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On my way up the stairs
carrying a cardboard box
of old books, bad poems
and overdue bills heavy
in my hands, not thinking
between steps, moving,
on my way up the stairs
remembering slowly, not thinking
that on my way up the stairs
i carry coat hangers, cockroaches,
an ex-wife, a hot plate, werewolves,
toys and old landladies.

three years now
on my way up the stairs
eight or  nine rooms in
three years
one month in a closet
three weeks
in a '49 Plymouth and
god, nothing in here is so
immediate as what pain is.
there's much less to move
than remember.

on my way up the stairs
is the same as now
is 19 ways to forget
this is climbing and could
have come two rooms back in time.
on my way up the stairs
carrying a few letters, two pair of shoes,
an armful of clothes and what happens
is swift, irrevocable, between
steps, not thinking, in suddenly
like a snapshot falling
from the pages of a book,
a memory, i see it
on my way up the stairs,
the brilliance of finding
on my way up the stairs
a thing lost, a memory flashing
and fading and fading
is a picture of a picture of
my daughter forgotten in a closet ago
on my way up the stairs
i keep falling from these pages
captured and posing, in this
yellow faded place
on my way up, etc.
to be read aloud in the cadence of climbing stairs
Keith J Collard Jun 2013
The Quest for the Damsel Fish  by Keith Collard

Author's  Atmosphere

On the bow of the boat, with the cold cloud of the dismal day brushing your back conjuring goose bumped flesh you hold an anchor.  For the first time, you can pick this silver anchor up with only one hand and hold it over your head. It resembles the Morning Star, a brutal medieval weapon that bludgeons and impales its victims.  Drop it into the dark world beyond the security of your boat--watch the anchor descend.
        Watch this silver anchor--this Morning Star--descend away from the boat and you, it becomes swarmed over with darkness.  It forms a ******-metallic grin at first as it sinks, then the sinking silver anchor takes its last shape at its last visible glimpse.  It is so small now as if it could be hung from a necklace.  It is a silver sword.  
Peering over the side of the boat, the depths collectively look like the mouth of a Cannibalistic Crab, throwing the shadows of its mandibles over everything that sinks down into it--black mandibles that have joints with the same angle of a Reaper's Scythe.  

I am scared looking at this sinking phantasm.  I see something from my youth down there in this dark cold Atlantic.  I see the silver Morning Star again, now in golden armor.  I remember a magnificent kingdom, in a saltwater fish tank I had once and never had again.  A tropical paradise that I see again as I stare down into the depths.  This fish tank was so beautiful with the most beautiful inhabitants who I miss.  Before I could lift the silver anchor--the Morning Star--over my head with only one hand, turning gold in that morning sun-- I was a boy who sat indian style, cross legged--peering into this brilliant spectacle of light I thought awesome.  I thought all the darkness of home and the world was kept at bay by this kingdom of light...

Chapter  1 Begins the Story

The Grey Skies of Mass is the Name of This Chapter.

                                                      ­­                        
    
 Air, in bubbles--it was a world beauty of darkness revealed in slashes of light from dashing fluorescent bulbs overhead this fish tank.
Silver swords of fluorescent energy daring to the bottom, every slash revealing every color of the zodiac--from the Gold of Scorpio to the purple of Libra combining into the jade of the Gemini. 
In the center, like a dark Stonehenge were rocks. The exterior rocks had tropical colors like that of cotton candy, but the interior shadows of the rocks that was the Stonehenge, did not possess one photon of light. The silver messengers of the florescent energy from above would tire and die at their base.  The shadows of the Stonehenge rocks would stand over them as they died.

 
          When the boy named Sake climbed the rickety wood stairs of the house, he did so in fear of making noise, as if to not wake each step.
   Until he could see the glowing aura of his fish tank then he would start down that eerie hall, With pictures of ghosts and ghosts of pictures staring down at him as he walked down that rickety hallway of this towering old colonial home.  He hurried to the glowing tank to escape the black and white gazing picture frames.
                    The faint gurgling, bubbling of the saltwater tank became stronger in his ear, and that sound guided him from the last haunt of the hallway-- the empty room that was perpendicular to  his room.   He only looked to his bright tank as soon as he entered the hallway from the creaky wooden steps.  Then he proceeded to sit in front of this great tropical fish tank in Indian style with his legs folded over one another as children so often would sit.
  The sun was setting.  The reflections from the tank were beginning to send ripples down the dark walls. Increasing  wave after wave reflecting down his dark walls.  He thought they to be seagulls flapping into the darkness until they were overcome as he was listening to the bubbling water of his tank.
                " Hello my fish, hello Angel, hello Tang, hello  Hoomah, hello Clown and hello Damsel … and hello to you Crab...even though I do not like you," he said in half jest not looking at the crab in the entrance of the rocks.  The rocks were the color of cotton candy, but the interior shadows did not possess a photon of luminescence.  All other shadows not caused by the rocks--but by bright swaying ornament--were like the glaze on a candy apple--dark but delicious.  Besides the crab's layer in the rock jumble at the center of the tank which was a Stonehenge within a Stonehenge--the tank was a world of bright inviting light.
                The crab was in its routine,  motionless in the entrance to his foyer, with his scythe-like claws in the air, in expectation of catching one of the bright fish someday.  For that reason the boy tried to remove the crab in the past, but even though the boy was fast with his hand, the optical illusion of the tank would always send his hand where the crab no longer was.  He did not know how to use two hands to rid the crab in the future by trapping and destroying the Cannibal Crab ;  his father, on a weekend visit, gave the Crab to the boy to put into the bright world of the saltwater tank, which Sake quickly regretted.  His father promised him that the Crab would not be able to catch any of the fish he said " ...***** only eat anything that has fallen to the bottom or each other..."

         A scream from the living room downstairs ran up the rickety wood and down the long hall and startled the boy.  His mother sent her shrieks out to grab the boy, allowing her to not have to waste any time nor calorie on her son; for she would tire from the stairs, but her screams would not, allowing her to stay curled up on the couch.  If she was not screaming for Sake, she was talking as loud as screams on the phone with her girlfriends.  The decibels from her laugh was torture for all in the silent house.   A haughty laugh in a gossipy conversation, that overpowered the sound of the bright tropical fish tank in Sake's room that was above and far opposite her in the living room.
               " Sake you have to get a paper-route to pay for the tank, the electricity bill is outrageous," she said while not taking her eyes off the TV and her legs curled up beside her.  He would glad fully get a paper-route even if it was for a made up reason.  He turned to go, and looked back at his mother, and a shudder ran through him with a new thought:  someday her appearance will match her voice.  

              Upon reaching his tank,  Hoomah was trying to get his attention as always.  Taking up pebbles in his big pouty pursed lips and spitting them out of his lips like a weak musket.  The Hoomah was a very silly fish, it looked like one of Sake’s aunts, with too much make up on, slightly overweight, and hovering on two little fins that looked incapable of keeping it afloat, but they did.  The fins reminded him of the legs of his aunt--skinny under not so skinny.’

               The Tang was doing his usual aquanautics , darting and sailing was his trick.  He was fast, the fastest with his bright yellow triangular sail cutting the water.  Next was the aggressive Clown fish, the boy thought she was always aggresive because she didn't have an anemone to sleep on.  The Clown was strong and sleek with an orange jaw and body that was built like a tigress.
  Sake thought something tragic about the body if the  orange Clown and the three silver traces that clawed her body as decoration -they reminded him of the incandescent orange glow of a street lamp being viewed through the rainy back windshield of a car.   The Clown fish was a distraction that craved attention.
The Clown would chase around some of the other fish and jump out of the water to catch the boy's eye. 
                 Next is the Queen Angel fish, she is the queen of the tank, she sits in back all alone, waving like a marvelous banner, iridescent purple and golden jade.  Her forehead slopes back in a French braid style that streams over her back like a kings standard waving before battle, but her standard is of a house of beauty, and that of royal purple.

                    Lastly is the Damsel Fish, the smallest and most vulnerable in the tank.  She has royal purple also, rivaling the queen. Her eyes are lashed but not lidded like the Hoomah.  Her eyes are elliptical, and perhaps the most human, or in the boy’s opinion, she is the most lady like, the Hoomah and the Queen Angel come to her defence if she is chased around by the Clown.  Her eyes penetrate the boys, to the point of him looking away.  

                      Before the tank, in its place in the corner was a painting, an oil painting of another type of Clown donning a hat with orange partial make-up on his face (only around eyes nose and mouth there was ghost white paint) and it  had two tears coming down from its right eye.  The Clown painting was given to him by his mother, it seems he could not be rid of them, but Sake at first was taken in by the brightness of the Clown, and the smooth salacious wet look of the painting. it looked dripping, or submerged, like another alternate reality.  The wet surreal glaze of the painting seemed a portal, especially the orange glow of the Clown's skin without make-up.  .  If he tried to remember of times  before the Clown painting that preceded the Clown fish, he thought of the orange saffron twilight of sunset, and watching it from the high window from his room in the towering house.  How that light changed everything that it touched, from the tree tops and the clouds, to even the dark hallway leading up to his room.  The painting and the Clown fish did not feel the same as those distant memories of sunset, especially the summer sunset when his mother would put him to bed long before the sun had set.  
Sake did not voice opposition to the Clown.
Then he was once again trapped by the Clown.  
            The boy was extremely afraid of this painting that replaced the sunsets , being confined alone with it by all those early bedtimes.
Sake once asked his mother if he could take it down, whereas she said " No."  That clown would follow him into his dreams, always he would be down the hill from the tall house on the hill, trying to walk back to the house, but to walk away or run in a dream was like walking underwater or in black space, and he would make no distance as the ground opened up and the clown came out of the ground hugging him with the pryless grip of eight arms.  He would then wake up amid screams and a tearful hatted clown staring somberly down at him from the wall where it was hung.  Night made him fear the Clown painting more;  that ghost white make-up decorating around the eyes and mouth seeming to form another painting in entirety.  He could only look at the painting after a while when the lights were on, and the wet looking painting was mostly orange from the skin, neck, and forearms of the hat wearing clown.  But the painting is gone now, and the magnificent light display of the tank is there now.  

                Sake pulled out the fish food, all the fish bestirred in anticipation of being fed.  The only time they would all come together; and that was to mumble the bits of falling flakes: a chomp from the Clown, a pucker from the Hoomah, the fast mumble of the Tang, and the dainty chew of the Damsel.  The Queen Angelfish would stay near the bottom, and kiss a flake over and over.   She would not deign herself to go into a friendly frenzy like the other fish; she stayed calm, yet alluring like a flag dancing rhythmically in the breeze, but never repeating the same move as the wind never repeats the same breeze.  She is the only fish to change colors.  When the grey skies of Mass emit through every portal in the house at the height of its bleakness, her colors would turn more fantastic, perhaps why she is queen.

                 He put his finger in the top of the watery world; the warmth was felt all the way up his arm.  After feeding, his favorite thing to do was to trace his finger on the top of the warm water and have the Damsel follow it. She loved it, it was her only time to dance, for the Clown would descend down in somewhat fear ( or annoyance) of the boys finger, and the Damsel and he would dance.  The boy, thought that extraordinary.

                     Sake bedded down that night, to his usual watery world of his room.  The reflective waves running down the walls like seagulls of light, with the rhythmic gurgling sound and it's occasional splash of the Clown, or the Hoomah swooping into the pebbly bottom to scoop up some pebbles for spitting making the sound "ccchhhhh" --cachinging  like a distant underwater register.  The tank’s nocturne sound was therapeutic to the boy.

                      Among waking up, and being greeted by his sparkling treasure tank--that was always of the faintest light in the morning due to the grey skies of Mass coming through every portal to lessen the tropical spectrum-- the boy would render his salutations " Good morning my Hoomah.....good morning Tang, my Damsel, and your majesty Queen Angel.....and so forth.  Until the scream would come to get him, and he would walk briskly past the empty room and the looming family pictures of strangers.  His mother put him to work that day, to "pay for the fish tank" but really to buy her a new cocktail dress for her nightly forays.  The boy did not care, the tank was his sun, emitting through the bleak skies of Mass, and even if the tank was reduced to a haze by the overcast of his life, it only added a log to the fire that was the tropical world at night, in turn making him welcome the dismal day.
                  On a day, when the overcast was so thick, he felt he could not picture his rectangular orb waiting for him at night. He had trouble remembering what houses to deliver the paper.  He delivered to the same house three times.  Newspapers seemed to disappear in his hands, due to their color relation to the sky.   Leaves were falling from the trees—butterfly like—he went to catch one, he missed--a first. For Sake could walk through dense thorned brambles and avoid every barb, as a knight in combat or someone’s whose heart felt the painful sting of the barb before.  He would stand under a tree in late fall, and roll around to avoid every falling leaf, and pierce them to the ground deftly with a stick fashioned as a sword.  He could slither between snow flakes, almost like a fish nimbly avoiding small flakes.  
                  After he finished his paper-route , he went to his usual spot under an oak tree to fence with falling leaves.  As the other boys walked by and poked fun he would stall his imagination, and look to the brown landscape of the dry fall.  The crisp brown leaves of the trees were sword shapes to him.  He held the battle ax shape of the oak leaf over his eye held up by the stick it was pierced through, and spied the woodline through the sinus of the oak leaf lobe.  The brown white speckled scenery, were all trying to hide behind eachother by blending in bleakfully; he pretended the leaf was Hector’s helmet from the Illiad—donned over his eyes.
“ Whatchya doing Sake?” asked a young girl named Summer.  Sake only mumbled something nervously and stood there.  And a pretty Summer passed on after Sake once again denied himself of her pretty company.  He looked to the woodline again, a mist was now concealing the tall apical trees.  It now looked like the brown woodland was not trying to retreat behind eachother in fall concealment, but trying to emerge forth out of the greyness to say "save us."

