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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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Fey by Jodine Derena Butler

July 7, 2010 8 comments

An emotional midget lives inside my fettered mind.
The sprite kind, green as the Irish
young, like Danu’s children dancing,
invisible to most save Fey.  She is gullible,
easy prey for those with nothing better to do –
they say opposites attract: I am like rat bait.

She is not quite right in the head my sprite
but don’t get me wrong,
she might have a little hunch in her brain stem,
and walk around muttering under her breath,
but she is conjuring up Narcissus
in an attempt to fill up the holes in her white tunic.

How she came to be this way is a long story,
suffice to say that public humiliation is akin to Oedipus Complex
with a tiny bit of Penis Envy on the side;
there is nothing quite like having an orgasm at someone else’s expense.
If you are a man, well I guess you just grew a little taller,
women, maybe just a little bit smarter.

My sprite has been known to feign a smile.
Rather than cower in the corner, she has worn patches.
I heard this one woman say she would never
have plastic surgery on her face, in male company of course,
then make an appointment to have her breasts enlarged
and the bags under her eyes lifted.

I wear my heart on my sleeve most days melancholy.
She plays while listening to The Pied Piper
watching hoards of people leave single file.
Emotionally speaking, she is not known to accurately sift thoughts;
binge eating her way into the Guinness Book of World Records,
one defiant leap of blind faith at a time.

My wee lass likes to be alone, but craves
the company of others so she doesn’t have to hide.
Once upon a time there was no such thing as social isolation,
the preferred title was Witch rather than loony toon.
She thinks too much, trying in vain failing miserably in the eyes;
second sight may as well be as viable as the second coming.

In my mind, my confused emotional midget state of a mind,
I am wondering where she has been and where I am going.
Most days I re-live the past with distorted accuracy
and stare into the wide blue yonder sitting on my desktop.
She looks out on to a Google landscape, straining
I can’t see the wood for the spam.

© Copyright 2010 Jodine Derena Butler.  All Rights Reserved

Keeping a Besom by Tara Larkin

June 28, 2010 4 comments

The besom should always be hung 
thistle side up, surrounded by hollyhocks,
wormwood, artemisias and black iris:
to celebrate the sex joy of the thatch and rod,
the white harmonies between male and female,
as in the giving rain and the power of thunder.
Keep close your besom to dispel
an encounter with a black bear
not bound by wolf bane and trouble, even in a dream.

Besoms of foxglove, snake leather and hawthorn
can out fly a swarm of Ayahuasca bats and
most hail storms, provided there is moonlight.
The best besoms are powered
by Mars, tin and memory.
Familiars along for the ride cradled to the heartbeat
or lungs are said to obtain a bird’s hollow bones,
breath eaten by wind while imaging the altitude.
Sanctity above, forests below, rivers like scorpions.

As with a fire drake, a besom needs a
considered husbandry. Never dally
by a still green pond in which dwell
snapping turtles; these are the incarnations
of the Page of Cups who would steal
your besom by splintering your Earth soul,
his cold hard jaw you must then bind
with a blue silk cord. Beware of such
crude ponds. And blessed be.

The Wind Itself by Darryl Price

June 7, 2010 6 comments
The Wind Itself
 
is unsure of
which way to go
wanting either that red frisbee
or that green kite
to play with but
 
settles for several voices
to toss around.
If you were sitting
with me
 
we could feed ducks
corners of our
sandwiches and not have to speak
except to laugh
and sigh and maybe
 
hold fingers. The clouds have all
bowed so low that
all the blue of
our streaming hearts has come rushing
 
in to fill every
space between
every branch or leaf or arm or strand
of hair with its
large bright goofy
 
face. I don’t care if any of
this matters in
the grand scheme of
things not right now. I want you to
 
know this place because
I think it
would like to know you. Again if
you were sitting
here next to me
 
we could put our shoes together
in a kind of
huddle for warmth
the kind that makes life seem worthwhile.
 
