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Memorial Day,

originally called Decoration Day,

is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service

“Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping”

by Nella L. Sweet

“To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead.”

Kneel where our loves are sleeping, Dear ones days gone by,

Here we bow in holy reverence, Our bosoms heave the heartfelt sigh.

They fell like brave men, true as steel, And pour’d their blood like rain,

We feel we owe them all we have, And can but weep and kneel again.


Kneel where our loves are sleeping, They lost but still were good and true,

Our fathers, brothers fell still fighting, We weep, ’tis all that we can do.


Here we find our noble dead, Their spirits soar’d to him above,

Rest they now about his throne, For God is mercy, God is love.

Then let us pray that we may live, As pure and good as they have been,

That dying we may ask of him, To open the gate and let us in.


Kneel where our loves are sleeping, They lost but still were good and true,

Our fathers, brothers fell still fighting, We weep, ’tis all that we can do.


        It was the middle of the Great Depression.  Roger stood outside the entrance to the Sunny Side of the Street bar.  He was tall and lean and he was slouched like a question mark.  He went inside.

        Roger went up to the bar counter and sat down still slouched, looking at his face in the polished wood.

        The bartender called over, saying, “Roger?  What are you doing here?  I thought…?”

        Roger interrupted without looking up and said, “Gin, Jimmy.”

        Jimmy came over and said quietly to the top of Roger’s head, “I thought…”

        Roger said, “Gin.”

        Jimmy said, “Hey, sure, Roger.  Tell you what.  I’ll give you one free and then you probably want to get on home.  It’s Memorial Day, buddy, so you… after all you won’t be just drinking, OK?  You worked so hard to quit…”

        Roger looked up.  His face had been severely burned, melted, and now resembled a clay mask molded by a blind man.  His lips were too full and thick and his teeth protruded from under his upper lip like wax flippers.  His bright blue eyes peered from as if behind the mask and he stared right at Jimmy and said, “Jimmy, I already had a mother.  So they tell me.  Gin, please, without a nag chaser, OK?”

        Jimmy complied quickly, “Sure, Roger, sure.  On the house.  For Memorial Day,” and he slid to Roger a shot of Findlaters dry gin.

        Jimmy made diverting conversation, asking, “How’s things at Roger’s Garage?”

        Roger eased back the shot of gin and leaned forward again, saying, “I have the luck of the ‘early worm’, Jimmy.  It’s a good thing that ‘happiness lies not in the mere possession of money’.”

        Jimmy smiled wryly and nodded, saying, “Easy for Roosevelt to say, right?”

        Roger slid the shot glass toward Jimmy but Jimmy did not reach for it.

        Jimmy tried diversion again, asking, “Business must be ok, right?  I mean, I put out the word to all my customers about your prices and your work.  A good mechanic is better than a good whore anytime, right?” and Jimmy tried laughing.

        Roger mused, “I flew in the Great War ‘to end all wars’, I’m raising a family in the Great Depression, Jimmy, and you’re a great customer and I don’t want to be ungrateful but pour me another goddam gin, will you?”

        A customer was sitting one seat to the side of Roger and he had been glancing at Roger’s face and he was pretending badly not to listen.  He said to Jimmy, “I’ll have two of what he just had, please.”

        Jimmy said to the customer, “Comin’ up, Toby.”  Grateful for the interruption Jimmy moved over to provide Toby with two shots of gin, pretending he did not know what was coming.

        Toby slid one of his shots of gin over to Roger and asked, “So you flew in the Great War?  I’m buyin’.”

        Roger clasped the shot and nodded to Toby and tried to wink at Jimmy but his eyelid only twitched and then he administered the proffered gin unto himself.

        Jimmy said, “’Scuse me a second, guys,” and then Jimmy moved down the bar and made a phone call.

        Toby asked Roger, “So, what was it like, if you don’t mind sayin’.  Bein’ Memorial Day and all.  Out of respect.”

        Roger wiped his lips and said to Toby, “Out of respect, I’m going to tell you.”

        Toby called past Roger over to Jimmy on the phone and said, “Three more of these, please.”

        Roger took a breath and began, “I come from a family of mechanics.  My big brother Peter was fascinated by the new invention: airplanes.  He took it further.  Peter became a pilot.  I became his mechanic.  In 1911 he joined the Glenn Curtiss exhibition team and worked under Lincoln J. Beachey.”

        Toby said, “Hey.  I heard of him.  Wasn’t he called The Man Who Owns the Sky?”

        Roger nodded and continued, saying, “When the Great War broke out Peter went to join the Lafayette Escadrille in Europe.  I went with him as his mechanic.  Peter scored his first kill in August of 1916 and he was an ace by 1917.”

