Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Friday, December 31, 2010

Littered Sky

by Mathew Richard Carter

tarnished blue skies
rest behind the softest
gray as the clouds to
the east resemble
torn shreds of paper,
the tiger’s claw
trademarks the
moment. A clump of
passing fowl coasting
on a westward wind,
were merely floating
pebbles strewn against
the littered sky.

Tufts of thick, gray dust
persist from factory silos,
tugging itself beneath
the cirrus fog–
to blend and spread
like frosting, assuming it has
sweetened the day. Even the sun can
play along, boasting its
ultraviolet breath to pollute our
unguarded hair, our naked skin

and still we manage to
inherently engulf ourselves
in the limitless
wonder of an
infinite ceiling.

CLOUDY VISIONS

by Anita McQueen

Falling from
night sky

raindrop
thousands

tilting
my head back

eyes open
blurring

water from the gods.

Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche

by Rebecca L. Brown

Real men don’t eat quiche,
                 Here he goes again,
He said,
                 She thought,
Real men eat potted snacks
                 Potted plants would be more nutritious
Instant gratification, just add water.
                 And nothing instant is ever worth the wait.
Real men eat rare steak, raw steak
                 This man faints at the sight of fake blood,
Straight from the cow
                 Complains when there’s blood on his plate,
Screw the knives and forks.
                 Complains, to be fair, most of the time.
Real men…
                 Shut up and eat your quiche
                 She said.

KINDERGARTEN COMMANDOS

by Stephen Barry

Kindergarten commandos in the year of ‘65
we played out father’s youth
when they, as heroes,
strode the earth
and vanquished dragons.
With plastic Thompsons and pine cone hand grenades
we played our games
striving to be the men they were.
In Spring we walked the Avenue behind them
and scrambled for the casings
that fell beneath the wreath they lay
before the rifle guard salute.
All Summer at the beach
We gazed upon the living memories-
Mr. Ryan’s metal hand, a Salerno souvenir,
Uncle Lenny’s missing toes, left somewhere in the Chosin,
the scar on Aaron’s leg a memory of Midway.
When we could not play outside
like Medieval monks fingering relics
we crept into attics and garages
to seek the objects of our devotion –
the faded ribbons and bits of silver and bronze,
tokens of great deeds,
the flier’s cap with fifteen mission flap,
the Japanese flag in Sully’s garage,
the old tin pot of Charlie’s dad
dented by the seawall at Inchon.
As we played that Fall
Danny’s brother laughed
as he smoked and dreamt of cars
while listening to “Eve of Destruction”.
Little thinking of three years hence
and a place called Quang Tri,
and the day the telegram arrived
after which we never played the games again.

APSU CANAL

by Peter LaBerge

The dips and dams
sculpt
his body

Expanding
at the waist and
branching
to form two legs
water runs down

The wind-tagged rain
descends

He opens
his gaping mouth
swallowing
the sweet droplets whole

A smile
creates a crooked path
for the water
as it passes
through Apsu Canal
and to the sea.

Verse Serve

by Chris Butler

The eyes,
they see
a vein,
naïve,
The hero’s villain
have heroin still,
ill king
killing
god’s
dogs,
life’s
flies
and medication
coin it a damned.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pirate Night at The Space Pub

by Nicole Taylor

Friends call him
Awesome Austin,
and his Hair poem
and about his brain as a toy prize
and it was an awesome tale.

Tip or Die reads the jar on the bar.
Brutal Brutus stickers on the
cannon ball Moe is turning.

Bondage in my Brain reads
another poet, another freeing soul,
not a stealer of words, stories.

You can say fuck you, and it may not mean anything.
Angst not anger to a person.
Why do we get so offended by these words
or the middle finger?

Ashley reads a great tale, poem,
Wanting, and I am.

Instigate the ones I hate,
reads young Nick.

Candace reads, Dead men tell no tales.
in her pale dress reminding me
of the illustrated man, the heavily tattooed man.

Her guy Moe reads, sings
Fertile Floozy, Sea Hag Wench.

Row, row your boat, matey,
reads Rich
with his pirate arr style.

Time to leave soon but the stickers near me read
Never Sleep. Almost Friday. (But it's Monday.)
Breaking Death. Gladiators Eat Fire. (No
Gladiators or Fireeaters Here.) Dumb Free
Liberty For All and No Moral Chords.

Criminal

by Daniel Romo

There’s a gunfight at the O.K. Corral. I’m a spectator stuck in the stocks. It started in the saloon (a spat over spades), but spilled into the street.  The sheriff tries to regain control: shoots the sky with his shotty. Two vultures drop like leaden bloody clouds. The bartender says This is bad for business, and hides behind the whores. I feel safe because I’m nestled behind a family of cacti. But the Can-Can dancer is high-kicking my way with a smile too big to signify a simple hi. My hands instinctively wave, but I’m not glad to see her. My head was under the influence when I proposed. And when I cheated. She takes off her garter and blindfolds me.  I recall late night lovin’ and moonshine. I say, Darlin’, please let me out. After all, you were gonna’ be my wife. She reminds me I like to be teased and replies, In a minute. After your tongue tastes Jim Bowie’s knife.

Lefties Have Rights Too!

by Chris Butler

Lefties don’t have the right
to write from the right side
of their mind,

but die from number two
lead poisoning of the pinkie
finger smearing across
suicide notes,

so they bind their
ambidextrous appendages
behind broken backs to
break bad habits.

In Place

by Tannen Dell

When life is one big moral debate between what you want and what you must not have…when a contract socially pins down your freedom of desire, a fire starts, the worst part of all is how cold this flame tongue is, how every breath is oxygen to build it. This is the point that drives all to cryptic hope, anger, depression and linguistic suicide. I freeze in the core furnace, I bleed these thick blue flames, I inhale carbon, I die until my heart starts beating.

Hymn to Apollo

by Sean Butner

And as the morning light splashes off the lapping waves
Four figures creep slowly through the dappled lake-side shade.
A parade of blanched pantalones, painted
With dark lines indicating they are
Not now who they often are,
Processed with an elderly weightiness
That recalls the quiet gravity of all
That they will not pass down.

The line comes to an uneasy halt,
Face to foot, proud snouts stepped on evenly
Like repeating patterns adorning a spittoon,
Chamberpot, or other vulgar piece of houseware.
Still moving, an image forever repeating.
And then, as the dewy grass folds to the wind
One by one, with a dignified slop,
They bow their strained necks from sun
To shore, and plop into the mucky bay
Swimming off as they often were again.

