The Bag of Shame: Four Soliloquies

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-2-57-54-pm

Part 1: Trick or Treat
Riley Detmer, age 9

Why do I always have to be doing something?  Mom and Dad all the time ‘what are you doing?’ How does a bag save a planet?

I don’t know.  I think this is going to be my last year.  I was too young and now I’m too old to remember when it was fun. The one story I always hear is how I went through my entire candy bag when I was three and a bumblebee, ran around like I was crazy and stopped in the middle of my grandparents’ all white almost empty living room and turned white like a ghost bee and barfed all over the floor.

I mean, that doesn’t sound very fun.

unknown-5Last year I was 8 and I wanted to be Wolverine from X-men. Wolverine could save the planet better than a bag. The answer was no. The reason was my mom said Wolverine made violent choices and didn’t think of better ways to solve a problem. Is that really what you want to be Riley she said which the answer was yes. Is that a part of yourself you think is okay? she said. What if I don’t have the claws I said. She shook her head. Nice people are the real heroes she said.

This happens a lot. I used to get mad about it but finally I stopped. Getting mad is a violent choice and besides it just makes her talk more. I ended up being a fireman with a plastic helmet and coat that looked totally fake.

e35e8ca9815a8c4fc78cbd56bdcf5933

When I was 7 I wanted to be a Apache brave which we were learning in school. This was also no because we shouldn’t take things from the Indians and we also should not be calling them Indians. You’re a lucky little boy because you are privileged she said, and that means you can’t take things that aren’t yours and make fun of Native Americans. I said I am not making fun. If I am privileged I said I wonder why does that mean I can’t pick my costume and be whatever I want. This was before I stopped arguing about everything. Plus it was totally confusing because Wyatt who is 5 and my brother was Ariel from Little Mermaid. But Ariel is a girl I said. Wyatt can make that choice my mom said. We can’t tell him how he should express himself. But I want to express myself and be a Apache brave I said. Wyatt is not a girl I said. Riley, she said. Stop making fun of your brother. This is along with my friend Chloe at school who was a artist with a french hat called a beret because she was not allowed to be Ariel from Little Mermaid because it is not what little girls should want to be. So Wyatt got to be Ariel with a boob thing made of two plastic seashells and a tail thing with sequins.  I don’t know why but I just wanted to hit him really hard. And I was a cowboy because it is okay I guess to make fun of them.

imagesWhen I was 6 we didn’t do Halloween because refined sugar. When I was 5 I wanted to be a hobo with a stick but that was no for some reason too so my mom made my costume without even asking me which was a bunch of grapes made of balloons. I was mad and got a timeout. Before that I don’t remember except the story about barfing which is not really a thing I remember but just a thing they told me that happened.

So I think this will be my last year. I don’t know what I will be. I guess I will wait for Mom to tell me. But I will take this bag because those plastic pumpkins with handles are stupid and for babies and I swear to God I will argue about that if I have to.

That is what I am doing.

Part #2: Domesticity
Amy Wallace-Detmer, age 38

What am I doing? What does it look like? I’m putting away the goddamned groceries.  There’s a guy who loads them into my car at the store but once I’m home I’m on my own. It’s easier than trying to get the boys to help me.  I pick my battles.

I remember you. Back when I was young, in that big old first wave of recycling, you all were saying the same thing. And now it’s back, and the bags are back, asking questions: a successful campaign; why wouldn’t it be successful again?

But I’ll ask you a question back:  What did it succeed at?  Do people shop more at stores with bags that sneer at them?  I saw lots of you tumbling empty through parking lots, wadded up in garbage cans.  Just what was it you were trying to accomplish?

All you have to do is wait long enough and everything comes back around again.

You can be reused 125 times.  Well, we have that in common, at any rate. In fact, I may very well have you beat. And will I reuse you? Not likely. I never think to bring bags along until I’m in the car. They pile up under the sink. So you are not the first bag to ask me that question. I’ll stuff you down there and you can all trade saving-the-planet stories, congratulate yourselves in a crinkly little cocktail-party mumble.  I’ll pull one out to carry wet bathing suits, clean the litter box, load up with some stuff to take over to Dad on the days Meals on Wheels doesn’t come, give to Riley and Wyatt for trick or treating.

That snuck up on me. I used to be better about holidays. Now I’m always running along behind them, like the kids. I thought I had parenthood nailed, once: cupcakes one year topped with orange frosting and spiders with gum-drop bodies and licorice-whip legs, a dozen of them, for Riley’s pre-K. I was up until 3. I wanted to do everything for him, which might’ve been a mistake. He’s become so passive. It kept me anchored, the routines, the recipes, the things it was okay or not okay to do or be or read or say.

