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Kaffe in Katmandu

January 23, 2011 1 comment

open: kaffe in katmandu

i’ve always wanted to go there – katmandu! now i’ve been appointed maitre d’ at the new kaffe in katmandu. those who successfully submitted digital photos to the 1000 penguins project automatically get an invite but anybody on VOICES can submit content to this cool hangout high above the clouds. tumblr makes it really easy to post and repost material – photos, links, videos, etc. come and kaffe up! it’s all good because it’s for the wingless birds!

One Thousand Shipwrecked Penguins

January 6, 2011 1 comment

Penguins have a voice too – “like songbirds, the penguins’ vocalization sound unique and rich in tone, frequency and beat, but to human ears the penguin “voice” may sound thin.” (Read more) — But can you imagine one thousand of them stranded after the ship they’d boarded to get to a better, richer, fairer land, collided with a supertanker? The noise! The commotion! The need for entertainment!

This is where the One Thousand Shipwrecked Penguins project comes in that I founded selflessly at the end of 2010: produce one flash (at least) weekly thrown at the penguins like a half-digested hering, providing much-needed poetic protein. The catch? Each flash comes with a picture (for visuals, penguins are very receptive to visuals, much like people) and the picture shouldn’t come from me, it should come from you.

Check out the site where all this happens. Submit a photo, by all means. Be part of one of the most exciting projects on Earth. One of the longest, too: scheduled to run until 1000 flash pieces are complete. Spread the news: http://1000penguins.tk – and save a wingless angel-like bird from boredom!

Sincerely,
Marcus Speh
Curator, 1000 penguins

Sooz & Sid by Walter Bjorkman

September 8, 2010 6 comments

  [From a collection scheduled out Jan 2011]

In a Brooklyn bar, in late August of 1971, Sid had troubles. He was soaking up the suds with two friends. “Guys, I pulled 117 in the draft lottery, they’re gonna call me up in a few days, I’m dead.”

Fred, who always lucked out, had drawn 364, next to last, safe. “Man, too bad buddy.”

Mitch, exempt as a Conscientious Objector, commiserated. “Yeah, sucks.”

The three sat there, not knowing what else to say, Sid couldn’t do the Canada thing, too many reasons to stay.

“Effin system” Sid moaned.

“Yeh, effin’ system” from Fred.

Then the light bulb. “Work within the system – use bureaucracy!” from Mitch. “Move!” “Legit!” “To our bud Eddie out in California!”

They worked out that Sid flies out there immediately, walks into the draftboard and tells them that he has moved.

“Then, when Eddie gets your notice, you mosey into the draftboard here and tell them ‘No work in California, I moved back’.” Mitch always had ideas.

“Yeah, then each time they gotta ship your records back and forth. By the time they get back, Bingo, its ’72, they’re saying the cut will be around 80 next year, and you’re safe!”

Maybe the combined twelve years of college and student deferrments weren’t wasted, it sounded fool-proof on paper, but this was beer-soaked bar napkin paper, so things couldn’t be all that easy.

*

“Scccrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeecccccccccccccch!

The ’69 Chevy Impala, grey-black smoke pouring out of its tailpipe, came to a crunching stop on the top of a hill fifty miles to go on the road to Portland, the smoke mixing with the fog and remnant’s of brush fires that, with the burnt rubber, gave the air the smell of Secaucus if it had farms. Sooz looked over her shoulder from the driver’s seat to the two shadows she passed about 200 feet back.

“What’cha think Gertie? Should we go back for them?”

“Ehh, Sooz, think they’re like freaks, wasn’t sure if they even were guys at first. Thought we were goin’ into the city for some big studs, not skinny freaky gawd knows what. ”

“Ever do one, Gertie?”

“Do one what?”

“A hippie. I did one once, everyday for a week.”

“No way – eccch, was he dirty and smelly, they don’t wear Brut, or any after-shave, or even deodorant, I heard. And where’dja meet him? Down by the roadhouse, you didn’t go down there, didja?”

“Naw, you know my brother knows a few, for the pot, I mean Richie’s not a freak, but he likes to get stoned. Anyway, this guy, he actually was good, I mean it wasn’t just slam, bam; he went down on me.”

