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Showing posts from 2013

Iron-On Wisdom

"If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Period."

It's not like I believed you anyway,
but when you asked,
I gave you my heart willingly.

Things changed, though,
didn't they?

You didn't get any better
at honesty,
and I never grew
out of my
childlike wonder,
sipping down my gullibility.
I prefer(red) to be
found guilty
of naivety,
serving my time for that
and not for blindness.

But that old familiar bile
kept riding up throat-wise,
strung to a balloon,
sticking to my tongue,
making it infinitely
harder to speak on your behalf.

There are only so many times,
like my mom told me,
I can be a bridge
on fire,
each board turning
to ash.
Well...
ash floats just the same.

-JR Simmang

So many times are we bamboozled by eloquence. My dear readers, try to see through the snake oil. God bless.

What Have I Got in my Pocket, Lily Annie Wright?

I'm unsure why, because it is a recent change, I have started falling into the rhyming trap. I feel like, sometimes, I have metamorphosed into a dapper chap from 1888, swinging around his pocket watch, standing underneath his top hat, waiting on the train, spilling words in rapid succession. SO, here's the most recent:

WHAT HAVE I GOT IN MY POCKET, LILY ANNIE WRIGHT?

What have I got in my pocket,
dear Lily Annie Wright?
Is it your gold necklace,
burning evening bright?

It's been so long since I have seen it
tangled in your hair.
Was it I who gave you that?
If so, why don't you wear

it often? Did it slip off of
your chest so pure and true
and folded in the brittle ground?
I guess I never knew.

Or, could it be a brassen key
clinking 'round in there?
It could fit that rusty lock,
the one that's standing where

the rusty door, and hinges too,
swing on screaming wind,
and pierce us through our fragile bones,
and make our dreamscapes bend.

I must confess, for I can't lie
to you …

In 1492

Good afternoon, y'all. It's halfway-ish through NaNoWriMo, and while I haven't been cranking out the expected 1667 words per day, I have been cranking out a poem a day. And that, my dear friends, is still something.

There's an old saying that there's a novel in everyone. I think mine fell out. SO, in the meanwhile, here's a poem about someone you know.

IN 1492

I sit here on my gilded throne, scepter in my hand,
looking past the mizzenmast, in search of our new land.

Three ships, have I, at my behest, flanking either side.
The sun, the stars, shine up above, the moon, she is my bride.

It was surely luck, for me, to strike while the iron’s hot.
Enterprising, yes it was, to reap what I have wrought.

The Queen was on my side, and using all her wit,
told the King, “He’s brilliant, darling dear, just let him do it.”

Less my pride, and short my sight, we plowed into the sea.
Splashing blue-limed waves, and my mistresses three,

set in search for India, for our spices …

Chain-Smoking Jesus, Convo 2

I found myself back at
that ratty diner somewhere close
to closing time,

and he was there,
without a care, cigarette smoking,
him toking long, long drags

and swallowing them completely.
"Hey, stranger," his flowing
words seemingly finding only my ears.

"Hey," I respond, noticing
the spent butts, wondering
if the Lenten Dreams are filtered.

"You have a problem," he starts.
"Partly," I respond, ordering a cup
of coffee, bordering on embarrassment.

"And you'd like my help," he offers,
his fingers drifting mindlessly over
cream, lifting lily-white on his spoon.

"You're doomed." He said, blunt
as usual. "In front of me, I see
a man, free to his own devices,

driven by near- misses, upsets, and yet...
here you are, getting coffee with Jesus.
No one sees us, friend, without judging,

begrudging us for our abilities to do
what only few have dreamt.
You've spent your time regretting,

forgetting to see that the light ar…

Ekphrastic and the Power of Images

Image
I've noticed, over the past few years teaching, that children are more and more interested not in words on the page and the imagination it takes to build stories, but gravitate instead toward graphic novels, picture books, and movies.

I wasn't surprised. Have you seen "Gatsby" or "Transformers?" Those little flicks are candy to your eye-tongues. Gorgeous and thrilling. What's a book? Words, words, words (to quote a little Hamlet).

I learned today that there's a form of poetry that's inspired by artwork, something visual. Again, not surprised, but it made me think. Images are provocative. They're unsettling, comforting, alluring, and . There's an enormous amount of truth in that adage: a picture is worth a thousand words.