I am a parent. Everything is my fault.

You’d like Ted, bag.  He is saving the planet, or the people on it with cancer, at any rate.  Does that count?  You and he would get along, trading smug challenges and debating the finer points of planet-saving. He’s always taken care of me, from the time he met me when he was rounding through the psych unit as a med student. I was glad I’d washed my hair. He saved me, I guess you could say–so it would be peevish to criticize. But I sometimes think he loves that he saved me more than he loves me.

I love him. I do.

That said, there’s a whole continuity of care issue–I stole that from him–when it comes to the boys.  He’s never around, in other words, to see things and watch things, which to me means that he’s not in a super-good place to worry out loud that our kids are always trying to comfort me and settle me down and that that is bad for them, that I am always trying to control them, and that that is bad for them, when all I am doing is trying to keep them safe, calm, confident, on the right path. And maybe they could want to comfort me sometimes? Is that such a bad thing? Aren’t we all supposed to kind of look after each other? Isn’t loving someone enough to want to comfort them a good thing?

I mean, Ted, stick to cancer, okay?  Help me out by not suggesting maybe I should’ve gone back to work, which implies there was work to go back to: B.A. in Music, Minor in Astronomy? As my mother once said, ‘Now, there’s a lucrative career path.’ Maybe only remind me of the psych unit a few times a year, the checking account I emptied to make that model of the universe, the run of not-so-wise intimate encounters, the inanimate objects like cell phones and shopping carts coming to life and trying to hurt me, you know, the suicide stuff after.  Holidays, maybe. Mention it on holidays. Halloween. Last year I got that haunted house place across town to close down the room that was supposed to be a mental hospital full of wackos, but it’s funny; I couldn’t really work up a big old head of steam about it. Stigma, it’s called, but that’s just another word for being afraid: their problem, not mine.  Crazy people have bigger fish to fry: med compliance, shrink after shrink, bloodwork, behavioral coping therapies, insurance, revolving fucking door policies.  I was lucky.  The meds finally caught and held, never let go after that, and I never let go of them. I joke to people that I am a professional patient.  I am my own job.

There is really nothing wrong with being afraid of crazy.  I mean, I have enough trouble with what I think; I have to decide how others think now too?  I mean, I try to say the right things, have the right feelings, arrange them neatly, like setting a table for company.

You’ve got enough job for two people, Ted. It all balances out.

Meanwhile, well, yeah, groceries.  And the phone call to that woman at the managed care place; my father’s going nowhere fast. And Riley’s waiting for me to tell him what he wants for a costume. Like I would know. I don’t understand why he doesn’t want to decide on his own anymore. I don’t know why Wyatt wants to be a girl.

I just don’t want them to be crazy. That is all I don’t want.

So, yeah. Not real interested in saving the planet. I’ve got other things on my plate. But you go right on ahead.

That is what I am doing.

Part 3: Music of the Spheres
Conrad Wallace, age 68

What am I doing? I’m going through Amy’s things. And I guess you’re the bag I’m not supposed to open but must be sure not to leave behind or throw away, her machine-gun instructions from the unit, over the phone, what the docs called pressured speech, don’t open it, Dad, and don’t even fucking think about throwing it away, it might look like garbage to you but that’s because you don’t get it, you never got it, I had to ride this goddamned genius train all by myself, feel the music all around and align my body to it like a tuning fork, Dad, do you even know what a fucking tuning fork is, Dad? Of course you don’t, because you don’t get it.

She was never a cusser.

‘It’s a work-in-progress, Dad, a model, I’m helping the structure perfect itself, capture the music, make it audible to everyone. And if you throw it away like everything else you’ve always dismissed and made fun of–‘

‘Honey, I never–‘

‘Shut up Dad! Shut the fuck up, Dad! You don’t get to talk! I’m giving you simple instructions.  You throw away that bag and that will be the end of us.  The end of Amy and Dad at the planetarium. No more music for us.’

So the work in progress, and boxes of books, sheaves of sheet music, clothes, sheets and towels, a giant pair of men’s basketball sneakers, a small pair of briefs that I tweeze from the floor like a dead animal. One man? Two? The guy she brought to our house for dinner once and spent the evening fondling, scratching his back under his shirt, murmuring in his ear as her mother and I sat and watched, our food cold lumps in our mouths?  There were a lot of them, when things got bad. It was how you knew they were getting bad. There was no stopping that either.

