Gestational Drive

Susan Bass Marcus

Susan's Baby

I was in my second trimester, carrying my first child. We called the fetus ‘Thumper.’ Sex undetermined for I was pregnant before the perfection of ultrasound screening. Imagining this little being in me, twisting and twirling, pushing out and pressing down, I’d talk to her/him, play classical music AND rock, and exercised for both of us. By the beginning of the last trimester, I’d enrolled in a sculpture class. Feather rock looked like a manageable  medium. A roly-poly happy baby emerged as I chiseled and rasped away at the tufa-like stone. Although our daughter lives more than 1000 miles from us today, the sculpture remains with my husband and me.

Susan Bass Marcus is a native Chicagoan who makes her home in the city’s South Loop. In 2015, she published her fantasy novel Malevir: Dragons Return. Her stories have been published in After Hours Magazine (print), Bewildering Stories (, Horrorseek (, and Fictitious This is her second featured post on Recycled. Her first can be found here.

read more at http://www.

©Susan Bass Marcus, 2017


Donald’s Villanelle

The villanelle is a poetic form with its origins in Italian rustic song (‘villanelle’ deriving from the Italian word ‘villano,’ which means ‘peasant,’ or, perhaps, from ‘villa,’ Latin for ‘farm’). Speculation locates it in a tradition of ‘round’ songs (remember those from kindergarten?) sung to accompany the repeated rituals of agriculture: sowing and reaping.


Jean-Francois Millet: Buckwheat Harvest: Summer; 1868-1870; pastel

It evolved into its present form in the 16th century, in French poetry. Throughout history and up to the present day, poets have been smitten with the villanelle, ensuring its ongoing evolution even as it resonates with echoes of the past.

Its structure is as follows:

  1. It is a poem of nineteen lines.

  2. It has five stanzas, each of three lines, with a final one of four lines.

  3. The first line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the second and fourth stanzas.

  4. The third line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the third and fifth stanzas.

  5. These two refrain lines follow each other to become the second-to-last and last lines of the poem.

  6. The rhyme scheme is aba. The rhymes are repeated according to the refrains.

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Donald’s Villanelle

I’ve done nothing wrong, you know
Russia, kickbacks, it’s all lies
I hope that you can let this go.

The fake news witch hunt, on it goes
Sad! Their whos and whats and whys
I’ve done nothing wrong, you know

There’s a high road, there’s a low
Drain the swamp and scrape the skies
I hope that you can let this go

Crooked H, bad hombres, foes
So-called judges, leaking spies
I’ve done nothing wrong, you know

Walls and tariffs, jobs and dough
You’ll tire of winning, all you guys
I hope that you can let this go

Believe me, time will tell and show
Great Again, Tremendous Size
I’ve done nothing wrong, you know
I hope that you can let this go

©Melinda Rooney, 2017

[I’m indebted to The Making of a Poem: a Norton Anthology of poetic forms; Mark Strand and Eavan Boland, eds. New York, W.W. Norton & Company; 2000.]

Keynote: Variations on a Theme of Steve Jobs

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Ten years ago, in 2007, Steve Jobs and Apple introduced iPhone to the world.  For those of us too young or too old to remember it well, which is to say all of us, it’s worth watching again, or for the first time, if only to see his dazzled audience erupt in wild applause as he demonstrates ‘cover flow,’ a conference call, sending a text, flipping a photo from portrait to landscape, accessing voicemail: things that are so woven into our daily experience by now that they’ve come to seem humdrum.

But man, are they ever not.

It’s nearly an hour long, but if you’re feeling low about humanity lately, it will restore your sense of wonder: here are the things we are able to do. The talk is a work of art in itself, a litany of miracles intoned by a simply dressed man who’s remembered as part geek, part tyrant, and all genius.

What follows is a found poem from the transcript of that talk, which has been engraved in my memory since my son, then 14, showed it to me in 2007: ‘You’re not going to believe this,’ he said. ‘Grab onto something.’  Its words are, for the most part, Jobs’s: verbatim in some places (the final stanza contains the longest direct quotation); tweaked for fluency, coherence, and scan in others, with some words of my own mixed in, sort of a verbal glue.