        Toby said in awe, “Your brother must have been somethin’ else back then.”

        Roger drank another shot and raised the empty glass, saying, “He was.”

        Jimmy had come back over after the phone call and was listening to the story.

        Toby slid to Roger yet another of his shots of gin and Roger continued, saying, “The English slang for a chamber pot was a ‘Jerry’ and since the German helmets looked like chamber pots to the English they called the Germans ‘Jerry’.  Anyway, one morning Jerry caught us with our pants down on the ground.  A squadron of airplanes started strafing and bombing our field.  When pilots ran to their planes they were gunned down.

        Peter and I were hiding in the barracks doorway when he yelled ‘Let’s go!’ and he sprinted for his motorcycle.  I followed him without thinking and jumped on behind him.  He roared out zig-zagging to a plane in the next hangar, a bomber, a two seater called a de Havilland DH4.  Peter jumped off the motorcycle and it fell over between my legs.  Peter was already at the gunner’s rear seat and he released the safety on the machine gun.  He hollered at me ‘Get in.  It’s live!’ and I yelled ‘I don’t know how to work a machine gun’ and Peter said urgently ‘Just get the fuck in!’ and so I did.  In a minute we were roaring out of the hangar and somehow we got in the air in the middle of all that strafing and bombing.”

        Roger drank another shot.  He continued, “Peter was screaming at me to hold the machine gun up at forty-five degrees and to fire when he told me.  He then screamed ‘Strap in good.  We’re going to be upside down.’  I thought he was just using slang.  He wasn’t.  Peter proceeded to fly like he used to in the exhibition events, figure eights, loops.  Jerry couldn’t seem to catch us.  Finally Peter pulled the plane straight up under a Jerry plane and looped right over him and he screamed at me ‘Fire!  Fire!’ and I did.  I was just holding the gun at forty-five degrees and pulling the trigger when told.  Peter was aiming me while he was looping.  Jerry must have thought the devil was flying that plane.  I don’t know what damage we were doing but several Jerry lit out like whipped dogs.  I whooped ‘We own the sky!’ just when a tracer bullet must have ignited the fuel tank.”

        Roger tossed back a shot and his eyes glistened and he continued, “Fire broke out in Peter’s cockpit.  Our airspeed was whipping the flames right on Peter.  I heard him screaming.  I turned around and I reached out to him instinctively, helplessly.  Peter was still steering.  He was driving the plane straight down.  He could have jumped.  He would have died anyway, but not like that.  At the last minute Peter leveled the plane out enough so it didn’t crash straight into the ground.  I screamed as I saw the figure of my big brother on fire like a torch and slumping over.  Flames came into my cockpit.  The plane hit hard, tearing off the landing gear and I remember being flung forward out of the cockpit.  I don’t know…but I have an image of my brother waving at me.  His arms must have been flung upward, but I have an image…”

        Toby came out of his spell, saying, “Jesus.”

        Jimmy handed Roger the shot of gin.

        Roger drank the shot but this time he fell forward and he laid his scarred face on the bar counter and he wailed, immolated in his own memories and it was as if all the gin he had been drinking suddenly poured out of his sunken eyes.

        Just then Roger’s wife Jenny entered The Sunny Side of the Street bar.  Jimmy raised his hand at her and beckoned her.  Roger still was slumped on the bar counter rolling his head back and forth in the tears.  Behind Jenny following like ducks were their nine children, by age: Roger junior, Donald, Louise, Betty, Dorothy, Allen, Charlie, Carol, and Sonny.

        The younger children looked at their father in alarm and began to wail, the older ones cried ‘Daddy’ and Jenny went straight to her husband and fell upon his shoulders and raised him up.  Jenny was just tall enough to fit under Roger’s arm and she clutched his waist while Roger leaned on her sobbing.  Jenny had raised her face and she was kissing and kissing his scarred mask of a face, saying, “Roger, Roger, oh, Roger.”  The children all clung by one hand each to his shirt and pants.

        As Jenny shuffled the family out she turned and said to Jimmy, “Thank you for calling me.”

        Jimmy smiled wryly and said, “I knew he needed you.”

        Jenny and Roger with their brood shuffled all of the way out of town, over the bridge, and back to their little rented home together.

        It was a day I don’t forget.


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smiling kitty face 1


In the small hours

Little Brûlée went away

From under my hand

Into God’s remand.

Brûlée rests, such I will pray,

Within God’s bowers

Without the clay cast

Brûlée’s Spirit shined within

My heart to enfold.

Mere a kitten cold

Brûlée sweet was a runt thin

Unmade long to last

Thus could I nab him

Taking him to where I live

And me to his care.

