I’m on the midnight bus
To Los Angeles,
I wrote a bad check
For my ticket, but what the heck?
Could a fellow tell you more?
I’ll be there soon,
Riding near a full moon,
Knowing that I can’t stay,
Seeing you just one whole day.
I could land in jail!
A bandit needs the anonymity
Of living in the city.
The sky is clay, the street is grey
Outside the bus station at the start of day.
Watching all the selves unfold,
Hearing the woman, who spat,
“Fuck you. I speak Spanish.
Watch your language!”, and like that.
To the astonished couple in blue
Who hold between themselves a suitcase or two.
She’s crazy say their eyes,
Rising above their dirty shirts
And the young man kneeling with his guitar
And the Navy nurses running for the buses
And the streets a taxi couldn’t find.
Welcome to this world of mine.
For a dollar you can park.
You arrive like a smile into my face,
And we breakfast on the swaying pier.
We eat for $1.33 here.
Then two beers and some pool.
The surf is fair, but you’re a fool
To go out with so many surfers there.
Both of us could just grin-and-bear
Surrounded by all these banks
While the bankers jog
And the fog is still in the air
And in my head.
133 Long Beach Boulevard,
Do you think that things are getting hard
Or hardly getting on at all?
Not even you, my friend,
Will tell me in the end.
No matter how I spend my daily life away.
So I leave you by the moon’s eclipse.
And at 3 AM, when Orion arises, back home
The wind is warmer than your lips’ consent.
Things that never happened make me sigh.
Now is the hot morning of my discontent
And not a friend has stopped-by.
Christmas dawns on the Oak Ridge Trail
Unleashed my dog tumbles and trips
Dashing down to the wooded vale
Tennessee Honey on my lips
I raise my flask for two more sips
I call my dog to no avail
Then I hear a girl’s laughing wail
Tennessee Honey on my lips
White dress barefoot my eyes impale
Dashing around those shapely hips
My dog is me ten dog years male
Tennessee Honey on my lips
She’s sweeter than a Bobwhite Quail
Kyriella tells me her tale
My good sense her voice does eclipse
Tennessee Honey on my lips
Kyriella strokes my dog’s tail
Goose-bumps of green grass her toe snips
I extend my flask,”Here’s to jail.”
Tennessee Honey on our lips
VISIONS OF THE GONE
Into the party, as I gravitate
To the rugs, a couple says hello;
Bob and Cinda, fisherman and mate,
I kid you not. Bob rolls a joint real slow
From crumbled, sticky, bud de México.
He passes it. I take a hit and blow
The rolling smoke aside and then I cough
That I’m a grad student, and I know
Marine Biology. But, I’m off
For this semester and I’ll tell my prof
That I will make it up. (I know he’ll scoff.)
Oh, yeah. So what? The job market’s a trough.
Then Cinda rises up above the cloud
Of smoke where I am playing Philosophe.
She saunters to the kitchen where its loud
With jabber bent by turning heads; the crowd
Has eyes that open wide and then beshroud
Her brown hair and the soft and whispered smile
As Cinda navigates politely proud
In blue-jeans and a blouse that suit her style.
She opens the refrigerator while
The guys make faces like a crocodile.
So meanwhile, back upon the Persian rugs,
My words are flying out so infantile
That Bob just smiles so wryly thin and tugs
The whiskers of his beard, and then he shrugs
To Cinda who is coming back with hugs.
I tell them of my odyssey today:
Across the campus students swarm like bugs
To Science and Humanities’ display:
Cadaver Woman, naked, leaden-gray
Like plastic. Lying on a tray,
Her heart is poked apart for hours there;
Formaldehyde perfume my nose unplugs;
As tan young girls in flowered dresses stare
With green-eyed souls and chew their long blonde hair.
Of all things, then, a bomb threat stops the fair.
But, how I got to Steven’s party here
I can’t remember, so I’ll never care.
Near Muckenthaler Ridge it all comes clear;
The laughing, music, and the clinking beer.
So Mo, and me, and Dobzhansky appear.
And there is Steven, girl upon his knee,
Inside his house. We cross the wild frontier
Where we and all the co-eds will run free,
Debate abortion, and Society,
And watch for willing lovers, constantly.
I realize it’s past too-late o’clock
When Bob and Cinda rise and draw for me
A map to where their boat is at the dock:
286-G, the limit of the block
On Island Terminal. No need to knock!
Near where the tuna catch is being canned,
Their blue Volkswagen van they park and lock.
Their boat of 38-odd feet is manned
By just a seal who hears us coming and
Abandons ship, deserting out of hand.
