SEARCHING

by Andrea McKinnie

 

Sharp arrows implore me

You want to restore me

 

I’m Bleeding internally

 

My pain’s visibility is Incognito

it is hidden in the drug

that I am addicted to.

 

I am screaming inside

God, can you hear me

This pressure is too much

I just want to be free…

 

Tidal waves of fury,

hurricanes of disappointment

This deluge overpowers me

and I cannot get up.

 

I know that God is real,

but I am struggling to find the path

to a brighter day.

IN DEFENSE OF MAN

by Jasmine Williams

 

Your honor, please let me bring the defenses argument.

 

I am the last person who should stand here today and tell you to save them

To spare them from the horrible hell you have already decided for them

But, I want to bring one piece to the table, one argument.

I will not waste mine or your time.

I will make things brief.

You have forsaken Man for all the they have done.

I know the things that goes on in their heads.

The murder, raping, the poverty the waiting.

They started with so much potential and we both watched as their glimmer faded.

They take pride in the wrong they do, the kill true beauty and smile at the job.

They taint all that they have touched like a rose that wilts after you hold it too long.

They do not hold the rose they pluck it and demand that it smells.

Then after all its uses are gone, Man then cries asking what went wrong.

They are petty and inpatient, dirty and smell. They kill everything

From land, to sea, to themselves. Inside and out.

They are horrible beings and, honestly, I agreed with you.

But, we fathered them both of us, and I have one thing to say before you take them away.

They have disease and sickness and lust, greed, envy and anger and mean.

They have no redeeming qualities at least that is what you believe…

Have you ever seen the face of a mother with her young, day old?

The smiles of children in the park, in the yards.

The way a young man falls for his love.

The gentle breathes that sing in syce.

The way of two heartbeats.

All the hair fading from a child’s head. Uniting all to fight for them.

The gentle hands that hold other close.

The comfort of a friend or a lover or both possibly.

The singing of songs that no one knows.

The car rides and walks to places familiar or unknown.

The seeing of misery and some, not all, see this as a thing that must be fought.

The way of someone working hard for what they want.

The words of a poem that finally becomes more then a thought.

I know there is bad, I am like you after all, but I see that Man.

Might have a chance after this.

So you can take them and doom them know. Or let them try.

Let them grow and take the warning not as lightly.

Let them know of their stance and see if they improve.

At least that is what the defense brings to you.

 

Thank you.

OH SAY CAN YOU SEE

by Jasmine Williams

 

Oh, say can you see by the land of the free? Except for you…

 

My great-grandma came on a ship named for a flower and started a new life

In the shadows of all the people that was here long before she was dreamed of

She carried all the load that she could, she bowered off the people that she could.

She saw all the disease rid the Natives, and still tall, she stood.

My great-grandma had a whole bunch of children, some died, and some lived

And that’s where her story ends.

My granddad, he grew and conquered the land, and the fields he worked and soon many said

“You will never be more than an whore immigrants son”

He worked and earned some respect, he stayed and bowered his time

He told his own son, “There will be a time soon that comes, never for forget you are an immigrant’s son”

My dad he fought, and he killed for the notion of a nation he wants to build

He thinks back on what his father told him

Now looking at the darker immigrants that fight side by side with him.

He ran onto the battlefield. He won war with them.

He promised that one says he would. Work with them as equals and friends.

He did not forget the immigrant’s son.

Years later, my aunt was starving with children, the potatoes were rotting.

She promised that the land of the free would take her in, clothe her, feed her.

She was turned away, laughed and mocked, from other seamstress that said that she

Could be one of them, she was just an immigrant.

So, they travelled to the mountains west. Appalachian. And there she told the young.

“Never forget the immigrants young.”

My cousin was a German in the time of war time. In the country that was looking to Europe.

Saw the Germans and told her to kick it. My cousin. Had a family and husband.

Lived her since she was a young one. She told her children this.

“Never forget the immigrant mom.”

Across town, just one year later. My best friend got moved to camp.

In Arkansas. He was mocked and underfed. He was always American.

But his parents weren’t. So, he waited and got out and told his friends.

“Never forget the immigrant men.”

All my family, friends and their kids, all grew and become more than just an “immigrant.”

