Daily Archives: October 28, 2009

“Leaves” by Mark Fleury

At last a space for my mistakes, namely that I
Can leave here, being heart, to touch thought.
So in translating vision to listening (trip from
Mind to poetry, more as in stumble than journey)

The aging of a human body withering also has
Beauty of brown and yellow of November leaves,
The way the sun always seems to be behind
Each tree's brightest dusk. And by the time

The ground's frozen with the coldness of moon,
Wind-tossed tatter of separate and together (one
May twitter, trapped in dark grass) the hollow of
Moon's whiteness is deeply carved with the

Blue from sky black enough for flickers of
Fireflies, stars, thoughts as
Leaves. And the degree to which
Earth and sky shelter each other into winter and
Prevent, in summer, either from drifting out of

Themselves is why the stem of a leaf will
Break when most vivid. Exposed from form
To space as flesh, between green and yellow,
Falls, closer to root than

Glass to sand; dryness: death's only claim
To what leaf and body share. So I thought I'd

Hide in the shadow of that lampshade on the
Shag yellow carpet before autumn's arrival:

From childhood evening of a distant past
That has to be, as oxygen and flame, here,
Extension of mind as future. I can see,
Clear as white sheets of an old age bed,
The living room, and what, in the change of
Hands, warmth and feeling together become

“Diminishment (Confusion Forgiven)” by Mark Fleury

So the crossroads
Aren't a place of
Choice after all.
As different walls-
Such as of a studio or a day job-
Don't change one's work, the four
Seasons know
No opposite
Direction and have no use
For during.
The interplay of heaven and hell
Thicken logic
(Morality) Empowering
The Demon (paranoia)
Who is, after all,
The Angel: pristine
Schizophrenia! An opening...
The God of
The prodigal
Child, of which
None are excluded-
Necessitated by
"I'm guilty:" Defenses diminished
For confusion forgiven
And a changed me.

“You Are God (An Anti-War Poem)” by Mark Fleury

This blast from the last
Stand of me overtook a
Fallen grace as explosions
Of a diamond can. Guilt
Then that I could see a

Flash outside myself, in
The space that allows you
To see me who now knows
That you are god. Debris
Of thought falls all around
As your reflection as bomb

Is absorbed into me from
The exploded sun. That's how
Your soul is inhaled. Sucked.

And now we take to the street
Where gentleness and violence
Combine from the blinding flash
Of projected/reflected

You. So we'd better go,
Protected by only the who we
Are that's the same.

Violence is easy. Changing the forms
With phantom of light being flames,

Many different burnings from
Inside god. Full of breath, of
Last exhale, of blue sky in us.
All of the bits of broken you

And me have fallen below
One diamond of many deaths.
Blue is expensive. Anyway

There is an opening in was, a
Ripple. That's how psychology
As setting sun divides oneplace
Into an ability to laugh at killing
Another to save oneself. Funny.

O.K. sublime flash vanity is tempting
But can it be entered

Like a door? A throat can only
Assist so much hunger. Goal set:
Take myself home now so I can
Offset exhaustion. And a coffin
That fits its dream of love for

Destruction. This while the coal
Mines of my mind as black smoke
From a train makes its way through
A snowstorm. I mean breath wakes
Up, lifts up tiredness as death out

Of my thought-container and
Into above me, to include
What can't be swallowed.

That cloud ghost has
Followed me everywhere
Words are, and where they're
Not just means I don't know
Who reads or writes them.

So nothing changes when air
Fills empty me except that
Energy is opened from the
Sun inside us. I mean who

Is not tired.

“The Angel Is Forgiveness (Dream Record)” by Mark Fleury

If self-sufficiency isn't the ability to
Buy a bottle of Coca Cola, where is it?
The dawn's going down in the Heart of the Angel:
A family farm housed in darkness, discernible
In newspaper photos of public figures- a senator, or a rock star.
Surrounded by a black and white sky,
The Angel protests the need to be forgiven.
It's all a put-on anyway. Hideous, after being hidden
Where the leaves meet the tree line, now looking out
The doorway of a barn,
The Angel's lofty ambitions, besides suicide, include
A light, round as a tire swing hung from a rafter,
Soft and yellow as sunlit hay.
Yet separate, unsurrendered. As the Demon
Is beautiful, feminine forgiveness, the unstraightened
Lightning is space because air is invisible
For the unthrown rain, and high sky cracking
Thunder, the sound of dark ground.
Birds ascend across the sky like bits of flashing mirrors.
The smell of rain reveals that imitation isn't
Survival: a face hardened by cumulative fear of rape.
The light goes out the moment seeing is needed.
Looking downward, rivulets of water; still, stagnant
Pools reflect the night of the green weeds and
The rope: the mask: splash.