And you, bag, heavy, clanking like pirate’s loot and knotted tightly at the top, everything goes into the U-Haul, again, another failed flight for Amy, again, her third school in as many years, the meds make me fat and stupid, Dad, I’m meant for bigger things, I can’t fuck, I can’t sleep, I can’t wake up. I know how to balance this.

I read her a story once about Phaethon, the son of the sun, his father had made him a promise: ask me for anything and it is yours, swore on a sacred river. And he asked to drive his father’s chariot dawn to dusk across the sky. Myths were my music when I was a kid; I thought I might grow up to be a writer once (‘Now there’s a lucrative career path,’ my practical wife told me, not unkindly). The sun balked and begged his son, please don’t make me keep that promise, it is more than you can do, the horses are wild, but he had sworn on a sacred river, that is of course what a promise to a child must be, unbreakable,  and Phaethon was stubborn like kids always are, convinced he could control the uncontrollable and he took off and the horses sensed his tentative hold on the reins and went wild and the chariot tipped down toward the earth and set it alight, the fire spreading so quickly birds burned in the trees, then veered back up and just as fast it froze, charred branches locked up in layers of ice, the chariot’s axle snapping, Phaethon falling into the sea, slipping between the waves, and he was gone.

Oh, her baby-bird wings, no escape velocity, she peaked for a moment in the sky, pausing as if taking a breath of surprise–Jesus, how did I get up here–like one of the model rockets she made dozens upon dozens of once, her fingers peeling with hardened glue, gunpowder on the air, then turning nose down, plummeting to the ground.  Again.

I was old when she came, closing in on 50.  Her mother, too, 45.  An accident after we’d given up, a wish we no longer made. Was it that? That we’d stopped hoping? Was it faulty sperm? A stale old egg like a wrinkled pea? She was odd from the beginning, never cracked a smile. She never knew happy.

I am a parent.  Everything is my fault.

And here is the present moment again, life is a messy pile of them, I’m poised on it, weaving, like a drunken gymnast on a bar, the present only starts to make sense once it isn’t the present anymore. The past falling away behind me, her sweaty hand in mine, the future dim in front of me, will she come back this time? Will she ever have a nice house, the right meds, a couple of kids, a husband who maybe won’t be real warm but helps her stay on track, will always come to save her, kind of like me, who feels for her the kind of love he’s capable of feeling on his best days?   Will they have a piano? Will daily things replace her magic flights?

Will she be okay with that? Will she be okay?

My knees ache as I bend to drag stuff out from under the bed, my neck twangs as I pull posters from the cinder-block walls, her roommate silent in the doorway, owl-eyed, who called the Student Health Center three days ago, got the hospital ball rolling. Again.

I think it burned her brain a little, each time. A smell came off her: carbon, model rockets. When she was a kid there wasn’t a name for it. Then, suddenly, there was.  And it turns out it did. Burn her brain, I mean. An electrical storm. The psychiatrist used those exact words.

She used to love explaining things. I’ve always been good at having things explained to me. I like to think she loved me for that. I’d take her to the zoo, the Natural History museum, the aquarium on the Sundays when her mom went for coffee and an afternoon with her journal, but she loved the planetarium the most. We’d sit in the soft movie-theater seats, a curved acoustic-tiled heaven within a heaven, pinpoints of light, a man’s deep voice-over edged with static, explaining, and she’d name the planets above us, trace their orbits.

The music came later, flowing out her fingers into white keys, stretched strings, padded hammers. I took out a little loan for the piano, the lessons, the expensive schools. She’d sit and watch the tuner work his magic, striking keys, adjusting wires, damping pedals.

I sit back on the floor for a minute, stretch the stiff out of my knees, look around at all the crap, don’t know where to begin. And you sit there, I look over at you again: ‘I’m saving the planet.’  As though you are inviting me with a weird plastic sympathy to look inside: maybe this will vindicate her. Maybe she really is on to something.  Maybe the third time’s a charm, where the crazy finally burns away to leave a bright star of brilliance. Maybe you really do hold magic, the mechanism she began to describe over the phone six weeks ago, screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-3-59-23-pmshe’d never made anything before, this was new, an hysterical thread running through her voice, dead men whispering, Pythagoras, Kepler, the music of the spheres, hidden ratios, that unheard song, the cycles of the planets, the stringed instruments of bodies, one cannot hear nor align with the other, she’d found a way to do that, emptied her checking account buying the materials and the tools, was embarked on the design and construction of the tool that would make it possible, she ticked the list off during another phone call, this one at 3 a.m.: a jeweler’s drill, sheets of brass, a tiny saw, rubber hammer, watch springs, threaded screws that would pass through the eye of a needle.