“ Damgf” he uttered, and could not even grasp a word correctly.  His head lifted to the sky repeatedly, there was no orb, and the shadows were looming larger than ever; fractioned shadows from tree branches were forming scythes all over the ground.
             He entered the large shadow that was his front door, into the house that rose high into the sky, with the simplicity of Stonehenge.  He climbed the rickety petrified stairs and went down the hall.  Grey light had spotlighted every frame on the wall.  He looked into the empty room, nothingness, then his room, the tank seemed at its faintest, and it was nearing twilight.  He walked past the tank to look out the w
Harold r Hunt Sr Jul 2014
Under the stairs.
There is a person who lives under my stairs
He has gray hair and long hair on his face.
I know he takes that place under the stairs.
He wears a dark coat to come out to milk the goat.
Do not mean to imply a word, but his smile is a mile.
I see him everyday when he comes upstairs to stay.
He is so funny when he gives me money.
Tells me of candy for Tammy and I
My mom tells me to go under the stairs
To see if he is there.
I bump my head and I do not hear the roar from under the stairs.
Grandpa there is just laughing hard as he can.
Harly Coward Oct 2014
I'm falling down stairs,
                                           Infinite stairs.
                     I'm falling down stairs,
                                            And there is no gravity.
                                   I'm falling down stairs,
                                                    Wait, I'm falling up stairs.
                                           I'm falling down stairs,
                                           I'm terrified and feel my stomach turn.
                                                           I'm falling down stairs,
                                                          I'm blue and purple from head to toe.
                                                                  I'm falling down stairs,
No.
I'm falling in love.
Mitchell Duran Dec 2013
In the Fall, when the temperature of the Bay would drop and the wind blew ice, frost would gather on the lawn near Henry Oldez's room. It was not a heavy frost that spread across the paralyzed lawn, but one that just covered each blade of grass with a fine, white, almost dusty coat. Most mornings, he would stumble out of the garage where he slept and tip toe past the ice speckled patch of brown and green spotted grass, so to make his way inside to relieve himself. If he was in no hurry, he would stand on the four stepped stoop and look back at the dried, dead leaves hanging from the wiry branches of three trees lined up against the neighbors fence. The picture reminded him of what the old gallows must have looked like. Henry Oldez had been living in this routine for twenty some years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Good morning," said Henry to Betria.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yeah," Henry said and shut the door.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The two of them stood underneath a five foot by five foot hole. Henry was a little uneasy by the fact they had cleaned up none of the shattered wood and the birds pecking at the bird seed sitting in a bowl on the coffee table facing the TV. The arms of the couch were covered in bird **** and someone had draped a large, zebra printed blanket across the middle of it. Henry figured the blanket wasn't for decoration, but to hide the rest of the bird droppings. Next to the couch sat a large, antique lamp with its lamp shade missing. Underneath the dim light, was a nice portrait of the entire house. Henry looked away from the hole, leaving Brett with her head cocked back, the joint still pinched between her lips, to get a closer look. There looked to be four in total: Brett, a very large man, a woman with longer, thick dread locks than Brett, and a extremely short man with a very large, brown beard. Henry went back
I heard his footsteps coming up the staircase.
My heart was beating inside my chest, loud as thunder.
I had no idea what to do.
I laid still in my bed, not moving a muscle.
His feet walked soft and swift down the carpeted hallway.
The door to my brother’s room creaked open.
The sick feeling in my stomach told me there was nothing I could do.
My brother would be his first victim, and I, his second.
I continued laying completely still in my bed,
Under the blankets, that were getting extremely hot by this point.
I was tempted to remove them, except that it’d be easier for him to get to me.
I would suffer through the heat. Until it was over.
It was all I could do.
I was too small to run away, down the stairs and out into the backyard.
I could only lay flat on my back, making my breathing slow and soft.
I prayed he couldn’t see my chest moving up and down,
That he couldn’t hear my heart beating.
I counted to five, every second my heartbeat growing faster.
One, two, three, four, five.
I didn’t hear my brother’s shrieking. I didn’t hear him cry.
I did hear the man’s footsteps come back out into the hallway.
Instead of moving toward my room, like any other time,
His footsteps carried away from my doorway.
I found this interesting and somewhat bizarre.
This stirred all new emotions inside.
I was afraid, terrified even, but then there was also a sense of relief.
A relief that he wasn’t coming to my room after all.
The sick feeling in my stomach came again.
Only this time, I didn’t know what to feel.
It was a gut instinct. But what was it telling me?
That my time was finally coming?
I couldn’t take it anymore.
I slowly, ever so slowly, removed the blankets.
Taking a break in between, I lay still again, making my breathing slow and soft.
I counted to five while laying completely still and listening.
There was nothing.
I carefully sat up in my bed, keeping my eyes locked on the open doorway.
There was no light, black as a cat.
All that kept going through my mind was a scenario where he suddenly stood in the doorway.
Looking right at me.
But that didn’t happen.
I took a deep breath, maybe the last one I’d get, and slowly rose out of my bed.
I could only hope that I’d miss all the creaky spots in my floor, making a silent exit.
I had succeeded. Not a sound.
I skimmed my head out the door. Looking down the dark hallway.
The dark stairs only a few feet away. Could I make it?
I wanted to check on my brother.
But I didn’t have enough time.
I could hear the clock on the wall ticking. Tick tock. Tick tock.
Just the sound of it made me nervous.
I had no idea where the man was. Absolutely no idea.
For all I knew, he could come up behind me.
But that didn’t happen.
I prayed that he wasn’t in the kitchen.
Where the knives were.
My breathing quickened.
I almost wanted to just drop dead right then and there.
So I wouldn’t have to suffer anymore.
I moved out into the hallway,  carefully sidestepping the creaky hardwood floor.
Once at the stairs, I glanced down.
It looked awfully dark, but the faint glow of a night light lit up the bottom of the stairs.
I would have to be more careful. There was a chance he could see my shadow now.
There was some rummaging that sounded like it was coming from the kitchen.
Where the knives were.
I heard a drawer slam shut. I jumped in my spot on the stairs.
I couldn’t do it anymore. If this freak didn’t ****** me, I’d die just from my own fears.
Slowly, ever so slowly, I started stepping backwards.
Carefully sidestepping the creaks in the floor, making my way back to the doorway of my room.
I stood there, silent. Listening for him.
There was nothing for a long time. My imagination started roaming.
Had he left? Could I lay back in bed and sleep peacefully? Not a chance.
Backing up into my room, I kept my eyes locked on the doorway.
I felt the edge of my bed against the back of my legs.
Slowly sitting down, and applying weight to the mattress and bed frame, it creaked.
I closed my eyes, immediately expecting the man to come up the stairs and into my room.
But he didn’t. I continued sitting. Slowly easing the creaks out.
When all of my weight was on the bed, I carefully lay my head back on my pillow.
I pulled the covers up to my chin, covering my shoulders and hiding myself.
I took a deep breath and lay silently, listening for anything.
My eyelids grew heavy with sleep, while staring at the open doorway.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, there were loud, thundering footsteps coming up the stairs.
My heartbeat quickened and my throat grew constricted. I tried to relax my breathing.
My eyes were dead locked on the door. Several times, I thought I saw someone walk by.
The footsteps slowed and grew quiet while my heartbeat did the exact opposite.
Then, there he was. Standing in the doorway. Looking into my room. Looking at me.
Could he see me? Could he hear me?
He started coming inside. Toward the bed. My time was now. I wouldn’t be waking up.
I closed my eyes, hoping to make it hurt less.
A Halloween poem.
Hewasminemoon Jul 2014
It was almost February and winter still hadn’t hit. I was beginning to
think that it wouldn’t arrive, and that spring was here. One evening as I was walking down the streets of the city I looked up to see a single snowflake falling down to meet my face. It was tiny and looked lonely, but a few moments later, it was followed by several more snowflakes. Sooner than later, the ground was covered in a white sheet of snow. and I was stuffing my hands in my coat pockets and pulling my hood on to brace myself against the bone-chilling wind. I made my way into a small coffee shop that was still open and was greeted by a short stocky man in his mid thirties with a dark, curly mustache and sleeves of faded tattoos.
“Hello” he said, his voice sounding deep and smooth. I pulled out my headphones that were burning in my ears, pressed pause on my phone and shoved them carelessly in my messenger bag.
“Hello”, I replied back with a slight smile, pulling my hands out of my
pockets and making my way to the counter.
The shop was small, but it had a staircase leading upstairs with more room for seating. The man who stood behind the counter continued to unpack small plastic covered packages, putting them away in cupboards and freezers. I pulled out my wallet from my bag and plopped it on the counter, feebly attempting to pull out my card with my hands shaking violently from the cold.
“What a night”, the man said, his eyes still focused on his duties.
“Hmm.” I said, nodding. “Can I get a 12oz mocha, please?” The man looked up from his package, and giggled coyly.
“Sure you can, sweetheart." He put the package that he was holding down below him, and began making the drink I had just ordered. My credit card held tightly in my hand, still shaking. There was awkward silence between us and I got the feeling the man understood I didn’t feel like talking. He finished my order, filling a small, white ceramic mug, and pushed it across the counter towards me.
“Anything else?”
I shook my head, implying no and handed him the cold card. He swiped it and handed it back to me, along with a receipt and a pen to sign. I signed the receipt, grabbed my coffee and headed up the stairs to my right. Upstairs, there was a large room with a dining room looking table and several chairs, and to the left, and a small hole in the wall with several cushions. I smiled at the welcoming spot, and took a seat. Pulling a small table up next to me, I set my coffee down, and rested my bag on the floor below me. The upstairs was completely empty. In fact; the entire shop was empty besides the man working downstairs. I took a deep breath in and let my head rest on some of the cushions behind me. Closing my eyes, I let out my breath and felt the warmth and the vast history of the shop run envelop me. I grabbed at the cup beside me and sipped at my coffee. It was still too hot to drink comfortably, so I set it down. Out of my bag, I pulled out my phone with the headphones still attached and scrunched into a tight tangled ball.
Untangling them, I placed each bud in my ear, and pressed play, continuing the song I had stopped when I had entered the coffee shop. I felt my eyelids grow heavy and I sunk deeper and deeper into the pillows around me, the smell of old books seeping into my skin. Finally, I closed my eyes, and after a few moments, was sound asleep.
When I opened my eyes, the first thing I saw was a man’s face, unfamiliar but comforting.
“Excuse me…” he said, with a wide grin.
I jumped with embarrassment; ripping my headphones out of my ears, although they were no longer playing anything. How long had I been asleep? And who was this young man? An employee of the shop? A customer?
“Sorry!” I yelped.
The man chuckled as I swung my feet around to the floor and pulled out my phone to check the time. Realizing it was dead, I scanned the room for a clock and with no success I asked the stranger “What time is it?”
He rolled up his sleep, and checked what to be a rather expensive watch. The man was dressed nicely, but nothing too formal. A clean pair of black jeans, a plaid shirt and a sweater over it. His hair, a dark brown looked thick and slightly curled. He ran his fingers through it as he responded. “It’s quarter past.”
“Past what?”
He blinked at me. “Eight…” he paused at my confused look. “A.M”
I gasped at the time. It was just past nine at night when I had dozed off.
Why did the short stalky man not wake me? Did he forget I was upstairs?
Maybe he assumed I had left, and just missed me doing so.
“I…I…” I stumbled upon my words. I wasn’t quite sure what to say, still
unsure who this man was.
“My boss told me you’d be up here.” He lifted my cup of cold coffee and
handed it to me. “I can get you a warm cup if you’d like. We don’t open for another half hour.”
I nodded, and with the cup in hand, the man turned and headed down the stairs. I gathered my things, smoothed out my shirt, tossed my hair to one side and followed the man down the stairs.
“My names Elliot” he shouted from behind the counter and the noises of the coffee machine.
“Ellie.” I shouted back.
A door swung open and in Elliot’s hand was a new cup of coffee.
“That’s a coincidence.”
I smiled nervously and took the cup from the man.
“Sit.” he said, nodded to a table.
I followed his instructions and set my cup down and pulled out a chair.
He stared at me for a moment as I stared at my coffee. After a long moment of silence, I started.
“I am so sorr-”
He stopped me and reached out, resting his hand on top of mine.
“It’s alright Ellie…really.”
I had a few questions but didn’t know where to start. So I let the silence
continue.
“My boss figured you needed a place to stay.”
I wasn’t homeless. Did I look homeless?
“Do you...have somewhere to go…?”
I nodded. “I’m not homeless…” I proclaimed. I couldn’t help but stare at
his hands. There was something different about them from the rest of the
man.
“I figured. You’re too well dressed to be homeless.” He smiled, and his
hands moved up and through his hair again.
“So, if you’re not homeless then what’s your story?”
My story? I didn’t have a story. I was a young single girl. Lonely. Living
on her own in the city. On her way home when a snow storm hit. I just stopped into the coffee shop to get warm, not to spend the night like some refugee.
“My story?”
“Yeah, your story.” he continued to grin at me.
I paused to think of an answer.
“I was just on my way home. Stopped in for a cup of coffee. Guess I didn’t
drink enough of it.”
He laughed at the comment, showing a set of pearly white teeth.
“Maybe it wasn’t a very good cup of coffee.” He glanced at the cup in front of me. I lifted it and took a sip.
“This cup’s better.” We both laughed softly, then found each other staring
for long while at one another.
“I’ll make sure not to tell my boss you said that.”
I took another sip. “I should probably go…” I said, standing up.
“Go where?”
“Home.”
He shook his head chuckling slightly. “Hang out. I’ll open late.”
“I don’t want to be more of an inconvenience than I already have been.”
Elliot reached out and took my hand in his, squeezing it softly.
“Ellie.”
My eyes grew wide, and I felt my heart beat quickly within my chest.
“Let’s not play games with one another. Stay.”
I pulled my hand away, and bit my lip.
“I can’t. I’m sorry Elliot.” I grabbed my bag from under the table, and thew
it across my shoulder. “Thank you…” I said, thinking of his hands but
staring at the blue in his eyes. I turned around, and pushed the door open.


