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Jenna Lucht May 2017
Blue pleather bomber jacket,
You are smooth against my skin.
Your surface is cool and inviting
As it wraps around my torso-
Like a protective blanket
You are my security,
Blue pleather bomber jacket.

I pick at your skin and it falls apart.
The zipper, like your bottom teeth,
Are crooked and misaligned.
You shrug over my shoulders,
But leave my chest defenseless.
Blue pleather bomber jacket,
I bet you cost a fortune.
Almost as much as your nonprescription glasses,
Though you break just the same
Like the promises you keep making.

Blue pleather bomber jacket,
You never kept me warm
Just less affected by the
cutting winds of your back lash.
But when I fall asleep at night
I sleep beside the indent of your absence.
Blue pleather bomber jacket,
You are just now brand new,
Though your skin is already worn through
And your lining thinning by the second.

I trusted you,
Blue pleather bomber jacket,
To protect me from the cold.
Though you slump lazily
Over others' shoulders,
Not really caring I've been waiting
With my shoulders bare and frigid.
Blue pleather bomber jacket,
I thought you were one of kind.
But I see your manufactured gaze
Walking down the street,
Sitting across from me on the bus.

Go on, blue pleather bomber jacket,
Temporarily dangling over person after person.
Soon I will see you dangling
On the rotting hanger in a thrift shop,
Years from now looking preserved in your waning beauty.
Blue pleather bomber jacket,
Your trend is dying and your color fading.
I have been snagged by your imperfections for the last time.
Diamond Flame Sep 2020
I saw your jacket today.
I never forgot about it,
Never put it away
But when I disappeared for a month
I didn't take it.
I wanted to...but didn't.
I didnt want the torn sleeves
To completely fall apart
Like I did
When you broke my heart...
•••
I didn't just see your jacket.
It's hanging by the hood on my bedpost.
It's always there, but I often disregard..
But when I leaned down,
I braced myself on my bedpost.
I look up
And I realize the soft hood
Rests under my hand.
Made me think of
How much you always supported me
•••
I saw your jacket today
And honestly, I froze.
I couldn't move,
My body, cold.
The only movement,
The tear down my cheek.
And because you arent here
To wipe them away like you used to
I wiped them away
With your tattered sleeve.
•••
I didn't take your jacket.
I took my friend's sweater.
You know,
The ex you were always suspicious of?
I took his sweater.
Why?
It was warm
And it was a piece of my hometown.
Somehow you knew he still loved me.
I knew, but I didn't care.
Even with the love I gave
Your jealousy still tore you away..
•••
I saw your jacket today.
I held it close.
I felt every soft fiber.
It was your favorite
black
Champion
jacket.
But you gave it to me
Because back then
I mattered more
But the more I wore it,
It tattered more..
But that didnt matter.

You gave it to me
wrapped around
your favorite stuffed penguin.
The one I still can't sleep without.
The one soaked in my tears.
It was once your treasure,
but you once treasured me more.
And I trying to fix the jacket
That was once wrapped around it
But the more i do,
The more it falls apart
And maybe the same is true with your heart.
Maybe I'm the one at fault.
No.
Youre the one that hurt me.
•••
It was you.
It was you,
But no matter what you do
I will always love you.
True
Unconditional
Unending
Love
Does not end because of one instance
Or even several.
I will always love you.
And when it comes to you
Loving me
I know its not true.
Because if it were
you wouldnt have left me.
You wouldnt be trying to forget me.
You wouldnt be getting high
Every night
To try and find
That feeling I gave you
When you looked in my eyes.
I know because i felt it too.
Two years of butterflies.
Dizziness.
The feeling of fireworks
When our skin touched.
The raw and untamed passion.
The purest love.
All these things that made us both
Feel so alive..
That you left behind
Like an emotional suicide.
And you choose drugs
Instead of admitting you were wrong.
You try to resurrect the joy
That you only ever felt with me
Convincing yourself
You dont need me
But we need each other.
We need each other
Because one without the other
Is in a deep
Dark
Miserable
Place
That they cant escape
While the other is writing poetry
Pretending she is okay
To not have you in her life
From day to day
The days get harder and harder
Because the one she needs
Claims he doesnt want her.
•••
I saw your jacket today.
I folded it up and put it away
In a safe place
Taking up a small bit of my closet space.
Wearing that jacket
Was like wearing your hug
But after all you've done
I don't want you to touch me.

And if one day
You decide you actually want me..
You clean yourself up,
Figure life out,
Get back on your feet
And decide what's missing is me..
If you truly want me
You better get on your knees
And cry at my feet
Because "sorry"
Isnt enough
For what you've done.
Because when you loved me
You showed me
I was nothing less than a queen
But dethroned me
Making me feel
Worthless
Ashamed
Ugly
But I realized
Im still a queen
Without you.
Show a girl her worth,
She'll never forget
No matter how much you may
"Regret"
•••
I do still love you...
No.
I still love who you once were
But I dont recognize you now.

But even if you were to become
The man I once loved
I would just turn you away
No matter what you may say
Because its me you betrayed
When you promised you would stay.

My heart has never been
A toy with which you should play.
And I honestly regret the day
I gave it to you and let you open it
Because I knew better
Than to fall in love.
I knew better and its not fair.
Its not fair
That I melted
When you would play with my hair
As you touched my skin..
When you would grab my sides and
Pull me in
And trick me into the
Best two years of my life.
Tricking me into thinking
I would one day be your wife.

But i wouldnt trade it for the world.
If i could go back, I'd do it again.
Just make sure it didnt end
Because I knew from the start
I never wanted to love again..
If it wasnt you.

So *******
For making me
Fall in love with you.

It was the best thing
That ever happened to me.
•••
I saw your jacket today.
And it still matters to me..
But I'm never wearing it again.

Forever and Always
It will sit
In the back of my closet.
I'm in love with you
But I dont want you back.
But I don't want anyone else either
Saige Detomas Jun 2017
When I was a sophomore I was convinced I had ADD
I would sit in Biology and burn holes in the teachers head with my focusing eyes
But inevitably my mind shifted like a car put in neutral
And rolled away
And when I noticed I always tried to shift back but I became so focused on putting my mind back into gear that I always missed what the teacher was trying to tell me
I took these concerns to my doctor who sent me to the woman with the magnifying glass to peer into my brain and discover why it wasn't functioning properly
To give me the right kind of medicine
But She didn't show me the broken gear shift of a person whose mind flits from thought to flower like a butterfly
Instead she showed me the lead jacket that is my depression
The jacket wasn't heavy enough to lift off with a mechanical crane of antidepressants
So this woman promised to teach me to take it off in my own
But my jacket was strong like bungee cords,
And when I thought I took off my jacket
It snapped back to me, pulling itself on my shoulders
And tightening itself on my ribs until it hurt to breathe
And people tried to help me take it off but I was so angry
So irrationally angry because the jackets on their shoulders were more like windbreakers, they were there but they didn’t really seem to affect anything
And  I wouldn't let myself take off the jacket
If they could hold their own
So could I
And so I covered it with a colorful poncho,
I faked happiness
I Pushed my lips up like a bodybuilder benching his maximum weight
with his arms trembling and back arching
I smiled and I did it so well that people didn't notice the sloping of my shoulders or the way I dropped into chairs shaking with effort and crumpling like paper
And what almost killed me
Made me weaker
I was afraid to be by myself
That the pain would be too much and
That since it hurt so much to breathe I might decide to stop breathing all together
there would be days that my legs would hurt too much to stand
so I would have to lay down in the shower letting the
water push away the pain
There would be days when the jacket turned into a blanket in my mind
It was always hardest to be around people those days  
Those days when my skin burned blue
and as much as I caked on makeup to cover it
I wondered why no one cared enough to wipe it away
I let my mind convince me that my acting skills weren’t that good
That no one noticed because no one cared
But that was a lie
I’m still wearing my jacket and it would be foolish to pretend that its
Easy for me to take off,
But with my community around me,
I don’t need a lighter jacket, because I have stronger shoulders
Brette lovell Mar 2021
I wear your jacket to keep me warm
I wear your jacket to show your love
I wear your jacket on late night coffee trips
I wear your jacket through the arguments
I wear your jacket when I laugh
I wear your jacket when I cry
I wear your jacket when I scream the pain away
I wear your jacket as a reminder that you were once mine
Molly Dec 2014
He gave me his
jacket
and it smelled like
him and smoke
and I knew why
but I wore it anyway.

The day he
disappeared
it was cold outside so
I wore his jacket
and
wiped my nose on the sleeves.

We got the call from the
psych ward
three days later and I couldn't
see him
or
hold him
so I buried my face in his jacket
even though it smelled like smoke
and I knew why.

I kept it
stuffed in the corner between
the wall and my bed
so on the nights when I
missed him too much to sleep
I could wrap myself in it
even though
it didn't smell like him anymore.

When he came back
a month later
and I saw him in
a crowded hallway
he looked at me and
smiled
when he noticed I was wearing
his jacket
and he
hugged me
so it smelled like him again.

I still
wear his jacket
when I can't sleep at night.
Amber K Dec 2014
You gave me your jacket on a cold day
When you saw how I was shivering and miserable
"Take this"
And you smiled as you handed me your dark grey jacket

I wore it
And instantly felt the warmth
Not only from the jacket
But from the kindness you showed someone like me

I still have the jacket
Lying to you saying, "I left it at home again"
You still tell me that it's okay for me to keep it
And I dunno why but I always tell you that I'll bring it the next time

I guess I still want to keep the jacket
I wear it when I feel lonely or sad
But also want your scent on it again
The smell of you and your favourite deodorant... it comforts me for some reason

I'm giving it back to you tomorrow
So you can wear it again
And then I'll find a way to trick you
Into giving it back to me
Poem for a guy I like... still can't tell him though... *sigh*

I finally found my style after failing so much on my own ^^ I seem to like love poems

I dunno why but I just love his scent... I'm weird :p

Yes, a tag is snow-kid. Shh
Kathleen Sep 2015
I do not love my life jacket.
But I do know it's necessary, I still wonder why me? when every once in awhile I swallow a gulp of the sea.
My life jacket comes in a capsule, it keeps my mouth above the water.
I am no longer drowning, I have my life jacket, and I learned to swim without the sharks 'helping' me.
Maybe I won't need the jacket soon, but for now I swallow it
The thought of my life jacket.
Maybe I'll be able to swim on my own
Hopefully soon because I do not love my life jacket.
9/10/15 7:05pm What is your life jacket?
Isrella Uong Dec 2017
you’ve got the most delicate hands
i’ve ever felt on my inner chest.
i’m breaking apart,
completely shattering to pieces;
it might be a release, it might bring me peace,
bits & pieces, put them back together.
my legs are shaking from the cold;
you passed me your jacket.
but, this is no ordinary jacket,
it’s like a band-aid wrapped around my soul.
and maybe for a moment or a glimpse,
i let go of the past and thought,
“maybe it won’t hurt this time.”
but, i’m still shattered
and breaking to bits & pieces;
i’m breaking apart,
maybe so that i can be put back together…
properly, so that i can birth out nations & stories.
no matter how much this hurts,
no matter how much my heart is aching,
the sound is echoing,
“i want to know you more.”
i freaking want to know you more!
should i surrender?
is it even possible for me to surrender?
you can see through my skin,
you know that it’s like a storm within.
but all it takes is a hurricane –
you’re that hurricane –
to overthrow me.
is that too much to ask for?
can you shake me?
can you slap me out of this?
slap me out of my skin!
but you said, “no, i’ll do this gently.”
are you gonna tell me that it takes time?
i know you say i’ll be fine,
as long as i’m wearing the soul jacket.
ugh! surrender. surrender. surrender.
you said, “healing takes time.”
sometimes the truth hurts more than the lie,
but do i want to be lied to?
the truth doesn’t hurt!
because change is necessary.
and what i’ve dug myself into,
i know you’ll drag me out of my pity hole.
“stop hiding your heartburns and
the holes ******* in your heart.”
soul jacket, this is one heck of a special jacket!
feels like protection.
it feels better than muscular arms around my waist
from a guy who’s three-four years older;
feels better than beer chugged down
trying to pass for stronger liquor;
feels better than trying to numb myself
with “don’t make me sad / don’t make me cry.”
don’t get me wrong, i still love the song born to die.
but maybe this time,
i’ll have to cross out that line;
and instead i’ll write:
“born to thrive.”
because that’s how your jacket makes me feel.
December 9, 2017. Yeah, jackets are great.
Amber S Aug 2013
it has been two and a half months
(really it’s been seven years, three months,
fifteen days, twelve hours, five minutes and thirty-three
seconds)

but my jacket is back.
(except it smells like you)

acoustic guitar, the redolence of ****
and mistakes pungent in the sort of summer air.

but my jacket is back.
(except it tastes like you)

i felt your footsteps, imagined the way your fingers
held my hair, tight, yanking. a doll with loose threads.

but my jacket is back.
(except it looks like you)

your teeth reminded me of the oceans i could never find,
your eyelashes like razors begging to slice me open.

but my jacket is back.
(except it feels like you)

it felt heavy in my bruised hands, your hug
was a boa constrictor killing prey. main course.(dessert)

but my jacket is back.
yet when i wear it,
all i can think is you mounting, hands
rigid, your fingers venom.

i cannot breathe with it on
first step

when he looks at a woman he searches for qualities that attract him because he wants to desire her yet this tendency creates an imbalance or disadvantage he is rendered weak to a woman’s beauty or whatever traits he idealizes self-realizing this propensity he looks away from women years of disappointment neglect change him he becomes afraid of women gynophobic

2

when she looks at a man she searches for qualities she is critical of because she wants to be impervious to his power she is suspicious of all men their upper body strength penchant to be in control misperception of women as property misogyny emotional immaturity neediness to be mommyed selfishness insensitivity or over-sensitivity depending she wants to be treated with equal respect a loving nurturing relationship she is suspicious of all people their alternate realities passive aggressive behavior co-dependence craziness

3

he sees her then looks away she suspiciously notices nothing happens they go back to their separate homes alone always home alone grown calm in resignation yet disbelieving of this destiny saddened by this fate both worry about future she looks at her face naked body in mirror her stomach churns feels sad sickening remembers time when she was more carefree he puts one foot in front of other then walks tries to remember who taught him to walk how many times did he fall who taught him to laugh where did his sense of humor go

4

he sees her thinks she is lovely resists the urge to turn away he smiles says hello she notices nervously smiles her shaky voice articulates louder than a whisper hi

Tucson 2-step

they are standing in line at a café on 4th avenue he is directly behind her she is lanky wearing white background faded colors patterned summer dress thin straps over bare shoulders long brown hair few gray strands small unfinished tattoo on left calf leather slip-ons 1 inch heals he is at a complete loss for words thinks to make remark about the weather decides not to overhead fan stirs hot humid July air barista girl asks what she would like her eyes scan blackboard menu behind counter she hesitates remarks help him i need an extra moment to decide he steps up to counter money in hand orders small to go Arnold Palmer half black current lays $3 on counter mentions change goes in tip jar thank you barista girl moves fast he lifts cup from counter glances at woman still deciding then at barista girl says have a wonderful day turns walks out door dawns on him woman grows hair under her arms his 2nd most compelling female physique adornment fetish oh god he thinks to himself should i wait for her to make up her mind then approach try to craft conversation at least find out her name no i’m too weak in this moment she is so lovely let her go

2

she orders double Americana in small cup to go room for soy milk thinks to herself he did greet her perhaps their paths will cross on street why did he run off so fast she glances toward front of café notices window seat changes her mind instructs barista ******* 2nd thought make it for here digs through purse realizes she left wallet in truck explains to barista girl she needs to run out to her vehicle to retrieve wallet forgotten under front seat the air on the street is heavy dense she smells her own perspiration looks north then south does not see him walks to truck feels exhausted appetiteless almost nauseous wishes she did not order a drink thinks to get behind wheel drive home go to sleep

Tucson 3-step tango

she feels disappointment by her recent writings as if she is reaching a more sophisticated audience and setting a higher standard for her work yet she is not living up to her ambitions her recent writings smell of her past writings too emotional the damaged woman wounded child she wants to write more introspectively with detached humor that only comes from keener intelligence she slams her laptop shut decides to go to Club Congress for a ****** mary or margarita but Club Congress is haunted with small town cretins losers wannabes she considers Maynard’s decides Maynard’s is too safe suburban yuppyish finally gives in to thought of glass of pinot noir at Plush next comes what to wear jeans in mid-July desert heat is unacceptable perhaps loose fitting thin cotton white summer dress thin leather belt ankle high indian moccasins hair in ponytail no pigtail braids no ponytail no makeup maybe little ylang ylang oil no she thinks about her recent writings

2

i am one breath away from crying in every moment one breath away from flying m.i.a. in every moment one breath away from destroying everything there is beauty in ugliness beauty in decrepitude disease beauty in harm hurt suffering beauty in greed injustice betrayal beauty in corruption contamination pollution beauty in hate cruelty ignorance beauty in death we spend our whole lives searching for a good death we spend our whole lives searching for eternal love this modern world is too much for me over my head the horrors of this place are beyond words unspeakable voice inside maybe mom yells quit your whining or dad hollers stop complaining i am trying to smile through tears one breath away from giving in one breath away from becoming stranger to myself winter spring winter spring there is beauty in nothingness we spend our whole lives searching for ourselves learning who we are not finding grasping secrets from dark paths light trails winter spring winter spring i am one breath away

3

she sits alone at bar at Plush glass of pinot noir glass of ice water in front of her 2 bearded older men eye her from other end of bar she ignores them glances at her wristwatch tries to look like she is waiting for someone music from speakers antiquated rock standard it is early friday hours from dusk moderate middle aged crowd mingle wait for local jazz trio to begin she thinks about her recent writings wonders is it too late for love considers lesbian affair from 5 different perspectives 5 woman’s voices each describing same lesbian affair in 5 opposing accounts hmmm she sips dark red wine from glass chases it with ice water she considers a story about a gang of female bikers who ride south to Mexico

4

the Americans came through here last night crossing border illegally climbing over our fences digging tunnels beneath our barrier walls littering along their trail they travel in packs of every skin color carry guns knives explosives wear leather boots some are shirtless tattoos dyed hair mischievously smiling conceitedly stealing when in question murdering they rob our homes slaughter our chickens ransack gardens loot our harvest you can still smell the stink of their fast food breaths

5

she swallows the last dark red wine from glass chases it with ice water local jazz trio begins to play as bar fills with more people she decides to walk home one foot in front of other wonders who taught her how to walk how many times did she fall she laughs to herself

Tucson square dance

TPD 10-18 unconfirmed data report

7 post-University of Arizona female graduates go to Cactus Moon for several drinks and dancing then drive to Bashful Bandit for more drinks and dancing 2 women get into scuffle victim Brittany Garner female 23 years of age race #5 (Native American, Eskimo, Middle -Eastern, Other) 5’ 2” long black hair cut-off blue jean shorts clingy light blue top falls hits head on side of bar dies of fatal blow to skull forensics report crushed occipital lobe assailant Stacy Won female 31 years of age race #4 (Asian) 5’6” black jeans black leather jacket red helmet Honda motorcycle still at large

witness accounts

Jess Delaney female 33 years of age race #2 (White) 6’ tight black pencil skirt white sleeveless undershirt no bra 3” heels blond ponytail “that squirting little **** deserves everything she got she lied told Stacy i’m a ***** i never cheated on Brittany i don’t understand we were all having a good time getting buzzed and dancing we should never have left Cactus Moon **** Kerrie thought some biker dude might be hanging around the Bandit hell maybe the Bandit was a biker bar once but now it’s just a college sink hole full of drunken frat boys when Monique flashed a little *** they went crazy cheering and buying us shots it just got out of hand never should have happened the way it happened Stacy didn’t mean to **** Brittany it’s ****** up i want to go home please let me go home”

Sabrina Starn female 29 years of age race #2 (White) 5’8” trendy corporate gray suit black pumps red shoulder length hair “i have to be at work at 8 AM Stacy was drunk out of control she gets crazy when she drinks Brittany was trash talking pushing all Stacy’s buttons then Stacy accused Brittany of sleeping with Monique and all hell broke loose i didn’t see what happened i was in the powder room it’s a terrible tragedy unfortunate accident can i please be released i need to sleep this is madness”

Kerrie Angeles female 27 years of age race #1 (Hispanic) 5’ 6” black pants white shirt black hair cut stylishly short silver crucifix around neck red fingernails “when we got to the Bashful Bandit i was ***** soaking between my legs thinking about a cowgirl at Cactus Moon ready to **** anyone i saw fantasized pulling a train with those frat boys Monique had been kind of quiet at Cactus Moon but when we got to the Bashful Bandit she lit up dancing wild unbuttoning her top jacket Sabrina went to the ladies room to snort coke with biker dude Kerrie wanted but he wasn’t into her then Brittany started saying crazy stuff accusing Stacy of stealing Monique from Jess Jessie goes through women heartlessly she doesn’t give a **** about Monique Jessie knows if she wants Monique back she can simply fiddle a finger my guess is Stacy is half way to Argentina she never meant to **** Brittany i’m going to miss her real bad she was a good kid”

Ann Skyler female 28 years of age race  #2 (White) 4’ 11’’ green white red Mexican peasant skirt black t-shirt black high-tops hair in messy bun “i’m confused i saw them dancing laughing grinding up against each other Rage Against the Machine came on then Nine Inch Nails the room felt quaking dizzy claustrophobic then they were pushing each other shoving yelling frat boys cheering the next thing i knew Brittany was supine on the floor blood pouring out maybe she just slipped hit her head i don’t know what to think i feel real sad confused sick to my stomach scared”

Monique Smithson female 24 years of age race # 3 (Black) 5’ 9” blue jeans jean jacket cowboy boots nose ring braided pigtails “Stacy had it in for Brittany from the start i saw it in her eyes at Cactus Moon she made several clever toxic remarks they snapped at each other i never thought it would escalate to ****** poor sweet Brittany was always so susceptible i was looking down adjusting my jeans over my boots when it happened i heard felt a big thump glanced up Brittany was lying there lifeless blood spilling everywhere Stacy ran out fast i heard her bike engine take off in a hurry”

Rodeo Drive Tucson

matt’s hats tom’s tools & tobacco lou’s liquors fred’s beds frank’s planks bill’s drills jane’s drains & panes chuck’s check cashing cheryl’s barrels hank’s tanks tina’s trucks & tractors walt’s asphalt sean’s pawn rick’s rifles mom’s guns terry’s tires charlie’s harleys rhonda’s hondas jim’s rims art’s parts gus’s gasoline mike’s bikes frank’s feed gwen’s pens ann’s cans nancy’s nursery joes‘s clothes jess’s dresses bert’s skirts steve’s sleeves paul’s shawls michelle’s shells & bells al’s pails & snails sam’s hams & jams patty’s pancakes phil’s chili don’s donuts betty’s spaghetti bob’s burgers alycia’s quiches jean’s beans jerry’s berries anna’s bananas andy’s candies cathy’s taffies tony’s ponies roy’s toys kim’s whims marty’s parties jill’s pills rick’s tricks alice’s palace debbie’s disposal dave’s graves

Quinta Waltz de Tucson

she is definitely displeased profoundly disappointed in her latest literary efforts she dreams aches to create deeper discourse higher insight more thoughtful philosophical inquiries about life’s challenges beauty a better world overpowering love inspiration instead she writes paperback television trash stupid inadequate answers to solemn questions she wonders if she is too scratched dented to find love her ******* are definitely changing she is deeply disturbed not ready for menopause too young for menopause she wants to remain a fertile woman with smooth skin wet ******

2

her neighbor Leslie awoke to horrible morning Leslie’s 6 chickens were assaulted overnight precious Mabel dragged off feathers everywhere trail down the street other hens cowering slumped together with wilted necks 3 of them with puncture wounds Leslie carried them one by one inside washed their wounds hugged them cried who did this terrible act a neglected abusive neighborhood cat or some desert predator why didn’t Leslie wake to sounds of savage marauding now this creature knows hen’s whereabouts when will it return for more massacre what modifications need to be enforced to ensure their coup before nightfall

3

she wants to remain a hen keep producing eggs does not want is not ready to enter the next **** stage of this **** existence it was fun being pretty for men inspiring them to say do whacky things she wants to remain a hen she is definitely displeased profoundly disappointed in her latest literary attempts “Tucson square dance” (self-referential) ****** bit about Americans came through here last night in “Tucson 3-step” ****** "Rodeo Drive" tepid perhaps the pinot noir lowered her standards everything is becoming nothing she cannot sleep tosses turns thrashes sheets in humid heat of her lonesome bed is she is too scratched dented to find love she worries for Leslie

4

tomorrow is another day they say the rain will come last year’s monsoon never came the baking sun smothered her garden died one by one sleepless she will miss tomorrow’s pilates class the infrequent delightful chatty breakfast afterwards she dreams aches of deeper discourse higher insight with detached humor that only comes from keener intelligence more thoughtful philosophical inquiries about life’s challenges beauty a better world overpowering love inspiration she crossed the line tonight her ******* are definitely changing

Tucson 666

he decides to shave eighth to quarter inch length salt and pepper beard a.k.a. unshaven look he has worn for years and grow full mustache the whiskers on his upper lip are darker with sparse gray at first no one notices after weeks the mustache gradually fills evoking many contrasting remarks several women loath it several men admire it girl at grocery store suggests he grow Fu Manchu so she can tug on it shopgirl says he looks like Charlie Chaplin downstairs neighbor from Turkey explains most Turkish men traditionally wear mustaches he read mustaches masculinize and empower men especially men in authoritative positions he thinks back to the 1960’s when many hippie males grew mustaches then in the 70’s gay men fashioned mustaches then in the 80’s cops adopted mustaches he wonders why a swatch of hair beneath nose is so provoking examines his visage in mirror discerns the mustache confers a Pepé le Pew quality or European accent to his appearance he remembers when he was young hippie with many amorous episodes how his mustache preserved the scent of a woman but there are no women in his life for many years do post-menopausal women possess scent? he feels indecisive whether to retain it or be rid of it

2

she observes her figure in mirror thinks to herself maybe her ******* are not changing perhaps it’s all in her head she inspects the little lines forming near her eyelids studies her features for signs of aging hardly any silver strands in long brown hair she examines neck ******* arms elbows fingers tummy hips pelvic region thighs knees shins calves ankles feet detects subtle changes thinks to herself my ******* are possibly slightly changing turned 40 in March married briefly in late teens no children a 15 year old dog beginning to suffer veterinarian promises to warn her when the time comes she wonders why it is so difficult finding fitting mate men sleep with her several times then move on maybe she is not such a great lover perhaps she would be better if one of them stuck around perhaps she is a lesbian the whole ide
Chintan Shelat Mar 2012
His eyes were clearly peeling the dead skin off of the every tree passing by,
all the greenness of the grass was falling off to keep him back,
he was clinging on his jacket as if he was to fall,
he should have leaned on his shoulders hollowed by the ghosts,
the aghast wandering was eating him from the inside,
he must have smoked it off like a man,
he must have ****** it off  like a high school boy,
that jacket was getting more red,

he was hiding the blackness of the palm into his fist,
he wasn't mature enough to slap the white guy passed by,
the jacket was only his true possession,
yet his chest is no more a secret.
at night he replaces his jacket by the brown blanket just to be restless in the sleep,
the addiction is at height,
cold is still cold,
warm is still warm,
his skin is becoming red,
the jacket, blanket, all are shrinking to disappear,
making a space to be filled by......
Poetic T Jun 2014
My jacket it is a snug fit,
It has shiny buckles,
They gleam in the light,
Above my head.

I have to wear this,
It is my blanket at night,
It comes in one colour,
Bright white.

I may struggle,
But this jacket
I will live in the rest of my days,
I see them looking through
My window in to my World.

All white like my jacket,
Padded walls,
comfy floors.

They think this will calm my thoughts,
But I just see red,
Anger,
Blood,
Hate.

I will always wear my jacket,
I will stay here for the rest of my days,
I love my jacket that I wear each day and night.
Mitchell Nov 2013
It was 98'.
No, it was 99'.
That was the year.
Yeah, that was the year.

I had just landed abroad and knew no one.
Well, I was there with my girlfriend, Page.

I knew her.

We had to get out of the states.
There was nothing for us there.
We were drowning in that nothingness - that lacking future.

Cookie cutters everywhere.

Everything I saw was like an outline of something that had already happened.
I couldn't sleep.
I couldn't ****.
I could barely call my parents to let them know what I was doing.

Nothing really.

Floating downward like a leaf broken from its stem.
I was scared.
I'll admit it.
I was terrified of the next four years.
Twenty-five seemed so far away and so close, all at the same time.

We had a found an apartment to live in while in the U.S.
We were lucky because people we met later on said it was hell trying to find a place after arriving.
I was never too good at that stuff anyway.
I always felt like people were trying to cheat me or something.

It was small.
You would have said you loved it, but secretly hated it.
One could barely stand in the shower.
Want to spread your arms wide?

Forget about it.

There was a balcony though and you could watch the street traffic from above.
People look so small when your high up.
Down the street, there was a large theatre where they filmed movies.
I rarely saw them shooting, but I could tell it was a good place to.
It was beautiful at night when the lampposts would flicker on, orange spilling on the street.
Everything was damp in the Fall when we first arrived.

"What do you want to do today?" I asked her. She was laying face down on the bed.
Whenever she was hungover, she would do that.
All the covers and pillows over her face, blocking out the world and its light.
I did the same thing, so I couldn't really say much.
We were hungover a lot those first couple months.
Then came the jobs and everything changed...mostly.

She moaned something that I couldn't understand.
I was standing by the window, staring at the pigeons and crows perched on the roof across from us.
They had made a little nest under one of the shingles.
Clever little ******'s.

"Look at those things," I said.
The coffee I was drinking was bitter and made from crystals.
It gave me a headache, but it was cheap and we were broke.
I stepped back to get a better look at their nest and knocked an empty beer bottle around.

She moaned again and rose up from bed, kind of like a stretching kitten or a cat.
Her back was arched like a crescent moon and she stunk of ***** and Sprite.
The blankets were twisted and crumpled and she was tangled in them like a fly in a spiders web.
I went into the kitchen and poured out my coffee, thinking of what to do with the day.

"Breakfast?" she asked me from bed.
My back was to her, but I knew she wanted me to make it.
I put the electric stove on and opened the refrigerator.

"No eggs," I said back to her, "I'll be right back."

She moaned and slithered back into bed.
I threw my jacket and slippers on and made my way downstairs.

"Dobry den," I said to the cashier.
He was a tiny vietnamese man with a extremely high pitched voice.
I struggled to stifle a laugh every time I came in.

"Dobry den," he said back, sounding like air escaping from a balloon.

"Dear God," I thought, "How does his voice box do it?"

I went straight to the eggs, pretending to cough.
All around me were packaged sweets and rotten vegetables and fruit.
There were half loaves of brown, stale bread wrapped lazily in thin plastic.
Canned beans, noodle packets, and cardboard infused orange juice lined the shelves.
Where were the ******* eggs?
We needed milk too.
Trying to drink that crystalized coffee without it was torture.
I don't even know how I did it earlier.
"I must be getting used to the taste..." I thought.

I opened the single refrigerator they had in the place.
It was stocked with loosely packaged cheese, milk, beer, and soda.
There they were, those ******* eggs, right next to the yogurt.
I looked at the expiration date of a small carton of chocolate milk and winced.
"Someone could die here if they weren't careful," I whispered to myself.

"Everyding O.K.?" I heard the cashier squeak behind me.
I turned and nodded and showed him the eggs.
He was suspicious I was stealing something.
It was ironic.
I put the eggs on the counter and handed over what the cash register told me.

"There you go," I said and handed him the 58 crown in exact change.

"Děkuji," he peeped.

His voice sounded like a stuffed animal.
I nodded, smiled, and quickly got the hell out of there.

"You know the guy that works at the shop across the street?" I asked the body still in bed.
Well, she was up now, back up against the wall with her laptop on her lap.
"You mean the guy that has the voice of a little girl?"
"Exactly. I was just in there - getting these eggs - and I nearly laughed in his face."
"That's mean," she frowned, staring at her laptop.
Many of our conversations were with some kind of electronic device in between us.
We needed to work on that.
"I didn't laugh at him directly."
She smiled and nodded and moved down the bed a little more.
Only her head was resting on the pillow.
I cracked two eggs and let them sizzle there in the butter and the salt.

"So, what do you want to do today?" I asked Page, "It's not too cold out. We could go on a walk."
"Where?"
"I don't know. Over the bridge and maybe down by the water."
"It's going to be so cold," she shivered.
"I was just out there in slippers and a t-shirt and I was fine."
"That's because you're so big. I'm tiny. I don't get as much blood flow."

I flipped the two eggs and looked down at them.
Golden and burnt slightly around the edges.
******* perfect.
Now, just gotta wait a little on the other side and make sure to not let the yolk harden.
I hated that more than anything in the world.
Well, that and hearing **** poor excuses like it being too cold.
It was nice out.
She'd be fine.

"Come on," I sighed. I did that a lot. "It'll be fun."
She looked up at me from her computer with a dead look in her eye.
"What?" I asked her.
"You're such a...nerd," she said.
"No I'm not."
"You're so weird. Some of the things you say sometimes..."
"Like what?"
"Let's go on a walk."
She exaggerated the word walk.
I laughed and knew I was being a little too excited about a walk.
"Yeah. So? What are you doing? You're just laying there doing nothing."
"It's my day off," she scoffed, jokingly.

We were unemployed.
Everyday was a day off.
This was not something to bring up.
It was touchy subject.
One had to go about it...delicately.

"We need to find jobs," I stated, "And we can probably ask around or look for signs in windows."

"Oh JESUS," she gagged, coughing and diving back under the covers.

"I'm just thinking ahead so we can stay here. There's got to be something out there we can do."

"Like what?" she asked, her voice muffled by blankets.

"I don't know...something," I mumbled, trailing off as I flipped one of the eggs, "Perfect."

After breakfast, Page finally got out of bed and took a shower.
I tried to sneak in there with her, but, like I said before, one could barely fit themselves in there.
We compromised to have *** on the bed, though I did miss doing it in the shower.
As Page got dressed, I watched her slip those thin black stockings on, half reading a magazine.
I had gotten a subscription to The Review because I was trying to become a writer.
I thought, maybe if I read the stuff getting published - even the bad **** - it'll help.
Later, I realized, this was a terrible idea, but I enjoyed the magazine all the same.
Page finished getting dressed.
I jumped into whatever clothes were on the floor and didn't stink.
Then, we were out the door on Anna Letenske street, looking at the tram, downhill.


"I can see my breath," Page said, "It's cold..."

"Alright," I said as both of us ran across the street, "It's a little cold."

"But it's ok because I'm glad were out of the house."

"If we would have festered there any longer, we would have stayed in there all day."

"And missed this beautiful day," she said mocking me, putting both of her arms in the air.

The sky was gray and overcast and a single black crow flew over us, roof to roof.
No one was out, really.
It was Sunday and no one ever really came out on Sundays.
From the few czech friends I had, they explained to me this was the day to get drunk and cook.

"Far different then what people think in the States to do," I remember telling him.
"What do you do, my friend?" he had asked. He always called me my friend.
It was a nice thing to do since we had only known each other a couple weeks.
"Well," I explained to him, "Some people go to church to pray to God."
He laughed when I said this and said, "HA! God? How many people believe in God there?"
I had heard through the news and some Wikipedia research Prague was mostly atheist.
"A good amount, I'm pretty sure."
"That's silly," he scoffed, "Silly is word, right?"
"Yep. A word as any other."
"I like that word. What else do they do on Sunday?"
"A lot of people watch football. Not like soccer but with..."
"I know what you talk about," he said, cutting me off, "With the ball shaped like egg?"
I nodded, "Yes, the one with the egg shaped ball. It's popular in the Fall on Sundays."
"And what is Fall?" he asked.
You can see our relationship was really based on questions and answers.
He was a good guy, though I could never pronounce his name right.
There was a specific z in there somewhere where one had to dig their tongue under their teeth.
Lots of breath and vibration that Americans were never asked or trained to do.
Every czech I met said our language was a high contradiction.
Extremely complex in grammar and spelling, but spoken with such sloth.
I don't know if they used the word sloth.
I just like the word.

As we waited for the tram, I noticed the burnt orange and red blood leaves on the ground.
"Where had they come from?" I wondered. There were no trees on the street.
Must be from the park down the block, the one with the big church and the square.
There were lines of trees there used as leaning posts for the bums and junkies as they waited.
What they were waiting for, I never knew.
They just looked to be waiting for something.
I kicked a leaf into the street from the small island platform for the tram.
It swept up into the air a couple inches, and then instantly, was swept away by a passing car.
I watched as it wavered in the air, settling down the block in the middle of the road.

"Where's this trammm," Page complained.
Whenever it was cold out, her complaining level multiplied by a million.
"Should be coming soon. Check the schedule."
"Too cold," she said, "Need to keep my hands in my pockets."
I shook my head and looked at the schedule. It said it would be there at 11:35.
"11:35," I told her, still looking at the schedule. There was a strange cross over the day of Sunday.
"You mad?"
"No," I said turning to her, "I just want to have a nice day and its hard when you're upset."
"I'm not upset," she said, her teeth chattering behind her lips.
"Complaining I mean. We can go back home if it's really too cold. It's right there."
"No," she looked down, "Let's go out for a bit. I just don't know how long I'll last."
"Ok," I shrugged.
I looked up the street and saw our tram coming; number 11.
"There it is," I said.
"Thank God," Page exhaled, "I feel like I'm about to die."

Even the tram was sparse with people.
An empty handle of cheap liquor rattled in the back somewhere.
I heard it rock back and forth against the legs of a metal seat.
"Someone had a night last night," I thought, "Hope that's not mine."
We had gone to some dark bar with a lot of stairs going down - all I really recall.
Beer was so **** cheap there and there was always so much of it, one got very drunk easily.
I couldn't even really remember who we met or why we went there.
When everything's a blur in the morning you have two choices:
Feel guilty about how much you drank, lie around, and do nothing or,
Leave it be, try not to think about it, and try and find your passport and cell phone.

We made our transfer at the 22 and rode downhill.
Page looked like she was going to be sick.
Her sunglasses were solid black and I couldn't see her eyes, but her face was flushed and green.
"You alright?" I asked her.
"I'm fine," she said, "Just need to get off of this tram. Feel like I'm going to be sick."
"You look it."
"Really?" she asked.
"Yeah, a little bit."
"Let's get off at the park with the fountain. I don't want to puke here."
"Ok," I said, smiling, "We'll get off after this stop."

We sat down on one of the benches that circled around the fountain.
It was empty and Page was confused why.
"Maybe to save money?" I suggested.
"What? It's just water."
"Well, you gotta' pump the water up there and then filter it back out. Costs money."
"Costs crown," she corrected me.
"Same thing," I said, putting my arm around her, "There's no one here today."
"I know why," she stated, flatly.
"Why?"
"Because it's collllllllld and it's Sunday and only foreigner's would go out on a day like this."
I scanned the park and noticed that most of the faces there were probably not Czech.
"****," I muttered, "You may be right."
"I know I am," she said, wiggling her chin down into her jacket, "We're...crzzzy."
"We're what?" I asked. I couldn't hear her through her jacket.
She just shook her head back and forth and looked forward, not wanting to move from the warmth.
Dogs were scattered around the brown green grass with their owners.
Some were playing catch with sticks or *****, but others were just following behind their owner's.
I watched as one took a crap in the center of the walkway near the street.
Its owner was typing something on their phone, ignoring what was happening in front of him.
After the dog finished, the owner looked down at the crap, looked around, then slunk off.

"Did you see that?" I asked Page, pointing to where the owner had left the mess.
"Yeah," she nodded, "So gross. That would never fly in the states."
"You'd get shoulder tackled by some park security guard and thrown in jail."
"And be given a fat ticket," she said, coughing a little, "Let's get out of here."
"Yeah," I agreed, "And watch for any **** on the way out of here."

We made our way out of the park and down the street where the 22 continues on to the center.
"Let's not go into the center. Let's walk along the water's edge and maybe up to the bridge."
"Ok," I said, "That's a good idea." I didn't want to get stuck in that mass of tourists.
I could tell Page didn't either. I think she was afraid she might puke on a huddle of them.
We turned down a side street before the large grocery store and avoided a herd of people.
The cobble stones were wet and slick, glistening from a small sliver of sunlight through the clouds.
Page walked ahead.
Sometimes, when we walked downtown in the older parts of Prague, we would walk alone.
Not because we were fighting or anything like that; it was all very natural.
I would walk ahead because I saw something and she would either come with or not.
She would do the same and we both knew that we wouldn't go too far without the other.
I think we both knew that we would be back after seeing what we had wanted to see.
One could call it trust - one could call it a lot of things - but this was not really spoken about.
We knew we would be back after some time and had seen what we had wanted to.
Thinking about this, I watched her look up at the peeling paint of the old buildings.
Her thick black hair waved back and forth behind her plum colored pea coat.
Page would usually bring a camera and take pictures of these things, but she had forgotten it.
I wished she hadn't.
It was turning out to be such a beautiful day.

We made it to the Vlatva river and leaned over the railing, looking down at the water.
Floating there were empty beer bottles and plastic soda jugs.
The water was brown, murky, and looked like someone had dumped a large bag of dirt in there.
There was nothing very romantic about it, which one would think if you saw it in a picture.
"The water looks disgusting," Page said.
"That it does, but look at the bridge. It looks pretty good right
TOD HOWARD HAWKS Aug 2023
by TOD HOWARD HAWKS

For Bill Coulter

Copyright 2023 Tod Howard Hawks

PREAMBLE:

A CHILD FOR AMARANTH is a love story of many dimensions and a mystery/thriller with a worldwide, mystical, double-magic denouement that results in certainty of a newborn and Peace on Earth.

I hope you enjoy A CHILD FOR AMARANTH.

Chapter 1

Amaranth Anderson (née Christensen) was sitting in her chair at the kitchen table because she could feel another poem welling up inside her. So she picked up her pen, turned to the next empty page in her notebook, and began to record.

WE HAVE MINED OUR MOUNTAINS

We have mined our mountains,

we have fished our seas,

we have felled our forests,

we have gathered our grains,

but we have not yet embraced

the infinite energy of our souls,

which is love.

Amaranth had been writing poems since her early 20’s. Actually, as she had told so many people, she, in fact, had never “written” a poem, except for the one time when she was an Upper Middler at Andover and her English teacher, Mr. Fitts, who was a renowned poet, literary critic, translator of Greek plays, and at that time, judge of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition, assigned everyone in the class to write a poem that would be due the next day. That night she had tried to write a poem. The poem she wrote was awful. The next day, she handed in her poem. When Mr. Fitts handed back the poems several days later to her and her 11 classmates, she looked at the piece of paper. At the top of it was the number 50, a failing grade for sure, circled many times with red ink. And off to the right side in the margin, Mr Fitts had written: “Be yourself. If this is yourself, be someone else.” Amaranth had never forgotten that traumatic moment, and she never wrote another poem, that is, until she entered therapy in her early twenties.

