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..AND WE THANK THEE by Micki Peluso


aSpicy, aromatic whiffs of pumpkin pie, plum pudding, and candied sweet potatoes mingle with and enhance the hearty, mouth-watering smell of roasted, stuffed turkeys. Thanksgiving, a harvest festival thanking the Creator for a bountiful year, has remained virtually unchanged since the pilgrims in Massachusetts shared that first feast with Chief Massoit and some of his braves.

On Staten Island, as in homes across the nation, people will gather in love and harmony to give thanks. Holiday fare on the Island will not differ greatly from traditional foods, except for the addition of ethnic dishes, such as home-made ravioli, succulent tomato sauce, crusty loaves of Italian bread, lasagne and delectable pastries indigenous to the New York area. In Italian homes, especially, a nine course meal is not unusual.

The turkey will dominate the day, whether served in homes, hospital rooms, soup kitchens for the needy, or meals on wheels for housebound senior citizens. Restaurants across the Island will also defer to the turkey, serving those who wish to celebrate, but hate to cook. Thanksgiving is a holiday that reminds people of the past, celebrates the present, and offers hope for the future; a day that gratifies body and soul.

Although Governor William Bradford, of the Plymouth Colony issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1621, the concept of giving thanks is as old as the need for worship, and dates back to the time when humanity realized its dependence upon a Higher Power.The colonists of Plymouth observed three days of feasting,games and contests following their plentiful harvest in the autumn of 1621. The journal of Governor Bradford describes the preparations for that first Thanksgiving: “They began now to gather in the swell harvest they had, and to fit their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty… Besides waterfowl, there was a great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc… Which made many afterward write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned, but true reports.”

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Staten Island, at that time, was a beautiful lush wilderness, sparsely inhabited by the Aqehonga Indians, who fished, hunted deer, raccoon, and fowl, and harvested corn, pumpkins, berries and fruit. Settlers arriving from England and Holland in 1630, added sausage, head cheese and pies to the abundant game and vegetation on the Island. Twenty years ago, it was common practice for butchers to hang plucked turkeys in store windows, while grocers displayed fresh produce and jugs of apple cider.

On October 31, 1777, the Continental Congress appointed Samuel Adams, Richard Henry Lee, and Daniel Roberdau, to draft a resolution “to set aside a day of thanksgiving for the signal success lately obtained over the enemies of the United States.” There solution was accepted on November 1, 1777.

George Washington issued a presidential proclamation appointing November 26, 1789, as a day of general thanksgiving for the adoption of the constitution. The first national Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1863, due to the unrelenting efforts of Mrs. Sarah J. Hale. While editor of The Ladies Magazine in Boston, she penned countless editorials urging the uniform observance throughout the United States, of one day dedicated to giving thanks for blessings received throughout the year. She mailed personal letters to the governors of all the states, and to President Lincoln, persuading many governors to set aside the last Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving. Her editorial was titled,”Our National Thanksgiving”, and began with a biblical quote: “Then he said to them, go your way and eat the fat and drink the sweet wine and send persons unto them for whom nothing is prepared; For this day is holy unto the lord; neither be ye sorry, for the joy of the lord is your strength.” Nehemiah, VIII:10

President Lincoln, moved by Mrs. Hale’s editorial and letter, issued the first National Thanksgiving Proclamation on October 3, 1863, which reads in part: “The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of almighty God.” Lincoln designated Thanksgiving as a day “to subdue the anger which has produced and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebellion.” The northern states, in response to the proclamation, held services in churches of all denominations, and gave appropriate sermons.

President Roosevelt, on December 26, 1941, approved the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving, to be observed in every state and the District of Columbia.

The first international Thanksgiving was held in Washington, D.C. in 1909. It was the brain-child of Rev. Dr. William T. Russell, rector of St. Patrick’s Church of Washington. Dr. Russell called it a Pan American celebration, and it was attended by representatives of all the Latin American countries. The Catholic Church was chosen for the services, since Catholicism is the religion of the Latin American countries.

St. Patrick’s Church published an account of the celebration, noting that “it was the first time in the history of the Western World that all the republics were assembled for a religious function…When asked what prompted Dr. Russell in planning a Pan American Thanksgiving celebration, Dr. Russell said, “My purpose was to bring into closer relations the Republics of the Western World. As Christianity had first taught the brotherhood of man, it was appropriate that the celebration should take the form of a solemn mass.” The Pan American celebration continued from year to year.

Some Eastern cities adopted the old world custom of dressing children in the over-sized clothes of their elders, masking their faces, and having them march through the streets blowing tin horns. The children often carried baskets, and solicited fruits and vegetables from house to house to help celebrate the day. This tradition was adapted from an old Scotch wassail custom.
The warm, loving atmosphere of this holiday has been immortalized in song, literature, and poetry, such as the well-known poem by Lydia Maria Child: “Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go…”

Thanksgiving signals the onset of the joyous holiday season which continues until New Year’s Day. The only sad note is the number of people killed on the highways each year, en route to their destinations. Thanksgiving also proclaims the arrival of Santa Claus, who assumes temporary residence at the Staten Island Mall, which will be ablaze with Christmas decorations. Those shoppers brave enough to venture out on “Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, can take advantage of Island sales.

Today, more than ever, Thanksgiving is intrinsic to our time. The need to give thanks is profoundly American. As a people, we have pursued idealism, struggled for individual freedoms, and enjoyed the fruits of capitalism. Like the starship “Enterprise” on Star Trek, Americans have “dared to go where no man has gone before.” The act of giving thanks acknowledges the greater force that inspires this nation, encouraging and demanding excellence. This Thanksgiving, when stomachs are bulging with savory, traditional food, and hearts are full with love for family and friends, it is fitting to give thanks.

Stand up on this Thanksgiving Day, stand
upon your feet. Believe in man. Soberly and
with clear eyes, believe in your own time and
place. There is not, and there never has
been a better time, or a better place to live.
Poem by -Phillip Brooks

Bio: Micki Peluso began writing after a personal tragedy.This led to a first time publication in Victimology: An International Magazine and a career in Journalism. She’s freelanced and been staff writer for one major newspaper, written for two more and has published short fiction and non-fiction, as well as slice of life stories in colleges, magazines and e-zine editions. Her first book was published in 2012; a funny family memoir of love, loss and survival, called, . . . And THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG which won the Nesta CBC Silver Award for writing that Builds Character, won third place in the Predators and Editors Contest and first place for People’s Choice Monthly Award. She has stories in ‘Women’s Memoirs’, ‘Tales2inspire’, and ‘Creature Features.’ Two of her short horror stories were recently published in an International Award winning anthology called ‘Speed of Dark.’ ‘The Cat Who Wanted a Dog’ is her first children’s book. Her collection of short fiction, and slice of life stories in a book collection called, ‘Don’t Pluck the Duck’, is due to be released in December, 2016.

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Weddings by Jn Magee

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Is there anyone that does not have a wedding story that is hanging around in their heads? Maybe it is that moment when the bride first appears walking down the aisle, the time when the rings were lost, the joyous moments as well as the unexpected tragedies. Very often there are the times of nervousness.

The story has been told of a nervous bride who was concerned that her nerves would spoil the day. The Minster took her on one side and sought to encourage her. He explained to her that when he felt like that he found it helpful to have key words to remind him of what he should be doing. She could do the same.

“Remember that you are the star of the show, everyone will be looking for the bride because they know she will be the best sight of the day. The first thing you need to do is to stand at the top of the aisle and let everyone encourage you with looks of admiration. Up till that moment, remember the key word “Aisle”. Second, the love of your life is standing at the front by the altar. As you make your way down the aisle no one else matters except your love by the altar, focus on him and the altar. So, the 2nd keyword is “Altar” as you make your way toward him. Then, the wedding service will begin with a hymn, your groom will hold the hymn book ready for you so you can enjoy your special day as it begins. So, the second key word is “hymn”.

Sounds like good advice and so she memorised her keywords. As she began the procession so the keywords were repeated in her mind, “Aisle altar hymn. Aisle altar hymn. I’ll alter him. I’ll altar him.”That’s not perhaps what the minister had in mind, and maybe not necessarily the phrase she should have been remembering on her wedding day.