There's the task of the poet and writer. A poet attempts to squeeze a thousand words into fewer words, and then take that quotient and divide those words into still fewer words, until we find the one word to fill t…

Once an Old Flour Sack

Winter comes early and stays late
'round these parts. Wish I could say
I greeted it with a firm handshake,
and we spent all night wondering why
these days the weather tells us it's
coming in our knees and knuckles
and the last game of the World Series.

The winter didn't take a hint though,
and when we finally got tired of its company, it raged on,
insecure and angry.

Mid-December, the heat went out, and my girl found her old bear.
It was a hand-me-down, torn and tattered like all them kid's books bears.
I can't remember where it came from, because
I think,
when I got it,
it was a hand-me-down too.
She snuggled him up close around her neck when the
chill seeped under the window and waged war on the fire.

That thing would dance in the morning with her,
both in their jammies,
eat with her at lunch,
(their favorite was mac 'n' cheese)
listen to her secrets,
hold on to her secrets,
squeeze her hand as hard as she squeezed his.
Close enough to be a friend,
real enough to breathe.

I…

Time's A-Changin'

I've been staring at my grandfather's hands for the better part of an hour,
just letting my ears do the hard part,
trying to hear over the wheezing, hacking, cough.
Smoker, 63 years. The doctors said he wouldn't make it past 60 if he didn't stop smoking, but here he is, in his rocking chair, 80 years old, rocking, rocking, and drinking whiskey like rain.

His hands, yellowed and twisted, wrinkled and finite, twirls the lunt, toying with it.
He takes a deep breath rattling, and tells me about the time that he
hefted his hammer over his shoulder and walked with his lunch pail
two miles every
goddamn morning
to get to work.
His shoes were worn sole-thin, torn breeches, and his jacket was only warm in the summer.
He piled his hat atop his head,
and let the wind ride him north to the factory, where the light bulbs wouldn't build themselves.
16 hours. 16 hours and the whistle would blow like a wish.
There'd be a rush to the door, but not too fast because they all knew t…

All Who Wander

It certainly was nice of the city
to redo the benches along
this walkway.

I’ve been telling them for years that
what draws people to the parks
is the moment where they can
still down for just long enough
to hear the bird-brides in the trees
and the lake nymphs sing-song
making the waves kiss our feet.

You can’t catch it if you’re running.

You have to sit, and close your eyes,
and take in breeze like an old lover’s ash.
That’s why the benches are the draw.

That’s why I don’t leave.
Some people tell me I’m lost.
I disagree.
I’m waiting for the perfect moment
when someone sits down next to me
on these perfect benches
and hears the story the trees
and the lake,
and the rushing rain,
and the grimacing dogs and cats
whisper to me when I sleep.

-JR Simmang

Neuro-scion-ce

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2483553/The-brain-powered-CAR-Vehicle-monitors-driver-paying-attention-slows-theyre-distracted.html

They’ve done it, finally making the roads safer by slowing down your car for you…
Daily, the cars slow down without the wired-weird headset, distracting themselves
and doing the hard work anyway. Safer? No. Distracted? Yes. It’s called an iPhone.

At the red light, I daydream. I dream above traffic, dream into the
faux leather seats of my sedentary sedan, and pick my brain
to pick a place where the air conditioning is powered by the surf,
or where the only honking I hear comes not from the cars in the
intersection
but from the beaks of the geese, strutting along the surface,
bowing their heads to one another as if asking for a dance.

I’ll join them, of course, if they ask. I’ve wondered what their feathers
felt like up close and personal, because the last time I tried to pet
a goose, it bit me, its single toothed beak tearing into the fleshy…

It's NaNoWriMo, and I'm sitting with Humpty Dumpty

My books are in the works outside of the blog. Simply, there are too many words to put up here, and I don't want to release my ideas until they're finished. So, this month, for NaNoWriMo, I'm not only participating in the novel part, but I'm also challenging myself to write a poem a day. This one was written yesterday.

FIXING THE SKY

Unjustly,
slain thusly,
body on the floor.

Sword rusty,
though trusty,
swimming from the shore.