“Sheesh! Sooz, that only happened once for me, ‘member Chuck? His first time, I tole him he hadda, he never did it again.”

“Well, this guy liked to do it, didn’t wanna stop. But he hadda go back to Arizona, or someplace. Never saw him again.”

Gertie stopped to think. “Alright, let’s take ’em, as a backup. If we can’t find any real guys before we dump these off, I’ll give it a go, if they’re not too freaky.”

Sooz gunned the Impala into reverse and screeched back to Sid and Eddie, who had just about given up hope for a ride and were about to snooze down in the ditch at the side of the road.

“Hop in fellas”, Sooz and Gertie’s voices mixed with “you would cry too if this happened to you” coming out of the AM oldies station.

Sid and Eddie got in the back, Sooz popping into forward just as Sid got his foot in the door, shutting it as they tore off.

“Where ya goin’ guys?” Gertie asked as blasé as she could be while picturing swirling tongues.

“Uh, Sid here is headed back east, and I’m going back down south of San Fran, but thought we’d take in Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies on the out of the way.”

“We’re goin’ ta Portland for the night, lookin’ for some fellas to hook up with, so wese can take ya that far” Sooz took command, snapping her gum. “You guys ok with oldies, I could change it to FM if you want, look like you’re FM guys.”

“Anything is fine with us” Sid replied, trying to see Sooz over Gertie’s puffed up, teased hair.

Eddie and Sid looked at each other, saw the dice from the mirror, hula girl on the dash, capri pants and shiny dacron tops on the bodies, bee-hives, smelled the gum. Sid leaned over to Rich and whispered “What are we, in a 10 year time-warp?”

Sooz switched the channel anyway. After a commercial to the Pepsi Generation, “I remember holding you while you sleep . . . bring it home baby make it soon.” That was a little better, although it was pop-rock, not the blues or underground stuff Sid and Eddie were into. Harrison and Ham traded some good slide work though, and maybe it was telling them something.

Now, Sid and Eddie were not averse to doing some time-sex traveling, after all it was four years earlier that they popped their cherries in Chattanooga, along with Fred, on the same night, with the same woman. She had a bouffant and leopard-skin patterned bra and panties, but it wasn’t so far removed in time then, and she was older, from that time. She also charged, this could be a freebie. Had to be – Sid and Eddie were as poor as their torn jeans.

As the asphalt ribbon became the main strip leading into Portland, bars and clubs started to appear at the side of the road. At each one, Sooz would turn into the parking lot, drive around and she and Gertie would size up the guys hanging outside.

“Ehh. Bikers, they’re just hippies with only half their teeth and beer guts. Sheeeet, real hippies, we got two in the back.” Gertie wasn’t reticent to assess the attributes loud enough for Sid and Eddie to hear. “Look, some nervous kids, we could break ’em in Gertie, but they might go cryin’ home to mama.”

After about a half-dozen of these, with no success, they reached downtown.

“Alright guys, we’re going to a club we know. Got any money?” Sooz kinda made it sound like the only way they were gonna hang was if the guys would pay the way, their last shot.

“Naw, that’s why we’re hitchin’. But, hey – there’s the City Forest we heard about. Allowed to sleep overnight, where we’re gonna stay.” Sid leaned over and put his hand on Sooz’s shoulder. “You gals wanna join us, why bother fishin’ all night when we got the goods right here ?” Sid couldn’t believe what he just said, it must’ve been the hairspray fumes.

“OUT!! GETTA OUTTA HERE RIGHT NOW YOU CHEAPASS FREAKIN’ HIPPIES, SCREW IN THE WOODS? WITH YOUSE? THINK WE EVEN WANNA TOUCH YOUSE?” Gertie was apoplectic at the thought of bugs nesting in her beehive, swirling tongues nothwithstanding.

Both Sooz and Gertie started pushing the guys out as best they could with one arm, whacking them with the other, giggling all the time. Sid and Eddie tumbled out of each door, but as Sooz burnt rubber, Sid’s leg got caught up in the door and he got pulled along the ground for about twenty feet, wrenching his knee socket in every direction.