Her Death

by Brandon Roy

Since she is dead
she is now good
silence is her will
to speak no more
the living will not
bother you

A fair sky at
dusk,and the
headstones all
in a row
day wedding night

The closing flowers
The faint lights

The growing hours

Have no claim
On her stiff corpse

A cry,a stare
flickering candles
whispered prayers
for souls that
were lost

Make them hear
the falling eyes
dying to see them
again

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter Chill

by Michael Frissore

One black skullcap
on the median of the highway

a head still inside
talking

Candlelight

by Jordyn Coats

The sobriquet of him:
Left in the end
after all is done.
Immortalized by day,
scorching in the sun,
and fabricated in dreams.
The altered state is caused by beams
shining too bright.
I know!
What I need is candlelight.
Not too dim, you see...
it's just right.
In the interim
of the moment's fading,
I'll be evading
even the surrounding glow
of the shadow cast
by the one who can't see the flame
as it burns soft skin.
We were both too close to him.

puddle

by Malo Basich

old drunk sitting
at the end of the bar

slumping over
melting down

like the ice
in his Kessler’s

soon just a dirty
puddle anyone

can simply
step around

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Skyline

by Sean Butner

Under the wash of harvest moon light
Shining from a not yet dark blue sky
The bell towers of Green Bay stood out
Overexposed, daylight transposed by trick
Photography, otherworldly against full moon
Dusk. Sts. John, Willebrord, Francis Xavier,
And even the civic courthouse loom
Like relics, monsters wading in a sea
Of art deco and glass and steel.
Unreal reminders encasing the mundane
Realities of litigation, parking ramps, and
The homeless huddled on frosted steps
Beneath steaming lamps illuminating the skyline.

Against the now black sky, pillars of light fade out of focus.

Ruminations

by Nicole Taylor

branches
limbs of rivers

folding Rubik’s Snakes of
metal lots,
parking lots

quiet farming or
residential lots

passing, passing
mighty, mighty Lake Michigan

towers of
metal triumph

First Time

by Tannen Dell

First Time
Acceleration
Brings thunder
through my veins

I cant push a beach
through an hourglass
And you cant
Tell me to slow down.

Deep-Sea

by Kate Rahimzadeh

Emerald depths
Brainless beauties
Flowery tentacles
Kelp curtains
Crystal drifters
Bizarre creations
on submarine winds
Iron-jawed
predators
Slow-stalking
sea stars
living wall
congregation of purple
a new firmament
Exuberance for life
Unexpected
Glory

Friday, December 24, 2010

Father

by Jenny Picciotto

Father is in hospice and my Mother asks me to write my remembrances of him, the happy memories. I won’t write lies and cotton candy fantasies about this man with whom I shared a fiery past. Nor will I take the liberty of reviewing the things I wished or hoped or dreamed might have been.

This is a time of letting go, of reflection and strength, a time to find peace with what is, and all that has come before. The road that led to this moment cannot be retraced and all we can take with us forward from this moment is what we carry in our hearts. I pray we travel lightly, with joy, and with wonder at the mystery of life.

This man, my Father, like all of us, is a man with many facets, a man who felt the challenges and victories of life, the arrows and the honey-flavored moments that fill a life-time bit by bit, leaving traces of sweet tenderness and deep sorrow in their wake. These are the things I know of him, that he felt deeply, loved fiercely, and shared his world most completely with his adoring wife, with whom he battled many storms and to whom he gave his heart and soul. Their bond runs deep and true and remains a deeply private and sustaining shelter, for they knew each other as no one else has known the other and they shared the path from youthful vigor to the end of life walking step in step, one leaning on the other as need may be, one now leading and the other following, taking care to keep together on the way.

I cannot see into his heart or know his journey. But as he passes from this world into the next I can remember the things he shared with me, and the parts of him that I carry forward in my own spirit, which are of him.

This man loved dogs, and cats, and things done well. He loved the out of doors and freedom. He loved knowledge and truth and clocks. He stood ready to give a hand to a stranger, to tell a tale and wasn’t afraid to try his hand at fixing something. He had a temper which raged and a tender side which he shared with few but his sweetheart, and he loved a good book.

When I was small he would carry me on his shoulders at the auctions he and Mother loved to attend, so I could see the auctioneer calling out, and he gave me quarter to go see what I could barter on my own. I bought 2 boxes of kitchen ware, which I played with for many years in my pretend house, out in the screen porch off the big old brick house in Trumbauersville where the peach and grapes and cherry trees grew, where I would play in the chicken house and out under the pussy willow tree and out back in the old farm house field where he gave each of us a small piece of land as our own garden plot to tend to.

He used to keep a workshop in the barn and it was a place filled with all the bits and pieces which might come in handy one day. He used to go there, probably to be alone, but he would let me in and I would sort screws and nuts and bolts into the cardboard tubes of washed out juice cans, so he could find them when the time was right.

There was a big old hill just down the street, and in the winter he would take us sledding down that long slope. He liked to sled too, but with his sled he went so far along and down around the bend that he would be out of sight and it would take a long time before I would see him trudging back along the road to where he left me sledding with my friends.

As I write this, on the morning of Christmas Eve, 2010, my Father faces his death with my Mother at his side. I expect she sang him a song or read a book to him to keep him company, and I hope he is strong of heart. I hope he looks back fondly on his life with forgiveness for those who have harmed him in the course of time, and with love for those who have shared his journey. And I wish him peace.

Jenny
Christmas Eve
2010

The Trees of Winter’s Grace

by Michael H. Brownstein

Introduction:

The Sacred Trees—oak, willow, ash, date palm, wild plum
The Trees of Prosperity—holly, box, ivy, bay, laurel, conifers, oak
The Druid and Christian Tree—evergreen, oak

1.

Snow is always cause for courage,
and love,
a need to pray, forgiveness,
wamth.

2.

It was then the small boy came knocking,
the wind a blizzard of disease and frostbite,
and the old couple opened their home to him,
offered him from the little they had,
hot apple cider, a stew of potato, warmed flour.
They gave him the warmest place in the house
and covered him with extra blankets they themselves used.
In the morning, he was gone and they had slept through
the snow drifting in piles covering their door.
He left no tracks, he took nothing with him,
but when the sun came out and the day’s frost began to ease,
they saw the beginnings of a grand tree,
its leaves pointing to heaven, its branches laden with fruit.

2.

Years later the child now a man found himself
in the Germanic forests near a town buried in snow.
He saw the people kneeling before a great oak
and he knew it offered support for the spirit,
but little for the belly or the pregnant.
He chopped it down when the people slept
and when he began to cut it into firewood,
they woke frightened and enraged.
He stood his ground, raised one hand
to where the tree had been, pointed with the other
to show them what was to become
and the people watched as the ground moved
and a fir came from the seeds of snow and earth,
its branches laden with gifts of greenery,
food, fruit, nuts, and roasting meats.