As I write this item for the blog, my own wedding anniversary is approaching. We were married on the 2nd June 1973 in the Scottish highland town of Forres. I was in the air force at the time, and as often happens with one in the military, once you make your mind up you know you have to strike while the iron is hot, as they say, because once posted to the other side of the world there may never be another opportunity. We met in a mutual friends home while I was in the north on an exercise detachment. My base was 500 miles to the south. Each weekend I would drive the 500 miles north, and then return the 500 miles south. As such, we only had contact with each other a matter of days before I decided to pop the question. It was a dark wet night as we sheltered in a telephone box, no room to bend down on one knee, but it was the words that mattered. As I watched my bride coming down the aisle, I had no idea what lay ahead. There were going to be times of joy and laughter. There were going to be the times tragedy and tears. Yet, 43 years later we are together, and yes, like any other couple the years will alter us as we mould into the characters that experience will shape us into. But, the shape of the mould comes best when it comes in the form of love.

 

Bio

Jon Magee is the author of 2 books, “From Barren Rocks to Living Stones” and “Paradise Island, heavenly Journey”. The books come with the experience of life lived in a variety of countries throughout the world, often in the midst of military conflict and terrorism, which was the heart of his life from an early age. He is the wife of Joan, the father of 3 daughters, 2 sons and the grandfather of 7 children.

 

 

Living in the Absurd by James Secor

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I’m sure being a battered child had something to do with becoming a social activist: I saw injustice everywhere, I saw punitive authoritarian behavior parading as beneficence. Although the art part of this equation began much earlier, it was only after leaving home and becoming involved in theatre that it blossomed. Good playwright, good director, bad, bad actor, I grew up in the theatre of the late 1960s and 1970s. Guerrilla theatre, street theatre, avant garde theatre. Most important, here, was my love affair with absurdism.

Neither the social activism nor the absurdism have deserted me. I still see connections between what’s seen, what’s said and what’s done as obviously absurd, sometimes ludicrously so. The irreverence via absurdity continued beyond plays into stories, as one might expect, and into essays and opinion pieces. I wrote (nothing absurd) for Sage Publication’s Encyclopedia of Activism and Social Justice. And I suffered for my disability advocacy and activism. Even my tanka shows a sharp tongue, side-swipes and conundra sprinkled amidst the aesthetic of mono no aware, the passing of things. The various forms of haiku allowed for more pointed commentaries clothed in motley.

My detective, Inspector Anthony Lupée, deals mostly with crimes that are not crimes. Some of them are absurd to the nth degree. He gets involved in man’s inhumanity to man, which seems to flower abundantly in a culture of abuse. RD Laing, 50 years ago, noted that the rules for an abusive family are the same for an abusive society. I did not discover this 50 years ago; 52 years ago I was still under the aegis of a “now” verbally abusive father. Fifty-three years ago the physical abuse had stopped.

Somewhere along the way, I had to study, ever so shallowly, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. But he truly came home to me when I began teaching Mary Wallstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein, A Modern Prometheus. Rousseau’s philosophy on family dynamics and society were prominent influences. Later, I read more of The Social Contract. I could not agree with him more: civilization ruined mankind. Erich Fromm concurs. RD Laing via the abuse road concurs. Jung. I attempted a horror story in which the antagonist (society) is the horror and the protagonist no more than the vehicle. It was an unmitigated failure. Surely there is a way. . .in prose.

Absurdism: as ridiculous as you might think. And, then again, following the hard logic of politics and movements, not so obviously ridiculous.

 

Jim Secor, PhD, worked for 11 years doing live theatre production before going on to write plays, produce films, commercials and a documentary. He even studied at the National Puppet Theatre in Japan. Jim’s recent work includes award winning Tanka, horror for the short story anthology The Speed of Dark and a book of mysteries, Det. Lupée. The impossible Cases. He can be found on Linkedin and at http://labelleotero.wordpress.com along with Minna vander Pfaltz. Jim Secor’s email is hellecchino@eclipso.eu

A Kiss For The Road by Eduardo Cervino

jpeg for feb 10 2016

I’VE been sleeping until dusk every day for a long time. Without dark glasses, daylight hurts my eyes. My apartment’s heavy-lined curtains are always drawn. I can roam the house, find the toilet with my eyes closed, squat on it like a woman, and get back in bed in complete obscurity.

Darkness does not bother me, but the thoughts that now and then lurk in my mind do.

Tonight, the light of the open fridge illuminates a soggy old pizza, a few beers, a Styrofoam container with the remains of a salad from the vegetarian place I frequent . . . a hole in the wall more than a restaurant. Red meat grosses me out.

I’m usually the best dresser in the place. This fucking world is full of slobs flaunting their spirituality by dressing like slobs.

A sip of Perrier water, the third I’ve taken since waking up, does not satiate my kind of thirst. Back in the bathroom, my image in the mirror improves with shaving and a meticulous grooming of my salt-pepper mane of hair.

The Old Spice cologne bottle is half-empty. I don’t quite like the smell but my father did, and Mother hung around his neck smelling him all the time like a bitch in heat, never caring about me.

Tonight I’ll wear the Pierre Cardin suit, polo shirt, no tie, and go hunting.

 

SOON after, I’m driving to the Upper West Side on my way to a bar I’ve never visited, but have noticed stays open late.

I park in the garage I used on previous occasions, but hesitate to get out of the car, eager to resist the craving. I loathe my alter ego’s wickedness.

My breaths frost the windshield. The silhouette of a woman fresh out of a nearby car catches my attention as she passes in front of my Mercedes. She is alone, walking quickly. Overcoming my hesitation, I get out of the car and follow her down the ramp.

I feel better. Just one more time tonight, and God willing, I will stop forever.

The sidewalk is desolate. The woman is half a block away, walking uphill on 96th Street.

She may disappear into one of the apartment buildings.

She doesn’t. Instead, she waits at the stoplight to cross busy Broadway. It gives me time to shorten the distance between us and stand close behind her, amid other waiting pedestrians.

What makes me select this woman?

It seems I can smell them at a distance. Maybe I have a shark-like electrical receiver that guides me to this type of woman. Perhaps it is just fate.

Where is she going?

The light changes, and we dart through the crosswalk with a few other men and women. I am three feet behind her when she veers to the right under the canopy of Eddie’s Tavern. I do the same.

We reach the tavern door at the same time. I open it and hold it for her to go ahead.

“Thank you, sir.” Her dark eyes gleam.

A childlike smile comes naturally to me. I nod and followed her inside, ready to let loose my charm and slake my predatory impulse.

She walks to the end of the bar and around the ninety-degree curve tying it to the wall. Only two stools reside at that location and she chooses the last one. From there, she can see the faces of all the patrons nurturing their inner thoughts. Tonight there are few; the bar has a pathetic ambience.

She nods to the bartender. They are acquainted, because he prepares a Bloody Mary for her before going to greet her.

Mine is one of the faces she can see and lure with a smile, or dismiss with the cool, indifferent gaze of her almond-shaped eyes. She appears oblivious to me, but the way she eludes my eyes is too purposeful. She refuses to duel with me, but not with the others at the bar, and I send over a second Bloody Mary to make her look at me. She doesn’t refuse when, carrying my mojito, I ask permission to sit at her side.

“Thanks for the drink; it’s nice of you.”

“My pleasure. My name is Henry Borman—It’s not—I’m trying to relax after a rather exhausting day. And you are?”

“Catherine Wong. Nice to meet you.”

In the spot she chose to sit; the lighting is dimmer than the rest of the place, disguising the fire extinguisher and pay telephone hung on the wall behind. The bend of the counter keeps other drinkers slightly separated from us.

Her hands, laced around the glass, are thin, with manicured nails. It isn’t necessary to touch them to realize the silkiness of her olive skin. Following the contours of her arms, I stop to admire the svelte line of her neck and her glossy black oriental hair.

“Tell me, Catherine: do your friends call you Cathy?”

“Brilliant deduction, Henry.”

“Just a lucky guess.”

“Are you a lucky man? Haven’t seen you around here before.”

“I’m not a regular. I happened to be going home from work and decided to stop. I’ve noticed this tavern when driving by.”

“What do you do, Henry.”

“Currency trading—work at night, sleep by day; and you?”

“Piano player in a jazz group—work at night, sleep by day.” She is teasing me. “But you said it was an exhausting day.”

“Yes, it was my day off and I had to attend to personal issues. By the way, I love piano.”

I imagine her fingers sliding over the ivory keys while playing Satin Doll, a tune I love.

“You dress like a Vogue model.”

“I have a passion for designer garments.” She looks at me. “You are no slob, I see.”

She is hot.

“I’m interested in cinema. Are you, Cathy?”

In the next forty minutes she amazes me with her knowledge of obscure classic films by directors like Buñuel and Fellini. By the time we empty our glasses, we know the music we like, the books we have read, the places we have visited. Her beauty is beginning to obfuscate my thoughts.