---------------------------------------------------------­--------------------------------

It was Valentine’s Day (or as I like to call it “Singles Awareness Day” ) and my friend had dragged me out to this terrible bar in the suburbs  titled “Distraction” My friend, who was newly single and “ready to mingle” laughed when she saw the big blue sign with the name.
“That’s an ironic name” she said, snickering.
I nodded my head and groaned as we headed inside. She was right. What was this bar distracting me from? If anything, it was drawing more attention to the things I was supposed to be distracted from by just existing with such a name. My friend walked up to the bar, leaned against a stool and ordered something sweet. She asked me if I wanted anything, but I shook my head no. After a few minutes of small talking with her, and watching her sip at her watered down drink, I noticed a young man walking towards us. The bar was dimly lit, and I couldn’t quite make him out but I sighed and turned towards the bartender.
“*** and coke” I hollered out to the man. “Pour heavy!”
I stayed facing the shelves of drinks, the different bottles organized by color and type. Whiskey, Tequila, *****. Suddenly, I felt someone tap me on the shoulder and with a deep inhale, I turned; expecting some man with sleeked back hair and a bad tan to be facing me.
Instead, it was Elliot. Staring at me, standing inches from my face. I took a step back into a bar stool, and fell into a seat.
“Ellie” he said, smiling.
I couldn’t help but smile for a moment too, but then I quickly wiped it away as the bartender slid my drink to the right of me. Before I could do anything, Elliot placed a few dollars on the counter.
“You don’t have to -“
“It’s fine”  He continued to smile widely.
I looked around the room for my friend, she was across the room playing darts with some broad shouldered man. I took my glass, placed the straw on the counter and gulped down about half of it in one drink.  
“Happy Valentines Day” he said, almost sarcastically following the statement with a slight laugh.
I felt myself smiling again and took another gulp. The bartender definitely poured heavy. The liquid burned as it slid down my throat, and I clenched my teeth. I could tell Elliot was trying hard not to laugh.
“Would you like to dan-“
I bursted out laughing.
“Dance? Oh god, please. Don’t do this Elliot.”
He stared at me widely for a moment. “What are you so afraid of Ellie?”
I scoffed, and shook my head, taking another drink I responded
“I’m not afraid of anything”
He blinked at me, then ran through his fingers through his hair and breathed out loudly.
“Is it me?”
I wasn’t sure how to answer this, or what he was really even asking. I stumbled on my words, stuttering. I finished my drink, and set the glass down on the counter.
“Another?” he asked.
“No...” I paused. “Thank you”
He stared at me for a moment, his brows furrowed. He reached out to touch me, and I pulled away.
“Ellie...Let me-“
I interrupted him and shouted out “space!”
He looked puzzled, then chuckled.
“What?”
“I’m afraid of space”
“Space....? Please elaborate.”
“Like the sky, and the planets and the stars and ****”
He laughed softly. “And ****...”
“Think about it. We have no idea what’s out there. We have no idea what’s coming for us. We are so small, comparatively.”
“So you believe in aliens?”
“I believe in possibility”
“Anything could happen.”
“Exactly! Right now, as we speak, the sun could explode.”
“Or, aliens could invade!”
“You’re really stuck on the alien thing.”
“It’s a possibility”
We both sat in silence for a moment, his eyes felt heavy on me. I stood up from my stool, our bodies were almost touching.
“I’ve got to go see if my friends OK.” I said, glancing over at her. She was still playing darts with the broad shoulder man. He had his arms wrapped around her, ‘showing’ her how to hold the dart now.
“She looks like she’s doing ok to me” Elliot said with a snicker.
I didn’t argue.
“What’s your last name?” he asked.
I shook my head violently. “Look, Elliot. You seem-“ I stopped and thought of how I wanted to finish my sentence, but before I could, Elliot grabbed my hand and held it tightly.
“Ellie. I’m just a man. I’m not some comet coming down or some alien race a million light years away. You don’t need to be afraid of me.”
I took a few shallow breaths, my heart was pounding. I tried pulling away, but Elliot just pulled himself closer to me.
“You said you believe in possibility. You can’t deny the possibility of you and me.”
“I...”
He reached up, and tucked a hair that was falling down my face behind my ear then stepped back, letting go of my hand.
“I have an idea.”
“What’s that?”
“I want to help you conquer your fear”
“Oh?”
He grabbed my hand again and pulled me towards the door, I looked over to my friend, but didn’t fight him.
“She’ll be okay.” he said, still tugging me.
I followed him out the door and down the street. We stopped and hailed a cab, as one pulled up, he opened the door for me.
“Get in.”
“I don’t even know you. You could be taking me to some wear house to **** and ****** me!”
“Ellie. Don’t be so dramatic. Get in”
“Where are we going?”
“To the moon.”
“And back again?”
“We’ll see. Maybe once you get there, you’ll never want to leave.”
“It’s a possibility”
I stepped inside the cab, and so did he.

------------------------------------------------------------­--------------------------------


Once we were in the cab, the rush of excitement I was feeling in the bar and in the street had faded. Elliot handed the man his phone, which had an address written on it. The cabbie put the address into his GPS and started the meter as he drove on.
“So are we taking the cab to the moon? Or are we just taking the cab to NASA and then a spaceship to the moon?” I said sarcastically, my voice breaking from nervousness. Elliot put his hand on my leg, and sat back into his seat without saying anything.
“Who’s paying for the cab Elliot?”
He continued to be silent. I turned at stared out the window, I noticed the cab was taking us out of the city and I began to get a little worried.
“Can you please tell me where we’re going?” I asked quickly. I looked back at Elliot, he was sweating.
“Elliot? Is everything OK?” His eyes were shut and his breathing was heavy.
“I’m afraid of things in motion.” he muttered softly.
“Isn’t everything in motion?” he opened his eyes, raised his brows and then smiled at me.
“I mean, the world is always turning and we’re walking, or breathing. So we’re moving, no matter what-“
“Can you be quiet please?”
I looked back out the window again for what felt like a long while. Finally, the cab stopped in front a large abandoned dome like building in a town I had never been in. Elliot was quick to exit the cab, and circle the car to open my door. I stepped out, Elliot paid the driver and the cab drove away.
“So you ARE going to **** and ****** me?”
Elliot looked at me, and took my hand.
“I’m sorry about in the car. What mean by things in motion is like, cars and trains and planes and...” he paused, “and ****...”
We both laughed.
“I knew what you meant. I’m sorry if I was being difficult.”
He gave me a look and I nodded at him. He took me by the hand and led me closer to the building. We reached a door that had been boarded up.
“This doesn’t look like the moon...Or NASA...”
“Ellie. Do you trust me?”
“I...I don’t really even know you so-“
Elliot pried back at the board, slipping into the building through a small space and pulled me inside with him. The room we stepped into was a circle, and in the center; a large telescope.
“Does that even work?”
He squeezed my hand, then let go. Approaching the telescope, he stepped up a small set of stairs to a control panel. He pushed a few buttons and a few moments later, I heard a whirring and a low rattle followed by a deep sound. I felt a slight vibration and suddenly the roof was opening above me, exposing the night sky. On this night, the stars were bright, and the moon was full.
“Come here” Elliot called out from near the telescope.
I started to shake only slightly at the sight of the sky above me, I felt frozen and tense, as if I couldn’t move. Elliot made his way down the stairs and towards me.
“It’s okay Ellie.” he said, reaching for my hand and guiding me towards the telescope. We stepped up the stairs, and he stood next to me, still holding my hand as he adjusted a few things, looking in the telescope, then at me, then back through the telescope. He turned towards me, nudging me.
“Go ahead.”
I looked at the giant metal telescope, and shook my head.
“I really appreciate what you’re trying to do here but-“
He put his hand on my lower back, and pushed me towards the telescope.
“Just look.”
I put my face close to the telescope, an
Randy Oct 2018
Hiking here and there.
Strange things I've seen.
None more mysterious as
Stairs in the wood.
Have you seen yonder stair?
Such a sight, dare not climb.
Drawn to its strangeness.
Mystery abounds.
Here in the woods.
It should not be.
Straight from a house.
Or so it seems.
Some have seen the other side.
And lived to tell but a few.
Many never return.
Most have trouble.
With horrors unknown.
Broken, sick, and weakened.
Many stay away, some know why.
Tell the new ones this way go.
Time on top is not the same.
Farther it goes, we know not where.
Some are white, some are brown.
No matter the color, touches only the ground.
Makes no sense, these sights of sights.
Stairs in the wood.
Misplaced and strange.
Will ever be an understanding?
Of these flights, just one or two.
Most stay away, stories they lived.
Lost kids too they take.
No mercy these stairs give.
Hardest to see, perils not fake.
Don't assend, strange things do come.
Again, return unscathed only some.
Out of all the weird here in the wood.
None such as these, stairs in the wood.
Based on true stories.
Cassie Mae Jan 2013
Like falling down stairs
you know before it happens
that misstep
the drop in your gut

Like falling down stairs
you know the pain before it's felt
that initial shock
the suppressed cry of pain

Like falling down stairs
hoping no one was witness
the embarrassment
the fear of getting back up

We stood at the top
when you pushed me down
the falling
hurt more than the landing
© Cassie Mae Writings 2013
Zackbobo Dec 2015
Give me stairs
To attain some lofty pinnacle
For stairs are sheer simplicity
An elegant solution to reach some apogee
Incapable of failure unlike the
Mechanical complexities deriving from indolence
Presumed superior to the apparent drudgery
Of clambering upward unhurriedly and
Thus assembled ultimately to fail and frustrate my overwrought soul
While archaic stairs continue unwavering ever upwards  
Give me stairs
I found her sprawled on the stairs
with no shoes,
plum-coloured bruise
on the back of her leg,
I ask, how did she fall?

Hand slumped over a step,
a young girl climbs to sleep,
now still on these stairs,
all dreams wrapped in black,
bumped her milky-haired head,
but how did she fall?

I heard no commotion,
no 'ouch', no '****!',
no cry cutting the air to my ears,
I only opened the door
and saw you on the stairs
and I can only wonder
how did she fall?

Was her mind swimming in drink?
Eyes droopy and weak?
Unable to reach
her soft pillow in bed?
Now as the clock dongs
throughout our house
I still think
how did she fall?

I say aloud her name
but no breath, no movement at all,
she remains sprawled
near the top of the stairs,
close, not close enough
and I look at her there
unconscious, mind strolled off elsewhere
and I continue to ponder,
how did she fall?
Written: February and March 2013.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time, the first draft of which was completed during a university class in which we were looking at poems by W.B. Yeats.
Zhivagos Muse Jul 2013
I stood at the top of the stairs, waiting & watching,

to see his car come winding around the bend,

up to our street and into the driveway.

Filled with anticipation & mischief, I listened quietly for his footsteps,

the jingling of his keys, as he unlocked the front door.

There I stood, hidden, trying not to breathe,

as I listened to him slowly climb the stairs, feet weary from the day.

Full of hope and excitement I jumped out,

'Boo!' I gleefully shouted, with a smile perched on my lips.

Time stood still, if but for a moment,

searching his face, I focused in on his eyes.

Expecting to see joy and amusement,

instead I was confronted only with a frown of annoyance.

My smile departed almost as quickly as it had arrived.

Filled with disappointment, as I watched him move past me, not even touching.

Down the hallway to his room, briefcase in hand, shutting the door behind him.