“In Absentia” by E. Evans

I have burned the marriage license
tossed the wedding ring off a bridge
hidden the prayer book carried
with red roses.
Why do I think of you tonight
as though I hold your beating heart
cupped in my hands?

You are there at the head of the table
light shadows playing on your hands,
your gestures, your energies offered,
raising a glass to toast absent friends.
Your charisma passed around
like a new baby with
a contagious glow.

Like a signal carried on a fragile wire
I have tenuous threads
connecting me to the past,
threads gathered at the shuttle,
on the loom of days.

“No Matter, Nurses” by Birdie D. Stringfellow

No matter how many times
I begged them to tell me
before we ran out of supplies,
it never happened.

So in the middle of the night,
I had to get dressed,
find my keys and head out
to the nearest store.

Then one day, a brilliant idea
slapped me in the face
like the fin of a great whale
and I knew what to do.

I purchased a special baby hamper,
threw out the trashcan,
and handed over cloth diapers
to mama's nurses with safety pins.

“Sorry She Had Said It” by Birdie D. Stringfellow

She was sorry she had said it,
but she couldn't take it back.
She lost her temper
like a shepherd loses his sheep.
It just wandered off
and got lost in the crossfire.

Anger is the tongue's worst enemy,
and a heart has no protective barrier
surrounding it.
The damage was done,
and the mark it made
was permanent like a marker
identifying a name
on a piece of clothing.

A slip of the tongue --
Get over it --
she commanded.
Although a bleeding heart
that has been sliced
with the knife
flows red like a juicy tomato
ready for the eating.

Her words spilled into his veins
and poisoned his brain,
and there was no getting over it.
She was sorry she had said it,
but she couldn't take it back.

“Tell Me Your Secret” by Birdie D. Stringfellow

Tell me your secret and I will tell you mine.
Open the door to your heart and let me in.
My sandals are worn from all the entries they have made,
like a good book that's been read many times through,
but this journey will be different -- I feel it in my sole.
Like an anchor that has descended from a ship
cast out into the rough waters of the sea,
I feel the heavy weight of your ups and your downs.
Hand me the key and unlock the rusty latch
so that I may step into your life and your dreams.
Tell me your secret and the sun will sing in the rain.

“What Happens Next?” by Birdie D. Stringfellow

I don't know, for goodness sakes.
Do we remove her from life support?
She has a living will, you know.
They are gathered together in her hospital room,
discussing this and planning that,
discussing some more, for goodness sakes.
What happens next? The doctor arrives.
He stares at us, then drops his head.
It's over now. The decision that never comes.
Your mother didn't make it, he says.
So now we know. It's out of our hands.
That, for goodness sakes, is what happens next.

“If Words Were Water” by Ericka Williamson

If word were water we'd be swimming through the sea
But no words can express what you are to me;
So I'd like to sit in a silence, more expressive than my voice
You and I together without words unnecessary noise.

If language were liquid among the ocean we would drift
But no language can explain how your love is like a gift;
So just for a moment, let's not make a sound
Our hearts beating together will fill the silence that surrounds.

Lying in the calm with our arms and legs entwined,
We'll find a tranquility that words cannot define.

“I Don’t Speak Portuguese, But If I Did…” by Gabriel Shanks

They stagger at you, sidewalk god
And wonder how you came to what you are
And why you did, and did it hurt
And did that stain make it better or worse

Just a tattoo? You and I know better.
Fools may glance and miss you, sure, but
I see kingdoms gleaming from your lobes
like morning in the rain forests

Your sleeves speak as you amble
In dialogue to nineteen centuries
In tongues we've never heard
In vocabularies we don't own

In your strut are pluralisms, histories,
The pride of twelve grandmothers
The blood of long-dead kings
The memory of river water

Brazil is older than its sand
And you, stained-glass vase,
Hold it, wade it, mine it,
Crossing every city block.

“Another Primate on Exhibit” by Steve DeFrance

Fog bumps over the city’s mottled beach,
it swirls across a car-clogged
Ocean Boulevard & charges
the San Francisco Zoo.


It settles there—its ethereal shrouds
covering the animal exhibits & making mystic
the ubiquitous evergreen trees.


Caged flamingos–legs seemingly too delicate to survive
this world—stand etched on spider web legs,
like plastic sentinels on duty in this churning mist.
Obsidian flamingo eyes—forever unblinking
stare at my back—as a coven of shrieking kids
flush me from this exhibit, moving me
toward a more obscure & dangerous path.


Monkey Island.
Time has changed all.
The Island’s long gone & so too its
rock-to-ground-to-tree inhabitants.
Today it is only a grubby unyielding
caged pit with two sinister chimpanzees,
a shambling gray & a one eyed black.