Amaranth had gone to law school after graduating from Columbia College, Columbia University where she and Ty, the man who was to become her husband, had met their first year there and seemed as if, almost instantly, had fallen in love. Amaranth had hated law school, and midway through her first semester, had started having problems sleeping, problems that got so bad that by the end of the semester, she couldn’t sleep at all. So she dropped out, an act for which her father, an attorney himself, would never forgive her. Nonetheless, she returned to Sedona, Arizona, where she had grown up, and because her sleeplessness had not gotten any better, but, in fact, had gotten much worse, entered psychotherapy.

Over time, Amaranth came to realize in therapy that her father had been vicariously living his dreams through her, and that she had unconsciously become, and remained, the "good little girl" to get her father’s approval. The problem was that she was slowly dying inside. Chronic insomnia was the first overt sign that she needed to begin to live her own life, and therapy was the catalyst to that end. She learned, in time, that she had her own dreams, her own needs, her own desires, her own wishes to be fulfilled. In short, she had her own life to live. And that realization was when she became a poet.

Her own feelings, which had been buried for years, began to
emerge. And Amaranth found that when she married her feelings with her intellect, a poem would well up inside her, and, quite literally, pop out of her. Her job as a poet was not to “write” a poem, but to “record” it, Her job was to get quickly a pen and her notebook and write down what was welling up in her. If she didn’t, the poem would begin dissipating. An unrecorded poem would evaporate virtually instantly. It would enter the ether, lost forever. That’s why she told everyone she never “wrote” a poem, except for that one Andover poem, but always tried to write it down when she felt a poem welling up in her. Mr. Fitts’s acerbic comment at the top of that piece of paper on which that Andover poem had been written proved to be both wise and prophetic. Poetry, she told other people, was like making love: If you had to force yourself to do it, don’t. And that is the reason she always told people she never “wrote” another Andover poem, but always tried to “record” the poem she could feel welling up inside her.

After recording the poem, she put her pen on the notebook, got out of her chair, put on her light jacket, walked to the kitchen door, opened it, walked down the few stairs, then walked down the slight hill toward the creek that flowed behind her house. It was soon to be spring and she wanted to see if the crocuses had begun to crack the earth that had been hardened by the cold winter. When Amaranth saw the burgeoning crocuses, she said hello to them. They were her friends, her confidants. So spring was on its way, she thought. Pleased by that realization, Amaranth then turned around, walked back up the hill, and entered the house.

Ty and Amaranth had gotten married in Sedona. Both had once visited Boulder, Colorado and vacationed in the mountains for two weeks. As a result, they wound up going to a small town near Boulder called Niwot one evening to have dinner at a fine restaurant there. The next day, they returned to Niwot to look around. They both really liked Niwot, cozy and unpretentious as it was. They made another visit there, and after much deliberation, decided to buy a house in Niwot and make it their home. Ty had secured a position at Fairview High School in Boulder as a teacher of American history, which had been his major at Columbia. Both were 32 years old.

Both Ty and Amaranth wanted to have a family, but though they had tried innumerable times to get Amaranth pregnant, they had not succeeded. Ty eventually got tested to see if he had a low ***** count, but the test proved he didn’t. Amaranth, too, had gone to several doctors to see if it were she who had a problem, but the doctors could find nothing wrong with her. This dilemma perplexed both of them. And, in truth, Amaranth had begun to experience some low-level anxiety and depression over the situation.

Chapter 2

Ty got home about 5:30. He walked up behind Amaranth, who was standing in front of the kitchen sink, and gave her a kiss on her nape and a big hug.

“I love you, “ said Ty.

“I love you so much,” said Amaranth.

“I’m going to get on the computer to see if Trump still occupies the Oval Office,” said Ty. He was no fan of Trump.

“Good luck,” said Amaranth. She knew how Ty felt and how outspoken he had always been. But that didn’t bother her. She was actually proud of Ty for having the courage to speak his mind in all situations.

Amaranth finished preparing dinner and brought the food to the dining room table. She had prepared one of her favorite vegetarian meals. Both were vegetarians.

“He’s still there,” Ty said sardonically.

It had been a most difficult year for Ty, having Trump every day lying and cheating. He remembered vividly watching on live, worldwide TV the Charlottesville riots, watching and listening to the neo-Nazis and the white supremacists screaming terrible chants at Jews and blacks, as well as hearing that some crazy racist had run over with his vehicle and killed a nonviolent female protester who favored love over hate. And then there was Tump’s memo authorizing the Border Control to rip children, even babies, from the arms of their immigrant mothers. These grotesque incidents sent Ty to bed for almost two days, he was so emotionally wrought. And Trump’s impulsive and unilateral decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement angered Ty, too. Ty thought Trump was a liar, a cheat, a ******, and a crook. And to top it all off, Ty thought he was just flat-out dumb.

“Ty, I need to tell you something,” Amaranth said. “I’ve been having bouts of anxiety and depression and I think I need to see a therapist.”

Ty was silent for more than a moment. Then he said, “If that’s what you feel you need to do, do it. I’m behind you all the way. I love you dearly.”

“A friend of mine recommended a therapist in Boulder. I think I will call his office tomorrow,” said Amaranth.

“Sounds good to me,” said Ty.

That night Ty and Amaranth made passionate love, then fell asleep peacefully.

Chapter 3

“Hello, this is Amaranth Anderson calling,” said Amaranth. “I’d like to make an appointment to see Dr. Rosenstein about the possibility of becoming a therapy patient of his,” said Amaranth. “April 12th at 10:00 a.m.? That would be great. Thank you for your help.”

The following Friday, Amaranth went to meet her therapist.

“Dr. Rosenstein, it is a pleasure to meet you,” Amaranth said.

“And it is a pleasure to meet you as well,” replied Dr. Rosenstein. “How can I be of help to you?”

Amaranth began telling Dr. Rosenstein about her situation. She found she was not nervous telling Dr. Rosenstein everything about her situation. The more she told Dr. Rosenstein, the more she relaxed. She spoke for a long time, virtually the entire fifty minutes, the usual length of a therapy session.

“We have to stop now,” said Dr. Rosenstein. “I am not going to prescribe any medication for you at this time. I don’t think you need it right now. If you begin to feel worse, tell me. Please keep me apprised of how you’re doing. If your anxiety and depression begin to worsen, I will prescribe for you the appropriate medications. I’ll see you next Thursday at 10 o’clock. Is that OK?”

“Yes, it is,” said Amaranth. She got out of her chair and turned toward the door. “Thank you, Dr. Rosenstein.”

“You are most welcome,” replied Dr. Rosenstein.

Amaranth had called her best friend, Julie, the night before, asking her if she would like to have lunch today. Julie had said yes, so Amaranth got into her car and drove to Parkway Diner. When Amaranth opened the door at the entrance to the Parkway Diner, she saw Julie sitting in a booth to the right. Amaranth, even though she was not conscious of it, was very excited about her session with Dr. Rosenstein.

“How are you, Am?” asked Amaranth as she slid into the booth. Amaranth’s friends always called her Am.

“I’m fine. How are you doing after seeing a psychiatrist for an hour?” asked Julie.

“Fifty minutes, Julie. That’s a psychiatric hour,” said Amaranth. “Actually, I felt most comfortable talking with Dr. Rosenstein. I told him everything. I feel so much better than I did last night.”

The two ordered their meals and began eating them as they continued to talk.

“So Julie, how are your three little kids?” asked Amaranth.

“They’re doing fine. They can’t wait until it gets warm, really warm. You know they’re already training for the Olympics. You know how much they love to swim,” said Julie.

“How are they doing in school?” asked Amaranth.

“Well, Henry can’t get enough books to read. You know he’s in fifth grade. I take him to the public library every week. He just finished Tom Sawyer. Now he wants to read Huckleberry Finn. And Jennifer has been taking piano lessons now for two years, and she’s only in third grade. Tommy likes to play outdoors. He’s in first grade, just getting started.”

“That’s wonderful, Julie. You know how much Ty and I want kids, don’t you?”

Julie did know how terribly much Ty and Amaranth wanted to have kids, especially Am. Julie felt uncomfortable to talk to Am about having kids for fear of making Am feel even worse about her predicament.

“Women have kids nowadays when they’re in their late thirties, Am,” said Julie. “Hang in there.”

After they finished eating, Amaranth and Julie continued to talk about all sorts of things, like the best movies showing at the theater complex in Boulder, about the best shows on cable TV, about what awful shape the world was in. They were best friends, so they could talk about anything, and did.

“See you, I hope soon,” said Julie. “Don’t hesitate to call if ever you need to,” Julie added.

There’s a Chinese proverb that goes like this: “One can do without people, but one has need of a friend.”

Chapter 4

Ty had already gotten out of bed, showered, got dressed, ate something for breakfast, and headed for Fairview High School where he had been teaching American history for ten years. Amaranth still lay in bed half asleep.

What had happened last night while she was asleep? Amaranth asked herself. That voice, that sound. What was that about?

Amaranth lifted her head off her pillow, then sat on the edge of the bed. Nothing like that had ever happened to her before. The voice. It didn’t scare her, but it seemed as though it was almost real. She got out of bed and went into the bathroom. She took off her nightgown and took a shower. What was that about? The voice in her sleep, what was it trying to say to me? she thought. She brushed her teeth, combed her hair, then came back into the bedroom. It wasn’t Ty, that voice. But it was, in its own way, real. One sentence. That was all it was.

Amaranth got dressed and made her way into the kitchen. She looked out the window above the kitchen sink. It was a beautiful day, the sun shining on everything. The sky was blue, the grass was green. The sunshine reflected off the water in the creek. She made some coffee and sat down in her kitchen chair and slowly took a sip.

The voice had said to her: “The world is not safe now for your child.” That was it, that was all of it. She took another sip of coffee. The voice was not threatening, but it was sincere, earnest, she thought. She took another sip.

Amaranth sat a long time at the kitchen table thinking about the voice and what it said, yes, what it said directly to her, it seemed.

Finally, she got up from the table, put on her light jacket, then opened the kitchen door, went down the few steps, and walked toward the crocuses and the creek. It was, indeed, a beautiful day. She sat down on the grass next to the burgeoning crocuses. She began to tell the crocuses what had happened last night. As the sun rose higher in the sky, it got warmer. She could feel the sun’s warmth through her jacket. What a beautiful morning, she thought.

“I will have to tell Dr. Rosenstein about this,” Amaranth said, speaking to herself. She was half inclined to go back into the house and call him up to see if she might be able to see him that afternoon, but, no, she would wait until next Thursday, she decided.

She started to think about the world and all of its problems. Then she found herself centering her thoughts on the catastrophic climate change that the world’s leading scientists were speaking out about, warning the world that it had ten-to-twelve years to change its course or face annihilation. The rapid rise of Earth’s temperature, the much faster-than-expected melting of the ice caps, the alarming rise of sea levels around the world, the poor polar bears. And Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, his stupid claim that all of this was not true, but fake news. What awful things to have to think about, she thought. But the whole world had to think about all these awful things, and correct them, otherwise Earth, and all the living creations on it, would die.

Amaranth had to stop thinking about all these awful things herself. It was too much for her, so she said good-bye to the crocuses and the creek, stood up, walked up the hill, and went inside her love-filled home.

Chapter 5

Ty had already gotten out of bed, showered, got dressed, ate something for breakfast, and headed for Fairview High School where he had been teaching American history for ten years. Amaranth still lay in bed half asleep.

What had happened last night while she was asleep? Amaranth asked herself. That voice, that sound. What was that about?

Amaranth lifted her head off her pillow, then sat on the edge of the bed. Nothing like that had ever happened to her before. The voice. It didn’t scare her, but it seemed as though it was almost real. She got out of bed and went into the bathroom. She took off her nightgown and took a shower. What was that about? The voice in her sleep, what was it trying to say to me? she thought. She brushed her teeth, combed her hair, then came back into the bedroom. It wasn’t Ty, that voice. But it was, in its own way, real. One sentence. That was all it was.

Amaranth got dressed and made her way into the kitchen. She looked out the window above the kitchen sink. It was a beautiful day, the sun shining on everything. The sky was blue, the grass was green. The sunshine reflected off the water in the creek. She made some coffee and sat down in her kitchen chair and slowly took a sip.

The voice had said to her: “The world is not safe now for your child.” That was it, that was all of it. She took another sip of coffee. The voice was not threatening, but it was sincere, earnest, she thought. She took another sip.

Amaranth sat a long time at the kitchen table thinking about the voice and what it said, yes, what it said directly to her, it seemed.

Finally, she got up from the table, put on her light jacket, then opened the kitchen door, went down the few steps, and walked toward the crocuses and the creek. It was, indeed, a beautiful day. She sat down on the grass next to the burgeoning crocuses. She began to tell the crocuses what had happened last night. As the sun rose higher in the sky, it got warmer. She could feel the sun’s warmth through her jacket. What a beautiful morning, she thought.

“I will have to tell Dr. Rosenstein about this,” Amaranth said, speaking to herself. She was half inclined to go back into the house and call him up to see if she might be able to see him that afternoon, but, no, she would wait until next Thursday, she decided.

She started to think about the world and all of its problems. Then she found herself centering her thoughts on the catastrophic climate change that the world’s leading scientists were speaking out about, warning the world that it had ten-to-twelve years to change its course or face annihilation. The rapid rise of Earth’s temperature, the much faster-than-expected melting of the ice caps, the alarming rise of sea levels around the world, the poor polar bears. And Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, his stupid claim that all of this was not true, but fake news. What awful things to have to think about, she thought. But the whole world had to think about all these awful things, and correct them, otherwise Earth, and all the living creations on it, would die.

Amaranth had to stop thinking about all these awful things herself. It was too much for her, so she said good-bye to the crocuses and the creek, stood up, walked up the hill, and went inside her love-filled home.

Chapter 6

Ty Anderson grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was valedictorian of his high school graduating class and a National Merit Scholar. And he was charming and very handsome.

Ty chose to attend Columbia over Yale for two reasons, simply: the Core Curriculum and New York City.

Columbia College’s Core Curriculum was a rigorous two-year course of studies that included great literature, philosophy, art history, music appreciation, language, frontiers of science, global core studies, and writing. Each student of the College was required to take the “Core,” as it was affectionately referred to, regardless of her or his major. It was a start, a magnificent beginning, to a life of continual learning.

New York City was the veritable capital of the world. Living in and exploring New York City for four years made each student a citizen of the world for life, even if one decided to reside somewhere else, as Amaranth and Ty had decided to do.

Ty majored in American history. Public high schools across the nation were infamous because the vast majority of them did an execrable job of teaching that subject. Ty knew this. He himself had to augment his studies of that subject. He read, for example, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, and would frequently share incisive information with his classmates (and usually with the teacher as well) about the full scope of how the United States grew on the backs of slaves, how both the North and the South were complicit in this evil enterprise called slavery, how cotton became King Cotton, how cotton would be sent to Lowell, Massachusetts, the site where the Industrial Revolution began in the United States, and when processed, would be shipped from New York City to England. Both the entrepreneurs of the North and the slave owners of the South became incredibly rich. He would mention that the Constitution legalized slavery through the inclusion of the 3/5ths and the Fugitive Slave clauses in it, that Thomas Jefferson, our country’s third president, had owned over 600 slaves, that eight of our presidents had been slave owners, that the 4,000,000 slaves at the beginning of the Civil War had no legal rights, that they were whipped, or worse, if caught learning how to read or write, that a black man and a black woman who might fall in love could not legally be married, that a slave owner could take a thirteen-year-old girl and **** her with impunity, then sell her to another slave owner, if he wished. Ty came to admire the abolitionists who fervently advocated against slavery. William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Wendell Phillips, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Beecher Stowe — all became Ty’s heroes.

Ty learned how his nascent country grew westward through the genocide of indigenous peoples that most of his classmates called Indians, that President Andrew Jackson had signed the Indian Removal Act that resulted in “The Trail of Tears,” whereby the U.S. Army forced the indigenous peoples of southeastern United States to walk all the way to what is now Oklahoma, that General Sheridan had said, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” Ty read about Wounded Knee, the last massacre of indigenous people in 1890 by the U.S. Calvary. Ty learned that virtually every treaty signed between indigenous nations and the United States government, over time, had been broken by the United States government.

In his senior year at Columbia College, he was selected by Eric Foner, regarded as the preeminent professor of American history in the world, as one of a small group of American history majors to take Foner’s senior seminar “The Civil War and Reconstruction.”

That seminar was the apex of Ty’s college experience.

Chapter 7

Amaranth sat beside the crocuses. It was May now and the crocuses were fully grown. Amaranth talked to the crocuses:

“I think a lot about Earth and all its problems: climate change; nuclear proliferation; poverty; hunger — lack of food and potable water; homelessness; racial and religious discrimination; war and its atrocities; lack of good and affordable health care; political and corporate corruption; wealth inequality; illiteracy and lack of education; air pollution; plastic in the oceans; species becoming extinct.” She paused.

“I need someone to talk to. I wish the whole world was filled with beautiful crocuses. There would be no room for all these problems.”

Amaranth had always been this way, even when she was a child.

She thought of Patty from her elementary school days. All her classmates would make fun of Patty, but Amaranth didn’t. Patty was different from the other kids in the way she looked and in the way she acted. Every day at school, it seemed, Patty would begin to scratch her calves and not stop, and because she always wore long, white socks to school, blood would begin to seep through them, staining them red. The other kids would laugh at her. Amaranth wouldn’t.

In eighth grade of junior high, Amaranth had been elected president of student council, and in the winter, Roosevelt Junior High would put on the Snow Ball. The Snow Ball was held on the basketball court. All the boys stood together in one corner, all the girls were in another corner, and in the third corner stood Patty, alone, ostracized.

The music had not yet begun and Amaranth was appalled by seeing Patty standing alone in her own corner, so when the music did start to play, Amaranth, without thinking about it, began to walk away from her group diagonally across the basketball court toward Patty. Everyone was looking at Amaranth. When Amaranth reached Patty, she asked her if she would like to dance. Patty said she would, so Amaranth and Patty walked to the center of the basketball court and began to dance all by themselves. When the first song ended, Amaranth asked Patty if he would like to dance again, and Patty again said yes, so the two of them danced again while the rest of the class looked on. Amaranth was saying to her classmates, not with words but with dance and music, “You do not treat any human being the way you have always treated Patty!”

Patty was a friend of Amaranth’s for years thereafter.

Chapter 8

Ty, because he never liked Trump, would never juxtapose the title “President” with the name “Trump.”

“Trump is the most despicable human being I have ever encountered. He is a racist, a bigot, a liar, a cheat, a misogynist, a ******. And he is dumb as hell.”

Amaranth already knew how Ty felt about Trump, but would let him vent anyway. She thought it cathartic, and she held Trump in essentially the same esteem as Ty, though she didn’t have a need to vocalize her feelings.

“You are a stupendous cook, Am, but I’ve told you that a million times,” said Ty, but Amaranth would not have minded if he said the same thing a million more times.

The soup they had just finished was Chickpea Noodle Soup. The salad had been strawberry, basil, and goat cheese with balsamic drizzle, and the entrée they were eating now was Halloumi tacos with pineapple salsa & aji verde.

Amaranth loved this time of day. She loved the ambiance of a real candle lit in the center of the dining room table that was always covered with a clean, white linen tablecloth.

“I remember Trump denigrating on worldwide TV Rosie O’Donnell during the first Republican debate. I knew instantly that whoever this guy was, he should have been immediately disqualified from holding any political office, at any level, anywhere in the United States. Then, again on worldwide TV, Trump mocked a disabled New York Times reporter. Ever since, whenever Trump appears on TV, I quickly press the mute button on the remote control and turn my face away from the TV screen. I cannot bear to look at, or hear the voice of this extremely sick human being.”

“What’s for dessert tonight, Am?” said Ty.

“Carrot cake,” said Amaranth.

“Oh, I love your carrot cake!” said Ty.

Chapter 9

“Hello, Dr. Rosenstein,” said Amaranth.

“Hello, Amaranth. How are things?

“Well, Dr. Rosenstein, things are basically OK. My anxiety and depression are not as bad as they were. I think seeing and talking with you made me feel more relaxed and more hopeful.”

“I’m glad to hear that.”

“But I want to tell you what has just happened to me,” said Amaranth.

“Tell me,” said Dr. Rosenstein.

“Well, several nights ago while I was asleep, I heard — I hope you don’t think I’m crazy — I heard a voice in my head. It was not a scary voice. In fact, as I think back on it, it was a kind voice, almost the voice of wisdom. The voice said one sentence to me: “The world is not safe now for your child.’ That was the sentence, nothing more. And I haven’t heard that voice again. What do you think?”

Dr. Rosenstein paused for a few moments before he responded.

“This is intriguing, Amaranth. You say the voice did not scare you. The voice spoke to you about your ‘child,’ right?, a child you hope to have. And you said the voice was kind and wise.”

“Yes, that’s true.”

“To be honest, I don’t know what to make of it, except that the voice did not frighten you; on the contrary, it seems to have addressed you personally, almost empathically. What the voice meant when it warned you that the world is not safe now, well, that’s true. In fact, that’s true for everyone on Earth, don’t you think?”

“Yes I do, Dr. Rosenstein.”

Amaranth and Dr. Rosenstein continued their session, talking about her writing poetry, her friendship with Julie, and her deep love for Ty, among other things.

When it came time to leave Dr. Rosenstein’s office, she realized that, once again, she felt slightly better than she had before seeing him.

Amaranth smiled as she took the elevator to the main floor.

Chapter 10

“Let’s go to Steamboat Springs this weekend, Am,” ******* Ty. “That’s our favorite getaway place in the mountains.”

“That’s a great idea! We’ve been to Aspen — too glitzy, to Vail — too ordinary, to Telluride — too far. Steamboat Springs has been our favorite for quite some time. We can stay in that old hotel downtown, The Bristol, away from the stifling commercial areas. We can leave Friday afternoon, go biking Saturday morning, go tubing on the Yampa in the afternoon, then sit in the hot springs as long as we want. We can eat at Rootz. They have vegetarian dishes. Let me check the computer to see what’s going on Saturday evening.”

“Oh Ty, the Strings Music Festival is on Saturday evening. They’ll be playing Wagner, Grieg, and Beethoven. That sounds wonderful! We can eat breakfast Sunday at the Creekside Cafe and take our time coming home. It’s mid-June, a perfect time to spend some time in Steamboat!”

Amaranth scurried over to Ty to give him a big hug.

Amaranth and Ty, indeed, had a wonderful time in Steamboat Springs. They arrived there about 8:30 Friday evening, decided to eat breakfast at the Creekside Cafe Saturday morning, as well as on Sunday. Then they biked the many trails in and around Steamboat Springs, went tubing on the Yampa River in the afternoon, ate dinner at the Rootz, then enjoyed beautiful music at the Strings Music Festival.

They walked back to the Bristol Hotel, went upstairs to their room, and barely could contain themselves, ripping each other’s clothes off to make love. It had been a beautiful day in the Rocky Mountains.

Both Amaranth and Ty had fallen asleep soon after making love. But while Amaranth slept, that voice came to her again. This time it said: “Peace on Earth.” Again she was not frightened by it; rather, she felt a certain calmness as she remembered hearing it. The voice had a caring tone to it, a beneficent tone to it. Just that one spiritually beautiful phrase, “Peace on Earth,” but a notion mentioned only a few weeks during the Christmas holidays, then gone, she thought, for eleven months.

Amaranth didn’t tell Ty about the voice and the phrase it had spoken as they ate breakfast again at the Creekside Cafe. She thought it best to tell only Dr. Rosenstein if and until she and he could figure out its meaning.

Chapter 11

Amaranth sat in her chair at her table in the kitchen. The summer sun was shining brightly through the kitchen windows.

She picked up her pen and began to write in her notebook.

THE WORDS GIVE ME THEIR POETRY

The words give me their

poetry; their melodies play

in my heart; their musicality

rings in my ear. I reach for

nothing; they come to me

of their own volition,

making gifts of their inherent

grace. The place they dwell is

sacred; their provenance sacro-

sanct. I am but the blessed

receiver of their beauty.

Amaranth put her pen down and took a sip of coffee. She wanted to be a mother so much, but what could she do? She had gone to doctors who had checked her out, but they could not find anything wrong. She took another sip of coffee.

Amaranth got up from the table and went outside to say hello to the crocuses, which, by now, were full grown.

“You are beautiful today, but you are always beautiful.

“I remember when I was a little girl, we had a row of lilac bushes right out our front door, and for about two weeks in spring, they all would blossom and the fragrance in our front yard was absolutely heavenly.

Then, in two weeks, the perfume was gone.

“Perfume is a kind of beauty, but the beauty of all things comes to an end. The beauty of life is seemingly transient, but death can leave a reservoir of beautiful memories, and we can treasure them for the rest of our lives.

“Thank you for sharing your beauty with me,” Amaranth said to the crocuses.

Chapter 12

Ty was reading, again, Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Steinbeck, by far, was Ty’s favorite author. He had read all of Steinbeck’s books. His overwhelming conclusion was that Steinbeck had had to have “felt” all his novels before he started writing them. Of course, as an American history major, Ty knew about the Great Depression thoroughly. The Dust Bowl, the soup lines, the staggering poverty, the pervasive unemployment, the New Deal, all the alphabet government agencies, Woody Guthrie.

Ty wondered how much better life was now in 2019 than it had been in the 1930s. It’s true that the Supreme Court had overturned the 1890 decision that affirmed the concept of “separate but equal” in Plessy v. Ferguson with the landmark case in 1954 of Brown v. Board of Education, but look where we are now, thought Ty. Trump, Ty felt, personified racism in America. He had given tacit permission to millions of Americans to evince again their racist proclivities. Ty never could forget what he had seen on worldwide TV that night in Charlottesville. Moreover, the next morning **** Trump told the world that there were “good people” on both sides the night before.

Chapter 13

“Hello, Dr. Rosenstein,” said Amaranth.

“Hello, Amaranth. How are you doing today?”

“I’m basically OK, but I have something I need to tell you about.”

They both sat down, and Amaranth began to speak.

“Well, Dr. Rosenstein, I had the voice again, but it had a different message. The voice said, “Peace on Earth.” That’s all the voice said.

“Well, Amaranth, at least the voice isn’t saying anything threatening to you. ‘Peace on Earth’ is about as unthreatening as it gets.”

“That’s true, but I wish I knew what was going on. I think it really helps me to see you and tell you what’s going on in my mind, even if the voice isn’t threatening. It keeps me from getting overwhelmed.”

“If it’s helpful for you to see me and share with me what’s going on, then I’m glad. I’m as perplexed as you are, but I don’t feel what’s going on with you and this voice you hear occasionally while you’re sleeping is anything to be terribly concerned about. Let’s just keep our composure, if we can, and see what happens.”

Amaranth and Dr. Rosenstein continued talking the rest of the session about the trip to Steamboat Springs and other things going on in her life. She even read him the poems she had recently written.

EVENING

It will get dark soon.

The white, yellow, and pink

houses will turn grey,

then black. The cacophony

of car horns will turn into

the chorus of locusts.

Summer’s night will lay

a sheet of tranquility over

a city harassed by exigent

matters that matter not.

Soporific silhouettes will

soften the cityscape,

allowing us to escape

the frazzle of the hot day,

exchanging the frenetic

for the peaceful, the welter

for a sense of well-being.

The susurrus of the evening

breeze blows the exhaust

of our polluted lives into

a distant day. Children play

in yards back and front and

laughter wafts through

neighborhoods like the sweet

smell of barbecue, not the

fetid odor of finance and

foreclosures. There is a

sense of closure to this day.

As the sun sets, our eyelids

close, and we pray for the

soft rain of forgiveness.


TELL ME TRULY WHO YOU ARE

Tell me truly who you are,

not from afar, but to my ear.

Do not fear: I shall not castigate,

excoriate. Dissemble not: No

equivocation, prevarication.

Tell me truly what’s in your heart.

Is terror there, or guilt? Rage ablaze

from needs unmet? Do unhealed hurts

leave you reeling in a maelstrom of

doubt? Open up your heart

and let your agonies fly out.

In gentle ways let us discuss dark

places and shame, give name to

those moments when mistreated,

wanton cruelty misconstrued

with worth of self. Let light

penetrate hate, mollify madness,

assuage pain. Let your forthcoming,

my love for your realness,

heal us both.

THERE ARE REASONS WHY

There are reasons why

some men are shy

and women too,

when wearing silk,

lie on their beds

alone and cry.

No mother’s milk

to satisfy

the cruel thirst

for love and touch.

The rule first

is to beware,

when wearing silk,

of men who stare

or fingers touch;

this much we know.


WE EXPORT WHAT IS OF NO IMPORT

Arms reach out to us from

other continents and our own.

Would we need not be so

preoccupied by an arms race

that we might embrace these

children of different races with

love? I see faces laced with tears,

fraught with fears; I cannot

countenance the human hate

that abets, not abates, this terror.

Is it simply human error that we

are more concerned with pork

belly futures than the future

of children with inflated bellies in

distant and not-so-distant places?

Or do we mean to be mean? It

disgraces me that this misery

flourishes. We nourish our inflated

sense of self-importance; and we

export what is of no import.

“Thanks for sharing with me your poignant and powerful poems. I think your writing is a nice counterbalance to help you deal, even if unconsciously, with these cryptic messages you are receiving occasionally.”

“I’ll see you next Thursday. And thanks again for your help,” said Amaranth as she left the room.

Chapter 14

Ty wrote often on his Facebook page. He was terribly smart, articulate, and unabashed — outspoken, to the max, if you will. This evening, after dinner, he wrote:

“Is not the Mueller Report today’s equivalent of the Pentagon Papers stolen by Daniel Ellsberg and given first to The New York Times and then a few days later to The Washington Post, which decided to publish them.

“Both Ellsberg and Katharine Graham, who was publisher of the Washington Post at that time, are to me heroes for doing the right thing, knowing simultaneously that they both could have gone to prison for what they had done, but in the end, didn’t have to do.

“The Pentagon Papers, like the Mueller Report, divulged to the American people, and to the rest of the world, all the deceptions and lies told to them by their very own government.

“But what has happened to Mueller?

“Why have Mueller and **** Trump and all of his myrmidons not yet testified, in open session, before one or more of the powerful committees in the House on worldwide TV?

“Worldwide TV coverage would make all the difference in the world, as it had done during the Select Senate Committee investigation of Nixon’s Watergate scandal, in terms of how Americans would react, as they not only could hear, but also could see, the full, sordid story of all the illicit deeds perpetrated by this immoral, incompetent, and criminal human being who’s still in the Oval Office.

“And why hasn’t the Mueller Report, which is 448 pages long, been disseminated to the American people in its unredacted, complete form, along with all the underlying evidence?

“This is the United States of America, folks. A democracy, right?

“But I forgot. Our democracy is being taken for a long, long ride by Trump in the diametrically wrong direction, toward totalitarianism — fascism, if you like — not the democracy which we love.”

Chapter 15

Amaranth had grown up in Sedona, Arizona, one of the most beautiful spots on Earth. During her 8th-grade year, she had applied to Phillips Academy, otherwise known as Andover.

Andover was the oldest, and often considered the best, boarding school in America, having been founded in 1778, two years into our nation’s existence. George Washington had sent his nephew to Phillips Academy. Paul Revere designed and made the school’s seal. For a long time, Andover has provided the best secondary school education in the nation. It became, in time, America’s equivalent of Great Britain’s Eton College.

It is interesting to note that Humphrey Bogart had been a student at Andover, but had been kicked out, an act that did not seem to affect adversely his rise to stardom in Hollywood. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., who was a physician, poet, and polymath in the mid-nineteenth century had attended Phillips Academy and its library, where Amaranth had spent so much of her time studying, is named after him. George H. W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush, had graduated from Andover, then later, both were elected president of the United States. JFK’s son, John, who many had thought would eventually become president of the United States, but who tragically died so early in his life in an airplane accident, had attended Andover as well. In 2019, Andover, a high school, albeit a sui generis high school, had an endowment of one billion dollars.

Amaranth was editor of the Phillipian, the student newspaper, her senior year. Each school year was divided into trimesters, and each trimester each student was required to play a sport at the level of her/his prowess in that sport. There were 20 different sports played at Andover. Amaranth played soccer in the fall, swam in the winter, and played tennis in the spring.

In 2019, Andover enrolled 1,154 students from 44 states and 49 countries. Its admit rate was 13%. Its tuition was $53,900. Andover had a need-blind admissions policy, which meant that each applicant was assessed on her/his personal merits, not on her/his family’s wealth. Moreover, Andover has a need-based financial aid policy, which meant the school provided 100% of demonstrated financial aid to all of its students. 47% of Andover students received financial aid.

Andover offered 300 courses and 150 electives. The average number of students in any given class was 13. Andover offered study in eight foreign languages.

In each of her/his four years, an Andover student would take five or six courses. In the Junior year (9th grade), a student would take English, history, and would be placed, at the level shown by her/his performance on ability tests, courses in math, science (biology, chemistry, or physics), and a foreign language. In the Lower year (10th grade), a student would take English, history, math, another science course, introductory music, physical education, philosophy/religious studies, and language. In his Upper year (11th grade), a student would take English, history, math, another science course or an elective (e.g. theater/dance), and language. In the Senior year (12th grade), a student must take any remaining courses needed to meet diploma requirements.

Among the many courses Amaranth took at Andover, among the many subjects she studied, English was by far her favorite. Every student had to take English all four years.

Amaranth read and studied the following poets and their poems in her Junior year: Death of a Naturalist, in Poems: 1965–1975 by Heaney; Selected Poems by Brooks; From the Box Marked Some Are Missing by Pratt; Selected Poems by Stafford; Domestic Work by Trethewey; Songs of Innocence and of Experience by Blake; The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge; New and Selected Poems by Collins; The Yellow House on the Corner by Dove; Gilgamesh (translation) by Ferry; New and Selected Poems by Harjo; New and Selected Poems by Hass; The Iliad by Homer; The Odyssey by Homer; You and Yours by Nye; Twelve Moons by Oliver; and The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry.

Amaranth read and studied the following plays her Junior year: “Master Harold”…and the Boys by Fugard; A Raisin in the Sun by Hansberry; Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare; Our Town by Wilder; Julius Caesar by Shakespeare; Antigone by Sophocles; The Piano Lesson by Wilson; Much Ado About Nothing, Richard III, and The Comedy of Errors by Shakespeare.

Amaranth read and studied the following non-fiction books her Junior year: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Boo; Black Ice by Cary; A Small Place by Kincaid; Citizen 16330 by Okubo; Night by Wiesel; and Black Boy by Wright.

Amaranth read and studied the following short stories her Junior year: Women Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Cisneros; The Summer Book by Jansson; and Leaving Home by Rochman and McCampbell.

Amaranth read and studied the following novels her Junior year: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Alexie; The Bookshop by Fitzgerald; A Lesson Before Dying by Gaines; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Haddon; A Separate Peace by Knowles; Long Division by Loymon; They Came Like Swallows by Maxwell; Horseman, Pass By by McMurtry; In Revere, in Those Days by Merullo; The Hate U Give by Thomas; and American Born Chinese by Yang; This Boy’s Life by Wolff; What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Arimah; Collected Stories by O’Connor; Who’s Irish? by Jen; The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner by Sillitoe; I Am One of You Forever by Chappell; Silas Marner by Eliot; The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway; Annie John by Kincaid; The Bean Trees by Kingsolver; Rumors of Peace by Leffland; When the Emperor Was Divine by Otsuka; The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger; Persepolis by Satrapi; The Fall of Rome by Southgate; The Once and Future King by White; Salvage the Bones by Ward; Eathan Frome by Wharton; Jane Eyre by C. Brontë; A Month in the Country by Carr; A Lost Lady by Cather; Oliver Twist by Dickens; My Ántonia by Cather; The Go-Between by Hartley; A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway; Mister Pip by Jones; Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Márquez; So Long, See You Tomorrow by Maxwell; The Member of the Wedding by McCullers; Everything I Never Told You by Ng; Girl at War by Novič; My Name Is Asher Lev by Potok; All Quiet on the Western Front by Remarque; Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Rushdie; One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Solzhenitsyn; Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Stevenson; Montana 1948 by Watson; and Kitchen by Yoshimoto.

Amaranth read and studied the following poets and their poems in her Lower year: Selected Poems by Clampitt; An Ordinary Woman by Clifton; On These I Stand by Cullen; Motherlove by Dove; Selected and New Poems by Dunn; A Boy’s Will and North of Boston by Frost; A Shropshire Lad by Housman; New and Selected Poems by Justice; The Women of Plums by Kendrick; Rose by Lee; American Primitive by Oliver; The Best of It by Ryan; New and Selected Poems by Salter; New and Selected Poems by Smith; Selected Poems by Millay; Selected Poems by D. Thomas; Selected Poems by E. Thomas; Selected Poems by Williams; Call Me Ishmael Tonight: A Book of Ghazals by Ali; Selected Poems by Arnold; Selected Poems Beowulf by Auden; “My Last Duchess” and Other Poems by R. Browning; Thomas and Beulah Gluck, The Wild Iris by Dove; New and Selected Poems by Grennan; Donkey Gospel or What Narcissism Means to Me by Hoagland; Poems by Kelly; Ariel by Plath: In Memoriam or Selected Poems by Tennyson; Headwaters by Voigt; Collected Poems by Wilbur; Above the River by Wright; Outside History by Boland; Selected Poems by Hayden; What the Living Do by Howe; Selected Poems by Langston Hughes; Hoops or Holding Company by Jackson; Magic City by Komunyakaa; New and Selected Poems by Kumin; Hinge and Sign by McHugh; Selected Poems by O’Hara; Collected Poems by Roethke; Sonnets by Shakespeare; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by W. S. Merwin; and Prelude by Wordsworth.

Amaranth read and studied the following plays her Lower year: American Buffalo by Mamet; The Crucible by Miller; A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare; The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare; Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by Wilson; Richard II by Shakespeare; The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare; Othello by Shakespeare; The Glass Menagerie by Williams; Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom by Wilson; Six Degrees of Separation by Guare; Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 by Shakespeare; and Macbeth by Shakespeare.

Amaranth read and studied the following non-fiction books her Lower year: Into the Wild by Krakauer; Dust Tracks on a Road by Hurston; and Essays by White.

Amaranth read and studied the following short stories her Lower year: The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Alexie;

Drown by Díaz; The Thing Around Your Neck by Adichie; The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Kafka; Winesburg, Ohio by Anderson; The Things They Carried by O’Brien; and How To Breathe Underwater by Orringer; and The Secret Sharer by Conrad.

Amaranth read and studied the following novels her Lower year: Go Tell It on the Mountain by Baldwin; The Sweet Hereafter by Banks; Great Expectations by Dickens; All the Light We Cannot See by Doerr; The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Durrow; Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Hardy; Animal Dreams by Kingsolver; Black Swan Green by Mitchell; The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck; Cat’s Cradle by Vonnegut; The Picture of Dorian Gray by Wilde; My Antonia by Cather; The Awakening by Chopin; Silas Marner by Eliot; Grendel by Gardner; Exit West by Hamid; For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway; The Bluest Eye by Morrison; We the Animals by Torres; Sense and Sensibility by Austen; Ragtime by Doctorow; The Round House by Erdrich; Herland by Gilman; The Mayor of Casterbridge by Hardy; The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne; Their Eyes Were Watching God by Hurston; As I Lay Dying by Faulkner; Loving Day by Johnson; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Kesey; The Woman Warrior by Kingston; The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by McCullers; Frankenstein by M. Shelley; and Maus by Spiegelman.

Amaranth read and studied the following poets and their poems in her Upper year: Final Harvest by Dickinson; The Hollow Men by Eliot; The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by Eliot; Selected Poems by Jeffers; The Complete Poems by D. H. Lawrence; For the Union Dead/Life Studies by Lowell; The Boys at Twilight by Maxwell; Time’s Fool by Maxwell; Collected Poems by Merrill; Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Neruda; Dark Fields of the Republic: Poems 1991–95 by Rich; Selected Early Poems by Simic; Selected Late and New Poems by Simic; Native Guard by Trethewey; Selected Poems by Whitman; The Singing by C. K. Williams; The Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka Reader by Baraka; Collected Poems by Bishop; Brutal Imagination by Eady; The Four Quartets by Eliot; The Art of the Lathe by Fairchild; Selected Poems by Herbert; Selected Poems by Hopkins; Odes by Keats; New and Selected Poems by Kinnell; Whitsun Weddings by Larkin; Collected Poems by Larkin; What Work Is by Levine; Flower & Hand by Merwin; The Shadow of Sirius by Merwin; Paradise Lost by Milton; Selected Poems by Moore; Collected Poems by Paz; Diving into the Wreck by Rich; Kyrie by Voigt; Divine Comedy by Dante; Selected Poems by Donne; Selected Poems by Fenton; The Angel of History by Forche; The Country Between Us by Forche; Collected Poems by Nemerov; Selected Poems by Phillips; Selected Poems by Pound; Blood Dazzler by Smith; The Gary Snyder Reader by Synder; Collected Poems by Stevens; and Selected Poems by Strand.

Amaranth read and studied the following plays her Upper year: Lysistrata by Aristophanes; Glengarry Glen Ross by Mamet; Equus by Shaffer; A Doll’s House by Ibsen; Twelfth Night by Shakespeare; As You Like It by Shakespeare; Seven Guitars by Wilson; A Man for All Seasons by Bolt; Death of a Salesman by Miller; Long Day’s Journey into Night by O’Neill; Henry V by Shakespeare; A Streetcar Named Desire by Williams; Fences by Wilson; Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Albee; Translations by Friel; Measure for Measure by Shakespeare; and The Tempest by Shakespeare.

Amaranth read and studied these non-fiction works her Upper year: Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Didion; Selected Essays by Emerson; A Long Way Gone by Beah; A Collection of Essays by Orwell; John McPhee Reader by McPhee; The Paradise of Bombs by Sanders; Selected Essays by Lawrence; Medusa and the Snail by Thomas; and Walden by Thoreau.

Amaranth read and studied the following short stories her Upper year: The Collected Stories by Cheever; In Our Time by Hemingway; The Nick Adams Stories by Hemingway; Interpreter of Maladies by Lahiri; In the Bedroom by Dubus; Selected Short Stories by Hawthorne; Dubliners by Joyce; Islands by McLeod; In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Mueenuddin; After the Quake by Murakami; and St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Russell.