Leaving me at the top of the stairs,

with a hole in my heart.
Delta Swingline Mar 2017
Don't get me wrong, I like elevators as much as the next guy. But there's always been something about stairs that just interests me in a way elevators can't.

If you've ever watched me climb a flight of stairs, I usually skip every other step. Mainly to save time because I live life too fast, climbing stairs so I could slow life down somewhere else.

I have this one staircase where all my friends hang out, less than 10 steps with a door at the top. That door wasn't opened very often, we called it the -- "Suicide Door". Only to find that it was a room where there were tons of stacked boxes willed with paper. But we still hung out on that staircase anyway.

Lately, the conversations that take place on those stairs are less than amusing, we don't laugh about how stupid people are. Rather we rant about who we want to **** in this world, and who's mad at who for thier gender or religion, I don't feel safe there anymore.

I fear if I say anything that I'll be shut down because I don't like people's use of "free speech" when it's used to put people down. And yes, I know, I'm not innocent here. There are conversations I regret saying that I have left on that staircase.

We don't talk about those conversations because we know out opinions are still changing. I may not remember any of this when it's finally over.

We don't talk about conversations we had behind closed suicide doors. But we never talk about the ones we had on the staircase below it. Sometimes that door seems like it's locked forever, and we choose to believe that our staircase leads to nowhere.

I miss the way thing used to be, when conversations weren't poisonous to those who heard the even by accident.

It makes me want to take elevators with strangers. Sure, it would be awkward, but at least nobody would want to rant about people to a bunch of strangers.

I sat by the stairs again. All my friends were there. But the school bells ring and everybody leaves. Nobody bothers with a "see you later" of a "c'mon, we gotta go, you'll be late". They just leave.

I'll stay there for a minute, gather my things, and wonder where they all went.

And whether or not they'd come back.

After all, the stairs aren't all that important right?

And these stairs, out of all staircases, just lead to nowhere...
I haven't been to that staircase in a while. Although the suicide door seems to call a little louder than it used to.
Terry Collett Jun 2015
Yiska wants to take Benny home with her after school and whisk him past her mother and up to her room but she knows her mother would watch her like a hawk especially if she had Benny in tow and would ask her all sorts of questions and where do you think you are going with him? but she can dream about it dream she has brought him home and as she passes her mother in the kitchen her mother in one of her dark moods preparing dinner she climbs the stairs slowly imagining Benny is behind her walking up the stairs probably watching her legs or her *** his eyes glued but she doesn't know so she imagines he is and when she gets to the top of the stairs she pauses on the landing and looks down the stairs and waits listening to the radio her mother has just turned on some classical stuff she pauses there pretending Benny has stopped her and has put his arms around her waist and has laid his hands on her *** and she believes she can feel it his hands his fingers moving but it's in the head in her imagination but no harm in pretending so she lingers there for a short duration looking along the landing wrapping her own arms about herself kissing her shoulder don't forget to change out of your school uniform her mother calls out from below stairs I won't she calls back hugging herself extra tight patting her own *** with a hand as she hoped he would do if he were there and they were standing where she is now and put your ***** blouse in the linen basket her mother calls up ok she calls back unhugging herself walking along the landing walking past her parent's room tempted to peek in wondering if she should just a quick glimpse she stops outside her parent's room and opens the door quietly and peers inside imagining she has Benny beside her and she's showing him inside at the big double bed the tallboy the dressing table where her mother has all her make up and perfumes and drugs for her depression and hairbrushes and the mirror facing her and she says to herself-and the imagined Benny- nice bed what you reckon? make a good bed to do it in? the room smells of perfume of all kinds and a scent of bodies and staleness she is tempted to go lay on the bed and feel it beneath her and makes out they are doing things him beside her touching her and she kisses him and he putting his hand along her thigh and make sure you fold up your school skirt and jumper I don't want it just thrown anywhere her mother calls up to her from downstairs she closes the door to her parent's room and says loudly down the stairs I will fold them up and walks to her own room taking Benny’s imagined hand in hers and enters her own room and closes the door behind her and looks around the room as if through his eyes her mother has been in here and tidied up put things away picked up stuff from the floor taken away the tea plate she'd left there the night before and the soiled linen she'd let drop by the bed she stands there and sighs a window is open to let in air-breath of fresh air her mother calls it-the curtains flap in the breeze sounds from neighbours in their gardens kids from down the street she goes to the window and closes it and looks out at the surrounding area making out Benny’s still behind her his arms around her waist his lips kissing her neck she closes the curtains and stares around the room focusing on her single bed with its pink flowery cover her mother bought her Teddy Bear  now ageing by her pillow not that big she says over her shoulder to the pretend Benny but we could still do it if we're careful she whispers to herself she sits on the bed and stares at her Teddy some nights he is Benny and she hugs him and kisses him and has him next to her as she settles down but Teddy's a lousy lover he does nothing and says nothing she sits the make believe Benny next to her on the bed imagines his hand is tapping the bed be ok Benny says using her voice she stands up and begins to take off her school jumper unbuttoning the green buttons and pulling off and dropping it on the bed then unties the green patterned tie and takes it off and tosses it over her shoulder she sighs closes her eyes you unbutton the blouse she tells the make believe Benny and her fingers unbutton the blouse one by one slowly and once it is unbuttoned she lets his fingers-hers really- take it off of her body and drop it onto the floor what do you think? she asks him shall l take off the skirt or you? her fingers unzip the zip and pulls it down and once loose the skirt falls to the floor and she kicks it across the room and stands there eyes closed pretending he is studying her in her small bra and ******* she waits for his words his comments what are you doing there? and why are the clothes scattered all over the place her mother says from the open door Yiska opens her eyes and stares at her mother standing sullen faced by her bedroom door day dreaming Yiska says about what? her mother asks picking up the school skirt from the floor and folding it neatly and gazing at her daughter stern eyed just day dreaming Yiska says watching her mother putting the clothes in a pile and picking the ***** blouse from the floor and holding the soiled linen in her hands this room was tidy why untidy it? her mother says sorry wasn't thinking Yiska says glad her mother couldn't read her thoughts or see the imagined Benny kissing her neck and whose right hand was fondling her right *** because if she could she'd have a fit.
A GIRL DAYDREAMS OF A BOY AT SCHOOL AND TAKING HIM HOME IN 1962.
Jamie Riley Apr 2018
They look out from the terrace.

At the borders of sight
live rocky hills behind brown
and golden and olive crop
under a cloudless sky.

Sun beams brighten motley roofs
on tessellations which blacken beige
in blurry air.



























BANG!





















An artificial cloud.

































“Look,” she points, “Let’s go!”

She takes him and they fly down stairs,
diving like sparrows
into the street.

Boys sprint across pavements and climb;
men vault over fences in time
for news to reach ears.

“They’re coming!
"¡Ya vienen!"

Excitement and fear.

The rattling of cow bells
and galloping nears.

Men bait and dodge horns
and escape through doors
and up and over
red wooden bars.

Sticks beat on the concrete ground
and drive the mute beasts's sounds.

Seconds away –
until the last,
he side steps into a house;

indoors,

apart,

he runs through the foyer
and up the stairs
around a corner.

Long strides

too fast to follow.

She chooses left and
sings soprano
when doors won't budge
and
       a
           beast
                      crashed
                                       in.

She turns and the fear is paralysing.


"FERMIN!"






















He hurdles the stares
and explodes
when it rams her
to and fro,
thrashing her head
against the wall
where horns
sin and gore
cement and brick.

He clasps the tail
and heaves its hide from
side to side as
hooves smash
crates of wine -
they slip and slide
in fractured glass,
he finds a horn
and yanks the head!
He's yanked instead
half dead before the men
arrive down stairs
to punch and kick it;
strike and stick it
smack and hit it;
'til it
fits and quits
and flees the foyer,
fast and frantic,
flying flustered
by the frenzy,
finally finding
pattering

pavement

It


peters


off


into





the







street.





"¿Que ha pasado?
  ¿Quien ha sido?
  ¡El Balbotin
  y la Chicha!
  ¡Que una vaca
  les ha pillado!"





Hands bleed
and flesh breathes.

"¿Estas bien?"

Dizzy, she tends to him
with searching hands,
and scolding words.

"Podria haber sido peor"
This poem is about an incident which happened to my Grandparents, Fermin Yanguas Ochoa and Raimunda Ramos Frias.

It was during a bull run in their village (Fitero) in Navarra, Northern Spain. 1972
Ms Levinson May 2015
The stairs
Spiraling up
To the top
Not daring to stop

Out of breath
Not near
Halfway there
Pulling out my hair

Long lasting
Never ending
Spiraling stairs
No one cares
I'm up here

I will not give up
I will keep going
Giving up is a shame
It's the stairs to blame
Sam Mar 2018
Now this is a story all about how
My life had been flipped and turned upside down
Let's take a minute, just sit right there
I'll tell ya how I tumbled down the stairs

I was chilling with the fam
We were watching Voltron
When something happened
That made me go "WOT?!"

I thought it'd be funny
To pretend to throw
Myself down the stairs
I said "Down I go!"

I went down a couple
And then a few more
I never intended
To go all the way to the floor

I kept falling
Headfirst into each step
It was scary
But I couldn't get a grip

I tried to grab on
To the rail of the stairs
But all was a fail
As I couldn't hold on

I felt the hope slip
Out of my grip
As I fell down the stairs
Laughing to tears

Or was I crying?

Nah

It was pretty funny

Even though my friends didn't try to save me.
My last poem was really sad so here is a poem about something that happened to me recently. As scary as it was, it's pretty funny thinking back.
I'm on a train.

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

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

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

I had to remind you we were in public.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I loved you still.

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

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

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

It would be dark.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You interlaced your fingers in to mine and we both looked out to where the tracks disappeared into the horizon, wondering how far of a walk it was to the next station.
Mitchell Duran Sep 2013
We met on the stairs
Of a 15th century cathedral in Rome.
I was wearing my
Light gray suit that she later told me reminded
Her of the color of fresh volcano ash.

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

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

If I had known, I would have ran inside.

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

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

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

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

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

Game,

No question's asked?

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

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

"Yes, the future is very important."

"It is all we have."

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

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

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

"Somewhere very important I'd imagine."

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

She turned
To meet
My gaze a

As if challenging it.

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

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

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

"What do you mean?"

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

"Yes, I would agree with that."

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

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

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

She smiled and I forced a tight-lipped smirk.

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

"So be it."

"It is so."

"Are you mad? she asked.

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

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

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

"That sounds good."

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

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

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

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

"Life does not guarantee anything, does it?"

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

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

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

"Everything and nothing, I hear."

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

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

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

"Yes."

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

"That can't be it?"

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

"Assuming something
Is a very dangerous, childish thing.

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

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

Walk away

No questions asked or feelings hurt.

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

"
Why?"* I asked, surprised.

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

"I see."

"
But, please, go on."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"
And very nice to meet you."

"
You are from here?" she asked.

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

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

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

Manage their small farm of olive trees.

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

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

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

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

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

Necessary action."

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

Why would she tell me anything at all?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Terrible Things)

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

"Yes, Robert?" I heard Lu
Poetroyalee Jan 2017
What is it about stairs?
Walking down is
Done reluctantly
But walking up is done
Gleefully.

Walking down
Flights of stairs
Feels like
Walking into
A solitary nightmare.

Walking up
Flights of stairs
Feels like an escape
Into relief,
It’s like walking
Into the light,
Feeling light
Like a leaf,
Walking into
A door to the skies
Were the clouds
Like soft beds
Give comfort.

One can look below
At tiny dots of
Life, going and going,
Wind blowing
People screaming,
Chaos and serenity
Almost battling each
Other to maintain
unity.

From above,
There is much to see,
Much to feel
And time to heal.
But eventually high
Will inevitably
Lead to a low
And one must return
To the show.

