Archive for February, 2012

Warm Ash Wednesday 

Mexicans mill about like chickens on Bergenline Ave 

Warm sun mounts the New York City skyline to the East 

Walking slowly upon the narrow sidewalk 

Without the mark above my nose 

Looking down 

Tiny little Mexican kid screams with Joy 

Mother with black hair places hand atop the head of a child with same hair and directs his gaze to a cheap poster of the virgin Mary holding the Christ child– some sort of Christmas decoration not taken down. 

Child just stares 

Mother, feeling warm rubs his little back 

Everywhere, there are black X’s on brown foreheads– none of them really fasting– all except the tiny little child who must wonder– what the hell is that? 


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I buried the hatchet and no longer sought revenge on my brother Bill. I bit my lip for years and never mentioned the pain he caused. I attended all family weddings with the exception of Bill and Suzanne’s—they didn’t invite me. I probably wouldn’t have gone anyway. 

There are few ways to get revenge without sinning, so, just as in childhood, I turned the other cheek and permitted my older brother to get away with his madness, never once trying to explain my side of the story to Mom, who always favored the boy with blue eyes. I did not wish to estrange myself from the entire clan—I wanted some semblance of family in my life. None of them would speak to me. Years passed. Bill went bald, got a great job with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office and now works from a home office. 

It was Suzanne who put Bill through college. Shortly after our big fight one New Years Eve, the two became engaged and Suzanne insisted that Bill leave that tiny little red-neck town he grew up in, but before doing so, obtain all that was necessary to ensure a stable future. Bill was always incredibly intelligent. Despite being a lover of fishing and hunting, he was a master at chess and checkers. He studied books on how to play chess. In college, he obtained a degree that would enable him to design machinery used in assembly line production—that was his initial aim—who ever knew the government had such great jobs? 

I was home on leave from the Army with my lover, Anthony, and driving south from New York City to visit both my family and Anthony’s who lived in North Carolina when the big fight broke out. 

I bleached my hair blonde in New York—what little hair I had at the time—and I had my left ear pierced. Walking into that party made me incredibly nervous—I didn’t know what everyone would think about my ear, my hair and more importantly, my black friend from the army. Perhaps, I thought, they will finally figure out that I’m gay. 

My lover Anthony was feeling quite at ease on that trip home from Germany and at the party. We had so much sex in New York that my anus had swollen completely shut. Not even a fart could be squeezed out.

The family was quite surprised to see my new look, but rather than ask about my new hair, they simply didn’t talk to me, or Anthony. It seemed to me that the fact that Anthony was black had caused the stir in everyone’s emotions. It was Suzanne who went out of her way to make Anthony and me feel loved and at home that cold New Years Eve. She couldn’t make any sense out of the ordeal—why was Bill’s brother being treated with such contempt? She must have thought. 

“I’m going to get cigarettes, Suzanne,” Bill announced. 

“Go ahead. I’m staying here,” Suzanne responded, tossing her long blonde hair over her shoulders and smiling like a whore at Anthony and me. She had just devoured an entire bag of chips. She carefully tilted the bag in order to capture every last crumb before guzzling down what must have been her tenth beer of the night. “So tell me, what’s Germany like?” Suzanne asked as she licked salt from her lips. 

“You are coming with me,” Bill demanded, reaching for Suzanne’s hand which now firmly held both a whoopee pie and a cold can of beer. 

“No I’m not!” Suzanne struck back. 

A few moments later, Bill appeared in the garage with my stepfather who was carrying a gun. 

“So what’s going on here,” Bob, my stepfather asked. 

“They are trying to get with Suzanne,” Bill shouted. 

“I’m getting the fuck out of here,” was what Anthony said moments before we raced away in our white Subaru rental car. We parked in the woods that night down a dirt road near the town of Rockhill. 

Years passed. I never brought up the fight until a few months ago when I mentioned to Bill, now that he knows that I’m gay—“You do realized we were not trying to fuck Suzanne that New Year’s Eve,” I casually remarked. 

“Yes you were,” Bill said, “I saw it with my own two eyes. You were eyeing her up and down with your tongues hanging out, squirming around in your seat like you couldn’t sit still. Don’t tell me what I saw, damn it!” 

“You must be joking,” I said, “Let me make this perfectly clear, I never once wanted to fuck your fat wife!” 

He hung up on me. 