Sid spent the night in the hospital, Eddie ordered take-out for them from a Sambo’s nearby then fell asleep in the chair next to the bed. The next day they had to drain the knee and pull out a few tiny cartilage fragments.

*

The bureaucratic ruse didn’t work. Sid had to report for his physical on December 20th, they missed by 12 days.

The induction letter arrived on Christmas Eve. It stated that due to the temporary injury to Sid’s knee, he was to wait two months for it to heal, and report his status to the draft board at that time.

In 1972

Free and clear. Turned out Sid did score with Sooz afterall.

French Kiss by Michelle Elvy

July 20, 2010 6 comments

(Written a few days ago for 52|250’s Union of Opposites challenge, snatched up by SLEEP.SNORT.FUCK. Can’t help myself; this belongs here at VOICES, too. )

The date began badly. First, she turned up her nose at my suggestion of sushi: “Ew! I want real food!” So we found ourselves at a picnic table eating hamburgers and fries, hers dipped in a large pile of blubbery mayo.

Back in the car, she switched the radio from Waits to Madonna. I thought about kicking her out right then.

But I’m a gentleman, so I suggested wine at my place (she was French, after all), but she said, “No, that’s boring,” and next thing I know we’re down by the lake drinking Jaegermeister. Jaegermeister, for chrissakes! Haven’t drunk that stuff since college. I managed not to puke this time, even when she said, “I’m going to fuck you now, oui?” What could I say? I was powerless in her hands, her mouth, her cunt. She scared the hell out of me, from her rock-hard nipples to her abundant thighs to her curious tongue. I envisioned news flashes next day: Culture Clash: Carniverous Frenchie Fucks Shy Biology Teacher Dead. She was all energy, grinning and grinding, sound and sexual fury. I ached for days, especially where my knee wedged into the dashboard. How she fit all those ways I never did figure.

I kept her number for a long time. “Call me,” she said as she slipped the paper into my jeans pocket. Not a question, more a demand. I wanted to, I really did.

Hey! Where? Georgie Girl! by Walter Bjorkman

July 14, 2010 5 comments

 

Hey! Where? Georgie Girl!

The Decade of Myth didn’t start
with the year six-oh
nor did it stop with the one
ending in six-nine
It started in sixty-three
with the death of Young John the Debaucher
and ended in seventy-four,
with Sir Dickie the Trickie’s departure
we all got that straight? – solid, man!

    

[In The Beginning And In The End]

I met the Fair Maiden Georgie Girl
on an Ivoryton Sixty-Nine summer night
my Boys of Summer campin’ cross the lake
as were your hippie-chicks

    

[Original Boys of Summer, Fantasy Hippie Chicks]

Welfare and rich, mixin’ & matchin’
in each other’s sleeping bags
thirteen year old Elke Sommer’s kid shackin’
up with the Gypsy Queen’s daughter
so we figured why not us too

    

[Elke Sommer, one of my kid’s Mom, Gypsy Queen, one of yours]

While my tongue was in your nethers
on that misty-meadowed night
and yours on my fair lance
I felt another on my foot
thought “How can she do that?”
I had to give a glance

In the heat of a passion
I look back and see
that a goat of the pastures
decided to make the scene

[Three’s a Crowd on My Cloud]

“Man, you know what yew got there, compadre?”
said old Ed the cook – “just one word, man
you’ll understand, she goes to the same
school as Jackie O’s kid!”

    

[Did Caroline Ever Eat Camp Slop?]

Your name was Georgette, your brother’s Carroll
I should’a got the clue
but we talked not of backgrounds
we just wanted to screw

That mescalined night in the pond
skinny-dippin with three others
in front of the Ivoryton post office
doin’ it in the road
an early train-spotting with cars
none came, we did

                            
[Ivoryton Post Office, No Worry, it was after midnight]

Man – we got two days off – where we gonna’ go?
it’s the weekend of a gig on Yasgur’s Farm –
but we had not enough time for the show

Off instead to my poor man’s heaven
on the other side of the LI Sound
meeting those children of god
all going the other way

Starry, Starry Night
we slept, talked and did the nasty
where I, in innocence once
built a raft of driftwood
to take me twenty miles across
to the shore from which we ferried
escaping my Father’s demise

    

[Yasgur’s Farm and Sound Beach
We were only two at the beach, wonder how many made it to the farm?]