One must walk
Down a flight of stairs
And face their fears.
Mitchell Duran May 2011
Assembly line broke down as the mirrors crashed and cracked.
"Angelina!!!" the crooked boss man yelled.
"Get in herre" the crook socks rang like bells.
Angelina poured sweat of the yellow blouse she had bought two days before for another interview in another office and another profession altogether. The room spun for her even though she would rather have it stay still.
"How much longer till this mechanism shifts and all of this stops altogether. Have their been madder women then me? Has there been madder men then me? Have their been madder times or are the times the same just with different tools and gears and nuts and bolts to tirelessly continue, heaving the corpses through the concrete cracked and littered streets?"
"Angelina!!!"
Another nail gun dropped to the floor, firing twenty rounds into fifty blue collared men's tie clips, deflecting them all to the near by wall which held the coats, the hats, the work shoes which the men were not allowed to wear due to "safety intrusions" and "labor union by lateral horizontal negative dairy laws". Another unfortunate fortune from the cracked mirror case but that, of course, is not the story, our story is...
"Angelina!!!"
Angy hurried up the hungry, empty metal n' holy stairs. She lost her high heels in a crack in the stairs but left them there due to the fear. 2011 had been a good year until she had been forced by her landlord, also her boyfriend, to get a real job rather then stuffing her knitted socks with her poetry and trying to haggle them to new age modern morons of the hip near sighters whom glasses were unintelligible but necessary. The mirrors of the conveyor belts reached the top of the platform but the door was shut. The mirrors bent and shattered leaving the splintered pattern of the world outside of them multiplied by the millions.
Noon was her lunch break and it was noon oh two. Angelina would be late with her lunch and the landlord, Nick, was planning to stop in with some home made sandwiches and home made potato chips.
"Nick will have to wait." Angelina thought to herself. "Nick hates to wait."
Angelina entered to stand in the wake of a shaking, sweating purse wearing, purse lipped boss boss. His hair was tossed to one side, struggling to hide his baldness. The subtelty of their relationship was difficult considering Angelina had slept with boss boss to get tossed this job. The act was actually enjoyable, Angelina thought him a good lay, but boss boss was not a fun person to be around, and he was a much worser boss.
"Angelina!!!"
"Hi."
"Your FIRED!"
"Bye then sir..."
"ANGELINA!!!"
"Yes sir?"
"AREN'T YOU GOING TO ASK WHY YOU WERE JUST SO HASTILY AND VIOLENTLY FIRED?"
"It is not my place to inquire why I was fired sir. If I was not doing my specific duty well enough I trust you, as my superior, to have thought what this subtraction would do to your company. If I had questioned you I would be questioning yourself as a boss and I would never want to do that...sir."
"VERY GOOD. DISMISSED!!!"

---

"So he just fired you, no explanation, nothing?"
"There was nothing really to say after the fact."
"You could have demanded an explanation."
"I was in a hurry to meet you. I know you hate to be late for our dates."
"That's sweet."
"And boss boss shouldn't have to explain himself, he IS a professional."
"He works in mirrors which doesn't make at all make him a ropes course supervisor."
"He's very handsome when He means what He says."
The home made potato chips had been burnt because Nick had fallen asleep while watching old re-runs of run marathons from the 80's. Nick had trained for the Olympics in 83' but while home after training and drinking an OK shake, Nick had stubbed his toe while drinking the OK shake and trying to get to a ringing telephone. Nick had collided so perfectly, so quickly and with such for that his right big toe had bent all the way back, his big toe fingernail touching the hairy patch on the top of his foot. The doctors said amputate the toe and save the foot or chop the entire thing off altogether. Nick, not being a dumb ****, opted for the entire foot. He never raced again.
"Are you going to try and get your job back?
"I don't know"
"Well. It's the 28th tomorrow and I need the rent either way. The insurance agency I'm with has been bugging me about percentages and utilities and...well, you don't want to hear about my worries."
"I don't mind sweety."
"Thanks doll. What're you gonna do?"
"Find more work I guess. I haven't written anything in a while, maybe it's a good time to get back on that train, see what comes up."
"I saw a help wanted sign at the mall nail salon."

---

Baby stroller wheels lined with pink and grey gum were lined up against the overwhelming glass wall enclosing the shops from the streets. Trees reflected green with the sun light lined across the clear wall. Birds flew at the top of the block near the ceiling crop, they wanted to come in but were confused how to do so. Children came through the valley with lollipops and balloon powder and strings lined with meats, they were headed to the capitalistic circus, a wonder land that only brought guilt from lovers and their future children's shame.
Angelina stood outside the electronic moment to moment receivers. She was afraid of not being allowed entry. Everyone entering entered easily, but what of she? Would she be accepted? Clicking her unpainted fingernail atop her leopard print clip purse and what was worse she had no cash to get her orange Julius or perhaps see a film if she couldn't conjure of the courage to stop off at the salon. That was why she had come here, right?
"Where had the salon been?" Angelina said aloud.
The mass of the mall was vibrating with a ferocious congruity. Through the fog of meaty torso's lay blank and content faces. Gripping their wares, their steaming quick food, some of it dropping to their foot only to be kicked around on the dirtied floor. At times a rat would scurry from underneath a traveling underwear salesmen to grab a piece of fried bread, half cooked meat, or small pieces of children's hair which floated softly down to the wet and mud streaked floor. Mall cops waved their sticks to each other, some kind of HAIL or CHEER that they were the one's in charge round' these parts and there wasn't nothing no one was going to do about it.
"Do I really want to work here?"
There was no choice though. Angelina needed to pay the rent or her landlord/boyfriend would kick her out on the street and from there, she had no clue where the blue sky would take her. Her parents, both dead thirteen years ago, would be a terrible place to set up camp, especially in a graveyard. Angelina's brother lived over seas working at a ***** clinic trying and failing to heal the weak and unwanted. He had tried to heal her through voodoo practices he gathered up drunk through his 6 month stay in New Orleans but it had only given her a bright blue and red rash for three to four weeks. She never longer trusted her brother with any kind of healing or "feel better" techniques and was no prepared to make the trek to Europe anytime soon, she was in a relationship at the moment anyway and she had a feeling she might be in love.
Angelina stepped through the glass exchanging doors in unison with a family that was entering at the same time. The door seemed to open for any body but was tentative if it would accept hers, this time, it seemed to.
Inside she made her way up "the miracle marbled stairs" which shined bright and blinded Angelina in certain parts of her eyes. They flashed bright red and greens and whites so visciously and fast Angelina thought she might have some kind of seizure. She planted her feet directly on each step as she walked up the 20 to 30 stairs, going very slow and gripping the handrail. People started to gather around behind her shouting "HURRY UP LADY" and "WE DON"T GOT ALL DAY" and giggling to themselves.
"Were they not seeing these lights?" Angelina thought to herself.
"Do you kind people know where the nail salon is?"
Angelina then realized that what she had just said made no sense. Her eyes were gripped shut, her hand tight around the shiny gold handrail, her feet pointed strictly out like some kind of paralyzed summer penguin. The people which had gathered behind her stood bare, jaw slacked, wondering who would step forth to help this poor helpless creature.
A little girl with red sparkled shoes and a orange bow atop her head stepped forth. She smiled even though she knew Angelina had her eyes tightly shut, maybe she would feel the warmth? The girl's mother reached for her so not to get to close to that "crazy lady" but the little girl pulled away, her father saying "If it's her time to go, it's her time to go".
"Miss lady with the tiger purse, I think the hardware nail pull on is on the 8th floor next to the people that sell bread with meat sticks inside."
The little girl stepped gingerly back as Angelina loosened her grip on the now stained golden handrail. She shook her hair out and ran her fingers through it, straightening herself up as if she were about to perform a song or late night poetry reading. Angelina opened her eyes and peered down at the girl.
"Thank you little girl. What's the best way to get there?"
The girl child said nothing. She pointed to a large metal box shooting up and down the length that looked like a rocket straight to heaven. People were gathered all around its foundation, oooing and ahhhing at the sight of the one's which entered. There was a sign over the line of tubes reading "A Shot at the Void".
"A shot at the Void..." Angelina tentaively breathed to herself.
Angelina stepped up the last couple glittering stairs and made her way through the thick crowd of stale clothes, cheap tricks, obsessed teeny boppers, hardware for wear, shoes with no laces, strips of bacon hanging from mouths, lettuce all shredded, soda cans with their lids torn clean off with small splatters of blood lined on the rim, and a perfectly painted fingernail was drawn on the number eight where the long lines and rows of numbers were there to guide the one's to the shot.
"Number eight. Easy enough"
Angelina pushed the button.

---

Inside the tube there was a slow light hum of jazz transfusion and children breathing. There were three little daughters gripping their mother's hands as they bit into their soda pop straws, ******* up the soda inside the plastic and cardboard cups. All three children stared up at her, maybe wondering what she was wondering, which was exactly what Angelina was wondering, a combination of mistaken telepathy, an accident of consciousness that would be never be talked about between the four of them but most surely existed between them.

Smooth as clay they drifted up the translucent clear glass tube, shooting skyward like a man made rocket shot from a man made gun. They passed shops hocking wears of angelic colors: clear pearl pastels shone through the clear blue glass shining into Angelina's eyes forcing Her to squint, dog barks could be heard through the whistling air begging for treats of black and brown, teriyaki chicken strips and duck heads spun absurdly fast with a rhythm that resembled the wave of a crowd at a baseball game waving wildly like children flying from swings never wanting to land in the sand; all this as the three and one flew higher and higher and higher.

---

Ding.

---

Angelina stepped forward, leaving the three children behind Her to fend for themselves. From the looks of the button they had pushed they were headed East. She gripped her bag and peeled Her eyes, twisted her hair in a tight knot to show her aggression, her vigor, her confidence and stepped into the rabid salmon like crowd.

She saw no signs of the nail salon. She saw only posters of rabbits holding artichoke legs and nail guns firing rockets of ice cream and corn bread. These were the mirrors of the supposed revolution but had nothing to do with her nail salon, she needed the cash and she needed it NOW! How hard were the numbers to acquire? How long must she wait before the envelope is sent and the letter read and thrown out? How long Lord, how long?

Questions for a time when the pay checks were easy coming and Her man was by her side. She passed by a little boy playing William Tell with her sister. An apple on the little tots head and in the boys a small, tight and silver ray gun. The boy pulled the trigger but only a small plume of smoke came from the top making the boy ball over crying and wailing and kicking and screaming, nearly catching Angelina in the shin, what a mess...The little girl stayed still in Her spot though because her brother told her "Now don't move a cinch." Wise move my girl, wise move...

At last! Angelina, reaching Her destination saw the brightly neon colored corner of her beloved Nail Salon. The windows shone with pure red glitter, miniatures of poodles lapping up puddles of ice water, women laying out on the sun to catch rays from the Earth, and husbands shaving their backs all in a circle and row.

"How beautiful..." Angelina breathed out.

She entered the store front. Greeted from every corner were beautiful young cupid like angels faces shining divine but with no torsos, floating heads of angels ***** but crying and smiling. Asking Angelina "What would you like today miss?" or "What are you after?", beckoning for her requests, begging for her touch of vulnerability and lack of knowledge of where she was or what she needed.

"Just an application...I heard you all were hiring?"

"Hiring!!!?" the cupid heads screamed in unison.

"You want to become one of us?"

"Yes, part-time...?" Angelina said hesitantly.

As soon as the words "part" had been uttered from Angelina's wise and brave mouth the many heads of cupid began spinning and spinning around Angelina's body. Faster and faster they spun until Angelina herself was spinning with them, unified in a quadruple hurricane stripping her of her former self and slowly manipulating her body, her hair, her other self into her new self.

As Angelina's torso lay in the corner of the store un-bloodied, clothes tattered as well as some scratches  on her elbows from the toss, Angelina's head was floating in the perfect center of the other three hovering cupid heads.

"How beautiful...how beautiful...how beautiful."

"Isn't it?" the three cupid heads answered.

"Yes, everything here is so beautiful," the four of them whispered.

And as soon as Angelina had entered, she just as soon had left.

END
“It really is,” I whispered, “It really is a beautiful world."