He married a year later, a princess of Viking strength,
a woman who held a staff larger than a tall man
and liked to color the long nights with stars and rainbows,
fruits and fresh bread, venison and anything green.
Together they wandered the Northlands
bringing song and trees that remained ever green
even during the dark of the winter
when the sun slid beyond the ice for its long sleep.

3.

The Arabians chronicled his adventures later in life
after the Qur'an, after the solistice of the Druids,
after the closing of the Germanic book on Winter’s Magik,
after the last celebration of the Roman festival Kalends.
It was told by many who claim they saw it with their own eyes
how one winter when famine had struck the land
and water had dried up, great snows came from the north
burying everything and the people were not prepared.
Then a man with a beautiful wife walked among them.
They stopped in the center of the village,
blew into the night, and the wind stopped,
the snow cleared and suddenly trees were everywhere,
great laurels and firs, bay and ivy, their leaves strong,
their scent the perfume of warming and good health.
They say winter was hard that year, the hardest in history,
but that morning the people found clothing for the weather,
supplies of dead dry wood at each tree’s trunk
and enough food to last until the coming of summer..
Snow never fell again in that region, but when that snow melted
great wells formed across the land. The trees
shriveled in the heat, petrified into sand and stone,
formed shapes to hold clear water,
and the shadows of the two people are still there
imprinted in the shadow of sand dunes,
carved into rocks holding clean water,
etched into the bark of the sacred date trees.


Poet's notes:

This poem couild never have been composed without the help of THE CHRISTMAS TREE by Barbara Segall which gave me insights and knowledge into how The Tree of the 12 Days of Christmas came to be.

Additional info can be found in the Mystery Play, the chronicles of George Jakob and the tale of Wynfrith of Crediton.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

NIGHTS ALONE

by Garret P. Quinn

when I see my mother now,
golden gray hair and wrinkled skin
brittle bones and weak worn heart
I only see her back then...

straightening her obsidian wig,
pouting her rose red lips
in the cracked mirror,
the heels of those
blueblack stilettos stabbing
the beige carpet
as she stumbles
across the room,
thin pocket book pinched
between naked arm and
pushed-up right breast

and me,
so small on that
stabbed carpet,
in that carpet.
looking up that short jean skirt
not understanding
the places she’d go
or the things she’d do

her tousling my hair
saying goodnight sweetheart
saying she’d be back
saying she’d be back soon

but all I see is the
broken crumpled
pack of cigarettes
on the kitchen counter
as the only thing
she’d forgotten.

Great!

by Mike Foldes

(these greetings are a bit like candy hearts
We used to get as kids and trade like some
Kids traded trading cards, baseball, football, basketball,
And in those days that was about it, there were
No hockey, NASCAR, dead presidents, ugly critters,
Except maybe characters from MAD Magazine
That escaped from their hallowed pages
And made it to the big time. GREAT, WOW,
I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE MINE, MY FRIEND.
The first dose of LSD I ever took had been
Dropped onto one of those candy hearts,
But I can't remember now what it said,
Something like, "Get ready because once
You go up you'll never come down," or,
"Get out the Kleenex because this is going
To make you laugh so hard you'll cry, and
The tears are just not going to stop there."
So now when I drop those notes of ablution
On readers of e-mail, and even hand-written
Notes noting the time of day, the day of the year,
The year of the Lord, etc., I am reminded
That time itself is not much more than memory
Stored in a safe place until it's wiped clean
by the torrential downpour that comes
late in the afternoon of a very, very fine day.)

Blinking Like Ferrets

by Donal Mahoney

I've been too busy
the last two years to chat
with anyone in the office.
Today, however, I pause
at the pencil sharpener
while my co-workers
calculate and jot.
It makes no difference, you see,
if I remain silent until retirement
or if suddenly I start talking again.

All we must remember is
that we decay together,
that this charade
we give ourselves to
doesn't require that we speak,
that all we must do, really,
is calculate and jot.

If we calculate well,
if we jot well, the charade
will carry us through.
In the end, we'll see what is true
when blinking like ferrets
we emerge in sunlight,
gaping and gasping,
free of this maze created
by the family of man.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Symphony In a Garden Apartment

by Paul Vincent Andrews

her ghost white clavicles
hover over unused thighs

it’s grown quiet now
and you can hear
the neighbors above

screaming, vehement, unbridled

you’re now mad at the first floor screamers
who an hour ago you drowned out
with your own mad midnight music

if an elf lived between
floors, for a transitory enchanted moment
would an angelic harmony
exist in the vacuum between storms

you quickly realize
this is bullshit
and the tenors upstairs
and sopranos down
may at best
create a raga
of cacophony

now you’re mad
at them

how dare they
intrude on this quiet
moment

you consider
telling her the story
again

the shrill mousetrap
sounds may shut
them up

you stop thinking
look up

at the praying mantis
in front of you

her green eyes
praying, she chokes
softly on her breath

you look up

you can’t tell the story again
and head upstairs

someone needs
to say something
to the neighbors

Writing This Poem

by James Babbs

I’m writing this poem
while we’re making love to
keep myself from
coming too soon
the words gathering
in my head and
I think about death
but only for a moment
pinpoint of light
somewhere in the distance
writing this poem
full of darkness
the sky at night
with no sign of stars
and I wish
I could have counted them
trying to write this poem
not wanting to
think about baseball
because it no longer
appeals to me
watching your face
the shifting of it
like sands on the beach
the wind whipping us
and I’m struggling to
write this poem
trying to think of
something more to say
the words slipping
and floating away
like balloons
about to burst
trying to write this poem
but now it’s too late

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dreaming

by Carmen Eichman

Grey lid dusk shuts. Train whistle blows
in quintessential quiet
coagulating thickly upon their flight
from a fevered Gestapo guard. It was a cracked egg
existence when chancellors challenged logic
while gorilla gulping champagne.
Run like you’ve never run
she hisses at her daughter,
horrific fear heralding within
their hated hearts. They segue , ferret,
hungering hope, through crooked hallowed halls,
their lungs list along dark walls. Into a black room
they hide. A silent hack racks
their ribs; he follows, fallow, soul as dry
as his tongue, spies the silent sisters,
grabs one, rakes, hooks
Hauptmann nails into saintly skin until
she grips his neck, bends him, breaks him
in two, a miracle, he mashes in her hands,
mangled, sociopathic, ideological shrine…

until the next run.

