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In October 2010 on October 6, 2010 at 1:25 am

painting by Shakuntala Rajagopal

Melancholy of Fall

Shakuntala Rajagopal

Melancholy of fall weighs heavily in my heart

the beauty of auburn Maple, yellow golden Ash leaves

and rose hips turning red and brown

signal goodbye to blue herons, robins and the geese


falling leaves wave farewell to summer

and force me to remember of times I had to

bid somber farewell to loved ones in far away places

and those long gone with the setting suns


sunbeams push weakly through fog hovering over still waters

even fat frogs croak sleepy and slow

lazy golden sunsets change to orange autumn specters

and a pallor fills my eyes with sadness unexplained


when winter winds bring chilly nights

frigid and still though they may seem, they seethe

with the energy of sleeping dreams readying

to unfold the hopes of Spring not far behind


but, it is the slow of fall I really dread

as I face long swarthy, submissive evenings

and the restrained sorrow that fills my heart

owing to nagging pains of remembered goodbyes


In October 2010 on October 6, 2010 at 1:25 am

photo by Lisa Guidarini

painting by Shakuntala Rajagopal

In October 2010 on October 6, 2010 at 1:25 am

The Meeting

Claire Beck

Doberman Mix – Male, neutered, shots, excellent with kids and other dogs. 815-555-12XX.

He turned the page and wished he’d brought something to read. He got to the café a lot earlier than expected, so on an impulse he bought the local paper. Now he’d been here for over an hour and was reduced to reading the classifieds.

Jeremy travelled the 900 miles from Ossining, New York to Woodstock, Illinois to meet his birth father. He’d found him through Facebook and they’d been chatting online for about a year. It took all of that time to convince Steve to meet him face to face. Now Jeremy worried that he’d changed his mind and the long drive was for nothing.

Wanted: Portable dishwasher. Lake in the Hills area. 847-555-67XX.

Jeremy was raised by his mother. To her credit, she never said anything negative about his father. “It was the sixties,” she’d say, “and you were my love child.” That statement would often be delivered with a smile and followed by a squeeze and a kiss.

They’d met during a demonstration in 1962. The occasion was the opening of Indian Point reactor number 1 in Buchanan, New York. Sarah was 18. She and a small group of friends made the trip out to Buchanan in a beat up van with orange shag carpeting on the floor and the distinct smell of spilled bong water. At the rally, the van rolled along slowly at the back of the march. Footsore protesters took turns riding in the back. One such person was a 25-year-old carpenter named Steve Campbell – Jeremy’s dad.

They had a brief encounter the night of the rally and never saw each other again. When Sarah realized she was pregnant she had no way of contacting Steve.

Jeremy’s childhood was shaped by the many rallies and concerts he attended with his mother. At sixteen, he attended the No Nukes concert in Battery Park – the first concert his mother let him go to without her – and only if he agreed to get at least one hundred signatures on a petition to shut down Indian Point reactors 2 and 3 (reactor 1 was shut down five years earlier). Jeremy couldn’t help but look earnestly in the faces of the older attendees, searching for the slightest family resemblance.

His father was everywhere and nowhere. On every birthday, Jeremy would wonder what his father was like and how things would have been with two parents. He felt sorrow and anger in turns and jealousy when his friends talked about doing things with their dads. Father’s Day was another day of heavy thought.

At 46, Jeremy joined Facebook and was noodling around, looking for friends from high school. He typed in Steve’s name and got ten matches. Some had pictures and some didn’t. He narrowed it down to three and reached out to them with an exploratory query. His Steve responded.

Now Steve was half an hour late and Jeremy was almost out of newspaper. He turned to the obituaries, which went nicely with the growing lump in his throat. He found it mid-way down the left column.

Steven C. Campbell

Steven C. Campbell, 75, died Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010, at his farm in Woodstock, Illinois.

He was born Sept. 16, 1937, in New York.

Survivors include two daughters, Nicole A. Campbell and Samantha J. (Campbell) Walker.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Lynne J. (Parker) Campbell.

A memorial service will be held 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, at Levy & Carter Funeral Home, Woodstock.

He wondered what the C was for. Charles? Conner?

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2010 at 12:19 am

photo by Lisa Guidarini

Sweat, A Sexy Coolant

by M.A. Tailor

I sweat.  My pores leak hot lava, spilling out of little volcanoes into streams trickling down my head, neck and back.  It burns my eyes.  My shirt thirsts; it drinks from the rivers and ponds of my perspiration.  Wet rings smile below my breasts and underarms.  A saturated line snakes down the center of my back causing my shirt to cling against my moist skin.  I bask in my own juices, my broth, my oils.  I lick my lips, a taste of punchy salt tingles on the tip of my tongue.

I sweat while cutting the grass on a muggy day.  I sweat when breaking through a high fever.  Sweat – my coolant – cleanses my pores rendering my skin clammy and sticky, a banquet to gnats and mosquitoes.  I am the antonym of sexpot when I sweat, I need to shower.

