We Just Can’t Get Enough!

Familiarity’s Sake

A part of a former life rejoined the puzzle

and asked the picture

if it knew how to adjust?

Looking at curves and complements,

landscapes to be completed,

extras had no place

but to satellite the scene,

to be stars not shown

and enjoy distance

as admiration is easiest that way.

So wishes are given

and wish is made

from the cock of the whip

and womb of leash

at night under

foreign books for familiarity’s sake.

 

No Such Event Occurred

Too much room was left for myth

between hand, mouth

and rice and beans

on those school nights

Which were also work nights

* * *

Through stationary glass

and bars

Brooklyn could rise to meet Dutch masters

still in native land

as offspring

settled this broken one.

Looks don’t, can’t last long in the hustle

But an afternoon’s gaze

have no end

through snow and rain.

* * *

Spring leaves its signs

and reasons for seasons

are expanded in school

And yet in delay and early arrival

and five day forecast

and rising wheat prices

Detours and excuses are made.

* * *

Kindness should divorce dishonesty

they’re no good for each other

though they travel well

together

knowing just what to pack

for each stop on itinerary

each task of the agenda

But fail in contingencies.

* * *

Failure is a contingency

even to success

and to everything

except death

Where myth returns

for comfort once again

to dip mortals’ dead bodies

in Styx

and pull them up

impervious

where in previous stories

no such event

occurred.

Sprawl Invades

The posteriori essence

that which exists after death

That could qualify

this

what

* * *

The build-up

and this is why

distilled

to unnamables

Lobbies every moment

lobbies

with people

waiting for elevators

* * *

Parody

is what

comes next

* * *

What came before

in primacy

was innocent

* * *

And in the midst

of this trilemma

where

the dialectic

opens up

drops out

its egg

Here is the nexus

where ghosts go heard

not seen

Explanation is beyond natural.

For a hole,

the world for a hole

to hear

to slip through

to get a surprise

For a plug

paradise

limbo

inferno

* * *

On the bright side,

storms pass

or make landfall

but the horse remains.

* * *

A shell-

from broken beginning

feathers burst

morning is saluted

electricity taunted

for respite

crest falls

* * *

Who,

who became human

from globes

sat spinning

in the great before?

Continuing forward

after

falls lower

raises higher

enters redundancy

redoubles

to pre and proto

again

* * *

Sophisticated?

Essence knows no debonair

days

Yet vital in quantity

when . . .

* * *

Returning from the other side of distance

is a serious venture.

Sprawl invades – long since sent

spirits away.

Kenyatta Jean-Paul Garcia is the author of This Sentimental Education and Enter the After-Garde.   He was raised in Brooklyn, NY and has a degree in Linguistics from SUNY Albany.  He was a cook for a dozen years but now spends his nights putting boxes on shelves.  By day, he runs kjpgarcia.wordpress.com and altpoetics.wordpress.com.  

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Another helping…

In the Park

 

Today I fall into step with an old friend,

bald now and dead many years.

 

“You walk fast,” he says,

“I’m afraid I slow you down.”

 

But really he keeps up if I slow my pace

a little, and it’s amazing how he walks

and talks, shuffling, his voice emerging

from the hood of his dun colored coat.

He speaks and I listen, how his daughter

fell into depression, how the face he loved

collapsed day after day, became a mask

of flaccid flesh tangled in dirty sheets.

 

“It was the hardest thing,” he says.

I remember how the merry wrinkles

below his bright dark eyes had spread

and sunk. We warm as we walk, he tries

to peel off his coat, and I help him free

thin arms from sleeves. He has become

a whisper, movements of mouth and hand.

 

Before he breaks off for home, his eyes

have become holes, empty

sockets, perfectly round, above a fleshless face.

I Carried Yesterday

 

a bag of sand up a narrow staircase

three flights high

 

and your voice on my back

and a memory of your hands.

 

I hauled water from a well we dug

together in the silver-

 

tinted night. I carried whispers

from the sedge and a little box

 

of frogs. Back and forth I trudged

one foot,” I said, “after the other”

 

and even the blood and the black nail

on my right toe served me well, spoke

 

another version of my secret name.

Your Hair

 

is rich in shadows, twilight’s magnet at the edge of sun.

Nevertheless, you wouldn’t poke your finger

in my ribs, or laugh like wind through chimes unless

 

my memory stirred something honey-gold in your breast.

You wouldn’t stand silent and cold at the margins

of this March snow where squirrel tracks circle naked oaks.