People need to hear it, Dad. People need to hear it.

Then the Health Center called, then the Dean. Then I got in the truck and drove to the hospital.  Then I stood outside the ancient spacecraft airlock doors of the unit, waited for the burly male nurse who’d greeted me twice before–a former Marine, maybe? his hair was so short, his crossed arms behind the chicken-wire glass as big around as my thighs, I looked like him once–to buzz me in, took that short instant alone to drop my head into my hands, feel my legs begin to go, feel the wail run through me, aligning me with that silent chord of the universe, escaping, my mouth shaping it into her name.

I don’t have room for any of this stuff anymore, her mother’s death only made the house smaller, I guess I’ll rent a locker. That way there’s a chance she’ll come get it, a chance she’ll come back to earth, heft the heavy lock in her palm, scroll in the combination, slide open the door.

But meanwhile in this present that makes no sense yet I drag you acrogears_watch_piless and up and into my lap, work the knot with my fingers, give up, tear you stem to stern. Tiny gears and crookedly sawn tiny lengths of brass, sharp enough to draw blood, and the tools, a miniature disaster, chaos in a bag, clashing, crashing notes. I gather them up in my hands, let them fall, and they jingle and ring with trapped music.

That is what I am doing.

Part 4: Do No Harm
Ted Detmer, Age 46

What am I doing. Well. Do you want the methodical answer, or the existential one? I’ll confess, as a research physician, that I prefer the former. My cocktail-party rap about my research is that I am in the business of blocking microscopic traffic.  You see, there are these proteins. Well (*chuckle*, sips drink), that’s pretty much all there are, actually. But the ones I’m interested in are the ones that block other proteins from rushing like repair teams to damaged DNA, lashing it back together before it collapses like a rickety ladder or a rope bridge across a chasm. If my interlocutor’s eyes haven’t glazed over by now, he or she might ask ‘well, why would you want to block something that fixes damage?’ I then can give him or her the lip-twitch ironic smile I’ve been perfecting since high school and say ‘well, what if that DNA codes for cancer cells?’ Depending on how late the party has gone, it can take from seconds to a full minute for this to sink in.

The War on Cancer. Dramatic, sexy, an heroic standoff with the forces of chaos. But cancer is really quite methodical, tedious even.  It makes petty plans and carries them out pretty much the way people do: sophisticated but often fucked up communication, ill-advised liaisons, mixed messages, amassing of armies, sabotage, subterfuge, disguise.

All you really have to know is how to look really closely, for a really long time, at really small things, and be willing to do that over and over and over again.

I once thought I’d work with patients, but that was the existential end of the continuum and it turned out not to suit me: too many variables, or too few.  I realized this very early on, my third year of med school, rounding through the psych unit where I met my wife. I saw it as a choice: I could try to slam the gate after the horse had escaped, talk patients down as I scrambled for a treatment, an explanation, a reason to fight, or I could climb into the stall myself, corner that fucking horse at the molecular level and take him out.

So let’s go with methodical: I’m emptying out a bag of things I found in Wyatt’s closet. In order of extraction, I find the following:

  1. child’s plastic princess crown, symmetrical placement of false gems in a blue, clear, pink, green, yellow progression, one (pink) missing
  2. small plastic sandals, colloquially termed ‘mules,’ pink, with a kitten heel and a vamp made of puffy pink and white synthetic feathers
  3. child-sized kimono-style robe, red synthetic satin, machine-embroidered floral details at hem, collar and sleeves
  4. iridescent, semi-translucent rainbow-hued scarf, fabric unknown

    pinterest-com

    pinterest.com

It is perhaps more challenging to identify and assess my reaction (mouth goes dry, heart rate quickens, mood darkens and edges toward anger: he has hidden them! he has deceived me! we had an agreement!), and it is unclear whether it would serve any useful purpose: it is familiar and chaotic at once; it is both fully aware and utterly bewildered.  It explains everything and nothing at all.

None of this is new; he has had the scarf since he was 3, snatched from a bin at Goodwill while shopping with his mother. He enjoyed lying on his back and arranging it over his face so that the world bloomed into color as he looked up through it. He danced, flounced, squealed, *lisped*: behaviors I’d always understood as learned, acquired, socially and politically inflected, and have now been forced to attribute to…what?  Where could he have learned this? Where acquired? At 3?