We climb below the deck, all single file.
Therein, the cluttered narrows take command.
Inside the cubby-kitchen cooking aisle
Is Bob, who’s boiling coffee grounds awhile,
Then pours it for us, sipping with a smile,
As Cinda plays for me a cassette tape
Of Beach Boy songs, all that she could compile,
My eyelids slowly drooping like a cape,
I hum with “Sail On, Sailor” to escape
The buzz from beer and smoke and get in shape
With all the coffee, dark as prophesy,
That I can hold. I feel the coffee scrape.
Then Cinda plucks a book to show to me:
Another Road-Side (what?) Attraction (see?).
“It’s by Tom Robbins and its great”, says she.
Beside the nook where Cinda and I sit,
Bob is standing. Both of them agree
That Disco is a platter full of shit,
And yet I argue Bee Gees now have hit
Arrangements showing cleverness and wit.
While tugging at his beard, Bob starts to grin
Real wryly. As he listens to my skit
I know he thinks that Disco is a sin
And disregards my thesis. I can’t win.
I change the subject, finally. Wherein
I tell them that I like their fishing boat.
I ask them how they wound-up fishermen.
As Cinda rolls a joint, Bob clears his throat:
“Oh, I was in the Army to promote
Nguyen Van Thieu and keep his shit afloat.”
“Commanding men is mostly giving them
Activities. (Do not give them a vote.)
Without a mission, men will cause mayhem.
One night we cruise the Province of Quáng Nam
And bullets rain a hundred RPM.”
Bob’s lips lock on the joint, and he inhales:
“A round has blown away this guy’s brainstem.
We find a bunker, running down the trails;
My men dive in and then the light impales
My eyes. A booby-trap the bunker now unveils.”
“My men are all bomb-fragments in the wall.”
He holds his reminiscence, then exhales.
But silence is concrete between us all
As skeletons of memories start to crawl
With yellow bones. In blood they scratch and scrawl.
He starts again, “I was discharged and got
An office job with music in the hall.
And there it was that Cinda and I caught
The sight of one another. She was not
Unhappily divorced. And, we both thought
That working for somebody else did suck.
Together we would have a better shot
At being happy. So we planned our luck:
We didn’t let our spending run amuck.
I saved my pay; she sold her pick-up truck.”
“We bought this fishing boat. It was a deal
So far away from working for a buck.
And here’s a picture of it taken real
Soon after Cinda listened my spiel
To say our boat would have her name reveal
That Cinda, in bold letters clearly drawn,
Would have no sadness to conceal.
We have our own contentment from now on,
Awakening together with the dawn,
Horizon all around, the land foregone,
The water’s edge is all that lies out there,
Where fathoms stand on soil, down thereon.
But you had better know how to repair
An engine. Mend it ‘cause there is no spare.
Convenience like an Auto Club is rare.”
“For weeks to us no vengeful God displays.
Yet, though we live a dream of laissez faire,
The Mafia, at most ports, always pays,
But haggle not with what they do appraise,
For your catch. Going elsewhere can take days.”
“We shop over the side for most our food.
It comes to us. We still need culture’s ways
For beer and stuff to burn that suits our mood.”
Another fisherman comes to collude
Onboard with us, with wine, and I conclude:
These sailors (and that sailoress) will wait
For no excuse: no drink will they exclude.
“’Cause what’s the use?” says Jimmy. “To first mate,
The Cinda.” Boyish face cannot negate
He’s captain of the Zeppelin, sedate
For such a big guy. We four celebrate,
As we are tethered there against the tide.
“Just listen”, Cinda says. Our words abate
And I can hear the mussel shells outside,
That cling onto the hull and congregate:
They’re clicking, snapping, drinking until late.
Our bottoms up above them share their fate.
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ONCE UPON A DAY GONE BY
What you call a “cat” am I.
I halt on the path that was made by wheel ruts through the acres of cornfields away from Ms. Jorgun’s farmhouse. I turn to look toward my tail. The two kittens are attacking my tail playfully.
Clouds fill my eyes and those clouds begin to rain the days that have passed.
Once upon a day gone by, there had been four lives. We had been Minnie-Lee the Calico, Yang the white kitten, Yin the black kitten, and I, Noah the Grey. We shuffled down a dirt trail through the acres of cornfields.
Minnie-Lee the Calico sniffled constantly and she was weak but she rubbed her face into my neck. She was a happy cat in her deep soul.
Yang and Yin attacked pebbles and twigs playfully, sometimes falling too far behind us.
Minnie-Lee the Calico whispered, “Noah, I am so hungry and thirsty but I must lie down, I am so tired.”