 

All night ships unload at ghostly docks, great bales tumbled

through night wind song. Who practiced that unearthly

choir, who stumbled at the stage lip, hurtling fear

 

into the orchestra pit? I would touch your hair with fingers

like lips and taste the aura of your strange smile

if I could find your name etched on a bright string of stars.

 Steve Klepetar‘s work has appeared widely and has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.  His latest collection is Speaking to the Field Mice, forthcoming from Sweatshoppe Publications.

Fiction Du Jour!

LIFE AND DEATH IN THE CROSSHAIRS
by Michael Price
 
 Got the call a couple weeks ago. As soon as possible—that’s what the guy said. That’s always the way they want it, as soon as possible.
The good news is that I’m really good at my job. That’s why they call.
The bad news is that I’m really good at my job.
It’s not as appealing as it used to be–my work, my job–that’s for sure. Developing a conscience is not the best thing if you’re a hired gun. And I prefer the somewhat archaic term ‘hired gun’ because, over the years, I’ve grown to greatly dislike the term ‘hit man’it’s become much too personal for my taste—but that’s what I am. It’s what I do.
I’ll never forget my first, my first living, breathing human being–July 25th, 1984. Johnny Louisiana. Pretty bad dude, I guess. In Shreveport, coincidentally, that’s the funny thing. Johnny Louisiana, in Shreveport—go figure. It still tickles me when I think about it.
I remember when I got home, I looked up the word ‘exhilarating’ in the dictionary. Worked for me. I didn’t sleep for three days.
It was like that those first few years, even better than that. Internally glamorous; that’s what it was, internally glamorous. Couldn’t tell anyone, of course, but there was something very warm and fuzzy happening every time. Very cool, the secret part. Very James Bond, flip-side. Knowing that danger was
very near, and I was always in control. The money was fabulous, of course… but I guess everybody knows that part.
Get the call, do a little research for a week or two, enjoy the hell out of the local cuisine in the in-between times, scout out the wheres and whens, prep the weapon, and…
Wait for the right moment.
Raise the weapon, target in the crosshairs, deep breath, then…
Actually, this is kinda funny. Aimed and steady, just before I squeeze the trigger, I always whisper to the target,
Say goodnight, Gracie.
Burns and Allen, right? Been doin’ it for years. It amuses me, if nothing else.
They never answer back, of course–the targets, I mean. It would be pretty damned extraordinary if they did, because, a) there’s absolutely no way they could possibly hear me from such a distance, and, b) I never miss. Ever. At any distance.
Thank you, U.S. Army, for your excellent training.
I met Joanne at my cousin’s wedding, April of ’88. Cuzz’s new wife was in her second trimester already so, technically, I suppose you could say it was a shotgun wedding, a factoid in which I also find a modicum of humor. Joanne was one of the bridesmaids. Beautiful girl, picked her out of the line-up right away, and there wasn’t a dog in the lot. Tall. Redhead. Curves over curves. Good hands, too; she caught the bouquet one-handed.
We were married less than a year later.
Bought a beautiful three-level Victorian in the country, away from the bustle of humanity, buried in a thicket of oak, and started a family right away that first year. Son, daughter, daughter, son–in that order–all before the turn of the century. In addition to her other amazing attributes Joanne turned out to be a natural at mommyhood, much to my delight and good fortune. Warm, patient, fair, involved… when they were doling out ideal qualities for the perfect mother and wife, Joanne helped herself to seconds.
She also didn’t ask many questions, which turned out to be an excellent personal quality when it came time to explain the family bank account. She was the very definition of unconditional trust.
I worked for a C.I.A.-involved company doing undercover reconnaissance, wherever and whenever it was needed. Mostly in China.
Which, of course, was a lie.
But I spoke Chinese fairly fluently (another army sponsored life skill) so it was a relatively easy lie to pull off, as really big, underworldly whoppers go.
It was during this time—starting in the mid to late ’90’s—that I started becoming increasingly disenchanted with the whole ‘hired gun’ thing. The work wasn’t at all difficult, I never really felt endangered in any way–the value of good research in my line of work is immeasurable–and, like I said, I never missed, so the money was there. My services were always in demand.
But I was happiest at home and–if this is even possible–felt myself getting happier every day. The kids were growing… well, they were growing up to be people–living, breathing human beings with distinct personalities, each displaying uniquely idiosyncratic behavior, which was so very cool. The concept of school, of education, became truly enjoyable for the first time in my life, experienced vicariously through them. Sports and music, practices and rehearsals, games and concerts, were family experiences I never wanted to miss. My job, my profession, had become tedious, in the way.
Add Joanne to the mix—my wonderful, marvelous Joanne—and…
Tedious, and sinking fast.
The rapidly increasing level of disenchantment with my job was in proportion to the weed-like growth of the kids in the early and mid-2000’s. I couldn’t quit with the killing for pay and I knew it; Lord knows I would have loved to. The money was simply too good, we needed it to live and, to be honest, there was still a small part of me—in a very weak moment, at that–that still craved the excitement, the potential danger that might be lurking around the corner, and my utter dominance over it. But by the summer of 2009 the internal glamor of the work had worn paper thin, and the end of every job could never come soon enough to suit me.
The fire took place in the wee hours of January 6th, 2010. Police investigators concluded that, without question, it was intentionally set, most likely in the basement, with ample evidence of accelerant on the bottom two floors as well as around the outside of the building. The house predated the use of sprinklers (I had been meaning to have them installed for years, but never got around to it) and the alarm had been disabled prior to the fire, an out-of-control blaze which spread like a flash throughout the house. By the time the fire department arrived on the scene, nothing could be done by way of a rescue. The house was a total loss.
There were no survivors.
I was in Detroit that morning, working. James “Big Body” Harrison. I couldn’t have cared less that I didn’t miss Mr. Harrison.
I returned home the next day, so to speak; indeed, there was no home. A few days later I buried my family. Stayed with the neighbors for a few weeks, until I figured out my next move: what to do, where to go, what and where my work would next take me, etc.
Which brings me to today, now, the perfect moment, and yet another job to do.
Target set. No need to wait this time. Not from this distance.
Raise weapon. Aim. Deep breath.
Say goodnight, Gracie.
Steady, now. You’ve never missed yet.
Goodnight, Gracie.