Ordinances

by Nicole Taylor

This place,
this space
is fighting against
noise ordinances
and a $301 fine,
every fine night.
This place opened near
Oregon's birthday two years ago
with bands and comedians
travelling near and far.
This night a local band,
Outback Purge, opened
open-mic night.
We heard Working Class Hero
for these working class,
and some looking for work.
David reads a poem to
be noticed
Look me over, said the stone.
Nick reads Buddy Wakefield poems
of work and life
from young Nick's great memory.
Austin sings Fresh Water Pirates.
Moe breaks from bartending to his bass
and his songs of angst
Avert your gaze,
AVERT YOUR GAZE
yells an officer's voice in
I've got the greatest grades.
He sings An Ode to Horace
of one possible early
young Jesus story
of his rites, ordinances,
for the once mellow crowd
as these are not mellow songs.
Hannah and others watch
a cop car in waiting.
Then Hannah and others
return inside and read
texts and seem so insular.
Wes seems annoyed at
our bartender and wanders
out and in and out.
Soon Moe closes bar
a little early
I bike and chat
with Dave
arriving home
later than usual.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Booze

by James Babbs

I saw you
she said
buying booze
he laughed
so what
I can drink
if I want to
I’m not hurting
anybody
except yourself
she said
she was a widow
and he was
her only son
I’m almost 40
he said
you can’t tell me
what to do
she turned
away from him
but he could
hear her crying
it was
the same thing
every night
he went to
his room
opened one of
the bottles
took a long
slow drink

Unspoken Beauty

by Carmen Taggart

The secret so painfully true that even as she uttered it to herself
She could feel her foundations quake
Uttered, shouted, spoken, and owned the world crumbles
Yet her heart raced with giddy excitement
The boundaries undone the world still turned

Mosaic tiles caught her eye
Her heart as delighted as a school girl with a new set of paints
Crafting and placing each piece
Finding the unbound, unspoken beauty in a world turned all akimbo
The secret finds a new home

BC Woman

by Paul Vincent Andrews

When she first arrived upon the scene

before the loquaciousness of the crowd
before raspy metal machine music
before the bone yards of fallen empires
before Gods
before I

her feet must have felt strange
planted in the hot arid sand

her eyes compelled to focus
on distant green lights of ancient
phosphorescent plankton
dancing on the rim
of a purple sea

did those green lights spell hope

Or, did she look upon this stage
as the worm devours it’s love the rose

the scrubland behind her
harboring megafauna
with bored opaque eyes

looking down with machinations
of the potential of the rock
next to her

as she skipped
the smaller disc shaped
stones in the sea

the first numbers
rippling

I imagine she turned
and looked back

hard eyes squinted
hungry, and fixated
upon the small furtive
creatures dancing
beside still pools

Friday, December 17, 2010

Scars

by Jennifer Thomas

Battles give us scars
Which give us character
And eventually
Really hot dates

Thursday, December 16, 2010

mi mi cry

by jkdavies

no, no, thank you for asking,
though you didn't.
yeah I am fine.
makes a change, huh?
no, I mean... you know what I mean.
oh for fucks sake
do I have to explain everything?
well, since you ask,
it would make a change
if you did ask.
I might not just say yeah,
I am fine. We could
even talk. But I know
your focus will slip back
to you in no time
and I don't want to waste
the time, if I focus on you
too, then both of us are
okay. If you looked at me,
properly,
you would be confused
and I would be even more
apologetic, and I would want
to hide again. Look at
the pretty mirror
I hold up to you instead.

Paradox

by Amit Parmessur

like a ladder that cannot bear your lanky weight
an expensive crown that does not emit any spark
a paint brush
resembling a dusty broom that bruises paper

my body is a secular sun
my mind a sharp religious light

my skull is a bottomless vase
my brains an assortment of scintillating flowers

my ambitions a climbable Mount Kailash
my past a cool and collected Kilauea Volcano
I have a heart that needs coffers of energy,
lungs like coffins that hate oxygen

I have a stomach growling all day long,
a palate allergic to the fragrance of food

A white person filled with
black gall broke my teeth,
giving me Royal food to taste every second.
Sisyphus-like life seems different every day
with different degrees of doom and gloom

I have a lively cadaver that’s dark,
a shadow that exhibits the colors of my clothes
There’s a fierce fire burning in my wet eyes
Hope, of a third set of teeth

For now, each night comes
like an ox falling on my brave stomach,
parading along it till sinister morning

In The Gutter

by April A.

You say you are braver, superior, smarter,
Your pride, ever swollen, has poisoned the air.
In fact, you are already deep in the gutter,
You've merged with the shades of the earthly despair.

Your crave for respect, much more cash, a career,
But luck's velvet fingers won't grant you a touch,
Your purpose is being in front of the rear,
You cannot believe that it costs one too much.

The same elevator, the buttons in rows
From Monday till Friday. The same boring week.
You press button ten: you are taken below -
Regarding your dwelling, emotion-sick.

You crave for respect and life-long recognition,
But rich-colored life is behind your bent back,
You don't realize it's a bitter position,
You've never considered the change of this track.

You say you are braver, superior, smarter,
But you are deprived of the pleasure of thought.
In fact, you are already deep in the gutter,
The look of a shadow is all that you've got.

Smorgasbord

by Chris Butler

I grant you permission
to be the whore of my heart,
bullshitting circles over my
chest as you play the dart,
a carnivore feasting on
organs crystallized hard,
seated in a fancy restaurant
wrapped with fine art,
expressing our satisfaction
with cigarette sparks
and lukewarm farts,
before the waitress
snaps the plastic credit
of low score cards,
then I must begin again
from the start.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Santa had it coming

by Jeffrey Miller

Saturday started out bad for Mike Grabowski and got worse—first, he lost his job and then, he took it out on Santa Claus.

First, it was the ass-chewing he got from his immediate supervisor Todd Harris, who accused him of drinking on the job and botching the new entrance on the Kaskaskia Hotel renovation. Mike told Todd to go and fuck himself and then, slipped into the Dew Drop Inn across the street for an early lunch.

“That’s the second time this month Mike, I’m really sorry about this,” Walt Smith, the owner said later that afternoon, when he learned what Grabowski had done. “You can pick up your last paycheck next week.”

Mike drove around for a few hours wondering how he was going to tell his wife that he lost his job two weeks before Christmas. Before he got around to that, he had a score to settle. He waited in the parking lot of the Elks Club with a fifth of Jack before he got up the nerve to walk in, but once inside, slipped into the bar for a few more shots of courage.

He forgot all about his wife and son waiting inside the ballroom with other parents and children when he caught Santa Claus coming out of the men’s room.

“Thanks a lot for ratting me out, Harris,” Mike said, pinning Harris against the wall. “You cost me my job.”

“You’re drunk Grabowski,” Harris said, adjusting the white beard around his chin and pillow inside his costume. “Go home and sleep it off.”

