Daily Archives: July 11, 2012


“Funeral Strains (a one-act play)” by Gary Beck

Scene 1 (Pre-show. Offstage. Blaring sounds of anti-gay, anti-military protest, by a radical church group, attempting to disrupt the burial service of a gay Marine, Tom Richardson, killed in combat in Afghanistan. 'God hates fags.' 'Thank God for dead soldiers.' 'America is doomed.' 'Thank God for IED's.' 'God hates you.' 'Mourn for your sins.' 'Fags doom nations.' 'God hates America.' 'God is your enemy.' The protest is heard distantly at different times during the play. Enter John Richardson, Tom's father, and Tom's younger brother, Cal. As they enter the sounds of protest fade.)

John:     I never thought I'd be glad to see bikers. When they asked my permission to shield the ceremony from that hate group I was really embarrassed at the public attention of you know what. But when they chased those church fanatics further away I felt like getting a motorcycle jacket, catching up to them, (he mimes gripping the handlebars and makes sounds revving the motor) and buying them a beer.

Cal:     I don't know about them, Dad. Most bikers are violent criminals and some are drug dealers. I'm not sure what they did was legal.

John:     The hell with legal. They helped us, didn't they? Those guys are vets, sticking up for their own. The sheriff wouldn't do anything. Said: (Mimicking) "Those church people have a constitutional right to protest." You'd think a church would respect the rights of a family burying their son. I shouldn't have to listen to them yelling all that filth, but it got to me. I was so mad I was going to get my rifle from the truck and run them off, if the vets hadn't shown up.

Cal:      What if the protesters wouldn't go? Would you have shot them?

John:     I don't know, Cal... But we have a right to bury Tom without their blaring away like that. It's bad enough the town knew about our shame. With the media here, they're broadcasting it to the whole world... Maybe if I popped a few of them, they'd find another way to spread their twisted message of god. At least they'd go away.

Cal:     Then you'd go to jail. That wouldn't solve anything.

John:     I'd feel a lot better.

Cal:     Maybe... But they're not much different than you, Dad.

John:     The hell they are.

Cal:     You were pretty violent when you found out Tom was gay. You said worse things about him then they did.

John:     Yeah. But I was never anti-military. I served my country proudly.

Cal:     Well, so did Tom. But you drove him to enlist when he needed your help.

John:     That was his choice... I almost died of shame when they caught him making out with a guy, and him the captain of the football team. What else could I do? (Sounds of protest, 'God hates fags'. 'Thank God for dead soldiers'. They fade away).

Cal:     You could have stood by him... He'd still be alive if you hadn't kicked him out of the house.

John:     The hell you say. So now you're blaming me for his death?

Cal:     He'd be alive and safe in college, if you supported him when he needed you.

John:     I wouldn't have a faggot for a son. There's no way I could live with that.

Cal:     That's an ugly word, especially now that he's dead.

John:     Does the truth hurt?

Cal:     That's not what Tom was.

John:     He was a dirty pervert.

Cal:     Don't say that. He was my brother and I loved him.

John:     That's your choice, but I can't go to that gravesite and face the Marine honor guard.

Cal:     Why not?

John:     Because they know what he was.

Cal:     How do you know they're not gay?

John:     Are you nuts? Whoever heard of gay Marines?

Cal:     (Stares at John until reality sinks in.) As long as someone's willing to fight and die for his country, what do you care what his sexual preferences are?

John:     (Looks at him strangely) It should matter. We never had gays when I was in the Corps.

Cal:     I'm sure you would have noticed.

John:     What do you mean by that?.. Maybe you're a homo. Is that why you're defending him?

Cal:     Say that again and I'll kick your teeth in.

John:     (Laughs derisively.) That'll be the day. You better get your girlie-man friends to help you.(Cal starts towards John, but stops when his mother, Ellen Richardson, and his younger sister, Norma, enter.)


Scene 2

Ellen:     Are you two fighting about Tom again? This is my son's funeral, John. It's bad enough I have to listen to those hate mongers screaming those awful things about Tom, without hearing my own husband echoing them.

John:     Ellen. That's no way to talk to me.

Ellen:     It's true, isn't it? You call him nastier things then they do.

Norma:     Mom's right. My brother died a hero. You shouldn't insult his memory.

John:     So all of you are against me... Well I'm used to that... How do we know he was really a hero?

Ellen:     His captain wrote that letter telling us how he died saving his buddies during a Taliban attack. I know my Tom. That's what he would do.

John:     (To Norma) I seem to remember that you and your friends were tweetering, or whatever you call it, not too long ago, saying the war was unjust. Now all of a sudden it's alright because your brother died?

Norma:     I don't care about the war right now. I miss my brother and I don't want you saying mean things about him now that he's dead. I stuck up for him when everybody turned on him, and I don't want you insulting Cal for defending the brother he loved and admired.