     “This really doesn’t feel safe,” Jamie said, her voice holding just a hint of fear. She was probably right. By anyone’s standards, this was straight up stupid, and here I had convinced her to come along with me.
     “Nah it’s totally fine. I wouldn’t do anything to put you in too much danger.” I said this without a hint of doubt in my voice, confident as usual. I had to keep the fearless and confident image or she might change her mind. I hoped the risk would be worth it in the end, but I couldn’t really be sure. How could I know unless I tried? If I didn’t try, I would just be left wondering how great it might have been.
     “We are really freaking high.” This time Jamie said it deadpan, more of an emotionless observation than anything else. Again, she was right. I looked down the long white ladder past her. It was probably 80 yards to the ground from where we were. Above us was another 20 yards of ladder, leading up to a narrow platform. We were climbing a water tower. The platform above us circled around the tower just below where it began to bulge outward into a spherical shape at the top. There was no safety cage around us, nothing to break our fall except for the climbing harnesses we wore. Each harness had two straps, each with a clip on the end. One clip would be snapped onto the first rung, then the next clip to the second, and so forth until we reached the top. It wasn’t fool proof but it was better than nothing.
     “But seriously my hands are getting tired. How much further is it?” Jamie was great, but complaining was one of her most annoying flaws. Most people wouldn’t have made it this far anyway. The fact that she had was just a testament to the athleticism and strength she had underneath all that complaining.
     “Close. Maybe fifty rungs. Hang on for another five minutes and we can sit down and rest.” Yet again she was right. My hands and forearms were burning like crazy. I had long ago learned that climbing with gloves on a slick painted surface was asking for trouble, so today we had no protection from the narrow rungs pressing into our skin.
     For the next fifty rungs, the only sound I could hear above my heavy breathing was the clink and snap as each clip was removed and replaced. It was surprisingly calm this evening, the sun not quite finished slipping below the horizon. It was late August, so the temperature was still somewhere in the 70s this time of day. The backpack on my back seemed to get heavier and heavier the higher we went. I could feel the straps digging into my shoulders and trying to tip me over backwards. This bag was far too big for what I was doing, but I needed some way to bring a sleeping bag and blanket up. Finally, my hand left the last rung and found the top of the steel platform. I unclipped from the last rung and snapped on to the hand rail that went around the outside edge before I reached down to take Jamie’s hand.
     “Thank you sir,” she said, “I see chivalry is not dead.” Her hand brushed a few loose strands of long blonde hair out of her face as she stood upright next to me, looking out over the edge.
     “Ok, you were right. This is worth it.” She said in a matter of fact tone. I laughed softly.
     “This isn’t actually what we came for,” I said with a grin, “We aren’t done climbing yet. I just didn’t think you would actually come if I told you how far we were going. But the view is really nice here.”
     “You can’t be serious. I didn’t see anything going up any further.” She sounded rather incredulous.
     “We have to follow this platform around to the other side. There is a set of stairs going up to the very top. At least it isn’t another ladder.” I tried to sound confident, like it had already been decided that we would go on, but I couldn’t stop a tiny bit of a pleading tone from leaking in. I knew there was a small chance that she would want to stop here, but I also knew that going just a bit further would be completely worth it. I had scoped this tower out from the ground several times, using my trusty binoculars that I bargained for at a neighbor’s yard sale. When I discovered the stairs going up past the platform, I used an online satellite map to take a peek at the very top of the tower. From what I had been able to tell, at the very top there was a completely level platform, twelve to fifteen feet in diameter, with a secure looking rail around it. Amazing what a person can find online.
     My hope was to spend the night on that platform, hence the sleeping bag and blanket in my massive backpack. Tonight was supposed to be the brightest and most active meteor shower of the year in North America and the weather had decided to be kind to us star gazers, leaving a clear and cloudless sky for the evening. It would be perfect. Perfect if Jamie would go along with it, that is.
     “You are the worst kind of person,” she said. She wasn’t facing me so I couldn’t really tell how she felt about it. Finally she turned around and rolled her eyes. “Ohhhkaaaay. Let’s go. We’ve already gone this far.” She was used to situations like this. I was the one who always wanted to push the limits, go a little further, risk just a bit more, and she was the one who always asked me to reconsider and then went along with it anyway. I always felt bad for a little while, but I got over it pretty quick. It’s not like she didn’t know me well.
     “You are the best kind of person,” I said with a wink and a grin, “But let’s rest for a bit. My arms are tired now.” We sat down and I took off my backpack, setting it on the platform beside me, digging through a side pocket. I pulled out two bottles of water and a box of Poptarts.
     “Poptart?” I offered, “Snack of champions. All the professional water tower climbers eat them I heard.”
     “How are you not fat,” she replied, taking a delicious cherry snack from the silver wrapper. It wasn’t a question really, it was more a running joke between her and I about how much I should actually weigh. She’d usually joke that one day all the junk I eat would hit me at once and I would wake up weighing 400 pounds. Even though she joked, she wasn’t beyond being bitter about my eating habits since she worked hard to keep a perfect physique.
     Next I pulled out two plain white pieces of paper and handed one to her. I began folding mine delicately into the perfect paper airplane, using the flat section of the water tower for some of the more delicate creases.
     “I don’t know why I hang out with you. You are literally so freaking weird. Like who the hell would bring paper up the side of a water tower just to make a paper airplane.” She laughed even as she criticized. I knew she didn’t really mind. She had on multiple occasions told me that my “quirkiness” as she put it definitely made me more interesting to be around. I guess I was a little odd, but I didn’t really think that was a bad thing. I did what I thought to be amusing or entertaining. It wasn’t my fault the rest of the world didn’t seem to feel quite the same way about life.
     “In fifty years don’t you want to be able to set your grandchild on your lap and tell them all about the time you tossed a paper airplane off the side of a water tower? Grandkids don’t want to hear boring stories. I would know. I was a grandkid once.” Jamie just shook her head with a grin and started folding her airplane. Mine was finished and ready to be launched into the great unknown.
     “This is Air Farce One to ground station Loser, requesting permission to take off.” I did my best Top Gun impression, trying to remember how cool Tom Cruise sounded when he said it.
     “This is ground station Awesome to Air Farce One. Ground station Loser could not be located but we can go ahead and give you permission to launch. Have a nice flight.” Jamie still had at least a little bit of a child left in her. I tossed my paper airplane over the side, watching it glide several hundred yards before landing in the low branches of a tree. Mission complete.
     “What perfect throwing form you have,” Jamie said sarcastically, "You were probably one of those nerds who just made paper airplanes in class all day as a kid." Ouch. Yea, that had been me. Jamie wound up and threw her airplane with all her strength. She had made more of a dart than a glider and it flew fast, eventually landing in a tree considerably further than mine had.
     “You win this round,” I said with mock disgust, only barely able to hide a smile, “Let’s keep going.” I removed my clips from the rail and began walking along the platform. The bulb at the top of the tower was much bigger than it looked from the ground. I could just imagine the thousands of gallons of water above and beside me.
     Eventually we reached the stairs. It was nice of the designers to have taken pity on the poor inspectors who had to climb this far up. A ladder going around the outside of the bulb would have been terrifying. The stairs curling around the side felt much more secure. Reaching the top, there was a narrow platform leading from the edge of the bulb where the stairs ended to the flat space in the center of the tower. There was only a handrail on the left side so Jamie and I were sure to snap our harnesses on. The sun had almost fully set by now, the last tendrils of light just enough to see by as we made our way to the center.
     “Okay this is cool. You know what we should have done? We totally should have brought an air mattress up here and slept or something,” Jamie thought aloud. “I’ll bet the stars look amazing from here. Oh and look you can already see the city lights over there!” I loved seeing her excited. She would take one hand and play with her hair while the other would point at things. It was kind of weird when I thought about it, how she always pointed at things when she was excited. But that was just Jamie being Jamie.
     “You read my mind.” I pulled the sleeping bag and blanket out of the backpack and laid them on the flat steel. I probably should have realized how cold that steel was going to be. Oh well.
     “We are so in sync right now,” Jamie laughed. “This is awesome. You were right.”
     “Wait so what did you think was in the bag?” I asked. She hadn’t mentioned it before and I never said anything about it.
     “Honestly I thought it was a parachute or some **** and you were going to try jumping off the edge,” she laughed, “I would have tried to stop you but I decided I really won’t feel guilty when you die doing something stupid.”
     “Brilliant!” I exclaimed, “I am so going to try that next time!” I wouldn’t really. I liked doing risky things, but I wasn’t suicidal. We spent the next few minutes getting the sleeping bag and blanket situated. I loved the fact that Jamie could be spontaneous sometimes and that she was totally okay with just camping out on top of a random water tower on a Wednesday night. How many people in the world would have been okay with that? I was lucky to have her as a friend.
     We had everything settled by the time darkness fell completely. The climbing harnesses had been stuffed into the backpack and the backpack had been strapped to the railing on the side of the platform. With the sleeping bag laid completely open, there was still at least five or six feet of open platform on all sides of us. It felt secure enough.
     “I also forgot to mention that tonight is a huge meteor shower.” Jamie and I were on our backs, looking up at the infinite blackness.
     “I love shooting stars.” She said softly. Her eyes were wide and I could see her making fake mustaches out of her hair. She had kicked off her shoes and socks and was wiggling her toes in the night air. There was only a sliver of moon, just bright enough that I could see the glow of it on her cheeks.
     “It makes me feel small,” Jamie whispered, “I feel like that should bother me, feeling small, but it doesn’t. It’s weird because it’s almost comforting to me. Here I am, this tiny speck of dust, floating around on a larger speck of dust in the middle of infinity.” She wasn’t usually one to enjoy philosophy, but on the rare occasions she spoke like that, her point of view and opinions usually inspired me. She had a beautiful mind. She just didn’t often care to open up and share it like this.
“It makes me feel like it can’t all be an accident. Some people say that we got here through a series of random and fortunate events, that there is no great plan or design. But I just don’t see how that can be. How can mere chance create something like this? Of all the possibilities, of the infinite infinite possibilities, I just can’t believe that people, that you and I or anyone else were put here by accident. I don’t think that life could be an accident.” She spoke softly the whole time. Her voice never raised or quickened. Words seemed to flow forth effortlessly, as if this all were prepared and practiced. She was able to speak without doubt or hesitation, with such certainty that even the greatest cynic might have stopped to listen.
     She continued on, weaving words as though spells, playing ideas as though harp strings. She talked about her life, telling me things she never had before, teaching me things even I didn’t know. Jamie didn’t seem to be Jamie for the next while. Instead, she seemed to have become a font of wisdom, ideas, and genius. At least, that is how I saw her. She was able to take a single idea, and examine it from all perspectives. It was as though she held it in her palm, slowly rotating it to peer closer. She made connections that I had never thought of, inspiring me to think even deeper, loving the moment. All the while she lay there, watching the stars, wiggling her toes, and making pretend mustaches out of that long blonde hair. Eventually, she turned silent.
     “But what if it is an accident?” I said. My voice was unusually soft. “What if it was all an accident? What if there is no plan, no fate, and no reason for anything? What if there is no beginning or end and we are just insignificant bits of space dust? The idea of it not being an accident just seems so conveniently comforting, almost too convenient.” Jamie was silent after I finished. My heart was beating fast and my mind was alive. I didn’t feel close to being tired.
     “So what if it is,” she said eventually, “What difference does it make? Even if it is all an accident. Even if there is no meaning to life at all, it seems like a beautiful accident to me. Here we are, you and I, able to share this with each other. That seems like a beautiful accident to me. Here is this great big world, all the adventure, all the excitement, and all the love that it is filled with. That seems like a beautiful accident to me. Here is this infinitely huge sky, filled with stars that are incomprehensibly far away. If this is all an accident, it is the most beautiful I can imagine.” She paused for a while longer. “I feel that whatever you believe, it doesn’t really matter. Perhaps you believe there is a supreme design and plan, or maybe you believe that life is an accident filled with chaos. It doesn’t matter. We all live in the same world. We all see the same beautiful sights, we are surrounded by it. It is only our perception of it that differs. I choose to believe that such an incredibly beautiful world cannot be an accident.”
     I was quiet for a long time. Jamie had, for all intents and purposes, rocked my world. Hers was a perspective I had never thought of before. I, who believed I had thought it through from every angle. I, who believed myself smarter than the world. I realized then, at that moment, laying on the top of a water tower in late August watching a meteor shower, that maybe I was not a genius. Maybe I did not have the world figured out like I had believed. Maybe, just maybe, I was just a cynic; a cynic blinded by the misfortunes I had seen and suffered; a cynic disappointed in a world that had not treated me well.
     Jamie took my hand in hers, interlocking her slender fingers within my larger ones. She turned her head to the side and looked at me, still sporting a fake mustache. The sliver of moon was reflected in her eyes just so that I could not really look into them. Her lips were curled into just the slightes
Does it really matter whether or not this world,
Is made from some divine blueprint?
What beauty is lost in either idea?
It doesn't matter if this is an accident.

Excerpt from my book of short stories, Fictional Truth.
Amanda Fern was twenty years old, long blond hair with brown eyes and many called her beautiful.

She was desired by many men, a six foot beauty, of slim build with curves that drove them wild.

She always dressed to please, like tonight she wore a dress that left nothing to the imagination, it was pink and by the way it clung to her body it was obvious she wore nothing underneath.

She wore leather knee high boots and she was waiting for a client to pick her up for her job was an escort.

At eighteen a rich boyfriend had paid for her to have implants, 34DD, he had been sixty seven and she had dumped him after she got what she wanted.

She found richer and older men paid more to have her, and they never lasted long, if they had the money she would use them and she never lost her heart to any of them.

She had received three hundred dollars from someone by the name of Sam Haine, she had never met him and she was to wait for transport to pick her up to take her to the rural countryside.

She was hoping this Samuel Haine, whoever he was, would be her next sugar daddy.

Suddenly  a coach of horses arrived, with a coachman dressed in black, his face hidden by a black scarf who beckoned for her to get into the coach.

"Whatever" she said and entered and sat in the coach, it had leather seats and must have cost a fortune.

The journey was long, leaving the city and heading for the country, past fields which seemed dark and eerie in the night.

They arrived at a mansion, ivy covered the walls and  Amanda could see the large oak doors were open as inviting her to enter them.

The coachman opened the door of the coach, and never spoke but she got the message, she was to enter the mansion alone.

As she entered those oak doors, beautiful crystal chandeliers bathed her in candlelight, but there was no one to greet her, it was then she heard his voice for the first time.

"Come to the master bedroom, third floor at the top of the stairs, the door is open" he said from up above those stairs with dark green carpets.

It was a voice of someone younger than she expected, a voice that seemed so ancient but sounded so gentle.

Amanda walked up the stairs then came to her destination, through she could see a four poster bed with white silk sheets, covered with red rose petals and as she entered the room she saw him for the first time.

He looked to be thirtyish, he had long flowing brown hair, it flowed past his shoulders and he was the most handsome man she had ever seen in her life.

His eyes seemed coal black, but they shined and he seemed so pale skinned, standing there in an old fashioned looking frilled white shirt and black trousers.

He must had been six foot four, she wasn't used to men taller than herself and that voice was like music to her when he spoke.

"You are a beauty indeed, come to me" he said, and she approached him for this was the first time she had ever wanted a man, had felt this way.

