“Birds (L)” (art) …........................................................................................................ root 222 arts crew
“Deleted Scenes from a Conditional Future on the Outskirts of Civilization” (photography) ....... Jordan Ewert
“It Happens Under the Whole Din of the Bar” (poetry) …........................................... Ray Succre
“Disgruntled Client” (poetry) …................................................................................... Karen Greenbaum-Maya
“I Fell in Love Last Week” (mixed media) ….............................................................. Christine Newkirk
“Smarts” (poetry) …...................................................................................................... Ray Succre
“[ORIGINAL] Parrot Sings Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” (viral media review) ........ Victoria Goldenberg
"Birds (R)" (art) ................................................................................................ root 222 arts crew
“Helping Verbs” (poetry) ….......................................................................................... Howie Good
“Something Like Pure Again” (poetry) ….................................................................... Teresa Schartel
“Madonna and Child” (mixed media) …...................................................................... Christine Newkirk
“The Same Room” (poetry) …...................................................................................... Marietta Calvanico
“Innocent” (illustration) …............................................................................................ Broy Fleurimon
“Fresh, Tinned or Frozen” (poetry) ….......................................................................... Donal Mahoney
“Jet Pack Technology” (mixed media) …..................................................................... Brian Whiteley
"Abstract Robot" (art) ...................................................................................... Dennis Young
“Nola Tattoo” (photography) ….................................................................................. George Cordero
“The Corner” (short fiction) ….................................................................................... Susan Handschiegel
“Tennis Dad” (play) …................................................................................................. Gary Beck
in a fixative dark.
the blink of Canis
her only angel.
no one comes to rescue her.
the nearest life
runs over her hand
like a spider.
but crickets chime
in the aftermath;
and a bat coils
to cleanse her aura
there's an uncertainty
even the wind
part of her feels
she has never been
so much in danger.
and yet finally,
far from house,
she is home.
In the glass, near the middle, I hear a woman’s voice
that at first seems talk, though after pacifying the drink
to better catch its timbre, and opening my ears and mood,
there is but murmuring.
I lean my garish head down, ear to the glass rim.
Like a sandy shell, there is the sea, but still more.
“Hello?” I inquire into my drink.
I hear her still, not echo, not liquid, but a thing,
some voice of its own. I drink more, to the bottom,
empty the glass of its sea, and with my ear pressed
into the glass mouth, I try again.
“Are you there?”
She is gone or I can no longer hear her.
I am dull away from home with my head to no sound.
Fortuneteller stabbed by disgruntled client
--Orange County Register, February 10, 2005
A woman goes to a fortuneteller to make her man come back. The fortuneteller examines the woman’s palm, then Tarot cards, then tea leaves. The aspects are always the same. The woman’s palm shows the heart line going straight up into Saturn, the dour leaden god. The woman’s Tarot cards are all reversed, and her Celtic Cross ends with the Moon, and her signifier is the Eleven of Cups, the one with the lobster trap over the lady’s head. The tea leaves are settled in a ring as far from the center as they can manage. The fortuneteller has never seen such anxious tea leaves. The woman doesn’t want to hear about it. Find me another fortune, a better one, she orders. The fortuneteller tries to explain how it doesn’t work like that. The woman doesn’t want to hear about it. Take it like a woman, the fortuneteller counsels, wait a week.
The woman sleeps five days and five nights in her truck, then awakens. The woman does not surprise the fortuneteller, not even when the woman covers her with white paint and stabs her face, her hands, her feet. The fortuneteller thinks, Why did you ask if you didn’t want to know? but the fortuneteller says nothing, because she saw this coming a long time ago.
: : :
I knew a little dog who hailed from the land of the weird.
Who knew? Well, I knew that he knew a thing about
We struck up a chat, little dog and little man.
He discussed the polynomial, the exponential,
and the arrogance of zero.
I brought a system of words, as well.
I introduced a chat on the Exeter Book.
With a twitch of his paw, he began gnawing on his leg
to exile a flea; this was boredom, so he had nothing
for the new topic.
Who knew? Well, he knew that I knew a thing about
The little dog barbecued numerals into crisp, wily tastes,
while I titty-twisted words into modern arrangements.
He ran far too hot to see sun-dried language.