I croaked, “Minnie-Lee, lie down in that shade. I will find a locust.”
Minnie-Lee was able to say firmly, “Come, children,” to Yang and Yin as she moved slowly away toward the shade beside the dirt path. Then she said for me to hear, “Or maybe a crow,” and I knew that she smiled. She entered into the shade of the desiccated corn, with the rolling kittens, and she sniffled and wobbled and toppled onto her side and exhaled. I swayed watching Minnie-Lee for a while, her belly rising and falling with slow troubled breathing. Yang and Yin at last rested their heads upon her belly.
I shuffled away into the cornfield. A warm breeze began rolling over the cornfield. Under the symphony of the clashing leaves of corn above, I heard the soft rattle of locusts ahead. I could not have been hunting more than a few whiskers of time but I was starting to have alluring daydreams and when I shook myself I could not tell for sure how long I had been walking. A foolish locust landed on my face and I took him. Did I no longer look like a cat? I was relieved that I did not have to jump. I shuffled back to where I had left Minnie-Lee and the kittens lying in the shade.
Minnie-Lee was not there. I could not see the kittens.
I then saw the tufts of her Calico fur. There had been a struggle.
I staggered with despair. I dropped the locust. The locust leapt away. I then saw the whirling crows over the cornfield. The crows rose like swirling smoke above something that was moving quickly away through the cornfield.
And so there was just me.
I cursed Mau the Goddess of Cats.
But then the trembling Yang and Yin crept out from across the dirt trail and then they dashed toward me and huddled beneath me.
Once upon a day gone by, there had been six lives. We had been Suri the Siamese, Zelmo the Orange, Minnie-Lee the Calico, Yang the white kitten, Yin the black kitten, and I, Noah the Grey. We shuffled down a dirt trail through the acres of cornfields.
The tongues of the chafing corn leaves seemed to be whispering. We could not understand.
We came to the old flat-bed truck parked at an angle off of the dirt trail. We moved into the shade under the belly of the truck.
Zelmo the Orange said, “Look, water!” and he crept toward the puddle under the front of the old flat-bed truck.
Yang and Yin hopped behind him.
Minnie-lee hissed, “Children, don’t you drink that!” and then she whispered to Zelmo, “It must have come out of the truck.”
Suri the Siamese joined Zelmo the Orange at the edge of the puddle. Zelmo hesitated. Suri said, “Just a taste to see…” and she lapped once at her reflection and she said, “Sweet.”
Zelmo and Suri then began to lap repeatedly.
Minnie-Lee herded the kittens away from the puddle. She had to set an example of caution for the impressionable kittens and so she would not drink. I had become a pessimist and so I would not drink first. We watched Zelmo and Suri drink.
We all six remained in the shade under the old flat-bed truck and we napped. We dreamed of canned food while our bodies consumed themselves in sleep.
Minnie-Lee awoke first and rubbed on each of us to awaken us, saying, “We can’t stay here.”
Once out from under the old flat-bed truck Minnie-Lee and the kittens and I turned and waited for Zelmo and Suri.
Zelmo and Suri emerged from under the old flat-bed truck, wobbling the way Ms. Jorgun’s father had begun to wobble.
Zelmo tried to shake his dignity back but he fell over. Yang and Yin bounded to him, thinking he was playing. He got up again and said, “I’m still half-asleep,” and he again walked uncertainly and erratically.
Suri halted and retched loudly. Suri said, “I drank too much water too fast,” and she arched her back and retched again, but only saliva fell into the dirt. Yang and Yin sniffed that dirt.
Zelmo fell over again and this time he said, “I’m just too sleepy. I’m going to sleep a little more.”
Suri sat next to Zelmo and she said, “I think I need more sleep, too.”
I yeowled, “You can’t stay like that in the road!”
Minnie-Lee went and nudged Zelmo and Suri, saying, “At least get back under the truck. What is wrong with you? Come on. You too, children.”
Zelmo and Suri said, “OK, Ok,” and then they got up and wobbled and stumbled back under the truck and curled up next to each other to sleep some more. Minnie-Lee and the kittens and I had no choice but to go back under the truck with them but we couldn’t sleep. Something was wrong.
We watched Zelmo and Suri sleep. Minnie-Lee would lick their heads once in a while. I fell asleep finally.
I awoke and Minnie-Lee was near my face and she was sad. She whispered to me, “Zelmo and Suri are dead.”
I began to yowl and hiss. I cursed Mau the Goddess of Cats. I clawed the dirt and I flung the dirt and I covered with dirt the puddle under the front of the old flat-bed truck.