Hat’s gone too
with his ‘do,
rolling off to where

Oh so few
have see true
brilliance shining there.

Decades rush
past the hush,
his body becomes dust.

His head’s mush,
garden lush,
Buttons gathered rust.

Till these days
someone says
his forgotten name,

Above the bay,
his soul stays,
appearing heart, aflame!

Headless corpse,
empties ports,
while the captain’s head

haunts the courts
(and resorts)
not knowing that he’s dead!

-JR Simmang

Happy You Came

To my readers,
I've reached out into cyberspace and ran into Chuck Wendig. He runs a blog called "Terrible Minds," and he posted a prompt the other day I thought I'd respond to. His challenge: roll the dice and see what fiction subgenre smash-up you get. Write a story under 1000 words to fall into this category. I rolled:

Psychological Horror/ Alien Invasion

So, without further ado...

HAPPY YOU CAME

The house was completely silent. I asked for it to be that way. The lights were out. The doors were locked. All these little bodies, warm and radiating heat, were where I wanted them, perfect little dolls. Almost as if on cue, the front door opened.

"SURPRISE!" Macky was nearly knocked off her feet. "Happy Birthday!" And the whole house erupted into a chorus of the Happy Birthday song. Macky saw me, smiled, and shook her head. She knew all along, but she was a good sport. She started to make her rounds while I watched her hungrily, waiting for her to co…

The Sky Wishes for Silence

There is a place
somewhere in the middle of the ocean
where the sky
no longer wastes
time separating itself from the waves.

Acceptance,
it says,
is when you find that
there is only one
true mirror,
and that loneliness
is but a temporary
game of tag;

eventually,
you will find
your reflection,
you will stop running,
and you will embrace

each other

as you have embraced your
once-held impatience.

I sat in my boat,
listening,
and holding the hand
of the mirror,
her heat radiating back at me,
and I thought

(for a moment)

that the heat I feel is the heat I give.

This sky I once believed foolish
and naïve
for denying itself compassion,

I suddenly found the most
noble
and
wise

for waiting until there
was no noise.

For only in this silence
could it whisper
its love and be heard
by the quietly calming sea.

-JR Simmang

Education, a short observation

Education should be a priority.

I think that's easy enough to agree upon. But, there are ideas surrounding this simple truth. One: it's not a right; Two: it requires balance.

To address the first point, I propose that in order for a right to exist, it must exist wholly by itself, be held by itself, be universal, and not demand anything of anyone else. It cannot be controlled. Life cannot be controlled once it is conceived. Liberty cannot be controlled once it is gained. The pursuit of happiness cannot be controlled once it is realized. Life demands nothing of another.* Liberty demands nothing of another. The pursuit of happiness demands nothing of another.

Education, on the other hand, demands that one or more people deliver unto another individual information gained. It demands time. It is not a right for it requires the will of others to operate upon it.

To address the second issue, that of balance. It is not the job of the teacher to espouse their own beliefs in the classr…

Love Thine Curves

Women and men:
Love your curves. Most people have them. Some people don't.

You see, we went through a phase a little while back, where men and women were expected to look like Twiggy and [name a male model of the 60s]. Women were skinny, men were building muscle in all the wrong places. Then, we evolved.

We started looking at these models and began asking ourselves this question: if these models can't go into a department store and buy clothes off the rack that fit them, are they representative of the overall population?

The answer was, and still is, no. No. Models who starve themselves so they can fit into ridiculous fashion trends are not representative of the overall population. So, we swung, as we are apt to do, in the opposite direction. We began focusing on the "real woman" and the "ideal man." We became comfortable with ourselves. We became (and please bear in mind that I am not criticizing the plus size/fully figured woman) complacent with ourselve…

The Somonka

Think tanka (5-7-5-7-7 syllable count, 5 lines) in two stanzas, where each stanza is traditionally written by separate people. These two people would traditionally write a love note to one another, using their stanzas to respond to the other. Here's my attempt (both stanzas written by me).

BE CAREFUL

I found the locket
you gave to me Christmas Day.
I’ll wear it around
my neck, I swear, if only
you’ll find the silver polish.

That Christmas day, I gave
you a box. Inside the box
was a necklace, true.
But, it was not a locket.
Here’s the polish. Rub it clean.