Under the colors of throbbing lights, rock stars sweat.  The lead singer captivates his audience with his gyrating hips; the buttons on his shirt melt like M&M’s and his sparkling, bare chest peeks out.  He exploits his version of the mating dance while hypnotized by his band’s pulsating music nudging him to the edge of the stage.  His skin shines and tears with perspiration.  His hair sways like wet strands of chocolate spaghetti.  A carpet of woven arms and hands reach above the nap of heads bobbing to the thrusting rhythm.  The girls in the front row reach out to their sexual healer, they long to be baptized in his sweat.  His coolant possesses the intimate power to cleanse away innocence.  Elvis exhibited this power.  His sweaty scarf could transform a post-menopausal woman into a lusty teen.  The women who clutched Elvis’s sweat riddled scarves breathed in his private scent.  To seize his scarf meant a divine connection:  you are the chosen one.

Below my kitchen sink, through the open cabinet door is a contorted plumber.  He is confined to touching my pipes by bending and stretching in ways a man his size should never dream of.  His trousers cannot keep up with his kneeling on all fours, squatting, and sitting positions.  I notice the glow of his derrière, and am punished by the top of his crack frowning back at me.  A clear line of sweat glazes down his hairy back and into the valley of his freckled pound cakes.  Is this sexy?  I ponder the value of perspiration.  Could there be a fine line between creepy and sexy?  Maybe if Elvis turned plumber we could answer that question.

Three Irish Waitresses

by Tony Schrieber

Peaches, Melba and May O’Naise

Sling hash at Slim Eddie’s Grill.

They carry the hot meals

From kitchen to table

Until everyone has their fill.

Peaches, the oldest, of the three

Is pretty and well endowed.

She charms the diners

With her wisdom and wit

But no touch is ever allowed.

Melba, the trio’s middle child

Is aloof, quiet and so cold

She gets no special tips

For her efficient work

Just coins with no paper to fold.

Sweet young May is so innocent

She knows little about life

She believes each patron

Is telling God’s whole truth

When he says she should be his wife.

Peaches , Melba, and May O’Naise

Sling hash at Slim Eddie’s Grill

They carry the hot meals

From kitchen to table

And it looks like they always will.

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2010 at 12:19 am

Blue Plate Special

by Claire Beck

She stood at the side of the road with her thumb out, hoping for a ride. Mae hadn’t hitchhiked since she was in her 20’s back in 1960 or so. She mused that it was a lot easier to get a ride when you were a young curvy girl in bell bottoms with blonde hair down to your ass than when you were a pleasantly plump dowager in your mid-sixties with a trick knee and a cheating husband.

Not that he’d actually done anything. At least, she didn’t think so. It was really more about the way he’d looked at the waitress. How his eyes followed her as she flitted from table to table. The way he’d made eye contact with her as she wrote down the blue plate specials he ordered for both of them. And the fact that Mae didn’t even like halibut, which was the blue plate special. It was like she wasn’t even there, and he just ordered the first thing he saw on the menu.

There had been other times like this, where his eye seemed to wander. He’d answer her questions with a distracted single-syllable answer that told her he wasn’t even paying attention. Just completely checked out. She could slit her wrists and stand in front of him spurting blood all over the place and singing the National Anthem and he’d crane his neck to look around her to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition on ESPN.

How dare he.

Well, this was the last time he was going to discount her. She was going to pack her things and head out to the Super 8 until she could find a nice little apartment. She had some savings, and her job ought to just cover a little one bedroom place.

Occasionally a car slowed and the driver craned his neck to look at her on the side of the road, dumpy, put out and glaring back with all the resentment 30 years of marriage to someone who didn’t love you could conjure up. No one stopped, though. She probably wouldn’t, either.

She was in a fairly nice blouse with polyester pants and carried a matching bag. That probably didn’t matter much – they probably thought she was some homeless crazy who had perhaps pissed her drawers and smelled bad.

She turned and walked a little further down the road, trying to look like she was out on a purposeful walk, rather than an angry woman who had just left her husband at the diner on the corner. God, she didn’t want him to drive up and see her here. She’d much rather he drive home slowly, looking for her, and worry. He’d be sorry.

Just then, she heard the crunch of gravel under a car tire behind her and adrenaline dumped into her bloodstream. If it was him, what should she do?

But it wasn’t. It was a police car. It rolled slowly up beside her. The passenger window rolled down. The officer behind the driver’s wheel leaned over to speak to her. He looked like a real straight arrow with his close-cropped hair and mirrored sunglasses.

“Ma’am, do you need some assistance?”

“Well, I supposed I do,” she said somewhat huffily, though her eyes swam with tears.

“I need to get home. I left my husband, and he has the car. Could you give me a ride?”

She got in the back seat of the cruiser after a short exchange with the officer in the mirrored glasses. The cruiser left the side of the road and picked up speed.