“Wake up! Wake up!”
roust the commie, preppie, philosopher, hippie and jock
I had one of each sort in my troop
Neil the Man’s about to take his midnight walk!
we herded them into the mess tent to see
the moon violated by mankind’s knee

    

[It Takes All Kinds watching Armstrong]

Back in the City, you One East End Ave
me from across the Gowanus
riding the subway to the stars
wondering what I was doin’

your nanny plopped with a death thud
to the floor above us
in your private-elevator duplex
as we were loving in full window view
of the 59th Street Bridge – that wasn’t groovy

    

[The Gowanus – Bridge Over Dirty Waters, 59th St Bridge – Feelin’ Groovy]

You off to bucolic Pine Manor in Brookline
with your mama’s Standard Oil money
me back to CCNY turmoil
in Harlem on my night cabbie’s pay
visits on weekends, further apart –
we did start to grow away

    
[Protected in Brookline, Protesting in Harlem]

One last stab – I your debutante escort
at your coming out debut
for the Grosvenor Ball in the Plaza
you were both loathe and loving to attend
four months after you first came with a man
or rather this boy from across the facts

Dine with a Kennedy here, a Lindsay there
under a blanket in a horse carraige ride
in Central Park, thereafter
you sneak into my room
for our last bedding

                                    

[The Poor Got Richer, if just for a day]

Remember back when we got kicked out
of that snooty Boston Common’s hotel
for me refusing to wear a tie?
you laughed all the way with me
to the cheap shack up the block

Time driftwooded on, we left each other
my only contact with your world
became the green of the bluebloods
as I ferried them around the town


We met again in seventy-four on Mass Ave
just up from the Coop
me with my Nancy girl, you with
a Japanese artist, your Yoko
spurning your parent’s wealth
he hair down to his calves

Maybe we had an effect on each other,
maybe the Sixties mattered
or maybe we were all just
Fools on the Hill

                               

Twins by Michelle Elvy

July 8, 2010 3 comments

When we turned 50, my twin sister and I inherited money from an uncle. It was a modest amount, enough for me to enroll in a night course at the local college and to buy a new pair of glasses, not the $20 frames at JC Penney but an obscenely expensive designer pair which my made me feel sexy and smart, and which my boyfriend told me to keep on when we made wild rodeo love that night.

Some weeks later, my sister called. “You gotta come visit, see what I purchased with the help of Uncle Robbie’s money!” She sounded excited, so I drove across the state line the following weekend. I rang the bell and adjusted my new glasses, sure she’d notice them right away. She threw open the door with her characteristic enthusiasm and greeted me with a new set of D’s, maybe even Double-D’s. I hugged her, mindful not to squish her new acquisitions, and followed her in, my mind responding in overdrive: Good Lord, Patricia, what have you done? I am reading Foucault, have a copy of Discpline and Punish right here in my bag. Wanna read it? No, of course you don’t. I wonder if my $300 left over would get me a downpayment on a set of those. I couldn’t afford D’s of course (and they are ridiculous), but C’s might be quite sensible…

“You have new glasses!” Patricia interrupted.

“The better to see you with,” I replied.

Shrink Session by Linda Simoni-Wastila

July 7, 2010 5 comments

Damn the T. Here I am, stuck in a stalled train teetering over the Charles, barely breathing. People pack the car, suits and students wedged in tight near doors, hanging from poles. Faces grim, no one talks; I bet they’re obsessing about the billions of gallons of cold, murky water below. I know I am.

A cross-wind rocks the train. Lights from the Boston side shimmy on the pitch water. Late again for my shrink session. What an ungodly waste of time.  I slam the textbook, shove it into my backpack and grope for my MP3 player. Radiohead loaded, I riffle though the week’s mail: Poets and Writers, Neuroscience, phone bill, AmEx, and a green envelope from the Harvard University Office of the Bursar.

Damn.

I yank out the earplugs, snatch my cell. A ring. Good, at least there’s a signal, but then the answering service beeps. I sigh into the phone.