I jumped too slow to catch the wind of blustery equations.
Who knew? Well, we knew that our brains were
boiling, chromium metal, unfriendly and not likely
to ever sate our little dog and little man pains.
Cats rule the Internet, but birds? Only a handful of avine videos have gone viral. You’ve probably seen that gif of a seagull snatching a bag of potato chips from a store or a Youtube video of a dancing cockatoo synched to Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair.” But our feathered friends have never become ‘Net culture institutions the way their natural predators have. It’s understandable—birds don’t have the range of facial expressions that lend themselves to witty captions, and I don’t think they’re as widely loved as pets the way cats are.
Birds have one major advantage: Some species can talk. Enter Lolita the Yellow-Nape Amazon, owned by Youtube user peachy525. Most of Peachy525’s videos of Lolita show the six-year-old parrot singing children’s songs such as “Row Your Boat.” They’re cute, and Lolita sings well, but they’re nothing spectacular on their own.
And then there’s a clip of her practicing Drowning Pool’s “Bodies.” Yes, that infamous nu-metal song that was reportedly used as part of the torture in Guantanamo Bay. Lolita begins with an endearingly flawed recitation of the bridge—she blends “Nothing’s wrong with me” and “Three, something’s got to give” into “Nothing’s wrong with three/Something’s got to give.” She lets out a scream that makes you laugh if you aren’t already doing so, and launches into a hilarious, tonally accurate rendition of the chorus. She repeats it three times, trying to match Dave Williams’s low growl on “flooooooor.” (The second iteration is easily the best.)
The original Youtube clip has more than 3,700,000 views as of this writing. Fans have mashed up Lolita’s vocals with the original music, Peachy525 writes in a comment that Drowning Pool has asked for permission to record a video with Lolita.
It’s easy to see why it’s popular. We’re used to parrots reciting clichés like “Polly want a cracker,” so seeing an Amazon that knows a nu-metal song is novel. You don’t have to adore birds to appreciate the appeal, either.
Finally, it helps that “Bodies” takes itself too seriously and is, like many well-known songs, well-disliked. It feels poetically just to hear a high-pitched parrot mimicking the song without understanding a word of it. The implication of Lolita only knowing children’s songs otherwise adds another layer of humor.
I’m reminded of my pet parakeets from childhood and their own inexplicable tastes. For example, one of them really, really, really liked Super Metroid. Hee was normally mean and crabby, but if someone in the house played that game, he transformed within minutes. Suddenly, he would fly around the room squawking, act affectionately toward the other birds and play on the swing—he never touched it otherwise.
If he had been inclined to talk, maybe he would have imitated the sounds of enemies like the Mother Brain.
I wish I were a tree,
so my branches would shake,
birds scattering in alarm
and then returning.
Sun pours into
One arrow points left,
the other, right,
toward a mother
fleeing with her baby.
My wife had
an Uncle Bugsy
to the chair.
for the same
Beige icing of a wedding cake pines to be sliced.
The bride’s father-in-law makes eyes at a bridesmaid rigid in a chair
In the center of the country club’s ballroom, the cousin
Of someone in the wedding party slides a beige garter up her leg.
The ring bearer kneels in an adjacent field
Searching for bugs, but excavates the beige skull of a rodent.
His grandmother gazes from the courtyard
Until she notices the beige carcass of a grasshopper floating in a fountain.
It speaks to her as she catches the reflection of her thinning hair,
Shows her that she’s losing.
In the same room,
my grandfather, my grandmother,
he smiles so strongly,
his eyes are just slits,
his face full before sickness,
I am dancing
in the same room,
where I danced
with my father,
with my teenage girlfriends,
where my mother passed through
with her suitcase,
in labor with my sister,
where I’d dance,
with my grandson
to a Bruce Springsteen song
in the same room,
my arms outstretched,
my fingers aching,
reaching in both directions
I’m trying to decipher
hidden codices inscribed
in my DNA.
It’s no use; the language
is ancient mathematics.
You’re only as capable
as what you know.
I float above my bed,
and peer into a periscope.
I’ve seen nothing yet.
Yet, somewhere out there,
up there, is a colossal library
containing volumes of answers
to every inquiry I’ve sent
through my prayers.