I wonder—were they part of the original
island population? Are they all that is left?
There were hundreds of these island comedians,
but then—there was sun & freedom.
I speculate about these two veterans.
Staring into their pit—their dilemma,
dismal—sitting—waiting for death.
Maybe I should bust them lose?
Set them free again?


I sit quiet—thinking on other kinds of prisons,
prisons we design for ourselves,
8 to 5—cubicled jobs, commuter coffins all in a row.
The chimps eye me—roll back their rubbery lips
and scream as if in fear…
yes, I, too, have grown older.


Have they recognized me? We stare now at
one another, as if looking for new questions.
Having long ago given up on answers.
Given up on on most everything,
Given up on hope except to receive
a few random acts of dispassion.


The air temperature dives.
Wind whines & a chill screen
of wet fog pushes across
the wrinkled slate-colored sea,
it rolls toward the ruins of Monkey Island,
rolls toward the ruins of the three of us.


We bind together now, blinded by memories,
dying of time & this enveloping fog.
Past suns & all freedom fades to darkness,
as our over due souls crash into an indifferent universe.
Reaching for my tail, I curl myself into the fog
becoming just another primate on exhibit.






Steve DeFrance is a widely published poet, playwright, and essayist both in America and Great Britain.  In England, he won a Reader’s Award in Orbis Magazine for his poem “Hawks.”  In the United States, he won the Josh Samuels’ Annual Poetry Competition (2003) for his poem “The Man Who Loved Mermaids.”  His play The Killer had it’s world premiere at the Garage Theatre in Long Beach, California (Sept-October 2006).  He has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Chapman University for his writing.

“Pecos, Texas: 1961″ by Steve DeFrance

A cacophony of thunder, bass throated
& mournful—rumbles over Pecos, Texas.
Wind whips & snaps my jacket around me,
Silver rain pushes down State Highway 66.
I had gone to find Amerika—15 years old.
arrested for hitchhiking & vagrancy.


I had been on the road for a year, sleeping in
flops, boxcars, and sometimes in the streets.
Fought bulls in Mexico, swam waters alive with shark,
watched a man die in a street fight, so, I felt
I could do short jail time because I needed rest.


Indians & blacks & whites tried to act dangerous.


After lights out, moonlight would shine through the
skylights and scatter itself in shimmering crystal
pools across the cell block.


Prisoners smoked—talked in hushed voices,
about a man in the isolation cell.
He was to be moved to Huntsville in
the morning for electrocution.


In my cell-bunk I thought about Hermosa
Beach & the Starlight Bowling Alley.
And of the people jailed in their own
lives. Dead People. Lives being lived by
genetic reflex, or by the dictates of a
dream already empty.
As I thought of people in other
kinds of prisons, night gathered the
cold stars and flung them sparkling and
distant above the skylights, and I knew
somehow I was happy. Then, down
the corridors men started calling to the one
waiting to die. “Hey man,
you’re goin’ to feel old smokey.
You’re gonna burn. They’ gonna fry you.
gonna burn you like bacon—”


These voices sang us into the dawn
their malevolent cadence
like a jailhouse lullaby.
It soothed & tormented
me & the one waiting to die—as
slowly we drifted into uneasy sleep
where we were locked into dreams
of electrocution & death.
And gradually,
we moved into a collision course
with the coming morning.







Steve DeFrance is a widely published poet, playwright, and essayist both in America and Great Britain.  In England, he won a Reader’s Award in Orbis Magazine for his poem “Hawks.”  In the United States, he won the Josh Samuels’ Annual Poetry Competition (2003) for his poem “The Man Who Loved Mermaids.”  His play The Killer had it’s world premiere at the Garage Theatre in Long Beach, California (Sept-October 2006).  He has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Chapman University for his writing.

“Don’t Go There” by A.J.

Not feeling so hot today
My friends ask what's wrong
I tell them to not go there
They just miss

The teacher in my first hour asks me to do some work
Doesn't even worry about how I'm feeling
That's how I want it
I don't know him, he doesn't know me
He's not there for emotional guidance
He probably knows what happens when you go there

I see my best friend at lunch, we sit down and eat
She sees the worry and want in my face
The worst happens, she asks
I tell her to not go there, you don't need to know
I understand her feelings, she's done it to me
But she insists, something I don't do, she forces me to take here there

I watch her from a distance, she looks lost and confused
I told her not to go there, but now she's there and I hate to say, I told you so, terrible place it is,
maybe I still have a chance to bring her back, but she needs to understand that this place is worse
than anyone else's Even I'm scared of it, too harsh for me,
I can't believe I sent her there, it's time to pull her out

“A Conch Wedding, Part Deux” by Brittany Durk

"A Conch Wedding," because Jen was marrying Nick, and we were all in Atlanta for a week of partying; "Conch" because that's what the girls and I called ourselves, due to a spring break spent in Key West, otherwise known as the Conch Republic; Part Deux because I had been the first Conch to bite the big one. Truth be told, I was missing my divorce hearing for the wedding; a Circle of Life, I'd say. So far this trip had been filled with drunken hilariousness, but there was an underlying tone of despair. Not only were we sad that our once wild and carefree Jen was settling down, but we weren't too sure about the guy she was marrying. Apparently he had a small drug problem, and we hadn't seen much affection between the two of them, so we were more than a little wary. Jen hadn't been too forthcoming with us in regards to Nick's shortcomings, either. Whatever the case, no matter if she had shared with us or not, you can't change fate. She was going to marry Nick anyhow and all we could do was be there for her and try our best to like him.