“Moth-er. It’s me. Ben.” Pick up, pick up. She doesn’t. “Uh, I got another tuition bill. It’s the third notice. Did you guys pay it? It’s like, uh, three months late. They’re gonna kick me out if it isn’t paid in two weeks.” Another pause. “Call me. Tonight? Please?”

Knees jittering, my damp palms rub my jeans. It’s so hot, so humid, all this carbon dioxide exhaled by my fellow prisoners steams up the windows. I rub a circle on the glass. Distorted lights reflect on the pitch black river. The air bears down. My throat constricts. Jesus, let me out. Let me out. I shut my eyes and breathe.

The car lurches. Passengers grab rungs, smiling and chattering in relief. The train slides into Kendall Square. The door eases open, chilled air assails me. I bolt up the stairs into the murky evening.

Low lying clouds spit icy flakes. By the time I arrive at Bruce’s office, sweat streams in a rivulet down my back. My heart hammers in my ears. I burst into the room and blink in the fluorescent blaze.

“You’re late,” Bruce says, not looking up.

“The frigging T broke down.” I yank out my water bottle, then tug off my damp sweater. “Jesus, it’s a sauna in here.”

Bruce’s eyes follow me pacing the room like a caged rat. He closes the door, flicks off the overheads. I sling myself onto the oxblood couch, worn shiny from time and distress.

“So,” he says. Irritation lines his voice. “How’re classes?”

“Tough,” I say. “My schedule’s crazy.”

“What’s tough?” he says.

“Just new areas for me, I guess.”

“What areas?” He removes his glasses, rubs them with a small cloth.

“Mental health epidemiology and I know nothing about epidemiology, I can barely spell the word.” I gulp from my water bottle. “Let’s see, there’s a class on clinical trials, it’s excellent but I have to bone up on stats, too. Whew. And, uh, one last core biology class, no problem there, and an upper level neuro class, also no problem, but both have labs and small group assignments that eat up tons of time. And creative writing on Friday mornings, memoir this semester, but not for credit. And, of course, there’s that honors thesis.”

“You do sound busy.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I say.

“And your social life?” he asks.

I can’t corral my grin. “Well yeah, now that you ask, there’s this girl. Phoebe. Beautiful name, huh? Phee-bee. As in one of the original Titans, the one who consorted with her brother Coeus. Remember? Anyway, she’s a med student, in my neurobiology class – and we’re in the same study group! She’s gorgeous, simply gorgeous, with these amazing hazel-green eyes. And hair, you should see, like liquid gold, and–”

“You really like her,” He smiles.

“Ah, yes. Yes I do.” I bounce on the leather, instantly back in a good mood. “I can’t stop thinking about her. She’s an artist, works with clay. And quiet, kind of reserved. But a nice person. A good person.” At least I hope so. I chalk up her coolness to start-of-the-semester nerves – I get that way, too. “She’s different. Oh, and smart – did I tell you she’s in med school?”

“An older woman. And the verdict?”

“Too early to say, she’s pretty focused on school. Very serious,” I say.

“Well, good luck.” Bruce shuffles papers.

“Thanks.” I drain the bottle. “I’ll need it.”

“How are you otherwise?” he asks. “I was concerned about you after our last session.”

My legs stop jiggling. “Eh. I got over it. Took the train home to New York, found Pops alone in the study smashed on Scotch, snuck up behind and garroted him.”

His eyes grow wide. He jots in his notebook.

“Jesus. I’m joking.” My laugh sounds brittle. “I fantasize about him dying, though.”

“As in you murdering him?”

“More like he fries in a plane crash or croaks from some painful cancer,” I say. “I don’t think I have it in me to kill anyone, even him.”

“That’s reassuring.” The pencil scratches for what seems a long time. I pick at a cuticle. “Really, though, how did you process our last session?”

“Wrote some poems,” I say.

“May I see them?” He looks at me expectantly.

I close my eyes. “Poems take time.”

“There is nothing pretty or poetic about abuse.”

“Look,” I say. “The way I write is never direct. If you’re obvious, the poem isn’t interesting to read.”

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