It would be so much more convenient
if God had an email address.
the only thing I got was this receipt
you’ll get it back unless he jumps bail
faced with a jail cell I might
the awful roommates he’s had
vile all of them
if you go into the state prison
system you go into the worst of the worst
well I got the former district attorney
to represent him
I think he might appeal
I don’t know how you appeal
leaving the scene of an accident, drunken driving
but I hear he’s pretty decent, shakes that is
How great it is that every boat
has a maker who showed up on time to make it.
He wasn’t late.
He didn’t snivel about his other appointments.
He knew that the boat had to be made and he made it.
How great it is that this was accomplished and I was able to see it
and give evidence of how it has affected me.
And how great it is that the boat was made worthy of the new generation
out of materials that I pointed out to him from the inner recesses of my mind.
Foreign to him, if they were, as materials, I quickly solved the problem.
And every boat that was made became a boat that he had made,
struggling to exert himself in the evening’s conditions;
turning inward like the steam from the side of a universe
giving judgment no rest. But heaven a place where it sang.
to inhale flowers while warning shots are fired to inhale flowers while bodies are screaming senseless murder / to swallow and snort while wondrous care is being taken, to swallow and snort while presents are wrapped for you / to seek out breathless solitude while children’s heads are cleaved and splattered to seek out breathless salvation while heads are cleaved in hatred / to run to the borders while sweets are purchased, to run to your oldest ambition while sheets are washed for your bed / to sleep in your bed to be a semblance of death while the innocently dead pretend to be comfortable for your sake, / to lay down on the line and wave your flag frantically but fondle a sprout under your lower back to fondle a sprout to fondle a sprout nourish the future and keep them safe, stroke their hands and keep them safe /
“Jesus is not a zombie….” Standing outside of the bodega, the brick wall chafing her almost exposed ass, she wondered where had she heard that. That one stupid phrase kept bouncing around her brain. She would almost have it + then, then it would flutter away like an unread love letter in a hurricane.
It was one of those annoying things that was going to drive her insane if she didn’t figure it out. Where the hell had she heard that before? Did someone say that to her? Did she hear it on TV? TV was probable, as her conversations lately weren’t worth shit. Her recent dialogue consisted of “Lookin’ for a date?” + “Hand me that bottle.” With little variation.
Thoughtfully, she chewed on her thumbnail. Now + then she spat out glitter polish + nail slivers, that same engrossed look on her face. Maybe if she worked backward. Like following a maze. Easy. Like her.
A drunken Puerto Rican guy shuffled out of the bodega. He leered at her once before running to vomit at the mesh garbage can a few feet away. She sighed. Before her contemplation of a drooling, flesh eating Jesus, she had been thinking
about that old Nicole Kidman flick, Dead Calm. Someone, certainly not her, had cable + it was on the other night. Billy Zane had scrawled, “Fear is Now” on the television screen. Under this cheery sentiment – was it supposed to be written in blood or shit? Hard to tell – his victims screamed + bled.
Okay. So, then “Fear is Now” was running through her head. It seemed an apt response to modern America. If you happened to be one of the invisibles, that is. Which she did happen to be, conveniently enough.
“Fear is Now” made her think of the last line of Sartre’s No Exit: “Hell is other people.” Nihilism in 10 syllables or less. “Hell is other people.” It was familiar + disheartening + truly inevitable all at the same time. Suffering is a more popular pastime than baseball + domestic abuse combined. Yes, yes, all right.
Anyway, so it went Dead Calm, No Exit + then what? A sudden breeze swept the street. It explored under her skirt with all the finesse of a drunk + horny CPA – chilling her to the bone + forcing her to pull her jacket closer around herself. Not that the cheap coat offered much protection. But, as she had discovered, this world condoned form before function. Fashion before function? Either way, she was shivering her ass off. She loved the shrieking, raw, succinct truth of both statements.
This world also had a liking for stereotypes. Huddling in her outrageously fake fur, she looked exactly like what she was - right down to the fishnet stockings. Give the consumer a recognizable product + money-wasting misunderstandings
could be avoided. While she liked the efficiency of her costume, she could really do without the frostbite.