Steve Jobs was possessive of what he created: notoriously secretive, intensely private, sometimes litigious, wary of theft. But at the same time he was a collaborator and borrower par excellence, taking and using the work and ideas of others to create something entirely new. I hope, from his place in the Cloud, that he will see this recycled piece in that spirit.





Push here for the days I’ve waited,
We’re gonna leave them here for now
Hit this little button here
And put them all to sleep.

Hit it again, and wake it up
And here it is: today
Portrait to landscape
Sleeping to waking

No, I mean it!
One from three
A leapfrog product
All we need
It’s all we need
It’s everything
It’s in my hand
It’s built right in

This stuff off a server? Up there in the cloud?
I, a proud father
Captured it here
The things we never knew we wanted
Right here in my hand.
Miniature interface
Graphite and hardware
Web-fingered software
Battery life
Custom-mold silicon
Speaker and microphone
All of it, here, in the palm of my hand.

Featherweight management,
200 patents
It takes you back home from wherever you are
Your life in your pocket,
The usual suspects
Mouse, clickwheel, multi-touch
Infant to man

Now here’s stuff you can’t see:
An ambient sensor
Proximity sensor

What does that do?

Well, have you heard about spurious inputs?
Those things your face does when it’s pressed to the screen?
A sensor ignores unintentional touches
It turns them all off
So the data stays clean.

This is not what you find on most phones.

This is not the crippled stuff.


It’s amazing
How hard, making calls
Actually having to dial them each time

How many of you do that?
I bet more than a few

So you’re gonna use contacts like never before
Bring down your contacts right into your phone
Set some stars
Hit the buttons
The bandwagon
All of those things that you find in the world

Here’s what it looks like when you get a call
Here’s what it sounds like
Go on, take a look
Push it right here, boom,
And there, you can see them,
Favorites and recents and contacts and mail
Scroll through them,
Scroll through them,
Scroll through them once more
These arrows and buttons and stars.


Jony! How are you?
It’s over 2 years!
I’m thrilled
I remember
When we started all this.
It’s amazing
Wait—whoa, what is this?
Sorry J, I got a call coming in

J, can I put you on hold for a minute?
Hi Phil
I’ll just touch him and bring Jony back.
Hey, J, are you there?
Hey listen, uh, Phil’s here
I’ll conference you in

And so
Here we are


J? You there?
Phil? You there?

Jony. Jony.

Okay, take care, Jony.
Phil, thanks very much, but I gotta go, so–
Yeah, alright.
I’ll talk to you later
Like sometime this fall
Okay then, alrighty.

And I end this call.

So, now there’s a way to make favorites here.
Move Phil if I want to, you know, to the top.
Jony, well, Jony- now he’s changed his number.
I’ll just remove Jony.
And boom, there we go.

It’s that simple.
Very, very easy.

If I wanna see all the ones that I’ve missed
I go up, touch that button
Boom: ones that I’ve missed.

If there’s a new message, it goes there and tells me
Error prevention
Error correction
I won’t not make some, I probably will
But then I can just say sounds great, see you there
And then I can send that. And then, there it is.

It’s that simple.

You don’t have to manage the network, you know.
Be sure, no, be certain it will do the right thing.


Now let me show you something else.
I’ll pick Italy.
Push that button and we go right there.
I turn, I’m in portrait.
I turn, I’m in landscape.
Here, look at the pinch: make it bigger, now smaller
So let’s take a look now.
What’s this all about?

Satellite photos, directions and traffic.
Touch maps with my finger, the world on a screen.
And here we go. Scroll here. Go there, now we’re there.
Just go over there now; come back over here.

Get rid of them all just by hitting the X.

I know!
Let’s go to the Washington Monument.
Double-tap here,
Hit this button and

…uh, let’s just let it catch up to me

Okay, so now
The Washington Monument.
People down there!
There we go. Look at this!