Yang and Yin ran away from me, out from under the old flat-bed pickup truck. I heard Minnie-Lee hiss at me, “The children!”
Then I heard Minnie-Lee purring loudly and I ceased my tantrum.
Minnie-Lee purred, “Thank You, Mau the Goddess of Cats, for sharing with us the lives of Zelmo and Suri,” then she rubbed against me and added for my benefit, “And thank You for the loan of our own lives. In the name of the Amun, the Ra, and the Horakhty, let Mau hear us.”
Yang and Yin crept back to us.
We all stayed with Zelmo and Suri until they were cold and stiff to our touch. And then the crows could be heard gathering around the truck impatiently.
Minnie-Lee, Yang, Yin and I moved on.
Once upon a day gone by, there had been six lives. We had been Dairy King the White, Dante the Woolly Brown, Suri the Siamese, Zelmo the Orange, Minnie-Lee the Calico and myself, Noah the Grey. We shuffled down a dirt trail through the acres of cornfields.
The full moon was just rising and the sun was just covering himself with the horizon.
Minnie-Lee rubbed against Dairy King the White and asked him, “How has your neck been today?”
Dairy King the White had suffered a cyst the size of an egg on his throat. It would have choked him to death if Mrs. Jorgun had not taken Dairy King to the veterinarian. Now the cyst was gone and only the shaved naked skin on his neck showed the scar. The veterinarian had said Dairy King needed an expensive operation or the cyst would return but Ms. Jorgun did not have enough money for that operation. The veterinarian had nodded sadly.
But Dairy King was strong again on this day and he replied to Minnie-Lee, “I am fine. I can run farther now without losing my breath.”
We all still teased Dairy King about his odd “hair cut” around his neck.
Dante the Woolly Brown teased, “You still look like the wrong end of a poodle!”
Dante the Woolly Brown was Dairy King’s best friend.
Dairy King replied, “Well, Ms. Jorgun thought you were a girl!”
That was true. When Dante was very young he was mostly soft woolly fur and he was not strong and so Ms. Jorgun thought he was a girl and originally named him “Dainty”.
Dante strutted in response and said, “I have many children.”
Minnie-Lee added under her breath, “Somewhere,” but it was heard by all of us.
Dante responded, “You don’t believe me?”
Minnie-Lee said, “Oh, I believe you. You just don’t know where. Most tomcats don’t.”
Dante replied, “Yeah, that’s right: I’m a tomcat. So?” and then he added sarcastically, “Hey, Minnie-Lee, the moon also rises.”
Zelmo asked, “Minnie-Lee? You? A prude?”
I started to hiss ‘leave her alone’ but Minnie-Lee boldly replied, “I can’t have children. I don’t know why. It was the wish of Mau the Goddess of Cats. But I think you tomcats should know your children.”
Dante huffed, “And I think you mollies should stay in the barn and let us tomcats be tomcats.”
Minnie-Lee laughed, “Dante, you are an inferno of wisdom.”
Dante mocked, “Well, then, it must be the wish of Mau the Goddess of Cats.”
Dairy King then cried out, “Look! Two mice ahead!”
At once we all became cocked for action. I thought I saw a white mouse and a black mouse run back into the cornfield from the dirt path. We all slunk in that direction, low to the ground. Except for Minnie-Lee.
Minnie-Lee said, “Wait. That couldn’t be mice. There are no white or black field mice.”
Dairy King whispered, “Dante, come with me. The rest of you stay here.”
Dairy King and Dante tiptoed rapidly to the spot where the two “mice” had vanished and there they split up and circled into the cornfield.
Suddenly we heard a quick thrash. Then silence.
Together Dairy King and Dante emerged from the cornfield onto the dirt path each carrying in their mouth one of the two “mice” by the scruff of their little necks.
Those “mice” were two kittens!
Dairy King and Dante strutted comically up to Minnie-Lee and dropped the two kittens before her.
Dante said, “Well, Minnie-Lee, I guess you can have children after all.”
Minnie-Lee purred, “Oh, you poor kittens. Where is your mother?” and she turned to us saying, “We can’t just leave them here.”
I said, “Aren’t you going to look for their mother? Or at least wait awhile?”
Dairy King and Dante looked at me and silently shook their heads and I understood.
I said, “Of course.”
Suri the Siamese teased, “We wouldn’t want to make this journey more difficult for us.”
Zelmo the Orange teased, “And we can eat them if we can’t find food.”
The two kittens ran behind Minnie-Lee.
Minnie-Lee said to the kittens, “Don’t you listen to any of them.”