He lifted her dress and she felt it glide off over her head and his eyes seemed to glow as he studied her naked body and she knew she had to have him.

He lay her on the bed and she felt him kiss down her body and then his mouth and tongue found her thighs and he tasted her, and she shuddered with delight.

He probed her masterfully with his tongue, tasting her deep inside and she exploded with an ****** that rocked her from within, for the first time she was in love.

He undressed, then joined her on the bed, his body was well formed with muscles and she needed him.

He kissed and gently nibbled her ******* making her wet again, then he was inside her moving with a slow and gentle rhythm, she wrapped her legs around him and screamed as he brought her to ****** time and time again.

He never made a sound and when he came inside her, she felt him flow deep into her and she felt alive, she never knew *** could ever feel like this.

She stayed there on the bed, and she watched him dress and she felt her heart sink, hoping he would ask her to stay and not send her back to the city.

"Please stand my sweet" he said and she obeyed, he came to her and she felt his right hand touch her left breast as her heart beat fast.

She never felt the pain, all she knew was he had something in his hand as he took it away from her chest and she looked down and saw her blood gushing from a hole below her left breast.

She saw the evil in his eyes as he watched her dying, as darkness came to her all she could think was "He stole my heart".
copyright Chris Smith 2010
Paolo C Perez Oct 2012
His Funeral was today.  Well, his wake rather.  It was in his old colonial home on Elm Street, a bought of irony that Paolo would never get.  Anyway, it was an odd set up at his house. Family and friends downstairs in the living room, acquaintances and honorable mentions meandering through the hallways clearly more interested in the intricate little floral patterns that adorned the wallpaper than how his family was holding up.  The company of the house was split, everyone either legitimately full of sorrow, or completely full of ****.  In everyone’s grasp either handkerchiefs or hand grenades it was as if the invitation read “Come see it to believe it!” In the study across the hall a small memorial was set up.  Big cards, tons of photos, some flowers, anyone who actually cared stayed there and stared at his once happy face, who knew what it looks like now.  
He had died of some sort of overdose, one that destroyed his heart, so he would have looked fine in an open casket.  The doctors say it was *******.  I don’t believe them.  Paolo had his fun in college, ***, *****, sure, but coke?  There’s no way.    The services weren’t to take place for another two hours, so his family rolled him onto the second floor balcony.  It was actually his dad’s decision, something about a “disgrace” and not wanting to look at his face.
Apparently his mom had felt bad letting her dead son chill on the porch for a few hours, so she rolled him across the hallway to his own room him and kind of laid him out on the bed, as if letting her baby boy take his eternal sleep where he’d have had most of his shorter ones.  
Picturing him lying up there was the first negative connotation I ever had with the image of him on that bed.  He had that kind of headboard that when we started getting at it the bed would hit the wall with each rhythmic movement.  Steady and almost tribal as our bodies danced to the ever increasing beat of a talking drum.  Our clothes off and our skin glazed with sweat it was like my own personal method for getting high. Now don’t get the impression that our relationship was based purely on a physical connection, we’d been dating for three and a half years, the love was there all right.  
We had met in the strangest of ways, through a mutual friend that I was kind of, almost, sort of, but not really having a “thing” with, you know?  Cisco was his name.  So we were together one day and he, being the adorable spaz that he was, had forgotten that his own birthday party was that same night.  He asked if I didn’t mind tagging along, it was a celebration for him and two friends whose birthdays followed his in sequence.  
This had been going on for several weeks, and I know we weren’t dating but I still had a feigning interest in the guy.  So we arrive to this girl, Cristina’s, house and I noticed this other boy almost immediately.  In a backwards cap and pair of boot cut jeans he was jumping around, tossing his arms, right in the middle of reciting some hilarious anecdote to any of his friends who hadn’t heard it yet; even those who had seemed riveted.  He was so full of charisma and with such assurance.  Besides that he was kind of cute so, though pathetically, I tried flirting with him for the rest of the night; he didn’t really catch on.  We left that night without having exchanged more than ten words between each other, I thought I’d never see him again, turns out I was wrong.  
“Broadway CAREols.  Show others that you care by enjoying a night of with your favorite blend of Christmas ditties and Broadway biddies” And before you ask, Yes, I did come up with that title, I think it was great and it was at the top of each flyer in big red and green letters and if you asked me “If you could do it again…” I would do it the same each and every time don’t judge me.
It was a show I had to direct for a community service project and of all people he played the piano for my show.  Only me and several other girls made up the cast, and I knew how easy it was to mistake a positive attitude for flirtation when it comes from a handsome young man.  He ran the music over three or four times individually with each cast member before the night of the show, but when Paolo and I worked that night he stopped me and just sang. For me.  
Each night after rehearsal I had to give him a ride home, I was a year older and thus had my license a year sooner.  I’d never mind allowing myself more time to bask in the glow of his perfectly understated confidence, so I was happy to oblige.  Technically Connecticut state imposed a law forbidding new drivers under the age of 18 to be on the roads past 11 at night.  My mom, being a government employee, really stressed this one.  His house was a solid ten minutes drive from our rehearsal spot, and my mom often warned me to allow myself enough time to get back home before 11.  What started as me beginning to drive faster and faster during the trip home ended as a routine each night, where I would finally allow him to step out of my car just as the clock read 11:00 PM.  
Our first kiss was in that car, my first uncontrollable breakdown was in the car, hell the first time he told me he loved me was in that car…right at the lip of the driveway.  I learned to ride my brakes perfectly to the point where I could park just beyond the edge of the sidewalk yet just before the point where the porch light would flash on, reminding his mother that his son is out past ten on a school night.  It was so warm.  I’ll never forget the cadence of his laughter as it trailed off, seamlessly merging with that next statement “Anna, I love you”.  I could have sworn the porch light went on.  

Now I know it may seem like I don’t care for his being dead right now, but the thing is, I did something.  I did something really bad.

You see, I had mentioned that he was up in his room, right?  Still, stiff, simply waiting to be brought down in a few hours as the catalyst to another round of tears.  Now don’t get me wrong, I did my share of crying the night before.  He’d been in the hospital for only a few days and when they told us he was dead…God, he was just so young, two years into college, the friend you have who was chasing his dreams down with a brand new pair of sneakers.  That kid the whole town knew because of the multitude of silly town functions he attended.  He would always insist.  Every other weekend was one silly thing or another “Oh you’re gonna love this.  Two words – ‘Poetry showdown’.  If you can’t take the heat, don’t stay in the kitchen”
The day of the funeral I just had to see him.  I snuck up the two floors to his room on the third floor.  As I neared his door at the top of that final flight of stairs each creak of the floorboard seemed to resonate through the house, followed by the hollow silence of my stillness.  I paused with each step as if stepping in larger spans of time would make what I was doing seem less suspicious, should someone hear me.  Upon touching his doorknob I felt an immediate chill. I couldn’t tell whether it was some ghostly feeling of being in the presence of a dead person, or the fact that the thermostat had been turned down to keep his body prime for viewing.
I held my breath as I opened the door, and blinked a couple times when I saw him.  He was wearing what everyone else was in downstairs, black tuxedo and a dark tie.  I know he would have scowled had he known he was going to be buried in a constricting penguin suit.  We had a conversation about it, you know?  Out on Academy Hill, right in the middle of a picnic. We were in enough shade that his transition lenses were only half tinted, and when he sat up, it was abruptly.  Pushing my head off his chest he kind of leaned in to the cemetery in the distance and pointed out how sad it is that no one really ever gets the chance to choose how they want to spend the rest of eternity dressed in.  He would have preferred his puma sneakers, still white after seven months, his striped green and blue socks, his only pair of ripped designer jeans and that express shirt he loved so much because it showed off his natural physique.  
I moved closer, inching toward him at first, then quicker as I broke through a place where I just relaxed, and for a moment he wasn’t dead.  For a moment he was just sleeping, all ready in his fancy get up simply waiting for me to wake him up.  I found myself sitting next to him, my eyes cast downward, half expecting his gaze to meet mine, and while stroking his hair I got an idea.  It happened quickly, and I kind of have a problem with acting upon my impulses, it’s something he used to criticize me on that and I never really improved.  Without thinking I threw open his drawer and pulled out what I knew he’d have wanted to be dressed in, should he have gotten the chance to create a will concerning his death-wear.  As I pulled of his starchy shirt my hand brushed against his chest, chilled as the room was, eerie as nothing else.  I finally got him down past his pants and saw, of all abominations, that he was outfitted in a fresh pair of tighty whities.  God, it’s as if the funeral home was asking to be haunted by his tormented soul.  I found his single pair of silk boxers and reassembled him in the way I knew he’d have wanted to be.
So great, now everyone will think I’m a loon for having desecrated his body.  Well what do they know; I’m the only one who ever really knew him! But how the hell would I explain it to his parents when the pallbearers march in and there he is, laying face up in his street clothes?  
This wasn’t right.  He didn’t belong here, he needed to be somewhere comfortable, someplace he enjoyed, not sitting upstairs in a suit with the lights off and the air blasting.  He hated the cold!  Certainly he would have hated a hundred people staring at his dead and lifeless shell, and he would, without a doubt, hate being six feet under, pushing daises at the Nichols Road cemetery.
I wrapped my arms around him, and as the building adrenaline made my breaths deepen I inhaled several moments of ecstasy off his clothes that still clung to his musty scent.  I lowered him gently to the floor and took care as I dragged him across the carpet to his door.  After fumbling, for what felt like several minutes, on his door handle I got him onto the awning introducing the stairs.  I even made it down the first flight of stairs without freezing up at the tiniest creak when I heard someone coming my way.  ******, they must need to use the bathroom, why couldn’t they just use the one downstairs like any normal person?  Without hesitation I throw open up the window near bottom of the stairs, heaving myself and him, sending us tumbling onto the garage roof.  Ignoring my probable bruises I spring up and slam the window behind me while taking special care to hide us both as far away from the bathroom window as possible.
Sitting up there, my heart racing, I felt his hand in mine and it was probably because my palms had gone clammy but I swear for a span of time he was alive again.  I closed my eyes and felt the breeze in my hair and was transported to a place where I spent a single moment in each day we ever shared.  Each beach side sandcastle, each afternoon spent cloud gazing, those same afternoons turning into evenings of star gazing, each and every night spent utterly and irrevocably lost with this silly boy that chose to love me.  
I was torn from my oasis as I heard the bathroom’s occupant exit and continue downstairs.   Knowing that my van was parked on the other side of the street I pushed his body as close to the edge of the roof as I could without his falling off and let him be. I hopped back inside and ran downstairs, but not before flying through the doors of the memorial and interrupting his mothers eulogy.  In an act of sheer brilliance I mustered a few tears and tore out the back door.  Everyone figured I was just so taken away by his death that I couldn’t stand to be there anymore.  Who knew anxiety could be mistook for remorse so easily?
I ran down the driveway, losing the grace I had composed in my dress in high heels the moment I slammed that door.  I jumped into Emmet, my van, because only crazy people drive around in un-named vehicles.  
I pulled out of my spot, nearly ruining the paint job on both my and his Uncle Ed’s car.  I flew my trunk door open and set the third row down, the general idea being his landing securely in my back seat.  I reversed up the driveway with the precision of a surgeon and the speed of a leopard right back to the edge of the garage where I had tossed his body.  I jumped out of my car nearly forgetting to put it into park before I shut off the engine.  I barely got halfway around my car before becoming transfixed on his hand, hanging off the gutter as if reaching for mine to grab hold and pull him to sweet salvation.  I jumped up a few times, unsuccessfully before I took off my shoes and got a good running start.  I flew up, grabbed his arm and ****** towards the car in a sideways downward motion.  He nearly cracked his head on the pavement coming down, he would have too if it wasn’t for my body breaking his fall.  I got up, too distracted by the sheer volume of my own heart to realize the pain I felt.  I shoved him into my back seat, slammed the trunk, stumbled into the car, stuck it in reverse and stepped on gas without even putting my shoes back on.

I told you I had done something bad.
This is a first draft, please, I welcome your critiques.
Cathy Hoff Sep 2015
Oh, the many feet
that have trod these stairs.
White,
red, and
brown.
Walking, running, skipping,
down and up, up and down.
Runaway slaves hid ‘neath the ‘case
waiting for that friendly voice
to say the coast was clear, and
they could travel father north
or stay in the village near.
The soldiers with their rifles,
going off to fight.
Women left on the homefront,
comforting children through the night.
Happy times, sad times,
through oh so much.
These stairs have carried families
up and down, down and up.
Stairs fly as straight as hawks;
Or else in spirals, curve out of curve, pausing
At a ledge to poise their wings before relaunching.
Stairs sway at the height of their flight
Like a melody in Tristan;
Or swoop to the ground with glad spread of their feathers
Before they close them.

They curiously investigate
The shells of buildings,
A hollow core,
Shell in a shell.