Became lawyers, senators, and presidents. They started from an immigrant’s womb.

Now my sister she walks over a river. And my brother, crosses the ocean.

They eat food, old or moldy, overcrowded resting rooms.

They come here much like great-grandma, they know they might not belong.

But they are ready to come and stand tall.

And they will tell their kids, “Immigrants is not a bad word.”

They come and never taste freedom, they come in masses like Lady Liberty says

They were weak and poor, free of their homeland.

Immigrants is not a bad word.

My sister she gets sent home, she gets raped, she gets beat and pregnant.

With a diablos child, she starts walking. Up north again saying.

“Immigrant is not a bad word.”

My brother, he made it longer, worked in the dark for farmers, come in those pennies.

He saved up, did not buy a house, instead became an American!

He hears people say, “They take the jobs.” “They need to go home” that “They are whats wrong”

He shouts, “Never forget the immigrants mom, the immigrant young, the immigrant man.”

“Immigrant is not a bad word!”

So, immigrant, they come, immigrant, in masses, like those before.

“Never forget the immigrants you came from.”

WAKE UP

by Jasmine Williams

 

Can we take thanks for the things that we think

Original and unique never before thought

Then we have them and gone, out of reach

Once more and now you start to become awake

We se the stars long dead and gone still shine

And se we will join them one day

The matter of us is the matter of all

And it’s a matter of time before you start to

Wake up

We yell at time and distance and space

Of lost days that have gone away but

The question must be asked

We exist and are, but no stars see time or distance or space

The star sees just existing now and now

And so, shouldn’t we? Join the stars early?
and this is when you wake up early

Before you are too decided to walk

To join the stars now before you become dust

Dust that will just become part of it all again

Join it early and wake up

ORGANS

by Jasmine Williams

 

She lays a black lace on her head and I know

That today is the day that I die

Its already decided and done

And the people come in and out of the steeple

Some laugh with a cigarette’s hanging out of their mouths

And I, I hate the organ so much

So much, the organ will destroy my soul

With its patience keys

I hate the organ

The common sit and gather around

I’m ready for my final show

They play the music I never liked

And they snicker when they hear the songs

The man that I have never met

Talks about me like I was his own

And everyone laughs when he says

That I was just young and innocent and dumb

I wish I truly wish I was just that

I hate organ so much

The organ destroys my soul

With its patience keys and I know

That today is the day I die

I hate the organ so much

The organ destroys my soul

It kills its patience keys

I know that today is the die that I die

Oh, I hate the organ

The organ destroys me with its patient keys

Today is the day that I die.

PARKING LOT

by Jasmine WIlliams

 

Just imagine me sitting

On my car hood

Looking at the road

Gonne flip a coin

Imagine me thinking about the word

I will never say in song

and there you are

in a parking lot too, looking back

and seeing me

Imagine you driving all alone and then you

Just drive away

and you drive away

And you drive

Imagine me looking back at you

Going to wish I could follow and

Imagine me pleading that some how

you see me and turn around oh but

You and your pals had a great night planned

Better flip that coin and see when mine will end

Imagine you looking back and seeing the news alert

and thinking “I just drove away”

you just drove away

and you drove away

you did not look back and you drove away

THE FRESH PICKED FLOWERS

by Jasmine Williams

 

I walk around a house and see the flowers you picked for me.

I sit in front of the flowers and notice the smell of the pie that you baked for me.

I go to my room and see the dress you have chosen for me.

I go to my bathroom and see the lipstick you have set out for me.

In the tub I see a fresh razor and soap.

Just for me.

The house is on fire.

The flowers are burning.

The pie is black.

The dress is ashes.

The lipstick, melted.

And all the little things you have chosen for me.

Gone.

I watch it burn without emotion.

I sit on the bed and feel the flames on my legs.

Take me. Take me. Take me please.

I lay back as the house burns.

You could have never chosen this for me.

MIDNIGHT THOUGHTS

by Jasmine Williams

It is very late in the night and I cannot sleep

The birds are not speaking, and I cannot hear from the deafening silence

The room is fuzzy, and the dots are growing I cannot see.

The darkness is blinding me. It won’t shut up.