-JR Simmang

Love is patient; love is kind

This is my take on a superhero story.

I turned 840 on Wednesday. That's forty times twenty-one, and I had been drunk forty times over since Wednesday night. My wife told me I was getting ahead of myself, that my 840-year old liver and kidneys couldn't handle a drunk's lifestyle anymore. I told her I was 840, and that she could just keep talking because I wasn't listening.

I couldn't listen. I thought people were immortal.

Turns out, the only other immortal died on my birthday. Happy fucking birthday to me. I guess I could finally take a vacation.

William Dicrest. That was his name. We'd known each other since 1193, the Crusaders class. There was a lonely road through England. We happened to be there at the same time. In nature, they say, things that are alike, tend to grow together.

He couldn't fly. He didn't have laser vision. He wasn't stronger than the average man. He suffered like I did. Wake up one day and the woman you love is dead, and you re…

The Golden Heart of Regina

I have only read some Arthur Conan Doyle. Personally, I didn’t care too much for “A Study in Scarlet,” though is sits on my desk, lit by candle, and picked up only when I can’t seem to close my eyes at night. My wife tells me to put it down if I abhorred it so much. I couldn’t, however, and that is one of the reasons I didn’t care too much for it.
At a quarter to one, Friday afternoon, I received a letter from young Charlie Wales. He is our mailboy, short and stout with a lazy eye. He’s the son of Chief Constable Wales, brother of Admiral Wales, and is apparently fit to run mail in our little corner of the Yard.
The letter was simple, written by someone who has had a least some cursory education, and requested, rather urgently, that I should meet a Missus Regina Carver at St Paul’s cathedral on Paternoster, an area I’m well acquainted with. It is, after all, just a short jaunt to the north and east. Why I felt compelled by this is no coincidence. Regina Carver was complicit in a series o…

TIPPING THE SCALES

They tell you that fish
breathe in air,
so why do they die
on the shores?

-JR Simmang

CURVED GLASS

Here, the walls bend inward and shadows
cast on curves. I wonder how doors close
when they must open so strangely… Lately,
I find solace when the black cat goes.

- JR Simmang

And last group...

PINE BOX
Let me be your blossoming daisy.
Up from the ground, push me. The days we
spend are numbered anyway, so let us
spend them, unchambered, drifting crazy.

GAUDI, OR THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPLETION
The sanctuary won’t be finished.
Outside, the line is filled with famished
souls, feet shuffling, kids running, old parents
disapproving, their faith diminished.

DEAD MAN
In this moment, when the stars confuse
themselves for trees, stream and bank amuse
the boards of the boat, my tired fingers float
around your halo; I’m yours to use.

THE MYSTERY
Beauty is the constant reminder
that in some strange way, when you find her,
you won’t know what she is, and she won’t show
you until you first walk beside her.

JUSTICE: BE BLIND
I thought we had reached an age wherein
the wolves shed sheep’s clothing; they had been
judged by their words and deeds, actions and creeds
and not by the color of their skin.

MISTRESS, CHAMONIX MONT BLANC
The open windows, the smell of black
coffee, warm crullers, you i…

This form is addicting...

MASQUERADE BALL
I’ve been to lavish parties galore,
with people I thought I had adored.
If there’s one thing I’ve gleaned, surely it’s that
knives should be kept clean in the drawer.

FACEBOOK
Some days I surrender to this screen,
let it take from me my hours till green
seeps through my skin, spreads to my ‘lectric grin,
and covers my spaces in between.

ON THE SHOULDERS OF DADDIES
She reached her hands out to me, wanting
to see the Pleiades’ swift haunting
of the beach-sweat night closer. I would bet
that up there, falling seems less daunting.

MAMA KNOWS BEST
It was a casual vacancy,
born from casual intimacy.
I should have listened to my mother’s words,
“don’t fall towards casual fancy.”

BAILE CON ELLA
Most nights and days, she dances alone,
black hair, alabaster skin, slate stone
crow’s voice. Soy simpatico, un nino;
my body yearns for her perfect bones.

- JR Simmang

The Only Thing Left is a Book

In his rocking chair, the pipe embers
burning more slowly. He remembers
his first kiss and how it now tastes like this
slow, hot drag. It’s a cold December.