Soon the Day of Reckoning was upon us. The pictures of us standing at the altar were priceless: Megan, picture perfect as usual, the eternal actress; Linda, looking as if she wanted to throw down with the groom (which I know she did); me, dazed and confused; Lisa, making eyes at her boyfriend; Jen's sister–in-law Kristi, also looking as though she wanted to punch the groom; and last but not least, Anna, the groom's sister, strangely hopeful. Was she thinking that perhaps Jen could save Nick from himself? Who knew; maybe she could.

The wedding reception consisted of dancing, more drinking, and me trying to get with one of the groomsmen. I thought I was going to be victorious, when all of a sudden he disappeared without a trace. Dammit. Another one bites the dust, I suppose. At least I was adequately lubricated to deal with the heartache. No one had seen Nick all night, including Jen, and I was trying to steer clear of that drama as well.

"Oh, it's you! Did you find a place for us to go?" I asked, resigned to the fact that the rest of my night would include Daniel (Nick's brother) drunkenly following me around, me being depressed over Chris and, of course, more alcohol. One of Daniel's friends joined us for the plan making. I recognized him as the guy who'd drunkenly invited me to after bar while I was talking with Chris earlier. I think I called him Ralph Lauren or Tommy Hilfiger or something. Chris had laughed, telling me that at least I had plans for later that night, if all else fell through. Little did I know he would be the thing to fall through and I would be stuck with this fucking freak, the drunkest man alive.

After much debate, we decided to head back to the hotel bar. When it was my turn to crawl into the shuttle, the only seat left was next to Daniel, and his loser friend. The loser friend had managed to sneak a double of scotch for the ride. I muttered something about Southern men and their scotch. Daniel heard me and took that as an invitation to start talking again. He asked if I liked wine; I told him I did, I enjoyed Italian wines. He told me he had been to Italy. I imagined him in his polo shirt and khaki shorts, loafers with no socks, drinking wine from a carafe in Tuscany. Somehow it didn't all fit together. I giggled to myself, his Southern drawl in a sea of Italian accents. My thoughts were interrupted by his friend, whose name I found out was Peter, screaming at the driver to play some "mother fucking Widespread Panic." "Didn't he know they were from Georgia?" "Where was the mother fucking Widespread Panic?" I giggled until Daniel made the mistake of touching my leg, full palm. I wiped his hand off of my knee and told him I didn't think he needed to drink anymore.

Once at the hotel, the bartender was closing up and wouldn't let us order glasses of wine anymore, so Peter (aka Ralph Lauren, Widespread Panic) bought a few bottles. I was a little surprised that Daniel hadn't offered to buy, but he was so drunk at that point it was a miracle he could stand.

Speaking of Daniel, I finally called him on his weird staring habit. "What?"

"What, Brittany?" he asked back with that glazed look on his face.

I sighed; this could go on all night. I decided to attempt conversation. "So what's a day like in the life of Daniel?"

He laughed drunkenly, then stared blankly into space. I fought the urge to roll my eyes. "Well," he said after a very pregnant pause,"work, golf, family, that's really it."

He wasn't giving me much to go off of, although I can't imagine what else I thought he might say. Daniel was the type of guy who would run for President someday; reminded me of a young Bill Clinton, only not as smooth. I was about to excuse myself to the ladies room when David (Nick's dad) slid a hand around my waist and laid a sloppy kiss on my cheek. I caught his wife's eye in the distance, playing warden, although I couldn't blame her. David asked me for the twentieth time if I was having a good time. After assuring him that I was, I escaped to the bathroom to stare at myself in the mirror, trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with me that a nice guy like Chris would run away from me, but guys like David and Daniel couldn't seem to get enough of me. I felt like Marilyn Monroe, always attracting the wrong type of man. Maybe I had a sign on my forehead that read "damaged" or "easy" or some other warning that made available men run out of my path.

When I sat back down at the bar, Peter swooped in. Make that available men who weren't ass holes. "Hey, baby, gimme a cigarette," he whined, stroking my arm with his forefinger.

I grimaced and slapped his hand away. "I don't have any."