“So you are not trading currency tonight?”

“What?”

“Are you not working tonight?”

“Oh, no, I have to rest. No one can go twenty-four hours without falling apart.”

The bartender comes over and picks up the glasses. We order our third round for the night. “This will be my last; what about you?” she says. I find her smile and her eyes seductive.

The television is on and a game ends. The bartender changes the channel. There is a momentary rise of the volume coinciding with something she says and I can’t hear. I lean toward her. A drift of Coco Chanel fragrance impels my madness. Her neck is inches from my lips and it takes all the resolve I can muster to control my desire to kiss her.

“I can’t hear you? Did you say something?”

“Yes,” she says. “I want to go out for a smoke.”

We pay our separate bills. Not to leave a traceable record of my presence, I pay in cash. She does too for her own reasons.

 

OUTSIDE, under the canopy, she lights her cigarette and takes a long, drawn-out gulp of smoke. I refuse her offer to take one.

“Smoking doesn’t appeal to me, although I’m tolerant of other people’s pleasures.”

“Good for you,” she says and puts away the package. “What else don’t you like?”

“What do you mean?”

“You look like a healthy man, the no-preservatives, organic-food-eater type. Need to get some sun, though; you’re as pale as a cauliflower.”

“You’re right. Mine is a healthy diet, with supplements, but the nature of my work is not compatible with the sun. Do you have to go soon, or can we stroll down Broadway and do some window shopping perhaps?”

“I was about to ask you the same question, Henry.”

We saunter closer to the storefront windows, stopping when displayed items educe our interest.

“God knows there is no shortage of curious things to see in New York City,” she says.

“Umm. Lots of Halloween stuff, so early.”

“Are you driving?”

“Yes, I’m parked on 96th street.”

Cathy was a precious find. Never before, and never so fast have I felt this fire growing inside. I was falling in lust in a hurry. Images both loving and gruesome pop into my imagination. For a first time in my nocturnal prowls, I realized I could make love to this woman the rest of my life while dreaming of terrible things, yet never hurt her.

“Would you like to walk by Riverside Park and take a loop back to your car?” she says.

“That would be wonderful. The river walk relaxes me.”

We turn at the next corner, and continue our casual conversation until we enter the park and reach the walk at the river’s edge. We lean on the rail, gaze into the deep waters. Life stands still. Silently I debate her future at my hands.

I offer my arm and she hangs onto it. Her other hand goes into her coat pocket.

The proximity to the river chills the air.

We go on walking. I guide her closer to a park bench beneath the trees, where the night is darker, and distant strollers will respect embracing lovers.

It is the moment I anticipate and dread. Gently I draw her closer, hold her cheeks between my palms and look into her oriental eyes. My hands slide near her neck, but drop along her shoulders and stop at her waist.

Who knows how many nights without loneliness? How many lovemaking raptures could be waiting for me? I think this woman could transform my life.

She removes her hand from her pocket and responds to my embrace. I hear a click and feel a pricking sensation on the back of my neck. A warm, wet feeling follows. I let go of her but she hangs on, slowly easing me against the bench. She sits by my side. Blood flows down my chest and pools around my waist. Cathy has stabbed me with an instrument so sharp it did not hurt. She retrieves and cleanses it on my lapel. Numbness creeps over my body.

“They say sight is the first sense to go as we die,” she says. “Is it true?”

“Apparently . . ., Cathy. Your face . . . is fading.”

She leans closer to my ear. “It’s Lucy, not Cathy.”

 

Memories of moments when I was the one holding a flaccid body flash through my mind. Her eyes inches from mine erase those images.

“Why?” I say.

“Because I hated my father. Would you like a kiss for the road? My father used to give me a French-kiss, when he tucked me in bed.”

“Yes, please…thank you.”

 

* * *

 

Cuban Author Eduardo Cerviño Alzugaray was born in Havana, Cuba. His latest novel, Cuba the Crocodile Island, is based on real events in the life of the author, and for that reason this work is published under his real family name.

The characters’ names, except his own, have been changed to protect the identity of those persons still residing in Cuba. Although a few of those persons have passed away, they are still present in the author’s memory, some with enormous, and others as a significant part of his spiritual growth.

The author has traveled extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Latin America. He has lived in several countries, but his principal residence has been in the US since 1968. He resides in Arizona with his wife and writing collaborator, Les Brierfield. The author appreciates with all his heart the time you may dedicate to reading his work.

You are invited to visit: www.ecbrierfield.com

 

Light in the Darkness by Diane Piron-Gelman

light in darkness

As we move toward the end of 2015, I have to say it’s been a horrible year. My oldest friend is losing her house to foreclosure, after more than two years fighting various underhanded moves by the major national bank that originally held her mortgage. Another dear friend, a fellow writer, lost his beloved wife to cancer two days before the book launch for his thriller—which he held, and which became a memorial to his wife, because one of the last things she told him before she died was to launch the book no matter what. Yet another friend, well known and loved in the local mystery writers’ community, died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack on December 1st. My own family hasn’t escaped the parade of misfortunes—our bright, funny, sensitive and bighearted twelve-year-old son has been seeing a therapist for the past 9 months, ever since a teacher showed me a school assignment on New Year’s resolutions where he wrote, “I will try not to have suicidal thoughts.” We’ve since uncovered evidence of ongoing verbal bullying that hurt him so much inside, he started hurting himself just to cope.

Things are no better out in the world. Two mass shootings in one day on December 2nd, one in San Bernardino, one in Savannah; the violent assault on Planned Parenthood; the terrorist horrors of November in Paris and Beirut; political candidates vying to become Leader of the Free World whose only response to these crimes (I can’t call them tragedies, as if they’re unavoidable, like natural disasters) is to posture about “registering” Muslims or banning them outright, or demand we turn away Syrian refugees, or lament the regrettable lack of “good guys with guns” who surely could have taken out the terrorists if only they’d been on the scene. All in all, this has been a darker year than most.

 

 

December is the darkest month, of course. Literally—the days get shorter beginning on June 21st, and the light diminishes, minute by minute, until the Winter Solstice on December 21st. What are we to make of our darkening world this year, in Nature and among human beings? What are we to make of the holiday season that comes at this time—Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and that matriarch of all winter holidays, Christmas?

 

These holidays, and others at this time of year, have one symbol in common: the returning of the light. Solstice marks the shortest day—just past midnight, the wheel of the year ever so slowly turns toward the light again. Hanukkah is likewise a festival of light, commemorating the miracle of one day’s supply of oil that burned for eight days in the reclaimed Temple in Jerusalem. There was actually an ancient dispute among two famous sages, the rabbis Hillel and Shammai, about the Hanukkah ritual of lighting the menorah—should one begin with eight candles and light one fewer every night, or begin with a single candle and light one more every night? Rabbi Hillel won, and ever since then, Jews have lit the Hanukkah candles in ascending order, with the fullest blaze of light on the eighth day. Think about the symbolism of it. Light adds to light. Each small light we kindle drives back a little more of the darkness—and it’s no coincidence that lights of some kind are lit in celebration, in so many cultures during the darkest and coldest months of the year.

 

And then there’s Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus. My own Catholic faith refers to Jesus of Nazareth as “Light of the World”—and the day he was born reflects the beginning of that Light. Like the physical light of the sun, as our planet turns in its orbit, the Light represented by the infant Jesus slowly grows…in strength, in warmth, in love. Love is the real Light we’re celebrating, whether through the symbolism of the sun’s return at Solstice, eight Hanukkah candles for a holy temple’s redemption, seven Kwanzaa candles honoring principles for living, or a Savior whose greatest commandment to us was, “Love one another.” All of these are the Light of Love, which glows brightest in human hearts. May we remember that when the world turns dark and cold. May we remember that when our hearts turn dark and cold. May we remember.

 

  1. M. Pirrone writes mystery/suspense, horror, historical and general fiction. Her novel Shall We Not Revenge (Book 1 of the Hanley & Rivka Mysteries), was named a Notable Page Turner of 2014 by Shelf Unbound magazine. Book 2, For You Were Strangers, came out this month from Allium Press of Chicago. You can find more of D. M. Pirrone’s work at her personal blog, Word Nerd Notes (http://www.wordnrd.wordpress.com) and her website (http://www.dmpirrone.net).

The Good, The Bad, and The Mexican By: Eduardo Cerviño

 

Secundino

Yesterday, by the time sunlight filtered through my office windows, I’d written the first three pages of a short story intended for this blog. Hunger made me stop and eat breakfast, which ended with a glass of grape juice.