The thoughts amazing and terrifying.

That one day I will close my eyes and know I will never open them again.

That all steps and all breathes are leading to one thing.

Nothing will be the same.

The stars I see are long dead with new ones we cannot see.

My heart is beating but I do not know where

It is very late in the night and I cannot sleep again.

All the days yet to be will be a memory and gone.

the fireflies are dancing in my head and I cannot see.

The battles I have fought might win again.

the people I see might die before me.

I cannot help but wish to not exist to never feel this pain.

But the stars and people and sky,

Keep me here another night.

It is very late in the night and I cannot sleep again.

But the blinding darkness and deafening silence comforts me.

For just another night.

DEAR PARENTS

by Destiny Taylor

 

Dear Parents,

Encourage your children.

Lift them up and be there for them.

Show them the Good in the world.

Show them all the love and positive things around you.

Point out all the little happy things.

Point out the bee pollinating the flower.

Point out the ant carrying its meal on its back.

Point out the droplets of dew on the morning grass.

Explore with them.

Take them outside during a shower

And let them be serenaded by the song of rain.

Put a blanket on the ground under the night sky

And show them the big dipper.

Show them the moon and

Acknowledge its different faces.

Hunt for four leaf clovers;

             Squint hard.

Enjoy the taste of a honeysuckle’s sweet nectar.

Make wishes on dandelions,

And dare not tell what it is you wished.

Educate them.

Read books with them.

Answer their questions to the best of your ability.

Show them what you know,

As later they will show you.

Introduce them to all kinds of music and art.

Teach them to appreciate such things

and let them be inspired.

Finally, Love them.

Nurture them as a lioness nurtures her cubs.

Hold them in your arms tight,

As one day you’ll no longer be able to do so.

Let them sleep with you

When they are afraid.

Listen to their stories

No matter how tired you are.

And always whisper sweet “I love you’s” as they

              Drift off to sleep.

SAMHAIN AND THE RAT

by B. G. Wallis

The traveller was wading through a torrential downpour when he finally saw the faint oil lamp in the distance. His cloak had a healthy coating of freshly churned, earthy mud, compliments of having run nearly the entire way here; whether this was out of fear or excitement to repay his debt, only the mother knew. The traveller remembered what the old bird told him before he left to find it: under some trees and over some caverns and through some bogs and hidden in bushes.

“I’m an old crone, and have nothing better to do than spin tales and send people out into the world with nothing but vague direction and chills up their spines,” he mocked.

He smiled at his own humor, but pushed the thought aside, following the growing flicker of the Elderberry Cafe & Inn’s lamplight. Standing in front of this behemoth, he could see that its reach into the darkness was long and sullen enough to swallow the light from the wick of the lamp whole. Mother only knew how far its branches stretched into that darkness. Must be old, he thought to himself. “Hence, the name,” he said out loud, shaking off the night and stepping inside.

Bemusement over the simplicity of his trip thus far was thwarted by how eerily well-kept the Elderberry was. Candle-lit balconies seemed to go up for at least eight or nine stories, each carved out one by one. The ground floor of the inn was covered with an assortment of empty vendor booths, no doubt set up with varying wares, food, and miscellaneous tonics for travellers during the light hours. The floor was dry, cool earth, and the concierge desk was humble oak, with several columns of carved places for the keys stretching high and out of sight, along with a rolling ladder hanging off to one side. The cafe was off to the left and separated with a door containing several panes of not only glass, but varying sizes of paned colored glass at that, like platelets of a picked over rainbow that had been shattered.

“Can I take your cloak, dearie?” a small, Scottish-accented voice said from behind the traveller.

He turned. A small white field mouse behind him in a heavy cotton apron was standing at attention, and at almost a third of his size. She warmed the room with rosy red cheeks and good intent.

“Umm—no, thank you,” he said, pulling his hood back. The traveller revealed his two pointed, flicking ears, a long snout with a black nose at the end, forest green eyes, and patterns of burning red fur. “I’m looking for someone,” he said. “You wouldn’t happen to have seen anyone recent by chance?” The traveller could feel the vibrations of music, and chittering amongst commonfolk under his padded feet.