Cream and milk to share

Half and half we each could give

Comfort on a whim

Near cat whisker thin

Our term the clock was stroking.

   Brûlée purred away

‘Til was nothing left,

Time and again invoking


We have a love akin





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i'm a guy


Are you a Ms, a Mrs, or a Mstrs?

Because that’s OK

I’m a guy

On fire


On dancer

On vixen


The sun sets on my face

Why not you?

Coy is a fish

Count down your number

All systems go

I’m a guy

Only part of me is blue

I’m red handed

Life spanks

I’m a guy

I’m a guy

I’m a guy

You heard right: three times

You wish

Your wish

Its on the tip of my tongue

I have your answer well in hand

Good vibrations

Are hard to come by

So come along

I’m a guy

In your wildest dreams

I can be pushing on your door


I come quickly

I’m a guy






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I was told I was to be captain of this voyage

I wasn’t shown the manifesto

There are strange cries from below

The chaplain warns me not to question the Company Policy

The helmsman disregards my wishes and says he knows best the course

Why then was I hired?

To accept any blame?

To go down with the vessel?

The radioman won’t translate the transmissions

He tells me they are not to be spoken

He assures me there is a charted course

What choice do I have?

I want to get paid

I stand watch

The stars tick past

I draw meanings in the constellations

Still I hear the voices below

In the galley the cook prepares bread, fish, and wine

It is a comfort that I provide my body

How many have gone down?

I pace myself with thoughts of mutiny

But where ashore?

What was my care before I was born?

I too dream of lions on the beach

I stand on the water fathoms deep

There is life below


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brine shrimp


I am a terrible person.  I hide my pathological indifference behind a façade of congeniality.  I drift into people and I ruin their lives.

Except for Her.  She would not let me ruin Her life.

Everyone soon annoys me.

Except for Her.

Can you comprehend how lonely I really am?  Inside I’m a castaway on an iceberg floating in a perpetual night “starless and Bible black” like that song says.

I burn only on this page.  For Her.

What is wrong with me?  I accuse god for this, for what is me.  I then hope that in death there is nothing, just like I think that just one good night’s sleep will make all the difference.  It doesn’t.  There is always something.  I bark at something unseen.

What will become of me?  Well, I mean, I know the answer to that in the graveyard, but what I mean is: when do I win the lottery of my own purpose?  Is that really problematic?

Mendacity may be the system we live in but disappointment is my address.

I grow weary.  It is late.  Or maybe it is early.  I nod over the well of sleep.  What can I draw from the well this time?  The fluid truth?  Certainly not freedom from what I am:  A Terrible Person, god’s gift to you all.

Except to Her.

Am I just an expendable brine shrimp?  Don’t brine shrimp deserve an answer from god either?

Maybe I’m not a brine shrimp!  Maybe I’m something smaller: a Black Hole!  Sucking-in whatever draws near, letting escape no light, only a theory, spewing an existence out into yet another dimension.  A dream.

Not Her dream.

With that truth (and of course it just has to be the one immutable truth in my life) I am at the top of my emotional Mount Everest.  Oh, so they don’t call it Mount Everest anymore?  I do.  It is so promising: Mount Ever Rest.

Nothing else matters.  Why the Hell is that so?  Ha!  “The Hell”.  Fuck me; I just answered my own question.  We all answer our own question, don’t we?

I just wish I could have been Her answer.

Now I am violent tantrums, a tantric beast, raging at the futile attraction, clawing anyone who dares to come too close.  It is futile to rage, I know.  Rage begets regret.  Indifference is devoutly to be wished.  Indifference like a stomach digesting what it has been fed.  But wait, stomachs vomit.  I have the same right, don’t I?  Does that make me a terrible person?

I want peace and contentment but I have evolved unbalanced, falling forward kicking and screaming and lashing out and being hit.  Poor me.  I reject me.  Deal with it or walk away into darkness.

It is crowded in the darkness.  Relationships with people are based on the trinity: sex, drugs, or money.  Or any combination thereof.  Since you wonder, there are seven relationships possible.

Except with Her.

What is my relationship with Her?  Null, imaginary, open like a wound?

Little white goats graze in the golden grasses on the steep hill up the other side of my dirt road.  I think of angels in heaven.  I’m over here tapping this SOS into my netbook, drifting in and out with the country western radio station.  I think of a dark night in the vast desert, sitting inside the luminous tent of a little fire, listening to a pocket radio reaching for a country western station whispering from another state.  I had no word for what all that made me feel.  Years later I discovered and claimed for that feeling the Portuguese word “saudade”

a deep emotional state of nostalgic or deeply melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing will never return.