This is where my reaction gets chaotic, and hence not helpful, and I have borne this in mind when I have talked to Wyatt, who is old enough, at 5, to be talked to; old enough, at 5, to understand that there are things you do, and things you don’t do, depending on who you are. We don’t get to decide what we are any more than we get to decide whether or not to be born. It is not about *us.*  We are all prisoners of our bodies: capricious, prone to failure, stubbornly insistent on being what they are. The sooner peace can be made with that, well, let’s just say I want to spare my son the exhausting and futile task of trying to make himself into whatever he wants to be.

It’s just not that simple.

These things are scripted, okay? DNA is an instruction manual: what you will become, how, when, everything but the why. We don’t get to write it.  It writes us.

Trust me.  I’m a doctor.

So I was methodical with Wyatt, a year ago, and it appeared to gain purchase: you are a boy, Wyatt; it is what you are. These things are what girls do, and I don’t want you to feel confused. We reached an agreement, I thought: together he and I gathered up the clothing, the toys, the Barbies with their tiny pointy shoes, the kitchen things, the toy vacuum cleaner (such oppressive roles!), the miniature cosmetics, all the girl stuff (Amy has poor boundaries with these things, more often than not simply buying him what he asks for rather than asking why or- and I don’t think she has this in her- simply saying no), and boxed them up for his new little cousin in Seattle, just born into her body, just beginning to sense the limits, the possibilities, the finite number of options.

And then his mother allowed him to be a Disney mermaid for Halloween, dismantling it all with one swoop. ‘There are things we just don’t understand, Ted,’ she said. ‘But we can understand what he wants.’
‘He doesn’t know what he wants!’ I shouted.  ‘He made a deal with me, Amy. We had an agreement. We gave away the girl things. He was fine with it.’
‘Fine with it? Fine with it? Is that why he’s out back right now dancing around in a plastic seashell bra?’
You bought it for him!’
He wanted it!”
‘It’s going to Sophia. He and I tomorrow will put it in a box, and it is going in the mail to Sophia.’

Can we just have a few things that are clear and unambiguous? Can we just agree on that? And could one of them be my child’s gender? I’d be fine with a clear message. It doesn’t have to be the one I’d prefer; the clarity would be sufficient.

I was the only one who could comfort him, right from the beginning. He was born crying, howling in protest. Amy likes to say she felt him wailing before he’d even left her body, but Amy is like that: prone to hyperbole and excess, needing a steady hand. I sometimes wonder whether she loves that I saved her more than she loves me.

And of course there was the question of whether to have children at all. The nifty little salt that settles Amy’s brain-no one has ever been abled to explain why-has been linked to heart defects in infants; when she turned up pregnant with Riley, unplanned, we did a risk-benefit with her ob who, once he’d read her history, advised her to stay on it. We’ve kept an eye; Riley’s heart ticks as steadily and soundly as a Swiss watch.

Were we gambling when we opted for a second? I am not a gambler by nature, and Amy has learned caution the hard way. I think it was more that we carefully looked off the other way and let it sneak up on us. Can you plan to be surprised?

She’d call me in tears, Wyatt wailing in her arms, beg me to come home.  I’d take him from her and he’d settle instantly, which only upset her more. We were spoiled by Riley. He was an easy baby, fooled us into thinking we knew what we were doing. I’d sit with Wyatt as he fought sleep, fix him on my lap and page with him through the color plates in my medical books, the stained microscopic images of cancer cells: the swirling shapes and brilliant colors, which I would explain in a sleepy, lulling murmur aren’t their actual colors

cancer-research-uk

cancerresearchUK

but rather a broad range of contrast media saturated with ultraviolet and infrared light: it defined them more clearly. It isn’t art, Wye, I’d murmur. It’s science. He’d stare, transfixed, lay his fingers on the glossy images, nod into sleep, eyes rolling back and his heavy head dropping against my chest.

I sit on the bed, lift a shoe, drop it, pick up the crown, perch it on my head, lift it off, drop it.  The door opens and slams downstairs, a murmur of voices: Amy, Riley, Wyatt, back from some errand or other.

I have samples to culture, rows of test tubes in wire baskets (that’s not strictly true; I have techs and assistants for all that by now, but I prefer thinking that this is what I still do.  The writing and grant-grubbing and lecture circuit and panel-sitting are wearing away at me. It’s not what I am good at).