As the burning star climbed a few degrees above the trees surrounding my home, the pale natural light began to turn golden yellow. The rays spilled over the treetops and awoke the Mexican bird of paradise on my patio. Its bright incandescent flowers opened up.

Warm light bathed me inside the dining room, passed through a stained glass partition, broke into a rainbow of primary colors, and tinted the carpet, the furniture and the wall

This time of the year, Arizona takes a breather from her customary hellish heat and turns into paradise.

I’d be a fool not to go out and enjoy the pleasant cool breeze.

Outside, the giant Saguaros and palm trees projected long striped shadows. I caught a fleeting glimpse of the cottontail rabbit family living under the cactus grove in my garden.

Overnight, yesterday’s clouds had melted into rain, and around my feet the morning dew created a shimmering blanket of liquid diamonds. Without a cloud in sight, the elegant palm tree canopies softly swayed against the sharp blue sky.

A cherry red Chevy truck entered my driveway. Secundino, the Mexican gentleman who has pruned my trees for the last eighteen years, alighted from the cab.

Buenos días,” he shouted, while removing his blue cap with a Ford decal. His broad smile showed two missing teeth.

Secundino’s onyx black hair is long and shiny with silver streaks over his copper colored ears. He walks straight and looks directly into one’s face with a determined stare. It’s not an arrogant look, but the frank open glance of a hardworking man whose ancestors built an empire with pyramids as majestic as the Egyptians built. Their capital city, upon a lagoon, rivaled The Serenissima Venezia.

“Don Eduardo, it’s time to trim the palms,” he said in the melodious Spanish accent from the state of Sonora. I have not been able to stop him from calling me “Don” Eduardo.

“That’s what they called my grandpa. Eduardo is enough for me.” I’ve said this to him lots of times to no avail. “Don Eduardo makes me feel older than I am.”

Each time he looked at me, bobbed his head up and down, and said: “Muy bien, Don Eduardo.”

“Okay, Secundino, go ahead. They are shedding leaves and pods over my neighbor’s gardens,” I said. We shook hands, and soon after he climbed up the sixty-plus foot high trunks and nestled himself among the frondose canopy. Enormous fan-like waxy green and brown fronds started flying over my head like free floating kites. I ducked for cover.

I watched with admiration. No one would believe he is seventy years old.

I started collecting the falling fronds, not because he expected my help, but because I, too, love the physicality of hard work, especially on a temperate day like this.

A passing SUV stopped by my house. I recognized the driver, a man past the prime of his life who lives facing the park a few blocks away and often walks his huge furry dog by my house. On occasion we chat if I happen to be outside. We have become more than acquaintances, but less than friends.

His house is opulent. An ample carport extends over the semicircular driveway. A second story overlook surveys the nearby mountains and palm trees in the back yard.

He joined me. Our conversation started with idle chat. We both kept talking with tilted up heads and eyes fix on the top of the palms and Secundino.

We grew tired of blowing air mindlessly. It was he who started talking about the politics of the day. At first his words went in one ear and out the other, until the underlying content of his words made them stay inside my head, like water rising up behind a dam.

As a child, Mother used to tell me, “Polite people don’t talk about religion, politics, or money.” Maybe that was the reason she was loved by so many people. She listened to me and everyone else with such intensity that we felt compelled to share with her our innermost worries. To Mother, time didn’t matter when she was consoling a human being. She engaged us in a Socratic conversation. We could talk to our heart’s content about our soul’s problems. She punctuated our diatribe with thoughtful monosyllabic comments, and suggestions. “Aha, I see, calm down, try to do this or that.”

Everybody left her side comforted, peaceful, and reborn. Needless to say, to my chagrin, I’m not like her.

This neighbor of mine kept talking faster than usual. He seemed agitated and started revealing his dehumanizing paleoconservative leanings. Something he said prompted me to ask, “Are you having business problems?”

My mistake. I had broken one of my mother’s politeness rules. His hate for the government in general, and President Obama in particular, spewed forth. His stereotypical political opinions increased the pressure against the imaginary brain dam inside my head.

“Doesn’t everybody these days? These unions are pestering me.” He stopped to light a cigarette, but could not stop venting his innumerable grievances against liberals, minorities, Muslins, and foreigners. I’m not sure if he made distinctions between legal or illegal ones. He loved the idea of a taller, longer, meaner wall at the Mexican border.

The man had fouled my morning, I wanted him to go away so I could decompress my head and reseed my thoughts with love.

“What can I do for you today, my friend?” I interrupted. “I want to get this done before noon.” I pointed at the fronds piling up at the foot of the palms.

“I saw what you are doing. The palms in my yard need pruning, too. I called the landscape company that takes care of my garden. But they said the palms are too high and they no longer can reach the canopy with their cherry picker. You think your guy can come by after he finishes here?”

I looked up and yelled in Spanish: “Secundino, do you want go to this cabron’s house and trim his palms later on?”

He was coming down from one of the palms. He stopped midway down the trunk and yelled back in Spanish. “Of course, Don Eduardo. Tell him thirty-five dollars each, and I can do them tomorrow early. I have two other jobs today.”

I said to my neighbor: “My Mexican friend says . . . and proceeded to translate Secundino’s words.

The man smiled. “Tell him I’ll see him tomorrow anytime.” He lowered his voice. “My landscapers used to charge me forty dollars.”

I felt relieved when he shook my hand and left. Secundino was now on the ground. He approached me while I was organizing fronds in manageable heaps.

“I guess the man doesn’t know what cabron means in Spanish,” Secundino said.

I had called my neighbor an old goat, to indicate to Secundino that he was not a good friend of mine. He understood and asked fifteen dollars more than he charged me.

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About the Author

Eduardo Cerviño Alzugaray, aka E. C. Brierfield, is the author of several novels and numerous short stories. His recent autobiographical novel, Cuba the Crocodile Island, is based on his internment in a forced Communist labor camp during the chaotic beginning years of Fidel Castro’s revolution. This is the reason why he published it under his family name, rather than his pen name.

A few of the characters’ names, except his own, have been changed to protect the identity of persons still residing on the island. Although many of the book’s characters have passed away, they are still present in the author’s memory. Some are remembered with enormous affection and others as a painful, if significant, part of the author’s spiritual growth, but none with rancor.

Thirty years after leaving the island, family issues brought the author back to Cuba.

While he stood in the Cathedral Plaza like any other tourist, a soldier approached him. After a few awkward moments, the officer identified himself as the lieutenant prominently described in this novel. His haggard appearance made him unrecognizable. He was inquisitive about the author’s life in the US. Satisfying his curiosity was a vindicating experience for the author. As the author attempted to pull away and continue his sentimental journey, the officer was reluctant to let go of his hand.

As an architectural designer, Eduardo has traveled extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Latin America. He has lived in several countries, but his principal residence has been in the US since 1968.

He resides in Arizona with his wife and writing collaborator, Les Brierfield.

The author appreciates with all his heart the time you have dedicated to reading his work.

You are invited to visit the author’s website:

www.ecbrierfield.com

To purchase Cuba the Crocodile Island, please visit

http://tinyurl.com/cubacroc

Alpha—Omega An Irreverence by Kenneth Weene

 

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“Worthless!” The trumpeting blast of Jehovah’s voice set the bowls of manna jumping. Waves of mead swished from goblets. Two unsuspecting seraphim were knocked from their precarious perches atop great golden harps.

In the aftermath, quiet reigned in the massive hall. Every saintly and angelic eye was turned towards the All Mighty.

Finally, His trembling son asked, “What’s wrong, Dad?”

“Humans,” came the only slightly less thunderous reply. “Humans. Why did I create them? Worthless!” Again the crockery jigged. One of the two seraphim, not having gained a purchase on his proper seat, again fell to the floor.

“You could wipe them out and start over,” the tempter suggested. “A nice flood.”

“Tried that. Lot of good it did,” the Mighty One answered.

“Then perhaps an exodus,” suggested Mormon, clapping his wings in anticipation; “I have some planets you could buy.”

“Same difference.” Jehovah’s brow knitted with contemplation. The quiet only broken by the soft patter of righteousness falling on the roof.

After what seemed like the eternity it was, the Creator spoke again. “I fear that humans are irredeemable. They are infected with greed.”

“Then destroy them,” Lucifer suggested, drool flowing from the corner of his mouth and into the hissing goatee-fire of his beard.

“Take a dump on them,” added the first Protestant as he nailed his suggestion to the great mansion’s Pearly Gate.