Widely published in literary journals, Michael Price has been writing fiction for over 30 years. He earned his BA in Theater from the University of Minnesota in 1980 and performed his own one-man one-act play “No Change of Address” to considerable acclaim at the 2011 MN Fringe Festival. 

Oh there’s more….

No Color Except Behind the Eyes

gravelly snow

grey streaked skies

blear, red-eyed

no beaming smiles, lips grimacing

grey-green skin blends with grey-brown hibernating grass

no glowing skin exposed

to the sun

all covered up in sweaters

and scarves and gloves

nothing left open to chance in the cold

cars all have salty brown patina, same color on ground and sky

colorless days make us grateful for long nights

where behind closed eyes colors explode like

shards of light, warming all the way

up through the fingertips

skin making warmth like swirls of writhing colors

carries us to the next day

like a memory of a summer’s night

– The Word Rummager

HIP Life’s First Debut!

Welcome to the first HIP Life review ever!

42

42, the recent biopic chronicling Jackie Robinson’s breakthrough of the color line in baseball, might appear treacly and safe at first glance. In fact, the movie is very bold in terms of theme, if not in terms of execution. Director Brian Helgeland repeatedly presents us with racism and a myriad of reactions to it, in a very straightforward manner. There are no flourishes of cinematography and little in the way of musical cues to heighten the mood, just cameras pointed at actors doing some horrible and heroic things. As a result, the film becomes very personal; every racial epithet is a punch to the gut, and every moment that someone overcomes bigotry is cheer worthy.

Of course, any dramatic film would fail if it merely focused on racism. It needs something to glue it all together, and that something is character. Thankfully, 42 has character to spare. Harrison Ford gives a stellar turn as Branch Rickey, the baseball executive who recruits Jackie Robinson. Robinson is played wonderfully by newcomer Chadwick Boseman, not as a mythic figure, but as a real man who was nonetheless worthy of great admiration. Rickey and Robinson’s motivation to be decent human beings who live up to their potential drives the story, and draws the audience into the story. Performances are strong across the board, bringing the 1940s to life.

42 isn’t so much about baseball itself (though plenty of ball playing appears), as it is about the culture of baseball in the ‘40s. It will make you think about racism then, racism now, and allow you to draw your own conclusions about where it comes from and why some people act the way they do. Best of all, you will be riveted the entire time.

About the Critic:

Eric lives in Florence, SC with his lovely wife and three cats. Together, they watch film on a daily basis, and have strong opinions about said films (yes, even the cats). Sometimes, those opinions make it into written form.