Darryl Price
 
 

 

hello grace by Coleen Shin

June 7, 2010 7 comments

what is lost with the disavowal of youth, the sickness of our twenty-one
as swifts through  doorways, music and ecstasy made rabbit this

and rabbit that, and what potion to make me small and bits of clothing fallen
the sweat licked from a troubadour’s hip ambrosial, a hotel shower curtain

the purest white ever known, the sludge on a stiletto heel, a mystery
to be solved by curious test, a sniff then cursed for its stench and tenacity

the city that would follow when finally we slept, amidst duck ponds
and limber wrists, invisible stamps that illumine by ultra violet lite,  a park

with that one dear friend reckless and innocent as I, curled as ivy around
the other for warmth and joggers and walkers and horse mounted policemen

simply watched over, rose white and rose red, the communal slumber
on a picnic blanket, two melodious,  snoring girls, recently from the sticks

mute in the light of  insane naivety kept  a hush,  kept their distance
from a tableau almost perverse spectacle but for the dozen white duck

that surrounded us with gentle bird bon mots, plump little cracker fed fowl
a shimmering guard that moved away when finally the sun fell full on our faces

Sleeping Beauty Left on Plane – by Jerry Ratch

May 29, 2010 2 comments

 

Sleeping Beauty was left sleeping on a plane
They tried to wake her but couldn’t
so they locked her in for the night

When she got up in the middle of the night
she was completely disoriented
and staggered up the aisle to the bathroom
to take a pee in a tiny little closet

“Where am I?” she kept whining “Where am I?”
Ordinarily Sleeping Beauty did not whine
so you can understand how extraordinary
the circumstances

After finding herself locked in the plane
she sat down in the pilot’s seat
and began pushing buttons and fondling
the controls

Suddenly the engines fired up
She taxied that puppy out onto the runway
and radioed the control tower
“Control Tower? This is Sleeping Beauty.
Permission to take off?”

“Yeah, right,” was all they said from the tower
They were smoking a giant doobie
because it was the middle of the night
and it seemed like the planet had stopped spinning
Also they thought someone was joking
until Sleeping Beauty powered up and took off

“Okay, May Day, May Day, we got Sleeping Beauty
circling over Manhattan and don’t know
how to get her down! May Day! May Day!”

“Tell her to splash down in the Hudson River,”
said an unknown voice over the intercom
probably her handsome prince in a rowboat below
“It’s been done before. Don’t worry. Piece of cake.
But next time watch out for the Magic Geese.”

copyright © 2010 by Jerry Ratch

Talkin’ to Myself ’bout Beets – by Walter Bjorkman

May 29, 2010 4 comments

Talkin’ to Myself ’bout Beets
by Walter Bjorkman

Walter says:

Harvard "Sideman" Beets at a bad gig

Someone brought up Harvard Beets yesterday,
kinda like Carlin sez
Jumbo Shrimp or Military Intelligence,

Walter says:
the lowly pedestrian source of sustenance to the poor
dressed up for a wedding
sugar to the non-tropical peons,
rough-skinned root, trying to be a flowering  ivy
probably got in on a grant

Walter says:
He met up with others in the same situation . . .
Yale Turnip
Brown Spud
Princeton Parsnip
Cornell Carrot

Walter says:
they formed an underground covel
and using their contacts in high places
the tubers & roots that had arrived 
who had took on proper names
& esteemed positions
The Dartmouth Shallot
The Wellesly Chive

Walter says:
they would secretly meet and put on some music
“Green Onions” by the MGs & Booker T.
plot against the leafy, above-ground powers that be
The esteemed and secretive
Watercress Society 

Walter says:
So they took over the Bean’s office
and held out for open emissions
which was finally adopted
and caused the need
for college level classes in
remedial rooting

Walter says:
The group disbanded and went back underground
The Harvard Beet was found ten years after
In northern New York
On a local committee for better irrigation

Walter says:
The Cornell Carrot went on
to a moderately successful career
as filler for Campbell’s Soups
We all know about Spud’s
humiliating association with Mattel
The others spend the rest of their freshness dates
hangin’ around gumbo joints
listening to Zydeco

Walter says:
There is talk of re-uniting on a concert tour
VAID Aid
“Veggies Against Irradiation Degradation”
Parsnip plays a mean gourd on their one hit

Walter says:
“The Root Of The Matter”