“Then what would Jesus and I watch for entertainment?” God asked. “The angelic host? Boring. These guys just sit around waiting to do my will. No free will; no drama. J.C. and I like a good soap—you know, a little action.” He threw a celestial wink at Aphrodite who watched closely to make sure he didn’t cast another towards that hussy Mary.

J.C. nudged that giggling Magdalene girl under the table.

“Then,” the tempter suggested, “You could try creating another world. Of course the human creatures would end up the same, filled with greed. But, why not try.”

Never one to avoid a challenge, Jehovah responded immediately, “Good idea; I will create another world with a new mankind—one without greed.”

When the buzz had died, Thomas, always quick to raise doubts, suggested, “Instead of an entire planet you might try a trial run, you know just a small test world, to see if such a species can be created.”

Some of the saints tried to shush Thomas, but Jehovah put his great hand on the saint’s shoulder. “Another good idea. That is what we shall do. A laboratory world.” The laugh of divine pleasure which followed the words swept through the hall. The lead cherubim, who as always stood before the heavenly choir, was so surprised by God’s merriment that she farted. The sweet smell of her wind added another layer to the growing jocularity of the Heavenly assembled.

The Holy One was again in a good mood.  Hallelujah! Even better, He would be busy in his laboratory—with any luck for another seven days. A respite from His tantrums.

All bowed as The Father, swirling His cape, exited the hall.

Even as He strode the corridors of Heaven, Jehovah was designing this new world. It would have two races of man. They would live in two separate regions of the world—lands separated by the abyss of a great wasteland. Each land would have almost all it needed.

But there had to be some reason for the two races to interact. God sat at His laboratory bench and contemplated the challenge. Finally, He had it. In only one country He placed the precious metals gold and silver; in the other spices grew and flourished. The two races would have to trade for these two valuables, but only for the two. “It will be a fair trade,” He thought, “a trade between equals.” Why risk war or theft when things are so even. Not like Earth with their assured mutual annihilation but a peace based on assured mutual benefit. “Perfect! Now to design a way for them to trade—just enough contact but not too much.”

In seven days the new world of AlphaOme had been created. After resting from His labors, Jehovah explained to His son, “This will be a show we can watch without worry. No souls lost to evil. No hearts taken with greed. Just love. Just people being creative. And some good sex, of course. How blissful it will be.”

The next day, the Creator allowed the hosts of heaven to see His handiwork.

Paul was the first to speak. “How will they know all the rules? They must have rules.”

Peter, as usual, disagreed. “Human nature is basically good. If they open their hearts to the Lord, they will be saved.”

Moroni was packing his bags. “Where are you going?” God asked.

“To knock on their doors and tell them the good news,” Moroni answered.

“No!” Jehovah responded. “We will watch from here and let these humans discover their own goodness.”

Melek Taus, in all his peacock finery, announced, “I will not bow before this new humanity.

God, acknowledging that angels were incapable of learning, laughed and threw a divine cabbage at the resplendent angel’s head.

Moses and Muhammad argued about what these new humans would be allowed to eat. When the Prophet suggested rump roast, the Law Giver was apoplectic. “Well at least we’ve agreed no pork,” Muhammad said offering his hand in fraternity.

Vishnu screamed, “Ram, they’re doing it again—eating my cows.”

Another round of yelling and recriminations ensued. The argument grew loud enough to disturb Buddha. “Eating is an illusion,” the Enlightened Soul explained before helping himself to a plate from the buffet.

“Enough,” God thundered. “Can’t you children ever quiet down?”

“But, but…” the host sputtered.

“But nothing. No prophets allowed. They’ll just cut of fyour heads,” John joked. At least that gave Jesus the relief of a much-needed laugh.

So the new world was established without law, prophecy, or sacred text. The new people lived, loved, and provided comfortable celestial viewing, but without the violence and argument over what was the will of the Almighty and what truly did not matter. The contact between the Alphas and the Omegas was limited to trade in precious metal and spices and the occasional falling into love or lust, a distinction, which in a world without religion, did not seem to matter. The route across the wasteland allowed the necessary movement of goods and lovers, but it was a long journey with little rest or water. “You keep to your side, and we’ll keep to ours,” would have been the motto if anyone thought to have one; but in a world with proper balance there is no need for mottos.

The Tempter was, as usual, discontent. Nothing happened to disturb God, and Satan loves drama. What good to him was a world without sturm und drang or, even worse, without war?  “Want to bet?” he asked, knowing that Jehovah was a sucker for a good wager. “Remember Job?” he added as if the Divine One needed to have His memory jogged.

“What kind of mischief are you up to now?” God asked. While He tried for the sternness of a rebuke, He could not keep the hint of amusement from His voice or the great orbs of His all-seeing eyes.

“I bet the Alphas and the Omegas aren’t as peaceful as You think. I bet I can get them fighting with just one simple intervention.”

God, quite sure of His handiwork, could not resist the challenge; but He would insist on rules. “You can’t give one something you don’t give the other. You cannot create a scarcity so that the people must fight to survive. To win the bet, the fight must come from within them not from you egging it on.”

Satan offered his pitchfork in agreement. God wrapped it in His might, and the bet was settled.

Lucifer sent two of his minions to the new Earth, one to each of the two nations. Both bore a scientific discovery, how to make the scaliate waste of the abyss into fuel that would allow the people to live better. “No scarcity,” he observed; “there is enough scaliate in that desert to last all the generations of AlphaOme forever.”

Before the Devil’s emissaries left for AlphaOme, Lucifer checked with God. No way was he going to cheat. One eternity spent imprisoned for being a trickster was enough. How was he to know that the Boss was that serious about not coaching those first humans into sin? After all, they were dumb enough to listen to a talking snake; why give them a second thought? And how was he to know that Jehovah’s brat son would be so compassionate, would keep trying to intervene on behalf of those earthly idiots?

“So you propose making the lives of these people better?” God asked.

“That’s right, Divine One.” Lucifer groveled at the Omnipotent’s feet — no point in riling the boss.

“And you think this will bring out the worst in them?”

“Yes, Majestic Ruler of the Universe.”

Even Solomon and Loki were smirking. Was Lucifer really that much of a toady or was he just putting God on? Either way, he was making an ass of himself, a fact duly recorded in Ovid’s notebooks.

God sought the advice of Jesus, who could see no harm in Lucifer’s proposal. Even Jan Hus and Calvin agreed that there was no sin in it. Martin Luther would have been consulted except he was occupied in the crapper. At least Lao Tzu pronounced it the way to go.

Off the two angels of science went.

Within a millennium, which is hardly a breath in the time of Heaven, the Alphas and the Omegas were at war. Both claimed the wasteland as their own. Both were determined that they and they alone should hold the power of the new technology, which meant controlling the scaliate, that necessary raw material.

As the new planet shook with battle, God raised his glass of mead to Lucifer. “Well, Beelzebub, you’ve called it this time. Humans cannot resist greed.”

The Devil tipped his glass in return. “So, how are you going to destroy them?” he asked, hoping for a cataclysmic event.

“Destroy them?” God laughed. The rolling of His merriment swayed the stars. His breath, which even Augustine had to admit smelled of too much mead, made some of the cherubs drunk just from being in the hall. “Destroy them? Why? I think I’ll do the same as I have done with the humans of Earth — just sit back and watch. I figure they’ll make AlphaOme uninhabitable soon enough. They’ll kill themselves off. The hell with them all.”

He looked to his son, who jumped on a table and led the rousing cheer: “To hell with them all. To HELL with them all.”

 

Ken is giving away an electronic copy of his book “Broody New Englander” and one of his latest short story collection “Sweet and Sour”. Visit our giveaway page to learn how you can possibly win.

 

Ken Weene’s satiric views of religion, mental health, politics, and the human condition in general underlie his novels, short fiction, essays, and poetry. To find more of Ken’s work and ideas visit his web site and purchase his books at Amazon.

About Music (Part 2) …

Music moves us. Whether it be to make us happy, sad, or (in some rare cases) violent, music affects our emotions. The authors of the Write Room have shared their thoughts and feelings about music and how it shapes our lives (Dellani Oakes)

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The Music of Life By Micki Peluso

Music is ingrained in our lives from the melodic chirping of birdsong to lullabies crooned to sleepy toddlers. We celebrate with music, we mourn with music. Even some dogs like to sing; or maybe they just howl to get us to stop. My house was always filled with music, especially when five of my six kids were teenagers. It was the late 70s but we all loved to sing songs from the 60s as well; Elvis Presley was an icon in our home.