 

Are You Ready for This?

Get excited for some new work! Including the following poems…

 

The Janitor’s Poem

 Mopping

The

Light

On

The

Floor

 

Fluorescent            

Blue

As

The

Heavens

 

While

Humming

A

Song

Like

Silent

Night

 

Trying

For

The

Good

 

To

Be

As

Clean

And

Square

As

The

Tiles.

 

 Janitor’s Winter Poem

 Cleaning

The

Windows

 

I

See

The

Somber

Gray

Clouds

Inside

Me

 

I

Cannot

Wipe

Them

Away

 

So

I

Take

The

Doctor’s

Beautiful

Pill

 

Like

God’s

Snowflake

 

That

Can

Change

The

Landscape

To

White.

 

 Janitor’s Prayer

 On

A

Cloudy

Day

 

It

Helps

To

Have

A

Little

Faith

 

That

The

Son

Is

Above

 

And

What

A

Breeze

Of

Prayer

Can

Do.

 

 The American Flag

 During

Windy

Times

 

The

Red

White

And

Blue

Flag

Unfurls

 

Ruffles

Aloud

 

As

It

Steady

Holds

On

To

Its

Cause

 

A

Metal

Pole

That

Rings

Like

A

Liberty

Bell.

Danny P. Barbare resides in Greenville, SC. He enjoys writing in free verse about his work as a janitor and mostly nature.

He spends his time locally and likes to travel to the mountains of North Carolina and the beaches and lowlands of South Carolina. He has been writing poetry for 32 years.

Warm Up with Poetry

Enjoy the writing of Mr. John Grey!

WOMAN ON THE MOVE

 She’s 89, still drives a car,

this ancient wreck she refers to

as “the machine,”

A miracle, the radio still works

and she still finds the one station

that plays classical,

her favorites Bach, Beethoven,

that whippersnapper, Mozart.

She only steers that beast to

the supermarket and pharmacy now,

ten blocks, crawling twenty miles an hour.

The van comes for her

when it’s time to see her doctor.

She walks a little

though she’s not too thrilled with stairs.

And her son, all of 61, must come for her,

if she’s to visit family.

Of course, those rides are accompanied by

that dreaded rock and roll.

Her life is all about transport,

going somewhere.

Even when she’s sitting in her kitchen,

drinking coffee, playing solitaire,

she’s never far from the next bathroom visit,

laundry cycle, telephone ring,

Seventh Day Adventist at the door.

She knows that if you stop too often

then you stop for good.

In her mind, even close at hand

is a place she has to get to.

 

 A CAT PERSON

 You ask me how I am with cats.

With cats,

I’m Beethoven,

deaf as a door,

writing symphonies with my ear

hard against the piano keys.

 

With cats,

I’m de Kooning

splashing paint all over canvases

or Mohammed Ali

pounding out Sonny Liston.

 

I’m Edison inventing the light bulb

or I’m Jefferson,

up half the night

drafting the Declaration of Independence.

 

Hey, I’m even Mark Twain…

remember Huckleberry Finn

and I’m Jeremiah the Prophet

and J.M. Keynes,

Keynesian to the core.

 

And let’s not forget Douglas McArthur,

Benito Mussolini and Carl Sandburg.. .all me.

All me with cats.

 

I’m David Hume, the philosopher,

and Pittrnan who invented the stenographer

and Babe Ruth pointing to where

that next home run blast was going to soar.

 

I’m Moses, both Ed the hurdler,

and that Red Sea parter

and not forgetting Hiawatha

and the Venetian Boys Choir.

 

Sorry, I thought you said

who am I with cats.

 

Really, you’ll find I love dogs

more than anything.

DETECTING

 A guy’s in the park with a metal detector,

sweeping over the tall grass, looking for treasure-

He finds a coin here and there, though

his man’s toy fails to detect a wind-blown, twenty buck note.

Tin cans send that apparatus into ecstasy

but fine jewelry leaves it cold.

He figures he’ll get rich this way,

the earth giving up its bounty just the way God planned it.

But at the end of the day what does he have:

three pennies, a rusty key and a hub-cap.

Late afternoon, he packs up his car, goes home with nothing

but promises himself he’ll be back the next day.

A guy runs a detector over his life and hope pops up.

John Grey is an Australian born poet, works as financial systems analyst. Recently published in International Poetry Review, Chrysalis and the science fiction anthology, “Futuredaze”with work upcoming in Potomac Review, Sanskrit and Osiris.