Amaranth read and studied the following novels her Upper year: The Sense of an Ending by Barnes; Wuthering Heights by E. Bronte; Intruder in the Dust by Faulkner; The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald; All the Pretty Horses by McCarthy; Wise Blood by O’Connor; No One Is Coming to Save Us by Watts; Mrs Dalloway by Woolf; Things Fall Apart by Achebe; Pride and Prejudice by Austen; Little Bee by Cleave; Heart of Darkness by Conrad; Middlemarch by Eliot; The Unvanquished by Faulkner; Catch-22 by Heller; The Turn of the ***** by James; Benito Cereno by Melville; Song of Solomon by Morrison; The Wheel of Love by Oates; Anna Karenina by Tolstoy; Rabbit, Run by Updike; All the King’s Men by Warren; Native Son by Wright; Go Down, Moses by Faulkner; The Return of the Native by Hardy; The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway; Paradise by Morrison; Billy Budd, Sailor by Melville; The God of Small Things by Roy; Ceremony by Silko; and The Age of Innocence by Wharton.

Amaranth read and studied the following poets and their poems her Senior year: The Waste Land by Eliot; Omeros by Walcott; and Selected Poems by Yeats.

Amaranth read and studied the following plays in her Senior year:

Humble Boy by Jones; Hamlet by Shakespeare; King Lear by Shakespeare; and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Stoppard.

Amaranth read and studied the following non-fiction works her Senior year: Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Anzaldua; Book of Meditations (all volumes); Between the World and Me by Coates; Where I Was From by Didion; Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Douglass; Meditations from a Movable Chair by Dubus; and In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens by Walker.

Amaranth read and studied the following short stories her Senior year: Collected Fictions by Borges; and A Good Man Is Hard to Find by O’Connor.

Amaranth read and studied the following novels her Senior year: On the Road by Kerouac; Disgrace by Coetzee; Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky; Invisible Man by Ellison; A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by Joyce; Sula by Morrison; Austerlitz by Sebald; and To the Lighthouse by Woolf.

Andover had an arts museum on campus, the Addison Gallery of Arts. This art museum had one of the most important collections of American art. The museum contained works by John Singleton Copely, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Maurice Prendergast, John Singer Sargent, John Henry Twachtman, James McNeill Whistler, Alexander Calder, Stuart Davis, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Hans Hofmann, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson *******, Charles Sheeler, John Sloan, Frank Stella (a graduate of Andover), Mark Bradford, and Kara Walker. Addison Gallery had 8,700 photographs by such luminaries as Lewis Baltz, Walker Evans (another Andover graduate), Robert Frank, and Eadweard Muybridge. The Addison Gallery had more than 20,000 works in all media — painting, sculpture, photography, drawings, prints, and decorative arts — from the 18th century to the present.

Also on the Andover campus was the Peabody Institute of Archaeology founded in 1901 by Robert S. Peabody, an Andover graduate, Class of 1857. It contained more than 600,000 artifacts, photographs, and documents. Peabody founded the eponymous institution “to introduce the students of Phillips Academy to the world of archaeology, to promote archaeological research, and to provide a place for students to gather.”

Amaranth received a world-class education at Andover, then matriculated to Columbia College, Columbia University where she received another.

Chapter 16

Amaranth sat down beside the beautiful crocuses.

“When I was a little girl, I loved to hike in and around Sedona. I loved walking among the red rocks, through the canyons, along the rivers and streams. One of my favorite hikes was Doe Mountain Trail.

The trail was a slow and gradual ascent up to the top of a mesa where you could see Mescal Mountain, Courthouse Butte, Fay Canyon, and Bear Mountain. Some days I would sit atop the mesa for several hours taking in all the beauty around me. I would see deer and rabbits. In time, I would feel I was a part of the red rocks and streams. I even felt I could talk to the deer and rabbits, if only they would stay with me for a while, which, of course, they didn’t. I had a backpack, and most often would bring a sandwich to eat, some green grapes, and always some water. I was alone often on top of the mesa, but at the same time, I was part of everything I saw and heard, so I never felt lonely. Often I would bring a book to read. I remember reading ‘Charlotte’s Web’ by E. B. White and ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ by Beatrix Potter.”

Amaranth turned around a bit to look at the creek.

“This creek reminds me of the creeks and streams around Sedona. Sometimes I would take off my shoes and step into the creek. The water was ice-cold, of course, but I could feel the rushing water powering its way downstream. I wondered how the fish could keep from hitting the rocks in the creek. I felt, too, that the creek was alive, was having a wonderful time coursing through the red rocks. The creek I had my feet in was alive too.”

Amaranth turned back around toward the crocuses and sat quietly for a long time. She was thinking of her parents and how much they had loved each other. She had been, she thought, the recipient of their love, and, of course, she was. Now 32, Amaranth realized now that that love was still in her, and would always be. That love she had received as a child, that love was the source of all her sensibilities and intuition. It was also the source of her poetry and her deep caring of others and all things living, of Earth itself and all the living creations on it. No wonder she was so happy most of the time, and Ty — he was just a precious piece of her world of love. Bless him, she thought.

She stood up then and spoke to the crocuses.

“You enjoy your day, too,” she said and walked up the hill and went into her home.

Chapter 17

Ty was also a writer, but not of poetry. He wrote aphorisms. So when Amaranth saw sheets of paper with aphorisms on them lying on the computer desk, she knew they were his, so she picked them up, sat down on the blue sofa and read them.

We are more concerned with goods than goodness.

May we be a servant to all others and masters of ourselves.

If a man doesn’t keep his word, he soon finds out he has a
limited vocabulary.

Casinos abet gambling.

The mountain is deeper than it is high.

In the finite, we are relative. In infinity, we are relatives.

Repentagon.

If you are going to err, err on the side of generosity.

I knew a narrow-minded woman who did clerical work. She
stereotyped.

Evil” is the word “live’ twisted.

I open my heart so I may enter yours….

The poem is the sound, publication the echo. The sound is more important than the echo.

Are you shocked to find out that I am human and therefore imperfect, or are you embarrassed to realize you are the same…?

One cannot impose what’s right. One can only evoke it.

The Second Coming will be the coming to the realization
that each of us is sacred, that all things are divine.

The only thing our country really cycles well is pain.

Take the high road. There’s less traffic up there.

It is easier to find a publisher than to find your heart.

To save Earth, you have to planet.

Joy is hard for most people to enjoy.

“Intrinsic worth” is redundant. “Extrinsic worth” is oxymoronic.

Beliefs expressed anonymously are coward’s clothes.

I hate smoke because it will **** you. I hate smoke and mirrors because they will **** you, too.

“I’ve been around the writer’s block a few times,” the author remarked.

Out on a limbo…

Bigotry is one of the worst forms of mental illness.

We used just to waste human lives. Now we turn lives into human waste.

POPE FOR PRESIDENT: feed the poor, wash their feet, shelter them.

Labels are for ketchup bottles.

In our nation’s capital, we have more probes than probity.

An avalanche, a mountain’s revanche.

All people live downstream.

Gogh Van Lines

The John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe School of National, International and Personal Affairs

Edgar Allan Poet

The new global politician: 1) I have a new agenda — humanity. 2) I have a new platform — Earth.

Map of the world: caption: “Love it or leave it.”

Adobe abode

Gold Rush Hour

NRA or NEA?

Danger has anger in it, and tragedy rage.

The siren has become our national anthem.

Do not confuse your pain with your worth.

One man’s cult is another man’s culture.

Truce<>traduce

Ire<>irenic

Cosmos or cosmetics?

Anonymity vitiates worth.

There is still one more mega-merger to occur. It will be called “Humanity.”

First, do no harm.

Second, do no harm.

Third, do no harm.

Fourth,….


There is a support group. It is called “Humanity.”

Zen-zenith

Political unrest=societal insomnia

If we could change harm into harmony….

Perception or projection?

L ots

O f

V ital

E nergy

V oices

O f

T he

E arth


Statute of Lamentations

Pills are our pillows.

The problem with the USA, Mexicans say, is that it has a
borderline personality.

Fortune 500<>Misfortune 7,500,000,000

Several years before Rodney Dangerfield died, he was in the hospital. He got a card. The card said: “Get well sooner or later.”

People want what they want.

Might might, but will will.

Be all you can be: Be yourself.

All human beings are poets. Their poetry is whatever they’re doing when being true to themselves.

I was charged with distributing the peace.

We reserve the right to be of service to anyone.

An Archie Bunker mentality….

If you were truly my superior, you would sit beneath me.

All works are autobiographical.

Knowledge sees that all are different. Wisdom sees that all
are one.

Every time you are true to yourself, you have written a poem.

Taking a bathos….

If soon we don’t get it, it will get us.

Always be willing to criticize yourself first, and first to forgive yourself.

If a man speaks the truth, hear him.

MBAs are a three-piece pursuit.

Nothing is never lost in the giving.

The three most romantic places on Earth are above you, beside you, and beneath you.

Chapter 18

“Julie, it’s so good to see you again. How have you been and how is Ed doing at Google?” asked Amaranth.

“Oh, Am! It’s so good to see you again. Ed is doing fine. He just got a raise.”

Ed was Julie’s husband, a veritable computer guru. He had been at Google a little over a year. Amaranth and Julie were eating lunch at Thrive, one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Boulder.

“How are Timmy and Mary and Kristin doing?” asked Amaranth.

Julie and Ed had three children, Timmy, who was six, and Mary, who was three. Kristin was only 11 months old.

“They’re all doing well. Timmy and Mary are in a summer camp and having lots of fun and making new friends,” replied Julie.

Amaranth couldn’t help it. Julie was her dear friend, had been for several years. Yet hearing about her children made her feel both happy for Julie and more than a bit sad for herself, even though she felt guilty for feeling that way.

“I’m going to have the Inner Flame salad,” said Julie. That salad consisted of mixed greens, avocados, tomatoes, green and red onions, cucumber slices, bell peppers, cilantro, sunflower seeds, sprouted garbanzo beans, and chipotle lime dressing.

“I’m going to have a salad also,” said Amaranth. “I’m going to get the Pad Thai salad.” That salad consisted of spiralized zucchini, marinated broccoli and mushrooms, carrots, red bell peppers, purple cabbage, green onions, cilantro, sesame seeds, and kim chi.

“To drink, I’m going to get the Green Gaia smoothie,” said Julie.

“And I’m going to get the Tropical Sunshine smoothie,” said Amaranth.

“So, do you and Ed have any special plans for the rest of summer?” asked Amaranth.

“Well, we’re planning to drive to Minnesota to see my parents the first two weeks in August. We haven’t seen them in quite some time. Mom and Dad want to see Timmy, Mary, and Kristin really bad, plus being in St. Paul will be pleasant in early August,” said Julie. “What about you and Ty?”

“We spent a wonderful weekend in Steamboat Springs a few weeks ago. You know, we’re both kind of homebodies. So I think we’ll just hang out in Niwot,” said Amaranth.

“You know the experts are saying we on Earth have only about 10 years to correct the many mistakes we’ve made in regard to climate change, no thanks to Trump and the Republicans. Pulling out unilaterally and impulsively from the Paris Agreement was not just wrong, it was the height of stupidity,” said Amaranth.

“I know, Am,” said Julie. “It’s hard not to think about the imminent consequences of such an ignorant and dangerous decision.”

The waitress brought them their meals, and both Amaranth and Julie enjoyed them with gusto. Afterwards, the two of them talked about more pleasant topics.

“If I don’t see you again before you leave for Minnesota, have a wonderful time,” said Amaranth. “Say hello to Ed for me, please.”

The two paid their bills and walked outside. Boulder, even in July, can be pretty pleasant, even at midday.

Chapter 19

Amaranth had been in deep sleep when the voice had spoken to her for the third time. The voice had said, “Campaign for Earth.”

“‘Campaign for Earth.’” Now what does that mean?” Amaranth had asked herself. Of course, she didn’t know what it had meant, though again the voice had not been threatening. Indeed, if it had been anything, it had been more urgent in tone than anything else, but certainly not threatening. She would talk with Dr. Rosenstein about it. She now looked forward to seeing Dr. Rosenstein she realized. Yes, he was a psychiatrist, but now he was more like a wise friend to her, an ally, if you will.

It was early September now. Amaranth could feel the beginning of fall in the air. Fall was one of her favorite seasons. Fall comes earlier in the mountains, but while Niwot wasn’t in the mountains, it was the doorway to them nonetheless.

Amaranth had awakened earlier this morning, earlier than she normally did. Ty was still sound asleep, so Amaranth slowly and carefully got out of bed, put on her robe, and made her way to the kitchen. She could feel another poem welling up in her, so she poured herself a cup of coffee, sat down in her chair, took into her hand the pen that she now felt was part of her body, and began recording in her notebook:

I WRITE WHEN THE RIVER’S DOWN

I write when the river’s down,

when the ground’s as hard as

a banker’s disposition and as

cracked as an old woman’s face.

I write when the air is still

and the tired leaves of the

dying elm tree are a mosaic

against the bird-blue sky.

I write when the old bird dog,

Sam, is too tired to chase

rabbits, which is his habit

on temperate days. I write

when horses lie on burnt grass,

when the sun is always high

noon, when hope melts like

yellow butter near the kitchen

window. I write when there

are no cherry pies in the

oven, when heartache comes

like a dust storm in early

morning. I write when the

river’s down, and sadness

grows like cockleburs in

my heart.

Amaranth sat in her chair and reread her poem several times.She liked this poem a lot. Finally, she got up from her chair, left the kitchen, and walked into the den where the computer was. She put her coffee cup on the computer desk, then sat in the chair in front of the computer. Ty had not yet awakened, so there was silence throughout the house. She looked at the computer screen. After a few minutes, she began to type on the keyboard.

“Peace on Earth,” she typed, then pressed Enter. Up came what seemed like hundreds of articles related to Peace on Earth. She started reading the first article, then the second one, then several more. All talked about Peace on Earth, but none mentioned any real plan on how to achieve it. She stopped reading any more articles. “Everybody talks about Peace on Earth, but nobody seems to have a viable plan on how to make it happen,” Amaranth said to herself. For over 3,400 years of recorded history, people had talked and written about Peace on Earth, and look where we are today. Earth, and all the people living on it right now, are farther from achieving it than at any time in the past. If the adverse effects of climate change don’t do us in, then a nuclear holocaust will. We are on the brink of extinction and nobody, but nobody, has a plan to save Earth and all the living creations on it. Yet, 7.5 billion people on Earth keep whistling and going about their daily lives. This is insanity!

“Good morning, my love,” said Ty who had awakened, then had come into the den. Ty walked over to where Amaranth was sitting and gave her a kiss on the nape.

“Why don’t we go out for breakfast this morning?” said Ty.

“OK,” said Amaranth. “Let’s go to the Walnut Cafe in Boulder. It’s on Walnut Street, just off 30th.

They each took a shower, got dressed, an, in just a few minutes, were ready to go. They got to the Walnut Cafe in quick order and went inside and grabbed a booth. Then they perused the menu.

A waitress came over bringing glasses of water.

“What would each of you like this morning?” asked the waitress.

Amaranth said, “I would like the vegetarian omelette please, with coffee.” Ty said he’d like the same.

The vegetarian omelette had in it cheddar cheese, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and red peppers.

“We get two sides with the omelette, right? Asked Amaranth.

“Yes, that right,” said the waitress.

“Well, I would like the blueberry cornbread and the fresh fruit,” said Amaranth.

“And I would like the banana nut bread and breakfast potatoes, please,” said Ty.

Amaranth had not yet told Ty about the voice, but she did want to talk about Peace on Earth with him. She knew his feelings were like hers.

Amaranth started talking. “Before you came into the den this morning, I had typed in the phrase “Peace on Earth” to see if I could find mention of any plans to realize it. Everybody in the articles talked about Peace on Earth, but nobody spoke about any plan to achieve it,” said Amaranth.

“Well, the United Nations was formed after World War II and Peace on Earth was their ultimate goal, and they’ve had over 70 years to try to achieve it. I’m sure they’ve tried like hell to make it happen, but look at the shape the world is in now. In my opinion, Earth is farther away from universal peace in 2019 than it has been at any other time in over a century. The UN has tried, but you’d have to be blind not to see how unsuccessful their collective attempts have been. There are over 200 nations on Earth right now. How do you expect over 200 nations to come together permanently to achieve Peace on Earth? It’s just not going to happen. And the truth is that five nations — USA, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and France — the permanent members of the UN Security Council — Individually can thwart any proposal that might possibly effect peace, because all five of them have a veto power they can use unilaterally to undermine any plan of another country, and that’s what they do. It’s a rigged game, that’s what it is,” said Ty.

Ty took a sip of coffee.

“I have an idea,” said Amaranth. “Why don’t we drive up to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation? School just started, and I’m sure some of the schools need supplies, which we can bring them.”

“That’s a geat idea!” said Ty. “We could drive up on Wednesday, the day that schools open, and give them our donations.”

“But I will have to find out what they need. I can do that this afternoon. We can buy tomorrow what they need. Great!” exclaimed Amaranth.

They drove back to Niwot feeling very happy and excited.

Chapter 20

Pine Ridge, SD, was a tiny town on the reservation. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, on the other hand, was the second largest in the country. Its population was about 28,000. It was also the poorest place in America with many concomitant problems. Many families that lived on the reservation had no electricity, no telephones, no running water, no sewage systems. Life expectancy was 47. The adolescent suicide rate was four times greater than the national average. The infant mortality rate was five times greater. The rate of unemployment stood between 80% to 85%. The people of the Oglala Nation lived on the reservation, but clinical depression, rampant alcoholism, drug abuse, malnutrition, and diabetes pervaded it. The teenage suidide rate was five times greater than the national average.

Crazy Horse, who had been chief of the Oglala Sioux, was one of Ty’s heroes, because Crazy Horse was courageous in battle and generous in peace. After a successful buffalo hunt, for example, Crazy Horse would take only what he needed and give the rest of the buffalo to the poorest of his people. He was most kind to the elderly, to the children, and, of course, to the poor. A great leader, Crazy Horse was known to be unassuming, somewhat shy, and modest. He wore simple clothing and never wore face paint, He wore his hair down with only a single feather in it and a small, brown stone behind his ear. When he was younger, Crazy Horse had gone on a vision quest during which, it was said, he realized in himself a kind of invincibility that did not make him conceited or supercilious, but gave him an obdurate feeling that he would never be injured by a gun shot in battle. That prophetic notion turned out to be true. Crazy Horse was never injured by a bullet, but he died only when a military guard stabbed him in the back with a bayonet.

The Wounded Knee massacre occurred in 1890. It was to be the last slaughter of Native Americans by the U.S. military. It happened on December 29 of that year near the Wounded Knee Creek, about ten miles to the east of what is now the tiny town of Pine Ridge.

The U.S. 7th Cavalry rounded up around three hundred Oglala women, children, and mostly old men. One old man was doing what was called a Ghost Dance. The 7th Cavalry took the guns from the Oglala Sioux, but a few resisted. In any event, a shot was fired by someone, which prompted the 7th Calvary to train their four Hotchkiss mountain guns on essentially the defenseless 300 Oglala Sioux and mowed them down as they fell into a ditch.

The Wounded Knee Incident occurred in 1975. There was a 71 day standoff between members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and members of the FBI. A firefight occurred and several people on both sides were killed. But the only person tried and convicted was an Oglala Sioux named Leonard Peltier, and he was sentenced to two consecutive terms of life in prison in Leavenworth, KS.

Chapter 21

Amaranth and Ty took off about 7 am Wednesday morning for Pine Ridge. It was going to be about a five-and-a-half hour drive.

Amaranth had contacted two schools on the reservation. One was Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School. The other was Lorman Day School (Wica Owayawa).

Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School needed the following supplies: crayons, markers, glue sticks, school glue, staplers, staples, spiral bound notebooks, invisible tape with a dispenser, blunt children’s scissors, young adult scissors, electric pencil sharpeners, construction paper, Band-Aids, cotton swabs, bee sting relief pads, #2 pencils, and cotton *****.

Lorman Day School wanted books, specifically the following books: Nowere Boy; The Complete Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy; The Lightning Thief; The Nebula Secret; P.S. I Still Love You; Warriors Box Set 1–6; Warriors Power of Three Box Set 1–6, Warriors Omen of the Stars Box Set 1–6; Willa of the Wood; Serafina and the Black Coat; To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before; and Always and Forever, Lara Jean.

Amaranth and Ty drove straight through Nebraska to Manderson, SD, about 20 miles from Pine Ridge. Thee only place nearer to Pine Ridge was the casino, which also provided lodging, but neither Amaranth not Ty liked casinos, so they would be staying at Super 8 in Manderson.

Both Amaranth and Ty were dead tired from the long drive, so they both hit the bed fast.

Chapter 22

In the morning, now considerably rested, Amaranth and Ty ate vegetarian sandwiches that she had made in Niwot. Both were eager to get to the two schools. Amaranth had told the administrator at Lorman Day School, Ms. Thatcher, that she had found all the books the teacher had requested on the Amazon website and that Amazon would be sending them to the school ℅ the teacher. They were looking forward to meeting the administrator at Lorman Day School and the principal, Sister Rae, at Our Lady of Lourdes ElementarySchool. They decided to see Sister Rae first.

“It is so kind of you to come here to give us these supplies we dearly need,” said Sister Rae. ”Most people wouldn’t do what the two of you are doing, but you know that already.”

“You’re most welcome. You know as well that most human beings would not do what you decided to do many years ago; devote your life to God and humanity,” said Amaranth.

Sister Rae gave Amaranth and Ty a tour of the school, introducing them to the teachers, saying hello to the students, and chatting with them briefly.

“It was so nice to meet you and your staff and chat with your students,” said Amaranth. “I hope we shall see you again.”

Amaranth and Ty then drove to Lorman Day School.

“Ms. Thatcher, it is so nice to meet you,” said Amaranth. “This my husband, Ty.”

“It is so generous of both of you to donate all the books listed on our website. Not many people would do that,” said Ms. Thatcher.

“Our pleasure,” said Ty.

“Let me show you around the school and introduce the two of you to our teachers,” said Ms. Thatcher.

Amaranth and Ty spent about a half hour with Ms. Thatcher, touring the school, meeting the teachers, and speaking with some of the students.

“Before we leave the reservation, we both want to visit the Wounded Knee cemetery and give our respects before we return home,” said Amaranth.

“That’s very thoughtful of you both,” replied Ms.Thatcher. “Thank you again for your generosity.”

Amaranth and Ty got into their car and headed toward the Wounded Knee cemetery. When they got there, they got out and walked up a small hill where the cemetery was.

They were silent for a long time. Finally, Ty spoke.

“Things in the world haven’t changed much, have they?” Ty asked rhetorically. “The Revolutionary War was the first one in our country. You know that Thomas Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, right? He also wound up owning over 600 slaves; eight of our presidents were slave owners. Then came the Mexican-American War that Lincoln voted against during his one term in Congress. Then the Civil War during which 650,000 to 700,000 American men were killed. Can you even fathom that? Then WW I, then WW II, then the Korean War, then the VietNam War, then the War in Afghanistan that still is going on, then the two wars against Iraq, and then all the other “conflicts” our government keeps secret from us, like Yemen, for example.”

Ty couldn’t help himself.

“I’m sorry, Am. I have just learned too much about how the world really works. I’m sorry,” said Ty.

Chapter 23

“You know Columbia’s Homecoming is right around the corner,” said Ty. “I think we should go back to New York City, see the Homecoming game, see our old — well, not that old, yet — classmates, check out our old haunts, explore the city again, eat at fabulous vegetarian restaurants, have a hell of a great time. What do you think?”

“Wherever I’m with you, I have a great time! Columbia is where I met you, and I’m eternally grateful for that,“ exclaimed Amaranth.

“So even before we get back to New York City, we can start having fun right now planning our trip,” added Ty.

Amaranth gave Ty another big hug.

Chapter 24

Amaranth could feel another poem welling up in her, so she went into the kitchen, sat down in her chair, and picked up her pen off her notebook that lay on the kitchen table, and began to record.

IS THAT NOT A DOVE COMING THROUGH THE CLOUDS?

Is that not a dove coming through the clouds,

sweeping down to bless our crown with love,

gentle wings to caress our forehead, soft strokes

to remind us of our innate kindness, a blindness

no man has in his heart? Is that not a dove

coming through the clouds, its provenance

above the sun, though cool with the countenance

of caring, a daring feat of a celestial being?

Give thanks for this tender gift that reminds us

of our eternal tie to a sky that brushes different

facets of our face. Is that not a dove coming

through the clouds?


Amaranth put the pen back on her closed notebook.

She felt also that she wanted to make another lovely dinner for Ty and herself, so she picked back up her pen again, turned the page on which she had just written her poem, and on the new page, began to write a list of vegetables she would be turning into a delicious meal that afternoon.

Before she started writing, she brewed a *** of coffee, and when it was ready, poured herself a cup, returned to the table, and sat down on her chair.

She enjoyed taking time to think of all her possibilities, then slowly began writing down on the sheet the ones she had chosen to buy at King Soopers, her favorite grocery store in Boulder. Amaranth did not rush this process, because for her it was not only fun to do, but also, in a sense, was a somewhat spiritual endeavor.

Amaranth sipped her last bit of coffee, tore the list of vegetables from the legal pad, headed outside, got into her car, and started driving from Niwot to Boulder to shop in King Soopers. It was a beautiful day to be outside, this day that felt like the coming of fall.

Chapter 25

Amaranth had already started Mahler’s 2nd Symphony on the computer, lit the yellow candle at the center of the table covered, as always, with a clean, white linen tablecloth and was now ready to present what she thought would be a delectable dinner.

“Tonight, we have for a salad, smoked aubergine, red peppers, walnuts, and pomegranates,” said Amaranth, looking at Ty sitting at the table as she spoke. “For soup, we have chilled English pea soup with crab and Meyer lemon. For an entree, we have speedy ratatouille with goat cheese. For dessert, we have dark chocolate mousse with cardamom, candied ginger, and hazelnuts. Enjoy!”

The dinner was delicious.

“Wow!” exclaimed Ty. “Are you sure you don’t want to open up a vegetarian restaurant in Boulder?” remarked Ty.

“I happen to serve only one customer at a time, and you just happen to be that customer, for the rest of my life,” said Amaranth.

“That’s sweet, Am,” said Ty.

“I’m just about finished with W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk”, added Ty. “Du Bois and Frederick Douglass were both intellectuals. There were 4,000,000 black slaves in the Deep South when the Civil War began in 1861, and when Reconstruction ended in 1877 and the white supremacists replaced the federal troops with growing numbers of KKK members and Black Codes and Jim Crow and lynchings and various forms of voter suppression, blacks remained essentially hopeless and fearful and dirt-poor. Can you imagine how many more black lives continued to live in horror and servitude, how many more minds were wasted, how many more hearts remained broken, how many more souls remained darkened for decades? Du Bois and Douglass were just two out of 4,000,000 blacks who found some sunlight.”

Chapter 26

“I am so excited, Am!” said Ty. “I have just completed what I think are contingencies and plans about our trip to New York City and the Columbia Homecoming and I’d like to share them with you. Do you have time now?”

“Sure I do!” said Amaranth. The two sat down on the blue sofa in the living room.

“Well, first, we depart from DIA (Denver International Airport) Thursday, the 17th, on a Delta nonstop flight to New York City, leaving at 11:20 am and and arriving at JFK at 5:10 pm. I booked a room at International House for our entire stay. That night, we have reservations to eat at The Original Buddha Bodai Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant (5 Mott Street). Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Then we go back to the International House and flop into bed. I’m guessing we will be pretty tired by then.

“Then the next morning, we will walk down to Tom’s Restaurant, our old haunt, and have breakfast. Then I thought we could walk around campus, visit Hartley Hall, Butler Library, Lerner, and go see the new Manhattanville campus. I’ve already contacted Bill and Debbie Roach, and Herb Hochman and his girlfriend, Leni. They will be at the alumni reception to be held in the basketball gymnasium in Dodge Fitness Center.

“Saturday, of course, is Homecoming Day. We’ll have breakfast every morning at Tom’s, just as we used to do, if that’s OK with you. We’ll be playing Penn. We’ll be eating at Massawa, a vegetarian restaurant in Harlem, the oldest African eatery in New York City. Then I managed to get tickets to Hamilton, so that’s what we will be doing Saturday night.”

“How did you manage to get tickets to Hamilton on such short notice?” asked Amaranth.

“You forgot that I was head of NSOP (New Student Orientation Program) our senior year, and I got tapped by Nacom’s (Columbia’s oldest senior society) toward the end of our junior year, because that was when I was chosen to be head of NSOP. I’ve got connections,” said Ty, somewhat facetiously.

“Sunday afternoon, I thought we’d have a leisurely walk through Chinatown, if you like. Then I’ve made reservations to have dinner at Daniel (56th Street at Park Avenue) that evening. Then back to International House for more sleep.

“Monday, I thought we’d visit the Museum of Modern Art in the afternoon, eat at Le Bernardin — yes, I was able to make reservations there — then attend The New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center. The program that night is called ‘Stravinsky and Balanchine’ and will consist of three famous ballets: Allegro Brillante, La Source, and Firebird.

Amaranth couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“Then Tuesday, I thought it would be interesting to explore the American Museum of Natural History. That’s where Margaret Mead worked while she continued to teach at Columbia. You know she graduated from Barnard and got her PhD in anthropology at Columbia studying under the founder of that field, Professor Franz Boas. I have reservations for us to eat at Blue Hill, a highly rated vegetarian restaurant. I was also able to get tickets to To **** A Mockingbird, the hottest show on Broadway right now, so that’s where we’ll be going after dinner.

“Wednesday, I thought we’d visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, eat at Fournos Theophios, another highly rated vegetarian restaurant, then go back to Lincoln Center to listen to the New York Philharmonic. Jaap van Zweden will be conducting Mozart’s Symphony №40, Sibelius’s Symphony №2, and Beethoven’s 3rd symphony, Eroica.

“Thursday, we fly back to Niwot, via DIA.”

Amaranth just sat there, stunned. Then, finally, she gave Ty another big and long, long hug.

Chapter 27

Amaranth had been an English and comparative literature major at Columbia College. She had studied under Andrew Delbanco, who had been named by Time Magazine in 2001 as “America’s best social critic.”

Growing up, Amaranth had been a voracious reader. She had read Albert’s Impossible Toothache, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, AreYou My Mother? The Story of Babar, Barnyard Dance!, Bread and Jam for Frances, Charlotte’s Web, Chica, Chica, Boom, Boom, Corduroy, Dear Zoo, Doctor De Soto, Winnie the Pooh, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and many others.

As Amaranth got older, she read Bone Crier’s Moon, Heart of Flames, Harley in the Sky, How To Speak Boy, Don’t Read the Comments, Hotel Dare, Lifeformed: Hearts and Minds, The Catcher in the Rye, A Wrinkle in Time, and many others.

At Andover, she had read a number of Dicken’s novels, including David Cooperfield, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, The Pickwick Papers, Bleak House, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Other novels she had read were Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor Casterbridge, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and Far from the Madding Crowd.

At Columbia, when majoring in English and comparative literature, Amaranth took many different courses and read hundreds of novels, plays, and poems, including, but not limited to, the following: Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and virtually all of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets.

To begin with, Amaranth had to learn and study many literary devices: among others were ad hominem, anaphora, antimetabole, assonance, double entendre, portmanteau, synesthesia, aposiopesis, consonance, doopelgänger, hyperbaton, meiosis, parataxis, and synecdoche.

Amaranth read other prominent dramatists and authors of Renaissance literature, including Christopher Marlowe, a contemporary of Shakespeare, whose plays included Doctor Faustus, Edward II, Tamburlaine (part one and two), and The Jew of Malta; Edmund Spenser’s epic poem, The Fairie Queene; as well as English prose by John Lilly and Thomas Nashe.

Amaranth read many works by authors of the Romantic era: Victor Hugo’s novels Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame; his poetry collections Les Contemplations and La Légende des Siecles; and his plays Cromwell and Hernani. She read Alexandre Dumas’s novels The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, The Vicomte of Bragelonne, Ten Years Later, and The Man in the Iron Mask. She also read his play Henry III et sa cour.

Sturm und Drang, literally storm and stress in English, was a German movement in literature and music between the late 1760s and the early 1780s that favored immense emotion over the preceding rationalism of the Enlightenment. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, otherwise known simply as Goethe, and Friedrich von Schiller were the two most prominent figures of the movement. Amaranth read Goethe’s epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, Willhem Meister’s Journeyman Years, The Idyll of Hermann and Dorothea, his autobiography From My Life: Poetry and Truth, and Italian Journey. She also read his plays Iphigenia in Tauris, Egmont, Torquato Tasso, his verse dramas The Natural Daughter, Faust, Clavigo, and Der Burgergeneral. She also read his collection of poems West-Eastern Diwan.

Geothe and Schiller, it should be noted, were very close friends. These two were pivotal figures in the literary movement called Weimar Classicism. Amaranth read Schiller’s plays: The Robbers; Fiesco; Intrigue and Love; Don Carlos; The Wallenstein trilogy; Mary Stuart; The Maid of Orleans; The Bride of Messina; and William Tell.

Amaranth read authors of colonial America: William Bradford, John Winthrop, Cotton Mather, and Jonathan Edwards.

Amaranth read early African-American authors: Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth, both former slaves.

Amaranth read examples of Bildungsroman novelists: Henry Fielding, James Joyce, and Kazuo Ishiguro,

Amaranth read the poems of the most famous Russian poet of the Romantic era, Alexander Pushkin. She also read Pushkin’s novel in verse Eugene Onegin.

Amaranth read the poems of these British literary luminaries of the 19th century: William Wordsworth; Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Percy Bysshe Shelley; John Keats; Lord Byron; Rudyard Kipling; Robert Browning; Elizabeth Barrett Browning; Matthew Arnold; Thomas Gray; and Robert Southey.

And Amaranth didn’t forget about the poetry of John Donne, who lived from 1572 to 1631. Nor did she forget about William Blake, who lived from 1757 to 1827, and had to wait almost two hundred years to be discovered and then revered as one of England’s most brilliant poets and artists.

Amaranth read many Victorian novelists, but because she had already read so many of Dicken’s novels at Andover, she skipped reading them at Columbia College. The same was true for Thomas Hardy’s novels. But she did read William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair; Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre; Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights; Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility; and George Eliot’s Middlemarch.

Amaranth read the plays of George Bernard Shaw: The Philanderer; Mrs. Warren’s Profession; Arms and the Man; Candida; The Man of Destiny; You Never Can Tell; and Captain Brassbound’s Conversion. She also read Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and his play The Importance of Being Earnest.

Amaranth read 19th century American novelists: Washington Irving; James Fenimore Cooper; Ralph Waldo Emerson; Herman Melville; Harriet Beecher Stowe; Henry David Thoreau; Mark Twain; and Henry James.

Amaranth read the 20th century poems of W. B. Yeats, the famous Irish poet, and the novels of Virginia Woolf, one of the early members of the Bloomsbury Group: The Voyage Out; To the Lighthouse; Orlando: A Biography; The Waves; Flush: A Biography; and Between the Acts. Having been so moved by the beauty of Virginia Woolf’s writings, Amaranth had been deeply touched by her learning about the author’s personal life, her many battles with mental illness that culminated tragically in her suicide.

Amaranth also read the poems of 20th century British poets, W. H. Auden and Dylan Thomas.

Amaranth also read 20th century American novelists: Dashiell Hammett; Pearl Buck; Gertrude Stein; Aldous Huxley; Zora Neale Hurston; William Faulkner; Willa Cather; F. Scott Fitzgeralf; Earnest Hemingway; Sherwood Anderson; J. D. Salinger; Edith Wharton; Eudora Welty; John Dos Passos; Harper Lee; Kurt Vonnegut; Ralph Ellison; Jack London; Carson McCullers; John Updike; Thomas Pynchon; Philip Roth; Jack Kerouac; Joseph Heller; Richard Wright; Upton Sinclair; Theodore Dreiser; James Baldwin; Herman Wouk, Djuna Barnes; Sinclair Lewis; and Toni Morrison.

Amaranth also read 20th century American poets: Robert Frost; Carl Sandburg; Wallace Stevens; William Carlos Williams; Ezra Pound; e.e cummings; Marianne Moore; Langston Hughes; Rainer Maria Rilke; Guillaume Apollinaire; John Berryman; Frank O’Hara; James Merrill; John Ashbery; Gwendolyn Brooks; Robert Lowell; W. S. Merwin; Allen Ginsberg; Anne Sexton; and Sylvia Plath.

Amaranth was particularly moved by Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.

By the time Amaranth received her BA from Columbia College, she had read and studied a lot of novels and poems and plays.

Chapter 28

Many people collected rocks, coins, or stamps. Amaranth collected words.

It began in 4th grade, Amaranth remembered. Among the many books she had been reading in grade school, she happened on a biography of Webster — not Daniel, but Noah Webster. In 1806, Noah Webster published the first dictionary of American English. For some unknown reason, reading about his life and his relentless pursuit of an intellectual goal — in this case, words — made an unconscious, indelible impression upon her.

During her first year at Andover — in public school called 9th grade, in prep-school talk, called “Junior” year — Amaranth’s English teacher was Dr. Gillingham, on whom she would have, in time, a crush. Dr. Gillingham was the first really learned person she had ever met. He had his PhD from Oxford, yet he was teaching 9th graders. He could, whenever the occasion merited it, quote from any of Shakespeare’s plays or sonnets. What was more, he gave everyone in his class a copy of the Harbrace Vocabulary Workbook, which, in short, contained the prefixes, suffixes, and roots of the Greek, Latin, and Anglo-Saxon languages that, over time, came to make up the vast majority of English words. Amaranth was transfixed by these processes. For example, if one took the English word anachronistic and knew what the prefix, suffix, and root were to that word, and knew what they meant, even if one had never seen that word before, which was the case for Amaranth, one could figure out what that word meant. “Amazing!” Amaranth thought. The most important part of the process was to recognize the root of the word. The root word of anachronistic was, of course, chron. If one had studied well, one would know that chron was derived from the Greek word chronos, which meant time. If one also knew that the prefix ana meant without, one could quite easily figure out the meaning of anachronistic, which means, quoting from Merriam-Webster, “a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other.” Got it? Amaranth sure had, and that edification was indeed the foundation of, and the catalyst for, her incipient love affairs with words.

It should be underscored that Amaranth did not love etymology to be pedantic; rather, as a burgeoning poet, she always wanted to use not a pretentious word, but the precise word, as she called it, a process wherein a poet would unconsciously be imbued deeply in one’s mind the precise word among thousands of others, ready to be accessed effortlessly when a poet wanted to convey a specific feeling, insight, or emotion, let’s say, precisely.

Every new word Amaranth learned was exciting for her, even transcendent. Every new word would have its own heft, its own color, its own timbre, its qualities of lightness or heaviness. Amaranth never used a thesaurus. She didn’t need one. She had one in the deep recesses of her brain ready to use unconsciously and effortlessly whenever she felt a poem welling up inside of her.

Amaranth had written this epigram a number of years ago: “Poetry is like the ocean wind: It blows only for those sails that are open.” She also had come to believe that writing poetry was like making love. “If you have to try making love, stop.”

Chapter 29

Finally, Thursday, 17 October 2019, had arrived. The wait was over, and Amaranth and Ty could barely contain their synergistic excitement. That morning at 11:20 am MT, their nonstop Delta flight 1806 would take off from Denver’s DIA and would arrive at 5:10 pm ET at JFK airport in New York City.

“I can’t believe it!” shouted Amaranth. “We’re going to New York City for a week, a whole week!”

“And Columbia’s going to beat Penn and we are going to eat at some of the finest vegetarian restaurants in the world and we’re going to see Bill and Debbie and Herb and Leni and we’re going to see many of the most beautiful paintings and sculptures in the world and listen to some of the most beautiful music ever played live by one of the greatest orchestras in the world and watch some of the greatest ballet dancers in the world perform and walk around the city that is the capital of the world and make love in New York City as many times as we want!” an almost exhausted Ty exclaimed.

Both had to sit down on the blue sofa in the living room for a few minutes. Then they started loading the car with their pieces of luggage and finally began their drive to DIA. Once there, they got in line and went through the ritual that all Americans have to go through before they can board the plane.

“You take the window seat, Am. You like to look at the clouds and the land below,” said Ty. Amaranth had brought her copy of Toni Morrison’s book Song of Solomon with her and thought she’d read it for a while. Morrison had won the 1993 Nobel Prize in literature.

The plane took off smoothly, and before long, had ascended to its cruising altitude of 33,000 feet. Ty had asked Amaranth if she wanted a pillow, and she said she didn’t. But Ty did, so he asked a stewardess to bring him one, which she did, and within minutes, he had fallen asleep, his head lying softly on the pillow.

In due course, the plane landed without incident at JFK. By the time Amaranth and Ty had retrieved their luggage, it was approaching 6 pm. They hailed a cab and asked the driver, after giving him directions, to take them to International House, just several blocks from Columbia’s campus.

International House was founded in 1924. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and the Cleveland H. Dodge family paid for its construction. It had been designated a New York City landmark. To quote its brochure: “International House was the first global community of its kind, predating the United Nations by 21 years. For more than 96 years it has transformed the lives of more than 65,000 alumni, which include not only Nobel Prize winners, heads of state, award-winning authors, singers, actors, musicians, and CEOs, but teachers, doctors, small business owners, community leaders and volunteers throughout the world. We achieve our mission of preparing leaders of the global community by building core values of Respect, Empathy, and Moral Courage through a lived experience that consists of organic encounters and a series of unparalleled programs offered within our Morningside Heights facilities. I-House has welcomed bright young people from all over the world to live, learn, and grow together through a transformative experience that prepares them to join and lead the conversations that will change the world. I-House is home to approximately 700 resident members from more than 100 countries.”

The cab pulled up to the entrance of International House and Amaranth and Ty got out with their luggage, paid the driver, and thanked him. Then they went inside.

“Hi, I’m Ty Anderson and this is my wife, Amaranth. We have reservations for a room,” said Ty.

“Oh yes, Mr. Anderson. Please fill out this card for me, and here’s two keys to your room,” replied the clerk. Ty filled out the card and took the keys.

“Thank you so much,” said Ty, then he and Amaranth walked to the elevator, took it to the 7th floor, found their room, opened the door, and entered it.

“This is a nice room,” said Amaranth and lay on the double bed.

It was approaching 7:00 pm now, and understandably both Amaranth and Ty were beat. Ty lay down next to Amaranth. They had reservations for dinner at The Original Buddha Bodai Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant (5 Mott Street) at 8:00 pm.

“Let’s rest awhile, then we’ll take a cab to the restaurant,” said Ty.

About 7:20, they got up, used the bathroom, and changed into their more “formal” clothes for dinner. They then found their way out of the International House, walked up to Broadway, and hailed a cab that took them to The Original Buddha Bodai Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant. It was a few minutes before 8 when they arrived.

Chapter 30

“Good evening,” said the maitre d’.

“Good evening,” replied Ty. “We are the Anderson party, and we have reservations for dinner at 8,” replied Ty.

“Very good, sir,” said the maitre d’, who then escorted Amaranth and Ty to their table.

“Wow! I can’t believe we’re really here,” said Amaranth. Their waiter brought them two menus.

“Let’s have fun perusing the menus, Am. We’re in no hurry,” said Ty.