My oldest daughter Kim played guitar and wrote songs, and her sisters and I sang along, sometimes taping ourselves on cassettes with a little red recorder. We all cried while singing Teen Angel, but couldn’t stop singing it. That song would prove an omen of the day when we would have our own Teen Angel.

Dante could play any instrument and song by ear, even classical music like Beethoven and Bach — Where did he hear that? Kelly sang in the school choir and Noelle played the trumpet in the band. The rest of us were not musically talented but I did know if a note was flat. I taught myself to play the guitar years before but when I could go no further I taught Kim, who was six years old at the time. She quickly surpassed me.

I did love to sing, albeit off key, and sang Baptist spirituals and folk songs like I Gave My Love a Cherry, and my favorite country-western songs. I could do a fair Love Me Tender, or so I thought. Noelle burst in from school one day to show me her new trumpet by blasting me with a few earsplitting notes. “Can you play, Long, Long Ago, Far, Far Away?” I asked. When the joke finally the hit her, she just laughed. Thankfully we had an acre of land and no close neighbors – although I thought I heard the dairy cows from the nearby barn mooing backup up one day.

On a sunny late summer day, 14-year-old Noelle was singing and dancing down our country lane, on her way to a concert at the nearby park with her girl friend. I knew she was meeting her first puppy love, a cute, blue-eyed, shaggy haired boy named Chuck. Within moments, a drunk driver struck her and left her face down on the side of the road. That day the music died – except for the mournful dirge of the church organ on the day of her funeral.

It was a few months later when her younger sister, Nicole’s, 11th birthday was coming up. I had to convince her to have her party at the Roller Skating Rank where the girls had spent so many good times skating to the hit tunes and a few oldies. She felt guilty but agreed to go. As she and her friends ate pizza and drank soda, I turned to gaze at the skating rink. For a few brief moments I saw Noelle, dancing on skates smiling and full of life. I was mesmerized. I blinked, and the vision was gone, but I heard a line from the stereo playing the song, American Pie, by Don McLean . . . “The Day the Music Died.”
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Joy of the Blues by Bryan Murphy

I fell in love with blues music as a teenager. For a provincial Brit, it was irresistible; exotic, foreign but accessible, and hypnotic. It has proved to be an enduring love. Blues music would make an ideal soundtrack to my science fiction writing, because it is dark, like the futures I project. But my poem below is celebratory, more suited to a rare piece of joyful blues: Rock Me Mama by the ultimate blues pianist, Otis Spann.

 

Joy of the Blues

On holiday from a theatre of war,

wandering around the retirement town

where I’d tried to grow up,

I ran into well-groomed, greying men

last seen snarling

in playground brawls.

 

“You still got all them blues records?”

Sunshine, I bloodied your knuckles on my nose,

seduced your sweet sister, and you remember me

for my blues collection?

“You bet: Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker,

Otis Spann, Howlin’ Wolf, …”

 

that other Americana beyond the dream:

bitter with authenticity, on the periphery

of our consciousness, offering

the human experience in twelve bars,

 

on the rack, stretched to limits,

infinite variation on finite themes,

like language, soccer, life. Blues

transcended the conventions it endorsed,

 

seeded my malleable mind with a conviction

that cultural barriers are there to overcome,

so that the Sirens of this world’s uneasy zones

will always outbid the muzak of too-sweet home.

You can find Otis Spann on YouTube, and Bryan Murphy’s e-books here: viewAuthor.at/BryMu

caregie hall

Music: Releases Stress by Fran Lewis

Music has always been an integral part of my life from the age of seven. Loving the sound of the ivories on the piano and wanting to play on a real piano my mom allowed me to have lessons but I practiced on a paper keyboard. She wanted to make sure that I really wanted the lessons and that I had a true passion for the piano. Within six months the instructor told her she should definitely buy me a piano and my grandfather did. School, even at seven years old, was demanding since my mom required that I do my homework as soon as I came home, studied for tests and then, of course, had dinner. But in between, I would practice my scales and prepare my piano pieces for my lessons. Just sitting in front of the piano and playing relaxed me and all of the tension from the day vanished, and I was in another world filled with the sound of the music. Whether it was a Chopin Waltz, or a Beethoven Concerto or a Sonata, I immersed myself in the piece and could feel myself one and the same with the music.

Music was my major in college and learning to transpose pieces into different keys was a real challenge, yet it was one that I loved. Majoring in music also required that you learn another instrument–mine was the violin. So, along with the piano at age 10, I took on the violin, became concertmistress in the ninth grade and played first violin throughout high school. I even played in the borough orchestra.

Music has, and always will be, a great part of my life. To this day, when I feel overwhelmed, know that I have to visit the dentist one more time or must handle any other type of crisis, I sit down, put on the earphones and listen to the Three Tenors, a classical piece of music, or the first piece that I ever played in Carnegie Hall: The Waltz of the Flowers.

Educator, author, magazine publisher and book reviewer Fran Lewis has had a career that celebrates the written word, but she has also had a life filled with the pleasure of music. http://www.amazon.com/Fran-Lewis/e/B002F8Z87U

hand bells

Christmas Carols and Being Gay are Related. I Promise by Cody Wagner

I recently joined a singing group that performs around Phoenix during the holidays. We had orientation Tuesday and were given 50+ carols to memorize AND choreography to study AND handbells to… well, I don’t know what the frick to do with handbells yet.

With all that stuff to learn, we were told to begin practicing right away. Consequently, I walked around the house all day singing “Jingle Bell Rock”. And maybe around Safeway. And possibly Chipotle.

Please note it’s early September. We haven’t even reached Halloween season yet. Yet there I was humming “Dancin’ and prancin’ in Jingle Bell Square!” down the aisles at Wal Mart. Oh yeah, I practiced at Wal Mart, too.

Let me just say I received some judgmental looks. I fully expect to make that “People of Wal Mart” website with the caption “This guy is wearing a ‘Mom, Dad, I’m Gaelic’ t-shirt and singing ‘Fum! Fum! Fum!’ during Summer”.

When I received a particularly nasty look from a mother who covered her child’s eyes, I admit I got embarrassed. Believe it or not, that embarrassment was sparked by memories of growing up gay in a little redneck town. OK OK, Christmas carols in summer and being gay may seem like the most unrelated things ever, but wait for it.

I wasn’t the gay kid who hated himself. Somehow, I knew being gay wasn’t wrong, although everyone around me said homosexuals were evil. I had this little seed of self-confidence I’m eternally grateful for. With that said, I was still in the closet. Big time. While I was OK with myself, I knew people around me weren’t. They had this thing in their heads that straight people were the norm and anyone outside that circle was a weirdo.

I bet you a plate of delicious Pad Thai that the mom who shielded her kid’s eyes thought, People sing carols from Thanksgiving to New Years. Anyone outside that circle is a weirdo.

Look how I brought it all together. Cody – 1, Not Cody – 0.

That feeling of not being evil yet not fitting in has always been a part of my life. It’s also an integral part of my new book as well. I worked to infuse that element into the protagonist. I wanted him to fight, to remain secure, while being bombarded from outside forces. Especially when he gets sent to a pray-away-the-gay school (DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN!).

And my experience with public music brought those old conflicted feelings out in me, which made me feel even more connected with my character. Funny how that happens.

Part of me ultimately wants my protagonist to stand up for himself. But for him to rise up, I felt I had to do the same. So when that mother’s glare burned into me, I actually straightened, looked her in the eye, and sang, “Here I come a caroling, among the cans of peas!”

It was the lamest verse ever, but my protagonist will be better off for it.

Cody Wagner writes about things he questions, ranging from superpowers to sociopathic kids. His debut novel, The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren, will be out October 27th, 2015. Check out his writing updates and read more of his wackiness at www.wagner-writer.com or follow him on Twitter @cfjwagner.

LOVE An eclectic collection of poetry and prose addressing the subject of ‘love’ by members of The Write Room Blog

Sometimes

 
by

Micki Peluso

Sometimes we seem at different poles
North winds blow across a frozen heart
While southern breezes boil the blood
Yet we are ever joined as one

Combustible, angry, confused and hurt
Feeling wrenching loss of familial love

Sometimes hurt festers like a canker sore
It wants to heal and yet it won’t
Too much has happened to recant
Guilt picks away at closing scabs

And healing, coveted, will not be heeded
However much wanted and needed

Sometimes, so many sometimes
We yearn for days of yore
Life was simple, love unconditional
And trust as sweet as apple pie

Sometimes our lives seem to normalize
Until leaves wafting on uncertain winds
Drift away, leaving distrust behind
And the vicious cycle begins again

Sometimes I reminisce those days
And my heart quickens with yearning
An optimistic, eternal soul
Sees that love again reborn

And I can almost see it myself . . . sometimes

~♥♥♥~

A PUZZLING ROMANCE

Micki Peluso

Caitlin with the carrot-colored hair
Went off to visit a witch so fair.
Seeking help, her problem, profound.
The witch’s familiar was a Basset Hound!