“Can’t say I have, dearie, but you should know that I don’t normally tend to the cafe there,” she said, pointing. “I’m the maid, greeter, and the front desk clerk as well. Although, they could have slipped by meh, y’know. You should have a looksee in there. The cafe is Randall’s cup’o tea, it is, and he’ll know whatever you need to know—if he knows it.”

The traveller snorted a laugh while the field mouse stood stolidly, waiting for the punchline of the joke she had told. The fox stifled himself. “Thank you for your help, mum,” he said with a grin, starting to walk away before the field mouse stopped him with a question: “What’s your name, dearie?”

The fox looked puzzled for a moment, and the mouse quickly took  notice. She added, “just a formality. It’s in case you decide to stay so I can have the paperwork filled out and the room prepped. If I’m being truthful, I’ve nothing else to do.”

“Samhain,” the fox replied with a reassuring smile, “Samhain Foxxin, but I can assure you that my stay will be brief; if you find yourself having to tend to another, don’t put off the party’s needs on my behalf.” The mouse gave an understanding grin and nodded, then she scurried away while Samhain made his way into the cafe.

If the plate glass on the inside windows of the place weren’t enough visual appeal for a weary traveller, the varying degree of collected things painting the walls certainly would have been. Whereas the lobby of the inn had been very tidy, the cafe felt more like home for Samhain as soon as he stepped through the door.

There was a mole in the corner sitting at a full-sized piano and pecking away at the ivory, injecting harmony to match the sights of hysteria, including the plethora of varying knickknacks all over the walls. Patrons of all species, shapes and sizes, alike and apart, covered the cafe. To Samhain, it looked more like a bar with discounted beverages, but alas, these animals were the same as many who had recently discovered that caffeinated dream and decided, quite wholeheartedly, that they didn’t want to do away with the odorous bean’s hearty juices any time soon.

Rounded tables and a bar with an espresso machine were the intended points of social engagement, but it seemed that the animals had played into an idea that the floor, or up against the walls, or even lying on the room’s piano, were as suitable place as any to enjoy each other’s company.

If they’re lucky, they’ll be dead soon enough. God help them if they live to see it, he thought, gazing into the muckery that was this “animals’ paradise.” Amidst the mug wielders and those shooting shots of high-grade coffee at the bar, Samhain noticed just who he had been looking for, but this didn’t mean he had to be happy about it. He treaded lightly, “like a fox,” his father would have said, as if to tiptoe around and leave the disturbances within the cafe to do their own disturbing. He only wanted to speak to the rat he saw at the bar. Nothing more and nothing less.

Despite everything you may have heard about them, rats weren’t all bad. They got a bad reputation because a few dozen were bitten by fleas during the time just before the black plague, and the rest is history. Before and now, most were kind and would even help the less fortunate animals nibble through the steel cable traps left hidden from the Long Ago, set by humans to catch whatever was left in the fleeting desperation of their last few years.

This particular rat, however, was not of the same sort. As Samhain had heard, this particular rat would have sold the snare back to the humans if he could have spoken their language.

The rat noticed Samhain seat himself two seats down at the bar and gave him a stinking eye’s worth of attention. Following this, his gaze returned and he continued to sip his beverage.

“So,” the rat said, turning his attention away to keep his eyes flat on the wall, “The Order are the ones who want the kettle so badly. I could’ve guessed—and did, but why on earth would they send someone like you to fetch it?” He spoke with a drawl that sounded like a proud southerner.

Samhain look down for a moment, but remembered more of his father’s words. He held his eyes at a steady gaze, but there was a kind of weakness in that look and the rat must’ve felt it. His words started slowly slicing.

“What? Think I didn’t know about you? Of all the sly, devious sons of bitches I could’a ran into, I happened upon the one and only Samhain Foxxin. Pity really, what happened to your folks. If you don’t mind my sayin’ so?”

The rat actually looked as if he could be remorseful for a moment, a true empath, but he  must’ve perished the thought because he continued not long after. “Things in the world happen for a reason, Sam. It’s up to the sly and witty to make them right again, wouldn’t you say? Can’t be sendin’ sheep to do a fox’s job, now can we?”

Samhain sat coldly and finally spoke after a few moments. To a creature like him, it was out of readiness to leave the Inn and be on his way, but to the rat, it sounded like someone who was upset.