John:     What's wrong with you people? Tom almost destroyed this family. They came close to firing me from my security job at the mall. Your Mom's good friends stopped talking to her. Cal's buddies ignore him and your girlfriends call you insulting names. (Sounds of protest. 'Thank God for IED's'. 'Mourn for your sins'. 'Fags doom nations'. They fade away.)

Ellen:     None of that matters now. I don't care about anything else but saying goodbye to the son I loved and lost. (To John.) I know I didn't always speak up when I should have. Maybe if I did he'd still be alive. Now it's time to put your bad feelings behind you. I want you to behave like the man I thought you were when we first got married.

John:     (Sullenly) Doesn't it matter what I feel?

Ellen:     I should hope you feel the same loss as the rest of us. (John shrugs.)What's the problem now?

Cal:     (Cuts in before John can answer) Dad says he's not going to the grave.

Ellen:     Don't worry. He's going. (To John) And you'll behave respectfully. This is the time for our family to mourn Tom and set an example for those who condemned him. Now no more arguing. Come with me. (Exit Ellen and John. Cal and Norma remain.)


Scene 3

Norma:     It's about time she spoke up.

Cal:     That's a shocker.

Norma:     At least she did it... What were you and Dad fighting about?

Cal:     The usual. He still blames Tom for everything. Then he called him a faggot.

Norma:     (She looks around, then steps closer.) There is another side to it. I understand why he's so upset. He's not the kind of man who can deal with that kind of thing.

Cal:     (Angrily) Are you taking Dad's part?

Norma:     No, silly. I feel the same way you do about Tom. But just think how it affected our big, macho Dad. His golden boy son caught in the locker room doing whatever men do to each other. It ripped his world apart. It was beyond his ability to deal with it reasonably.

Cal:     I know that. Believe me. It shocked me too, when I found out. But I never forgot that he was my brother.

Norma:     If Tom only told Dad that he was gay before anything happened...

Cal:     Yeah. Right. You must be thinking of some other father. Dad would have reacted the same way and thrown him out of the house even sooner.

Norma:     It might have been different if Tom had confided in Dad privately. He might have stood by him.

Cal:     Don't make me laugh. Have you ever been able to confide in him? (She shakes her head no.) I sure haven't. He'd never accept that a son of his was gay. I've been waiting for him to call me a faggot, because I like books. Just before you and Mom got here he asked me if I was a homo.

Norma:     (Teasingly) Did you confess?

Cal:     Smart ass... I told him I'd kick his teeth in.

Norma:     That's the kind of talk he understands. I tell you what. I'll buy you a set of weights for your birthday. You can work out and build some muscles. That should reassure him you're not gay.(He laughs despite himself and she joins in.) I'm glad you can still laugh.

Cal:     There's not much else I can do. It hurts too much to cry... I miss Tom all the time.

Norma:     So do I... I keep asking myself if I could have done anything to prevent him from leaving home like that.

Cal:     I didn't know what to do... I didn't want him to go, but I knew he couldn't live here anymore... Sometimes I feel like there's a curse on us.

Norma:     Don't talk like that... We'll get through this somehow... Let's go to the grave site and not let anyone stop us from saying goodbye to the brother we loved.

(Exit Cal and Norma. The distant sounds of protest. 'God hates fags.' 'Thank God for dead soldiers.' 'America is doomed.' 'Fags destroy nations.' 'Thank God for IED's.' 'God hates you.')

“My Life in a Drawer” by Naomi Sved

used lint brush

tattered store receipts

scratched eyeglasses

caribbean cruise luggage tags

ocean city baseball cap

old negatives

prescription never filled

broken belt

used makeup case

mismatched suitcase locks

neck pillow

stretched out knee brace

broken cell phone

dust

“Morning Routine” by Naomi Sved

As the remnants of sleep
are pulled from me
light peeks through the curtains
Maggie's big brown eyes stare
willing me to acknowledge her
I drag myself out of bed
dress quickly, collect her leash

Her tongue hanging out, tail wagging
chirping birds accompany us
as we head up the block
azaleas brighten our way
newspapers lie in wait for their owners

we relax outside Starbucks
Maggie at my feet, her usual cup of water nearby
she greets everyone with a wag
waiting patiently as I scan the headlines

after a few pats on her head
we go home to start our day

“Dissolving Palaces” by A.J. Huffman

"I begin with the cloud on its back,"
          -- Lynn Emanuel

Cutting out the silver
is the dream
you have left me with.
And I wallow
in its seeping stillness.
Cold.
As any spoiled angel would be.
But it’s too late anyway.
My wings are already stained.
And heavier than dead.
They burn
to be buried
in something --
anything --
darker than themselves.
And that can only be blood.
So I must sacrifice.
Again.
Against the light.
I choose the easy way out.
And slice the hollow.
That used to hold my heart.
In half.