“Why did you have to tell Smith?”

“You should have thought about that before you came to work drunk.” He pushed Mike aside and headed toward the ballroom where the Elks’ annual Christmas party was to get underway as soon as he made his grand entrance.

Harris didn’t see it coming. As soon as he hoisted the red bag of toys on his back, Mike spun him around and landed one well-placed punch to the face. The bag dropped to the floor, toys scattered everywhere.

“You broke my fucking nose!” Harris staggered back and clutched his nose with one hand, blood already seeping through his clenched fingers.

A couple fathers had to pull the two men apart. The bartender handed Harris a towel who wiped the blood from his nose and screamed he was going to call the cops. A few people had their cell phones out videotaping everything; three children cried when they saw the bloodied Santa.

Mike was forcibly escorted to the lobby where his shocked wife and son waited for him. When he saw the shock and horror on his son’s tear-streaked face, he didn’t know what was going to be worse when he sobered up—telling his wife he lost his job or trying to explain to his son why he broke Santa’s nose.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Don Quixote’s Blues

by James Babbs

where are the lights
from the windmills tonight
why can’t I see them
when I look toward the west
they were there last night
and the night before that
but now
when I look out my window
I can only see
the scattered lights
from a couple of houses and
the darkness stretching for miles
I want to know what happened to
those blinking red lights
the lights that showed me
where the windmills are
now they’re gone and
I don’t know
what the hell I can count on
maybe
I’m just too drunk and
can no longer see them
but I’ve convinced myself
they must, still, be out there
asleep in the darkness and
looming against the sky
waiting for my vision to return

Bewilderment

by Harry Calhoun

It kept my father awake
for many of his last nights —

the amazement
that it could happen to him.

And tonight restless
I try to hold my wife

and help her rest
and finally I turn sleepless

to myself and clasp
my helpless hands


across my chest

A Man

by Chris Butler

A man who sleeps on concrete beds with no cotton sheets or pillows
never rests his head.

A man who awakens to a fading overcast sunset of shaded gray
never shoots his star.

A man who endures hour icicle showers during winter mornings
never sheds his skin.

A man who stomachs the slaughter of a vegan’s hunting season
never fills his gut.

A man who sells common sense for cents and exchanged for happiness
never owns his soul.

A man who pays to play with fingertips pinned to skinless gadgets
never lives his life.

A man who allows gravitational pressure to induce scoliosis posture
never cracks his back.

A man who musters abrasive pulses of a bull’s dosage of testosterone
never binds his balls.

A man who instigates internal warfare for the welfare of the world
never breaks his peace.

A man who surrenders to the fake phonetic contents of white pages
never writes his ending.

Character Flaws

by Mathew Richard Carter

There is something
Too unstable,
too unreliable
about you-

I can’t quite
point a finger
at it.

All I know is
I love spontaneity
I love unpredictability
Hell, I love challenges

But
you’re
a fucking
mess!

ANOTHER KIND OF HUNGER

by Steven Gulvezan

When does the clock stop?
The angry mob storms the palace
Screaming, “Bread!”
The soldiers level their guns and fire
And much blood is spilled…
I see my true love’s fingernail polish
Red upon her nails—
Her delicate white hand reaching up to me…
She wishes me to save her
But I cannot…
Though she is far removed from famine
She is dying
Of another kind of hunger
Alone, though I sit by her side
Aching with desire
To purchase
A loaf of her bread

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Imperfect Guitar

by Amit Parmessur

Sitting on the wild rocks I marvel at the periwinkle,
fully forlorn in the nearby receding tide pool.

The whistling of the dry coconut leaves in the wind
has been accompanying my pregnant thoughts of you,
with the large and strenuous pelicans surveying the sky,
right above my bewildered head.

I have never ever thought you would leave the
land of our bond and ships would become my enemies.
How dare that elderly ship steal you from me,
making my eyes scarlet in the indifferent crowd.

Sitting on the rocks with my wild guitar I
sing sweet songs of your improbable return, sometimes
dreaming of you dancing, dancing lithely in a ring
of violets, with frisking lambs, piping shepherds.

This evening I have broken a string
as my fingers are a bit too drenched in anger. I close

my eyes and imagine of you sleeping
on a bed of daisies in our favorite valley over there.

I secretly cut a hair from your peaceful head,
fixing it in my excessively grieving guitar.

I start playing again but the other remaining strings
cannot be as melodious as your versatile holy hair,
rendering my guitar uselessly imperfect.

When I open my briny and heavy eyes,
the tranquil sea surface has turned orange,
the sand is a stretch of yellow lawn
and the periwinkle is gone,
leaving the tide pool as good as a forlorn desert. I go
home like a brave camel ready for an endless journey.

Invisible Scars

by April A.

The poison of spring has dissolved in my veins;
A second is worth both my future and past.
The more I denied my becoming insane,
The sooner insanity touched me at last.
The silence we hear is the laugh of my fate,
The soundless laugh at the one I forgot -
The yesterday's me - and the force to create
The life I portrayed. But it's less than I've got.
I love the invisible scars of my skin -
The blades of your hands are so tempting, indeed.
These words I give birth to just come from within,
Revealing the truth till the scars start to bleed.
These words cost two hours less than a night -
Mixed feelings are harder to rhyme than small talk.
Two hours more, and the things will go right
As long as I fail my deceiving the clock.

What's On Television?

by Julie Kovacs

Grunting and braying
two donkeys fought over
who was in control of the remote
for the plasma screen.

“Boxing!”
“Wrestling!”
both wanted to watch one or the other
sitting inside the spacious
living room
next to the Nile.

Eyes glazed over from
reading the Rosetta Stone
mistaking it for a television schedule
they finally decided to
give up and use the remote
to change the weather
clicking buttons
and more buttons
until they saw rain on television.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bloom

by Rob Dyer

in search of
Life
the traveling soul wanders
from concrete war zones
past relevant fields
to a country corner

a seeker never finds
it all at once
clever revelations unfold
fueling desire to carry on
to envelop purpose and devour
the curious beast within

somewhere in a precocious moment,
beauty decides it's place
beside horror, across from morose awareness
beneath the blatant realities

and a heart bursts
as Life explodes
in glorious colors of our world
reminding the traveler, we are
always in bloom

Somehow the gemstone

by Harry Calhoun

There’s a topaz that struggles
to be a sapphire.

Its eminence glows yellow

as saffron in its tiny vial.

The struggle of that
and that which can never be

defines us. Somehow the gemstone

must eventually or never can

become the spice.