-JR Simmang

This one made it to the top 6 in the Writer's Digest Poetic Form Challenge for last month, which is pretty awesome.

More Gwawdodyn

I haven't posted these because they were entered into a poetic form challenge. No dual publishing. So, here are the entries:

WISH FOR A SAFE RETURN
The Kingfisher was back today. He
always finds something here, maybe
some string, twine. But, I’ve only heard him sing
when she comes over the meadow lea.

PROMISE GLUE
You dropped your promise on the tiled floor,
and I swept the pieces out the door.
Here’s my jar of promise glue. Use only
a little; I don’t have any more.

PULLING IN TO CONOCO
I shouldn’t have fallen for Lizbeth.
When we met, I was a tired labrynth,
endless. I thought I found salvation, ‘but
ev’ry state has a town named Naz’reth.

YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU’LL FIND
The garage was a fine, cluttered mess,
which I enjoyed cleaning, I confess.
I found a missing sock, a wishing star,
and under it all, your wedding dress.

-JR Simmang

In the Corner, the Syrup is Just as Sweet

I've sit next to a chain- smoking Jesus,
in the white-washed, plain
café. "No one will believe us,"

he reminds me, and smothers blueberry
pancakes in Smuckers
grape jam and an ounce of sherry.

"No one believes us anymore," smoke rings
curling around fussed
coffee steam, half and half, which brings

me to think that Jesus has a problem.
"There are at least three
types of people in this broken

world," he tells me. "Those who do, those who don't,
and those of who chose
to disappear in the crowded won't.

Okay, it ain't perfect, but it's a start,
and I'm beyond sure
that you may be my only friend, part

man, part God." I told him he must have me
confused for some old
someone else, but he smiled broadly,

lit another cigarette from the burnt
char of the last big
drag. "Thanks for coming. I hope you learnt

something today. Maybe next week we'll see
you again. I'm way
too old to start writing in free

time into my schedule. But, I like …

Seated in the Old Elm

The lightning bugs were out; that meant the weather was about to change. It's funny how these little things do that, turn on and off like candle. I was out with my brother, Samuel, while father was with Uncle Abraham and the other men of the town. Mom was probably with Aunt Ruth in the house.

Samuel and I built this tree house with father a couple of years back. It was seated in the old elm in the back 40. I had my first kiss here with Suzanna Ray during the sunset three months ago, in April, when the flowers just started flowering and the tree was green.

"Thinking about Suzanna?" Samuel could sometimes read my thoughts.

"Maybe." I smirked. "How could you tell?"

He focused on a point somewhere in the distance, dreaming at the clouds, and sighed heavily. "You get this look, this one, when you think about her." He refocused on me. "You should just walk up to her and ask her."

"Oh, I don't know."

He cleared his throat…

He Said it Was Okay

They didn't tell me how hot the lights were going to be. I was schwitzing like a stuck pig. Real attractive, Len, real attractive.

"You're on in five... four..." And the cameraman stopped talking, started signaling, and pointed to me. That little red light flashed on and off, on and off.

For a few seconds, there was air silence, something feared on TV. But, no one was watching anyway, so I probably could have stared at the camera all night without a single tick on the ratings board.

You see, Ol' Lenny here had to come up with something juicy to save the station. There's a problem with that, though. I couldn't very well create a story without an ending, could I? If it turned out that my story, the one I fabricated on live-feed, didn't jibe, the station would only be labeled as unreliable and fluffy. So, I had to do it right. A good lie will take between four and eight weeks.

Four weeks ago, I contacted July Ennis, Warden July Ennis. She's a bit o…

Flash Market

Image
Down at FM 980 and Larkspur
Fats Hendricks
runs a small gas station
that sits just north of the tracks.

He got a small café there.
It ain’t much, just a few
benches, tables,
ones even got a table cloth on it,
and a sneeze guard
in front of the food.
But, the food’s always hot
and there’s always a
fresh pot of coffee on.

Fats, he’s a good man,
wife left him for Biloxi,
took the cat and the dog,
and left him with the trailer
and truck
that he don’t drive none too
often ’cause gas is so
damned expensive.