And now here’s another one, uh, Eiffel Tower.
Look at this, right here, the real Eiffel Tower.
There’s people down there! On my phone! You can see!
Look at that.
Do you see them?
Do you think they see me?

So now, over here,
Colosseum in Rome
Here we are, Colosseum.
Colosseum in Rome.
Satellite imagery.
Look at that. God!
That’s the Colosseum,
The Colosseum in Rome.

Here we go,
Here’s the weather.
Let’s see what it’s like.
49 now, 61 later
We’ll just stay in here then, until it warms up.

Here’s Paris right here, and it’s nighttime in Paris.
It’s nighttime in Paris, and warmer than here.
Wow. Aspen. No snow until later this week.
Hawaii–it’s raining, that’s not good at all.

[I hope you’ll never really know
Because it’s really bad out there]


Let’s put it together
and see what it does
Is everyone with me?
Okay. Here we go.

Go on ahead and touch your music
While I set some stars by hitting the marks.
Slide it across now
We’ve only just started
Go on, touch your music
Take your finger, and scroll

See? Here we are. We’re in artists right now
A little rubber banding when I run off the edge
And if I wanna pick one
Well then, I pick one
I scroll here
I tap it
And boom, there it is:
Screen Shot 2017-06-17 at 2.29.14 PM


With A Little Help From My Friends

We wanted something you couldn’t do by accident in your pocket.

Music fades,
The screen changes.
There’s a call here, coming in.
So I can ignore it, but I think that I’ll answer.

I answer it.

Oh, hi Phil. Hey listen, I’m busy right now–
–A photo? Hawaii?
Uh, Okay.
Hold on.
[So I go home, right here, and I’m still on the call.]
Okay, let me look.

[I scroll through the photos
I think it was this one…
Don’t know why he wants it
He looks like a slob]

Yup, Phil, here, I’ve got it.
You want I should send?
[Now watch this. I tap here? And boom. There it goes.]

This is what it’s like when you put it together.
A real-life scenario
Here’s where you are.


You know, when I was in high school.

Steve and I, well, mostly Steve, uh, he made this little device called the tv jammer. And it was, it was this little oscillator that put out frequencies that would screw up the tv. And he would have it in his pocket, and we’d go into like a dorm where he was going to school and a bunch of folks was watching like Star Trek and he’d screw up the TV, and somebody’d go up to fix it,
and and and
just as they had their foot off the ground,
He’d turn it back on. And if they put their foot back on the ground he’d screw up the TV again.
And within 5 minutes he’d have somebody like this for the rest of the Star Trek episode.

I don’t think anyone is gonna look at anything quite the same way again.

What does this tell you?

Those of us there, we will never forget
And I don’t think the world will, ever again.
First was the first one
The second came next
And now here’s the third, in the palm of my hand.

I wanna get home, so I push the button,
I wanna get home, and it takes me home.
The button, you touch it, and it takes you home
It takes you back home from wherever you are.

Look at all the days I’ve waited,
We’re gonna leave them here for now.
We skate to where the puck will be,
Not to where it’s been.

Why do you do things the way that you do?
Alan, he asked me this 30 years back
Why do you do that?
Well, Alan, tell me
Why do you do things the way that you do?

It’s really not too shabby, is it?
We’ve really only just begun
I think I’ve shown you everything
Let’s go ahead and turn it on

You know, I showed this once to someone
Someone who’d never seen it before
Well, what do you think? I asked
I remember
He told me
Dude, you had me at scrolling.


©Melinda Rooney, 2017






Birth, Maiden, Mother (two views), Crone


This sculpture depicts five aspects of Woman’s self/life: Birth on the bottom, the beginning for us all, a Maiden from the view of her back, a hugely pregnant me viewed on her left side, a Mother pulling her babe to the breast on the face (shown) side, and the crone as viewed on her right side.