GETAWAY

by Mathew Richard Carter

The night was fast-
a stark white flash
of mesmeric headlights,
tugging us in and out
of stolen cars. The best
part of the night
was when I said:
“Oh shit! You mean
this isn’t your car?”

We pulled on destiny’s
pant leg, laughed at the sky
through moon roof
breather holes, we
held our breath as
we crept around
corners crawling
with surveillance.

We combed the streets
for easy money,
put our livelihood
before our safety,
blinked our eyes
while we scurried
over rooftops,
hopping buildings
for a hasty
getaway.

One time we held
hands as we fell
two stories
down,
ricochet off
fire escapes,
arms entangled
as we laugh.

We tumble onto
solid rock concrete
breaking limbs before
scampering into
dumpsters-

still laughing.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

my gods!
and other theories on the origins of man

by Mike Foldes

1
just add water

a very large man in a white coat
and glasses, a very large man who
somehow resembles einstein, or
your favorite 8th grade science teacher type,
attaches a patch of solid material
to a plastic orb and sets it spinning
like a tiny top. only up close
it looks much larger. up close
it doesn’t look like it’s moving
at all. and in fact the large man
in the white coat who set it spinning
can slow it down and even stop it,
and at one point he does this
to check out how the patch
of solid material on the plastic surface
held up under the centrifugal force
of the spin and finds that several pieces
have split off and formed related
shaped masses here and there
upon the plastic. and with a very
long and finely pointed pair of shining
titanium tweezers he carefully places
fourteen items of genetic code
on different facets of the developing
project, and with a warm breath
of humid air that quickly condenses
onto the plastic surface of the orb,
sets it spinning again so fast
it no longer appears round, but
kind of flattened at the poles.
and that’s about the time things
really begin to change.

Anonymous Poem

by Chris Butler

Anonymous wrote this poem.
Anonymous will bask in the acclaim.
Anonymous will take all the blame.
Anonymous is my name.

Anonymous is a stranger.
Anonymous leaves a transparent silhouette.
Anonymous wears a mannequin’s face.
Anonymous is an unidentified Doe.
Anonymous exists in the non-existent.

Anonymous is known in the unknown.
Anonymous is an infamous myth.
Anonymous is a famous artist.
Anonymous is christened as It.
Anonymous discloses Itself in public.

Anonymous wrote this poem.
Anonymous is my name.
Anonymous is us all.

LOVE OF A WELL-HUNG CURTAIN

by Steven Gulvezan

Susan paused upon the portico
To gaze upon the draper's assistant
Hanging curtains in her chamber
His face so waxen white
She wondered if he had dipped
Into the alabaster cream
Hidden in the top drawer
Of her dressing table
But when he turned his head
And their visions locked
His blazing coal-black eyes
Instantly transfixed her
And, flushed and slightly panting,
She inquired huskily of this lad
If he might desire to step down
From his ladder and join her
In her boudoir to eat his fill
Of her sweet morning muffin

THE CHIMPANZEE DESTROYED THE RAG TOP

by Mark James Andrews

not only did junkyard dogs guard
the once noble chariots on the oil
soaked grounds but a chained
baby chimp offered in barter
for the automatic transmission
from a rare 1948 Buick Roadmaster
was displayed outside the cash
register shack for customer novelty
and the comic fear factor of a bite
from his remaining milk teeth until
later in his animal year’s quicktime
his hairy juvenile biceps and fingers
would be forced to pry off wheel covers,
light assemblies, bumpers, mirrors
and all body chrome of value and
then the ownership taught him
to use a butane torch to burn off
the outer casing of copper wiring
until he turned it on a tow truck
driver who motioned for him to light
his cigarette which compelled me
to kidnap the chimp after closing
on a rainy Friday night and set him
up on a blind date but first he demanded
through his acquired sign language
to indulge his new dependencies
to hit up Ed the Paperman stationed
curbside outside Polka Party Store
for a fifth of sloe gin and a gram
of red hash before we picked up
the sophomore girls from St. Cyril
for a double-date at the Belle Air
Drive-In to see Gimme Shelter where
I forgave most of his antics in the back
seat but THE CHIMPANZEE DESTROYED
THE RAG TOP on my '62 Rambler
convertible because his girl wouldn’t put
out in the manner he was accustomed.