Mae was never seen again.


by Tony Schrieber

Your name is short like an epithet

Spit from the lips in disgust.

You appear after strong or gentle rains

Then dry to fly away as fine dust.


You incubated the first life of souls

In primordial ooze where creatures grew.

You gave Sir Raleigh a chivalrous stage

When upon your field his cape, he threw.


You provide caring mothers a purpose

To shine and polish a child’s smudged face.

You hold a fen’s seasonal promise

Where, in dormancy lie frogs, newts and dace.


You cement secrets in your once thin brew

Where you onetime swallowed mammoths entire.

Now archeologists dig through solid rock

To reveal bony secrets you locked in your mire.


Your substance mixed with grass and formed,

Provides adobe to build homes and church.

But a rainy season can release your wrath

And bury whole villages in a sudden quick lurch.


Like yin and yang in a balanced world

You provide your own soiled give and take

Whether formed into pottery, blocks or tombs

Or still lying at the bottom of a placid lake.


In inert ways you provide a bane or a boon,

A bier for careless step or a bed for flower bud.

Your power lies in your life altering essence

Whether called muck, mire or just plain mud.

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2010 at 12:18 am

Photo by Lisa Guidarini

The Crash

by Matt Brauer

Let it not be true that I would open any writing with a line such as, “Tragedy struck today,” or, “A woe hast befallen me.”  Though I cannot be accused of perpetual optimism, such openers are a bit too adverse, too gloomy.  Who wants to read any article beginning with, “Tiny Tim, now fully enveloped in the terminality of his sickness, was at death’s door awaiting only the somber, hollow knock from Mr. Grim Reaper or any other solitary spiritless soul aching to claim the body?”  Well, maybe me; that wasn’t a bad opener, but only because of the liberal dose of sarcasm.

Despite my resistance to such opening words, certain instances of tragedy are worth documenting, if not for historical value, then to provide a future record to inspire my anger.  For what good is anger if it cannot be revisited on occasion like an annoying friend or recalled like the plot of a frustrating movie?  Transitory anger, anger unremembered, is like a Picasso in the sand – washed away by the first lapping wave of happiness, never to be experienced again.  Recalled anger renews the strength of the recaller, and sometimes I need a good dose of strength.

Such a type of calamity occurred this past weekend when my computer hard drive crashed.  Anyone who has experienced a disk crash knows what a monumental inconvenience it is, even if all critical data is backed up or copied.  In my case, I coerced it to crash from excess fiddling.  My direct involvement in the succumbing intensified the anger I directed at the digital devil box, defense for my ego in the form of psychological projection.  An equal amount of blame was directed towards Microsoft; I’m sorry, Mr. Gates, but if that file was so damned important to keep my computer running, your software should have tried to prevent me from modifying it.

I am not one who tends to follow theoretical processes such as the Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Grief.  In this case, five stages were not enough; I found myself mired in eleven stages of grief.  First came denial, then the anger I spoke of.  Actually, the denial and anger occurred simultaneously, as I shouted a stream of profanities punctuated with “No’s” throughout my forensic exploration of the damage I’d done.  Panic was next, as I checked to see if I really did back up all my data.  I knew full well I did, but I am prone to outbursts of anxiety attacks, such as when I panic over my car keys missing from my pocket while I am driving.

After the panic attack was over, I entered stages four and five.  I was overcome with hunger and an intense need to use the washroom.  I used the washroom first.

Next came stage six: buyer’s remorse.  I thought about the amount of money I spent for the privilege of crashing my computer, the cost of going through these six stages of hell, and the price I paid to complicate my life so much.  I rapidly slid into stage seven, contemplation, as I imagined a world without computers, with good, clean, happy people in white clothing frolicking about in a sunny, flowery meadow.  Suddenly, trumpets blared, and The Machine ripped through the crumbling ground.  The skies transformed to a smoky grenadine haze as the happy, ignorant people filed into The Machine, assumed their places in their cubicles, switched on their terminals, and began to feed The Machine boxes and boxes of software, rebooting the electronic beast after every disk.  Another trumpet brayed, an illegal instruction occurred, and I awoke from my reverie.

Then came acceptance.  This was immediately followed by denial, frustration, and once more by anger, as my mind transformed to a smoky grenadine haze when I realized I had to reload boxes and boxes of software, rebooting after every disk.

The aggravation lingers as I continue to feed the beast and grow it back to its level of pre-crash maturity.  At the same time, I am exuberated by the experience, as if I have just created a caustic Picasso, an artwork of anger.  So, I will not write, “Tragedy struck today,” or, “A woe hast befallen me,” because this particular misfortune has inspired a refreshing and energizing level of ire.  And now that I have captured it in writing, it can inspire me in future days.  At least until the next electro-adversity – which may not be far off.  I think I heard the refrigerator making strange grumblings this morning.

mixed media by Lisa Guidarini