Pleasure is absence of pain I always say now.  What is hope?  Is revered hope a biological mechanism like the breathing reflex, sine qua non?  A Hail Mary when your alleged soul is forth and down?

It is said that hope dies last.  I am a lone figure in the lamplight of a train platform, looking up and down the cold hard rails, hearing the distant mourning of a train whistle.

Did I miss my train?  Someone behind me whispers, “Saudade?”





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        Once upon a dawn in The Kingdom of Belgium on a little farm there was an old farmer who went to his chicken coop to collect the eggs that he had counted the night before.

        When old farmer Boer raised up his lantern he realized that the chickens were gone and that there were no eggs.  He cried out, “Fok!”

        Old farmer Boer’s hound dog Kloot heard the distress and loped into the chicken coop.

        Old Boer cried, “Kloot!  Where are the chickens?  There were fifty eggs here!  You were guarding them!”

        Kloot looked up at his master’s face and then his gaze followed his master’s dicing hand and Kloot whined, “Rrr?”

        Old Boer began to dance with disbelief, crying, “My chickens!  My eggs!”

        Kloot followed the casting gestures of his master’s hand and began to sweep the chicken coop for scents.

        Old Boer cried, “He got clean away!  You’ll have to hunt the clean boot, ol’ Kloot!” which meant to follow a raw scent without the primer of scented clothing for Kloot to calibrate.

        Kloot came upon an imprint in the straw and he jerked his head back as if the scent had punched his nose.  Kloot howled.

        Old Boer almost tossed the lantern in triumph and commanded, “Find him Kloot!  Find him!”

        Kloot twitched with excitement as he inhaled the scent images of the intruder.  Reeling out of the chicken coop door Kloot came to another “door” slit three-edges into the wire chicken fence.

        Old Boer shouted, “Wait!  My gun!”

        Kloot whined in circles until Old Boer returned with his hunting rifle.  They both set off into the woods, Kloot following the seductive scent.

        Old Boer mumbled as he tromped along, saying, “There are no chicken feathers, no broken eggs.  Even that moederneuker (motherfucker) fox couldn’t heist fifty eggs!”

        Kloot had the scent image of a vixen, the female fox, and chickens and eggs and bones and decay.  The woods grew dense and dark.

        Ahead there appeared a glow.

        Kloot and Old Boer came to an illuminated clearing.  Old Boer exhaled, “Fok!” and Kloot whined, “Rrr?”

        In the clearing was a radiant woman.  She had voluminous red hair bound at the back of her head into a large fox-tail.  Her modesty was concealed in a vest of feathers and a loin garment of feathers.  She wore booties of pale skin.  Suspended before her outstretched hands was a spiraling halo of fifty eggs.

        Old Boer began to jabber in shock, “My eggs!  My chickens!  What have you done with my chickens?”

        The luminous woman looked at Old Boer and nodded seductively, and said, “Hello Farmer Boer.  I am Queen Vosse.”

        And suddenly her feathered attire burst into a surrounding sphere of frantic chickens.  Queen Vosse stood there naked but for her booties of pale skin.  Then just as suddenly the chickens collapsed back to become her feathered garments once again.

        Kloot whined, “Rrr?”

        Queen Vosse said to Old Boer, “Join my suitors and consort with me as you like.  She nodded again and at once Old Boer was a strapping young man, burning within.  He slowly began to approach the fantastical woman.

        Kloot held a different scent image than Old Boer’s visual images.  Kloot saw his master move unguarded toward the apparition and Kloot howled and charged.

        Queen Vosse screamed to Old Boer, “Stop him!  I have no power over hounds!”

        The young man that had been Old Boer was quick to raise his rifle now.  As Kloot leapt to bite Queen Vosses’s upper leg he fired his rifle at Kloot.

        Kloot barked in a scream as the bullet tore tissue from his spine but he did not fail to chomp onto Queen Vosses’s thigh as the fantastical woman then instantly vanished into a burst of frantic chickens and the fifty eggs splattered into the dirt and the leg in Kloot’s mouth became a relic thighbone.  He did not release his jaws even as he thudded to the ground.

        The young man vanished into Old Boer as he wailed, “Kloot!  Kloot!  No!  Noooo!”

        Chickens ran in frenzied circles all around Old Boer as he stood over the body of his ol’ Kloot.  He cried as he dropped the rifle and raised up Kloot in his arms still clutching tight the relic thighbone.

        He looked down again and saw that the pale booties of Queen Vosse had been made of clean human skin.

        Old Boer staggered with his burden of tears back through the woods toward his farm followed by an unruly train of chickens.






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