Monday, December 6, 2010

FUGUE BY THE TING KNOWN AS RANDALL

by Randall Rogers

i got my goddamn hippie wings
today
i fuckin floated away
it appears
into the nuclei of the UNIVERSAL ONE atom
where
no god sat
couldn’t find any wiggle of force that would take the job either
looked around
kinda got full of myself
being a man, going
with this dying thing,
when I found out hey
this dying trip
they, whatever, it really
can’t kill you
I was dead but when
nothin’ went black shut down
and my eyeless sight
could still see,
I said shit
is this dying?
am i dead?
because i sure ain’t got no body
and i’m emanating
pulsating
I started saying, shit, is this dead?
come on, kill me off!
wither croak gasp rattle and all go black me.
I started getting angry
being dead but still me
alive with no body
among hexagonal sort of forces emanating waves blurry fast quivering
i knew who they were -
fellow dead whatevers -
well shit where do we, i, go?
I wondered
i was getting comfortable
I got to liking being dead
no worries, man,
then, shit,
when i got a grip
i was seemingly poised with a question
do I want to destroy all there is? – I was looking light years upon like three
close by universes – and i said hey man i never asked for this job
but god damnit
hell if i gotta be god
and i bellowed a god voice saying
well, shit, try to be cool worlds, universes, etc., man
love one another and all that you know
I tells them in my god voice
hell, go the bob marley way
i told the universes
the matrix the everything that was only I after all
rasta, man, I said, Jah!!
smoke the herb brethren and sisteren, I said,
and take care of and be nice to one another
I was really getting into it
ordering as god everything to be mellow, and cool, and smoke da herb, mon,
when damn it I started losing my godness.
shit i was coming to my senses going back into that
applewhite shell sort of browny grey and withered husk shell of a body thing an expressionless motionless gandolf-like thing having all
the life sucked out of it and all the irresponsibility in overdoing it partying and depressioning done in it, all the hours/days on end jerking the dick thing limp hanging from it for hours a day, each day, hypersexualized, doing way too much meth, watching free youporn.com smoking constant weed and indonesia keretk clove and tobacco strong garam brand cigarrettes
I’d put into it’s aveolas into it’s hyper burnt oscillating brain.
in frames, zooms, I returned
to the char-lunged needle poked hurting lil’ dead withered closed eye grey fella laying sprawled dead clutching a sheetless mattress clinging in feebrile effort to earlier, when foolishy I fought to live in the thing, to preserve, to cling to a life that was the old body mind idiot me
- i didn’t want to go back in
the wall crawler of a lifeless creature that lay dead there
and hell, the foot on the damn thing hurt when I sort of bitterly started entering the thing,
then the more I got inside it the body I could see blood was gushing out of the big toe which appeared cut, almost severed but still connected and bright red drops dropping blood silver dollar pancakes that splattered Pollack-like on the bland beige tile floor
still connected though,
that painful bloody toe,
and it sort of hurt too, the foot the whole leg on the thing as I eased fighting to stay out of it into the thing
reanimating it
even further in I thought shit, I hope I’m not missing both legs or even one, severed, cut off you know, because I didn’t know what the hell happened to the thing when I was gone.
i don’t want to – oh hell I’ll just have to handle it – told myself
then I was back fully looking out of my eyeballs feeling moving my fingers and bony skinny concentration camp speed diet frame fingers and arms
i began again thinking in that head
arms legs everything worked as I took stock in of the old vehicle.
I got up from clutching sprawled position face down on the mattress, the television was still on, janis joplin cd in the opened holder of the dvd player.
I then thought
shit, I wanted to die, what the fuck, I gotta die twice?
I said outloud sort of disgusted angry-like to the cosmic non-organization whose god or organizing driving principle was, as i had found out on my journey, was me.
what the fuck! come on, it’s time! Time to go! I could speak with the mouth of the thing me now no booming god voice talking to universes anymore just me in my cramped cluttered filthy thrashing trash papers books things I been lubing up and shoving up my ass trying to figure out what the attraction and sensation of having a huge cock shoved roughly and deeply to the hilt up my rectum was like preparing me in case i went gay.
but no, there must be work for me to do among you earth cambodia morons i surmised so the consciousless energy that is the something from nothing which you see and be when dead and alive too I guess sent me back, shuttled me home
shit, more work, I thought,
i wanted rest
dead black nothing rest
but god damnit the soul, I experienced it, it don’t die, it appears, at least in my experience in that neck of the woods dimension realm and all them shifty force shimmering folk that populate ghost acres.
you just go hang in celestial energy, with the other shifty force thingy things sorry sap dead alive magneto energy pulsars flitting around nothing much to do çept check out the new dude or dudette that blazingly arives asking what the hell?
and like most humans on your Earth place
to me, at least,
these us-everythings being the structureless structure of space-time statistics, and moving swimming flying about in it, this yes you matrix creates the space the area the thing it goes along in wherever it goes, sort of a not boldly going where no thing has gone before but creating matter thought dimensions as you motor about void, it, basically an energy field, a huge and tiniest field of an air hockey float with in and upon multidimension you-create deal with no start no stop, creation and evaporation of universes worlds populating beings where ever and when you chose to move creation, the whole apparati appeared essentially personalityless, neutral, a big bland nothing, like most people I meet. Until I arrived.
end of story.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Sexiest Woman Alive

by John Pursch

She wore her dressing sack everywhere:
pitcher's mound, diving bell, houseboy's yacht.
When the milkman's turn finally came,
he was caught selling Tupperware
to undercover brake mechanics,
greasy hands slapping on the cuffs.
Voyeurs tailed her soup spoon
to its seven-course hideout,
only to find a declawed cat
that looks and tastes a lot
like canned olives.

Dreary skies tatooed
her pairs of antipodes
on every addled worker,
swapping the war on rugs
for a few more flying carpets.
Transfixed by her charms,
the world economy now teeters
on the edge of vertiginous prolapse;
averages have shifted in transit
and sloshed divisors
have spent their last iota,
searching for a camel's child.

oddly perfect

by Rob Dyer

there are no red tail hawks
nor soaring eagles in sight
only a lone spoon billed roseate
obtuse and odd, scorned by the others
those more lovely to stare at

what with that platypus bill
and pepto hue, no wonder
face planted in weeds and rooting
for bugs and such

but have you seen one on the wing?
soaring as God's gift would have it
oddly perfect in solitary flight

oddly perfect in my sight

In the thumb of the Michigan mitten

by Mark James Andrews

the afternoon sun kept breaking
through the maples teasingly opaque
but luminous like a Degas canvas
if only racehorses would parade
down Cottageland Road
high stepping in their nervous coats of silk
for a wager as I crack the Remy Martin
seal for a splash as we’re still on coffee.

We recline in a languid balance
on this canopy 3 seat swing
plotting to continue our secret nightly pruning
of the neighbor’s low hanging branches
which trespass on our view of Huronia blue
300 feet down the track
when they come skidding up their drive
in a dusty red Hemi Ram Quad Cab

killing our field of ten fillies and mares
at post time while blotting our canvas
of Degas with late model Dodge pick-up
in a mad scramble of unloading tool boxes
PVC pipe and CLANK dropping a sump pump
screaming for God to damn it all to hell and
flashing a monster ring of keys under our sun
to finally disappear into their summer home.

THE SNAIL AND THE BIRDS

by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

In the gloom of evening
where the lilacs bloom
the dash of a snail is no
blur in slow motion.

A bitter leaf is his meal.
His eyes are cloudy in darkness.
The sonorous sounds of
birds must seem frightening.

The snail must not worry.
It must not weep. It must
go on and live and sleep
in a grassy or dirty bed.

The strong, the swift, and
the evil will always be there.

Lily And Bob

by Doug Draime

Bob was back
in the corner
by the juke box, his
shotgun propped
up against the
machine. No one
had noticed him
coming in the back-
door. Lily was serving
some rowdies at the
front table. I’d been
watching the Reds kick
the shit outta the
Cubs on the black
& white at the
end of the bar.
And if I hadn’t
turned when Jerry
asked for another beer,
I wouldn’t have
noticed Bob sitting
there either.
I walked over
and drew Jerry
a draft. Bob was
craning his neck around
trying to get a good
look at Lily. I sat the draft
in front of Jerry
and reached under
the counter for the
.357, and stuck it
under my shirt, and
started walking back
to the table.
Bob spotted me coming
and moved his
shotgun, laying
it across the
table, with 2 fingers
resting on the trigger.
He yelled at me,
“This is done of
your concern, Doug.
I just came to
get Lily. Go back
behind the bar
and tend to business.”
Lily was
right behind me by
then and I knew
she could see the
bulge of the gun.
“Bob, you need
to take your
fingers off the trigger
and sit the fucking
shotgun back against
the juke box.
And I need you
to do that, now, OK?”
Bob just stared
at me, trying to
stare me down.
The place grew
as still as a rock.
“I don’t want
any trouble with
you, Doug. I
came to get Lily,
like I said.”
I could hear
Lily starting to
cry behind me.
“You come in here
with a shotgun
and you don’t want
any trouble? I
think you’re
a little confused,
man. You need to call it a
night, go home and
sleep if off.”
He was just tapping his
fingers on the stock of
the shotgun
near the trigger
and staring at me.
I could feel
Lily moving, as she
touched my
shoulder and stepped
out in front
of me.
She took a couple
steps toward
the table,
haltingly, gently
reaching out
her hand.
“Bob, honey, I’ll
leave with you
but you have
to stop this
before someone
gets killed. We
can work
this out, baby.
You don’t
want anybody
to get hurt, Bob.
I know
you don’t.”
Locked on mine,
Bob’s eyes moved
slowly away
to Lily’s,
his whole
body softening.
He took his hand
off the
shotgun and stood up,
his eyes
filling with tears.
Not another word
was spoken,
as Bob
began to sob.
Lily had his hand and was
leading him
out the back door.
When I heard
his old pickup start,
I walked over
and picked-up the
shotgun, broke it open,
and took
the shells out,
put them in my pocket.
Walking back
up to the bar
with the unloaded
weapon, some wise ass played
Lovesick Blues, by
Hank Williams,
and there was an
uproar of laughter.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Butcher Rings the Bell