Amaranth and Ty did have fun perusing their menus.

“I’ve decided what I want. How about you?” said Amaranth.

“I’m ready, too,” said Ty.

Ty motioned to their waiter who immediately came to their table.

“You go first,” said Ty to Amaranth.

“OK, Ty. I’d like to order as an appetizer the fried crispy stuffed bread and barbecue vegetarian meat. For soup, I’d like the vegetarian chicken and corn soup. For my entrée, I’d like the shredded shiitake mushroom with broccoli. For dessert, I’d like the small mango pudding.”

Now it was Ty’s turn. “For an appetizer, I’d like the fried cumin vegetarian lamb. For soup, I’d like the pumpkin mushroom seafood soup. For my entrée, I’d like the vegetarian lobster in black bean sauce. For dessert, I’d like the tofu cheese cake.”

The waiter nodded his head, then left their table.

“This is a beautiful little restaurant,” said Amaranth.

“I bet the food is as good as the restaurant is beautiful,” replied Ty.

The two didn’t have to wait long before the waiter brought their appetizers, which they both enjoyed. The same was true for their soups, and then their entrées. Their desserts were delicious also. Amaranth and Ty were both pleasantly stuffed, and after a long day of travel and then a large meal, they were ready to sleep. So they returned to the International House, got to their room, and without hesitation, fell into bed and slept peacefully through the night.

Chapter 31

They awakened well rested. Friday was the day Ty had set aside for the two of them to revisit their alma mater, Columbia College. But first, they had to have breakfast at one of their old haunts, Tom’s Restaurant, made famous by Suzanne Vega, a Barnard student at the time, who had written and sung about the restaurant in her hit song that she called, surprisingly, “Tom’s Diner.” Notwithstanding, that song, even though it was a misnomer, helped launch her career.

Later, Tom’s Restaurant became even more famous, because it was used as the exterior shot of the restaurant where Seinfeld and his friends would gather to chat and eat on that famous TV series. Moreover, Tom’s Restaurant was located on the corner of Broadway and 112th Street, and if one looked eastward down 112th Street, one could see, just a block away, the incredibly beautiful Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Amaranth and Ty made their way leisurely to Tom’s Restaurant, and when they got there, entered it for the first time in almost ten years. Their favorite booth in which they had sat and ate so many breakfasts happened to be free, so they grabbed it.

“Just like old times,” said Ty.

“Just like old times,” Amaranth echoed.

Their waitress came to their booth immediately and handed them both menus.

“Oh, thank you, but we don’t need them. We already know what we want,” said Ty.

“Fine. What would you like?” said the waitress.

Amaranth went first. “I’d like two eggs scrambled and pancakes, please,” said Amaranth. “And please, may I have the syrup on the side?”

“Of course,” said the waitress. “What would you like, sir?”

“I’d like two eggs sunny-side up with potatoes and two pieces of rye toast, please,” said Ty.

“Anything to drink?” asked the waitress.

“Each of us would like a cup of coffee, please,” said Ty.

Their breakfast orders came fast, and both Amaranth and Ty dug in. They were hungry and excited to walk back up Broadway to the 116th main entrance to the Columbia campus and begin to explore all the places they had shared a decade ago.

Chapter 32

Columbia College was founded in 1754 as King’s College. Alexander Hamilton and John Jay were students there. When the American Revolution began, Hamilton left school before graduating, first to serve under George Washington and later to hold a number of high posts in our nascent nation. He was one of the authors of The Federalist Papers. John Jay became the United States’ first chief justice of the Supreme Court. When the war was over, the Columbia trustees decided it would be prudent to change the name of the college from King’s College to Columbia College, which they did.

Columbia College moved several times up the island of Manhattan. When Columbia College moved to its present location, Morningside Heights, it changed its name to Columbia University. Its main entrance today is at 116th Street and Broadway. An earlier location had been in what is now midtown Manhattan; consequently, Columbia still owned the land underneath Rockefeller Plaza, but decided to sell it in the 1980s for $400,000,000.

Columbia University had won 84 Nobel Prizes, more than any of the other Ivy universities. Its graduate school of journalism awarded the Pulitzer Prizes.

The 2019 admit rate for Columbia College, the traditional, coed, liberal arts school of Columbia University, was 5.1%, making it the second most selective school in the Ivy League. Columbia College admitted slightly more than 2,000 applicants out of slightly more than 42,000 worldwide. That’s about one out of twenty.

In 2019, Columbia College would celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Core Curriculum. Columbia College was the only school in the Ivy League that had the Core Curriculum, which every student had to take, regardless of her/his major. The “Core,” which was how virtually every student affectionately referred to it, was a rigorous two-year course of studies that include the following: Literature Humanities was a year-long study of great books that included Luke/John by unknown, Confessions by Augustine, The Divine Comedy by Dante, Essays by Michel de Montaigne, Macbeth by Shakespeare, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, Paradise Lost by John Milton, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, The Iliad by Homer, If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho by Anne Carson, The Odyssey by Homer, Genesis by unknown, Job by unknown, The Histories by Herodotus, Oresteia by Aeschylus, Antigone by Sophocles, The Clouds by Aristophanes, The Symposium by Plato, The Aeneid by Virgil, Metamorphoses by Ovid, Gilgamesh by unknown, Isaiah by Isaiah, Hymn to Demeter by unknown, Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Lysistrata by Aristophanes, Bacchae by Euripides, Medea by Euripides, History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, The Decameron by Boccaccio, and King Lear by Shakespeare.

Contemporary Civilization was “a year-long study introducing students to a range of issues concerning the kinds of communities — political, social, moral, and religious — that human beings construct for themselves and the values that inform and define such communities.” Examples of books read and studied were The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals by Immanuel Kant, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft, Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, On Liberty, Utilitarianism, and Other Essays by John Stuart Mill, On the Genealogy of Morality by Friedrick Nietzsche, The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois, Hind Swaraj by Gandhi, Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon, Republic by Plato, Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle, The City of God by Augustine, The Prince by Machiavelli, Leviathan by Hobbes, Second Treatise & Letter on Toleration by Locke, and Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract by Rousseau.

Art Humanities was a semester-long “analytical study of a limited number of monuments and artists, and taught students how to look at, think about, and engage in critical discussion of the visual arts.”

Music Humanities was a semester-long study that “awakened in students an appreciation of music in the western world and helped them respond intelligently to a variety of musical idioms, and it engaged them in the debates about the character and purposes of music that had occupied composers and musical thinkers since the ancient times.”

Frontiers of Science had “integrated modern science into the Core Curriculum to challenge students to think about the world around them and the different ways in which science could help them answer questions about nature and themselves.”

The Science requirement was a study whose “objective was identical to that of its humanities and social science counterparts, namely to help students understand the civilization of their own day and to participate effectively in it. The science component was intended specifically to provide students with the opportunity to learn what kinds of questions were asked about nature, how hypotheses were tested against experimental or observational evidence, how results of tests were evaluated, and what knowledge has been accumulated about the workings of the natural world.”

The Global Core requirement “asked students to engage directly with the variety of civilizations and the diversity of traditions that, along with the west, had formed the world and continued to interact in it today. Courses in the Global Core typically explored the cultures of Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Middle East in an historical context.”

The Foreign Language requirement was “part of Columbia College’s mission to prepare students to be tomorrow’s conscientious and informed citizens. Knowledge of another’s language and literature was the most important way to begin to know a country and its people.”

Both Amaranth and Ty felt that taking the Columbia College’s Core Curriculum, which made one learned for life, and living in and exploring New York City, the veritable capital of the world, for four years made one a citizen of the world, regardless of where one chose to reside after graduating, even if that place was Niwot, Colorado.

In short, Amaranth and Ty both felt the synergistic combination of the Core Curriculum and New York City made for the best undergraduate experience to be found anywhere on Earth.

Chapter 33

When they left Tom’s Restaurant, Amaranth and Ty decided to walk down 112th Street to Riverside Drive, take a right, and walk north along side the lovely Riverside Park, which, in turn, ran along side the Hudson River. They wanted and needed to drop by the Columbia Alumni Office on W 113th Street to pick up special cards that would allow them to enter buildings such as Low Library, Butler Library, and Hartley Hall where Amaranth and Ty both lived their first year and fell in love.

It had turned fall in New York City, and the leaves of the trees in Riverside Park were a mosaic then of red and yellow and orange. They had often come as undergraduates to this park to walk and sit and chat, all the while enjoying the crisp feel of incipient fall, complemented by the Hudson River that flowed sinuously by them. Children were often at play in the park that time of year that enhanced the ambiance of the place.

Amaranth and Ty strolled hand in hand as they headed north on the sidewalk beside Riverside Park. When they got to 116th Street, they turned right and headed up the hill to Broadway and the main entrance to Columbia’s beautiful campus, They crossed Broadway and entered the campus on College Walk that used to have been 116th Street when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president of Columbia University, just before he was elected president of the United States, got the City in the early 1950s to close it off from traffic and turn that segment into a promenade through campus from Broadway to Amsterdam Avenue.

The famous architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White had designed in the 1890s the campus of Columbia University. It was said McKim wanted the new campus to be modeled after the Athenian agora, to be the new American Acropolis. As one walked a third of the way eastward up College Walk, one would walk into the center of the campus and would initially be overwhelmed by its splendor. To the left sat Low Memorial Library high on a hill. There were many steps to climb to reach the entrance of the Library. It was grand. While it was indeed originally used as a library, it was eventually transformed into the administrative center of the University, including the Office of the President of the University, among others. In the center of the library was a breathtaking, large marble room with statues all around it with a high, majestic dome atop it, where important social affairs would take place. In fact, Ty had given an introductory speech in that glorious space when he had been head of HSOP.

If one turned right on College Walk, one would see the rest of the main campus, which included Butler Library built in the 1930s. While Butler was the largest — indeed, the major — library on campus, there were, in fact, 20 other libraries on campus as well that contained collectively 12,000,000 books. These libraries had a free public digital repository for research, collections in more than 450 different languages, more than 1,500 databases including JSTOR, access to a Oculus Rift, more than 220 research guides for topics like African-American studies, Human Rights, and New York City history, as well as special collections, such as the Frank Lloyd Wright and Tennessee Williams archives. Moreover, Butler had free access to online tutorials like Lynda.com that a student could take home including a Raspberry Pi and Arduino, primary source collections that spanned more than 4,000 years of human thought, current magazines and periodicals, specialty software in chemistry, graphic design, and more, and nearly 50 expert staff ready to help students with research and scholarly projects.

Amaranth and Ty ambled over to Hartley Hall. They went inside, took the elevator to the 9th floor, got out, and went to suite #909 where they lived, studied, and laughed, often eating Chinese take-out food, listening to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, making love, and falling in love.

“It seems like only yesterday,” said Amaranth.

“This room, those memories, will be eternal,” replied Ty.

They stood in the hallway for quite some time, recalling other indelible memories and happenings. Finally, they took the elevator down to the main lobby of Hartley and took a seat on a sofa in the well-paneled lounge.

“This is where we spent so much time with Bill and Debbie and Herb and Leni,” said Ty.

“We shared so many stories, so many discussions, with them,” said Amaranth. “We discussed everything in the world, it seemed — thoughts, feelings, ideas, speculations. We argued sometimes about what Hegel really meant, and Spinoza,” said Amaranth. The two sat on that sofa in silence for a long time, awash in an endless stream of memories.

FInally, they left Hartley Hall and got some vegetarian food at the John Jay dining room and ate it. Then they continued their nostalgic walk around campus. Ty had wanted to revisit his “office” that he had had in Lerner, Columbia’s student union, when he was head of NSOP, so they did. Then they continued their tour, going by Alma Mater, the large sculpture in the middle of campus that Daniel Chester French had created, the same Daniel Chester French who had created the huge sculpture of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Amaranth and Ty wanted to visit Columbia’s new campus, just a few blocks north of the main campus. It was called the Manhattanville Campus. Both had graduated from Columbia College shortly after this massive project had gotten underway. Ty had emailed Columbia from Niwot as he was planning this trip and asked for information about the Manhattanville campus and had received a brochure about it that he did not fail to bring with him. Ty suggested that before they walked to it that he and Amaranth find a shady spot where they could sit while he read to Amaranth, and to himself, from the brochure.

“A century ago, Manhattanville was a bustling port and rail cargo hub developed into a local center for dairy products, automobile finishing, meatpacking and other light industries. But the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression signaled the end of strong manufacturing growth in Manhattanville. As industries died out, and the jobs they created disappeared, Manhattanville lost its promise as one of New York City’s manufacturing centers.

“Starting in 2003, Columbia began working with leaders of West Harlem to develop a long-term campus plan. Columbia engaged in New York City’s rigorous land use review process known as ULURP to rezone the project area to a mixed-use special district that would accommodate the construction of academic classrooms, as well as research and residential spaces, among other uses. In December, 2007, the New York City Council voted 35 to 3 in favor of the proposal.

“The Manhattanville campus designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was the first such plan in the nation to win the Greene Building Council’s highest distinction for sustainability — the Leed-ND Platinum.”

“Interesting,” said Ty. “Now let’s go see it.”

Amaranth and Ty left the main campus via College Walk, turned right, and walked several blocks down Broadway to the Manhattanville campus. It was striking. The first building they saw was the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, which is home to the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. At the Greene Science Center, hundreds of the world’s leading researchers tackled the most exciting scientific research of our time: understanding how the brain works and gives rise to the interrelatedness of the mind and behavior. The Zuckerman Institute, lead by Nobel laureates, brings together a constellation of neuroscientists, engineers, statisticians, psychologists, and other scholars from across Columbia who collaborate on research, teaching, and public programming. Columbia’s scholars will transform human health and society, from effective treatments for disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression and autism, to advances in fields as fundamental as computer science, economics, law, the arts, and social policy. The Greene Science Center is a nine-story, 450,000 square foot structure, the largest Columbia has ever built, and the biggest science building in New York City. Stairways pair floors, common spaces have communal facilities, and a quadrant system per floor that groups the labs of scientists with similar areas of inquiry that foster idea-sharing and problem-solving among fellow researchers. The Greene Science Center is a model of stable urban design. It sets a new standard for sustainable technology.

Amaranth and Ty moved on. The next new building was the Lenfest Center for the Arts. It provides a dynamic new space for Columbia’s School for the Arts. It hosts exhibitions, performances, screenings, symposia, readings and lectures that present new, global voices and perspectives. It also houses the Wallach Art Gallery.

The next new building Amaranth and Ty saw was the Forum. It is a multipurpose venue on the corner of 125th Street and Broadway and features a 430-seat auditorium. The new building boasts meeting rooms, faculty offices, and open gathering spaces.

The last new building Amaranth and Ty had to read about, because it had not yet been built. It was to be the new Columbia Business School, whose most famous graduate is Warren Buffett. It will be designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with FXFOWLE Architects. The new building will span 492,000 square feet and have an open space of approximately 42,000 square feet that will be called The Square.

Amaranth and Ty had enjoyed seeing and learning about the Manhattanville campus, but were tired.

“Let’s go back to International House and take a nap,” said Ty. Amaranth agreed, so off they went.

After their nap, they again changed into their evening wear and again took a cab, this time to a restaurant called Sola Lab.

“I have abridged and emended Shakespeare,” said Ty immediately after Amaranth and he had been seated at a table.

“What?” exclaimed Amaranth.

“I am not the gifted poet you are and Shakespeare was,” said Ty. “But I want to share this with you now anyway.”

Ty pulled from a pocket in his pants a piece of folded paper and un- folded it. “Except for one word, this is from Troilus and Cressida. This is from Shakespeare, but more importantly, this is from my heart.”

Ty began reading.

“I am mad/In Amaranth’s love/…Her eyes, her hair, her cheek, her gait, her voice;/…her hand/In whose comparison all whites are ink,/…to whose soft seizure/The cygnet’s down is harsh’ ‘…I am gitty, expectations whirl me round./The imaginary relish is so sweet/That it enchants my senses./Even such a passion doth embrace my *****;/My heart beats thicker than a fev’rous pulse…’”

Tears began to flow from Amaranth’s eyes.

After a long, silent pause, they ate another wonderful meal.

When Amaranth and Ty returned to International House, they made mad, passionate love more than once, then fell peacefully to sleep, even as they continued to hold each other in embrace.

Chapter 34

Amaranth and Ty stood near the entrance of Dodge Fitness Center waiting for Bill and Debbie and Herb and Leni to show up. The gymnasium was crowded. In a short time, first Bill and Debbie showed up, then Herb and Leni.

“Wild Bill, God bless you! How in the hell are you?” cried Ty. Ty had always called Bill “Wild Bill.” They gave each other a hug. “Wild Bill,” by the way, was from Memphis, though Ty had never met Bill until they both came to Columbia College.

“And Debbie, how are you, and Herb and Leni, how are you?” asked Ty all around.

Amaranth jumped right in, saying hello to everyone, giving hugs to both Debbie and Leni.

It was wonderful for Amaranth and Ty to see their friends again. “Wild Bill” and Debbie lived in Chicago, on Elm Street, as it happened, that ran perpendicular to North Lake Shore Drive that bordered Lake Michigan. Bill and Debbie had bought a large apartment that “Wild Bill” had refurbished himself. “Wild Bill,” even as a kid, had enjoyed woodworking, and had always been gifted when it came to tools, all kinds of tools. He was now a practicing attorney specializing in health law. Debbie, who had gone to Barnard, was an interior director. Herb was now a practicing dermatologist with a Park Avenue practice. Leni Bergstrom held a high position with the Bloomberg Foundation. Herb and Leni lived together in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

“Do you remember our trip to Sarah Lawrence, Ty?” laughed Herb.

Ty sure did remember that car trip to Sarah Lawrence. “And how you eventually gave those snooty Sarah Lawrence girls hell for behaving in such an untoward manner toward the two of us. But you were always unabashed, Ty, and, no doubt, you still are.” said Herb admiringly.

The four of them managed to find seats on the bleachers where they could sit and reminisce. And reminisce they did, for a long time. Oh, the memories, the laughter, the good times! A great education was so important to all of them, but friendships, these friendships that would last a lifetime were, in their own way, as important as their Columbia education.

A couple of hours went by in a second. Finally, as the crowd began to vacate the gymnasium, Amaranth and Ty and Bill and Debbie and Herb and Leni said their good-byes and left, too.

It had been a wonderful evening.

Chapter 35

Homecoming Day!

Ty had been a Columbia football fan ever since he arrived on campus. But the last time Columbia football had won even half of an Ivy League championship was in 1961 when Columbia had tied Harvard for it. But four years ago, thanks to some loud and assertive and influential alumni, Columbia had hired a new athletic director who, in turn, hired Al Bagnoli, who had had a remarkable career as head football coach for over two decades at Penn, the very team Bagnoli and his new incredibly talented squad was going to do battle with this afternoon at Baker Field.

After finishing breakfast at Tom’s, Amaranth and Ty headed up on the subway to Baker Field, which was located on the northern tip of Manhattan. Ty had purchased two of the best seats in Wein Stadium, at the 50-yard-line up high. Amaranth was not a great football fan, but because she knew how much Ty enjoyed Columbia football, she was a good sport.

This was Ivy League football — not Ohio State vs. Michigan, not Alabama vs. Mississippi, not USC vs. UCLA. Ivy football was not “big-time” college football, but it was nonetheless as competitive as hell. The Ivy League had been founded in 1954 as a new athletic conference for these exact reasons. The eight schools that constituted the Ivy League — Brown, Columbia, Cornell. Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, and Yale — saw the writing on the wall; that is to say, in 1954, college football games were beginning to be broadcast with greater frequency on national TV, which meant then, and for decades to come, the universities that could successfully entice, often with under-the-table offers of different kinds, the best high school football players across the land to come play football at their schools, and would stand to make millions and millions — now in the billions nationwide — never mind that most of their players they “recruited” were not very smart, and what was the worst, the universities didn’t care if their players got educated before or after they scored touchdowns. The eight Ivy League schools chose to forego “big-time” college football, because they wanted to give all their students, even athletes, the best education possible.

The game was exciting. Columbia jumped out to a 10-point lead. Then Penn countered with seven points of their own. In the second half, Columbia scored two more touchdowns, taking a 17 point lead into their locker room at halftime. In the third quarter, Penn scored another seven points, but so did Columbia. In the fourth quarter, with a sizable lead, Columbia only ran the ball, instead of ever passing it, to run down the clock, a strategy that worked, leaving Columbia a winner over Penn, 34 to 14. Ty was happy, and Amaranth was glad Ty was happy. After the game, they made it back to International House. After cleaning up a bit and putting on their evening wear, Amaranth and Ty took a cab to the Franchia Vegan Cafe, another superb vegetarian restaurant.

Amaranth told the waiter “For an appetizer, I would like the Franchia Vegan Shish Kebab,” said Amaranth said. That shish kebab was made of barbecued soy meat, with peppers and onions on sticks with teriyaki sauce. “Instead of having soup tonight, I would like to try your porridge of the day,” Amaranth said. The porridge was made of sweet corn, spinach, pumpkin, and black sesame. “For my salad, I would like the avocado asparagus salad. For my entrée, I would like the Thai basil soy chicken. I will skip dessert tonight,” said Amaranth.

Ty began to order. “For my appetizer, I would like the Manchurian cauliflower sticks,” said Ty. “Instead of soup, I would also like your porridge. For my salad, I would like your pumpkin noodles salad. And for my entrée, I would like your Mediterranean Bibimbap and Stone Bowl. I will skip dessert tonight as well,” said Ty.

Amaranth and Ty were once again in heaven. The victory over Penn that afternoon was sweet, but nothing compared to the dishes they were now devouring.

“I try my best at home,” said Amaranth. “But I cannot compete with these New York City vegetarian restaurants.”

“Your meals at home are the best in the world,” countered Ty. “We have to get to Richard Rodgers Theater now,”

Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Lorenz Hart, all had been schoolmates and musical collaborators at Columbia College almost ninety years ago. They had, in differing combinations, written the music and lyrics for the “Varsity Show,” an annual Columbia College tradition, even to this day.


Chapter 36

The Richard Rodgers Theater, obviously, was packed, but Ty, through his “connections,” was able to get the best seats in the house.

It was interesting to see how today’s theater-goers dressed to go see Broadway productions. Though the price one had to pay for a ticket to these Broadway blockbuster plays today was exorbitant, many of those who were able to pay showed up in the most casual clothing, even in jeans, no less.

Amaranth and Ty looked through the programs they were given as they entered the theater.

“Thank you for getting us tickets to see Hamilton, Ty,“ said Amaranth.

“But it would be a long time before Hamilton would make it to Niwot,” said Ty.

The musical was even better than advertised, thought both Amaranth and Ty.

As Amaranth and Ty were taking a cab home, Ty said, “Rodgers and Hammerstein were both musical geniuses. You knew they were both graduates of Columbia College, right Am?” Amaranth nodded. “They collaborated on so many great musicals: Oklahoma!; Carousel; State Fair; the great South Pacific; The King and I; Cinderella; Flower Drum Song; The Sound of Music.

As the cab approached International House, Ty remarked quietly, “Rodgers and Hammerstein. Jesus, what a legacy!”

Chapter 37

Amaranth and Ty had decided to sleep in Sunday morning. They were having a wonderful time on their trip to New York City, but both of them knew their days had been, and were going to continue to be, packed with activities, creating a daily schedule, while fun and exciting, that they were not used to. In short, they both were exhausted.

When they both woke up, it was almost 11 am. They took a shower together, which they liked to do sometimes, then got dressed, and finally headed to Tom’s.

After breakfast, they decided to head to Chinatown, which they did. This time, they decided to take the subway, the way they usually had traveled around New York City when they had been students. On Sundays, the subways, were, of course, usually less crowded.

As Amaranth sat on the subway, she remembered the powerful scene in Steinbeck’s epic novel, East of Eden, when Lee, Adam Trask’s Chinese servant, who was always stereotyped as dumb and complaisant, but, in fact, was extremely intelligent and wise, explained to Samuel and Adam the real meaning of the Hebrew word “timshel” that was found in the Bible in Genesis, but was often mistranslated in different versions of it. This profound scene was one of the watershed moments of the novel. In brief, Lee explained that the real meaning of the word was that there was always a chance of redemption, no matter how badly one had previously sinned.

The subway rattled on. Finally, it got to Chinatown.

The Chinatown Amaranth and Ty were going to visit was now one of nine Chinese communities in New York City, and when added to the other eight in greater New York City, had a population of close to 800,000, making these combined communities the largest outside of Asia.

The subway rattled on. Finally, it got to Chinatown.

Chinatown began when a man named Ah Ken showed up in New York City in the 1850s. It is told he opened a cigar store on Park Row and later operated a boarding house on Mott Street. In 1882 the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. In 1900 the U.S. census reported that 7,028 Chinese males lived in New York City, but only 142 Chinese women, a huge gender gap. The Chinese Exclusion Act was finally repealed in 1943, but Manhattan’s Chinatown had remained essentially a bachelors’s community until 1965. The early days of Chinatown were controlled by “tongs” (associations), which were a mix of clans, landsmen, political, and crime syndicates that provided protection to people and businesses because of anti-Chinese sentiment. These associations eventually formed the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. Street gangs popped up. Gangs like the “Ghost Shadows” and the “Flying Dragons” were fighting each other until the 1990s. Chinatown’s population increased dramatically after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was passed. Cantonese-speaking Chinese dominated Manhattan’s Chinatown. The huge influx of other Chinese (e.g. the Fuzhou) resulted in other neighborhoods springing up in other areas of greater New York City. The 2010 US Census showed a population of 47,844 in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Now population estimates range between 90,000 and 100,000. It continues to be a major tourist attraction, especially due to its many restaurants. Incipient gentrification is a growing threat to Manhattan’s Chinatown.

Amaranth and Ty started their walking tour at the Visitor’s Kiosk where they were able to pick informative brochures. They walked down Baxter Street, passing the Manhattan House of Detention (but still referred to as the “Tombs,” the original name of the first detention center that had been razed and replaced by a new facility) and the Manhattan Criminal Court Building. Then they came upon Columbus Park where they could see and hear Chinese residents playing cards (mahjong), singing traditional Chinese songs, playing their lutes, some groups practicing tai-chi. At the corner of Mosco and Mott Streets, they found the Church of the Transfiguration, originally a Lutheran church built in 1801, but now Roman Catholic. At 32 Mott Street, they saw the site of Quong Yuen Shing General Store that was, from 1891 to 2003, the longest continuously family-operated store in Chinatown. It had served not only as a place to buy goods, but also as a social center where denizens could come to talk, socialize, and help illiterate immigrants learn how to write and even offered them a bed to rent by the night in the back of the store. At 37 Mott Street, they came upon the Aji Ichiban Candy Store. Though the name of this store is Japanese, this store sells hundreds of kinds of Asian and Western and dried fruit, nuts, jerky, seafood — all things gummy. Amaranth and Ty sampled the preserved rose petal, a wasabi peanut, and the candied baby crab.

They continued on their walking tour, encountering the narrow Pell Street with 100-year-old tenement buildings made of bricks on both sides of it, as well as awnings and flags with Chinese writings on them. A hundred years before, Pell Street had been lined with brothels, gambling houses, gang hideouts, and ***** dens. They then came across the curved Doyer Street, named after Hendrik Doyer, an 18th century Dutch immigrant who had owned the land upon which the street sat. Doyer Street also had seen its share of violence. The two tongs gangs, the On Leong and the Hip Sing, had numerous shoot-outs, ambushes, and murders as they battled each other for dominance of Doyers Street and the criminal enterprises located on it. Doyer Street had come to be known as the “****** Angle.” But now, the most famous spot on that street was the Nom Wah Tea Parlor, Chinatown’s first, opened in 1920. Also on Doyer Street was the site of the former Chinese Opera House opened in 1893, but closed in 1901 because of the unchecked violence in the area. Amaranth and Ty then reached Chatham Square, which had been an open market before the burgeoning of Chinatown and later became run-down, an area of flophouses and tattoo parlors. They saw the Kimlau Memorial Arch named after Benjamin Ralph Kimlau who had served as an Allied pilot during World War II, but was killed in 1944 when his plane was shot down. Then came the statue of Lin Zexu who had been a politician in China during the 1830s and 40s and had fought to keep the ***** trade out of China. They saw the Shearith Israel Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in New York City, dating back to 1683. The Spanish and Portuguese Jews founded the Shearith Israel congregation, the only one in New York City for 200 years, lasting until 1825. At the corner of Bowery and Pell Street was the Edward Mooney House, a two-story red brick building that was the oldest townhouse in New York City, built in 1785.

When Amaranth and Ty came to the Bowery, they read it early on had been the main street of New York City, then known as New Amsterdam, but surrendered that distinction in time to Broadway. Once an entertainment center, it had become in the 1900s the “skid row” of the City where the down-and-out tried to survive among seedy hotels and soup kitchens. Finally, at 215 Centre Street was the Museum of Chinese in America. It was one of the most important national archives of Chinese history in America.

“I don’t think either of us took a walking tour of Chinatown when we were students. Is that right, Ty?” said Amaranth.

“I think you’re right, Am,” said Ty. “I remember reading Oscar Handlin’s The Uprooted as a student, a trenchant account of the Lower East Side where immigrant Jews who had entered the United States through Ellis Island and began to settle there. I remember wishing that that neighborhood had not undergone such a demographic change, so that I could have taken a walking tour through it to get a real feel of what they were up against. There is Ellis Island today, but only as a museum. The Statue of Liberty must feel lonely out there, thanks to Trump’s immigration policies, which, as you know, are anathema to me.”

“I know how you feel about Trump and all his other policies,” said Amaranth. “I feel the same way.”

Amaranth and Ty sat on a bench outside the Museum of Chinese in America, resting from their long but interesting and informative walking tour through Chinatown.

“Well, are you ready to go have dinner? We have reservations at Daniel tonight,” said Ty.

“Let’s go. I’m hungry,” replied Amaranth. They found a cab to take them to Daniel, and off they went.

Daniel was a new French restaurant located in the Upper East Side owned and operated by Daniel Boulud, New York City’s longest-reining four-star chef.

After they were seated, Amaranth began to order.

“For my first course, I would like the Mais (chilled corn veloute, avocados, sweet peppers, chive oil, and nasturtium flowers). For my second course, I would like the Couscous (douroum couscous fricassee, basquaise peppers, Thai basil salad). For my main course, I would like the Epinard (braised spinach, 1924 blue cheese cream, and St-Florentin potatoes). For my dessert, I would like the Cerise (thyme-scented Morello cherry pie and Timiz Chantilly). Thank you,” said Amaranth.

Ty ordered. “I would like for my first course the Haricot Plat (runner bean fricassee, fiddlehead ferns, spruce tips, buttermilk emulsion). For my second course, I would like the Oca (glazed oca, wild rose marmalade, radishes, yellow chicory). For my dessert, I would like the Sakanti (Balinese cacao, chocolate sable, gavotte, banana batak sorbet).”

“What an incredible meal!” cried Amaranth. Ty concurred.

“For my first course, I would like the Mais (chilled corn veloute, avocados, sweet peppers, chive oil, and nasturtium flowers). For my second course, I would like the Couscous (douroum couscous fricassee, basquaise peppers, Thai basil salad). For my main course, I would like the Epinard (braised spinach, 1924 blue cheese cream, and St-Florentin potatoes). For my dessert, I would like the Cerise (thyme-scented Morello cherry pie and Timiz Chantilly). Thank you,” said Amaranth.

Ty ordered. “I would like for my first course the Haricot Plat (runner bean fricassee, fiddlehead ferns, spruce tips, buttermilk emulsion). For my second course, I would like the Oca (glazed oca, wild rose marmalade, radishes, yellow chicory). For my dessert, I would like the Sakanti (Balinese cacao, chocolate sable, gavotte, banana batak sorbet).”

“What an incredible meal!” cried Amaranth. Ty concurred.

As they had spent almost half the day walking, Amaranth and Ty decided to call it a day and took a cab back to the International House where they immediately fell into bed in their room.

“Pleasant dreams,” whispered Amaranth. Ty leaned over and kissed her goodnight.

Chapter 38

Today was Monday, 28 October 2019.

After breakfast at Tom’s, Amaranth and Ty took a cab to the Museum of Modern Art and wound up spending virtually the entire afternoon there.

Their favorite paintings, among many others, were Toyin Ojih Odutola’s Projection Enclave, Rirkrit Tiravanija’s FEAR EATS THE SOUL, Sky Hopinka’s Anti-Objects, or Space Without Path or Boundary, Philipp Schaerer’s V22–02, from the Chicago series, Lisa Yuskavage’s Merlot, Kim Beom’s Untitled (Nose of a Pig Smells Accelerator), Lionel Maunz’s Obligation 1, Nicholas Nixon’s The Brown Sisters, Ibrahim El-Salahi’s The Group, Stephanie Syjuco’s Cargo Cults: Basket Woman, Tomma Abts’s Untitled (big circle), Andrea Büttner’s Piano Stool, Martin Barr’s Be Bold with Bananas, Lawrence ******’s Wir sind keine Enten auf dem Teich, wir sind Schiffe auf dem Meer from 25 years of FUN, Irma Boom’s Elements, Lyle Ashton Harris’s Untitled (triptych), Barbara Kasten’s Transposition 3, Bruce LaBruce’s Pierrot Lunaire, Tala Madani’s Wrong House, Ed Atkins’s Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths, Tauba Auerbach’s Three Wire (SRS) from Type Specimen Portfolio 2013, Leonardo Finotti, Juan Sordo Madaleno’s Palmas 555, Mexico City, Mexico.

There were still, of course, the most famous paintings and sculptures of modern art at MoMa, which both Amaranth and Ty had seen when they were at Columbia. The works of Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Edward Hopper, Paul Klee, Ad Reinhardt (who had become close friends with both Robert Lax and Thomas Merton when all were students at Columbia College in the 1930s), Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, Willem de Kooning, Joan Miró, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson *******, Auguste Rodin, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella, and many others.

Moreover, it should not be forgotten that MoMA also had a world-renowned art photography collection. Ty, whom you might remember was an American history major at Columbia College, remembered well his spending a full afternoon more than a decade ago looking through MoMA’s art photography collection, especially those photographs taken by members of the famous group of American photographers chosen in the 1930s by the Farm Security Administration to spread out over parts of America that had been most seriously affected by the Great Depression. Ty’s three favorites of that group were Dorothea Lange (who had studied photography at Columbia), Gordon Parks, and Walker Evans (an Andover graduate). Lange’s iconic photograph entitled Migrant Mother had left an indelible impression on Ty, as it had done, and was still doing, to millions and millions of others around the world.

That evening, Amaranth and Ty had dinner at Le Bernardin, one of the world’s most famous restaurants. It served a variety of vegetarian dishes from which both Amaranth and Ty could construct, if you will, a vegetarian dinner.

Amaranth, as usual, began first. “I would like please the poached green asparagus, vegetable caviar, with white balsamic-herb seaweed vinaigrette; the warm artichoke panache, vegetable risotto, and barigoule emulsion; and the slowly cooked Mediterranean bouillabaisse, and anise-saffron infused broth.”

Ty was next. “I would like the black truffle tagliatelle; the cauliflower couscous, romanesco, okra, and seasonal vegetables in a Madras curry stew; the sauteed pea shoot-filled morels with green peppercorn sauce; and for dessert, the candied ginger parfait with roasted pineapple sorbet.”

“Excuse me, sir. I would also like the dessert,” added Amaranth.

They enjoyed their meals immensely, but had to make sure they had enough time to reach Lincoln Center to watch the New York City Ballet’s corps de ballet perform.

The New York City Ballet was founded in 1948 by the famous choreographers, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Tonight’s performance was going to be “Stravinsky & Balanchine: Allegro Brillante; La Source; and Firebird.”

Both Amaranth and Ty found the performances sensational. Only in New York City, and a small number of other major cities around the world, could one see such absolutely stellar performances.

“Well,” said Amaranth, “I’ll never forget this night — LeBernardin and the New York City Ballet in the same evening!”

“This is what I wanted to give you tonight, Am. The only greater thing I can give you always is my love, which I offer you every nanosecond of my life,” said Ty, who then kissed his wife on the cheek.

Chapter 39

It was Tuesday.

After another satisfying breakfast at Tom’s, Amaranth and Ty hailed a cab on Broadway and traveled to the American Museum of Natural History.

The Museum has had a storied history. Ty read to Amaranth from his brochure about the Museum: “Since its founding in 1869, the Museum has advanced its global mission to discover, interpret, and disseminate information about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe through a wide-ranging program of scientific research, education, and exhibition.

“The Museum is renowned for its exhibitions and scientific collections, which serve as a field guide to the entire planet and present a panorama of the world’s cultures.”

In 2019, the American Museum of Natural History was celebrating its 150th anniversary. Amaranth and Ty thought they would first tour the permanent exhibitions. Ty continued to read from his brochure: “The Hall of Biodiversity presents a vivid portrait of the beauty and abundance of life on Earth, highlighting both diversity and the factors that threaten it.

“Ecological biodiversity is illustrated by a 2,500 square foot walk-through diorama that depicts part of the Dzanga-Sangha rain forest, one of Earth’s most diverse ecosystems. Featuring more than 160 species of flora and fauna, the diorama uses video and sound to recreate the ecosystem at dawn, at an elephant clearing, and degraded by human intervention along a road.”

Amaranth and Ty slowly walked through the Hall of Diversity, looking at and reading about all the other exhibitions within it: the Spectrum of Life; the Siberian Tiger; the Dodo Bird; the Endangered Species; and the Protists.

There was, of course, a gargantuan amount of interesting and fascinating information to be gleaned from all the exhibitions, both permanent and special. Amaranth and Ty paced their walking and reading, so they would not be overwhelmed by the magnitude of what they were exploring and ingesting.

They walked through the rest of the permanent exhibitions: the Hall of North American Forests; the Irma and Paul Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life; the Hall of Birds of the World; the Hall of New York City Birds; the Leonard C. Sanford Hall of North American Birds; the Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians; the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites; the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems; the Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals; the Paul and Irma Milstein Hall of Advanced Mammals; the Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs; the Hall of Primitive Mammals; the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs; the Hall of Vertebrate Origins; the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Orientation Center; the Grand Gallery; the Northwest Coast Hall; the Hall of Central and South America; the Hall of African Peoples; the Gardner D. Stout Hall of Asian Peoples; the Hall of Eastern Woodlands; the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins; the Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples; the Hall of Plains Indians; the Hall of South American Peoples; the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals; the Akeley Hall of African Mammals; the Hall of Asian Mammals; the Hall of Primates; the Hall of Small Primates; the Rose Center for Earth and Space; the Hayden Planetarium; the Harriet and Robert Heilbrunn Cosmic Pathway; the Scales of the Universe; the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Hall of the Universe; the David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth; the Hayden Big Bang Theater; the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall; the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda; and the Discovery Room.

“That was a long, long, but most interesting tour we just completed,” said Amaranth. “How about us taking a break, maybe getting a soda?”

“You bet,” said Ty.

After their break, they went to view the special exhibits. They included “Oceans: Our Blue Planet;” “T. rex: The Ultimate Predator;”

“Unseen Oceans;” and “Dark Universe.’

“I liked ‘Unseen Oceans’ the best,” said Amaranth. “You could spend two lifetimes absorbing all that’s in this museum.”

“Maybe three,” added Ty.

Chapter 40

When Amaranth and Ty got back to the International House, they lay down to rest, understandably, for a while. Ty had brought along Frederick Douglass’s autobiography to read and Amaranth had brought Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. They enjoyed their books for an hour or so. But again, they had to get ready to go eat at the Blue Hill, 75 Washington Place, so they would arrive at the Shubert Theatre on time to see the Broadway smash hit, To **** A Mocking Bird.

When the two were seated at Blue Hill, the waiter took their orders.

“I would like the Castelfranco Radicchio (Blue Hill farm yogurt, cherries, and preserved ramps) please,” said Amaranth, “and I would like the Montauk Skate (cucumbers and dill), and I would like the Summer Vegetable Lasagna (fava beans, summer squash, and farmer’s cheese).”

And Ty said, “I would like the Snap Peas (rhubarb, strawberries, and curry), and I would like the Sprouted Row 7 Barley (chanterelles, apricots, and a pullet egg), and I would like the Blue Hill Farm Chicken (celtuce, blueberries, and horseradish). Thank you.”

Again, as one would imagine, the food was wonderful.

Amaranth and Ty took a cab to the Shubert Theatre and got there with time to spare. Both had heard that this play was, in a number of ways, different from the movie, but had nonetheless received rave reviews. And both of them had seen the movie a number of times. It was, in fact, one of Amaranth’s all-time favorites. Indeed, when she was a teenager in Sedona, she had had a crush on Gregory Peck, not only because he was so handsome, but also because he projected a kindness, an empathy, that she really felt emanated from his own center as a human being, not just as an actor. The two went in to watch the play.

When they came out, Amaranth said, “ I really liked the play. I liked the subtle and not-so-subtle changes made. Jeff Daniels, about whom I had my doubts, pulled it off. The actress who played Calpurnia deserves to win a Tony Award, as does Daniels. Whoever wrote the screenplay took a lot of chances, but in the end, the play was effective, at once at times caustic, at other times evocative and electric.”

“This play, the movie, the book, all are about racism, which is the legacy of slavery, the brutal, ugly, immoral, death-dealing slavery that began to ravage North America some 400 years ago. The triangle of trade, the Atlantic Slave Trade, is what first made the thirteen colonies prosperous, both in the North and in the South. And then, after 1776, slavery made the United States of America, over time, into the new, roaring, economic engine of the world. Our nation was built on the backs of black slaves, 4,000,000 by 1861, and despite the ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865 that ‘legally’ abolished slavery in our ‘democracy,’ our nation morphed into a pernicious, evil, racist country. Racism today pervades every county, every town and city, every state in our so-called democracy. If Martin Luther King, Jr. had not been murdered by a single rifle shot to the head on April 4th, 1968 on a Lorraine Motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee, you could ask him if I’m not right, but you can’t, because he’s dead. So you can ask instead Trump, the humanist that he is, if I’m not right,” concluded Ty, obviously heated.

Amaranth knew well where Ty was coming from, and why. Ty had never been able to brook even an iota of racism, and undaunted as he had always been, would never hesitate a moment to tell you emphatically how he felt and in what he believed. This singular attribute of his was perhaps the overriding reason why she respected him so, and loved him so much.

Chapter 41

Amaranth had felt a poem welling up inside of her. She could tell what was welling up inside of her was unusually intense, even bellicose perhaps. And perhaps it was welling up in part because of what Ty had to say, and the way he said it, last night after the play. Regardless, what was happening now felt markedly different to her, but Amaranth had always trusted, respected, what welled up inside of her because this silent and sacred process had always proven, in a spiritual way, to be her truth. It had always come intuitively, never forced.