“Do you have the kettle or have you pawned it already?”

“Pshaww, cherish the thought wouldn’t you? But, did you think I’d really let you just fly on by with it? No, you see, someone has to pay up for the little cast ironer, or you ain’t gettin’ nothin’.” The rat showed his teeth in a snakely grin.

“You’ve already received payment by The Order, rat,” Samhain said through teeth that were steadily clenching tighter.

“The Order,” the rat said, almost as a question. “Boy, you understand that all that prestige about them being the ‘one true power over all animal kin’, including the currency ‘round these parts, all went out the window once your daddy did what he did.”

His matter-of-fact tone was cutting deep and only refreshed old memories that Samhain had been trying desperately to forget as of late.

“It ain’t a wonder,” the rat continued, “why your mother was hung with him, seein’ as how she was helping a fugi—”

Within the midst of the ruckus, an audible click of a hammer backing on Samhain’s .45 Eagle’s Claw could be heard by the rat and the attendee at the bar who was walking by with a neat little white cup and saucer.

The attendee watched as Samhain leaned in and began to speak slowly. “You utter one more word, rat, and I’ll make sure your talker is nothing but a spigot for your brains to slide through while you try to regret it.”

The rat contemplated words, but withdrew them entirely. As much of a snake as he was, he knew when to duck under his rock and wait out danger.

“Forgive my friend,” the rat told the attendee with a sincere voice. “He’s been through a lot recently.” Samhain shot a grave look at the attendee, most of which was intended for the rat sitting across from him.

“Perhaps you could top me off and give my friend here a fresh cup as well. It might ease his head while we palaver,” the rat said. The Attendee nodded and walked on.

Samhain and the rat stared each other down for a good minute or so while the attendee

crafted the roast. He placed it in front of Samhain, topped the Rat off, and walked away, looking  wearily over his shoulder once or twice and hoping he didn’t hear any more noises that were more unnerving than that clicking of Sam’s gun.

“Do you know what the kettle is?” the rat asked. Samhain heard sincerity in his voice again and thought the rat was either clever to allow a semblance of trust between them to get what he wanted, or perhaps he was extremely stupid to let someone even this close after such an exchange of words..

“As far as I’ve heard, it’s only an heirloom,” Samhain replied.

“So what on earth would The Order be wantin’ with it, making you come out to the middle of nowhere to fetch an ‘heirloom’?” the rat asked, dragging a skinny finger around the rim of his glass.

“No idea, they’ve been doing a lot of that lately, dealing things about. You sound like you know something about it.”

“It’d only be a guess based on all the other evidence,” the rat said. Samhain gave him a go ahead look.

“My guess,” the Rat said, looking at Samhain with as much sincerity as could be written upon a rat’s face, “is that they are preparin’ a peace offering in preparation for what’s comin’.” The rat spoke with a grave and familiar tone. All the animals were aware of how they had gotten this way, and none were more excited to learn of their freedom than the other. But, some things come with a price to be paid. As the rumor Samhain had long heard tell of had it, the animals would have to pay a hefty helping of that price in due time.

“May be,” Samhain said, “but all I know is that my cog in this clock has started to grind. Best be getting on with it.”

The rat smiled. “I’m glad you brought your toy, young’n.” The rat opened his coat, revealing a letter as well as a pistol of his own, tucked neatly at his hip. “We’re both gonna need ’em.” Samhain opened the letter:

 

 

Foxxin,

 

The kettle was destroyed long ago, but its boil is still rolling over more and more as the days pass. The rat you’ve sought has answering to do for kin of his own. May the Mother have mercy on both of you.

 

The Order

 

Samhain looked up as the Rat began to speak.

“Well Foxxin, looks like we’re a pair now,” he said, tossing a letter of his own on the table and garnishing the grin of a madman. “Time to start shooting.”

Another chill found its way up Samhain’s back as noise all around ceased. The animals in the cafe were all at attention, looking at the two with caffeinated eyes and murderous intent. The field mouse that greeted Samhain at the door had placed a bar over the entrance and turned with a frying pan and a wicked grin.

Not long after, the shots began to ring out.