He got these fried pies
he makes on the weekends,
somethin’ special,
and sometimes,
me and my wife, after church,
we like to go in and sit down at
that table that has the tablecloth,
and order these pies
and two cups of coffee.

Fats’ll smile, ask us how the
sermon was,
because we got a new pastor,
Pastor Dean, son of a preacher,
and he’ll talk to us about marriage,
his kids,
the reason he ain’t been in town lately.
He’ll ask us about the pies,
if our coffee’s hot enough,
if we finished …

Age of Cynics

When did I reach the age of cynics,
regarding the whole world eurhythmic
under boards of knitted brows, outfitted
and ready for interns and clinics?

Pearly Whites

Image
Alanah rolled the tooth over and over in her fingers, fascinated at its perfect, pearly, smooth outside. She touched the space where her own front tooth was missing and giggled.

"Alanah, hon? What's that in your hand?" Her mother walked over to her, placing her debit card securely in her wallet. "Oh, honey, did you lose another tooth?"
Alanah looked up to her mother and smiled. "No, mom. It came from here. Who will the tooth fairy visit? Can I keep the dollar?" "Dear lord." Her mother shuffled for her cell phone and dialed three numbers. Alanah could tell because there were only three beeps. "Yes, hi. My name is Cathy Willows. My daughter just found a tooth in a gumball machine... Okay..." Alanah's mom grabbed her daughter's free hand. Alanah looked again at the tooth she held on to. It had to have been - what was it called - a canine! She thought that was silly because that's what dogs were also called, and it didn…

Fondness Deep

It's called a gwawdodyn (rhymes with ska-doe-din), and it hails from Wales. It is comprised of four lines (a quatrain) that follows a 9/9/10/9 syllable count. The rhyme scheme is thusly:
xxxxxxxx a
xxxxxxxx a
xxx b xxxxx b
xxxxxxxx a

There is internal rhyme present in the third line. The second version contains an internal rhyme in the fourth line while maintaining the rhyme scheme of the first version, so it may look like this:

xxxxxxxx a
xxxxxxxx a
xxxxxxxxx b
xx b xxxxx a

Thank you to Robert Lee Brewer at Writer's Digest for exposing us to this fun form. Here's an example:

Sunday morning, we found a table
topped with similar things, unable
to keep its surface level; the heaps
and heaps of memories unstable.

Fondness regrets what fondness can’t keep,
she said as we rummaged through the steep
mountains of kitschy keepsakes, heads above
the strewn clothes, heads below fondness deep.

Utah, Winter

I can't remember the year,
nor would I want to; this is a memory
that I would rather
keep mingled with hallucination.

We set forth, three of us, men (at least we thought we were),
eastward through California, mapless and sure.
This was the time we believed that
finding the world untouched
would make an untouched world.
There was beauty hidden somewhere.

For the first few days,
we felt that the smog in our lungs
was slowly dissolving into
the footprints we left behind.
Each step, we felt lighter.

In front of us were the Rockies.
Montani semper liberi,
I said. So, we trudged onward,
remembering that once over the mountains
we would be in flatland
and unhindered, unencumbered, and
untouchable.

The roads were spare, and the cities
were sparse, but this world was huge
and what better way to see it than
from the summit?

There was a moment past the Grand Tetons,
that the night blew in the bitterness
held by the moon,
bitter for the beauty of the world
to her will be forever bathed
in shadow,
and the breeze too…

The Plummet

I wouldn’t call Francine my wife, though we’ve been together since the first winter. After the Plummet, people stopped believing in God, myself included. She didn’t speak a whole lot of English, and I didn’t speak a whole lot of… whatever she speaks, but when it’s cold, you don’t need words.

We were told by some young couple a few months back that there was an enclave of people in the South, trying to rebuild. From Alaska, or what used to be Alaska, the South might as well be the other side of the world. Judging by the increasing number of cropland, and wild corn, I’d say we were somewhere in Idaho. I keep doing that. There aren’t borders any more.

I rolled over in our tent, the moon poking my eyelids open. Francine was gone, which I supposed wasn’t wholly out of the ordinary. Still, with Marauders sweeping across the nation, one can’t be too concerned. I sat up, rubbed the dirt from my face, and shuffled outside the tent.