“Claudia” by Peter Newarski

I am lying in our bed.
The room is quiet and dim.
Claudia has gone out
To the small store across the street,
To do some shopping.
She said we needed
Nourishment.
A bit of food to eat.

I think of how we met,
Only months ago,
At a party in the City.
I just had to know her name.
I was charmed by her,
Drawn to her.
I, the moth,
Claudia, the flame.

She said and did
All the right things.
To keep me close.
She said she was saving me
For a special time.
I was intrigued.
Entranced.
I wondered, what was to be?

She said she had some people,
Far away from here.
But that I had all her love,
A love that would always be.
I told her that I needed her,
And would never let her go.
And if I was her prisoner,
I didn't want to be free.

We are rarely far apart,
She always knows where I am,
Who I see and what I do.
Little about her do I know.
Friends tell me she is possessive,
Jealous, and controlling.
When she is out of hearing,
They tell me so.

If this is love,
Then so be it.
I cannot help myself,
It is beyond reasoning.
What is this power
That she has over me?
What is this strange
Passion that I am feeling?

Claudia returns
I hear the key in the lock.
She has come back,
She opens the door.
She says "I'm here."
I wait for her kiss.
I hear her steps
Upon the floor.

She comes into the room,
I see her now,
From the shadows.
She comes near.
She leans down to kiss my neck.
She smiles, opens her mouth.
Only then do I see her fangs.
I fill with fear.

“Enthralled” by Osei Holder

Fawning its way into my eyes,
Like the serpent ending of a cocktail dress,
These strands of affliction,
Meditating in the rays of life,

As my eyelids collapse,
I chute my fingers to the end,
Its golden fruitage beside me,
Humanities assertion,

Craving its succulent juices,
I gaze at the feathered aces,
Serenade me under the fervid sky,
How I wish that humming bird would fly!

A quibbling of leaves within the Caribbean breeze,
Some ripe and tottering to a green haven,
Coconut water, coconut jelly!
Hopeful is its resilient motion,

Forbearance being our foe,
Rift to my desire, the machete,
I billow my mouth in its sensual waters,
Such innate elation,

Scour the jelly from its cusp,
Masticate this white emulsion,
The eyelashes diverged,
A greenish-yellow allurement wavered above me,
What a wonderful tree!

“Peterborough Cathedral” by Elisabeth Vodola

A garden in the spectrum schooled,
With boxwood hedge precisely ruled;
Voices, intermittent, rose and fell,
Every quarter hour, the bell;
My thoughts descending like a mist upon the grass,
Curling this way, edging back to that,
Stopping short to let a stranger pass;
Flagging, drifting, following the path,
Pooling round a catastrophic aftermath.

At thought's edge, the angle of the sun,
Streaming red, blue, violet, through the trefoil glass.
One great will, one testament, is closed,
The question of its sequel not yet posed.
A twinned messiah waits investiture.
For now, all is calm, and, being, is good.
A way through to theology seems sure.

Let me never be far from consecrated places.
Let what comes to be, be what should.
Let the shadow of Saint Peter rest on me.

“Forest Talk” by David McDonald

A forest stands serenely in a graceful glen
Soaking in the last of the summer sun.
Autumn falls suddenly this year.
The air takes on a crisp cool
That hints of winter.

A fastidious fir notices some of her needles browning
And beginning to carpet the ground around her.
She looks to her left and espies a gingko
With yellow fans dancing on the wind.
Adjacent to the gingko is a maple
Adorned in a shimmering sheath of orange.

"What is going on?" she asks.
"Why are you two putting on such a show?"
"This is our seasonal celebration,"
Replies the maple warmly.
"But winter is coming," the fir fires back.
"Shouldn't you start storing energy and losing leaves?
Why put on such a flamboyant facade?"
Gingko goes next, "We have months until we see snow.
Why not put a pinch of pizazz into fall
Before we snooze through the end of the year?"
The fir figured, "Sounds like an inventive idea,
But I like my needles a graceful green.
A fabulous fall to you both and see you in spring!"
A breeze rose, their boughs shrugged
And they went about their ways.

Winter wallops the glen
Snow subdues the community of conifers
And all their neighbors.
The smaller shrubs and plants below
Doze the days away.

An old oak whose leaves have long left
Awakens briefly to see
A stately spruce, still a compact cone
Festooned with his small and deep green leaves.
The oak rouses his next-trunk neighbor
With a subtle, "Sprucey!
How can you bear your branches
While you're napping? Aren't they too heavy
To be completely comfortable?"
The spruce said, "These branches are no bother.
In fact they warm me well all winter."
"Kind of cozy," orated the oak,
"And it seems you enjoy your home-grown blanket.
Not for me, though, I prefer to sleep
Unfettered and uninhibited."
A breeze rose, their boughs shrugged
And they went about their ways.