Then Minnie-Lee licked the head of the white kitten and said, “I shall name you ‘Yang’,” and then she licked the head of the black kitten and said, “I shall name you ‘Yin’.”
Then I said, “Let’s get moving.”
Minnie-Lee said, “Yang and Yin are hungry. Can we catch a locust for them?” she pleaded.
Dante said, “Sure, fine. Come on Dairy King. It will be like old times. The rest of you go ahead. We’ll catch up quick enough.”
Minnie-Lee admonished Dante, “No catting out there, no exploring, just hunting, OK?”
Both kittens, Yang and Yin, were nosing at Minnie-Lee’s belly for food.
Dairy King said, “Let’s get going. Don’t worry, I’ll keep him celibate.”
Dante hissed back, “That’s easy when you look like a poodle’s ass.”
I said impatiently, “We’ll see you later.”
But we never saw Dairy King or Dante again.
Once upon a day gone by, there had been nine lives. We had been Dairy King the White, Dante the Woolly Brown, Suri the Siamese, Zelmo the Orange, Minnie-Lee the Calico, The Three Long-Haired Brothers (Paolo the Pale Orange, Bruschetto the Gray & White, and Boboli the Tangerine), and myself, Noah the Grey.
We nine meandered down the dirt path through the acres of cornfields, away from Ms. Jorgun’s farmhouse. We were moving at night because the day had been so hot and humid and without rain.
The Three Long-Haired Brothers (Paolo the Pale Orange, Bruschetto the Gray & White, and Boboli the Tangerine) complained about the lingering heat and thirst and hunger.
Boboli the Tangerine hissed, “Ms. Jorgun she would’a been a’feeding us a’now. And a’she like’a me the best.”
Bruschetto the Gray & White, and his other brother, Paolo the Pale Orange, made kissy-kissy sounds at Boboli.
Bruschetto teased, “She sure’a do. I think she want’a write’a you such a nice’a love poem (kiss, kiss)”
Paolo recited comically,
“Boboli is a big round cat
He is fluffy
He isn’t fat
He will purr when she walks past
Hey! Someone likes him at long last!
Boboli is a cat serene
Is he orange?
Round just like a pizza pie
Don’t be fooled for he is spry
Boboli is Ms. Jorgun’s pet
Rest her soul
We don’t forget
Maybe they’ll be reunited
Round and round are all things righted
Boboli is God’s loving creature
Sound I now
Like a preacher
You don’t have to take my word
Boboli will have, I’m sure, conpurred”
Boboli made an obscene gesture with his tail, saying, “Up’a you ass, you guys.”
Suri the Siamese wrinkled her nose and said, “Please stop, you guys. Things are bad enough without listening to you three.”
Zelmo chimed-in, “Yeah. I am so sick of licking leaves for drops of condensed moisture. Oh, for a big pan of well-water.”
Suri pleaded, “Oh, Stop, please, stop it. Yeah…, Ms. Jorgun gave us fresh water every day in the barn.”
Boboli had held his tongue long enough and he whined, “I’m a’so hungry. A locust is a’so dry and a’so unfilling.”
Everyone began to play their grumbling guts.
I finally said, “I’m going on ahead to hunt. You are all making too much noise,” and they were making me feel the weight of my thirst and the vacuum of my belly.
I trotted ahead, my eyes sucking up the moonlight, scouring for hints of moving shadows.
It wasn’t long before I heard something behind me.
The Three Long-Haired Brothers Paolo, Bruschetto, and Boboli were joining me.
Boboli whispered, “We be a’quiet.”
The four of us wove around the cornstalks hunting until the sky began to bleach with the imminent sun.
We heard a commotion of crows and we slunk toward the sound. At a clearing of flattened cornstalks we saw the terrible scene.
Crows swarmed and hopped upon the fallen body of Agnes the Sheep. Beside her in leaping anguish was Paschal the Lamb of Agnes, bleating and trying to chase away the crows that were the size of her head. Crows would pull out the bloody intestines from the cave where once was the belly of Agnes the Sheep and poor little Paschal the Lamb of Agnes would leap and flail at those crows, blinded with tears. No sooner had Paschal raced at another group of ghoulish crows when those crows that the lamb had tried to drive away returned to their horrid meal. Crows were attacking Paschal as well and he bled from several gashes.
Boboli charged into the savage scene first and he struck down a crow.
The wounded crow hopped on one foot with his broken wing and said to Boboli in astonishment, “Do you know Whom We Serve?”
Boboli leaped upon the crow and bit through the crow’s neck, and Boboli growled, “I’m a’serving you in’a my belly.”