"I can see them in your purse!" He pointed out, indignant.

"Well, the one that I would have given you is gone, so you're out of luck. Ask someone else," I muttered back and took a sip (gulp) of wine.

He checked out the people at the bar, calculating who else might give him one. "Baby, ask that gay guy if I can bum a smoke."

He hadn't even tried to be quiet, and the guy was sitting two bar stools away. "Stop calling me baby! And you don't know if that guy is gay or not, you can't say things like that! I hope you get your ass kicked," I whispered furiously in his ear.

"What? That asshole is totally gay! Look at him," he pointed. I grabbed his finger as he smiled slyly at me, like a damn fifth grader.

"Well, you can ask him yourself."

Peter turned on the charm and the guy gave him a handful of Capris. Must be nice to have been raised Southern, used to getting whatever you want and charming the hell out of people when it's not so easy. We walked outside and sat down on the pavement.

I spotted a golf cart. "Wouldn't it be fun to cruise around the grounds in that?"

Daniel immediately rose from his own spot on the pavement, grabbed me by both hands and dragged me over to the golf cart.

"Daniel, what are you doing?" I cried, as everyone stared on in amazement, except Peter, who was laughing his ass off. Daniel didn't answer, only unzipped the plastic cover on the cart, took a seat inside and started fiddling around.

"Hey man, you might want these. Not going to get very far without them." The shuttle driver had seen Daniel and was waving the cart keys in the air, laughing.

"Get in," Daniel winked at me as the cart started to roll backwards.

"Oh my God, it's moving! Get out of there, you're going to get into trouble!" He wasn't ever going to be President carrying on like he was, that was for sure. Who would have ever thought a conservative Southern void would know how to hotwire a golf cart? Although I suppose if there was anything he would know how to hotwire, a golf cart would be it. He laughed with more than a trace of cockiness and stepped out of the cart. I walked past him to go to the bar for more wine.

After bribing the bartender with a twenty for a glass of wine, I complained to Linda about my unlucky evening. I think she thought I was going to make out with Daniel or something. She and I stepped out again, just as Daniel climbed into a cab. About time. I noticed Peter, though, was not joining him.

"Aren't you leaving, too?" I asked rudely.

He winked at me (damn those Southern men with their winks and their baby's) and drawled," Nah, I'm staying in y'all's room."

"The hell you are!" My southern diva was coming out. "You need to get a cab to take your drunk ass home. No way are you staying in our room!"

Linda laughed and said, "Oh fuck no," while walking away, leaving me to deal with the impending disaster.

"C'mon, I'll sleep on the floor! Let me stay in your room. We can order pizza!" He persuaded suavely.

More words were spoken or yelled, I think I blacked out or Peter cast some sort of spell on me, because suddenly I heard myself saying, "Fine, fine! You can stay in our room, but you're sleeping on the cot. Don't look at us, smell us, touch us, nothing. Dammit, you better not piss me off, I swear to God! I will make you get your own room! And you better order me a pizza!"

We walked up to the front desk to get Peter a blanket, and to find out where we could order a pizza at three in the morning; apparently nowhere. Peter kept cussing at the lady at the front desk; I kept cussing at him for being so rude. He kept calling me baby; I kept freaking out on him. I swear the lady working the desk must have thought we were married or something. Linda had ditched us. She said she was going to keep drinking for a while, but I had had it with the whole night and wanted to sleep. Peter kept whining about how he wanted some drugs and he was going to call Mr. Hathaway.

"Daniel?" I'd asked in shock.

"No, Nicholas," he slurred. "I need some fuckin' coke, baby."

"Leave the man alone, for Chrissake, it's his wedding night," I snapped on him.

"No, no, no you don't! Get your ass up and pull out the cot! Get off my bed right now!" I shrieked as Peter plopped down on the bed, discarding his shoes, sports coat and Ralph Lauren tie.

"Relax, baby," he murmured, eyeing me suggestively.

"Dude, get the fuck up and stop looking at me like that! Order me my pizza, I'm fucking hungry!" I snapped.

He sighed and picked up his phone. After being on hold for awhile, he threw the phone at me. "I'm drunk. You talk." Then he fell back down onto the bed.

I huffed in anger and waited for the options over the phone. It was asking for his account number. I threw the phone back at him. "I'm not your wife. I don't know your credit card number. Who are you calling anyways? Why don't you just call Information?"

"It's my American Express card. They can get you anything, anytime, anywhere, baby. Wait and see." Another wink, and I guess I didn't realize rich people have means poor folks like me don't. I have directory assistance, Peter had concierge service with American Express.