Useless to produce their path to infinity
Or turn it to a moral symbol,
For their flight is ambiguous, upwards or downwards as you please;
Their fountain is frozen,
Their concertina is silent.
guy scutellaro Sep 2018
(continues from where Jack  and Kate have exited O'Malley's wedding reception and are standing outside the bar)


"Hello Mr. Martin," Jack says to an old man slowly shuffling up Main Street.

"Who is he?" Kathleen asks.

"I know him from the barber shop. The barber pays him a few dollars to clean and sweep the hair off of the floor. He has a room above the bar."

When Joesph Martin approaches them, Jack asks, "Hello, how are you?"

"I'm an old man, Jack. How could I be?" But then he smiles, "Ahh, I can't complain and how are you?"

"Still alive and well."

"Who is this pretty young lady?" Mr. Martin asks.

"This is Kate." Jack tells him.

Joesph Martin reaches with his hand and takes her by the arm. Gently he squeezes. "Hello Kate, such a pretty name for such a pretty woman. It's nice to meet you."

The thick eye glasses that he wears magnify his sad eyes. Kathleen is cold and dizzy and half heartedly, she smiles.

"Good by Jack and Kate. Have as much fun now because you're going to be dead for a long, long time."

""How long?" Delleto inquires.

The old man just smirks and the continues walking up the street until he comes to the door that leads to the stairwell and his room above the Wagon Wheel bar. Anthony turns to face the door. The small window is broken and the shards of glass catch the twilight.

Joseph Martin turns back looking at the young man and woman who are about to get into a car. He is not certain what he wants to say to them. Perhaps he wants to tell them that it ***** being an old man and that the upstairs hallway always smells of ****.

He wants to say to them that although Anna died ten years ago he still loves her and misses her every day. Joesph recalls that Plato in Tamaeus believed that the soul is a stranger to the Earth and has fallen on account of sin into matter.

Jack waves to Joesph.

A faint smile appears on Joesph Martin's wrinkled face as he heeds the resignation he hears in his own thoughts. Joesph waves back. The mustang drives off.

Earth, O  Island Earth.


Joesph pushes open the door and goes  into the hallway. The fragments of glass scattered across foyer crunch and clink under his worn shoes. The cold wind blowing through the broken window touches his warm neck. He shivers and starts up the stairs.

Little illumination is provided by the 25 watt light bulb at the top of the stairs. There is only enough light to dimly see the wall and his own breathing. There is just enough light, like when he awakens from a bad dream, to remember who he is and to separate the horror of what was dreamt from the horror of what is real.

The old man continues climbing the stairs following the familiar shadow of the wall cast onto the stairs. If he crosses the vaque line he will become invisable like a four pound trout hiding in the deepest hole of a creek. By the  time he reaches the second floor he is out of breath.  Joesph  pauses and with his handerchief he has taken from his back pocket he wipes the moisture from the lenses of his eyeglasses.

A couple of the doors are standing open and the old man cautiously looks into each room as he hurries past them. Down at the end of the hall the fire exit sign glows above the door. One forty-watt light bulb hangs from a frayed wire from the ceiling halfway down the corridor. The wiring is old and the bulb in the white porcelain socket above the door and hallway stairs flicker like the blink of an eye or the fearful beating of an old man's heart.

When he opens the door to his room, it sags on ruined hinges.

Several seconds pass as he nervously searches with his hand for the light switch, finds it, and turns on the light. Vigilantly, he looks around the cramped, sparse room, over at the bed against the wall, and then across the room to the dresser beside the sink.

The opening of one door and the closing of another outside in the hallway ushers Joesph Martin into his room before his inspection is complete. Quickly, he pushes his door closed. Without taking off his coat, he sits down on the bed and reaches to turn on the radio.

It is gone.

Hard soled boots echo hollowly off the hallway doors. The overlapping echoes make it impossible for Joesph  to determine whether the footsteps are approaching or leaving. He lays back on his bed. Resigning himself to another sleepless night, he  rolls over onto his side and the wall.

He thinks of Anna and the garden behind their house. He feels the warmth of the sun emanating from the white bricks of the house as he walks the path to the garden. He remembers how sweet the air smelled and Anna standing there, waiting there with a plate freshly made oat meal cookies. She made the cookies every Sunday before going to church and she was beautiful and Joseph  aches tonight with the love he feels for Anna.

Earth, O island Earth.
continues with Kate  and Jack leaving the bar and Jack taking Kate home.
Well I saw her on the stairs by the sea
I didn't know her and she didn't know me
lips on lips and no eyes for the thirst
Hands on hands and heaven on earth

and i knew better
well i knew better
and i should have let her
fall down
fall down
fall down

years passed by and they tore down the stairs
walls found doors then tables and chairs
you couldn't see out and you couldn't see in
and we wore our smiles like a second skin

and i loved her
and i loved her
but i was hurt
my love
my love

Then I sat all alone by the sea
i knew her but she didn't know me
it was a sunday when we said
that's alright it wasn't even worth it
it wasn't even worth it
it wasn't even worth it
no no
and i and i know
i and i know
i know
oooh i know
and now i know
and i know
and i let it show

We're still there on a raft in the sea
i couldn't see land and you couldn't see me
JM Romig Apr 2010
They sat across the table from one another. One girl staring at her notebook. The other’s eyes fixed on her classmate. On the broadside of the table sat a dark haired woman, the only smiling face in the room. The shy girl’s crimson hair hung out from under her hooded sweatshirt as she sketched axes on the front of her notebook. The other girl’s golden locks hung in curls around her face. Her beauty was undeniable, as was the disdain in her eyes.
“So, can one of you two describe to me what happened today on that stairwell?” asked Mrs. White, the guidance counselor at Jacob Grimm High. Despite the gossip floating around the school about her, a smile was always plastered on her face. Most of the children found this unbearably creepy. “Nothing ma’am. We were just having a friendly conversation, when that pig came along and insisted, very forcefully, that we come here,” the blonde said, sarcastically, her eyes never letting go of their gaze on the other girl.
Mrs. White chuckled “That’s not how it happened, Goldie. C’mon, tell us your side of things.” Goldie rolled her eyes. “Well, Mrs. White, it’s like this: my bio class was just letting out, and I was heading down to calculus. She comes flying UP the DOWN stairs, like a maniac, slamming into my shoulder. I hit her, she hit me back. Now we’re here.”
“Is that true, Ms. Ridinghood?” asked Mrs. White, turning her head to the other girl.
“Not entirely,” she answered, finally joining the conversation. “Ms. Princess here was going up those stairs before I even got to them. To be honest, I was zoned out, just following the sheep. I’m not having the best day, so a friend gave me something to take the edge off this morning. I was following her up the down stairs, apparently and she turned around and started coming at me, shoving my shoulder as she walked past, then got offended – like I did something wrong – and hit me. So I punched her back. We wrestled for a minute before the rent-a-cop came and broke it up.”
“Hmm.” Mrs. White turned to Goldie, who was looking down the floor. “Goldie, why were you going back up the stairs?” ,
“I don’t wanna talk about it.”
“So you did go back up the stairs and come down a second time?”
“It was actually my third time,” Goldie admitted, embarrassed. “The first time I went too fast, the second time I went too slow. That time would have been just right. I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder . Go ahead, laugh it up.”
“No one’s laughing,” Mrs. White assured her. Although Red was a little, until Mrs. White turned to her. “Can you tell me why it is you needed to be ‘zoned out’ today?”
“None of your business, that’s why,” Red snapped.
“I have read your file, I know what day it is.”
“Then why did you have to bring it up?” Red was now agitated.
“For Goldie to hear. So you can better understand one another.”
“*******! What kind of understanding am I to get from this preppy ***** with a silver spoon up her ***? I’ve spit puddles deeper than her!” The two girls rose up, over the table. Mrs. White was able to get in between them.
“Now, both of you need to just calm down and talk this out like civil adults. Keep in mind, this is your only alternative to expulsion. “
Once everyone regained themselves, Red spoke again, this time directly to Goldie.
“Six years ago, today, my grandmother was murdered.” Goldie began to see Red with new eyes. “Remember The Wolf
“That guy who went around vandalizing houses?” ?”
“Yeah. He was hiding out in the woods. I was going to visit my grandma, who lived out that way. I saw him. He’d shaved so I hadn’t recognized him from the news. I told him I was going to my grandma’s place, dumb idea—I know. He suggested a different route, said it’d be shorter. By the time I got there, grams was gone. He was in her bed, dressed like her, waiting for me. His eyes…were so…big. If it wasn’t for Larry, a woodsman working nearby, I would be dead too.”
“I heard about that! That was you? Wow…I’m sorry. ” Goldie shook her head in amazement, then added, “Didn’t the woodsman chop off his head?”
“No. He shot him. Larry carries a gun when he’s working in that forest, because of all the dangerous things that happen there.”
“No doubt, that place is freaky. I got lost in it once, when I was six. I ended up at this cabin. I thought it was abandoned. Imagine my surprise when the family came home. I was sleeping in the kid’s bed, and I’d eaten their food too. I think I even broke something.”
“How’d that play out?”
“I did some time in juvy for property damage and theft.”
“Wow…that’s so messed up. At least you learned your lesson, right?”
“Oddly enough, no. When I turned eleven I started breaking into people’s houses. I mean, I didn’t take anything, just slept in their beds, or watched TV. I never got caught again.” Goldie sounded mildly disappointed.
“You know,” Red interjected “we are a couple of freaks, aren’t we?”
“Yeah. Hey…where did Mrs. White go?” Goldie said, finally realizing that Mrs. White had made an escape somewhere in the midst of their discussion.
“I don’t know.”
“Oh well…did you hear she has seven midgets living with her?”
“That’s just a rumor,” Red said.
On that note, the bell rang, and the two girls left the room giggling like old friends.
This short story originally appeared in Issue 1 of the now defunct "The Platypus : Kent State Ashtabula's Journal of The Arts"

Copyright © 2011 J.M. Romig. All rights reserved
Liv Aug 2014
Don't use the stairs unless you're willing to help build them.
jennifer ann Jan 2015
"i'm watching you, stupid *****." Madison pointed at pyper as the girls made there way out of the dining room. "thats enough madison." Cordelia scolded. Nan followed pyper up the stairs  into her bedroom. "why are you following me?" pyper asked, looking at nan in disgust. rolling her eyes and shaking her head. "you have madisons money." nan crossed her arms and smiled. "excuse me??" pyper replied as if she were offended by Nans accusation. "mhm, and you have zoeys sunglasses.., cassies ipod, and 25 dollars you stole from emilys purse. along with her art pencils." nan replied. "wow, you're A cleptomaniac." Nan laughed. "okay, how do you know all of this???" Pyper asked, her cheeks red from embarissment, and her head lowered in shame. "i'm psychic. i can read minds." nan explained. suddenly cassie walked past pypers room in search of her stolen ipod. "has anyone seen my pink ipod???" Cassie questioned, it was sitting on my bed, and now i can't find it anywhere. " she looked around hopelessly. "well then look in your room cassie. give me 5 minutes and i'll help you look." pyper shouted. "wow, you're a real piece of work arent you?" nan rolled her eyes and chuckled. "what is your angle, nan?" Pyper questioned, rolling her eyes aswell. saying names name as if she were mocking the whole idea of her. "my angle, PYPER. is this, you give everyone there **** back or i'm telling cordelia and you're out of here." Nan smerked. "you're not going to tell on me anyway?" pyper asked sadly. "no, not onless you do it again." nan sighed, "we stick together here, we're a family, we don't steele eachother down thats not what we're about." nan explained sympatheticly. "wow, thats funny because that's all my real family ever did." pyper replied with big sad puppy dog eyes. nan nodded, "i'm not here to listen to your ******* excuses or your sob stories. if saying that you've had a hard life, and never had anything given to you. and the world owes you.  helps you get to sleep at night then fine, cool beans. but i'm not buying that ****.  and these girls don't owe you anything. now, i expect everyone to have there **** back by the morning, or i will tell cordelia." nan sighed and rolled her eyes. "okay." pyper nodded with a wounded look upon her face. Cassie stood outside of the door, still listening. her eyebrows raised in anger. and then made her way up the stairs and into madisons room. "what are you doing here pipsquick. im NOT in the mood." Madison sobbed. "oh i think you're in the mood for this, i know who took your money." Cassie smiled.
Rachel Ace May 2017
I trapped on the stairs full of turns

A few days so high up in the sky
A few days down in misery

Sometimes led to sanity
Sometimes led to gray

Railings full of thorns         s  
Down the rungs to   o n  u    i o
                                  c       f           n
Half-raised arm                                
Touching opacity

Tail dress
Bare feet
Hidden blushes
Saved hope
Ballerina hands

Lost in the middle of your stairs
You pushed me down?
Mess catch me
Why?

I'll always be the morning dew for you
You insist on showing
You forget the thread that joined
You changed the pretty
Why like this?

You are well on which step you are?
In which can I find you?

It's not down to sadness
(You changed the meaning
The essence disappeared)

Existence is like many steps
                                       I thought I came to the top with you
                                                             ­                                  But it was an oasis

For your young you: Generator of ascending stairs in our dimension.

- Codelandandmore //20:30 PM ©
Real Cute boy, remember last mermay, It was all so fun :)

— The End —