She awakened while Ty was still asleep. She carefully got out of bed so as not to wake Ty up. She picked up her purse and pulled the notebook and her pen she always carried with her. Then she went over to the desk and sat down, putting her notebook on the desktop and opening it up to a clear page. Then she began recording what was beginning to come out of her.

THOSE WHO RULE

We shall keep the poor poor.

We shall be on them like

a master’s whip on the backs

of slaves; but they will not

know us: we are too far, and

too close. We shall use the

patois of patriotism to patronize

them. We shall hide behind our

flags while we hold only one pole.

We shall have the poor fight our

wars for us, and die for us; and

before they die, they will **** for

us, we hope, enough. In peace,

we shall piecemeal them and serve

them meals made of toxins and tallow.

For their labor, we shall pay them

slave wages; and all that we give

we shall take back, and more, by

monumental scandals that subside

like day’s sun at eventide. We shall

be clever, as ever, circumspect and

surreptitious at all times. We shall

keep them deluded with the verisimilitude

of hope, but undermine always its

being. We shall infuse their lives

with fear and hate, playing one

race against another, one religion

against a brother’s. Disaffection is

our key; but we must modulate our

efforts deftly, so the poor remain

frightened and angered, but always

blind and deaf and divided. And if,

perchance, one foments, we shall

seize the moment and drop his head

into his hands, even as he speaks.

This internecine brew we pour, there-

fore, into the poor to keep them drunk

with enmity and incapacitation. Ah,

eternal anticipation! Bottoms up,

old chaps. We, those who rule,

shall have them always in our laps.

We are, as it were, their salvation.


Amaranth had never before written a poem like this one. She lay her pen diagonally across her poem, got up from the desk, and quietly, so quietly, got back into bed to lie beside her Ty.

Amaranth lay beside Ty until he awoke, and then the two made love. What a beautiful way to start a new day.

Chapter 42

“Tomorrow, we go home, back to Niwot,” said Ty. “ You would think one might be sad to leave all that we have seen and eaten and heard in this incomparable metropolis, but I’m not. We will take all that we have experienced and enjoyed here back home with us, not in our suitcases, but in our hearts and minds.”

Amaranth sat on the edge of the bed, listening.

“There are many that live here who think they have a monopoly on success, but they don’t, because success is not the clothes one wears, not the car one drives, not the house one lives in, not the job one has, not the title one holds, not the money one makes. Success is being and becoming. Success is always being true to yourself,” concluded Ty.

“Today, our penultimate day, we travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum, as you know, is gigantic. I remember once I simply walked through the entire museum, walking but never stopping, to see how long it would take. It took me three hours. Therefore, I respectfully suggest we go only to the Impressionist wing. I know we both love the Impressionists. Is that OK with you, Am?”

Amaranth nodded in the affirmative.

“Great,” said Ty. “Let’s go have breakfast at Tom’s, then we’ll go to the Met.”

After finishing breakfast, Amaranth and Ty took a cab to the museum. When they got there, they headed directly to the Impressionist wing.

Ty had been standing in front of Renoir’s “Still Life with Peaches” for about a half hour. He was transfixed, mesmerized. Amaranth, who had been roaming around the wing, came over to Ty.

“Am, I think this is the most beautiful painting I have ever seen,” said Ty.

“I think it is gorgeous, yes,” said Amaranth.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in Limoges, Haute-Vienne, France on 25 February 1841. He was inspired by the works of Pissarro and Manet. With Sisley, Pissarro, and Monet and several other artists, Renoir mounted the first Impressionist exhibition in April, 1874. Subsequently, he traveled around Europe to see the works of other famous painters, including Delacroix and Velazquez. He also met the famous composer, Wagner. Renoir’s most famous paintings included Bal du Moulin de la Galette, Le Déjeuner des canotiers, Les Grandes Baigneuses, La Loge, Bal a Bougival, Madame Georges Charpentier et Ses Enfants, Jeunes Filles au Piano, La Parisienne, Les Parapluies, and Les Deux Soeurs.

“I have two favorites,” said Amaranth. “They are van Gogh and one of yours, Renoir.”

Vincent van Gogh was born on 30 March 1853 in Groot-Zundert, Holland. He created more than 2,000 artworks during his life — landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and self-portraits. He didn’t start painting until 1881. The vast majority of his paintings were done in the last two years of his life. He suffered psychotic episodes such as delusions and hallucinations throughout his life and sought help several times by being admitted to different psychiatric hospitals. His mental illness, ineluctably and unconsciously, imbued his paintings with extraordinary qualities that made them unique. He was extremely close to his brother, Theo, who had tried to help Vincent sell his paintings. Only one painting was sold during his lifetime. Today, each of his paintings is worth millions and millions of dollars. On 29 July 1890, Vincent committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest.

“Vincent van Gogh is the artistic equivalent of the poetic William Blake and Emily Dickinson in that all three were never recognized in their lifetimes as the geniuses they were,” said Amaranth.

Other artists represented through their paintings and sculptures in the Impressionist wing were Degas, Monet, Bonnard, Vuillard, Derain, Cassatt, Whistler, Weir, Pissarro, Morisot, Seurat, Harper, Metcalf, Matisse, Sargent, Vonnoh, Twachtman, Sisley, Rodin, Bracquemond, Bastien-Lepage, Hassam, Cézanne, Robinson, Manet, Cuvelier, Caillebotte, Delacroix, Inness, Balthus, Toulouse-Lautrec, van Rysselberhge, Rosso, Courbet, Yong, Tian, Bazille, Gauguin, and others.

Amaranth and Ty went directly to Fournos Theophilos, a highly rated Greek vegetarian restaurant, because again they didn’t want to be late arriving at Lincoln Center where they would be listening to the New York Philharmonic.

Amaranth began. “For an appetizer, I would like please to get the Tzatziki (Greek yogurt, cucumbers, dill, garlic, and Greek olive oil, served with pita bread). I would like the soup of the day. For a salad, I would like the Greek salad (pleated filo crust, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, Greek feta cheese, whole wheat rusks, Greek extra ****** olive oil, and red wine vinegar). For my entree, I would like the traditional Mediterranean pie (pleated filo crust, tomatoes, olives, and cheese). And for dessert, I’m going to have to have your baklava.”

Ty said, “I’m going to have the Fava (yellow split pea spread from Santorini, Greece served with pita bread). I too will have the soup of the day. For my salad, I would like your baby kale salad (mandarans, almonds, with carrot turmeric vinaigrette). For my entree, I would like your traditional cheese and spinach pie (pleated filo crust, spinach, sweet leeks, dill and parsley mixed with sheep and goat’s mizithra, and feta cheese). And for dessert, I would like your Mosaic (a fridge cake with buttery, creamy chocolate, crunchy cookies, and a hint of aromatic brandy).

“I have not had Greek food often, but tonight’s dinner was tasty, wonderful,” said Amaranth.

“I’m glad you liked it, Am,” said Ty. “This was your last New York City vegetarian dinner, at least for a while.”

Amaranth and Ty rushed over to Lincoln Center and found their seats in David Geffen Hall.

Tonight’s program would be Mozart’s Symphony №40, Sibelius’s Second Symphony, and Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony, the “Eroica.” Jaap van Zweden, conducting.

Amaranth and Ty knew all three symphonies, and liked each one.

“Am, did you ever see the movie Amadeus?” Ty asked.

“Yes, I did,” replied Amaranth. She and Ty, she thought, were among the luckiest people in the world to be able to hear in person these objects of virtu played by one the best symphony orchestras on Earth.

“Miloš Forman, who was the director for Amadeus, won an Oscar for the job he did. He was teaching at Columbia’s School of the Arts at that time. Amadeus also won an Oscar as Best Picture. Forman also directed One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and won another Oscar for that job well done,” added Ty.

Wolfgang Amadeas Mozart was born on 27 January 1756 in Salzburg, then part of the Holy Roman Empire. A child prodigy, Mozart wrote his first symphony when he was eight years old. He traveled extensively when he was young through Europe with his sister, Nannerl, and their father and performed before European nobility. Later, only Mozart and his father toured. He met Haydn and Beethoven. Eventually, he settled in Vienna. Mozart experienced financial difficulties throughout his adult life. As well, he composed over 600 works during his life, including symphonies, concertos, operas, sonatas, and choral music. Mozart was only 35 when he died on 5 December 1791.

Jean Sibelius was born on 8 December 1865 in Hämeenlinna in the Grand Duchy of Finland. Initially he had dreamed of becoming a violin virtuoso, but ultimately became a composer instead. Sibelius unfortunately was both an epicure and a heavy drinker, which caused him financial stress from time to time. He is best known for his seven symphonies and his nationalistic tone poem, Finlandia. Sibelius was 91 when died on 20 September 1957.

Ludwig van Beethoven was baptised on 17 December 1770 in Bonn, the capital of the Electorate of Cologne. When he was 21, he moved to Vienna and studied composition under Haydn. By 1811, Beethoven was virtually completely deaf. Nevertheless, he kept composing great works. Beethoven composed nine symphonies, five piano concertos, one violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets, two masses, and an opera, Fidelio. He is considered to be one of the greatest composers of all time. Beethoven was 56 when he died in Vienna on 26 March 1827.

“Why can’t our world be as beautiful and uplifting as the three symphonies we listened to tonight?” asked Amaranth.

Ty had no answer.

Chapter 43

Back to Niwot.

It was Thursday, 24 October 2019, and it was time to go home. Their flight was scheduled to leave at 11:20 am and they knew, of course, they had to be at the airport at least a couple of hours before takeoff, so they had set the alarm for an early rise time in order to give them time to eat breakfast at Tom’s and still have plenty of time to get to JFK.

They took a cab to JFK, went through the protracted “shake-down,” sat for awhile, then finally boarded their non-stop Delta flight to DIA. Ty had finished reading Frederick Douglass’s autobiography and had started reading a biography of William Lloyd Garrison, the famous abolitionist who had founded and edited the newspaper, The Liberator.

Amaranth, in turn, had a bit more to read of Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon. Both got pillows before take-off. They were on their way.

This time, they both fell asleep during the flight home, which was probably a good thing in that both of them had expended a lot of energy during their week in New York City, plus their sleep made the trip seem a lot faster than it actually was. They landed at DIA a little after 5:00 pm Denver time.

“It feels both good and strange at the same time being in Colorado rather than frenetic New York City,” said Ty as he drove Amaranth and himself back to Niwot. “But, bottom line, it will be good to get home,” he added.

Ty pulled into their driveway, unloaded the suitcases from the trunk of the car, and carried them into the house. Amaranth followed.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to hit the sack,” said Ty.

“Thank you for a most wonderful week in New York City, Ty. I will never forget it,” said Amaranth.

“Thank you, Am, for being my wife and making each day of mine a vacation par excellence,” said Ty.

The two hugged and kissed, then went to bed, happy to be in their home once again.

Chapter 44

Amaranth sat in her chair at the kitchen table sipping tea. Morning sunlight poured through the kitchen windows.

Society is like the individual, Amaranth thought. What it does not like, it neglects, ignores. The individual represses, society oppresses. Helicopters hover, but do not help. Urban renewal is a societal lobotomy.

We need a new technology, she thought, an emotional technology. Before we bus our children from one part of town to another, we must first crisscross out hearts and souls, know every street and alley of our feelings, every suburb and ghetto of our guts. Before we integrate our races, we must integrate our emotions. The boundaries that divide us are not on maps, but in our minds and hearts.

Old technologies have built institutions into which society dumps its misfits and misgivings. Prisons, jails, reform schools, mental hospitals, institutes for the mentally *******, nursing homes for the aged. Confined, compartmentalized, compact, concealed.

These institutions are society’s pockets of unconsciousness. They are there not just to treat and rehabilitate our people with problems, but to keep them away from us and us away from them. Institutions we place at the peripheries of our existence help us to feel safe, to differentiate artificially ourselves from others, to substantiate falsely are own physical, mental, and moral well-being, as if to say ipso facto, we on the outside are better off than those on the inside.

Rather than work through our own conflicts and anxieties, we use vicariously these people and places to cleanse ourselves of our own aberrations. It is as if we hide — nay, exorcise — those painful parts of ourselves: the criminal, the insane, the crippled, the blind and deaf, the socially disgraced parts of all of us, by placing these afflicted souls into institutions , then forgetting them, as we forget the humanness we share with them. Symbolically we sacrifice them to societal gods of rectitude and propriety to allay our self-doubts, to atone for our guilts.

Our concern is perfunctory: we simply pay our taxes and give to the United Way, making the sick and disturbed mercenary soldiers to fight emotional wars for us in distant places. As we put people into brutal buildings, our feelings turn to steel and stone. When we banish them to institutional oblivion, we abdicate our own humanness, failing to touch the parts of us that make us real.

Amaranth took another sip of tea, then got up from her chair and went to the bedroom to lie down.

Chapter 45

Amaranth met Julie at the Parkway Cafe in Boulder for breakfast.

“Julie, it’s so good to see you,” said Amaranth.

“And it’s so good to see you, too. How was your trip to New York City?” asked Julie.

“Frankly, it was spectacular, I’m pleased to say. It was a whirlwind week of nostalgia, sightseeing, cultural experiences, and some of the best vegetarian meals served in the world. We had a great time, Ty and I,” replied Amaranth.

“That’s great,” said Julie.

“And how are you and Ed doing?” asked Amaranth.

“We took the Peak to Peak Highway to see all the colors of the trees changing. It never gets boring to see such beauty,” said Julie.

The two ordered their meals and continued to chat as they were eating.

“You remember the Robertsons? They just got divorced two weeks ago. What a shame,” said Julie.

Amaranth took a bite of avocado, then asked “They have two children, don’t they?”

“That’s right, Am. And pity the children. You know the kids are going to have a hard time with this, even if they’re not conscious of it, right? said Julie.

“You’re right, Julie. Children of any age, even through their teenage years, will necessarily have to struggle with a situation like that — their parents split, maybe one or both of them remarried. It will take an emotional toll on the kids, anyway you slice it,” said Amaranth.

It was, indeed, wonderful to see Julie again. Julie had been her best friend since she and Ty had moved to Colorado. Amaranth again remembered that Chinese proverb: “One can do without people, but one has need of a friend.”

The two continued talking for more than a half hour. Finally, they got up from the booth and paid their bills.

“Give Ed my best,” said Amaranth.

“And you do the same for me with Ty,” responded Julie.

Chapter 46

October soon became November, and November meant Thanksgiving. And after Thanksgiving came Christmas.

Amaranth and Ty had two annual rituals. The first was to visit the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Fort Collins on Thanksgiving Day. The second was to visit the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo on the evening of Christmas Eve.

Every year on Thanksgiving Day, for as long as they had lived in Niwot, they drove there and brought with them a slice of pumpkin pie for each person in that facility. Amaranth would find out how many people were going to be in the facility on Thanksgiving Day, then cook enough pumpkin pies so everyone would get a slice. She and Ty loved not only the handing out of these slices of pie to every person who wanted one, but also, and more importantly, taking all the time needed to chat with any and all the people who wanted to chat with them for a bit. Not every person there would not want to talk with them and, of course, Amaranth and Ty would not bother anyone who did not want to participate in the chatting. But there were always many who really wanted to talk with them. These people did not have many visitors throughout the year, so those who were receptive to chatting and visiting really enjoyed it when Amaranth and Ty came to see them. Of course, the pumpkin pie was nice, too.

The other ritual was similar to the first. On Christmas Eve day, they would travel to Pueblo, but this time bring with them homemade Christmas cookies that Amaranth had baked, along with a sufficient number of gallons of Christmas punch. Again, both Amaranth and Ty would hand out the cookies on paper plates with paper napkins and pour the punch into paper cups and hand those out, too. Again, anyone who did not want to participate would not be bothered. But again, there were so many people who did want to chat and visit with Amaranth and Ty that they might wind up spending a couple of hours doing this.

The people whom they greeted on each of these two holidays were basically the people whom society had forgotten, and moreover, never wanted to remember. They were outcasts, ostracized for life. That’s why these two visits meant so much to these people, and also meant so much to Amaranth and Ty. These visits made the holidays so special to Amaranth and Ty, better than a big Thanksgiving dinner, better than a lot of presents under a Christmas tree.

Thanksgiving was coming soon, so Amaranth had to get busy finding out how many people would be spending Thanksgiving Day at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Fort Logan, then baking enough pumpkin pies to offer a slice to everyone who wanted one.

This was a joyous time of year for both Amaranth and Ty. Both felt blessed this time of year, and for good reasons.

Chapter 47

The voice had not spoken to her during her sleep for a long time. But last night, it did.

“Earth and all its living creations will face the most dangerous times in the near future. Don’t be frightened. I will help you save Earth.”

Amaranth sat on the blue sofa in the living room for a long time. She wasn’t frightened, but saving Earth? What was the voice trying to tell her? What the hell did it mean? She couldn’t wait to see Dr. Rosenstein and tell him about this. Fortunately, she was scheduled to see the doctor in two days. That gave her some solace.

Two days didn’t come fast enough for Amaranth.

“Dr. Rosenstein, it’s so nice to see you. I have something very important to tell you,” said Amaranth.

She sat down in the chair and instantly began to tell him what the voice had said.

“Well, Amaranth, first tell me how you are doing after this incredible experience,” said Dr. Rosenstein.

“I think I’m OK, but what a shock, hearing that I was going to help save Earth,” said Amaranth.

“I am not surprised by your reaction. I would feel the same way as you if that had happened to me,” said Dr. Rosenstein.

“The voice said, ‘Don’t be frightened.’ Well I’m not exactly frightened — the voice’s tone was the same as it’s always been, calm, almost soothing, but what a message, gigantic and enigmatic at the same time,” said Amaranth.

“Well, of course, Amaranth, I have no idea what all of this means, but let me assure you, I will be here to help you deal with this, if that’s what you wish,” said Dr. Rosenstein.

“Oh yes, Dr. Rosenstein, I would appreciate your help. Just having someone like you to tell about what’s happening to me, even if neither of us knows what it means, would be most helpful to me. Thank you so much,” said Amaranth.

“And let me add, Amaranth, that if you find yourself getting emotionally wrought over this, you should know that I would be more than willing to prescribe a sedative that would help you get through this,” said Dr. Rosenstein.

“Thank you, doctor. That’s very reassuring, but right now I don’t think I need anything like that. I’ll tell you if and when I feel differently. By the way, you should know that you are the only person who knows about the voice besides me. Not even Ty knows, yet,” said Amaranth.

Amaranth felt somewhat relieved after sharing with Dr. Rosenstein about what the voice had said. The doctor, Amaranth thought, was very good at what he did, helping people help themselves. Amaranth did share with the doctor the highlights of the New York City week, which took up essentially the rest of her session.

“Thank you, again, Dr. Rosenstein. I’ll see you next week,” said Amaranth, and then left his office.

Chapter 48

It was soon to be Thanksgiving Day. Amaranth had called the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Fort Logan and had spoken the the head nurse who had been her official contact for all these past years. She had found out that 46 of the people at the Institute would be there on Thanksgiving Day, so, by dividing 46 by 6 — the latter being the number of slices a pumpkin pie could be cut into — meant she would have to bake 8 pies. So Amaranth began to make and bake the first one.

She already had made the first pie shell, so she began to mix the sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves in a small bowl. Then she beat the eggs in a large bowl. Then she stirred in the pumpkin and sugar-spiced mixture into the large bowl, along with what was in the small bowl, and then stirred and poured everything in the large bowl into the pie shell. Then she put the unbaked pie into the oven, which she had preheated to 425 degrees F, let the pie bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F and let it bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until she could insert a knife into the center of the pie and be able to pull it out clean.

Amaranth loved to do this — bake pumpkin pies for people who probably hadn’t tasted a bite of pumpkin pie for at least a year. It would take her quite a while to make all eight of the pumpkin pies she needed, but every pie she made was a labor of love.

Chapter 49

Today was Thanksgiving Day.

Ty helped Amaranth carefully load the eight pumpkin pies into the car. Then they headed out for Fort Logan. It was about 45 miles from Niwot, about a one-hour drive. Amaranth put a CD of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, one of her favorites, into the slot in the dashboard. It was a bright, sunny day, if a bit cool.

“This should be a most pleasant afternoon for us, Am,” said Ty, who was driving.

“It always has been,” replied Amaranth.

Beethoven’s 7th Symphony had concluded some time ago as Amaranth and Ty pulled up in front of the entrance to the Colorado Mental Health Institute. They got out of the car and walked up to the front door and opened it, went inside, and almost immediately encountered the head nurse whose first name was Carolyn.

“Carolyn, it’s so nice to see you again. It’s been exactly a year ago since Ty and I had the pleasure of your company,” said Amaranth. Ty said hello as well.

“It is so nice that you two do this every year, every Thanksgiving. It means so much to the people who have to stay here on Thanksgiving Day, because they either have no family or friends to invite them to their homes. They’re stuck here, forgotten, often, it’s sad to say, on purpose,” declared Carolyn.

“I know,” declared Amaranth.

“Let me get some aids to help you bring the pies in your car into the day room,” said Carolyn.

“Thank you,” said Amaranth.

Several aids brought the pies from the car into the day room and placed them on a long table. They also brought in the grocery sack that had in it the paper plates, plastic forks, and paper napkins Amaranth and Ty would be needing.

“Thanks for your help,” Amaranth said to the aids.

Amaranth began cutting each pie into six pieces. As she was doing so, a middle-aged woman came up to her and said, “You’re Amaranth, aren’t you? I remember you from last year. I’m Bernadette,” the woman said.

“It’s so nice of you to remember me, Bernadette,” said Amaranth. “I’ll soon have a piece of pumpkin pie to give you.”

Amaranth finished cutting all the pies into six pieces.

“We have pieces of pumpkin pie to give you, if you’d like one,” said Amaranth to the small crowd forming in front of the table. “If you will just form a line, it will be easier for us to give each of you a piece.”

People began to form a line. Amaranth put a piece of pie on a plate, then handed it to Ty, who added a fork and a napkin.

Amaranth and Ty always introduced themselves by their first names to everyone in line who came to get a piece of pie.

“Hi, I’m Amaranth, and this is my husband, Ty,” she would say.

Most, but not all, would give Amaranth and Ty their first names, but one could tell, even without words, the people loved to get their pieces of pumpkin pie, and no doubt, deep in their hearts, appreciated more than they could express, this wife and husband who had remembered them on this Thanksgiving Day.

After most of the people had finished their pieces of pumpkin pie, a number of them came up to Amaranth and Ty, giving them their first names and thanking them for what they had done. Some of them even wanted to talk to them, chat with them, and, of course, Amaranth and Ty obliged. Both these people, as well as Amaranth and Ty, enjoyed this social ******* immensely. Those who didn’t want this kind of interaction, or, in fact, simply couldn’t interact at all, Amaranth and Ty did not bother.

Amaranth and Ty stayed in that large room as long as any of the people wanted to talk. They were never in a rush to leave. This, after all, was their Thanksgiving Day, too, and this was how they had wished to celebrate it for a number of years now.

“I have to be honest with you, Am,” said Ty as he pulled out of the parking lot.

“About what?” Amaranth asked quizziically.

“I put aside one piece of your pumpkin pie for myself and then ate it,” confessed Ty. “It was delicious!”

“Oh Ty!” said Amaranth, laughingly.

They got back home safely.

Chapter 50

Snow covered the ground. It had been falling for quite some time. The crocuses were now sleeping.

Amaranth stood at the back door in the kitchen, looking through its windows.

Winter was a time for slumber, she thought. It was a time to enter her heart with the brown bear to keep her warm.

When she was a child, she used to crawl into bed when she got cold and snuggle up under the blankets making, she thought now, almost a second womb where she could be safe and warm. She thought, too, of the baby she never had had, never was capable of having. She tried never to think about that hole in her otherwise joyous life, but sometimes she couldn’t help it. This was one of those times.

Winter was a metaphor for this cold emptiness she sometimes felt, like right now. She imagined having a baby, nursing her baby, keeping her baby warm with soft pieces of cloth wrapped around the baby. She would sing lullabies to her baby as she carried it in her arms through the different rooms of her home. In fact, Amaranth began singing a lullaby she had written and memorized.

A LULLABY FOR MY BABY

Tell me why, oh butterfly,
do you fly so high?
Tell me why, oh butterfly,
high up in blue sky?

Tell me, pretty butterfly,
with your wings of gold,
are you as kind and gentle
as I’m always told?

Tell me, golden butterfly,
will you come to me
and light upon my shoulder
to keep me company?

And when night falls, my butterfly,
please let your golden wings
illuminate the darkness
until the bluebird sings.

Amaranth kept stroking her baby’s forehead with her gentle fingertips. She would lie down on her bed with her baby, softly singing her songs until her baby fell asleep. And she would lie there with her baby on her chest, sometimes it felt like forever, but Amaranth didn’t mind at all. She was with her baby, and that was all that mattered. She was enveloped in love….

When Amaranth felt this way, she would begin to cry, sometimes for a long time. Ty was not at home, so she knew he would not suddenly come into the kitchen. If she cried for too long a time, she would go to the bedroom, pull the blankets down, get into bed, then pull the blankets up around her, just as she had done when she had been a child. Eventually, she would fall asleep.

The snow kept falling.

Chapter 51

Amaranth and Ty always celebrated Christmas, but in a different way.

While growing up in Sedona, she had once come across an ad in the Phoenix Republic a few weeks before Christmas. The ad, which had been placed in the newspaper by an Episcopal church, read “Whose birthday is this anyway?” Amaranth never forgot that ad and the message it had so trenchantly conveyed.

Neither Amaranth nor Ty had ever belonged to an organized religion, but had always celebrated what they felt was the simple but profound message of Jesus, which was love. They never had had a Christmas tree, either real or plastic, in their home--real, because that would have meant killing a live tree; plastic, because the world was full of plastic, including the oceans. They were vehemently opposed to the commercialization of Christmas. Amaranth had felt for a long time that the weeks preceding Christmas should be spiritual, not commercial, that this time should be spent in relative silence, and if not in prayer, at least in deep introspection. Then, in mid-January, when it was usually very cold, often gloomy, and always, it seemed, a time when most people experienced an emotional letdown after the frenetic holidays, then have a day when one could give and receive presents, commercial gifts, to one another, thus elevating everyone’s mood. But, of course, this scenario had never come to pass, but it never kept Amaranth and Ty from following their own desires.

This coming Christmas was just a few days away, and on Christmas Eve Day, Amaranth and Ty would be taking Christmas cookies and red punch to the people who spent their lives in the other Colorado Mental Health Institute, this one in Pueblo, more than four times larger than the one in Fort Logan, about 160 miles from Niwot, and about a 2 ½ hour drive.

Of course, Amaranth was happy again to be in the kitchen doing one of the things she most enjoyed doing, making Christmas cookies specifically for this occasion. She had already phoned and spoken to her contact at the hospital whose name was Bev, and confirmed the number of people who would be there on the evening of Christmas Eve Day.

Amaranth began by getting a large bowl for her blender and whisking together 2 cups of flour, 1 ¼ tsp of baking powder, ¼ tsp of salt. Then she added about 14 tbs of unsalted butter at room temperature. Next, she added ¾ of a cup of sugar at medium speed and let mix for one minute total. Then Amaranth got a small bowl and one room-temperature egg that she mixed with ½ tsp of vanilla extract, then added the egg mixture to the large bowl and let it mix for about thirty seconds. Then Amaranth turned the speed of the blender to low and slowly added the flour mixture and let it mix for about one minute. Then Amaranth got a piece of plastic wrap and scraped the dough onto it, then folded it up, making a one-inch flat disc, which she then put into the fridge for at least two hours. When the dough was chilled, Amaranth got out a small bowl of flour, a rolling pin, a flat, metal spatula, and two parchment-lined baking sheets. Then she floured her counter and unwrapped her dough. She floured the dough on both sides and also the rolling pin. She then began to roll out the dough, starting from the center. When the dough got to about the thickness of a pencil, Amaranth stopped rolling. Then she started cutting the cookies, putting each one at a time on one of the baking sheets. Once she had filled both baking sheets, she put each of the sheets, one on one rack, one on the other, into the oven set at 375 degrees. After about five minutes, Amaranth rotated the sheets from front to back and top to bottom and let the cookies bake for five-to-six minutes more. Then she transferred the cookies to a wire sheet to let them cool.

To make the icing, Amaranth got out another bowl and put four cups of powdered sugar, two large egg whites, and two tbs of lemon juice. She then whisked that mixture on medium speed until it became glossy and a bit stiff. She added a number of different colorings to her icing, as well as different sparkles. Amaranth had fun decorating her Christmas cookies.

To make enough cookies to be able to put two to three of them on each paper plate for a hundred or more people took her a long time, but she didn’t mind. After all, while making all these cookies, she had listened to a variety of her most favorite pieces of music: Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata; Barber’s Adagio for Strings; Vivaldi’s Four Seasons; and many others.

Chapter 52

It wasn’t Le Bernardin or Daniel, but it was her kitchen.

Amaranth was going to prepare Pinto Posole.

Posole was a Mexican stew that typically featured shredded pork, dried chilis, hominy, and cumin. Of course, Amaranth was going to use pinto beans in lieu of pork. Lots of fiber and protein, she thought. Hominy was a variety of dried corn (maize) kernels that had been treated with an alkali, such as lye, to improve digestibility. She was going to use three guajillo chilis to create a spicy, but-not-too spicy, stew. She would cook the stew with the chilis, then discard them.

Other ingredients would include 2 tbs of extra ****** olive oil, one large, finely chopped white onion, four cloves of pressed or minced garlic, one cup of tomato paste, one tbs of ground cumin, one bay leaf, three cans of rinsed and drained pinto beans, one can of rinsed and drained hominy, four cups of vegetable broth, two cups of water, ½ teaspoon of fine sea salt, ¼ cup of chopped cilantro, one halved lime, slices of avocado, shredded green cabbage, and chopped radishes.

Amaranth first cut off the stem ends of the chilis and flicked them to remove as many seeds as possible. She then rinsed them and patted them dry. She then put a Dutch oven over medium heat. Next, she toasted the chilis in a dry pan, pressing them flat with her spatula for a few seconds until fragrant, then flipping them over and pressing them again for a few more seconds, then putting them aside for the time being. In the same Dutch oven, she warmed the olive oil until it shimmered. She then added slowly the chopped onions and a pinch of the sea salt and cooked the onions until they became translucent. Next, she added the garlic and cumin while stirring for about one minute. Then she added the tomato paste, which she stirred for another minute or so.

Amaranth then added the toasted chili peppers, the bay leaf, the hominy, the pinto beans, the vegetable broth, and the water into the Dutch oven and raised the heat to medium-high. She brought the mixture to a simmer, then gradually reduced the heat as necessary, stirring all the while, and cooked it for 25 minutes.

As always, Amaranth enjoyed preparing the dining room for dinner, spreading the clean, white linen tablecloth over the dining room table, placing the long, slender, yellow candle at its center, lighting it, setting the table, choosing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto №2 to listen to as Ty and she ate.

Her timing was impeccable. As soon as Amaranth had completed these delightful tasks, she heard Ty opening the back door and coming through the kitchen.

“I smell something delicious,” said Ty as he entered the dining room and gave Amaranth a hug and a kiss.

“It’s for you, and for me. It’s for us,” said Amaranth.

Chapter 53

It was now Christmas Eve Day.

Both Amaranth and Ty were looking forward to the drive to Pueblo this afternoon. They had plenty of time to get there. They would be in no rush. They would listen to beautiful music in the car. They would enjoy the solitude of the day. They would appreciate fully the spirit of their mission, the smiles on the faces of many people, most of whom they had met many times before, some for the first time. If the Christmas cookies and punch were sweet, so would be the exchanges they would have with their friends at Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo.

Both Amaranth and Ty had been meliorists for as long as they could remember. Amaranth remembered going into the not-so-affluent parts of Phoenix when she was a teenager and being with the homeless, sharing meals, and conversation, with them at soup kitchens, bringing them clothing and other supplies essential to survival, but which they simply didn’t have. Ty, from Knoxville, Tennessee, had said he was sorry he had missed the Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968). He was sorry he never had a chance to meet Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to thank him for what he and thousands of others had been doing, first throughout the Deep South, then up into the North, to Chicago and Cicero, for example, which he found just as racist, if not more so, than Montgomery and Selma.

“If you have the courage to right a societal wrong without violence, and tens of thousands — if not many, many more — are inspired to join you in this moral quest, and if you and your followers find increasing success in your collective efforts to ameliorate these unconscionable, immoral, deleterious conditions, and you sufficiently threaten the illuminati’s grip that chokes the freedoms of all others — if your threat is real, if it is viable — then they will **** you. This fight between right and wrong, this struggle between good and evil, is a moral election, if you will, and the invisible, dark forces will always cast the deciding vote: assassination,” Ty concluded.

Amaranth and Ty kept driving toward Pueblo, but in silence for quite some time. Finally, Amaranth put Bach’s “Air on the G String” into the slot on the dashboard. The music was soothing. ”

“We’re here,” said Amaranth.

The routine was the same every year. Amaranth found Bev, her contact, and Bev got help from some staff carrying in the many boxes of homemade Christmas cookies and gallons of red Christmas punch.

Again, Amaranth laid out the paper plates on a long table in the day room and put three cookies on each plate. Ty again put a paper napkin on every paper plate and poured red Christmas punch into a long line of paper cups. A line of people began to form, which got longer with every minute. Both Amaranth and Ty began to recognize and remember the first names of many of their friends. Thus began the joy for Amaranth and Ty, the gift of kindness, of love.

It took quite a long time for all of those in line to get their cookies and punch, but once they did and ate and drank their treats, the people did what they had done for so many years now, flock toward Amaranth and Ty, began to say hello, tell Amaranth and Ty their first names, many of which Amaranth and Ty remembered from meeting them so many years on Christmas Eve evening, and chatted with their friends, sometimes singly, other times in small groups. When one is enveloped in joy, as Amaranth and Ty were, there is no time, just joy, and more joy.

This was the real Christmas, and everyone in that big day room soaked it up.

Finally, it was time to leave. Amaranth and Ty thanked Bev and her staff for helping out, and said good-bye just once, then walked out to the car.

“What a wonderful time I had!” exclaimed Amaranth.

“There’s nothing plastic about being with real friends,” added Ty.

Chapter 54

It was New Year’s Day, 2020.

“Ty, I have a great idea!” Amaranth said excitedly.

“What’s that?” asked Ty.

“To celebrate the new year, I want to make a chapbook of my poems to give away to my friends, Amaranth responded.

“That’s a great idea, Am. You have a cardboard full of notebooks that are full of poems you’ve written since I met you, and even before. They will make a beautiful chapbook and a beautiful gift,” said Ty.

It was true. Amaranth did have a cardboard box full of notebooks that were full of all the poems she had ever written, and every one of those notebooks had at one time welled up inside her and she had “recorded” it. All those poems were precious, sacred. She had never tried to get any of them published. Getting published was not her goal. When she would feel a poem welling up inside her, she “recorded” it immediately. That was what gave her an immense feeling of satisfaction. In fact, she remembered writing once the adage: “The poem is the prize. The poem is the sound, publication but an echo.” It was easier to find a publisher, she thought, than to find your heart.

Amaranth had kept the cardboard box in the closet of the bedroom, so she went into the bedroom, opened the closet, and dragged the cardboard box into the kitchen. She sat in her chair at the kitchen table with the box beside her, picked up one of the notebooks, and slowly began to read her poems.

Amaranth knew it would take a long time for her both to read all of her poems and to select the ones she wanted to put in her chapbook. But to her, it would be like seeing old friends, a joy to meet each one again.

Chapter 55

It was bitterly cold outside, but it was toasty in the kitchen.

Amaranth had read through several of her notebooks and had selected a number of her poems to include in her chapbook.

Here were a few of them.

SILVER SPOONS

Some people love their silver spoons,

China closets in velvet rooms,

hand-rubbed walnut round pearls of glass,

antique notions to preserve the past,

while others

love their silver moons,

orange sunsets, October’s tune

of bluebirds sighing through sunburnt skies,

green fields soft where lovers lie.


IN THE EARLIEST OF MORNINGS

In the earliest of mornings

when the Earth gives birth

to the orange, yellow sun,

when the stars begin to

disappear in deference to

the golden god, when

moon lingers in the sky in

awe of what’s unfolding,

when the bluebirds and

blackbirds and robins

swirl in jubilation, colorful

creations we call wild flowers

in mountain meadows begin

their diurnal ritual of stretching

their stems and showing their

colors reflected in the placid

pond nearby — green and brown wild

ginger, blue and purple basil

mountain-mint, yellow-sweet

clover, red and orange beech

drops and pinesap, pink goat’s

rue, white fringed orchids, a

panoply of iridescence and

irenic scope that pleases the

raccoon and the deer, the

elk and the antelopes, in the

earliest of mornings of this

burgeoning day.


WOUNDED KNEE, YOU ARE TO ME

Wounded Knee, you are to me

a sacred spot. A cavalry,

a Calvary, we ought not

forget the thousand screams,

the streams of blood that

flooded prairie grass.

Babi Yar, you’re not so far

from Wounded Knee. I’d

have to be without eyes

or ears not to hear or see

the enormity: the mangled

bodies, the twisted forms,

that speak, that wreak

of evil and of seeing and

not saying no. My Lai,

our lie, women and children

dying, lying on our lies,

covering culpability, a quilt

of carnage, but where is guilt?

Cambodia, your killing fields

now flower with blood and

bones of beings fleeing tyranny,

thousands falling near you

and me as we sip our tea

and munch on sweetcakes of

propriety. El Playón, los

paisanos pobres know no

place but death. No dearth

of death squads here, no

fear of duplicity, my

country’s complicity in

these atrocities — my country

’tis of thee, sweet land of

liberty — El Salvador no está

aqui, porque, like Wounded Knee,

the savior is you and me.


NIGHT INSIGHT

Had I but an endless eve,

if darkness were my friend

and sleep my enemy,

I might have stayed awake a while

and found the answer true.

But summer sunsets silent fall.

I heard it not at all.

and my soft bed

like a siren called.

I could not think it through.


Chapter 56

“Happy New Year! Dr. Rosenstein,” said Amaranth.

“And Happy New Year to you, Amaranth,” replied Dr. Rosenstein.

“I have some good news to tell you. I am now selecting poems I have written over the years for the chapbook I shall be making,” said Amaranth.

“That’s wonderful,” said Dr. Rosenstein.

“I’d like to share with you several of my poems I have selected to be part of my chapbook, but first I would like to tell you how Ty and I spent Christmas Eve evening. Is that OK with you?” asked Amaranth.

“Of course it is,” said Dr. Rosenstein.

Amaranth had told Dr. Rosenstein about how Ty and she had spent Thanksgiving Day in a previous session, and frankly, he had told Amaranth how pleased and proud he was of hearing about what he considered to be a most munificent act, a most “magnanimous gesture” as he had put it, of Amaranth and Ty.

Dr. Rosenstein was obviously deeply empathic with what Amaranth had shared with him, probably because he had been trained to be a psychiatrist at the famous Menninger Foundation, then located in Topeka, Kansas, and had spent a number of years in the early 1970s as an in-house psychiatrist after completing his training at Menninger’s, as it was often simply referred to. Moreover, he later was made head of the Topeka State Hospital, so he knew intimately what Amaranth had previously shared with him. The doctor had gotten to know Dr. Karl Menninger, affectionately called only “Dr. Karl” by virtually everyone, during those years and held him in the highest regard. He had read all the books Dr. Karl had written in his lifetime: The Human Mind; Man Against Himself; Love Against Hate; The Vital Balance; The Crime of Punishment; Whatever Became of Sin?

Dr. Rosenstein had never been a fan of Ronald Reagen, probably because Reagen had cut drastically the funding for mental health services nationwide in the early 1980s, resulting in the closing of many mental hospitals, as well as community-based day hospitals across the country, making those who had been in them homeless and forsaken.

Dr. Rosenstein didn’t just not like Reagen, he held great antipathy toward him. Reagen had swelled the number of human beings who came to live on the sidewalks of our cities, under bridges, beneath bushes, wherever they could find some semblance of safety, in short, a societal tragedy we live with to this day.

“On Christmas Eve day, Ty and I drove to Pueblo to be with our friends, most of whom, as you already know, had spent many years of their lives there at the Colorado Mental Health Institute. I had baked many Christmas cookies and Ty had bought a large number of gallons of red Christmas punch, which we handed out to all of our friends. The best part of the evening was, and always has been, the opportunity to interact with those who wanted to, to introduce themselves, to say hello, to chat with us, whatever. Ty and I felt there was absolutely no time limit, real or imagined, imposed upon us that would cut short the time we could stay there, and I think our friends could sense the same, so we were in no rush quickly to say a perfunctory “hello and good-bye” and then leave. There was joy all around,” said Amaranth.

“Well, to be honest with you, Amaranth, I wish I could have been with you and Ty. I know I would have had a wonderful time, as you and Ty, and all your friends, did. Thanks to both of you for doing what you did. I know it meant a lot to those there whom the world has forgotten, and to you and Ty, and to me as well, “ said Dr. Rosenstein. “Now share with me some of your poems.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SUFFER?

What does it mean to suffer?

Is it better to buffer ourselves

from turmoil, or does the oil

of hate and hurt serve some purpose?

Are we animals in some circus,

parading like some elephants inelegantly,

passing through some wire hoops?

We tire, we droop.

Are we poor men in soup lines,

hoping for salvation,

fed with propitiation?

Our faces show no elation:

They grow ashen.

Shall we cash in the bonds

our mothers never gave us?

Love’s dearth has thus enslaved us.

Just put us in our graves and

let us live in Mother Earth.


AND IF OUR CRYINGS BE HEARD

The way we cry, and

if our cryings be heard,

the way they are attended to,

will set the walk. The way we

are treated as toddlers, the way

punishment is meted out,

will further the course. Kind-

nesses, magnanimity of spirit,

love — all will determine not only

the paths we are led down, but

also the paths we shall set for

ourselves and travel ourselves —

pathos, bathos, ethos — until

death deals an end to our

earthly peregrinations. These

spoors — the lives, the lanes,

the passages we shall be

spooring — will tell us and

others about who we are

and were, and if we were

befriended ever by others,

and by ourselves.


THE IBEX

I see ibicies on alpine slopes,

large curved horns coming almost

full circle. I descry mountain

hawks on the wing that descry

more than I. Bears I don’t

see, for they are lost in their

own sleep, not on slopes, but

in slumber. The number of deer

is in actuality many, but I

have not earned the right to

discern more than a few.

Vision is a funny thing: we

tend to infer from the many

we can see reality, but this

is illusory. Our sight we feel

can be enhanced by glasses,

microscopic or telescopic,

but sight is not insight; seeing

is not knowing. The intellect

sees that all are different,

wisdom that all are one. The

ibex knows the mountain is

deeper than it is high.


CHRYSANTHEMUMS

Speak in tears when you lie

next to me and your heart is

troubled so. Let sorrow pour

from your eyes and wet the

sheets. Meet your heart and

greet it openly, though it be

filled with sadness. Let your

body shake against mine, as

I know what it is to hurt.