This one was carved in 1995, when Benjamin was just a babe, out of soapstone. I was working on the piece the morning of April 19, 1995, when it fell to my kitchen floor and broke into pieces. I was devastated. I learned on the radio later that morning that at 9:02 AM, a truck had exploded in the street in front of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building. About 90 minutes later, Timothy McVeigh was stopped by an Oklahoma state trooper for driving a vehicle without a license plate… This is one of those things that make me believe in God. When I put it together that my goddess sculpture had broken so close to the time (if not at the same time) of this huge disruption in our nation’s psyche, I knew I had to heal her. So I found a way to use the dust from her making to glue the pieces back together, and she appeared almost perfect. Now that she has aged–sat outside in the dirt, been soaked in the rain, and been transported from state to state with Benjamin and me, you can begin to see her cracks.

I love this sculpture. I have short hair in it as I did for Benjamin’s birth, and it is just the right size to hold in your lap and turn around to see all the sides. 

[text by Nan]

©Nan Nickson, 2017

Nan Nickson’s mission statement: ‘Running Rooster Farm is a live, organic, performance art project where I try to grow my own food wherever I am at.’


Recycled Limerick

Kimmy Allan

…public service announcement meets poetic form. Result: recycled art with a message.downloadThere once was a girl named Renee
Who recycled things every day
And because less trash
It meant far more cash
For she had more money to play

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©Kimmy Alan, 2017

Kimmy Alan is a wannabe poet from the land of Lake Woebegone. A retired steel worker who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, Kimmy Alan pursued his love of poetry as a distraction while undergoing chemo and radiation. For him, poetry has proven to be a powerful catharsis, as he is currently in remission. When he isn’t writing he spends time with his four wonderful nieces, whom he says “are driving him to pieces.”