Nelly came out with a steaming cup of coffee. “Girl, you gonna freeze ta death out here,” she clucked, handing over the cup. “Ain’t no one buying tanight, anyways.”
“Ah, thanks, Nell. + yuh never know, maybe the hipsters’ wine tasting will finish up early.”
Nelly smiled sadly at the girl. She knew her when the hooker was still a Catholic schoolgirl. She watched out for the girl. The shopkeeper also gave her free mouthwash.
Nelly pulled her ratty cardigan closer, looked up + down the street + returned to the warmth of her store.
“Jesus is not a zombie….”
Right. So again, Nicole Kidman, Sartre. Where had her bored + frozen mind gone from there? Hopping for warmth, wrapped in her polyester, she looked like a degenerate, nymphomaniacal rabbit. The Easter Bunny with crotchless panties + a suspect T-cell count.
“Jesus is not a zombie….”
It was a pretty bizarre statement, when you stopped to think about it. She seemed to remember it being professed insistently. As though someone else suggested, just as vehemently, that Jesus was, indeed, a brain-sucking, undead savior.
She had just lit a cigarette when a brand new SUV drove past. She forsook her warming attempts in order to strike a seductive pose. The SUV pulled an illegal u-turn + drove by again, slowly. She was getting impatient. She hoped this asshole wasn’t trying to rationalize his infidelity. They could be here all night.
On his third pass, the driver seemed to have come to some sort of moral compromise. He stopped in front of her + rolled down his window.
“Lookin’ for a little company tonight?” she asked, using up half of her conversational ammunition. She tried to sound breathy + sexy, but she only sounded breathless + cold.
He was a white guy. Middle-aged + balding. His puffy LL Bean jacket camouflaged, no doubt, a suburban paunch.
Exercise would exclusively consist of pushing a cart around one of those huge, buy-in-bulk superstores. Sometimes, he would take his wife’s rat terrier for an evening walk. Reflecting on a conspicuously mediocre life, he would allow himself to fantasize about killing his wife. He could almost feel his hands around his wife’s jowly throat. He
always returned to his split-level a little less satisfied than when he left. + just as imprisoned.
She loved how this kind always, always, blamed their wives for every frustration + failure. These men failed to recognize that they had pulled these poor women into suburban purgatory right alongside them.
“Company?” He fidgeted with the zipper cutting into his loose + pasty skin. “Um, yeah...” he began vaguely. His eyes darted. Crossing some self-imposed boundary, he found more confidence. “Yes, I was looking for some company tonight.”
He stared up at her with watery, nervous eyes. She wondered how his wife could stand his perfunctory anniversary humpings year after dismal year.
“You got a place in mind or is it the car?” She had already decided her prices were going way up for this one. While she may have crossed all of her self-imposed boundaries eons ago, a dim spark of pride still burned somewhere deep.
“I…uh…I have a room,” he answered, turning up the car’s heater. She shivered violently. “I rented a room.”
“Let’s go.” She raced around the car, more desperate for that warm bucket seat than she’d ever been for anything.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” he said.
She stared out the window + grunted noncommittally. She'd heard that one before. Usually right before the ball-gag + horsetail butt-plug made the scene.
“So…” he started when the silence stretched out. The man was not an illustration of strong + silent. “Have you been doing this long?”
“Oh….how long, like, um, approximately?”
If she hadn’t needed the money so desperately, she would have hopped out at the next red light. Just on principle alone. “5 years.”
He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel.
For some reason, she had the feeling that he really wanted her to think she was his first hooker. The nervousness seemed contrived. Then again, it was possible that she was too damn cynical.
“5 years,” he repeated, savoring the concept. “That’s a long time.”
Oh, you have no idea how long.
When she stayed silent, he added, “I bet you’ve had a lot of cock in 5 years, huh? Lots + lots of hard cocks.”
He was turning himself on. He reached over the console + began to rub her knee.
“Yeah,” she agreed. “Lots + lots of hard cock.” She looked out the window, realizing she wouldn’t even have to be there for this one. She couldn’t wait to get back to Nelly’s bodega. Maybe she’d splurge + actually buy a 40.
“Jesus is not a zombie…..”