After cussing out three different people at American Express, including one manager, Peter finally got hung up on for requesting a pepperoni pizza, a bottle of red wine and some cocaine. The woman on the line asked him if he also wanted the number to the police station because that was who she planned on calling next. I laughed my ass off; Peter may have been an asshole but he was entertaining. Linda had ordered this weird BLT pizza for lunch that day and I remembered I had three slices left in the hotel fridge. I thought it tasted like a Cousin's sub. I had no desire to finish it, but Peter and I were so drunk and hungry we did anyhow. Guess what he said? "This pizza tastes like a Cousin's sub."

I‘d yelled at Peter so much in our brief time together that night, I think I managed to subdue him, but I didn't want him to pass out on my bed. After more nagging, I realized it was a losing battle and went to change into some comfortable clothes. Of course I couldn't get my dress unzipped so I had to ask him to help, which sucked because he, I'm sure, took it the wrong way. I followed up with a slew of insults to set him straight in any case.

When I came out of the bathroom in a t-shirt and gym shorts, I sat opposite from him on the bed. Good thing it was a king sized; he was sprawled all over the damn place and I was hanging off the edge. I wondered if he could feel my rage from where he was laying. He turned an eye towards me and said, "Hey baby. What are you wearing over there?"

I sighed. My endless attempts at getting him to stop calling me "baby" had failed, so I gave up trying. Maybe it was a Southern thing; maybe they just called everyone "baby." I was being such a jerk to him it would be a wonder if he was truly still hitting on me anyhow. I decided to loosen up and responded, "Pajamas. I couldn't sit around in that dress for one more minute. Check this out."

In an effort to become a little less than enemies, I tried to strike up a conversation about the fun he missed by not attending the bachelor/bachelorette party. I started by showing him the massive bruise on my leg. During a game of ladder golf and an impromptu bathroom break, I had fallen down a hill, taken out two people, the game, and ended up with a wedge sandal up my butt. He rolled over and looked at my leg while I told him the whole story. He laughed, but then made the mistake of taking his hand and caressing my leg with it.

I slapped his hand away. "Don't fucking touch me!"

"Then get your sexy legs out of my face!" He shot back. If he were anyone else, this would have seemed like foreplay, but I was still depressed over Chris and so annoyed with Peter, I was about to kick him out of the room for good.

Red in the face, I sputtered, "What? They're not in your face. Pull out the cot!"

He ignored me and played with his phone. I pulled out my own and started texting Linda furiously, asking her where the fuck she was, please come up and rescue me, etcetera. All of a sudden, Peter threw his phone down and said, "Dammit!"

"What now?" I asked through clenched teeth.

He sat up and leaned against the headboard. "You know, you're really beautiful… but Goddammit, you're an asshole!" He shouted, getting louder with each word.

I was stunned speechless as he stared me down. I gathered my wits and shouted back, "Me? I'm the asshole? You're an asshole, not me! And who calls a girl an asshole anyways?"

"Well, that's what you are!" He snatched the room phone and dialed the operator. "Yes, I'm in room 332 with an asshole and I need my own room. I can't stand another minute with this woman. Dammit, I don't care if the hotel is full, I will sleep on the floor. She's going to kill me in my sleep!"

This went on for another minute or two, and had the appropriate affect; me laughing until my sides hurt, my head shoved in a pillow. When Peter hung up the phone, I giggled, "Fuck you."

Peter snorted back, "The chick asked if I was having issues with the Misses!"

He stood up and kept it going by announcing, "I can't take this anymore. I don't deserve to be treated this way. I'm leaving!"

I laughed out loud as I said, "Good! Leave then. Get your own damn room!"

Peter stood up and walked towards the door, sans jacket, tie and shoes. I heard a door slam, but looked up in time to see in the mirror across from me that he had walked into the bathroom. He'd opened the door a crack to see if I was watching.

"I can see you, idiot!" I rolled my eyes. "The door is to your left!"

He walked back out and frowned. "Why do you have to be so mean?"

He settled back onto the bed and asked, "So, asshole, what's your story?"

Since I no longer felt the threat of molestation, I gave in and started talking. I told him I was a writer, had just gone through a divorce, that I was moving to New York to start over. He told me he worked for Nick's dad and loved his job, golfed, of course, and loved David Sedaris. Funny, I didn't even think he could read. Finally, Linda entered and headed straight for the cot.

"Linda, no! You're sleeping in the bed honey, he was just moving. Get up," I hissed at Peter, who continued to lay there like a sack of potatoes.

Linda proceeded to pull out the cot and fell into it, fully clothed. I sighed. She would most likely pass out in three minutes. I walked over and knelt down beside her.

"Linda, Peter is sleeping on the cot. Come on, I'll help you get out of this dress."

I stroked her hair with one hand as she started crying. "My best friend has just made the biggest mistake of her life, and there's nothing I can do about it," she moaned.

I took a deep breath. "I know honey, I know. It'll all be okay."

She looked up at me. "How?"