by Brian Tucker

I cut up hogs for a living. Well, I used to anyways. Worked at the butcher shop in Seton, Kentucky. Population 581. Or, so the sign reads when you drive into town. My specialty was chops. I could cut a big sow’s bones into real fine slivers. People liked the way I did the butterfly chops. I’d stack them in the tray nice like with a heart shape in the middle. Always forgot to put those blood absorber pads in the bottom of the Styrofoam tray when I was finished, but I cut them like a pro. My boss, Mr. Elway, called me that—a pro. Imagine being a pro at anything! It wasn’t like me to brag, but I did get a fancy sense of accomplishment when I stacked a heavy tray of assorted chops together with no room to spare. Customers licked their lips when the tray was placed out front. We smiled behind the swinging meat department door, when they stared at the rows of pink and red marble.

Saul was our meat wrapper. He did an alright job I guess. Always getting into trouble with the older butchers for not coming in on time. Had a real struggle with the time clock. Saul said the clock didn’t like him. I didn’t give a shit what he or the others said. I just came in to cut up meat and go home.

For all of Saul’s problems, he wasn’t nearly as bad as the kook Mr. Elway hired to work the bone saw. Jerry Sarkins was a son-of-a-bitch if I ever did meet one. The bastard would walk right up behind one of us while we was cutting on a hog or beef cow and goose us real good. The laser sharp knife would slip in our hands and we’d almost slice the meat, our arms, or Jerry’s lips all the way into. I always threatened him that I was going to accidentally slice him from ear to hear and watch the meat fall to the ground leaving him with only a bloody skeleton. He laughed it up. My hand would grip the butcher’s knife like I was behind in the count in the bottom of the ninth inning. I was always pretty good at baseball.

Jerry Sarkins would work that bone saw like a freak. Best bone saw cutter I ever saw. But, he liked to give us a real scare by pretending to cut off a finger or hand. There was an Asian family that always wanted beef short ribs cut in a quarter of an inch, and Jerry was the only one that could do that just right. He’d harass us about getting the quarter inch short ribs out to Connie Chung, and he’d laugh like a hyena. Jerry was a real piece of work. His yellow teeth would be bared, reminding me of a clown at the circus tying balloons around spoiled kids’ hands. Even had a big rosy nose like a clown would. Then, after heckling Saul, me, and the others, he’d take the beef ribs that had already been trayed up, remove the shrink wrap from them, and begin cutting them even more finely. He’d cut a few strips and then howl like a monkey. Then, he’d cut some more.

We jumped often from the high-pitched sounds Jerry made the first few months. Gullible newbies like Saul jumped even more than the rest of us. But soon enough, we all caught on to his ways. Knew he was a prick. Jerry Sarkins had cried wolf too many times. We stopped listening, and boy if he didn’t really cut a finger off one day. No lie. Saul was clocking in late, and Mr. Elway was lecturing him yet again on punctuality, when Jerry, that deuchebag, cut off his thumb. He howled and this time none of us turned around.

“Cut that thing plumb off!” he yelled. “Youchhhh!”

He jumped up and down. Finally he passed out and collapsed in his own pool of blood. Trouble was none of us could tell his red blood from the puddles of sow, heifer, and hen entrails. Jerry lay there on the floor for a while. I was out turning the rotisserie birds in the large ovens and giving people samples when it all happened. Saul had just put on his apron and hard hat when he saw Jerry supinely sprawled on the cold floor. He kicked Jerry with his steel toed boot.

“Mr. Elway. I don’t think Jerry is fooling around this time,” Saul said.

“He gets you every time, son,” came Elway’s voice from the manager’s office.

“No. I think he’s really hurt himself. He’s not moving in here.”

And that SOB wasn’t. Jerry lay still like a fish that had wore itself out from flopping on the bank. His color had gone out of his face, and he was holding his wound. His lips were puckered like that singing bass I got last year for Christmas. I thought about where I had put that thing. Christmas was just around the corner again. Jerry was staring at the ceiling.

“Well, look who’s whining now,” I offered him.

“Paulie. Not now!” Mr. Elway barked.

“He had it coming. Serves him right,” I added, holding back a laugh.

“Get me some ice and a wash cloth, son,” Mr. Elway said to Saul.

Saul disappeared. I stood placidly looming over Jerry’s frame. I still had my butcher knife in my hand. In a matter of milliseconds, I went from standing like Michael Myers to hurling the Asian family’s unfinished beef ribs at Jerry. He didn’t try to deflect the ribs; he didn’t laugh that hyena laugh. Mr. Elway cussed at me. I threw filet mignon and rib-eye steaks when I ran out of ribs. Then, I found Atlantic salmon filets and threw them at Jerry. They looked like slimy orange rugs flying through the air. For the life of me, I don’t know what made me do it. Next, I un-skewered the rotisserie birds ready for the ovens and hit him in the head with those. Saul dropped the first aid supplies he had retrieved from Mr. Elway’s office, and he tried to slow me down, grabbing the birds as they flew through the air. But, I wouldn’t have it. I threw lobster tails at the stunned old butchers that had been watching me from inside the deli room this whole time. Their jaws dropped open, and I broke them all with meat trays.

The ambulance had a tough time pilfering through the blood and chops to try and find Jerry’s sawed off finger. Looked for about two hours before finally giving up. I was long gone by that time. Took off my apron and stormed out of that hell hole. Told Mr. Elway that butchering hogs was no living at all. Of course, I didn’t leave the meat department before ringing that bell and letting the Asian family know with a wink that their beef ribs were on the house.