Let empathy soak up your

sorrow. Let your catharsis

become chrysanthemums.


“Those are powerful and evocative poems, Amaranth. Thank you for sharing them with me,” said Dr. Rosenstein.

“You are welcome, Dr. Rosenstein. “I shall give you one of my chapbooks when I finish making them,” said Amaranth.

As she drove back to Niwot, Amaranth thought more about Dr. Rosenstein. Not only was he skillful as a therapist, but also he was a kind, sensitive human being. The latter notion, she thought, was as important, perhaps even more important, than the former.

Chapter 57

Amaranth was sitting in her chair at the kitchen table sipping coffee.

It was now late January. This had been an unusually cold winter, not conducive to taking even a short walk outside. The crocuses were smart. They knew when to take cover and stay there.

Amaranth could feel again something welling up inside of her, but it was not a poem this time. It was something similar to a poem, but different. She instinctively reached for her notebook in her purse, and as she was doing so, she slowly began to feel what was welling up. It was some kind of remembrance of a man at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo with whom she had had a longer than usual conversation. She remembered the man’s name. His name was Randolph.

Amaranth opened her notebook and began writing.

RANDOLPH

Randolph would sit in the east wing, the men’s wing, each night. He would sit in the same chair, the one beside the broken lamp, the one upholstered with hard foam rubber, covered with red plastic leather on an aluminum frame. The seat of the chair had a big tear in it,which had been taped over with some kind of wide, translucent tape. But, in truth, you usually could not see the tear, because Randolph sat there each night.

Slight of build, in his mid-thirties, he sat there in almost total silence, rarely speaking if not spoken to, or unless he wanted to *** a smoke off of you, which he usually wanted to do. He sat there with a rather pleasant smile on his face, for he was, in fact, a kind man. His eyes, though, were tired, very tired, a mixture of watery red and grey. His hair, though he combed it every morning in the men’s john, looked flat and depressed, probably because he spent a good deal of the day lying in bed. And he would sit there each night, sometimes a king upon his throne, sometimes a fetus ensconced in its womb, listening to scratchy melodies over the intercom, sometimes dreaming of the chocolate cake his mother never brought him Sunday afternoons.

“Got a smoke?” he would say.

“No, I don’t smoke,” I would say. “Maybe Arthur’s got some tobacco.”

The truth is that Randolph knew every night that I didn’t have a smoke, that I didn’t smoke, and that Arthur, his roommate, did have tobacco, had tobacco every night. But this litany of question and response, though ostensibly meaningless due to pre-knowledge and repetition, was important nonetheless. It was his way, our way, of communicating, of breaking the cold isolation that surrounded each of us, of reaching out and touching another human being.

“Oh yeah, Arthur,” Randolph would say, and he would get out of his plastic seat and go find Arthur, as he did each night. He would bring back the tobacco and a piece of paper, spread the brown tobacco evenly on the white paper, and then carefully, cautiously, roll this blend of brown and white into a near-perfect cigarette. Then he would light it against the lighter in the wall. And the smoke would curl over his yellow-stained finger and thumb, as it had been doing over the past ten years, and Randolph would stand silently on the grey linoleum floor and gaze through the large plate-glass window, seeing both the reflection of his own image and the darkness of winter’s night.

At ten o’clock, when they started to turn out the lights, Randolph would ask for one last cigarette, complete the ritual, and say, “Maybe I should go down to the hardware store tomorrow and see if I can get a job. I got to get a job. I just can’t keep staying here day after day. I’ll go crazy.”

And he would get up out of his torn chair, smile at me quietly, and without saying a word, tell me good night. Then he would turn and walk down the pale yellow concrete-block corridor, turn into his room, and as he had done so many nights before, would lie down on his bed and close his eyes.


Amaranth put her pen down on the kitchen table, took another sip of coffee, then looked out of the frosted windows for a long time at winter’s inhospitality.

Chapter 58

Amaranth and Ty were sitting on the blue sofa in the living room. They were listening to Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.

“Am, did I ever tell you about the strange conversation I had many years ago one evening at the West End?” asked Ty. West End, which was sold after both had graduated from Columbia College, had been the drinking equivalent of Tom’s Restaurant. It had been the place where many Columbia students went if they wanted to have a beer and to chat. Columbia folklore had it that the West End was where Kerouac and Ginsberg and friends met to hold forth.

“You and I have shared many stories, but I don’t off-hand remember your telling me one took place at the West End. But please, go ahead,” said Amaranth.

“Well, it occurred one spring evening in our sophomore year. I wanted to get out of Butler Library, enjoy for a bit the pleasant spring evening, and I was in the mood to drink a beer. So I walked across Broadway, then walked down to the West End.

“I decided to sit at the counter. Next to me was a fellow I did not know. I ordered a beer and began drinking it. After a few minutes, the guy sitting next to me said hello and introduced himself. His first name was Don, I remember. He was a Columbia graduate student studying for his PhD in psychology. A nice guy. I think he told me he had gotten his BA from Princeton. I think he said he was from Kittery Point, Maine.

“So we started chatting while we were enjoying our beers. At some point, he began to talk about Piaget, the Swiss psychologist famous for his work on childhood development. He talked quite some time about Piaget’s theory of cognitive development and epistemological views. I remember his saying that a child was ‘animistic,’ that the child thought the sun and moon followed him when he walked, that dreams were made of wind and came through the window when he slept.

“I remember taking several minutes thinking about what he had shared with me about Piaget and his theories. Then I said to Don that I thought Piaget had missed the mark, that his clinical observations were unknowing, that his words, while descriptive, did not explain. I said the child does not think, he knows. Dreams are fanciful and fleeting, made of whimsy of the wind. The child is at one with the universe, I said. He is at the center. The child is wisdom. He feels, he knows. The child is a poet and a priest, and he knows.

“Just as I was finishing my riposte, I heard some rumbling from directly behind Don and me. There were three guys sitting at a small round table also drinking beers. I had seen them when I had first come in. I remember I was wearing that night a round-necked, dark green sweater under a sports coat. Also, I had on a white shirt, the collar of which rose a half inch or so above the sweater. I had heard what I thought was some kind of muted laughter coming from that table just as I was finishing my remarks to Don, so I swiveled around and looked directly at these three guys. As I stared at them in silence for a few moments, they seemed to get a bit nervous. I think they mistook my shirt and sweater for clerical garb. Finally, one of them said to me, “Man, are you a priest? You sure look like a priest.”

“At that point, I reached back to the counter, grabbed my beer, took a swig, and then turned around again, facing these three guys again. I paused a few moments, then said to them slowly, “Every man’s a priest.” The three of them laughed, kind of nervously.

“It’s true, though. Every man’s a child, every child’s a poet, every poet’s a priest.”

Chapter 59

“Julie, give me a hug!” said Amaranth. The two had met in Boulder at Le Peep for breakfast.

“How are you, Ed, and the kids getting along?”

“They are all fine. How are you and Ty doing? I hope well.” replied Julie. “You know Valentine’s Day is the day after tomorrow. Do you think spring will ever get here?”

“The sooner, the better,” replied Amaranth.

Ed’s full name was Edward Borgoman. He was a computer guru and had just received a promotion. He worked for Google in Boulder.

“Please offer Ed my congratulations on his promotion, will you?” said Amaranth.

“Of course I will,” said Julie. “It’s been a rough winter, hasn’t it? The good news is that Ed and I get up to Aspen almost every weekend to ski, usually finding new snow every time we go. How is your chapbook of poems coming along, Am?”

“I’ve just about finished my selection of poems that will be part of my chapbook,” said Amaranth. “I’ve decided on the title I’ll be giving it. Its title will be I WRITE WHEN THE RIVER’S DOWN. Actually, I brought with me a few poems that will be in the chapbook, and I’d like to share them with you, if you like.”

“You know I would love to hear your poems,” said Julie. “You write so beautifully.”

“Thank you, Julie. I appreciate that,” said Amaranth.

Amaranth reached into her purse and pulled out the poems she wished to read to Julie.

ANGELS AND ARCHANGELS

We wonder where love comes from,

where it flies, through clouds and skies,

ferns and forests, where will it lie?

Curtains of sadness cloud our view,

grey hues we hope will turn to blue

and brightness. Angels and archangels

light on our hearts, evoking the lotion of

love that spreads through our beings,

bringing blue hope to our spirits,

elevating our souls to zeniths of well-being

and sweet tones that assuage our many

hurts. Angels and archangels, beneficent

intercessors, ******* our sorrows,

peeling away the anguish that visits us in the

middle of morning or night, sweet music

that atones for our transgressions, a

progression of expiation that leaves us

higher than the clouds, closer to God.


THERE WILL COME A TIME

There will come a time

when time doesn’t matter,

when all minutes and

millennia are but moments

when I look into your eyes.

There will come a time

when clinging things

will fall like desiccated

leaves, leaving us with

but one another. There

will come a time when

the external becomes eternal,

when holding you is to

embrace the universe.

There will come a time

when to be will no longer

be infinitive, but infinity,

and you and I are one.


ARE WE ALL NOT IDIOMS

Are we all not idioms,

peculiar to ourselves

in construct and meaning?

Are not all of us

syntactical anomalies?

Do we not all have ellipses,

lacunae, egregious gaps

in our beings? Lack of

parallel construction in

our lives, dangling like

participles, a pronoun

without its antecedent?

Are not our lives run-

on sentences handed

up by unconscious wishes

and unmet needs? Too

bad we could not be

more declarative and

less rhetorical or

imperative.


THE BEGINNING OF GOOD-BYE

We sense it because it comes inexorably,

this is the beginning of good-bye.

Her eyes avert his, a touch with no

feeling, a caress more cautious than

caring, a kiss when lips do not meet,

this is the beginning of good-bye.

A perfunctory placement of the hand,

a conversation moribund, sipping

scotch and sodas in silence, a call that

never comes, memories that have grown opaque,

this the beginning of good-bye.


“Wow!” exclaimed Julie. “These poems that you’ve just shared with me are incredible! Have you ever submitted them to The New Yorker?”

“No, I never have,” said Amaranth. “They just come to me from time to time, and I write what’s welling up inside of me. That’s my satisfaction.”

“But think of all the people who love poetry. Think of how much pleasure they would derive from reading your poems, if they had a chance to, Am,” implored Julie.

“It took 200 years for William Blake to be discovered. And Emily Dickinson wrote 1,800 poems during her lifetime, most all of which she wrote in her bedroom in Amherst, and it was only until the 1950s that an academic got his hands on her original poems and published them that way. Then Emily Dickinson was universally declared a great poet. Maybe someday my chapbook will be discovered, but the most important thing about poetry, about writing poetry, is always to be true to yourself. That’s true not only about poetry, but even more so about living your life,” said Amaranth.

Julie nodded in agreement.

Chapter 60

Amaranth thought about one of Simon and Garfunkel’s famous songs, April Come She Will. That was a beautiful song, she thought, but they had left out all the other months, especially the month of March, her favorite month, because that was the month, usually around the last week of it, when the crocuses began to appear, even if there were still snow on the ground.

Amaranth loved crocuses in general, but the crocuses in her back yard were her friends, her confidants. She loved to sit on the grass beside them and talk to them when they first appeared, and for many other times long thereafter. She was looking forward to the last week of March when she could begin anew her special friendship with them. That wait would seem like a long time to Amaranth, but it was only a little over two weeks away.

If that day in early March had been a day in the last week of that same month, Amaranth would have gone out the kitchen door, walked down the few steps, then down the gently sloping hill toward the burgeoning crocuses a short distance from the sinuous creek and sat down. Then she would have told the story to the crocuses about her Uncle Peter, who was her mother’s younger brother.

Amaranth would have told the crocuses about what Uncle Peter had done almost 30 years ago, in 1992, when he set out alone to travel around the USA meeting with and talking to the hungry, the homeless, and the hopeless — the millions of forgotten Americans — throughout our nation. In particular, she would speak of one of the many trenchant, personal experiences he had had during his long journey, this one having taken place in Houston, Texas.

Amaranth would start talking about how Uncle Peter was driving back to his cheap motel in his rental car, having spent most of that day visiting different shelters and soup kitchens. But when he drove on the bridge over Prescott Avenue, he saw to his left, down below, a veritable sea of black men spread over a two-block stretch of that boulevard. There must have been several hundred of them, all black, swarming down below. Uncle Peter kept driving for a while, but little by little began to slow down, until he finally came to a stop. Uncle Peter, Amaranth remembered him telling her, had to turn around and go back to speak with some of those human beings. And that’s exactly what he did. When he got back to Prescott Avenue, he parked his car and got out. He saw across the boulevard a large group of men standing up on a landing. As he began to cross the boulevard, he was met with a fuselage of vituperation, an endless stream of obscenities emanating from the mouth of one man standing on the other side of the boulevard. Frankly, Uncle Peter had told Amaranth that he had never heard such hatred verbalized in his life. But Uncle Peter kept walking across the boulevard as these verbal bullets kept whizzing by his ears. Uncle Peter had told her that miraculously he was unfazed by this onslaught of rage, probably because, Amaranth thought, he had such deep empathy for all those who were still oppressed, which, of course, amounted to billions all over Earth.

When Uncle Peter reached the other side of the boulevard, he then walked up the steps to the landing where this group of men was still standing and talking to each other. A number of them turned toward him as he approached the group. Uncle Peter, as he had always done, stuck out his arm to shake hands with anyone who wanted to do that in return, and at the same time, introduced himself. First one, then others, began to shake hands with him, and some even told him their first names. Eventually he moved toward this huge man at the center of the group. He was about 6’4” and weighed somewhere between 260 to 280 pounds. Again, Uncle Peter stuck out his arm to shake this man’s hand, and as he did, he introduced himself. This giant of a man shook Uncle Peter’s hand and said, “I’m Rambo. I’m the sheriff of this community.”

Rambo and Uncle Peter began talking to each other. Uncle Peter told Rambo what he had been doing for months then, traveling across the nation, stopping to talk to and with people who were victims of the same kind of gross inequities Rambo and the members of his community were facing, and had been facing for a long time. In turn, Rambo told Uncle Peter that he had been stabbed, shot, but not yet killed, living on the streets for a terribly long time. Uncle Peter could tell why Rambo was the de facto sheriff of this community, not only because of his gargantuan size, but also because of his intelligence. In fact, Uncle Peter asked Rambo for a big favor. Tomorrow, he told Rambo, he, Uncle Peter, was going to make a televised address — the local NBC News affiliate in Houston was going to be filming it — and Uncle Peter asked Rambo if he would join him in this address. He told Rambo that he could do a better job than he himself could do. Rambo would bring to the attention of thousands of viewers the ugly, atrocious reality of being homeless and hungry in the fourth largest city in the nation. As Uncle Peter was asking Rambo to join him, the two men were still in a handshake, and as he was asking Rambo to join him, Uncle Peter could feel Rambo’s hand, which had to be almost twice the size of his, begin to shake. This man, Rambo, if he had wanted to, said Uncle Peter, could have, with one hand and in one motion, flung Uncle Peter two blocks down the boulevard in the air. Instead, Rambo’s hand was shaking in his. Uncle Peter pleaded with Rambo, but sadly, to no avail. Uncle Peter thanked Rambo for what he was doing for his brothers, then took his leave by walking back down the steps to the sidewalk. Uncle Peter had told Amaranth the great anguish he had felt after Rambo’s decision to decline his offer.

Nonetheless, Uncle Peter began to walk down the sidewalk, saying hello to everyone on it and talking to those who wanted to talk to him, but never bothering those who he could tell were not wanting to interact with him in any way. He did, however, talk for as long as that individual wanted to talk. Every story Uncle Peter heard was, in a word, tragic. After all, everyone to whom he spoke was black, and most of them carried with them the legacies of slavery, which, in the broadest sense, was the unending, pervasive scourge of racism in general, and in particular, all its malevolent effects, such as hunger and homelessness and hopelessness.

It took Uncle Peter an hour to reach the end of his two-block walk down one side of the boulevard, at which point he crossed the boulevard and began taking another one hour, two-block walk back to his parked rental car, again always stopping when individuals indicated a wish to talk to him, and always talking to them for as long as they wished.

Finally, he reached his rental car, and as he was beginning to open the driver’s door, he saw across the boulevard the man who, two hours earlier, had incessantly, viciously, verbally assualted him. Their eyes met for an instant. Then the man across the boulevard slowly lifted one of his arms into the air and waved at Uncle Peter. Uncle Peter, in a near state of shock because of this totally unexpected benevolent act, waved back. Then the man across the boulevard cried out “God Bless You.” Uncle Peter cried back “God Bless You.”

Uncle Peter had told Amaranth that that moment was the high point of his spiritual life. Obviously, Amaranth would never forget that moment either.

Chapter 61

It was the first day of the last week of March, 2020.

It was Wednesday, the 25th.

Amaranth was so excited she couldn’t help herself. She put on her winter coat, opened the kitchen door, walked down the few steps, then quickly walked to the very place where she hoped so much that she would see her dear friends, the crocuses, bravely forcing themselves through the snow that still covered the ground. She knew the exact spot to go to. She had been performing the same ritual for 10 years, and her heart was pounding.

It did not take her long to get to the exact spot. She was absolutely certain she was looking down on the exact spot. But there was no sign of the crocuses. There was no sign of the crocuses pushing through the snow. She was disheartened. Amaranth even looked beyond the exact spot to look for the crocuses, but the simple truth was that the crocuses had not yet appeared. She was so disappointed that she stood in the same place without moving for several minutes. Where are my dear friends? she said to herself. She couldn’t help looking back, year by year, over the past decade. Yes, this was indeed, almost to the day, when she would see the tips of the crocuses pushing through the snow. She was sure of it.

Finally, Amaranth came to terms with the reality of this cardinal day and slowly began to walk back up the hill. OK, tomorrow would be the day. Tomorrow, that’s it. I’ll see my friends tomorrow, she thought.

When she entered the kitchen, Amaranth slowly took off her winter coat and hung it on the stand and then walked over to her chair and sat down. She felt a poem welling up inside of her, so she reached for her purse, which was sitting on the kitchen table, opened it, and pulled out her notebook, opened it, and placed it on top of the table and began to record.

THE WAY THAT WINTER COMES AT ME

The way that winter comes at me,

as if a stranger from a side street

cold and dark accosting me. I turn

my collar up. He hollers “You there!”

Faster I walk, fear chilling me,

a lamp post but a grey ghost in the fog.

This ****, winter, mugs me. He hits me,

stabs me in the side with knives

of ice, slices at my heart, the home

of hope. Supine, frost forming on

my brow, I pray to boughs of willow

trees;  pines will sing my elegy. My mind

drifts like snowdrifts: A mitten lost…

fingers, nose, toes frostbitten…

a lake of isolation…a sleigh with no

horse…a blizzard of insanity.

My blood thaws the frozen ground,

then freezes.


Amaranth put her pen on her poem, closed her notebook and put it in her purse, and with purse in hand, got up from her chair and walked slowly to the bedroom where she lay down on the bed.

She felt cold, even after pulling up the sheet, blanket, and bedspread over her.

Amaranth lay on the bed for several hours. Finally, she got up and went into the leaving room to turn on the evening news. She rarely watched TV, but did so occasionally, mostly getting her news off the Internet. She sat on the blue sofa. By this time, Ty was back at home.

Amaranth and Ty both hated to watch and listen to the political news emanating from Washington, D.C. Politics to both was a game, an ugly, essentially corrupt game. What they appreciated were stories not about politics, but about leadership, but features about the latter were hard to come by.

As they watched and listened, somewhat inattentively, they began to hear an unusual report from Sydney, Australia. It seemed as tough people were reporting that leaves on their trees had begun, almost instantly, first to turn brown and then fall off the tree limbs to the ground. What was this about, they both asked each other? No specialists interviewed in Sydney seemed to have any answer either. Well, this news, as peculiar as it was, was no worse than what they usually heard every day from the Oval Office.

Chapter 62

Each ensuing morning for the rest of the last week of March, Amaranth was anxious to put on her winter coat, open the kitchen door, walk down a few steps, then down the sloping hill to the exact spot where the crocuses, she hoped, would be appearing. But each of those mornings proved again and again to be a major disappointment to her. The crocuses, her dear friends, the harbingers of spring, had not yet appeared. Over these days, Amaranth, who at first had been devastated, slowly became inured to the fact that her crocuses , for some inexplicable reason, remained buried in the earth. The snow on the ground, however, had melted by the end of the week.

On Thursday, 26 March, Amaranth intuitively didn’t wait for the evening TV news. She went straight to her computer and accessed her favorite news site, refdesk.com. What she read startled her. There were a flurry of reports coming in from all different places in the world that were virtually the same as the one from Sydney, Australia yesterday — from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; from Cape Town, South Africa; from Jakarta, Indonesia; from Buenos Aires, Argentina; from Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo; from Lima, Peru; from Santiago de Chile, Chile; and from many other smaller cities.

Friday morning, Amaranth could not wait to find out what else had happened in the world. It did not take her long to find out. It turned out that now cities in the northern hemisphere, those closest to the equator, were experiencing the same phenomenom: Bogota, Colombia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Singapore; Medan, Indonesia; Cali,Colombia; and again, many other smaller cities.

All major media outlets around the world — TV networks and cable news channels, major newspapers, social media of all types — were beginning to cover and comment on this spreading, climatic enigma, but nobody in the world could yet come up with an explanation, let alone a solution, for it.

Saturday morning, more bad news. Everywhere around the world, in both the north and south hemispheres, there were more and more reports of the same kind coming in. What was worse, there were new reports from farmers from around the world who had planted seeds in their fields that by now should have germinated, but hadn’t. Indeed, other new reports from throughout the world said collectively that all living plants on Earth were beginning to die. What had started just a few days ago as an issue that people had thought was a mere curiosity, and nothing more than that, was now becoming exponentially a worldwide crisis-in-the-making. And no one on Earth yet had been able to figure out why this was happening or what to do about it.

Sunday morning: The whole world was now ablaze with terrifying reports of gigantic forest fires burning millions and millions of acres around the world, whole cities having to be evacuated. There were worldwide reports of unprecedented storms all over the world that were flooding countless cities inland and areas on the coasts of all continents.

The entire world was now a horror story of untold magnitude that had become real.

Chapter 63

Sunday evening, Amaranth could not fall asleep, so she carefully got out of bed, put on her robe, and went into the living room and sat down on the blue sofa. She sat there in the darkness, in the silence, for a long time. Then she heard the voice. The voice said, “Amaranth, I need to talk with you. I need to talk with you now.”

Amaranth had not heard the voice for months. Now it seemed to her as if the voice actually wanted to speak with her. She again was not alarmed, so she said to the voice, “OK, I will speak with you. What should I call you.?

“Call me Spirit,” replied the voice.

“OK,” replied Amaranth.

“Amaranth, you will need to write down every word I will be saying. Do you understand?” said the voice.

“Yes,” said Amaranth. “First, I will need to get my notebook. It’s in the bedroom. I’ll be right back.”

Amaranth came back with her notebook, turned on the lamp sitting on the end table, and sat back down on the blue sofa.

“I’m ready,” said Amaranth.

The voice said to her, “Earth is dying now. It has been mistreated for a long time. It has been abused. It has not been loved. I think you can help save it.

“Now, you can begin to write down everything I say to you.”

The voice began to speak.

“I have been asked to give this message to the entire world.

“Earth is dying now, but all of us on Earth can save it.”

“There is one land, one sky, one sea, one people. The boundaries that divide us are not on maps, but in our minds and hearts. Earth is as impoverished as her poorest Citizen of Earth, as healthy as her sickest, as educated as her most ignorant. If we pollute the headwaters of the Mississippi, then ineluctably we shall pollute the Indian Ocean. If we continue to pollute our air, the current 800,000,000 Citizens of Earth, along with all other living creations on Earth, will die. The imminent threats of nuclear holocaust and catastrophic climate change we need urgently to prevent. This is the truth of Spiritual Ecology.

“If we can wage war, why can we not wage peace? Nations are anachronistic; therefore, there will be none. There will be only Earth and Citizens of Earth. Each Citizen of Earth will devote a sizable number of years of her/his life to the betterment of humankind and Earth. All military weapons — from handguns to hydrogen bombs — will be destroyed, and any future weapons will be prohibited. All jails and prisons will be closed, replaced by Love Centers.  Automation and other technological advances will enhance the opportunity of all Citizens of Earth exponentially to realize their potential, both personally and professionally. There will be no money. All precious resources and assets of Earth will be distributed equally among all the Citizens of Earth. The only things Citizens of Earth will own are the right to be treated well by every other Citizen of Earth and the responsibility to treat all other Citizens of Earth, and Earth itself, well. All Citizens of Earth will be free to travel anywhere, at any time, on Earth. All Citizens of Earth will be free to choose their own personal and professional goals, but will do no harm to Earth or other Citizens of Earth. All Citizens of Earth will be afforded the same resources to live a full, safe and satisfying life, including the best education, health care, housing, food, and other necessities throughout Earth.

“The only way to change anything for the good, for good, is through love. Love is what every living thing on Earth needs. Love Centers are for those Citizens of Earth who were not loved enough, or at all, especially at their earliest of ages. Concomitantly, they act out their pain hurtfully, sometimes lethally, often against other Citizens of Earth. Citizens of Earth who are emotionally ill will be separated from those who are not. Jails and prisons only abet this deleterious situation. Some Citizens of Earth in pain may need to be constrained in Love Centers humanely while they recover, through being loved, so they do not hurt themselves or others. In some extreme cases, Citizens of Earth may be in so much pain that they remain violent for a long time. Thus, they may need to be constrained for the rest of their lives, but always loved, never punished. In time, Citizens of Earth, when loved enough, will only have love to give, and the need for Love Centers will commensurately decline.

“In 1946, Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the commission that wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UDHR, with appropriate updating, will serve as the moral and legal guidepost for Earth.

“To remember the former nations on Earth, Citizens of Earth now residing in what was once a nation will elect one Citizen of Earth from that area to serve one five-year term as a member of the General Assembly. Future elections will follow the same model in perpetuity.

“The first vote of all Citizens of Earth will be to ratify the CAMPAIGN FOR EARTH. Majority rules. All Citizens of Earth will have access to Internet voting. All Citizens of Earth will have their own personal computer ID codes. All Citizens of Earth will have to be at least 18 years old to vote. Citizens of Earth will be encouraged to bring before the General Assembly all ideas and recommendations, as well as any concerns or complaints, all of which will be considered and responded to promptly. Citizens of Earth’s ideas and recommendations will be formed into proposals drafted by members of the General Assembly. Citizens of Earth will vote on these proposals at the end of every month. Citizens of Earth will be Earth’s government. Members of the General Assembly will be facilitators who will work with millions of volunteers around the world. There will be no president of Earth.

“If the multinational corporations and multibillionaires who now rule Earth do not abide by the outcome of a majority vote in favor of CAMPAIGN FOR EARTH, Citizens of Earth will initiate the Allcott Movement, a one-at-a-time mancott, womancott, girlcott, boycott — hence, Allcott — against all entities and individuals unwilling to relinquish control of their global businesses and mega- wealth and give all to Citizens of Earth, then Citizens of Earth will continue the Allcott Movement until all have done what's equitable. All personal and smaller-business wealth will be converted into resources to be distributed equally to all Citizens of Earth. All proceeds in excess of what’s needed will be saved for future generations. No violence of any kind will be tolerated during the transfer of these resources. Citizens of Earth will take these steps because they are the moral, the right, steps to take to save all living creations on Earth, and Earth itself.

“Wealth is not worth. The mansuetude of loving, and of being loved, is worth. When love is your currency, all else is counterfeit. Citizens of Earth will be able to go about creating their own happiness that is built on love-based personal relationships and professional activities. No longer will human beings be able to profit from another’s pain and misery. With love at the center of being and living, there will be no more wars, no more dictators, no more corruption. Finally, there will be only Peace on Earth, forever.

“Earth does not have to die."


“That’s all, Amaranth. You and your husband, Ty, will decide the best way to disseminate this critical message. Bless you,” the voice said.

Amaranth had written down every word. She was, she felt, in a transcendent zone. It was the middle of the night, but she was wide awake — no, something much more than that. She felt more fully alive than she had ever felt before, almost a feeling of pure joy.

She knew now she would have to tell Ty about the voice, about the long “relationship" she had had with it. Only Dr. Rosenstein had known about the voice. Ty would understand. He always did. And Ty would help her find the right way to proceed.

“Spirit” — she liked that name — had known what was coming. All Spirit’s comments to her while she slept foreshadowed this incredible message she had just written down. There was no explanation for what had happened with Spirit. And Amaranth realized there didn’t need to be one.

Chapter 64

It was now very early, Monday, 30 March.

Amaranth had stayed up all night. Now she needed to speak with Ty.

She waited until 5 a.m., then woke up Ty.

“Ty, wake up. Ty, wake up. I need to speak with you,” exhorted Amaranth.

Ty was not used to waking up at 5 a.m. Amaranth had brewed some coffee and brought him a cup. Ty was understandably groggy as he lifted himself up on one elbow.

“What’s the matter, Am? What’s wrong?” said Ty.

“Ty, I need to talk with you. I need to talk with you now,” said Amaranth. “It’s urgent.”

Ty slowly moved to the side of the bed where he could sit on it. Amaranth handed him the cup of coffee.

Amaranth began by telling Ty about the whole history of her experiences with the voice, how and when it had begun, each of the brief phrases the voice had said to her while she was asleep, and finally, about last night. Then, after Ty was fully awake, she read the message Spirit had dictated to her.

Ty, while completely surprised, remained calm while Amaranth told him everything that had happened between Spirit and her. Ty knew what had been happening around the world, but when Amaranth had quoted Spirit as saying, “Earth is now dying,” he became instantly alarmed.

“What are we going to do, Ty?” asked Amaranth. “What should we do?”

Ty remained silent for several minutes. Then he took a sip of coffee.

“You know Ed Borgoman, Julie’s husband, right?” Ty asked rhetorically.

“Of course,” replied Amaranth.

“Ed is a technological and computer guru,” said Ty. “I bet if you asked him, he would help you videotape your reading of this compelling message, then help you get that video on as many social media sites around the world as possible.”

“Spirit believes that every Citizen of Earth should vote on CAMPAIGN FOR EARTH. Obviously, that would be a Herculean task.

More silence.

“I have an idea!” cried out Amaranth. “There are thousands of NGOs — non-governmental organizations — around the world. Some are worldwide, some are national, some regional, others are local. Why couldn’t we build a worldwide network of them to facilitate a worldwide vote on CAMPAIGN FOR EARTH? All 800,000,000 of us are facing a worldwide crisis! Why would anyone not want to help prevent the end of life for all living creations on Earth? Spirit speaks of all Citizens of Earth needing Internet access. Many companies are making and selling smartphones to people all over the world. This is a worldwide emergency! Why wouldn’t all these companies be more than willing to donate smartphones to those people who now don’t have one, either because they are destitute and/or live in remote areas? There would be incredible worldwide pressure on them to do the right thing.”

“I have another idea, Am. To make all this happen, we will need a command center, a nerve center, to coordinate and orchestrate all these intricate interactions. I know Peter King. He was, and still is, president of Columbia University. I worked closely with him when I was head of NSOP (New Students Orientation Program) when I was a senior at the College. Virtually everyone on Earth now knows about this catastrophic disaster facing all of Earth that is getting worse by the moment, and if allowed to go unabated, will end all life on it.

“Why wouldn’t Peter King, and the university he runs, become integral parts of the fight? If we cannot win this worldwide battle, then Columbia University will be become a graveyard like every other institution on Earth, and Peter King will very likely die there.

“I will give him a call this morning, tell him everything I know, and ask him for his help,” said Ty.

Chapter 65

Ty called Peter King a few minutes after 9 am Eastern Time and reached him. TY reintroduced himself. King remembered him clearly. Ty told King he would send him an email with an attachment about the worldwide warning and proposals contained therein. Finally,Ty asked King personally for his help, and for the help of the University as a whole.

Amaranth was able to reach Ed Borgoman at work. She explained to him, as succinctly as she could, the help she hoped he would be able to give her. Ed said, yes, he could help her and could take off work tomorrow to shoot the video. Ed told Amaranth that he could get permission from the head librarian of the Boulder Public Library to use their lectern to shoot Amaranth’s video. Because he knew how to get a video on a social media site, Ed told Amaranth that he would indeed contact every social media site in the world and try to get her video uploaded on each. He added, moreover, the perspicacious comment that even the most authoritarian nations in the world would quite possibly be amenable to amending their present draconian policies of censorship, knowing full well that what was facing all the world was therefore threatening inescapably their own country. He also said he would like to help her and Ty with anything else. Amaranth thanked Ed profusely.

Tuesday morning, 31 March, Amaranth met Ed at the downtown Boulder Public Library. The videotaping went smoothly. Ed told Amaranth that he would begin immediately trying to get her video on as many social media sites in the world as possible.

Ty, meanwhile, was waiting for President King to get back to him, but didn’t, for good reasons, expect to hear from him today.

That night, neither Amaranth or Ty slept well, nor did most of the people on Earth, Amaranth thought. Wednesday morning, 1 April, help could not come soon enough.

Sure enough, shortly after 7 am Boulder time, the phone rang. Ty answered it. It was King calling. He told Ty that he had had yesterday an all-day emergency meeting with the Board of Trustees. In short, King told Ty that there was unanimous consensus from the Board that King, and virtually every other member of his administration, as well as all faculty, would immediately assume both the explicit and implicit responsibilities of making the worldwide vote on CAMPAIGN FOR EARTH happen as soon as logistically possible. Ty thanked him profusely and asked him to pass on to everyone else his immense gratitude.

It was a propitious beginning for both Amaranth and Ty.

Chapter 66

The next several days were understandably difficult for Amaranth and Ty to get through. Amaranth didn’t want to bug Ed and Ty certainly didn’t want to bother King. Both knew they had to wait to hear from both of these magnanimous men.

Ty had been able to take a temporary leave from teaching. Amaranth kept checking perforce on the crocuses, but there had been no signs, not surprisingly, of any growth whatsoever. It was a tough time, a terrible time, for the whole world.

Friday morning, 3 April, Amaranth got a call from Ed. Ed told her that he had been able to get her video on almost every social media site in the world.

“What great news, Ed!” exclaimed Amaranth. “I don’t know how to thank you enough.”

“Look, Am, the existence of all life on Earth is in the balance. Julie and I will help you and Ty in any way we can,” said Ed.

Then there was the weekend. Two long days.

Monday morning, 6 April, the phone rang again a few minutes after 7 am Boulder time. It was King calling again. He wanted to give Ty an update. He, and so many members of his administration and faculty, had been working assiduously on this Earth-saving project. King told Ty that the largest NGOs, those that were worldwide, had all been contacted, and all had agreed to take a leading role in organizing the efforts of all the other NGOs around the world.

King explained how the worldwide NGOs would first contact the national NGOs, that, in turn, would contact the regional NGOs, that finally would contact everyone of the 55,000 worldwide local NGOs, which would then make sure that every one of the 8,000,000,000 people on Earth would have access to a smartphone and receive their own secure ID code to use during the one week of voting on CAMPAIGN FOR EARTH. King said that virtually all the authoritarian nations — there were over 50 of them — especially the largest ones, had conceded to allow all their people to participate with impunity in this worldwide endeavor to save Earth. Furthermore, King told Ty that all the manufacturers of smartphones — there were over 50 of them worldwide — had agreed to cooperate collectively in donating the necessary number of smartphones that would be needed worldwide. King also pointed out that there were a sufficient number of satellites already in space around Earth to handle what would be a tremendous amount of communicative traffic during the one week of voting. Finally, King stated that it would take three weeks to prepare and complete logistically and successfully everything that needed to be done, which meant that voting could begin on Monday, 27 April, and conclude on Sunday, 3 May. The worldwide results of the voting would available the following day, Monday, 4 May.

Ty, having heard all of this information, didn’t know what to say to President King, other than expressing again his limitless, unending gratitude both to King, and concomitantly, to the millions of those who were essentially the volunteers from all over the world who were going to make possible this prodigious effort to save Earth.

Chapter 67

Monday, 4 May, at once was so close, and so very far away.

Amaranth and Ty spent those three weeks essentially numb. They had done everything they could humanly do to help save Earth. Now was this interminable wait.

They tried everything. They took long drives into the mountains. They both tried reading books, but found they couldn’t concentrate. They even went to several movies in Boulder, which they usually never did.

Meanwhile, Earth was trying to hang on. Conditions around the world continued to be unimaginably awful. Millions of human beings had lost their lives. Whole cities either had been burnt to the ground or had been flooded into oblivion. Virtually all plant life on Earth was dying, or had already died. Many, many people all over the world had committed suicide because they knew what was happening. Life on Earth had become, in a word, unbearable.

At last, voting around the world on CAMPAIGN FOR EARTH began on Monday, 27 April. Reports worldwide was that voting turnout around the world had been massive. To Amaranth and Ty and billions of others, that one week of worldwide voting seemed like a century. But what had seemed like forever finally, finally came to an end on Sunday, 3 May.

The results of the voting, as King had said, were announced the following day, Monday, 4 May. The Citizens of Earth had approved CAMPAIGN FOR EARTH with 68% of them voting for it.

There were celebrations around the world of all sizes, both huge, such as those in New York City and even in Moscow and Beijing, and tiny, such as those in millions of villages. These celebrations went on for days.

Earth had never seen anything like it.

And Earth, where life of all kinds had found itself on the edge of extinction, miraculously was finding its own way to celebrate. The enormous fires and floods that had killed millions, and threatened even more, were slowly abating. And several days after the results of the worldwide voting had been announced, leaves that had first turned brown and then had fallen to the ground were slowly being replaced by new, little leaves. And the seeds that had been planted in millions of fields around the world that had never begun to grow were now germinating.

Amaranth and Ty, along with Julie and Ed, had joined the celebration in Boulder. Of course, there had never been anything like this before, and probably would never be again. The four of them stayed for as long as they could stand up.

When Amaranth and Ty did say good-bye to Julie and Ed, after hugging both of them, they drove to Niwot in a great hurry, rushed into their home, then literally ran into their bedroom where they managed to strip each other of their clothing in a matter of seconds, then jumped into bed and began to make passionate love that did not end for hours.

Chapter 68

Both Amaranth and Ty slept late into the morning. This new day was Tuesday, 5 May. It was, indeed, a beautiful day.

Amaranth cooked a leisurely, sumptuous breakfast for Ty and herself. Later, when she was washing the dishes, Amaranth suddenly screamed, “The crocuses!”

Instantly, she opened the kitchen door, flew down the stairs, then ran to the exact spot where the crocuses lived. She looked down and screamed again.

“My dear crocuses, you are still alive!” she cried.

Amaranth immediately bent down and kissed each of the crocuses on their tips. Then she sat down beside them, as she had wanted to do for way too long a time, and began talking to them, as was her eternal wont.

Amaranth had a lot to tell them. She told them the whole story with all the details, with all the twists and turns, with all the ups and downs. And finally, she told them about Earth’s victory, and the celebrations around the world that seemingly never wanted to end.

What a joyous time Amaranth was having!

Chapter 69

This day, Ty went back to Fairview High School in Boulder to teach American history.

Amaranth sat on the blue sofa in the living room listening to Beethoven’s immortal Ninth Symphony. As she sat there, she slowly came to the realization that she had not yet had her period. She was usually extremely regular, which meant to her that she should have had it either on Saturday or Sunday. She sat there on the blue sofa thinking about this for quite a while. Finally, she got up and went to the phone. She had decided to call Julie.

“Julie, this is Am,” she said. “I’m calling you for a special reason. I missed my period this month, and I was wondering if I might be able to see your obstetrician and ask him to check me out, and I was hoping you might be able to go with me.”

Julie said yes to both.

“I think an obstetrician can tell you two weeks after the day you missed having your period if you are pregnant. Am I right?” asked Amaranth.

Julie told her she was right.

“Oh my god, Julie! Do you think I might be pregnant?” Amaranth was in disbelief.

Julie told Amaranth to calm down. Yes, there was a possibility that she was pregnant, but only an obstetrician could say for sure, and only after he had taken a blood sample from her.

Amaranth’s heart was pounding.

Julie’s obstetrician was Dr. Pedarsky. She gave Amaranth his office phone number.

“I’ll call his office right now. Let’s see, two weeks from today will be Wednesday, 20 May. Will that date work for you?” she asked Julie.

“Yes, it will,” Julie said.

“I’ll call you right back to let you know if I can get an appointment for that day,” said Amaranth, her heart still pounding.

Amaranth immediately called Dr. Pedarsky’s office.

“This is Amaranth Anderson calling. I am a friend of Julie Borgoman, who is a patient of Dr. Pedarsky and has recommended him to me. I’m calling to see if it would be possible to make an appointment to see Dr. Pedarsky sometime on Wednesday, May 20th. I have missed my period for the first time since I began menstruating, and I feel strongly I should see a doctor.”

There was a short pause, then the nurse said Dr. Pedarsky could see her at 2:30 on the 20th.

“That would be wonderful,” said Amaranth, almost shouting.

After thanking the nurse for her help, she quickly called Julie back.

“I got an appointment with Dr. Pedarsky on Wednesday, May 20th, at 2:30. I am so excited,” exclaimed Amaranth.

Julie told Amaranth that she was pleased to hear this good news, but also told Amaranth to settle down. Amaranth told Julie that she understood and appreciated what she was telling her, but could not find a way to tell Julie that she would not be able to calm down for quite a while. Amaranth thanked Julie for all her help, then hung up.

Amaranth went back to the blue sofa and sat down. Her heart was still pounding, and would continue to pound for a long time this day.

Chapter 70

Another impossible, long wait, Amaranth thought.

She would spend most of her days going out to sit down and talk to the crocuses. There were so many things to tell them, and she was so, so happy to see them again.

Finally, Wednesday, 20 May, arrived. Amaranth was so excited. She couldn’t help it. About 1:30, she left Niwot to pick up Julie in Boulder.

“I am so excited Julie! I can’t help it,” said Amaranth.

“I understand, Am,” said Julie.

They got to Dr. Pedarsky’s office a little bit before 2:30.

"I’m Amaranth Anderson, and I have a 2:30 appointment to see Dr. Pedarsky. This is my friend, Julie Borgoman. She is also a patient of Dr. Pedarsky."

The nurse recognized Julie and said hello, then asked the two of them to have a seat.

“Dr. Pedarsky will be out shortly to see you,” said the nurse. Amaranth and Julie took a seat.

Within a few minutes, Dr. Pedarsky came around the corner. He knew Julie and that Ms. Anderson was her friend and his new patient.

“Ms. Anderson, I’m Dr. Pedarsky. It is a pleasure to meet you. Won’t the two of you come with me?” said the doctor.

Amaranth and Julie got up and followed Dr. Pedarsky down the hallway and into an examining room.

Dr. Pedarsky spoke to Amaranth.