Bruschetto and Paolo were leaping and swatting and biting in a whirl of fury and screams. I finally found my nerve and ambushed wounded crows as they fled above my head or hopped through the cornstalks.
Outraged, the murder of crows flew away with harsh curses, on toward the retreating twilight.
I came back. Boboli, Bruschetto, and Paolo, their long-hair wet and bloody, surveyed the carnage in the clearing of the cornfield.
Agnes the Sheep was at the center, her belly as if exploded onto the trampled cornstalks. Paschal the Lamb of Agnes collapsed to his four knees wailing above her head. All around were the black tufts of crumpled dead and dying crows.
Boboli, Bruschetto, Paolo, and I surrounded Paschal and began to lick his wounds. He had seven bloody gashes on his head and body. His tears were bloody.
As Paschal continued to weep over his mother Agnes the four of us stepped back and whispered together.
Paolo hissed, “What a’now?”
Bruschetto hissed, “We can a’not leave a’Paschal here.”
I sighed, “What’a …(shit), I say what can we do?”
Boboli hissed, “We three can a’take Paschal back a’to the barn. Noah, you go on a’back to the others.”
I yeowled, “What?”
Paolo purred, “Sure.”
I hissed, “What about food and water?”
Boboli replied, “There’s a’green a’grass around the well pump. It’s a’gott’a leak. Paschal eat a’good, drink a’too.”
I growled, “What about you three?”
Bruschetto said, “We drink too. We eat a’crow.”
I reminded the three of them, “Crow is bitter.”
Paolo concurred, hissing, “Sure. Crow he a’taste like a’shit, but…hey.”
Boboli laughed, “Hey. I lick’a my own ass and it taste a’better than crow. But whatt’a ya gonn’a do, hey?”
I cried, “What if a Coyote…?”
Boboli strutted and said, “We fuck up his ass a’good.”
Paolo and Bruschetto said together, “Yeah. We a’fuck him up a’good.”
I shook my head.
Paolo said to me, “Take as a’many crows a’back as a’you can for the others.”
Bruschetto added, “Yeah. We a’gonn’a help you pick’em up.”
Paolo said, “You don’t a’worry about us no way.”
I have to believe that they all made it back to Ms. Jorgun’s barn. I have to believe that I’ll see Paolo, Bruschetto, and Boboli, all three of them, with Paschal, again upon another day coming.
Once upon a day before, there had been twelve lives. We had been Dairy King the White, Dante the Woolly Brown, Suri the Siamese, Zelmo the Orange, Minnie-Lee the Calico, The Three Long-Haired Brothers (Paolo the Pale Orange, Bruschetto the Gray & White, and Boboli the Tangerine), Moonshine the White, Moonshadow the Black, little Popeye, and myself, Noah the Grey
The clutter of barn cats had gathered. They murmured. They waited for me to speak. Ms. Jorgun had not fed us for two days. We had all seen the crows circling the farmhouse, landing on the roof, strutting on the porch, defiling Ms. Jorgun’s garden
I sighed and it was hard to make words, “I went to the house. We all have seen the crows from here. The crows… At the house I could see that crows were flying in and out of the broken bedroom window. I went to that window. The crows were disdainful of me and unafraid. I saw into the bedroom where Ms. Jorgun’s father has been bed-ridden…,” I couldn’t speak what I had seen.
Minnie-Lee prompted me, “Yes? Noah, tell us. What is it?”
I said finally, “Ms. Jorgun and her father are dead in the bedroom upon the bed.”
The clutter of cats hissed and yowled.
Zelmo said, “We all heard the noise two days ago. What happened?”
Then I said, “The Sheriff is dead in the kitchen.”
Minnie-Lee said, “Dear Mau the Goddess of Cats…”
I shook my head.
The hiss and murmur rose again.
Suri cried, “What happens to us?”
I said simply, “We have to find another barn.”
The hiss and murmur became yowling and wailing.
Boboli said, “The next a’barn is across all’a the cornfields.”
Dairy King said, “Boboli’s right. I saw it when Ms. Jorgun took me to the veterinarian.”
Little Popeye spoke up, “Me, too. I saw it when Ms. Jorgun took me to the veterinarian.”
Little Popeye was weak and he needed an expensive operation. His right eye was infected and swollen grotesquely out of his face. Bruschetto had whispered to Boboli and Paolo, “It a’looks a’like he got another head a’coming outt’a his face.” Ms. Jorgun could not afford the operation to remove little Popeye’s infected eyeball so she made for him her “medicine milk” with warm cream mixed with antibiotics from her cupboard. Little Popeye was brave about it but Ms. Jorgun knew that the infection was a whisker away from Popeye’s brain and likely he would die.