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Being a porter in a building filled with Mexicans has renewed my spirit. Every Monday and Thursday when I take the trash to the curb, I think of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and remind myself that the secret to eternal life is learning to serve others. 

I don’t mind picking up chicken bones that were ripped from plastic bags by the numerous wild kittens that live among the dozen plastic trash cans outside. 

Because it hasn’t snowed much this winter, I have taken it upon myself to sweep in front of the building at 3 p.m. when I know the little Mayan kids and Dominican teenagers are getting home from school. I am being paid nearly $200 a month and I feel my thorough work as a porter is a good lesson to the illegals who sometimes have a nasty attitude when doing such work. White people may be stuck-up in their brown eyes, but we take pride in where we live. 

With a dustpan on a stick and a broom I picked from the trash, I canvass the sidewalk as the children come home. “Hola” I say to each of them, and just to make them giggle I say “Holy” as I sweep up every little cigarette butt on the sidewalks surrounding our five story building. 

Someone has been tossing Q-Tips from their bathroom window. I have never seen so much wax in my life. Every Monday and every Thursday there are two or three more in the exact same spot outside, stuck to the cement like gum. My stomach churns. I try to ignore what it is I’m doing and simply sweep up the trash, but I would rather wash their stinky little feet.

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I have written extensively on my theory of a pending “mass psychosis’ over the past several years. 

It should not come as a surprise that there is a group of girls in upstate New York now suffering from uncontrollable muscle spasms that doctors have written off as mass hysteria. 

Demonic possession is not taken seriously by the medical community, but it certainly seems that these young women are taken by something. Their hands fly about nonstop, like seeing Helen Kellers with runaway signing abilities with no way to stop it. 

There is only one way to ‘cast out a demon’, and this information can be found on google when searching the phrase “Demon Casting Techniques” where one will find the article that made me famous and freed my soul of the legions of flipper hands, and somehow transferred my pain to those silly bitches in Upstate New York.

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FEMA has made an offer to purchase Elizabeth Miller’s house on Goosegreen Street in Petersburg. The two story wooden home with a tin roof hasn’t held up as good as Liz has over the century. She still washes her face with Noxzema and bathes in an old claw-foot bathtub inside the property that as of today may become property of the state of Pennsylvania. 

Liz fears that if she accepts FEMA’s offer of nearly $100,000 for the place, she will die soon. Years of scrubbing the linoleum floor on her hands and knees has somehow transferred part of her soul into the very walls of the house where seven children were raised with not a spot of dirt behind their ears. She still hangs her clothes upstairs on the top porch. She does a load of laundry almost every day—just for something to do, and she irons all her clothes even though most items have a mix of polyester. She dumps far too much detergent into each load that is not really a load of clothes, but often a single item of clothing put on the short cycle which Liz knows with take out every damn spot. 

So many of the people who were part of Liz’s generation have moved into the many mansions in heaven, but she stands firm on her own porch, still today, hoping that somehow she will not be forced to move away from the place where she and her husband Bill lived in paradise. 

The house is in a flood zone, according to officials. If the river that runs adjacent to Liz’s property overflows and destroys her home as it almost did in 1972, the government will not give her a dime to rebuild, but today, despite what little time she probably has left to live, the federal government is throwing away almost a hundred grand to an old woman who wishes not to leave. 

“They will take away my food stamp money, now that I have more than $2,000 in the bank,” Liz complains, but when she considers the issue more seriously, at least now, at least for a while, she’ll have all the money she needs to eat out at the Olive Garden, her favorite restaurant, next to Wendy’s and the baked potatoes sold there. 


Elizabeth Miller will go live with her daughter Roxie, who’s husband, the late Chuck Pro is also in one of the many mansions above. Roxie will charge her rent; every little bit helps. Roxie lives just down the road and up a hill, but there is no place like your own, according to old Liz. 

Liz and Bill bought the old place in 1963 when Bill still worked at the Fiberglass factory, when the credit union there gave them a loan. Bill was fired for missing too much work—he was so tired, always taking Liz out to the legion in Petersburg. Bill never worked again. Foodstamps for days. Never made another payment on that house. Things were different back then when one had seven kids—the credit unions didn’t foreclose—they simply left people alone to live in what was rightfully theirs. 

The credit union is long gone, like the people in those many mansions in heaven, but Liz does not care. She’ll take the money, wash her face with globs and globs of white Noxzema, and eat at the Olive Garden until the messiah returns.

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