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  1. Who are you named after?
    No one. My mother opened a baby name book and dropped her finger on a page. My father came and went and left me in his wake, a little seed and I grew into a little plant, and she said she’d jump off a bridge before she’d name me after him. All I know is that he is a rock star. She didn’t want me doomed, she said once, to either having to live up to him or repeating his mistakes. She had this thing about fate and free will. She went to college for awhile I guess. She read me a lot of books.
  2. Last time you cried?
    When she died. I was twelve. She jumped off a bridge.
  3. Do you like your handwriting?
    Very much. I was praised as a child. People are more likely to help you out if you take some trouble making your sign. You can’t just scribble any old which way on some crappy piece of cardboard. You don’t want to look crazy. You have to make an effort, have a little self-respect. If I can scare up the right kind of marker and a relatively blemish-free surface, I mean, get out of my way. (Dumpsters outside movie theaters are great. If they haven’t just crumpled them up, if they’ve gone to the trouble to roll them which you’d be surprised, a lot of them do, the back of a movie poster is the perfect medium: glossy, pure white, just stiff enough to withstand some weather. And there are a couple of the librarians here, they loan me Sharpies. Sharpies only used to come in black but they’re all colors now.) Sometimes I’ll make a little picture: a puppy, a bunch of flowers. One of my foster moms, she liked to do art. And school was not for me but I did like the books and art class. My philosophy is you make it nice for people, they’ll want to make it nice for you.
  4. What is your favorite lunch meat? download
    They don’t make it anymore. Or maybe they do and I just haven’t been in a store for awhile. It was this baloney with sliced olives in it. Pimento loaf. On rye bread with cream cheese. Foster Family Four, if memory serves.
  5. Longest relationship?
    My mom. We lived in a bus. After that I kind of went from house to house, you know, sometimes a juvenile facility. A hospital once.
  6. Do you still have your tonsils?
    She didn’t believe in doctors. And we couldn’t pay for one anyway.
  7. Would you bungee jump?
    Not likely. But I’ve been known to surprise myself. I kind of have enough on my plate.
  8. Favorite kind of cereal?
    I’ve only ever had one kind. We didn’t do refined sugar or Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 3.58.37 PMpreservatives and plus the no money thing so I stole a box of Frankenberry from a Kroger’s one day when we came into town and ate it in the parking lot. I was six I think. I don’t know. I guess I’d eat Frankenberry again. I’m not sure they make it anymore, like the pimento loaf. It makes your poop a funny color.
  9. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
    I avoid shoes. It’s what’s nice about warm climates. That and you can sleep outside and not freeze to death. There’s a shoes rule here, but I hole up in one of the computer cubicles so I’m generally not seen. I bring all my shit in with me, you know, because you need to keep an eye, and that has likewise never been a problem. As I said, I think it’s preferable by all that there be the option not to see certain things.
  10. Favorite ice cream?
    Ah, see, now you’re just messing with me.
  11. What is the first thing you notice about a person?
    The way they pretend not to see me. Everyone’s different, the way they do it, like fingerprints. It’s why I make an effort with the sign.
  12. Football or baseball?
    Baseball. Spring training down here. Nice guys. I watch through the fence.
  13. What color pants are you wearing?
    You mean originally? Couldn’t tell you.
  14. Last thing you ate?
    Why? You offering?
  15. What are you listening to?
    Grunge. Any and all. Once when I nagged her my mother told me that’s what my dad played. So I think sometimes hey, maybe this song I’m listening to? Maybe that’s him. They make me use these headphones. You know: shhhh. I like YouTube. And these quizzes. No one can see you on Facebook, so no one has to on purpose not see you. Simplifies things for everybody. I have a profile and everything, I’ve made some friends, you know, I have a list. I get to answer questions as if someone really wants to know. They say this stuff about privacy, about stealing your data, but I got nothing to steal, and privacy is overrated. You only care about privacy when you’re not alone all the time.
  16. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? download
    Burnt Sienna. I loved crayons as a kid, still do. That little sharpener in the box. Sometimes with a new box I’d just run my fingers over the tips and not want to use them because they were so perfect.
  17. What is your favorite smell?
    Simmering garlic and onions.
  18. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
    Some lady at the shelter.
  19. Married?
    Once. Wasn’t for me.
  20. Hair color?
    Blonde. The greenish is from chlorine. I sneak into people’s yards sometimes, you know, use the pool. One place? Really rich folks, never there. Easy to creep in through the woods, lame security system. It’s called an Infinity pool, and it just tips right off the edge of the world. That’s a favorite spot.
    stirling infinity
  21. Eye color?
    Brown, but kind of dull and blurry, like beer bottles on the beach.
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  22. Favorite foods to eat?
    Whatever I can find. Whatever they give me.
  23. Scary movies or happy endings?
    Depends on my mood.
  24. Last movie you watched?
    Wizard of Oz. That’s a weird fucking movie. No one ever points that out.
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  25. What color shirt are you wearing?
    Formerly white.
  26. Favorite holiday?
    New Year’s. People give you drinks, you know, they’re drunk so they’re nice to you.
  27. Beer or Wine?
    Do I have to choose? I mean, I’d prefer weed but I had to give it up awhile back. It made me too hungry.
  28. Night owl or morning person?
    Both. I can’t afford to be choosy.
  29. Favorite day of the week?
    I stopped keeping track awhile ago. You’d be surprised how quickly it stops mattering. I hate Sundays though and I always know when they are because they are when the library’s closed. The library’s quiet. You can’t believe how noisy the world is when you’re outside all the time.
  30. Favorite season?
    No seasons here. I miss the fall sometimes, the trees like they’re on fire, frost in the grass. It got cold in the bus, but my mom was always there and we’d bundle up, and I don’t know how she did it, but she was always warm.

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    ©Melinda Rooney, 2017

Recycled Puppets

Susan Bass Marcus

Puppet artist, fiction writer, and former museum professional Susan Bass Marcus has made more than 100 puppets, most for performance. She incorporates found material, she says, because ‘paint, canvas, and other art supplies cost a lot. Besides, it’s more fun to re-purpose stuff.’

Like an alchemist, or a magical character in a fairy tale, Ms. Marcus makes gold from straw, jewels from stones, treasures from trash. She recycles.

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Susan Bass Marcus is a native Chicagoan who makes her home in the city’s South Loop. In 2015, she published her fantasy novel Malevir: Dragons Return. Her stories have been published in After Hours Magazine (print), Bewildering Stories (, Horrorseek (, and Fictitious

Featured Image by Edward Gorey