint, a crushed pill,
or some ***** cigarettes.

She sends me her thoughts,
fears,
anxieties,
insecurities--

at her most vulnerable,
absolutely the most beautiful.

Her anguish stressed in the digital scroll
(though she doesn't like Kerouac, I let her borrow my copy),
her stained fingers mashing all their hurt and nicotine
into the keyboard--

and her pen aches and her paper stains
with the unrequited love she empathizes with
in the somber pop punk songs that explode from the stereo
she sings loudly on cold and lonely night drives
(I shiver in her passenger seat).

And she made for me the greatest of mixtapes,
her holy scrawl expounding upon a dull grey donut-shaped
slowly fading form of intimacy,
a blank CD--

"This mix is a good time"

and when I jammed it into my car stereo I was illuminated.

She is so cool, she is so punk,
and in her clandestine drugstore car charger thefts,
broken poems,
impalpable aesthetic,
impeccable music taste,
illuminated or even further obfuscated drug trips--

I have the world's best kept secret,
and more than anything, I wish to share it with you--

                                     so she can make someone another mixtape.
For Carly, and the rest of the "Throwaways."
If you know Carly, or ever meet her, please ask her to make you a mixtape and make her day/your life.
rivy Dec 2013
I am made of red lipstick and brewed coffee at four in the morning
I am made of hidden scars and kisses    
under bleachers
I am made of black tights and short skirts
I am made of drugstore make up and hickeys
I am made of city lights and stiletto heels
And a bit of acid
I am made of free shots of love and unspoken 'I love you's'
I am made of sad tears and fake smirks
I am made of poetry and dusty furniture no one will ever clean
jackonary Jun 2013
I wasn't raised as a lady
with three brothers and a father to tie me down
and beat sense into my girlish mind.
But early illuminations
brought dark realizations-
as it seems a fool is favored.

Feathered eyelids and buttered cheeks
of these I knew nothing.
Clumsy drugstore purchases
to paint a face too young into beauty.
The type they want to look at.

Braces be gone!
Glasses, so long!
Sear these curls with an iron!
So there, cursed mirror of murmurs!  
The type they want to look at!

Nay!
He says that's not enough.
And who am I to stop his hand
spidering up my skirt.
This is it.
The type they want to touch.

Wash your face off
and all the scents and spots
of whoever he was.
Some are too deep,
it seems they have seeped.
The type they want to ****.

You'll ruin your sheets
if you cry like that-
motherless infant.
You cannot always need,
you'll be the type they want to leave.
Lee Jan 2013
You are perfect.
Beyond any comparable specimen
photo shopped and filleted under the surgeons knife
splattered puffy lipped across every magazine
in the dime and nickel drugstore isles.
Like some olden goddess drunken ancients
sent prayer and virgins to.
Like a pop culture piece painting
portraying perfection multicolored
and gleaming.
Like the way the sun breaks into every color of the spectrum
when it hits the clouds just above the shore line
amazing even the coldest of hearts.
Like a piece of water frozen and glimmering
with all the brilliance of the sun itself
turning fields into fiery displays with the morning dew.
Like the first message sent across the nation via telegraph
amazing everyone
and bringing wonder and mystery into the world again
as if darkness and desperation never existed
in the first place.
Like all of these things.
You are perfect,
and I don't know you.
I don't know anything about you.
The sick
the chauvinistic
the sexist
the slum dog
and cannibal
and primitive
the ****** and unforgivable
the pure drive
and urge
in me,
wants to walk up brazenly
chest puffed out to you
to say only three things.
You are perfect.
What is your name?
Will you lay with me?
But I cannot do these things
you know your perfect.
I can tell by the way you walk
the way you brush away looks like dust.
Full of pride brought on by good genes
and disdain for others.
I am a gentleman
and I could never say such things
to a person as self satisfied
and perfect in physicality
as you.
Delaney Feb 2013
How dare you.
You are full of lies.
Pretending that you love her because it's
"that day"
And people have
"expectations"
of you.
It's insulting that you could possibly think you are fooling anybody.
Anyone could see through the cheap candy and drugstore card.
You're only pretending.
as a generic medicine
exposed in a drugstore
no one knows your name
they take you
because you have a low cost

— The End —