Oh, Wyatt.  Oh, Wye. I stand and bundle all of the stuff into my arms, lift and shake you open, bag, to jam it all back in, and find that I cannot do it, the way that on my honeymoon, two thirds of the way from the summit of Mt. Katahdin, clouded in so that I could see nothing but my feet below me, I could suddenly no longer walk, could suddenly no longer detach myself from the rock face behind me. I was nearly there.  Nearly there.

‘Pick a snack, Wye, then nap,’ I hear Amy say.  They’ll be heading up soon.  We’ve talked about naps, that, at 5, he has surely outgrown them, but he insists, sinking into them like a fainting lady on a couch, as eagerly as he resists going to sleep at night. I stand there for a moment longer, drop you on the floor so that I can use both hands to place Wyatt’s

istockphoto-com

things on the bed, laying down the scarf first and arranging the crown, shoes, and kimono on top of it,  a neat colored square, a contrast medium, everything carefully arranged.  I step away, assess the symmetry, make a few adjustments, stand there a moment longer, then turn and leave the room.

That is what I am doing.

 

 

©Melinda Rooney, 2016

13 Ways of Looking at Collusion

With apologies to Wallace Stevens
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45236/thirteen-ways-of-looking-at-a-blackbird
With no apologies to Donald Trump
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/28/us/politics/trump-interview-excerpts.html

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 9.16.34 AM
I.
Among Republicans and Democrats
Virtually every one has said there is
No collusion.
There’s been
No collusion.
Everybody knows the answer already.
There was
No collusion.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 9.15.47 AM
II.
They walk around blinking at each other.
I have no expectation.
I can only tell you that there is absolutely
No collusion.

III.
A hoax,
A ruse
A made-up problem
An excuse for losing an election

IV.
A Democrat and a Republican
Are one.
A Democrat and a Republican and Collusion
Are one

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 9.26.54 AM

A Lover’s Quarrel, Lindsey Kustusch

V.
I do not know which to prefer
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes
That there was
Collusion
Or that there was
No collusion

VI.
I saw Dianne Feinstein the other day on television, she said,
There is
No collusion.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 9.27.14 AM

Line of Flight, Sarah Yeoman

VII.
I watched Alan Dershowitz the other day, he said,
Number 1, there is
No collusion,
Number 2, collusion is not a crime,
But even if it was a crime, there was
No collusion.
There is
No collusion
And even if there was, it’s not a crime.
But there’s
No collusion.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 9.16.46 AM

VIII.
The Republicans, in terms of the House committees,
They come out,
They’re so angry
Because there is
No collusion.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 9.39.55 AM

What Is Gathered Will Disperse, Lindsey Kustusch

IX.
Every Democrat is saying it
Frankly there is absolutely
No collusion
That’s been proven
There is
No collusion.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 9.40.05 AM

What Is Moving Will Be Still, Lindsey Kustusch

X.
The congressmen have been unbelievable in pointing out what a
Witch hunt the whole thing is.
So, I think it’s been proven that there is
No collusion.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 9.39.27 AM

Good Morning, Ingrid Art Studio

XI.
But
There is tremendous collusion
Including all of the stuff with the —
And then whatever happened to the Pakistani guy, that had the two,
You know,
whatever happened to this Pakistani guy?
Whatever happened to him?

Whatever happened
With the two servers that they broke up into a million pieces?

That was a big story

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 9.41.18 AM

XII.
It makes the country look bad
It makes the country look very bad
It puts the country in a very bad position.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 9.41.52 AM

Crow Study II, Sarah Yeoman

XIII.
There was collusion and there was no collusion
There was tremendous collusion
And there was no collusion

You know, we hear bullshit from the Democrats

[Cross talk]
[Cross talk]

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 9.40.36 AM

 

©Melinda Rooney, 2018

information for all uncredited images can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/407012885045075486/

Artist Info:
https://sarahyeoman.com/
https://www.lindseykustusch.com/
https://myrntai.deviantart.com

 

Skeleton Prayer

Peter Breslin

Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 9.39.00 AM

Guard the great lands of Ilium and Ischium tonight,
Watch out for trochanters and the dreaded acetabulum,
Arrange thy phalanges in phalanxes both distal and proximal,
Align all of thine intertubercular sulci and glenoid cavities,
May atlas and axis roll free
May the great iliac crest never fail or fade!
And so, dear fibula and tibia,
I bid thee goodnight.

Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 9.58.52 AM

©Peter Breslin, 2018

Peter Breslin is a teacher, musician, PhD student in plant conservation biology at Arizona State University and writer who lives in Tempe AZ.  See his ‘Recycled Declaration’ here 

To 82 Women: A Former English Major Processes the Weinstein Scandal

First pub­lished in The Satirist
https://www.thesatirist.com/poems/82-women-former-english-major-processes-weinstein-scandal.html

[Af­ter An­drew Mar­vel­l’s To His Coy Mis­tress]

Would you had clout enough, or ties;
Your cringe, my dear, might not be so un­wise.
We would mu­tu­ally mas­sage, and think which way
To wank, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Roche-Bobois
Shouldst rub­bers find; here, I’ll take your bra
Turn down the bed; I would
Love you ten sec­onds be­fore the flood,
And you should, if you please, re­buff me with a sob
Un­less, that is, you want to keep your job.
My veg­etable love should grow
It some­times takes awhile, you know
(It’s partly why I do this)
A minute or two should go to praise
Thine ass, and on thy pussy gaze;
Twelve sec­onds to adore each breast,
And maybe twenty for the rest;
A fin­ger laid on every part,
I don’t give a shit about your heart.
For, lady, you de­serve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I al­ways hear
My class­mates’ voices: ‘Fatty! Zit­face! Queer!’
And yon­der all be­fore me looms
-I’m ugly, af­ter all-just empty rooms.
Say no and I will take it out on you
And in my mar­ble john, will coo
My echo­ing song: ‘please watch me mas­tur­bate,’
And it will be too late.
I’ll yank your con­tract; you’ll flee to Dubuque,
To moth­er­hood, per­haps, and tod­dlers’ puke
And your nascent gifts all turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust;
Un­til the next one.
Dubuque’s a fine and pri­vate place,
But none, I think, do there em­brace
(None with in­flu­ence, at least).

Now there­fore, while the youth­ful hue
Sits on thy skin like morn­ing dew,
And while thy as­pi­ra­tions war with self-re­spect
Now let us sport…look! Fi­nally erect!
And now, like a hooker vir­gin an­gel
Rather at once my junk de­vour
Come on, let’s go and take a shower.
Let me roll your un­der­wear and all
Your sweet­ness up into one ball,
And lift it to my face
De­mol­ish all your wishes with rough strife
Drag you through the iron gates of life:
Then hug me at the Os­cars: air-kiss, quick!
And keep it to your­self that I’m a prick.

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 8.50.10 AM

Ashley Judd, Harvey Weinstein, Vince Vaughn BEI/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

©Melinda Rooney, 2018

The Love Song of Kellyanne Conway

After The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, with abject apologies to the spirit of  T.S. Eliot
Eliot’s words, with tweaks of my own here and there,  appear in standard font
Quotes from Kellyanne Conway in italics

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 7.10.37 PM

Let us go then, you and I,
When the polls close,
The evening spread out against the sky
Like Newt Gingrich, taking the wings off butterflies

Let us go, leave the school gym, walk through half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights
An Elks Club
Or bachelor party

If you have the time, if you have the inclination to speak to a stranger
If you want to divulge what is a very sacred, private matter
–the way that you just voted
An overwhelming question

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Those conversations never happened.

In the room, the women come and go
Weigh all of the issues,
All of the images,
All of the information
And make a choice
Almost at the last minute.

And indeed there will be time
(I want to do right, apart from my gender – I want to do right as a campaign manager)
There will be time, there will be time
(Women have been late-in-the-game deciders)
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

There will be time to murder
Nearly two and a half million people die every year that are on the voter rolls.
It takes time to get dead people off the voter rolls.

And create
Every life should have a chance,
Regardless of race, socioeconomic status or circumstance

And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate:
Why would I hang a sign around Ted Cruz’s neck that says ‘Iowa or bust?’

Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
An avalanche, indeed, an unprecedented deluge:
Negative,
Caustic,
Burn-it-to-the-ground
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Falsehoods
Alternative facts

Oh, do not ask
Why would I hang a sign around Ted Cruz’s neck that says ‘Iowa or bust?’

Because then there’s only two options:
Iowa, or bust.

I don’t sugarcoat things, but I’m very polite in delivering them.

In the room the women come and go:
“Please speak to me from the waist up: my brain, my eyes.”

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
I went out on my own, years ago, to try to create some additional choices
in a parallel universe.
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
I tell people all the time, ‘Don’t be fooled, because I am a man by day.’
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
I’ve noticed a lot of people are very bold and blustery on Twitter because it’s easy to do that With the poison keyboard
And a hundred and forty characters.