Her racoon eyes. That you remember. And the wall of sound. All that Phil Spector did or did not do, was rendered perfectly excused by that one song: “Be My Baby.” Whether he shot the beautiful blonde actress in his home was irrelevant. Because a long time before that night, he was a different man, a bit more in control, and he was in love with Ronnie Spector, she of the Spanish Harlem good looks. He groomed her, he made her, and he loved her. Ronnie Ronnette had the look of a million nations. Passing, to look like another race.
There were other girls like her, all over Queens or Detroit, mimicking that bee hive In every city, there is a girl like her, waiting for their Phil Spector. One of them was Dominica. She was sixteen years old, and built like a steam ship. She attended choir some nights and hips swaying, she sang her heart out. Her voice said things, things she did not intend, like sex and innocence together, at the same time. She attended a magnet school in Harlem and that's where all the trouble began.
It begins with a man first, It is always the man that discovered his female star. The Svegali, books called it.
Dominica was walking with freedom down the school steps, books against her growing adolescent chest, and everything seemed basic and ordinary. The weather was changing. It was autumn. The scent of smoke and city peanuts. She remembered it all, like a crystal clear song. Because someone was watching her intently. Someone was witnessing her life. His name was Mr. Berkowitz, but he said, call me Alex.
He was a teacher, a white man, a Jew. These things did not matter a lick to her. She felt she was getting closer to something mysterious, something that they call destiny.
He had hazel brown eyes, gorgeous eyes. He had thin hair, and strong shoulders, and a sprout of hair at the top of his chest. When he looked at her, she knew this must have been how it was for her mother, or her sister. The moment a man looked, and you knew.
This was her music teacher. And she was sixteen years old and a black girl. But it didn't matter. It was like there was a connection so strong it blew away all your little prejudices and your small world. They could connect with music. They could connect with love. And she had one special thing going for her and he saw and she saw it. She looked like beautiful Ronnie Spector, down to those girl group bangs .
An ordinary boy took her to the prom; the boy was nobody, and so she forgot his name. But Alex she would never ever forget. He came with them, like an escort, he suggested. She wore a frosty green dress, 1970's de rigeur, the paneling fitted to her young body. With sooty hair straightened, she looked like the model Pat Cleveland. That picture was on her bedroom wall.
Her mother took a photo of them on the stoop. For a while, until she married someone else, Dominica kept that photo. Alex said he was just escorting her into the building. They couldn't dance together in public or kiss. There were rules about these things. They couldn't share their feelings that were bubbling under their surface until midnight.
On the train home, Alex said he would show her his guitars. She had never been to Westchester and didn't really want to go. She didn't think it was her place. You could throw a dime and all you would hit was a WASP. Some perfect prissy girl. Yet on a fall night it had an odd winning quality, you might call it ethereal.
His song was funny, to make her laugh. It was about a bunny who could not find it's owner in the woods. No boy had broken Dominica yet. She had not lived long enough for the baggage of a thirty year old. She sat down on the couch and sipped brandy from a paper cup and listened. “Alex,” she said thoughtfully, with a drunk slur, but steady, sure of itself, “You've got soul.”
His guard softened. He leaned over to kiss her. She let him.
Maybe their secret love would last until all the days ended, much like Ronnie Spector sang in “Be My Baby”. Imagine being Ronnie. Skin like cocoa with a faint Cherokee angle to her face. A half breed's good looks. Locked in a record room with dangerous Phil Spector. It wasn't all roses. Ronnie was captured for posterity. She was the one in a million girl with a catchy song and then discarded by a maniac.
How long the island of teenage years would save her, Dominica did not know. And you had to count on the hypocrites who couldn't bear their racial difference. But with the thunder of her heart, she could feel this was like Motown. This was like all good experiments. This was Smokey and Jr. Walker and Marilyn McCoo in the making. And wistfully, Dominica smiled to herself, and to Alex and knew good things were coming, and they always would.
Pre-show sound track – recorded sounds of warm-up rally. At curtain, official’s preliminaries: linesman ready, players ready, play. Sound track of tennis match during the match. Mom and Dad are watching a match between their son and his opponent in a junior tournament.
Dad: Why didn’t he rush the net? God damn it! He oughta be putting those hangers away.
Mom: He was right to stay back. He’s got to build sound ground strokes.