Minnie-Lee whispered to me, “Popeye can’t make a journey like that.”
Dante overheard her and muttered, “I’m not sure most of us can make a journey like that. But Popeye couldn’t make it out of this barn.”
Moonshine the White said very loudly, “I’d rather take my chances here. I’ll stay with Popeye.”
Moonshadow the Black said with bravado, “Me, too. And, hey, Popeye, when you are stronger we’ll all go catch up with the others at the new barn.”
Popeye had been scared knowing that he could not travel and that he was going to die alone. Now, the words of Moonshine and Moonshadow made him cry.
Boboli said in jest, “Hey, don’a cry, Popeye! You gonn’a make a’you other eye fill-up!”
Popeye laughed. Minnie-Lee and Suri and Moonshine and Moonshadow and soon all the others crowded around Popeye and they began to sing ancient songs.
I hope Moonshine and Moonshadow and Popeye were there to greet Boboli, Paolo, Bruschetto, and Paschal the Lamb of Agnes when they made it back to the barn.
The Sheriff had come to the farmhouse. He knocked. It took a long time for Ms. Jorgun to come to the kitchen door. The Sheriff pushed the door open.
Ms. Jorgun shot the Sheriff and he fell in the kitchen.
Ms. Jorgun went into the bedroom of her invalid father who was suffering dementia. She sat on the bed and cried and kissed her father.
Ms. Jorgun picked up her Bible and read aloud from Genesis to her oblivious father, “… the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground…”
Ms. Jorgun reloaded her shotgun.
Then Ms. Jorgun shot her father dead.
Ms. Jorgun turned and looked out the bedroom window at the barn and whispered scripture, “…By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”
She reloaded her shotgun.
Suddenly, she turned the shotgun upon herself and she blew her life away, flying backwards onto the bed.
Already, on that New Year’s Day 2014, Ms. Jorgun’s farm had been foreclosed.
No rain yet had fallen.
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But, the most ancient scrolls are kept on: THE TABLE OF MALCONTENTS
THE BALLAD OF HARRY PALMS
His life was sweet no more because
His job two years ago
Was lost in economic storm.
Now, he was out of dough.
The winter came to reap his shame,
Unwelcome as he was,
Within his daughter’s basement, where
“Apply for Santa Claus”,
His daughter and her boyfriend gnawed,
“You’ve got to pay some rent!”
“But, we are Jewish!” Harry kvetched.
Yet up the stairs he went
Into the hall and out the door.
The blizzard was a shock.
The once and future Harry Palms
Behind him heard the lock.
His breath condensed into his beard,
His cheeks with cold did burn.
He got onboard the empty bus
Some money for to earn.
He got out at the Shopping Mall;
The stores so gaily lit.
Before he could apply himself
He had to give a shit.
Beside the bathroom stalls he stopped
And saw two men a’kissing.
He grabbed their collars, banged their heads.
They beat him. Teeth a’missing,
Still Harry Palms had got the job
Of Santa Claus, First Shift.
“I guess my life is now complete”.
His pride he had to sift,
Like cat-box turds, beside his bed,
The night he set the clock
For five AM to catch the bus.
He couldn’t find his cock.
As Santa Claus he did preside
Above the World Toy™ scenes
For Children of Jerusalem,
Sponsored by Marines.
All day long the shoppers climbed
To leave their gifts of toys
And sit their children on his lap.
He almost lost his poise
When three young Persian girls appeared
In line to visit him
Dressed like ornaments with jewels
And voices like a hymn.
“I am Sofa Kush” one spoke
“And these, my sisters, be
Avesta and Daeva”. Wise
Beyond her beauty she
Was dressed in gold, Avesta white,
And Daeva shaped in red.
The three of them leaned to his ears
And this is what they said:
Daeva: “Listen closely now,
To warn you we have come”.
Avesta: “Toys you gather here
Will harm Jerusalem”.
Said Sofa: “It’s the TNA”.
But Harry looked bemused.
“The Terror Net Alliances.
And we three stand accused
Of being traitors to our lords;
Mawlas, to whom we’re wives,
Will surely stone us three to death.
We offer you our lives:
Please help us save Jerusalem.
Allah’ cannot want this:
There are the toys that will explode
And open the Abyss.”
Poor Harry sat there so confused
Because their Sirens’ voice
Had spun enchanting arabesque
That left him with no choice
But to believe them; was he nuts?