“What? No black cat?” Caitlin asked.
“Sadly, my cat was possessed! Aghast,
A corrupt thing, most surely demonized.dreamstime_m_32195746
So I changed her into this hound so fine.”

“What, my sweet, might I do for you?”
While cooing to her grey morning dove.
“I have looked far and wide,” the lass replied.
“But cannot find my one true love.”

The witch rose to stir her cauldron stew
Dug deep into a magical, tapestry bag
And handed Caitlin a Rubik’s cube
Which made the lovelorn girl quite mad!

“I beseech your help and receive a toy?”
“Ah, my beauty, it will bring you joy.
“For when solved, the Rubik’s squares,
Will bring the one for whom you care.”

The witchcraft worked on the very first try,
As Caitlin sat alone in the park.
A handsome, dark-eyed man ambled bydreamstime_m_38617302
And made a quizzical remark.

“Excuse me Miss,” he said and sat
Beside her on the wooden bench.
“You seem to need a hand with that.”
His eyes took in the lovely wench.

Moments passed with no retreat,
As he twisted, turned, then it was done.
The Rubik’s cube was now complete
Caitlin sighed, her heartstrings sung.

Far in the distance howled a sound
From a most special Basset Hound.
The witch pulled up her blood-red cowl
And smiled; true love once more, found.

The End
or
The Beginning

~♥♥♥~

Micki Peluso’s writing career began with a personal tragedy that led to a career in journalism. She’s published short fiction and non-fiction, as well as slice of life stories in five anthologies, magazines and ezines.   . . .AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG is an award-winning, funny family memoir of love, loss and survival. She is currently finishing a collection of short slice of life stories and essays, in a book called, ‘Don’t Pluck the Duck.’

https://www.facebook.com/AndTheWhippoorwillSang

♥~❤~♥

 

Damn Love by Kenneth Weene

“Damn love.” Billy hoists his Guinness, drains, clanks the glass on the bar, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, and belches.

“Damn, damn love,” he repeats and finishes his drink.

“Your knuckles,” his drinking buddy points at Billy’s right hand.

“What about ‘em?” Billy slurs.

“You been in a fight?”

“Nah. Teachin’ the old lady a lesson.”

“You beat on Trish?”

“Hey, you don’t think I feel bad? Why the hell do you think I’m drinkin’ with you instead of in the tumble with her? I feel terrible. But she wanted it, Mike; I’m tellin’ you, she wanted it.”

“No woman wants that, Bill,” Tad, the bartender interjects. “I don’t care what she did, I’d never use my fists on my girl.”

“I tell you she wanted it. Asked for it. Fuckin’ dared me.”

“So you came home and there’s your woman, Trish, and she says, ‘Hey Billy, hit me. Give me a good one in the chops.’ Right?”  The bartender wields a dirty rag over a spill.

“Might as well. Might as well.”

A knot of guys has gathered. One asks, “She all right?”

Another, “She need to go to the hospital?”

“Did she call the cops?”

Billy doesn’t reply. “Another beer.”

“Sure.” Tad holds the glass under the tap and yanks. “So did she or didn’t she?” he asks as he sets it down.

“Did she or didn’t she what?”

“Tell you to fuckin’ hit her. Is that what she said?”

“Nah, not what she said. It ain’t words; it’s feelin’s. Like sometimes you just know. I come home and there’s somethin’ wrong, somethin’ the matter. She ain’t started dinner. She’s just lookin’ out the window.

“I ask her who ya lookin’ for. But she don’t answer. So I ask her again.

“’You really want to know?’ That’s what she says. ‘You really want to know?’

“Hell no! I don’t want to know. I just know. Know what I mean?

“Damn love. I wish I didn’t love her so much.”

“I know what you mean.”  Mike claps his buddy on the shoulder, slips off his stool and out the door.  He’s not sure what to say, not to Billy and not to Trish. Why hadn’t he shown up? “Damn love,” he thinks, “too fuckin’ complicated.”

~♥♥♥~

Frequently a contrarian, Ken Weene on occasion turns to the noir for this flash story of love. For more of his writings, visit http://www.kennethweene.com

♥~❤~♥

 

LOVE

Roger Ellory

 

Love is essentially indefinable.

It is a desire to be with someone, of course.  It is mental, emotional, spiritual.  It is a feeling that without that person you are incomplete.  It is both ownership and belonging, independence and reliance; it is a certainty that the person you love knows who you are, that they appreciate the good, bad or indifferent, that they get everything or nothing at all.

moon and windWhat appears to be missing from most relationships is the sense that you should operate as one, even though you are entirely different.  It is an understanding that if some outside force threatens the stability of the relationship, you don’t blame one another, you instead stand back-to-back and face the world, defending and protecting one another, being true to one another, accepting that even though one of you may have made a mistake it really is insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Love is kindness, compassion, tolerance, a sense of familiarity and a willingness to discover new things every day.  It is seeing someone as if for the first time and taking time to remember all the reasons you chose to be with them.  It is seeing their oddities, their idiosyncrasies, their foibles and flaws and loving them for those things just as much as everything else.  It is knowing when they are tired, when they are frustrated, when they need to be alone, when they need you beside them even when there’s something else you’re meant to be doing.  It’s the unexpected caress, the unexpected gift, a few whispered words of real tenderness.  It’s the poem you wrote, even though it was kind of dumb.  It’s the homemade anniversary card, even after twenty years together.  It’s bringing back flowers, even though you forgot the butter and the eggs you were sent to buy.  It’s finishing one another’s sentences, and then finally finishing one another’s thoughts with just a glance or a knowing smile.

It’s a sense that without this person life doesn’t really make any sense at all.

Most of all it’s true companionship, the knowledge that even though it’s never really possible to know someone fully, the person you’re with knows you better than anyone else, and adores you despite all.

And when you find that someone—or think you’ve that found someone—the whole world is too small to stop you reaching them.

And that, I think, is love.

~♥♥♥~

RJ Ellory is the author of thirteen novels, the most recent entitled Mockingbird Songs. His books have won multiple prizes and are available in twenty-six languages.  Ellory is also the guitarist and vocalist of The Whiskey Poets.  He was born in Birmingham, U.K., and continues to make this his home.

http://www.amazon.com/R.J.-Ellory/e/B002IVGFJO

♥~❤~♥

 

SEVEN  LOVE POEMS TO MY SHARON

 Sal Buttaci

A pop-up sun,
A drop-down moon

Dawn inhales,
Night expires

The two of us
Awake again

To share
Another lifetime

~♥♥♥~

tears of sad angels
tumble down
from handkerchief clouds

Thunder booming
God’s loud voice
chastising mankind

but the flowers
know better
They call the rain

“Grace”

~♥♥♥~

If love is real
it never becomes a ghost
bumping into dark walls
of houses haunted by sorrow

True love thrives
beyond green seasons
It leaps the fence
dividing life and death
and it dances to the tune of forever

~♥♥♥~

traipsing shin-deep
in a field of red-rose petals
we ignore the chocolates
in all their inviting shapes
that tempt us sweetly
from the sidelines

together we sing love songs
below a red-ball sun
hiding behind heart-shaped clouds

we finger-write “I love you”
across each other’s palm

~♥♥♥~

If only I could teach
the birds,
the flowers,
the trees
to recite poetry
so one day
when this voice
is silenced,
I may go on
praising you,
the woman I love,
with songs
from the heart.

~♥♥♥~

Maybe one day
love will grow old,
wilt like parade roses,
rust like a treasure-house key
and all the world will speak of it
with painful nostalgia
or regret or darkest sorrow
the way mourners cast their lines
into the waters of time
delighting in the tug
of remembered lost moments,
the years reeled in like old tires
and fish long dead,
memories of a once enduring love
now flat-lined and still,
something to say goodbye to.

~♥♥♥~

The last parting word
has not been said.
When that last word comes,
it will float light and airy,
like a love bird’s feather.

It will trip off these lips
like a spring breeze.
It will gush from a mouth
tired of speaking.

It will sing praises
in that final moment,
A single-word aria:
your name,
your name.