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 6.53.59 PM

My morning coat, red, white and blue with buttons shaped like cats, My collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My felt hat rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —

In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
There’s plenty of room for passion, but there’s very little room for emotion
For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the Tappers, Cuomos, Holts,

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 7.16.44 PM
I have measured out my life with talking heads
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Above the chyrons
Beneath the music from a farther room.

So how should I presume?

They say a bald man is trustworthy. He has nothing to hide.

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
There are many ways to surveil each other.
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
I never knew how ugly and how stupid I was until, well, you know.

And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,

Then how should I begin
To reject the spin
The overreach and distraction?

And how should I presume?
Sexual harassment is as difficult to prove as it is to disprove. 

And how should I begin?
Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.

Shall I say
Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform?
Are you gonna look me in the face and tell me that?

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

Women are trying to have it all but are trying to regain control
And, although it shouldn’t be, men behaving badly is sort of an occupational hazard
They think that they’ve got a monopoly on talking to women from the waist down.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the silver bullet, the magic elixir, the fool’s errand
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To say:

You can’t appeal to us through our wombs,
We’re pro-life.
The fetus
Beat us.
We grew up with sonograms
As if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen

We know life when we see it.

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 7.19.11 PM

That is not what I meant at all;
That is not it, at all.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
This whole biology-chemistry-abortion-gender agenda
Would it have been worth while
If one, fixing her makeup and fluffing up her hair, and turning toward the press corps,
Should say:

“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

We know there are lots of leaks everywhere.
There’s nothing we can do about that, except not leak ourselves.

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I serve at the pleasure of @POTUS.
His goals are my goals
His message my message.
Uninformed chatter
Doesn’t matter.

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 6.50.12 PM

©Melinda Rooney, 2018

The Key to Happiness

Amanda Richards

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 8.52.22 AM

The Poem and its Inspiration, Nan Nickson

 

©Amanda Richards, 2017

Amanda Richards is a freelance writer and editor living in central Pennsylvania with her husband and young son. She enjoys baking, reading, and large cups of tea. When she’s not saving the world one typo at a time, Amanda can be found scouring local antique stores and flea markets for antique inkwells.

From the Clickbait Archives: Facebook Ad Resolutions

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 6.02.36 PM

Chestnuts can roast all night long, but the risotto has spoken:

So little of 2017 left.
So much amazing underwear on sale.

Down to the last minute?
Resolve to make a positive change
You can use your writing skills to build the life you want

Send a girl to school for a year
Kiss your boring walls goodbye

I never expected my life would flourish like this
We aren’t the only ones reporting faster oyster growth.

We take your style personally
Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists
Listen to Coco Chanel on this one.

The Best Sleep of Your Life

This is how to release what no longer serves you.
This is the thing that’s going to set people free.

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 6.13.52 PM

©Melinda Rooney, 2017

 

The Age of Folly: a Poem in 25 Titles

[I pulled 25 books off my shelves, at random, and scribbled down their titles, then tried to make a poem with them. With the exception of a few little tweaks (dropping a couple of ‘and’s and ‘the’s), the titles remain intact.]

images
The Prelude:
Strange Rebel,
The Red Car
The Deluge
The Swerve
The Siren
The Bend of the World

download
The Odyssey:
First Circle
Doctor
And Devils,
Myth and Mythmaking
The Beautiful
Damned
(The 13-Gun Salute)
images

 

Ideas of Heaven:
Enchantment
Corrections
Magical Thinking
First Light

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-05 at 1.00.22 PM
The Starter Screenplay:
Untold Stories
Absent Voices
The Party’s Over

 

 

 

 

©Melinda Rooney, 2017

Authors: Guy Murchie, Lewis Lapham, Jonathan Franzen, Christian Caryl, Mike Lofgren, Joan Didion, William Wordsworth, Henry A. Murray, Giuseppe de Lampedusa, Alan Bennett, Rochelle Altman, Dylan Thomas, Patrick O’Brian, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Guy Kawasaki, Charles Baxter, Joan Silber, Marcy Dermansky, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, , Adam Levenberg, Jacob Bacharach, Alan Tooze, Stephen Greenblatt, Homer

Artist Recycles Old Hubcaps Into Stunning Animal Sculptures — FLOW ART STATION

Artist Recycles Old Hubcaps Into Stunning Animal Sculptures More info: hubcapcreature / Facebook Those car enthusiasts out there are always looking for a way to integrate their love of everything automobile related into art, so for those who have been wracking their brains trying to figure out a way to put more car-themed decorations into […]

via Artist Recycles Old Hubcaps Into Stunning Animal Sculptures — FLOW ART STATION