“It’s my understanding that you recently missed having your period, and that this was the first time you could ever remember having that happen to you. Am I right?” asked Dr. Pedarsky.

“Yes, that’s right, Dr. Pedarsky,” said Amaranth.

“And you’re concerned, aren’t you?” asked Dr. Pedarsky.

“Yes I am,” said Amaranth.

“I’ll have my nurse take a blood sample from you. We have our own lab here, so it will be about a half hour before we have the results,” said Dr. Pedarsky.

That half hour was the longest half hour of Amaranth’s life.

Dr. Pedarsky came back into the room and walked over to Amaranth. He paused a second. Then he looked directly at Amaranth and said, “Amaranth, you are going to have a baby. You’re pregnant.”

Amaranth almost fainted. “Are you sure, Doctor?” asked Amaranth.

“I am certain,” said Dr. Pedarsky.

Amaranth started crying. Her body began to shake.

“I can’t believe it! This is the best news I have ever received!” cried Amaranth. Julie got up and went over, first to squeeze her hand, then to hold it.

“Thank you, Dr. Pedarsky! Thank you so much!” cried Amaranth.

Dr. Pedarsky said, “I don’t think I’m the correct man for you to thank,” chuckling a bit after saying that.

Amaranth was so overwhelmed with joy. She took Julie by the hand and wisked her and herself out of the examining room, down the hallway, down the stairs to the entrance and flung the door open and essentially ran to her car, dragging Julie behind her. Then she sped Julie home, hugged her so tightly and thanked her for all her help, then sped to Niwot, almost hitting the edge of the garage because she was driving so fast. She leaped out of the car, ran to the back door, swung it wide open, ran through the kitchen into the living room where she saw Ty standing and kept running until she leaped into his open arms.

“Ty!,” she screamed. “We’re going to have a baby! I’m pregnant!”

Ty kissed this woman he had loved from the moment he had first seen her. And then he held her in his arms it seemed like forever.
Waking up with sweat
stained sheets wrapped
around me and you are
nowhere to be seen as
you believe being mean
is keeping the lads keen.
Your leather jacket is
still here hanging on the
hook by the front door
and he wonders why
she didn’t want more.
He loved her laugh last
night as they drunkenly
tried to walk right home
after finishing a few gin
and tonics between them
that made his head spin
and her think that she
would forever win at sin.
Her long blonde hair
had flown out behind her
and it reminded him of
fresh sunflowers because
that was the colour of her
beauty and he prayed the
rest of the night would not
be another careless blur.
The radiance within her
shone so bright that he
didn’t even turn on the
kitchen light as he let
them both inside as the
liquor made their shyness
want to shrivel up and hide.
But in the next morning,
there was no hungover girl
mumbling sleepily and
yawning because instead
there was only her leather
jacket and the faint smell
of sweet perfume left on
his pillow as he tried to
visualize that beautifully
bright sunny yellow that
made his throat dry and
gave him a sickening urge
to cry because he didn’t
want this feeling to die.
He wondered if she would
call because it really hadn’t
taken him long to fall for her
long limbs and the way she
had dark humour that stung
him like a cheap rumour and
so he slept on the sofa that
day with the aching bones
of a man who lives alone
but with a leather jacket
wrapped around his arm
because he wanted to see
her again and see if she
maybe felt the same but
he knew deep down it
was a Friday night love
and the weekend would
soon fade away because
she was never destined to
stay yet he hung her jacket
in the closet for years to
come and tried again to
find the perfect one but
he’d let her slip between
his fingers yet the smell
of her sweet perfume still
lingered for Friday nights
to come and he missed the
colour of the sun that shone
in her hair and the bright
eyes that that craved fear.
She’d been his Friday night
coffee and cream that would
never return no matter how
much he stroked the seams
of her faded leather jacket.
Sunflower girl was now
gone with the wind and
soon he could no longer
recall her voice and the
paleness of her soft skin.
It was like she had never
met him in the first place
but oh god how he loved
her beautiful hair and knew
she had once been there in
his arms even if it had only
been for one Friday night.
Bouazizi’s heavy eyelids parted as the Muezzin recited the final call for the first Adhan of the day.

“As-salatu Khayrun Minan-nawm”
Prayer is better than sleep

Rising from the torment of another restless night, Bouazizi wiped the sleep from his droopy eyes as his feet touched the cold stone floor.

Throughout the frigid night, the devilish jinn did their work, eagerly jabbing away at Bouazizi with pointed sticks, tormenting his troubled conscience with the worry of his nagging indebtedness. All night the face of the man Bouazizi owed money to haunted him. Bouazizi could see the man’s greasy lips and brown teeth jawing away, inches from his face. He imagined chubby caffeine stained fingers reaching toward him to grab some dinars from Bouazizi’s money box.

Bouazizi turned all night like he was sleeping on a board of spikes. His prayers for a restful night again went unanswered. The pall of a blue fatigue would shadow Bouazizi for most of the day.

Bouazizi’s weariness was compounded by a gnawing hunger. By force of habit, he grudgingly opened the food cupboard with the foreknowledge that it was almost bare. Bouazizi’s premonition proved correct as he surveyed a meager handful of chickpeas, some eggs and a few sparse loaves. It was just enough to feed his dependant family; younger brothers and sisters, cousins and a terminally disabled uncle. That left nothing for Bouazizi but a quick jab to his empty gut. He would start this day without breakfast.

Bouazizi made a living as a street vendor. He hustles to survive. Bouazizi’s father died in a construction accident in Libya when he was three. Since the age of 10, Bouazizi had pushed a cart through the streets of Sidi Bouzid; selling fruit at the public market just a few blocks from the home that he has lived in for almost his entire life.

At 27 years of age, Bouazizi has wrestled the beast of deprivation since his birth. To date, he has bravely fought it to a standstill; but day after day the multi-headed hydra of life has snapped at him. He has squarely met the eyes of the beast with fortitude and resolve; but the sharp fangs of a hardscrabble life has sunken deep into Bouazizi’s spleen. The unjust rules of society are powerful claws that slash away at his flesh, bleeding him dry: while the spiked tendrils of poverty wrap Bouazizi’s neck, seeking to strangle him.

Bouazizi is a workingman hero; a skilled warrior in the fight for daily bread. He is accustomed to living a life of scarcity. His daily deliverance is the grace of another day of labor and the blessed wages of subsistence.

Though Allah has blessed this man with fortitude the acuteness of terminal want and the constant struggle to survive has its limits for any man; even for strong champions like Bouazizi.

This morning as Bouazizi washed he peered into a mirror, closely examining new wrinkles on his stubble strewn face. He fingered his deep black curls dashed with growing streaks of gray. He studied them through the gaze of heavy bloodshot eyes. He looked upward as if to implore Allah to salve the bruises of daily life.

Bouazizi braced himself with the splash of a cold water slap to his face. He wiped his cheeks clean with the tail of his shirt. He dipped his toothbrush into a box of baking powder and scoured an aching back molar in need of a root canal. Bouazizi should see a dentist but it is a luxury he cannot afford so he packed an aspirin on top of the infected tooth. The dissolving aspirin invaded his mouth coating his tongue with a bitter effervescence.

Bouazizi liked the taste and was grateful for the expectation of a dulled pain. He smiled into the mirror to check his chipped front tooth while pinching a cigarette **** from an ashtray. The roach had one hit left in it. He lit it with a long hard drag that consumed a good part of the filter. Bouazizi’s first smoke of the day was more filter then tobacco but it shocked his lungs into the coughing flow of another day.

Bouazizi put on his jacket, slipped into his knockoff NB sneakers and reached for a green apple on a nearby table. He took a big bite and began to chew away the pain of his toothache.

Bouazizi stepped into the street to catch the sun rising over the rooftops. He believed that seeing the sunrise was a good omen that augured well for that day’s business. A sunbeam braking over a far distant wall bathed Bouazizi in a golden light and illumined the alley where he parked his cart holding his remaining stock of week old apples. He lifted the handles and backed his cart out into the street being extra mindful of the cracks in the cobblestone road. Bouazizi sprained his ankle a week ago and it was still tender. Bouazizi had to be careful not to aggravate it with a careless step. Having successfully navigated his cart into the road, Bouazizi made a skillful U Turn and headed up the street limping toward the market.

A winter chill gripped Bouazizi prompting him to zip his jacket up to his neck. The zipper pinched his Adam’s Apple and a few droplets of blood stained his green corduroy jacket. Though it was cold, Bouazizi sensed that spring would arrive early this year triggering a replay of a recurring daydream. Bouazizi imagined himself behind the wheel of a new van on his way to the market. Fresh air and sunshine pouring through the open windows with the cargo space overflowing with fresh vegetables and fruits.

It was a lifelong ambition of Bouazizi to own a van. He dreamed of buying a six cylinder Dodge Caravan. It would be painted red and he would call it The Red Flame. The Red Flame would be fast and powerful and sport chrome spinners. The Red Flame would be filled with music from a Blaupunkt sound system with kick *** speakers. Power windows, air conditioning, leather seats, a moonroof and plenty of space in the back for his produce would complete Bouazizi’s ride.

The Red Flame would be the vehicle Bouazizi required to expand his business beyond the market square. Bouazizi would sell his produce out of the back of the van, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood. No longer would he have to wait for customers to come to his stand in the market. Bouazizi would go to his customers. Bouazizi and the Red Flame would be known in all the neighborhoods throughout the district. Bouazizi shook his head and smiled thinking about all the girls who would like to take rides in the Red Flame. Bouazizi and his Red Flame would be a sight to be noticed and a force to be reckoned with.

“EEEEEYOWWW” a Mercedes horn angrily honked; jarring Bouazizi from the reverie of his daydream. A guy whipping around the corner like a silver streak stuck his head out the window blasting with music yelling, “Hey Mnayek, watch where you push that *******.”

The music faded as the Mercedes roared away. “Barra nikk okhtek” Bouazizi yelled, raising his ******* in the direction of the vanished car. “The big guys in the fancy cars think the road belongs to them”, Bouazizi mumbled to himself.

The insult ****** Bouazizi off, but he was accustomed to them and as he limped along pushing his cart he distracted himself with the amusement of the ascending sun chasing the fleeting shadows of the night, sending them scurrying down narrow alleyways.

Bouazizi imaged himself a character from his favorite movie. He was a giant Transformer, chasing the black shadows of evil away from the city into the desert. After battling evil and conquering the bad guys, he would transform himself back into the regular Bouazizi; selling his produce to the people as he patrolled the highways of Tunisia in the Red Flame, the music blasting out the windows, the chrome spinners flashing in the sunlight. Bouazizi would remain vigilant, always ready to transform the Red Flame to fight the evil doers.

The bumps and potholes in the road jostled Bouazizi’s load of apples. A few fell out of the wooden baskets and were rolling around in the open spaces of the cart. Bouazizi didn’t want to risk bruising them. Damaged merchandise can’t be sold so he was careful to secure his goods and arrange his cart to appeal to women customers. He made sure to display his prized electronic scale in the corner of the cart for all to see.

Bouazizi had a reputation as a fair and generous dealer who always gave good value to his customers. Bouazizi was also known for his kindness. He would give apples to hungry children and families who could not pay. Bouazizi knew the pain of hunger and it brought him great satisfaction to be able to alleviate it in others.

As a man who valued fairness, Bouazizi was particularly proud of his electronic scale. Bouazizi was certain the new measuring device assured all customers that Bouazizi sold just and correct portions. The electronic scale was Bouazizi’s shining lamp. He trusted it. He hung it from the corner post of his cart like it was the beacon of a lighthouse guiding shoppers through the treachery of an unscrupulous market. It would attract all customers who valued fairness to the safe harbor of Bouazizi’s cart.

The electronic scale is Bouazizi’s assurance to his customers that the weights and measures of electronic calculation layed beyond any cloud of doubt. It is a fair, impartial and objective arbiter for any dispute.

Bouazizi believed that the fairness of his scale would distinguish his stand from other produce vendors. Though its purchase put Bouazizi into deep debt, the scale was a source of pride for Bouazizi who believed that it would help his profits to increase and help him to achieve his goal of buying the Red Flame.

As Bouazizi pushed his cart toward the market, he mulled his plan over in his mind for the millionth time. He wasn't great in math but he was able to calculate his financial situation with a degree of precision. His estimations triggered worries that his growing debt to money lenders may be difficult to payoff.

Indebtedness pressed down on Bouazizi’s chest like a mounting pile of stones. It was the source of an ever present fear coercing Bouazizi to live in a constant state of anxiety. His business needed to grow for Bouazizi to get a measure of relief and ultimately prosper from all his hard work. Bouazizi was driven by urgency.

The morning roil of the street was coming alive. Bouazizi quickened his step to secure a good location for his cart at the market. Car horns, the spewing diesel from clunking trucks, the flatulent roar of accelerating buses mixed with the laughs and shrieks of children heading to school composed the rising crescendo of the city square.

As he pushed through the market, Bouazizi inhaled the aromatic eddies of roasting coffee floating on the air. It was a pleasantry Bouazizi looked forward to each morning. The delicious wafts of coffee mingling with the crisp aroma of baking bread instigated a growl from Bouazizi’s empty stomach. He needed to get something to eat. After he got money from his first sale he would by a coffee and some fried dough.

Activity in the market was vigorous, punctuated by the usual arguments of petty territorial disputes between vendors. The disagreements were always amicably resolved, burned away in rising billows of roasting meats and vegetables, the exchange of cigarettes and the plumes of tobacco smoke rising as emanations of peace.

Bouazizi skillfully maneuvered his cart through the market commotion. He slid into his usual space between Aaban and Aameen. His good friend Aaban sold candles, incense, oils and sometimes his wife would make cakes to sell. Aameen was the markets most notorious jokester. He sold hardware and just about anything else he could get his hands on.

Aaban was already burning a few sticks of jasmine incense. It helped to attract customers. The aroma defined the immediate space with the pleasant bouquet of a spring garden. Bouazizi liked the smell and appreciated the increased traffic it brought to his apple cart.

“Hey Basboosa#, do you have any cigarettes?“, Aameen asked as he pulled out a lighter. Bouazizi shook the tip of a Kent from an almost empty pack. Aameen grabbed the cigarette with his lips.

“That's three cartons of Kents you owe me, you cheap *******.” Bouazizi answered half jokingly. Aameen mumbled a laugh through a grin tightly gripping the **** as he exhaled smoke from his nose like a fire breathing dragon. Bouazizi also took out a cigarette for himself.

“Aameem, give me a light”, Bouazizi asked.

Aameen tossed him the lighter.

“Keep it Basboosa. I got others.” Aameen smiled as he showed off a newly opened box of disposable lighters to sell on his stand.

“Made in China, Basboosa. They make everything cheap and colorful. I can make some money with these.”

Bouazizi lit his next to last cigarette. He inhaled deeply. The smoke chased away the cool air in Bouazizi’s lungs with a shot of a hot nicotine rush.

“Merci Aameen” Bouazizi answered. He put the lighter into the almost empty cigarette pack and put it into his hip pocket. The lighter would protect his last cigarette from being crushed.

The laughter and shouts of the bazaar, the harangue of radio voices shouting anxious verses of Imam’s exhorting the masses to submit and the piecing ramble of nondescript AM music flinging piercing unintelligible static surrounded Bouazizi and his cart as he waited for his first customers of the day.

Bouazizi sensed a nervous commotion rise along the line of vendors. A crowd of tourists and locals milling about parted as if to avoid a slithering asp making its way through their midst. The hoots of vendors and the cackle of the crowd made its way to Bouazizi’s knowing ear. He knew what was coming. It was nothing more then another shakedown by city officials acting as bagmen for petty municipal bureaucrats. They claim to be checking vendor licences but they’re just making the rounds collecting protection money from the vendors. Pocketing bribes and payoffs is the municipal authorities idea of good government. They are skilled at using the power of their office to extort tribute from the working poor.

Bouazizi made the mistake of making eye contact with Madame Hamdi. As the municipal authority in charge of vendors and taxis Madame Hamdi held sway over the lives of the street vendors. She relished the power she had over the men who make a meager living selling goods in the square; and this morning she was moving through the market like a bloodhound hot on the trail of an escaped convict. Two burly henchmen lead the way before her. Bouazizi knew Madame Hamdi’s hounds were coming for him.

Bouazizi knew he was ******. Having just made a payment to his money lender, Bouazizi had no extra dinars to grease the palm of Madame Hamdi. He grabbed the handle bars of his cart to make an escape; but Madame Hamdi cut him off and got right into into Bouazizi’s face.

“Ah little Basboosa where are you going? she asked with the tone of playful contempt.

“I suppose you still have no license to sell, ah Basboosa?” Madame Hamdi questioned with the air of a soulless inquisitor.

“You know Madame Hamdi, cart vendors do not need a license.” Bouazizi feebly protested, not daring to look into her eyes.

“Basboosa, you know we can overlook your violations with a small fine for your laxity” a dismissive Madame Hamdi offered.

Bouazizi’s sense of guilt would not permit him to lift his eyes. His head remained bowed. Bouazizi stood convicted of being one of the impoverished.

“I have no spare dinars to offer Madame Hamdi, My pockets are empty, full of holes. My money falls into everyone’s palm but my own. I’m sorry Madame Hamdi. I’ll take my cart home”. He lifted the handlebars in an attempt to escape. One of Madame Hamdi’s henchmen stepped in front of his cart while the other pushed Bouazizi away from it.

“Either you pay me a vendor tax for a license or I will confiscate your goods Basboosa”, Madame Hamdi warned as she lifted Bouazizi’s scale off its hook.

“This will be the first to go”, she said grinning as she examined the scale. “We’ll just keep this.”
Like a mother lion protecting a defenseless cub from the snapping jaws of a pack of ravenous hyenas, Bouazizi lunged to retrieve his prized scale from the clutches of Madame Hamdi. Reaching for it, he touched the scale with his fingertips just as Madame Hamdi delivered a vicious slap to Bouazizi’s cheek. It halted him like a thunderbolt from Zeus.

A henchman overturned Bouazizi’s cart, scatter
Three years ago today Muhammad Bouazizi set himself on fire igniting the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia sparking the Arab Spring Uprisings of 2011.
FIRST DAY

1.
Who wanted me
to go to Chicago
on January 6th?
I did!

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

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

I left from Newark.
**** the denseness,
it confounds!

The 2nd City to whom?
2nd ain’t bad.
It’s pretty good.
If you consider
Peking and Prague,
Tokyo and Togo,
Manchester and Moscow,
Port Au Prince and Paris,
Athens and Amsterdam,
Buenos Aries and Johannesburg;
that’s pretty good.

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

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

The lake,
unlike Ontario
is in the midst of freezing.
Bones of ice
threaten to gel
into a solid mass
over the expanse
of the Michigan Lake.
If this keeps up,
you can walk
clear to Toronto
on a silver carpet.

Along the shore
the ice is permanent.
It’s the first big frost
of winter
after a long
Indian Summer.

Thank God
I caught a cab.
Outside I hear
The Hawk
nippin hard.
It’ll get your ear,
finger or toe.
Bite you on the nose too
if you ain’t careful.

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

Chicago,
could this be
Sandburg’s City?

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

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

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

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

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

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



2.
Cities,
A collection of vanities?
Engineered complex utilitarianism?
The need for community a social necessity?
Ego one with the mass?
Civilization’s latest *******?
Chicago is more then that.

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

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

Chicago,
Sandburg’s Chicago,
Could it be?

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

Now also
tourist attractions
for a cafe society.

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

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

Great restaurants
serve liquid jazz
al la carte.

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

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

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

Great Lakes wonder of water.
Niagara Falls
still her heart gushes forth.

Buffalo connected to this holy heart.
Finger Lakes and Adirondacks
are part of this watershed,
all the way down to the
Delaware and Chesapeake.

Sandburg’s Chicago?
Oh my my,
the wonder of him.
Who captured the imagination
of the wonders of rivers.

Down stream other holy cities
from the Mississippi delta
all mapped by him.

Its mouth our Dixie Trumpet
guarded by righteous Cajun brethren.

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

Him,
who spoke of honest men
and loving women.
Working men and mothers
bearing citizens to build a nation.
The New World’s
precocious adolescent
caught in a stream
of endless and exciting change,
much pain and sacrifice,
dedication and loss,
pride and tribulations.

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

Sandburg had the courage to say
what was in the heart of the people, who:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.
There is faith in everything in Chicago!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.
Does Chicago have a future?

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

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

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

Their skin is gray,
hair disheveled,
loud ties and
funny coats,
thumb through
slips of paper
held by nail
chewed hands.
Selling promises
with no derivative value
for out of the money calls
and in the money puts.
Strike is not a labor action
in this city of unionists,
but a speculators mark,
a capitalist wish,
a hedgers bet,
a public debt
and a farmers
fair return.

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

You know the measure
of everything in Chicago.
But is it truly objective?
Have mathematics banished
subjective intentions,
routing it in fair practice
of market efficiencies,
a kind of scientific absolution?

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

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

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

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

The analysts say
it’s all about capturing liquidity.

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

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

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

Dreams
are never frozen in Chicago.
The exchanges trade
without missing a beat.

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

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

Short the Russell
or buy the Dow,
go long the
CAC and DAX.
Are you trading in euro’s?
You better be
or soon will.
I know
you’re Chicago,
you’ll trade anything.
WEBS,
Spiders,
and Leaps
are traded here,
along with sweet crude,
North Sea Brent,
plywood and T-Bill futures;
and most importantly
the commodities,
the loam
that formed this city
of broad shoulders.

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

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

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

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

I think he sends it
to Bangkok where
child slaves
spin it into
gold lame'.

Sorghum,
I think its hardy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is an efficient market
that crosses the globe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

5.
Sandburg’s Chicago,
is a city of the world’s people.

Many striver rows compose
its many neighborhoods.

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

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

People wait for trains
to enter the city from O’Hare.
Frozen tears
lock their eyes
onto distant skyscrapers,
solid chunks
of snot blocks their nose
and green icicles of slime
crust mustaches.
They fight to breathe.

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

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

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

Our sitting President
impeached
for lying about a *******.

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

Abe our granite angel,
Chicago goes on,
The Union is strong!


SECOND DAY

1.
Out my window
the sun has risen.

According to
the local forecast
its minus 9
going up to
6 today.

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

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

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

I set my watch
to Central Standard Time.

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

He hands me one of Chicago.
I see he recently had his nails done.
He paints a green line
along Whacker Drive and says,
“turn on Jackson, LaSalle, Wabash or Madison
and you’ll get to where you want to go.”
A walk of 14 or 15 blocks from Streeterville-
(I start at The Chicago White House.
They call it that because Hillary Rodham
stays here when she’s in town.
Its’ also alleged that Stedman
eats his breakfast here
but Opra
has never been seen
on the premises.
I wonder how I gained entry
into this place of elite’s?)
-down into the center of The Loop.

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

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

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

I step outside.
The Windy City
flings stabbing cold spears
flying on wings of 30-mph gusts.
My outside hardens.
I can feel the freeze
deepen
into my internalness.
I can’t be sure
but inside
my heart still feels warm.
For how long
I cannot say.

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

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

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

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

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

Sandburg knew the city well.
Set amidst groves of suburbs
that extend outward in every direction.
Concentric circles
surround the city.
After the burbs come farms,
Great Plains, and mountains.
Appalachians and Rockies
are but mere molehills
in the city’s back yard.
It’s terra firma
stops only at the sea.
Pt. Barrow to the Horn,
many capes extended.

On the periphery
its appendages,
its extremities,
its outward extremes.
All connected by the idea,
blown by the incessant wind
of this great nation.
The Windy City’s message
is sent to the world’s four corners.
It is a message of power.
English the worlds
common language
is spoken here,
along with Ebonics,
Espanol,
Mandarin,
Czech,
Russian,
Korean,
Arabic,
Hindi­,
German,
French,
electronics,
steel,
cars,
cartoons,
rap,
sports­,
movies,
capital,
wheat
and more.

Always more.
Much much more
in Chicago.

2.
Sandburg
spoke all the dialects.

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

Sandburg understood
what it meant to laugh
and be happy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I listen to a man
and woman conversing.
They are one step behind me
as we meander along Wacker Drive.

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

No I don’t.
I think to myself.
What level are you I wonder?
Are you perched atop
the transmission spire
of the Hancock Tower?

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

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

What level
is he speaking of?

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

I wonder
if I detect
condensation
in his voice?

What is
his intention?
Is it a warning
of a broken affair?
A pending pink slip?
Advise to an addict
refusing to adhere
to a recovery regimen?

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

This seditious talk!

3.
The Loop’s El
still courses through
the main thoroughfares of the city.

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

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

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

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

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

It is the true level
of this city.

The layer
beneath
all layers,
on which
everything
rests,
is built,
grows,
thrives
then dies.
To be
returned again
to the lower
layers
where it can
take root
again
and grow
out onto
the great plains.

Splashing
the nation,
anointing
its people
with its
blessing.

A blessing,
Chicago?

All rivers
come here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sandburg knew
a Chicago
I will never know.

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

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

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

Walk into the clubs,
tenements,
row houses,
speakeasies
and you’ll hear the Blues
whispered like
a quiet prayer.

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

Hell even Chicago
got its own brand
of Blues.

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

A broad
shouldered woman,
a single mother stands
on the street
with three crying babes.
Their cloths
are covered
in salt.
She pleads
for a break,
praying
for a new start.
Poor and
under-clothed
against the torrent
of frigid weather
she begs for help.
Her blond hair
and ****** features
suggests her
Scandinavian heritage.
I wonder if
she is related to Sandburg
as I walk past
her on the street.
Her feet
are bleeding
through her
canvass sneakers.
Her babes mouths
are zipped shut
with frozen drivel
and mucous.

The Blues live
on in Chicago.

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

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

Music:

Robert Johnson
Sweet Home Chicago


jbm
Chicago
1/7/99
Added today to commemorate the birthday of Carl Sandburg
Inkyu Kim Jun 2012
I saw a green jacket today.
It really made my day.

But I realized it wasn't you,
I suddenly felt really blue.

I can't wait to see the familiar sight,
of the happy green bright.

I wish you were here,
but instead you are there.

I wish you were here,
for our fun group chats,
with Dylan, Keara, and I.
but instead you are there.

I really miss you here,
but you are gone somewhere else.

I hope you come back soon,
We are here waiting for you.

Until then I will feel blue,
with my stomach clenched too,
And I wish you were here.

Black Jacket
Yellow Jacket
Grey Jackets too
but only Green Jacket will do
because it means you.

I hope you have fun there,
as we all wait here.

Come back soon,
before I turn blue.
Today I was taking out the trash and saw a girl in green jacket. I then noticed it wasn't you, I really felt blue. So I wrote this poem for you. Wow I am really rhyming today.
*****


Apr 7, 2012, 6:08:21 PM by ~OmegaWolfOfWinter
Journals / Personal




"Name: Amelia Weissmuler. Date of birth: June 6th, 1920. Test subject number 314-X. Specimen: Tiger." Amy heard all of this through a haze of sedatives that had begun to lose their already poor effect. She turned in the direction of the voice and saw a fearsome **** SS General standing behind a white clad scientist with a heavy accent. The general said nothing but listened and watched as Amy was strapped down to a cold metal table, completely **** with various wires, tubes and needles protruding from her flesh. She groaned painfully, the needles were extensive, and the **** scientists had no care of decency or respect. she was hit with another sedative and before she lost consciousness she heard the scientist, who she guessed was Dr. Heismeiller, say, "Name, Mordecai Dansker, former Major of the Third *****. Date of birth: September 19th, 1919. Test subject 14-W. Specimen: Wolf. As you
can see, Heir General, these are both healthy specimens, as are the test subjects." Amy heard a
rattling of cages. Her vison slowly went dark but not before seeing the doctor's face, uncovered and psychotic.
* *
When Amy woke up again, she was being suspended from the floor, the tubes and wires accompanied by menacing electrodes. there was an unnatural blue and white crackling of electricity around her, illuminating the other suspended tables nearby, the bodies in various grotesque positions and levels of decay. she tried to scream but found a machine unceremoniously shoved in her mouth, stretching deep inside her. she looked and saw nothing but obscene machines and various glass tubes of colored bubbling liquids. she tried sluggishly to break free but to no avail. what little strength she had was useless against the torturous devices emplanted in and around her. "Doctor, begin the experiment."
"Yaboe!" She heard a solid click resound through the room and heard a male scream in another room. the screams echoed for a long while, then nothing. she heard a gasp of releif from
the doctor and, "General! Subject 14-W... he has... Survived!"
"Good. now start on the frauline." there was a large thud from outside the room. "Quickly! this facility is under seige!"
"Yes sir, heir general. Test subject 314-X prepped and ready. Begin phase 1." she cried out silently as the needles burned hot inside her and the tubes boiled her insides. the electrodes soon incapacitated her and she fell unconscious.
*
*
"Phase 1 complete, heir general, subject is ready, proceeding to Phase 2."
Amy felt an intense burning around the needles, and an electric fire through her veins. the machine had been taken from her mouth, but she doubted she could scream any more, as her throat was raw from the silent screams of Phase 1. She felt her body shake uncontrollably as more electric shocks were administered. she was left panting and slumped over. "Sequence complete, the bonding process was a success." there was another thud and sediment from the roof fell to the floor. "Get her down now! They will be through soon!" She was lowered to the ground and unstrapped from the table, picked up, and placed on a stretcher. she raised her hands on front her face and nearly fainted, her hands, or paws, resembled that of a tiger, and as she looked, her whole body was covered in a slick orange, black and white fur. She was put into the backseat of an armored car with a simple blanket draped around
her. Amy felt nauseated
as the car sped off. It hit a bump in the road and she moaned painfully, clutching her furry belly and retching. the **** next to her turned away in disgust. the car ride was long and sickening, and she lost consciousness twice, and finally she tried to lay down in the cramped space. when the armored car finally stopped, she was pulled from the back seat and carried over a soldier's shoulder and into a small bunker. Once inside, amy heard a metal door open and was laid down onto a stiff bed with a single pillow and a single cover. There was a small window in the cell, a drab, grey stream of light shining in her eyes. She propped herself up on her elbow and shielded her eyes from the blinding contrast. Once her eyes adjusted, amy noticed that things had a particular sharpness to them and she had an acute awareness of things based on scent. she stood shakily, and noticed she was almost
six inches taller now, and her new tail swished back and forth along the concrete floor. she stepped
forward and grasped the iron bars and peeked out, seeing a black leather messenger bag and a black uniform lined with white. she couldn't quite reach the uniform, but was able to get a claw around the strap of the messenger bag. she pulled it closer to her and saw that her initials were monogrammed into the leather. she pulled it through the bars and opened the bag, pulling out a small, blank, leather bound journal and a pen. still ****, she sat on the bed and practiced writing, tearing out two pages of scratch paper. She began her journal with, "I am no longer the person i once was. i am something new, something... different."
• * *
The **** captain stepped into the bunker and saw amy, half lying, half dangling on the bed, the leather journal clutched close to her chest. he stormed into the cell and backhanded her awake, snatching up the journal as she cowered in the corner, her tail wrapped around her. the captain flipped through the pages of the journal and then closed iit with a snap. he glanced at it and dropped it on the bed. "it is yours now, Frauline. you are very special to the third *****. the fuhrer himself has asked for you to be placed in the Waffen SS and trained." amy glanced at the uniform on the table outside the cell and he nodded, "specially tailored for you, frauline. he stepped outside the cell and grabbed the uniform, setting it down on the bed. "you may Change into your new uniform and join the rest of us outside." he stepped outside and she was alone. she donned the simple uNdergarments then
slipped into the soft black trousers, after which she put on her military boots. next she put on the black and white jacket signature of the SS. the jacket was sleek and menacing, though it did little to flatten her chest, but that, she supposed, was one of her feminine charms. last was her hat and armband, both adorned with the *******. she gathered the leather messenger bag and stepped outside the cell, where a mirror stood, giving her a chance to see what had been done, the black uniform was a dramatic contrast to her brightly colored fur, and her new black stripes added a fierce look to her. she grinned and flashed menacing white teeth. she turned her body, looking at herself from different points of view. she slipped the **** armband onto her right arm and turned to leave. she stopped when she encountered a high pitch noise right next to the door. for the moment she just walked past, opening the door and adjusting her vision to the outside light. the layout was grey and barren,
as it always was in wartime. the captain was waiting for her along with a small squad of SS troops. a
Few laughed and remarked at her appearance, making cat noises and wolf whistling at her. she glared at them with a bright white snarl carved into her soft face. *they will fear me...

she saluted the captain and said, "heil ******." he returned the gesture, "heil. you are now part of the Waffen SS, frauline Amelia."
"please sir, its amy."
he noted her directness and ferocity, "very well, amy. before we assign you a task, though, you must prove yourself." he addressed the squad, "they are all corporal's and sergeants. you are merely a private. you will gain a rank for each one that you ****. however, they have been told that if they do not force you to submit, they will be killed or sent to the russian front. so you best fight your hardest, private amy."
as he finished, the squad set down their Mauser 98K's and MP-40's and stepped closer to her. her eyes widened in shock, then narrowed in ferocious determination. there were twelve of them.
"Fight!"
• *
Amy took a fighting stance and faced her attackers. she attempted a punch at the nearest one but was kneed in the gut, she was thrown back a few feet. she fell to her knees and clutched her stomach with one hand, holding herself upright with the other. tears sprung to life in her eyes and threatened to roll down her cheeks. she fought the tears back and stood, feeling her claws extend. she swiped at a soldier's throat, catching him right in the throat. blood splattered the ground as he choked on his own fluids. the remaining eleven were taken aback slightly, allowing her to pounce another soldier, punching and tearing at his gut with lethal force. her fur was bloodstained and she waited a moment too late, watching the cavity she created fill with blood. she was barreled over, the wind knocked out of her by a sergeant. she lay on her back, gasping for air as the soldiers closed in,
landing a few punches and sending her reeling back. she staggered back, struggling for breath. she
Bumped up against something and realized it was a bunker wall, she was trapped. she thought quickly and decided for a new course of action, she waited for one of them to gather his bravado and throw a solid punch at her, which was useless, she grabbed his wrist and smashed his head against the wall, filling his helmet with blood and brains. in the same move, she had grabbed his Luger and had downed three more of the remaining ten. in their moment of confusion she kicked the closest one in the fork of his legs and followed up with a pistolwhip. the man went down quickly and died by the heel of her merciless boot. the remaining six charged at her, one falling by her last bullet and another caught a swift kick in the ribcage, shattering the bones to peices. the rest of the men were sergeants, and they began to retreat, running into the open field. she was about to chase after them when she
heard another Luger fire. she turned to see the captain shooting the deserters. each fell, one by
One by the captain's gun to her surprise he let a single man go. "you have done very well, frauline amy. you have killed eight out of twelve men, not bad at all."
she was panting, her uniform dirtied, "why.. did you let.. him go?"
the captain smiled, "someone has to spread you're reputation, heir captain."
she gaped at him. "i am... captain?"
"yaboe, heir frauline. you have proved yourself worthy to serve under the fuhrer."
she saluted him, "thank you, heir captain."
*
amy wrote in her journal as they were driven to one of the Stalags: "my promotion to captain has earned me my choice of weapons, ive chosen a few, two long barrel Luger's, a cavalry saber, and a sixteen foot bullwhip. i also carry an automatic Mauser in my messenger bag. other than a few knives carefully hidden on my body, that should be it. ive become the fuhrer's favorite enforcer, though i feel as if i'm forgetting something..."
amy closed the journal and placed it in her bag with a soft snap.
Amy waited for a **** private to open the car door and let her out, tapping her foot impatiently. when he finally came, she had a luger pointed at his chest. "you're late. she got out of the car and shot him, holstering the pistol as he crumpled to the ground. the colonel in charge rushed towards her, "what is the meaning of this?!"
"your man on watch was late, and now he'll never be late again. and also, colonel, as i am a captain in the SS, i am your superior officer and you WILL adjust yourself accordingly or i will replace you with someone who will."
his expression was that of shock, "y-yes, heir captain, please follow me." he escorted her quickly to the main building. amy glanced around at the peering POWs, glaring at them with distaste as they whistled at her. "who's the kitty?" "what the hell is that?"
her hands fell to her lugers and she was ready to fire when she was beckoned inside by the colonel and she followed behind him reluctantly. "you should control your prisoners.
i find an overall lack of order in this camp. you're lucky i'm in a good mood, or i'd have you strung up for incompetence. lets hope my further evaluation of this... facility... does not make me any more inclined to do so."
the colonel stuttered again and dipped his head, "y-yes heir captain."
she stepped outside unopposed by any. she snapped her fingers and a sergeant rushed to her side and saluted. she handed him a journal logbook and he opened it to the page marked with the Stalag number. she entered the closed off areas of the stalag to inspect the barracks.
*
amy's fists were clenched with rag, a prisoner mocked her from within his confines. his fellow prisoners pleaded with him to stop. "she's lethal!" "she killed eight SS sergeants and corporals singelhandedly her first day!"
the prisoner ignored them and began gesturing at her. she snapped her head up and their eyes met for an instant, she growled through a gritted snarl and was over the fence in mere moments. once over,
the prisoner that mocked her was now on the ground, his throat between her fangs. he cried out once and then gurgled blood as she tore out his throat. she spat the flesh onto the dirt and stood, brushing the dusty particles from her uniform. the men around her backed away when she approached them, and watched her cautiously as she stepped back out of the fenceline. amy picked up her cap from the ground and brushed it off. one of the prisoners called for a doctor, and when one of the guards began to look for one, she merely said, "no, he wont survive. leave him be."
the soldier saluted and went back to his post. she walked up to the colonel and said, "your prisoner annoyed me, as do you, colonel. you have three days to turn this place around or you'll end up worse off then your prisoner over there."
the colonel had turned a pale white and whispered, "understood, captain."
she returned to her quarters and listened for a moment as the colonel shouted orders. "that was fun." she remarked.

Amy was asleep in one of the larger rooms in the main  building, her uniform folded neatly on the table near the bed. she kep one luger on her bedside table and the mauser under her pilllow. her other luger, her sword and her whip were next to her clothes. she was clad only in her fur, as she'd found that the most comfortable way to sleep.
she was woken up by a knock at the door. she blinked her eyes a few times. clutching the mauser handle with one hand and holding the blanket to her chest with the other, she said, "what is it?"
"the colonel wishes to speak to you, heir frauline."
she growled, "grrr... fine. tell him to make it quick." she clutched the blanket closer as he opened the door. she held the mauser aimed at him and said, "turn." he did so without hesitation. she slipped cautiously out of the bed and began to dress. "what is it you wished to speak with me about, colonel?" amy put on her undergarments and then pulled her trousers up to her waist, fastening the belt comfortably.
"there is an important telegram for you, heir captain." she pulled on the jacket over her simple shirt, tugging out any wrinkles. "oh? from who?" next came the holster belts, each hanging slightly lower than her first belt. her sword was another belt, and there was a custom clip there for her whip as well.
"Himler, he has special orders for you." her messenger bag was next to last, slung over her shoulder before she slipped into her boots. ""You can turn now. hand them here." she stepped closer to him and took the envelope with her name scrawled on the front. the colonel excused himself so she could read the orders, "captain amelia weissmuler, once you have completed your assignment at Stalag 14, please make haste to stalingrad as there has been a number of our own turning against the *****. see to it that they cause no more problems. -heinrich himler"
she read it through three more times before folding it and placing it in her bag. she hurried outside, grabbing her hat
From the dresser.
* *
amy went about her inspection, seeing nothing wrong today. "the condition of stalag 16 has improved, heir colonel. well done. now send my car around." the colonel grinned and motioned for the car.
the black car adorned with swastikas roared to life, coming up beside her. the d
Jaime Sep 2018
If you ever saw my grandfather, you’d definitely see him wearing his green jacket and gray knitted cap with green stripes. Even during the summer, and especially the hot ones in Monterrey, my grandfather would stick to these items and roam around, fresher than ever, under the fervent rays of the sun. When we went to the beach he would cross the lobby and reach the shore with his swimsuit under his several layers of clothing, including the jacket and beanie. Ironically, he loved swimming, and would get into a pool even if it felt like freezing. As soon as he removed his jacket and knitted cap he would immediately go to the water and right after he was done he would go and change back into his warm garments, not a single second in between without his jacket and beanie’s protection. Sometimes, the family gathered in exterior living rooms during the summer to hang out and swim in the pool. As we talked to each other, he would eventually, sneakily, get out of his chair, adjusting his beanie, walk towards the electricity switch and turn off the fan hoping we wouldn’t notice because he was cold and knew none of us were going to turn them off if he asked us. Because he wore these items all the time, they became a part of him, and they were present in all of his events. A knitted cap and a jacket turned into collectors of memories, events and knowledge. With his passion for reading, especially encyclopaedias, the knowledge seemed to transfer all the way to his beanie, maintaining and remembering all the mesmerizing details he learned day by day. This jacket and knitted cap were able to contemplate Mexican beaches, rest in a cruise in the Bahamas, visit many museums in Europe, hop into a hot air ballon in Istanbul and even ride camels while enjoying the views of Egypt. After years of accumulating all of these experiences, my mother did try to give him a new jacket as a Christmas present, and even though he was grateful for it, his well-known green jacket was irreplaceable. I will never understand why he was always cold, but his cap, knitted with love by my grandmother years before, seemed more than just a heat source for him, as if the beanie would boost him with confidence and protect him everywhere he went.
Satan Feb 2011
I found a black jacket this morning.
I put it on like i was mourning.
Then i learnt that nobody could see me.
People just left me be.

I walked through doors feeling free from being stared at.
Wherever whenever i ran, walked or sat.
They could not even hear me when i called them names.
This world is mine, i claimed.

Then i saw a man walking towards me in a rush.
He looked so horrible and smelt like trash.
He opened his mouth and spoke a language i did not know.
But i understood every word he said very slow.

*It is not the jacket.
You are invinsible indeed.
But it is not the jacket.
It is not even a jacket like you think it is.
It is a black tuxedo.
You are dead now.
They are going to bury you.
That is why they put it on you.
You are dead.
Indeed you are.
Overwhelmed Nov 2010
sixteen

that’s a big number

but it hasn’t hit me yet,
not fully,
I’ve had little bits of it
but that big realization,
like a whole ocean washing over me
all at once,
that,
that hasn’t gotten to
me

yet

for my birthday I got a new leather jacket

fits well
has a warm fuzzy inside
two stripes, brown and grey,
on the shoulder
and we (the gift-giver and I)
both agree
the black material
isn’t really
leather

I love it

so I wore it to school today
feeling like hot ****
the best new thing
since sliced bread

so I got there and nothing was
different

nobody noticed
not a word spoken
positive or negative
I was still just
Caleb
and they were still just
them

I hate it

now I’m home,
sixteen
with a new leather
jacket
that nobody even
noticed.

what to do?
what to do?
what to do?