"I don't know, it just will. It has to be. Things work out however they're supposed to, but there's nothing we can do about it."

"I know," she whispered and fell into dreamland.

I shot Peter a look, though he pretended not to see me as I walked past him and into the bathroom. When I got out, I turned on the TV and began looking for a movie.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Getting a movie, can't sleep now. Your friend Nick better not fuck my friend over," I added as I stared at the list of movies available for rental.

Peter was quiet for a minute. "What movie are you getting?"

"He's Just Not That Into You," I replied and pressed purchase on the remote, fifteen dollars for a couple of hours of mindless activity. A fitting movie for my night.

"Total chick flick."

"Yeah, I'm a romantic, what can I say?" Jaded, cynical me.

"Me, too," he said back in a surprisingly honest tone. I looked over at him with one eyebrow raised, but he'd finally passed out.

The next morning, I opened one eye and felt around to make sure Peter hadn't ventured towards my side of the bed. He hadn't; he'd stayed on top of the covers on his side, I was safely tucked in on mine. I gave him a small bit of credit. Maybe he wasn't such a jerk, maybe he was just drunk and didn't feel like going home, or going home to be alone. Maybe we had all been in a weird place after witnessing the wedding that never should have been.

"I feel like hammered shit," he groaned to confirm that he was, indeed, joining the land of the living.

"Me, too. I think I'm still drunk." I buried my head back in the pillow and cursed that last glass of Merlot.

Linda stood up in her wrinkly taffeta dress, hair everywhere. "What time is it?

Before I could answer her, Peter picked up his phone to call someone. "Hey Mama! Happy Mother's Day..."

Oh, shit! I'd almost forgotten. I was going to take my mother out for dinner after flying home that night, probably with one of the more noteworthy hangovers of my drinking career. These Southern boys cracked me up. Peter, sleeping in a stranger's room after a night filled with bad behavior, still calling his mother first thing in the morning. Were they all Mama's boys? I snickered as he glared at me to shut up.

After he hung up, he rolled over and looked around the room. "Who took my tie off last night?"

Just as I was about to say something smart like how I would rather kill myself than have taken off one article of his clothing, he went on dryly, "Don't worry, honey. I know it wasn't you!"

I smirked; even with a hangover he was funny. I relaxed once more and felt bad for coming down so hard on him. "Sorry for being such a jerk last night. I didn't mean to be so evil, but I don't even know you and you wanted to stay in our room, and…"

He interrupted,"It's okay. We had a good time, right? I probably was an asshole anyhow."

"Yeah," I said and left it at that.

"You guys want to get some breakfast?" Linda asked. We all stood up, patted down our ratty hair and headed towards the lobby. Linda and I caught a glance at Peter's curly blonde locks standing every which way. She smoothed them down, then roughed them back up again. Peter was turning into our little pet, a toy for our amusement. We all giggled, obviously still slightly inebriated.

As soon as we made it down to the lobby, I headed straight for the food. Peter went to the front desk to call a cab, just as Linda got hijacked by David himself, who had seen us getting off the elevator with Peter. Shit; so much for not looking like cheap white trash. Oh well. Linda tried to tell him we had all just passed out (I don't know how that sounded better than what he was envisioning), and he told her that Peter was nothing but trouble, as if we couldn't tell that for ourselves.

Linda and I sat down to eat. "Where's Peter?" I asked.

She spotted him at the front door, walking out without saying goodbye. "There he goes." A fitting end, I thought.

Jen called me just as we were on our way to the airport. She told me that she and Nick had fought the whole night of the wedding. She said that she'd had a picture in her mind of how her wedding was supposed to be, but that it hadn't matched up at all. I told her that was what everyone thought. I didn't have the heart to tell her I knew how she felt, because I didn't want her to think I was comparing her marriage to my own, doomed from the start. I didn't have any words of advice for her, I just listened. She hadn't confided in me in a really long time, I think because she and I are so similar, and because we'd been through a lot of the same things. She didn't want to curse herself by seeing if we were still parallel. That's what I would think if I were her, anyhow. I wished her a happy honeymoon and told her to have lots of sex and call me when she got back. She and I texted for the rest of the day about Chris and Peter, and I wished her more happiness than I think I've ever wished anyone in my whole life. What else was I going to say? You can't change fate.