~♥♥♥~

Sal Buttaci is the author of two flash-fiction collections, Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts.  His book A Family of Sicilians… has been called “the best book written about Sicilians.”
He lives in West Virginia with Sharon the love of his life.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/ButtaciPublishing2008

www.facebook.com/salvatore.buttaci

♥~❤~♥

 

Coffee for Two

By Cynthia B. Ainsworthe

 
I stood waiting for my order. The clerk smiled functionally behind the counter as she gave me my change. She took no notice of me nor I of her. My mind was on a presentation I would be giving in a few hours at a prestigious advertising agency. After the divorce, career advancement was nearly as important as being a mom to three teenaged children.

Reaching for a wooden coffee stirrer, a strange hand touched mine briefly. A low and familiar voice came from behind me. “So sorry. I didn’t mean to rush you.” A glance to his face, and then his deep navy eyes caught my attention. Thoughts of the past whirled around me, an onslaught of smiles, tears, precious moments. His hand remained on mine a bit too long. Could he be feeling the same remote recognition of some kind? Am I seeing an identity in him that’s not there? A long forgotten remembrance buried for my own sanity?

“No problem,” I answered to his comment.

“Don’t I know you?” He began to move toward a vacant table for two. “Your face is so familiar to me.”

“I’m not certain.” I fidgeted with the purse strap. Could it be? Was it him after all these years? “They say there’s always a double for everyone, somewhere.”

His smile was warm and friendly. “Well, we could always find out over our coffees.”

Young fashionable couple dating at the bar, she is having a coffee

Sitting down opposite him, the memories come flooding back in a torrent. I wondered why he never answered my letters.

He adjusted his seat. “I wrote many letters, and never received an answer. It’s been over thirty years and I still think of you. If you are who I think you are, why did you break it off with me?”

“You’re Tyler? Tyler York?” He nodded. “You never wrote to me. I sent you many letters and thought you were no longer interested.”

He chuckled. “The damned war. Our letters must’ve never gotten through.” His hand reached for mine. “After all this time, all this lost time, and now to reconnect.” He sighed. “Are you married?”

“Divorced. Three teenaged children.” My gaze searched his eyes for truth. “And you?”

“Still single.” His eyes moistened. “You see, when I had met the perfect girl, none of the others measured up.”

He squeezed my hand and reassured my heart.

~♥♥♥~

Multiple award-winner, Cynthia B. Ainsworthe writes romantic fiction novels and short stories, and she has also published a spicy and sensual cookbook. Cynthia is currently working with Hollywood screenwriter, producer, and director, Scott C Brown to adapt her first novel, Front Row Center for screen. A retired cardiac RN turned-author, Cynthia lives in Florida with her husband and their five poodle-children.

http://www.cynthiabainsworthe.com

♥~❤~♥

 

James Brown

by Patricia Dusenbury

 

“Please. Please. Please.” His desperate cry tailed off, and James Brown fell to his knees.

The music stopped; you could have heard a pin drop in that auditorium. One of the band rushed forward and draped a purple cloak over the trembling singer.

James struggled to his feet. He grabbed the microphone. “Please,” he whispered.

The audience roared. People leapt to their feet, waving their arms and dancing in place.

“Fantastic.” Sandra leaned against Mike. “What a show.”

Their preppy clothes and pale faces stood out in the crowd, but she wasn’t the only woman violating college rules by being here. And everyone was friendly. It didn’t feel the least bit dangerous. “I’m glad we came.”

In the ladies room during intermission, a woman was selling Dixie cups half filled with a thick pink liquid. She caught Sandra’s eye. “Sloe gin, only a dollar.”

Sandra handed her a dollar, took a sip and choked when the liquor hit her throat.

The woman chuckled. “Add soda, Baby. Then drink it.”

Back at her seat, Sandra stirred the sloe gin into a Coke. She still felt every swallow, but now it tasted good, like Dr. Pepper. Mike thought it tasted like cough syrup.

“All the more for me,” she said.

When the show ended, they hurried back to the car in case the neighborhood really was dangerous. They had an hour until her curfew, so Mike drove down by the river. Still exhilarated by the music and the crowd, they watched clouds drift across the moon. Mike pushed the seat back and pulled her close.

“Please, please, please,” he sang.

“Please,” she whispered.

#

Mike sat across the table, reading the newspaper. Sandra studied his hands, their knuckles swollen with arthritis. How she loved those hands.

“Our children are planning a fiftieth anniversary party,” she said. “Lisa asked if they had to play James Brown. She understands ‘nostalgia for the music of our youth’ but doesn’t think James Brown is very romantic.”

Mike looked up. “What did you tell her?

“I said, ‘Please.’”

~♥♥♥~

Patricia Dusenbury swears that “James Brown” is autobiographical only to the extent that she was at the concert. A year would pass before she met the man she was to marry. Decades would pass before she and her husband realized that they’d both been at the concert. That realization inspired this short story.

Patricia writes prize-winning mystery novels with an element of romance. ‘A House of Her Own’ will be released October 16.

WEB PAGE:   http://www.PatriciaDusenbury.com

♥~❤~♥

 

Clayton Bye is a writer, editor and publisher. With 18 books to his credit and another 15 in the pipeline, he has written about many subjects and has explored many writing styles, one of them poetry. The following poems are selected from his published works. You may find his poetry book What I Found in the Dark athttp://shop.claytonbye.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=58&product_id=74. The book is available in both print and electronic formats. Also available to order from Amazon and most fine bookstores.

 

Regarding love …

This poem was inspired by a real necklace I had made from a teardrop piece of onyx for a lost love.

Age and Onyx
Near an ivy covered castle wall,
down among the leaves and dirt,
an old, black-stoned necklace lay.
Have you a story, my dear old friend,
of these many days passed by?
Does the fire of love live on?
Is her heart yet young enough to care,
and her hair still raven-dark?
Or have these years been too long,
my war making me a stone killer
on those plains so real and red,
that the heart, as the stone, lost—
left the lady to cry once again.

The haiku was written as I thought about one of the great loves of my life.

Beauty Drifting Downward
Dark hair in the wind,
Beauty drifting downward
Fire my mind and soul.

A poem about marriage and where it has led and is leading me.

Choices
Time is a juggernaut:
Unstoppable, with no reverse.
Rarely noticed ‘til you’ve transversed.

From proximity choose
One to leaven the daunting edge,
And so your future self you pledge.

Onward the cutting slope:
Good times, bad times and some unknown,
Reaching that day when all has grown.

Two sides, this: tried and left alone.
One marked by the slavering beast,
The other by fragile dreams–its feast.

Comfort and knowledge keep
your aging soul marching the line;
Each passing mark your life defined.

Yet a song once too oft
Played and heard at your deepened core,
Makes you wonder: should there be more?

You know love came along
For the downward and dead end ride.
It’s what kept you on the inside.

No outward saunters then
To breach the safety of the known,
A bargain made to tend what’s sown.

The right choice? Who can tell?
Time’s line marches forever on;
The moment is all, then it’s gone.

Joy is taken in light,
Which passes by in quickened flight,
A subtle taste we take in haste…

Before we bow and say good night.

And here I find a love I thought I had long ago lost.

Found
Secret longings mind-burnt
Now loosed from my soul,
Sweet knives outward slicing
Host-bound on the wind;

Diamond ice time-picked clean
Will melt asunder,
Heart-met in morning hours,
Her dark eyes of joy.

♥~❤~♥

 

Love is no longer a four letter word

Trish Jackson

It’s official. The most used word in 2014, was not a word. It was the heart emoji or emoticon,  meaning ‘love,’ which apparently was (and still is) used billions of times every day on the Internet, more than any written word.

According to the Global Language Monitor in Austin Texas, http://www.languagemonitor.com/ the English language is undergoing exponential changes unlike anything ever in its history, and it now includes 722 characters or images that portray emotions, expression, state of mind, even people, places or things.

Finally you can use the’ insert symbols’ function in Word. Most smart phones include an emoji keyboard, but if yours doesn’t, there’s an app for that. Of course there is, there are several, and they are free.

The word (or symbol) ‘Love’ ♥ is used in so many ways we didn’t touch on in this posting. Here are a few—romantic love: ♥💏   familial love: ♥👪  religious love: ♥🙏

love of friends: ♥👫   love of animals: ♥🐎🐩   love of coffee: ♥🍵

love of food: ♥🍴🍔   love of shoes: ♥👠

love of sports: ♥🎾🎿 etc.

Ironically, the most used word on porn sites is ‘love’—about the last place love comes into play.

It just goes to prove what a crazy, mixed up world it is.

~♥♥♥~

Trish Jackson writes romantic suspense and romantic comedy, and loves to include fictional animals and pets in her stories.  http://www.trishjackson.com