Dad: There you go again. As if I didn’t know that! But if he hangs around the baseline all the time,
he’ll get to be one of them specialists, and they never make it big.
Mom: Borg did.
Dad: That was long ago and he was an exception. He was relentless on the court. He reminds me of this
movie I saw once. It was a foreign picture in another language and I couldn’t understand a word of it.
It had English words at the bottom of the screen that didn’t make much sense. It was real boring….
Mom: Then why tell me about it?
Dad: ‘ Cause just as I was getting ready to walk out, this army started to march towards these other guys,
who were waiting for them. They had these big old-fashioned guns with bayonets, and they were
crossing a field to get at the other guys. These other guys were shooting the shit out of them, but they
just kept coming. They didn’t look around, they didn’t look scared, and they didn’t curse or yell or
anything. They just kept getting closer. And when they got close enough for the other guys to see their
faces, the other guys started running away, ‘cause they knew these guys were animals and they were
just gonna keep coming until they stuck their bayonets in them real deep. They were Swedes.
Mom: So what?
Dad: Borg’s a Swede.
Mom: What does that have to do with anything?
Dad: I don’t want my kid being an animal on the court.
Mom: You’re the one who’s always telling him that he’s got to be a killer out here, or he won’t get anywhere.
Dad: Sure he’s got to be a killer. But not an animal.
Mom: What’s the difference?
Dad: There’s a big difference. A killer wants to win at all cost and does everything he can to beat his
opponent. An animal won’t stop until he grinds the other guy into the dust.
Mom: They sound exactly the same to me.
Dad: No. They don’t.
Mom: Yes. They do.
Dad: Aw. You don’t understand.
Mom: Then explain, mister tennis expert.
Dad: There you go again.
Dad: You know.
Mom: No. I don’t.
Dad: Being sarcastic when I’m trying to have a serious conversation with you.
Mom: If you didn’t yell all the time when I disagree with you I wouldn’t be sarcastic.
Dad: Ha. You admit it.
Dad: You insult me, instead of being reasonable.
Mom: I can’t be reasonable with you. Every time I try, you either yell at me or call me names.
Dad: That’s not true.
Mom: Yes. It is.
Dad: No. It’s not, you dope.
Mom: See what I mean.
Mom: Name calling, instead of discussing.
Dad: Aw. You twist everything around. I was just trying to make a point.
Mom: By insulting me?
Dad: I was talking about junior’s net game, when you started this argument.
Mom: You mean I dared to ask a question?
Dad: It’s how you ask it. You’ve always got an attitude.
Mom: I wonder who I got it from.
Dad: Well, you didn’t get it from me. (He ignores her disbelieving stare.) Can we get back to junior’s game?
Mom: Yes. Can I ask a question?
Mom: Why do you think you know enough about tennis to coach junior? You never played.
Dad: I watch it on tv all the time and I’m reading a strategy book.
Mom: If you’re serious about his becoming a tournament player, shouldn’t we get him lessons from a tennis pro?
Dad: I know enough to start him off. If it turns out he has talent and the will to win we’ll get him some lessons.
Mom: Are you qualified to judge those things?
Dad: Why not? I’m as smart as the next guy.
Mom: Shouldn’t a professional assess his potential?
Dad: I can do it.
Mom: Well I guess there’s no sense going further with that.
Dad: What does that mean?
Mom: Your mind is made up.
Dad: What’s wrong with that?
Mom: Nothing. If you know what you’re doing.
Dad: Well I do.
Mom: Did you ever ask junior what he wants?
Dad: What would he know? He’s only a kid.
Mom: It’s his life you’re deciding.
Dad: You’re blowing this out of proportion.
Mom: Am I?
Dad: Yes. It’s only a game.
Mom: But you behave like it’s life or death.
Dad: It is, if you want to be a champion. You gotta steam roller anything that gets in your way. Crush it.
Pound it into the ground….
Mom: Like an animal?
Dad: Whatever it takes…. Aw. You know what I mean.
Mom: Yes. Now let’s sit down with junior tonight and find out what he wants to do.
Dad: Aw…. Alright.
Mom: And don’t try to influence him.
Dad: I wouldn’t do that!
Mom: (She ignores his indignant protest.) Then it’s settled.
Dad: Yes, dear.