“Galway’s Flute Magic” by Lee J. Erdo

in the wee hours of early morning
before light presents herself, waving arms
of reassembled light strobes
into my room she
kindly jogs
happily across
moonlit companionship
of some
santa clause feeling
of consciousness
cutting a rakish swath through
some unearthly lament of wind
a migration
of lovejoy fixed eyes

it is the business of nature,
closing one
and opening another
possessing great powers of voice
beyond our comprehension
babbling a James Galway –
Satie: Gymopedie No. 3 Mood...

thank you very much,
dear friend and poet
you know who you are... (smiles)
there a coat of friendship stands forever
luring me to rocky
green cliffs
of Ireland

in a celtic centrifuge
an arcane refuge
yes, right through a crack
beneath the tedium of life

Dawning of the Day
Swishing decaf
around in my mouth (deer)

and i cannot be critical,
more so,
self assured
presently fixated
with a childish myth
one of which
follows some remarkable
that something...
gains new corridors
there is no fear, this moment
all that is,
between me and happiness
one must reach for it
taste it
feel it

that lighted wardrobe
of lapland secrets ye
unfolds upon thatched rooftops
and day's new introspection
i remember the joining of soul
to strange faces everywhere
wandering around galway's halls
of offspring music's

shone brightly with pizazz
& magic melody fashion
ye flutists
master of concerto
whispering a broad smile
a touch of gold
with pedigree, fervor &
all Iris...

big winks and hugs to the gifter of this music
and this pretty morning mood
I love ya babe...

“There is Only Love” by Lee J. Erdo

years touch flowers
sweet charity
like white minks
running over shipwrecks
ageless inferno,
chamber's golden matrimony
hybrid roots
human providence
where trees part,
inspired warmth proceeds
the doubt,
the first encounter
heroic dreams,
stacked in lofts,
like stars
running down my chin

I feel the hand
of summation
oh, arrogant grin
bolsters intrinsic beauty
serpentine impulse
makes entrance
sub-atomic particles
for the embodiment
like a solemn oath
which tethers
on summer nights
ancient beings
randomly transform
leaving me,

yes, indeed
i know shores edge &
specter of black disease
jagged rocks
of treachery
picking off lives,
one by one
clinical assassins
crouch belly genocides
still walking
the front page
of days end
their croaks & moans
of blood chilling sorrow
mine appears randomly phobic
like a lie... aborting life

I choose to know sounds of heather
where enemies vanished
bottomless oceans
eyes dilate like
four winds

call me idealistic...
to look within
for the holy grail
where corners of
some southern sea
lap agape
like a quiet pillow
a new age

that is what truth remembers
where white brides walk into evening
like a soothing vesper on its knees

there is only love

“Balmy Evenings for a Friend” by Lee J. Erdo

author's note:
A friend lost 3 siblings this year...
the last was Angela,
a poet...

balmy evening
dances words
of twilight
weaving greetings
in & out
tops of trees

I ponder
this darkening...

while watching
birds in evening relax
towers peaking
before me...

and there...
a new forged urgency
as pink
smoothed streaks of clouds hue
interlocking mazes across
this twilight sky

perhaps signifying...

sprouts a mind whispers
I have been so blessed"...

oh how
I wish
I could hitch a ride
along the spine of
this half-hearted
light folding into darkness

which grows
starry filled eyes
urging my sun to rest

if I squint hard
I can see legs of light
between silver
barked trees

seemingly exploring

wide opened fields
red tiled spires
jutting brief impressions
of this blue starry filled
October night

green shoots
prodding out from moist soil
earth's awning
resonating pressure

of body-like
widely churning passageways



and some place
beautifully spiritual


I've yet to touch

to feel

it is as if I were
to wake up
in the heart of someone else's


morning sunshine
the very soul of
my ebbing pockets
filled with share
filled with desires
filled with devout emotion

can't help
but feel the promise
take me to
that tender place

a gift shop
circuiting accession
pulling me
from the sad
that now sets on my window
I will go
to that humbling
generous heart we wish to be

planning promises
on each and every tree

I smile
a smile

particularly heavy with hope &
embrace this nameless evening
one more time tonight

before dreams quietly fall
before my questions...

hungry arms
of god
wrapped confidently
around the whole
of my being...
until you and I, Angela,
into a face
of one

I smile
& ponder
where she is
what she is doing
this exact moment
does she feel my thoughts
does she desire my minds
hopeful eyes

yes, indeed she does

she knows the love and
times we shared
were my rock
my joy
my successes
in times of sorrow

and tonight
in this temporary
road of twilight

somehow I know
she feels my heart ache
for her gentle smile of words

for that other place
to be with her

yet, I know

we shall soon meet again
romp like children
share thoughts of hope
of love

but for now, time is still mine
in this earthy place

I close my eyes and whisper
See you soon

in those yet to be told nights
coupled with day's light
you are
motivation rounding
those circling hills of yours
those revolving words
of sky lights

you created so many warm moments
Dear Angela

please know
there are no sad hearts here~

only fine memories
of your words shelved
with hope
still yet to be dreams
of love in a book of your own

to grow in depth
of that desire
to carry on
to live life
to the fullest
through your inspiration
your love
for words flow
the hearts of many
like comforting rainbows
of tomorrows

sleep well, our Angela
sleep well