Spring snuck in unnoticed
Until the bulbs started to blossom and bloom.
Bushes took the hint to put out new leaves
And roused the trees to do the same.

A daffodil, the first one to wake,
Saw an effusive elm
And wondered aloud,
"Ms. Elm, why are you not
Participating in the petal parade?
Can't you find your flowers?"
"Oh my, little Daffy," laughed the lady elm.
"Not everyone can form flowers.
While the magnolia and azalea
Put on a shimmering show,
Many live a life more understated
And perfectly plain."
The daffodil replied with respect,
"The ferns without frills
And the sincere cedars
Are all completely content.
But for me, spring is best celebrated
In living color."
A breeze rose, their boughs and leaves shrugged
And they went about their ways.

This communal cluster
Endures the seasons and years
Together.
Different shades of green,
Various textures and shapes,
Diverse beings
Living organically.

“Memphis” by Audacious

memphis 2012 still looks like memphis 1989
bar-b-que beale street and orange mound
potholes the pyramid and southern hip hop
grandmother's cooking crooked cops and cheap crops
timber covers school windows night walkers on 3rd street and wet willies serving weak drinks
family reunions the stax museum and robberies
elvis presely sun records and lemoyne owens college
union ave hamburger stands and homicides
honor students false educators and lay-offs
musicians mudd island and labor worker
the mississippi river segregation lines and L I B E R T Y L A N D

“The Hunger of the Dead” by A.J. Huffman

Screaming
flights of midnight.
Dropping
quickly
through pools
going nowhere.
I run backwards
over a dream
I was never meant to escape.
It is too perfect
            ly fit.
Matching my madness
edge to edge.
Like a mirror
bouncing red
around my head.
It is a haunting halo,
living to refuse
to let me forget.

“Collapse” by Demi Hingeley

Their voices trembled,
Strained under the weight of their words
His eyes grieved,
Sorrowed as it all collapsed
My heart bled,
Blindsided by the both of them.
I witnessed as we crumbled into four
As our happy family became relics
And as everything feverously frayed.
Secrets no longer shadowed,
No longer locked in their dusty chests.
His jokes were no longer funny
His smiles stripped of sincerity.
Her eyes hazily glazed
Her laughter silently stolen.
And so I began to wilt
My bliss endlessly eroding
My belief in love diminished
My childhood no longer blind.

“Method” by Alicia Matheny

I speak lakes,
but I write oceans.

Silent is my mouth
most of the time,

for I never say empty words,
but my pencil brims

with thoughts of stars.
The moon tide in my mind

breaks the walls erected
within, and floods the

paper with my voice.
For with my pen I talk.

“Private Griefs” by A.J. Huffman

Light slips through the blinds.
Turning this page
into a cell.
Solitary
is the sentence I am trying
to avoid.
Escape
is out of the question.
And out of my mind
with the rest
of that optimistic bullshit.
I welded that lock of breath long ago.
Instead I roll me over.
Blanking out the thought.
Too bad.
It would have been divine
bleeding from my pen.

“Can I Pretend for Another Season” by Ingrid Westberg

Can I pretend for another season
That your love exists for me?

No, I must not be obsessed within my dreams like I am.

Must I wait for that uncertain day
When our eyes press to the sun's rays like crystal shades of blue, and tangerine
Or cast myself down before your feet,
Begging for goodness to come from your heart,
Toward the wretched, creature that I have become.

Whatever fate brings,
I know I will not succumb
To the wind that does not bare your name.

Care for me,
Dare for me,
But never fear me.
For, I am yours, blessed child.
Dare to be mine,
Or leave me in my darkness.
For without you there is no light.

“Parting Is Not My Choice” by Ingrid Westberg

Parting is not my choice,
Must I come too late.
Waste not my love,
But cherish its depth and width, and breathe.

Vanity comes with a fall,
Wanting belongs to my soul,
Smother me with your loveliness.

I care not for lament,
While I caress your brow,
Silent is my course in the constellation of your eyes.

I put my trust in you.
Must I wait forever to love what I cannot posses

I pay homage to a time when my blood is blue again
With royal robes of glory to cover your feet
With gold and sweet perfumes
That you delight in.

So swear, you will be my love,
Until the moon forgets to shine.
I am yours, I am mine,
We are a blend.

“Snowcone” by Fabulon

In a patch of shade
Scraped out from the smothering heat
gold blurs away
melts into sapphire
to become emerald.
Rose quartz bubbles up,
wraps all in her crushing embrace.
A touch, and it settles
into opal
and glistens in the sunlight.