They clearly were afraid
Of something that was going down
That wasn’t a charade.
He turned to find the host Marine
Did have his weapon drawn
And pointed at his geezer brains.
The three young girls were gone.
The mothers screamed and children ran
In chaos so appalling
The soldier had to drop his gun;
The Christmas Tree was falling
Onto his head. The needles rained
And stuck him in the eyes.
He fell down to his knees and screamed
Vile curses to incise
Whoever had pushed o’er the Tree.
He swore in Farsi tongue
To cut the heart of those who laughed:
Three Persian girls so young
They could not hide their merry laugh,
For they had done the deed
To no Marine: a terrorist
Who thought he could mislead.
Poor Harry Palms had tumbled back
And fallen from the lair
Of Santa Claus, onto the floor,
At circling stars to stare.
“You must arise and follow us”,
He heard the Angel say.
She looked a lot like Sofa Kush
And so he did obey.
Into the Manger Scene they fled
And lifted Baby Jesus.
A trap-door opened at their feet,
So down there Harry squeezes.
Below, past tense and present fear
A tunnel lead them out
The Service Exit Door. The girls
The parking lot did scout
As if they knew what should be, they
The World Toy™ truck did see
Without a guard nearby. Not luck:
Avesta had the key.
So off they went with reckless speed.
On, Daeva! Sofa Kush!
Avesta! And on, Harry Palms,
But watch your sorry tush!
“Where do we go?” did Harry cry.
He saw they were pursued
By someone in a Cadillac.
He was not in the mood!
His basement room seemed pretty good,
Retreating in his mind.
If he could just get out of this
He nevermore would find
A fault within his broken life.
It always can be worse!
To Harry, like the Bible’s Job,
Jehovah seemed adverse,
Because just then they overturned
The World Toy™ truck and smashed
Right through the lobby, where the staff
Of Trumpet Towers dashed.
A shroud of smoke concealed the four,
Untangled from debris.
Avesta, Daeva, Sofa Kush,
And Harry all did flee
Into the elevator car,
Penthouse Floor they keyed
To where the Persian girls did live.
It cost not chicken feed.
But suddenly their motion stopped,
The elevator dead
One floor below the penthouse suite.
They exited instead
And ran into the studio
Of KABL Radio.
The three girls knew the DJ well.
The DJ exhaled, “Whoa”.
Kid KABL Rock, as he was known,
Did listen to the girls
As he stared at Santa Claus,
His stoner mind in whorls.
He locked-up tight the studio
In record time, for then
Upon the door fell pounding fists
Of several angry men.
Kid KABL Rock was monitoring
The evening TV news
That pictured Harry (Santa Claus)
“Police uncovered clues
That Santa Claus had helpers who
Conspired to steal each toy
Donated for Jerusalem
Baseerah, Hebrew, Goy.”
The World Toy™ lawyers fed the news
And Sofa Kush just knew
They had to broadcast their own side
To rescue what was true.
Kid KABL Rock was ‘way ahead
And sat down at the mike
To spread the “Siege of Santa Claus”
Which children wouldn’t like.
The children listened everywhere
To hear their hero speak.
Kid KABL Rock laid down the scene
And it was getting bleak:
“Our door those men are battering down,
With force to hit home-runs.”
Kid KABL Rock beseeched the kids
To get their parent’s guns.
“Come up to Trumpet Towers, all!
To station KABL Rock!
Help us to save Santa Claus!”
He rallied them ad hoc.
Avesta cried “Time’s running out!”
But Daeva had a scheme,
“If Kid can hack the broadcast net
We can send a beam
That reaches to Jerusalem
Before they land those toys.”
Kid KABL Rock was on the case;
“His talent he employs”,
Said Sofa Kush, “to hack for fun
The broadcast net before.”
Avesta held a cell-phone high,
“I took my husband’s phone.
It has the code to detonate
The high-explosive bombs,
Before the children have to die
And grief consume their moms.”
But Harry saw the door give-in
And shatter to the floor
As men crashed through and aimed their guns
Upon the other four.
What happened next was like dream
As Harry leapt between
The gunmen and the other four,
Screaming, so obscene,
As bullets patted Harry Palms,
And so did Santa slay,
Avesta plugged the cell-phone in
Where Kid KABL did say,
As Sofa Kush a doll did throw
Toward a gunman’s face,
Avesta pushed the icon dial
And blew the coup de grace,
So fire ate alive those men
And ruptured in the lobby.
The plane above Jerusalem
Was hailing Abu Dhabi,
When in a super-nova blast
It blew to smithereens
And starred above, just like all those
Nativity night scenes.