I don’t have homework to do
no lines to memorize
no chores needing to be done

I’m just sitting here
alone with my jacket
and my new age

maybe I’ll read a book
or write some more poems
or go take a walk
or go talk to somebody new
or something

I feel it

I feel the tidal wave

it’s not here yet
but I feel it shake the ground
and I see it’s shadow block out the sun
but it won’t hit me
not yet

I have to know what it is first,
know what it means,
then it’ll sweep me away,
take me to a new level of persona
so far away from this one


and as I think on my day
and my new leather jacket

I think on how little anybody cared
and feel the splashing of water on
the back of my legs
Stark Oct 2018
i have this jacket of yours

weathered and worn

from those memories we shared

from your life before mine



a reminder of

the winds of fall

leaves fluttering down

in a cascade of withering color



a reminder of

the snow days

where the light flakes melted on your tongue

on this jacket



a reminder of the spring

with hail punctuated with sun

nature tormenting us

with her turbulent emotions



a reminder of

the blazing heat that tore

through the atmosphere

burning everyone, including the jacket off your back



and lastly,

the jacket holds you

what remains of you

in its stretched seams,

broken zippers,

and empty pockets

in this jacket holds-

my love for you
I do adore that jacket, its sleeves, its hood,
the way it envelops me in its temperate cocoon,
that jacket has been through a lot, put up
with my escapades way back when and then some.
I remember the way I first held it, delicately
like a handful of jewels, wore it next day
to a rendezvous, they all mentioned it in banter,
that jacket, its sleeves and its hood
look good on him is what they said.
It's black and red, never whinges
about where we go, what we do,
if it could speak it'd say it needs me
to fill those unoccupied holes in winter
when snow whirls around our arctic-like bodies.
Its cuffs are tarnished with tears for you
from over a year ago when I was so blue,
but that jacket's seen happy times too
with many more to come I am sure.
Later I will wear it yet again,
through the door I will walk,
it'll hold me closer than you ever have,
clinging to my arms like an itchy disease.
Written: May 2012.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time.
emily c marshman Oct 2018
I’m not allergic to bee stings – I never have been, I probably never will be – but I am more afraid of bees than anything else. More afraid than heights, than fire, than opening up to others, than death by drowning. I have been stung more times than I will ever be able to count. My skin has since grown thicker, but I remember when it was soft, and I was small. I used up the entire allowance of pain I was given for life in less than four minutes.
Perhaps I should specify that it’s not bees that I am afraid of, but wasps.
When I was nine years old, much younger than I am now, I stepped on a yellow jacket nest. My bare foot went into the hole and came out covered in their little striped bodies. There was this buzzing noise that at the time I’d thought was normal, but I now know that it was the sound of the wasps that were in my ears. They had been trying to crawl down my ear canals. I wonder if they had mistaken my canals for their burrows, and had been trying to get back to their queen, but were disappointed to find my ear drums, instead.
My sister – the same age – covered in wasps alongside me, screamed and screamed, but I made no noise. By the time I even thought to cry, I had been stung so many times it would have been pointless to weep for my swollen, red toes. I remember being unable to feel the wasps’ venom running through my veins because I couldn’t even feel my veins. If I would have cried for anything, it would have been for fear that, being unable to feel them, I might have lost track of my tiny feet. They could have walked away without my body and I wouldn’t have known. They could have walked to school and back without me.
Of course, my feet could barely walk. After my initial disgust, I watched my sister run away from where we had been standing and I knew that I should run, too. I could still feel the wasps crawling, clamoring, on my skin, in my clothes, in my hair. I remember the feeling of these bees crawling around among the roots of my hair, making themselves well-acquainted with the tender skin of my scalp. I remember being unable to get them all out of my hair before I walked into the house.
I knew that I should run, and so, balanced precariously on my numbed feet, clambered after her.
I followed my screaming sister down to our farmhouse, past my stepmother who was also screaming, even louder than my sister. I don’t remember where my father was that day.
We ran down the dirt road that led from the barns to our house, removing our shirts as we went and stopping to strip down to our underwear on the front porch. I remember the honks from cars as they passed by. I remember not knowing why they were honking, but knowing that I was angry with them for honking, for ogling, rather than stopping to help. I remember not knowing how they would help, just knowing that I needed help, desperately.
The irony of our stings is that my sister, a year later, was cast in our school’s operetta, and ended up playing the part of a yellow jacket, a sort of elementary-school-gangster, part of a group of them, who wore – you guessed it – yellow jackets and stole other bugs’ lunch money. I would say that, if the wasps that attacked me had been human, they would definitely have been after the money I used to buy Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pies in the lunchroom.
If I had been stung even three years later, I would have been big enough to know that one doesn’t run around in untrimmed grass with no shoes on their feet for precisely this reason. If I had been stung three years earlier, I would have been too small, and dead. So I am grateful for even the smallest of coincidences, the tiny droplet of fate that had given me those stings on that day, at that age.


I would like to talk about pain transference. In your body, nerves often run between parts of yourself you never thought would be connected. If something hurts in your elbow, it wouldn’t shock you to find that your fingers hurt as well, but if your elbow hurt and so did your lower spine? You’d be a little confused.
This is pain transference.
It’s a form of generalized pain; you can locate the pain, it’s just not coming from any one place. You can feel the pain in more than one part of your body, though there’s no reason for anything other than your elbow to ache. This is also your body’s way of protecting you from pain. It’s not that this pain is more manageable, but that it is easier to understand. Your elbow might be more hurt than the ache lets on, but you can’t tell, because your lower back is throbbing.
Now imagine your body as a hive of wasps. Imagine each of these wasps as a nerve inside of said hive-body. Imagine the queen as this hive-body’s brain. What is your body’s goal? To protect the brain. What is a hive’s goal? To protect the queen. Each wasp is born with an instinctual dedication to the queen. They must protect this individual at all costs. Your body, on the other hand, does everything it possibly can to protect the part of you that makes you so unbearably you.
Yellow jackets are social creatures. Each wasp has its own purpose in the hive, and the three different ranks within this hierarchy are the queen, the drones, and the workers. The queen (who is the only member of the colony equipped by evolution to survive the winter; every other wasp is dispensable) lays eggs and fertilizes them using stored ***** from the spermatheca. Her only purpose is to reproduce. Occasionally the queen will leave an egg unfertilized, and this egg will develop into a male drone whose only purpose is also reproduction. The female workers are arguably the most important part of the hive. They build and defend the nest.
Only female yellow jackets are capable of stinging, and wasps will only sting if their colony is disturbed. This fact is new and interesting to me. I remember thinking that it would make so much sense if the only wasps in the colony who could sting were the females. Females have a motherly, nurturing nature about them, but they are protective and willing to make sacrifices as well. Lo and behold.
The females are the nerves. They transfer the pain from the queen to themselves (and then, if disturbed, to the third-party individual who has disturbed them).
Psychics view pain transference as the transferring of pain between bodies rather than the transferring of pain between separate parts of the same body, but it works in a very similar way. Different types of energy vibrate at different frequencies; loving energy vibrates at a higher frequency than dark energy, therefore they transfer between people at different rates. Pain is simply dark energy that holds a fatalistic power over us.
According to psychics, energy can be transferred through the mind, the body, and the spirit, but pain is mostly transferred through physical touch. To transfer pain to another human being, you must touch them in a way that is not beneficial to their own or your spiritual growth.


I would like to talk about smallness. I was nine when I was stung by these yellow jackets. I was nine and the first time I’d ever been stung was at a friend’s birthday party at maybe the age of seven, behind the knee, and it’d swelled up so large I couldn’t bend my knee for two days. I knew the dangers of disturbing wasp nests; I’d watched my friends all through elementary school getting stung on the wooden playground on the premises. I, myself, stuck to swing-sets and splinters.
I was always so careful. I never went near trees if I saw a nest in its branches. My teachers had told me that I should stay away from the part of our playground made up of tires, because the hornets liked to nest in the rubber. I was terrified of being stung again after that first time because all the mud in the world didn’t seem to make a difference. The wasp’s venom, even after drying up pile after pile of soft, wet dirt, made my limb stiff and sore. I was always so careful; it seems appropriate that the one time I’d been careless, I’d been stung enough times to make up for all the times I had avoided wasps as if my life had depended on it. Maybe it had.
I was small enough when I was nine. If I had been stung at six, or three, I would have been in a lot more trouble. I would have been in a lot more pain. At nine, my stings required calamine lotion and mud for the venom, and ice baths for the swelling. At six, they might have required a trip to the hospital. At three, they would have been much more alarming, considering I had never been stung by a bee by that age.
I was careless. It was summer and I was old enough to wear denim shorts and I had kicked off my flip flops so I could feel the grass under my feet and I was careless and I was punished for it. Now I watch my cousins and my niece play outside and I have to hold my tongue, remember that I am not responsible, that I cannot prevent their being stung, their stings, no matter how badly I want to.
I would like to talk about fate. I would like to talk about how, if I hadn’t been running barefoot, I wouldn’t have gotten stung so badly. I would like to talk about how if my father had been around to tell me not to run barefoot, at least my feet would have been safe. How, if I hadn’t been too stubborn to listen to my stepmom, too, I probably would have had shoes on. How, regardless of all of these things, I probably would have been stung no matter what.
In a world where people are stung by hornets every day – where people are stung by as many as I was, at once – I would like to say that I know now that this experience is not as unique as I had previously thought it to be. I know more people than I thought I did whose trauma involves insects smaller than their pinky finger but together cover their whole body, and venom. I know people who, when I tell them I was stung by hundreds of yellow jackets at the age of nine, shrug and say nonchalantly, “Hey, me too.”
I would like to talk about smallness, and fate. I would like to talk about not only physical smallness, but the smallness one feels when they are in pain.
Belittled might be the word I am looking for. My pain wasn’t belittled, per se, but my pain belittled me.
My pain made me feel small. My pain made me feel small when I was stripping my clothes off on my front porch, cars racing by on the state highway that ran past my house. When I was running my fingers through my hair under the faucet in my kitchen sink because my sister was older and always got first dibs on the shower. As these wasps that hadn’t suffocated under my hair stung my fingers, too, until they were as swollen as my toes. My pain made me feel small when it made me pity myself.


I would like to talk about standing up for yourself as an act of causing pain.
Honeybees, when they sting, are defending themselves and their queen, but they don’t know that when they sting, it will become lodged underneath the skin of whomever they sting and it will pull them apart and they will die.
I imagine the first time a wasp stings to be a sort of power trip. Female wasps can – and will – sting repeatedly to protect the colony. I also imagine they don’t know that their relative the honeybee dies after it stings, but it must be strange for them, nonetheless.
Have you ever seen a video of a woman protecting herself and those she loves? She’s vicious. She won’t stop until the perpetrator has retreated.
When a woman stands up for herself, though, it’s as if she’s tearing herself in half.
A woman standing up for herself is a dangerous thing, both dangerous for her and for those around her. It is an act of bravery and defiance and saving grace all in one.
A few weeks ago, I overheard someone equate being female with being terminally ill, as if we have no place to go but down. As if we are dying creatures, on our last leg of life, with no will to fight for what we want.
As if the pain of the world is being transferred into us all at once.
I would like to argue that it is the exact opposite. There is nothing more alive and breathing than femaleness.I am inseparable from my femaleness. I am inseparable from the that leaks from me when I think of all of the times I have been harmed But I am not inseparable from the pain that I have caused others. I cannot forget that.


I like to imagine sometimes what my stings would have been like if I had gotten them ten years later, as well. I am much bigger. I am much stronger. I am much more capable of handling pain than my nine-year-old counterpart.
I wish I could have been the one to have to handle that pain. I wish my nine-year-old self had known better than to let her foot fall into a yellow jacket nest. I think it’s unfair that, at such an early age, I had to deal with something so terrifying and painful and traumatic. My extremities were swollen for over a week. I couldn’t write, I could close the zipper on my backpack, I couldn’t turn the pages of a book. I couldn’t go to school, and I couldn’t read in bed, so it might be enough to say that the week I was kept out of school to elevate my legs and let the swelling go down was the most boring week of my entire life.
Sometimes I look at my ankles, swollen from blood flow, from standing too long or from sitting too long or from doing anything except elevating them, and I’m reminded of this time when my ankles were much thinner and I watched them on the end of the couch, my toes pointing toward the ceiling. I remember how terrified my mom was. I imagine that phone call must have been harrowing for her – Hi, Michelle, Em’s been hurt. No, she’s fine. Just a few bee stings is all. – and for her to see me for the first time, red and splotchy and itching myself like mad must have been even more so.
I think about my father’s reaction, how I hadn’t been around to see it, but how he must have been heartbroken at knowing he wasn’t there to protect me, to prevent the bees from attacking me. I believe, however, that there was no protecting me, that there was no preventing these wasps from defending their home against me, an infiltrator. I had stepped inside of their burrow and was instantly seen as a threat. Anything I see as a threat to myself, I instantly want to rid myself of.
This is the way of the world: we see something, we determine it to be good or bad, and we either bring it into our lives or defend ourselves from it depending upon which it turns out to be. I happened to be the ultimate evil in these wasps’ lives. They were simply protecting their queen, without whom their hive would no longer exist. I was dark energy, vibrating in a way that spoke to them as threatening. I was transferring pain to them when my foot stepped into the hole, and they were transferring it back to me when they stung me. I transferred energy into the ground as my feet thumped against it. Water transferred energy into me as it helped me rinse wasps out of my hair.
From pain to protection to pity, back to pain. From bee stings to womanhood to sadness and back again. One shouldn’t be afraid to introduce the things they’ve lost to the things they’ve loved, or the things they love to the things they’re afraid of. And I am afraid of wasps. Petrified, even. The other day, driving in my car, I rolled the window down and in, immediately, flew a yellow jacket. I watched as it she flew past me and then around the back of my head. I heard her and was immediately transported back in time. I wondered what she was doing in my car, so far from her queen. I wondered what was in my car that she possibly could have wanted. But I knew that she wasn’t there to hurt me, because I hadn’t invaded her home. I hadn’t made an attack on her queen. I knew there was no sense in panicking, so I didn’t. I didn’t panic.
I am afraid of things even though they won’t **** me, but I have watched myself face these fears. I have stumbled onto a Ferris wheel and then walked confidently off. I have left candles lit without standing to check on them after every episode of The Office I watch. I have loved people I never thought I would, and I have seen the other side.
“And such bees! Bilbo had never seen anything like them. If one was to sting me, He thought, I should swell up as big again as I am!”
      -The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
Deanna Oct 2014
Brown leaves
October fading
into November
and the Breeze
becomes meaner;
its bites
are a little harder.

And out comes
a jacket
well worn
a little torn
on the right elbow.

But he's
the Meanest
garment I have.
He's filling
this empty cavern in my chest
with a sharp Darkness,
like broken bottles
pieces of glass
discarded in an alleyway.

Jacket around
my shoulders
and I lie
down
couch
bed
floor;
it doesn't matter.
And I am Stuck
trapped
in Thoughts
of inadequacy
of misery
of Darkness invading my soul.

The Jacket is grinning
mocking
laughing
He is pleased.
Because though
I wear a Jacket
I am still
Cold.
Caro Jun 2016
On the tip of my tongue you burned like hot coffee,
With a hit of my blunt you’ve undone my lofty,
made me a softy,
I wont forget.

Denim jacket leaning down, you’ve got room in your throat,
You’ve got words in your coat,
Pockets full of notes.

Ink on your arms that wrap, wrap around me,
Words pushing on your teeth like braces,
Laces,
Up your shoes that walk all around me,
I won't forget.

Maybe whisper it now or tell me tomorrow.

Denim jacket leaning down, tippy toes to kiss your nose.
You’ve made me a softy,
I won’t forget.

Sweet and simply say it from behind those curtains,
Smoke in your nose from my fire lungs,
Stain my breath with your words,
Blessed syllables,
I won’t forget.
Jesse Belcher Jul 2013
His days are filled with books and a beautiful view.
He reads all day, then watches the sunset, every day from his room.
All kinds of books that penetrates him to another world,
for as kind as he is; at school he tries to go unnoticed. Find a corner and curl.

Nobody knows this boy who has so much to offer.
He doesn't get a chance, 'cause the cool kids like to see him suffer.
He slowly peeks around the corner, to see if they're around.
He has to get to English, the bell just rang the final sound.

Almost there he see's the door,
picking up the pace he trips to the floor.
He hears laughing and see's them pointing at his falling body.
It's the same everyday. Is there someone real he thinks. anybody?

Late that evening just finishing his latest book,
he goes to his view just to take his evening look.
Something was different, there was beauty he couldn't see.
Definitely something different, there was odd colors' behind his red oak tree.

Adjusting his view to perhaps get a better peek,
he saw a beauty he couldn't explain. He tried to holler down, but couldn't speak.
She came out from behind the tree,
Who was she he thought, for he could not see.

Cautiously he walked outside,
usually reserved he didn't know why.
He saw her just staring like a woman with so much on her mind.
He wanted to speak to her: what would he say? Just be kind.

"Hello", he said, as he took a step closer.
She turned around, and it was over.
The boy never knew something so beautiful could be so close.
For after a romance novel, from his dreams they arose.

After her initial shock she said "Hi, you must be my new neighbor."
"I just moved here from Florida, I'm not use to the chill."
The boy mesmerized thought he took one too many pills.
He tried to talk, but it just wouldn't flow, and as she stared at him
he saw her face contort, and she started to go.

He said "wait don't leave. I'm just not use to people talking to me."
He was actually a handsome boy if they would take the time to see.
He said, "my name is Cole and I live in the white house just there."
He pointed to it and noticed she didn't look. Instead at him she stared.

Her gaze made him uncomfortable, for he thought it a prank,
but the more he looked the deeper he sank.
She said, "Cole, I like that name,
mine is Lila." Lila Verame."

He saw her shiver and recalled her comment about the chill,
so he took off his jacket, and placed in around her hoping the warmth she would feel.
"Thank you" she said as she looked in his eyes.
Cole said "your welcome, this should keep you dry."

Lila giggled and said, "what do you mean?"
"There is a storm coming. I can smell it. After awhile you sense things that don't have to be seen.
She never heard a boy talk like this,
she said "so after awhile living here, there'll be things I can sense?"

Cole puzzled, said "sorry if I talk a little strange."
Lila smiled and said "no I like it, from where I'm from it's a nice change."
In Florida it's all about how good one looks in bikini's.
It's nice down here to have you talk about the scenery.

Her green eyes sparkled as he talked like never before.
Lila laughed, smiled, and even seemed interesting all the more.
So many thoughts were exchanged before the first rain drop fell,
and as Cole walked Lila home, she knew there was more to him than anyone could tell.

Back in his room he pondered the day and thought; just wait til school.
I'll be a ghost; just made a made up fool.

Cole didn't sleep as he thought what would transpire.
It was a small school and she surely would burn like a candlelit fire.
Being new and so beautiful,
It was going to be interesting for sure. Very eventful.

Anxiously and nervous he looked in the mirror,
no matter what he did, he knew he would be inferior.

The steps leading inside came faster than he ever could remember,
God why couldn't we have had a huge snow storm like it does in December?

He stepped inside and sure enough,
there stood Lila with the boys who thought they were so tough.
He avoided contact hoping not to be seen.
especially from Lila. Lila Varame.

The day went on and not one class did he have with her.
Although sad, at least she wouldn't see all the trouble the cool guys stirred.

Finally at lunch, walking outside,
He found his spot. His spot to hide.
Today seemed different for more guys sat at the cool spot.
Then he saw why. Lila, they swarmed to her like flies do to the rot.

She seemed confused and not liking all the racket,
and then his eyes lit up, as he saw her with his jacket.
No it couldn't be. If only she knew how Cole got treated.
He wouldn't fight, for everyday he went home defeated.

Finding courage he never knew within,
he strolled the cool kids way confident and with a grin.
Lila saw him for the first time that day,
and the smile on her face couldn't be contained.

He stopped as he noticed her smile,
their eyes never leaving each other all the while.
No, no, no, this can't be.
I'm just Cole. Why would she be looking at me.

But she was looking at him and walking all the same,
and then he heard the cool kids laughing saying his name.
It's over he thought, now she will see,
here they come to humiliate me.

A fire started to burn deep inside,
no more he thought not this time.
As they made their way,
he stared in her eyes feeling something. No matter what he was going to stay.

They teased and goofed trying to make him feel alone,
but with Lila looking he stood like a marble stone.

Through all the jokes he stood staring at her.
"I've been looking for you," she said. "Please get me away from them nerds."

For the first time in his life Cole didn't go home and read a book,
he spent it with Lila, and in her hands his she took.

The boy, the nerd, got the most beautiful girl in school,
and deep down she was so kind too.
Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months.
Cole was the new man in school. He was even blunt.

What if I told you that Cole and Lila found what some don't believe.
What if I told you they were soul mates. Is that something you could conceive?
Well in this book Cole found love and not through they eyes of a character in a book.
In the moment of opportunity. The opportunity he took.

He could have kept to his novels and his evening sunsets,
but he saw beauty and he took that chance.
Who would have know their love would have reacted.
who would have known, he'd find love by sharing his jacket.

Some people never get the chance,
to show their is more to them than what you think.
Just take the time open your ears,
or you could miss out on something special....faster than a blink...
I wanted to go so much further with this, but my back is killing me and I need to try and sleep.
One Winged Angel


Dec 10, 2011, 7:39:29 PM by ~OmegaWolfOfWinter
Journals / Personal




It was very late, and Lucian had just gotten back from his assignment. he unlocked the door to his house and set his things down on the bed. he removed his shirt and removed the bandages on his chest. that demon put up quite a fight... he put on a robe and decided to get some rest. he set his things down on the floor next to him and hung his sword by the bed. he exhaled deeply and relaxed, finally back in the comfort of his own home. sleep quickly enveloped him and he began to dream.
******
Lucian was woken from a deep sleep by the sound of his door breaking down. Two massive angels shrouded in black cloaks stepped inside his room as Lucian scrambled to his feet, feeling a sudden chill beneath his simple white robe. One of the angels spoke, "Lucian, Elite Angel number 373-14, you are under arrest for high treason, grand theft, and ******."
Lucian was dumbfounded at the accusation. "What on heaven are you talking about?!"
the guard-angels grabbed the warrior-angel and dragged him out of his house and onto the streets where a small crowd had gathered. They escorted him to the capitol, which wasn't far away. Lucian gazed up at the massive black monolith before him.
He was immediately sent to the rooftop, where the Punisher was waiting.
Lucian desperately tried to explain. "I've been set up!! Please let me go! I've done nothing wrong!!"
The angel to his left looked at Lucian in disgust. "Quiet, you."
He reached to Lucian's throat and he felt a massive bolt of electricity course through his body. He collapsed in their arms and blacked out for a moment.
He couldn't say anything; he had a sign of silence on his throat. He blacked out again and when he woke he was on his knees in front of the punisher. His hands were bound behind his back and he was held by a multitude of chains and braces. The guard-angel touched his throat and the seal of silence was removed. "elite angel Lucian, number 373-14, you are charged with high treason against the holy city, grand theft of a holy artifact and the murders of 7 holy officials, as punishment-"
"I didn't do any of those things!!!"
"SILENCE!! There is evidence that places you at the scene."
"What-"
"your punishment, you will lose your wings," Lucian gasped and tears formed in his eyes. "...and will be given the Mark of Eternal torture."
"No! Not the Mark!! Please no!!"
The punisher stepped forward and drew his slender sword. As he stepped forward, Lucian squirmed and fought against his bindings but to no avail. "God help me!"
"How dare you speak the lord's name, criminal!" the punisher slashed at Lucian's throat, grazing it and leaving a long, bleeding cut. Lucian groaned and said, "No... No... Please..."
the punisher stepped to Lucian's side and raised the sword. Lucian's tears came and began hyperventilating. "No, NO, NOO!!!"
The punisher brought the sword down and Lucian screamed in agony as one of his wings fell to the ground. Lucian was in so much pain, he wished he could die right then, right there. He was crying now, tears of sorrow and pain. "No, please, I beg you! Have mercy!"
For some reason the punisher then sheathed his sword. "Fine, you may keep your remaining wing."
"th-thank-" he was cut off as the punisher knelt down and grabbed Lucian's throat. He screamed again as he felt an intense burning. He continued to cry out as the punisher released him but the burning remained, slowly spreading over his entire body with such intensity that he lost consciousness multiple times. after an excruciatingly long torture, the burning ceased, and Lucian saw that it had etched runes and twisting lines over his whole body, almost his whole body, it had left his head and hands untouched. His voice had turned into a hiss and he tried to speak. he was unbound and he reached back to touch where his left wing had been, there was only a stump left.
"Lucian, you are hereby renounced of your warrior status. Get him out of my sight." Lucian was escorted outside, where the guardians left him stranded in the street. He blacked out and felt himself being picked up and carried somewhere else.
************
"he's heavy" thought the angel. He carried the limp body off the streets and through alleys, to an abandoned complex not far away. "Melinda!" he called. A slender young angeless came from the shadows.
"Who on heaven is this, Ven?!"
Ven looked around and said, "not here... Let's get inside."
he carried the angel inside and set him down on the dimly lit bed. He was still out cold. Ven sighed and said, "Remember that trip I took to the holy city?"
"Yes of course."
"Things happened there... the Network had me do some things..."
she narrowed her eyes. "What type of things?"
"i-i had to steal some artifacts...and some officials got killed."
"WHAT?!?!"
"i didn't get caught! But... i-i panicked, i blamed it on... On him..."
melinda was speechless," i-i cant..."
"melinda... Please..."
"no, i cant deal with this anymore, i'm leaving."
"wait!"
"no, ven. Figure this out on your own." and she disappeared.
Ven sighed and looked over at the one-winged angel.
"i'm sorry"
the angel stirred slightly but didnt wake. Ven looked at the stump where the angel's wing should have been, and the scars that lined his body.
"i need to take him to the Network... Maybe, maybe then i can finish what i started... And give this angel what i stole from him... I have to take him to the Holy One..."
he closed his eyes for a moment, then,"i promise, you will get your wing back." and he fell asleep.
**********
Lucian woke up as parts of his body burned fiercly. He cried out and writhed in pain. Soon the burning became a simmer, but it still hurt. lucians heart was beating rapidly and he was exhausted. He replayed last night's adventure. He glanced over his shoulder and as expected, he didnt see his wing. he could feel the blood caked on his back and he felt weak when he tried to get up. He fell and caught himself on the table. "wait a moment... Where am i?!" he frantically looked at his surroundings. He saw another angel asleep in a chair and a doorway behind him. The door looked weak but lucian wasnt sure he could do anything in his weakened state. "i have to try..." he ran, or rather stumbled toward the door and managed to break it down. He fell down outside and was temporarily blinded by the sunlight. He managed his way into the street, where the angels looked on in confusion. "i'm... this
is my street..." he hobbled over to his house and stepped inside. nothing had been touched since last night. "i'm not going to be able to find work... I'm not going to be able buy food.. agh! What am i going to do!" he sat on the bed, his head in his hands. he looked over to the wall, where he had his warrior blade hanging just in case. He grabbed his bag and packed some clothes. He changed into his finer dress clothes that he used on formal occasions. He grabbed his bag and put the sword on his belt. "i wish it didnt have to come to this..." he pushed on a spot on the wall and it slid away. Inside the compartment were his warrior armor and weapons. He took off the suit jacket and grabbed his vest. he put various weapons in their spots and shut the wall. He put the suit-jacket back on and buttoned it to conceal the vest. He felt energized and ready for anything. That was until he turned and saw the angel from the complex.
"where do you think You're going?"
"who are you?"
the angel looked amused and said, "you can call me Ven."
"well, Ven, i'm going to find the one who set me up, and i'm going to do what he did to me."
ven looked frightened. "why dont you come with me."
lucian didnt trust this ven. "i'm not going with anyone." and he dove through the window. He sprinted down the street, the bag and his sword held firmly in his hands. "i need money, i need food... I need to find him."
***********
after all these years of loyal service, after all he'd done, he'd been thrown out without trial, revoked his warrior status, and now Lucian was going to find whoever had done this to him, and he was going to make him pay. he was a fallen angel, and he had nothing to lose.
lucian was perched on the top of the church spire, contemplating where to start his search. *the evidence.. what evidence...?

"i'll start with the judges chambers..."
lucian looked to the north, where the monolith towered over the city. he jumped from roof to roof as he neared the building. i'll do whatever i have to... anything to clear my name. different parts of his body started to burn, and the others began to cool off.
the mark... its burning, it's going to keep burning...
he cried out and fell from the roof he was on. he hit the alley hard enough to break bone, but he happened to land on his wing, cushioning his fall, only a little bit though.
this mark is going to **** me someday... he checked his wing and brushed off the dirt. he folded the wing flat against his back and sat up. he got back on his feet and continued to the monolith.
will i have to live with this mark forever?
*************
(one day later)
"GET BACK HERE!!! STOP THAT MAN!!!" lucian was on the run. he found exactly what he was looking for, now he needed to find more information concerning the artifacts and the theif. but first he had to get away. he was turning corners and sprinting like a madman, but he couldnt escape the Detainers. then he heard a voice, "One Wing! over here!"
lucian looked towards where he heard the voice and saw an Angeless beckoning for him to come. "follow me!"
lucian reluctantly followed, winding through abandoned buildings and finally ducking behind an old counter. after a few minutes of silence, the woman said, "okay, we're clear. i'm Elora."
"lucian."
"oh... you're THE One-wing-angel..."
lucian looked down at the ground. "yeah... that's me."
"you were an elite, a warrior angel, weren't you?"
"yeah, but then i was set up and now i'm an outcast..."
"you were set up?"
"yeah, i was. i had everything i ever wanted, why would i need to commit those crimes? i was loyal, and trusted by everyone. and i swear that i will find whoever set me up..."
"and then what?" elora seemed to be waiting for something.
"i'm going to do to him what he did to me."
"what did he-" elora was cut off by lucian as he cried out. "what's wrong?!"
"the mark.... of eternal torture..."
"oh my gosh... i didnt know..."
"its nothing... i'm used to it..."
he took off his suit jacket and elora gasped when she saw his scars. she didn't seem to notice the vest of weapons or the sword at his side. "this is..."
"...the Mark..."
she grimaced as she saw them and said, "i'm sorry..."
"but why?"
"because, i was going to turn you in..."
lucian was on his feet immediately. "what?!"
"wait!! i'm not going to... not after seeing what they did to you..."
"how can i be sure i can trust you?!"
elora looked down at her feet and said, "you cant... but i can get you out of the city..."
"you can?"
************
Lucian was still finding it hard to trust Elora, but he stuck with her anyway. She took him away from the city and was about to turn back. Something inside Lucian wanted her to stay. "Wait! Don't leave. Come with me to the holy city."
She seemed hesitant but willing, "i-ive never been to the holy city...."
"It's an amazing place, quite a sight to see."
She took a moment to think and nodded, "I'll go with you."
Lucian smiled and walked forward. After long hours of relentless walking, Elora asked," how far do we have to travel?"
"A few more hours of walking..."
Elora sighed and said, "Alright..."
Lucian glanced over at her and saw that she was tired. "We should rest."
Elora and Lucian got off of the path ad took shelter beneath some gild-trees. "Elora, go ahead and rest up."
she reluctantly slept, but she was glad to, they had been traveling all day.
Lucian sharpened his blades and meditated while she slept.
Lucian prayed, like he had always done every morning. He had vowed not to let his becoming an outcast interfere with his routine. After he was finished, he sighed and glanced over at Elora; she was fast asleep. He then glanced at the sky and saw dark clouds quickly closing in. Lucian didn't want to wake Elora but he wanted to get her out of the rain. He set his suit jacket and weapons vest next to her and he extended his wing over her just as the rain began to fall. he was pleased to see that the rain would not touch the sleeping angel. On the other hand, Lucian was vulnerable, but he didn't mind. He would rather shelter Elora than himself. Lucian ignored the rain and decided to doze for a while.
***********
Elora woke up as a cold wind blew. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and saw the millions of raindrops in front of her. it took her a moment to realize that she was dry. she glanced over and saw that Lucian was soaking wet and had his wing extended over her. "You should have woken me, Lucian." she extended one of her wings over him as he shivered.
"th-thanks, e-elora." she could tell he was freezing because even the feather's  above her were shivering. she decided to do something to repay his kindness.
"come closer, we can share body heat." suddenly the feathers stopped shivering, they became rigid, as if lucian was surprised... apparently he was.
"really?"
"yeah, its the least i can do." she sat closer to him and put an arm around him. his skin was cool to the touch and his muscles were tense, but they soon relaxed, as did the feathers above her. he soon stopped shivering and the rain stopped falling.
Violet Blue Jun 2015
Your jacket
Smells like you
I've carried it everywhere with me
All weekend
Kept it by my side
In my hands
Or on me
The scent of you
Lingers
Helps me sleep
It's his jacket
I have to give it back soon
By the time I give it back
It will smell like me
His jacket
His jacket :3 <3
Ralph Albors May 2014
Summer was materializing
When I met
The most beautiful girl
I had ever seen.
A jacket was not needed.

Fall came upon us.
I began to fall in love
With the most beautiful girl
I had ever seen.
A jacket was optional.

Winter struck us.
I confessed my love,
And you kept me warm
throughout the season.
A jacket was a must.

Spring knocked on our door.
After fights and discussions,
We always made up:
The world was ours.
A jacket was optional.

Summer breezed in.
The bed was cold.
You decided to leave.
The world was invariably yours.
A jacket was not needed.

Fall flew by.
I met another girl who I wished
Amounted to who you were,
But I know she never will.
I threw out my jacket.
CJ M Aug 2015
@The Jacket.
Love, can I treat you like I treat my jacket? Taking you wherever I go, showing the love I have for you through my sleeves and tuning you to my body, pulsating throbs of my heart as our two frictions force reaction.
I want to have you close to me, heavy hood be your hair as it sinks close to me, covering my neck with loving protection, covering my shoulders with your arms entwined with mine as if we were truly one, covering my length and letting me know that we are at a temperature of comfort and ability.
I want your body to clothe me, zip up tight and never let go, hugging me with all the comfort in the world and lifting yourself as to be a silent watcher to me, a shield to my being from the enemies that threaten us.
I want your hands to be the pockets, close yet separate, deeply rooted as if it were your faith placed near my sides. Holding me as I hold you.
I want our love to be the zipper, running through both our forms, creating a new feeling, making a new being, forging us.
Yet who are we? Who are we to claim to be so close in cloth yet so young in mind, so strong in emotion and so weak in body?
We are the very fabric of nature, hooking to machines that form the sewed outlines of other such fabrics, forming the earth and inciting war among our emotion.
We walk through the public proudly, you clinging to me and I, chest puffed like a bird in mating season, acquiring a taste for the strange looks and stranger people who deem to judge us based on their understanding.
Hot weather, cold weather, mild and comfortable weather. Rain or snow, sleet, hail, or hell’s heat, I intend to keep you close, as you are more than cloth covering me, you are the being caressing me, kissing my spirit and cradling my heart in the warm grasps of your fabrics, pressed closely to my chest in an attempt to make me feel better about myself, hiding my form so that none shall see what I deem stay hidden.
And I shall love you, I shall do all that I can to keep you safe and keep you near, mend you and wash you, clearing your mind and body of the impure, soaking your fabric and drying them out once more. Tonguing your soul while hugging you back, rubbing your threaded flaws and letting you know that they are necessary, that they are noted and left as forgotten. Unafraid to dawn you and worthy to criticize yet keeping grateful to have you when the nights get cold and my soul needs your warmth.
The world is a cruel place, and it gets worse every day, which is why, my love, I want you to be my jacket, and I shall be yours.
Tonights night vent, I literally just pasted it here, hopefully I'm finished, but I still have some emotion left, I think I'm going to think another up
A horror movie scene as the heroine escapes.
Everything is still besides her convalescing breath and the distant, chasing wind.
Not a noise is heard except the fall leave's rattle and the birch wood's moaning bark in the moonlight.
Her body slouches into the protection of a lone shed, and shrouds itself in the aroma of cut grass.
A tense brow relieves and tired eyes close, thankful to receive the momentary peace.

A possible misstep turns the wary peace on end with the jagged cut of broken leaves. The once relieved brow now concedes surprise as wild eyes are cast towards an opaque barricade.
Sly pieces of garden equipment leash a weathered jacket in place as she attempts to stand.
A cackle is heard, a shriek undone.
To spite the brittle wood, the formulaic jump-scare-skeleton-hand bursts through the shed's solicitous walls, set to declare the last of a weary soul as his own.
The wind catches up and spearheads any hole it can find.
It begins whistling around the dim room like a tornado elated to havoc behind a castle's walls.
The tree bark howls, the leaves, now delight.
We learn there is no reprieve for a begging champion.
The camera backs out of the splintered hole, and pans over a silhouetted forest to face the waning moon.
The hero succumbs with muted screams to a gore far below and out of frame.

Our only closure, a black screen, with bright white letters, slowly scrolling up.


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

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

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

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

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

in fall he is cast as Claudius in production of Hamlet Odysseus rehearses diligently on nights o
He Pa'amon Aug 2018
"And in a funny way, the shaving of my, uh, head has been a liberation from, uh, a lot of, uh, stupid vanities really. Uh, it has simplified everything for me, it has opened a lot of doors maybe." - Stephen Malkmus, Jo Jo's Jacket

the first layer of skin i shed
was the bra

rid of the foreign metal sculptor producing a deep rift between skin
my third eye, swallowing gazes

rid of my **** , my ***** , my rack
replaced with sacks of fat and nerve and milk ducts
hanging, existing, for no one else
not even myself

the second layer of skin was the painting of the face
the concealing and erasing of imperfections, the lines of laughter of sorrow of life
redirecting attention and importance to the bow and symmetry of the lip

no longer did i have to put myself on in the morning
i woke up as i was, as i needed to be,
bare and uninhibited

my skin now breathed, and for no one else
not even myself

and then i grew another layer of skin,
made of dank tangles to protect my age,
i stopped shaving the years i'd walked this earth, shedding my womanhood

the skin grew to my armpits, little tufts of sweaty, odorous mother nature dozing in a fleshy convex nest

and to my legs, were the tangles wrapped around my ankles
preventing the spreading of the legs for every life
for not every life wanted what was not tame
and what was not tame no longer wanted to be.

my body did not conform,
for it was not brought into this world to be consumed for the pleasure of others

it exists for no one else,
not even myself

and as i was engulfed in this hairy wonder of my own body
i shed the last layer,
the shaving of the head

my brain, my being breathed
porous and exposed
vulnerable to weather and whispers

but i was all at once naked and calm,
having finally peeled away the layers of ***** over-sexualization and constrained femininity that had molded this meat sack that serves me,
a bundle of circuitry and solution balancing and bobbing on the neck

for i exist for no one else,
only myself
inspired by the song Jo Jo's Jacket by Stephen Malkmus
Megan Hundley Nov 2011
you don't understand at all do you
not truly
you think
I'm a liar
that I still hold the knife
that
stabbed you in the back
[and in the heart]

kinda speechless
that you feel that way
think that way
believe it
untrustworthy? misleading?
false emotions?
can you not read?
here let me try again
maybe I can make it like braille
feel the words

it's like when the clouds stormy eyes
welled up and let fall the
tears of weekend rain
soggy, we laughed along with the thunder
and under our waterfall we let the windows
fog
tell me I lied then

or picture if you will
standing by the tree I
always parked by
it was a starry night, but we didn't see it
we were too focused on our faces
except
why is it I was the only one
drowning in the sadness that overtook my eyes
shaking with each strained, choppy breath
clutching that gray shirt like a life jacket
do you think that was all
for show?

haven't you looked at
my collection of black and white
silly letters scribbled down as fast as possible
trying as hard as I can
to leave it all
on the paper
but it's as if each word I write
is a tattoo
slowly invading every part of my skin
it's sinking in, it's staining everything
do you think this agony I speak of
is fake?

if so
if I am that liar with the knife who
led you astray and "******* you over"
let you down, kicked you around
if you can't seem to
open your eyes
and notice
just how much I love you
just how much I always have

then you don't deserve it

ill run miles for you when I know I only
have the strength for one
but don't you
dare
watch me run
if you don't even grasp
that I stabbed myself in the back
led myself astray

you have a right to
hate the wound
but if you can't see
what I feel
one day
I will learn
that I have to let go
and I will

then all these silly letters
all for you

well. go ahead and throw them away
on that day
they will carry no life
anymore
Jeremy Duff Mar 2014
A purple liquid drips
and with each drop the sound of discontent grows louder.
     Forming a puddle on the the carpet that grows and grows and grows
and soon I will drown in it, soon I will drown in her.
     Soon, her green eyes will be all I see and not just all I yearn to see.

The purple liquid
creates an audible thump as it splashes down on the carpet which is now covered with an inch and a half of the stuff.
     The thump makes it easier to sleep at night; it slows my heartbeat.
Her lips whisper to me as I sleep and I long for them to be upon my neck.
      My fingers grasp the sheet but in my mind they are running through her hair and down her back.

Now, my bedroom is filled with the purple liquid, only two feet of air separating the ceiling and the top of the purple swimming pool.
     As I sleep, she sleeps with me and as our fingers touch
she exhales a blast of the cool purple liquid.
     Without cease it fills my lungs and her whispers grow fainter
and her touch sweeter.
Syd May 2018
I was rummaging through our hall closet
Looking for my suitcase
When I saw your old winter coat had fallen to the floor
I quickly picked it up
To rehome it to its rightful hanger
When I noticed your work jacket hanging idle and still
Your name tape peeking back at me
My heart pulling at my chest
And before I could even stop myself my hands were tugging on its sleeves
My fingers feeling the all too familiar texture of that waterproof fabric
That touched my skin in our many embraces just months before
Before I could stop myself I was pulling it out of the closet
Staring at this empty jacket
Imagining your body filling it
Before I could stop myself I was burying my face in its folds
Searching for your scent
The tears were instantaneous
And before I could stop myself
I fell to the floor
Clutching this jacket as if it were anything other than a collection of buttons and threads
I couldn't stop smelling it and I didn't want to
These things are all I have left of you
And although it changes nothing I throw the hanger to the floor and slide into the sleeves,
Pulling this jacket over me
Closing my eyes to imagine for a moment that you aren't even gone at all
I miss you so much and I don't know what's happening to me
L'Amour Noir Sep 2014
The crickets.
The summer warmth that gives you the shiver of fall.
The lights of this city.
The sky is eternity.
The trees.
The bench in the park where i put my head to rest.
Memories of winter, they pass so hollow, just like waves and thirsty souls.
You.
In my head.
The jacket.
That eternal jacket.
I live one hundred times, it is always like the first time.
A cigarette.
A beer in the hand.
Memories of my friends.
All the good times.
Everything is this moment.
This moment is everything.
I'm infinite.
How I live, it's a legend.
The world won't know, just the hearts that I've touched.  
Last day of summer, just a myth.
Inside it feels more real and alive then ever before.
It's the best day of all.

Once there was a boy and his jacket, who made his devils thirsty.
Oh, how beautiful he was.
Oh the tears he cried were lust.

— The End —