Spring. The night was pitch-black, pure, breezy, and dark enou…

Not Coming Home

The spot on the bed next to me was cold again. She’s been getting out more and more frequently.

I threw my legs over and slipped on my house slippers. I poke my head into the kids’ rooms. We were watching our grandkids this week. Parents were out on vacation. I kept telling them they need some adult time, away from the kids, where they can reignite their marriage. But, for three years, they didn’t separate once from the kids, and they were starting to get that crazed look in their eyes.

From Kaileigh’s room, I could see the light on in the barn. I wasn’t surprised. A part of me knew that was where she would be.

I walked downstairs, poured myself a glass of water, and watched the light flicker in and out of the sorghum fields. What was she doing out there tonight? Painting? dancing? Tonight she may be working on her memoir. Having finished my water, I pulled on my boots and started the walk out to the barn.

The trail was still trying to stitch itself back together when I stepped throug…

It Has to do With Pride

I spent ten minutes watching a bird build a nest. It flew out of the tree and came back with a twig in its beak. The twig wasn’t tossed into the nest. It was sewed in, like a thread, and the bird wasn’t just building a home. It was weaving one, one that was wrought by its own wings and will to survive. And I thought to myself, the chicks that are hatched in that nest will never know that it was built with sweat, that their mother and father worked together to build this nest in spite of the cats that prowl the neighborhood, the wind that was blowing from the north, and the heat that threatened to strike everything dead. In that, I saw us.
Our America, the America of our ancestors, was built on the foundation of sinew and sweat. It was liberty that had allowed our ancestors to create a country where every man and woman was rewarded for his or her spirit. It was a country where an individual could pull in, inspired, and begin a life. But times have changed.
In effect, the Constitution, …

What Charge, Blindness Be?

12 young men,
all of them hung,
swinging from the scales of justice,

judged with their eyes
lost in contention,
wearing the badge of the righteous.

The gallows-swain,
brute force in his arms,
poked and prodded their chests,

checking for
a semblance of breath,
while they wait for the villain to confess.

Round and round they swing,
their ears begin to ring.
A witness to the stand,
a witness to their hand.


They stare, they do
with their milky eyes,
right into the hanging head.

Accuser,
fingers pointing,
their whispers he does dread.

Round and round they swing,
their ears begin to ring.
A witness to the stand,
a witness to their hand.


When all is said,
and the verdict demands,
in unison they break their jaws,

Justice deferred,
is justice denied,
end his life, devoured, bloody claws.
-JR Simmang

On Heroes

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My wife and I sat down at the Alamo Drafthouse the other day and watched "Man of Steel." It was certainly an entertaining movie, and it contained in it an issue that's plaguing this new generation. Where are the heroes?

The History of Heroes We've all heard of Bullfinch. He was a smart guy who compiled the myths of heroes from the Greek and Roman pantheon. Hercules. Theseus. Perseus.
What did all these people have in common? They were part god.

There was a time where these heroes were certainly looked up to. Parents would retell the stories of these brave men and women to lull their children to sleep and give them something to ponder: Am I part god? Can I achieve the same level of greatness?

And, for a time, this worked. The story of these heroes, being born of humans, and going on to accomplish something unhuman, inspired children. They would run around in the streets, on the farms, and pretend to slay minotaurs and medusa. They would make believe they were imbue…

Undertaking

Today’s breakfast: black coffee and a bagel, pulled off of the funeral home's complimentary coffee and bagel cart. it always struck me as odd. 'Parents just died? How about some coffee? No? Then a bagel will do you fine." But, Mr Johnston, the funeral director, insists on it.

I’ve been told that I need to overload with protein in the morning, pile my plate high with eggs and bacon. FDA guidelines and all that. I’ve also been told that sunlight is good for me. Truth be told, I work on 18 cadavers a week, and the people who have coffee and bagels for breakfast look just as dead as everyone else.

People don’t understand the work of the undertaker. Usually, when the wine is served, and the hors d’oeuvres have been laid so pretty on the table, I wind up eating by myself. But, my clients don’t complain. Well, at least until recently.

I like to do my work during the day time, because no matter how used you get to draining blood from the veins and pumping in a preservative, there…