The Prognosis

Weekly feature by: Steve Slavin

1

When we’re dying, we can’t pack a suitcase. As they say, “You can’t take it with you.”

Let’s consider a somewhat less drastic decision. If you had to give up every person or thing in your life but one, who or what would that be? For me, the answer to that question was a no-brainer.

2

When we got home from the doctor’s office, Robert needed to lie down for a while. I made some tea, but Robert didn’t want any. I sat at the edge of the bed, and reflexively placed his hand on his forehead.

“You know, Craig, you don’t get a fever just from visiting the doctor.”

I smiled. “Well, I’m certainly glad to see that you haven’t lost your sense of humor.”

“No, not at all! They say you keep it right up to the end.”

“Please, Robert. Spare me the melodramatics.”

“Fine!”

“Can we have a serious conversation?”

“So talk!”

“You heard what the doctor said. If the lump is malignant, she’ll operate, and then she’ll do more tests. That’s not exactly a death sentence.”

“No, but then, in a couple of weeks, we’ll be back in her office, and she’ll tell us a few cells were found in my lymph nodes. And then ….”

“Yeah, I know. You’ll need chemo and radiation.”

I waited, but Robert didn’t reply. He had a far-off look. Finally, he rolled over to one side to face me more directly. “I don’t think I can go through that again.”

“Are you saying that that wasn’t as much fun for you as it was for me?”

This got a smile.

“I know I’m over-reacting. Maybe they can just cut out the tumor and that will be the end of it. But this time I’m expecting the worst.”

“No, the worst – the absolute worst, was the third time.”

“Agreed. But in retrospect, had I known how awful the treatment would be, I think I would have chosen to die instead.”

“Maybe. But that was before they prescribed medical marijuana.”

That got a chuckle out of him.

“Seriously, Robert – and I am being selfish about this …”

“Yeah, I know: You never want to lose me.”

“Well, I’m glad to hear that even you listen some of the time.”

Robert didn’t answer. When I noticed his regular breathing, I got up, tiptoed out of the room, and shut the door.

3

An hour later, I found myself lying on a couch in the living room, a book on my chest. It had grown dark outside, and I could hear the rush hour traffic.

I thought about how Robert and I had met at a ridiculous dinner party in Brooklyn Heights. I could not remember who invited me, but after a few glasses of wine, it felt like we all had become great friends. We decided to drive across the bridge into Manhattan. There was a piano bar on Grove Street in the Village. It was called The Five Oaks.

Anyone could go in there and sing his heart out. No matter how good or bad you were, everyone generously applauded. You could walk in alone, with another guy, or maybe with a whole party of friendly people – and you would quickly feel right at home.

Robert was with someone else, but he and I had been eying each other all evening. When his date went to the bathroom, he slipped me his phone number. As I took it, I squeezed his hand and he blew me a kiss.

That was thirty-seven years ago. Who knows? We might have saved each other lives. We had met just when AIDS was beginning to reach epidemic proportions. We lost dozens of friends, but like other monogamous couples, we were spared.

We had our fights, but who didn’t? Since the early nineties, we’ve been living in Chelsea, where the you-know-who have practically taken over. I guess you know that’s happened when no one notices you strolling around the neighborhood.

I wondered if Robert intuited something – something that even the doctor couldn’t know. Maybe this time he would not be able to dodge the bullet. Perhaps he was just tired of trying.

I tried to picture life without him. Would I expect him to be there when I got home? Would I imagine crawling into bed with him — and waking up in the morning expecting to see his face?

Just then, I heard the toilet flush, and then Robert’s feet padding down the hall. He looked a lot better. He was even smiling.

4

A week later his doctor operated. After she finished, and Robert’s chest was stitched up, she asked me to join them in the recovery room. She explained that because he was coming out of sedation, he might not remember everything she said.

The entire tumor did not need to be removed – just the malignant part. So, while Robert lay on the operating table, slices of tissue were sent to the hospital’s pathology lab. That’s why the operation took almost four hours.

While she was confident that they had gotten everything, the lymph node test would be crucial. If no cancer cells were found, we would be home free.

5

A few weeks later, it was time for the test. That morning, I had a revelation. Did it really matter how the test came out? Would Robert get a new lease on life, or perhaps a conditional death sentence? Would we be able to go back to how things were, or would we see our life together coming to an end?

It was just then that I realized an important truth. You know those “crazy people” holding signs proclaiming, “The end is coming”? Well, they’ve got that right!

One day, the end will come. But in the here and now, while we still have each other, we have everything that life could offer.

Dielectric Summer

Weekly feature by: Susan Monaghan

The temperature of Charlotte’s bedroom averaged in the high 90s on most days. It was an add-on, disconnected from the protective reach of the house’s heater and air conditioner. Giant windows wrapped two of its four walls, giving it a sense of intimacy with the vulnerable desert outside, and the mountains beyond that. Her grandparents had called it the sunroom.

A long-defunct hot tub, crowded by house plants of all sizes, filled the window side of the room. The other side was carpeted in vivid turquoise, its purity of color owed to the fact that it hadn’t been thoroughly lived on since it was fitted. Charlotte had five fans running at all times, but the room’s lack of insulation prevented them from doing much more than generate a dull roar. At night, the stars had been unobscured by clouds for a long time, and Charlotte could imagine that she was on top of one of those mountains just beyond her backyard, listening to the roar of freezing high-altitude wind.

The bedroom connected directly to the house by way of a sliding-glass door. Before the add-on, it had been the door to the backyard, and therefore did not lock from the inside. Charlotte was at least grateful she had a curtain, but it did little to dissuade anyone from entering at will.

“Charlotte, remember to water those plants, they’re sitting right in the sun. Honey how can you stand it in here, I’m already sweating.”

“Ok mom.”

“Come into the living room, it’s cool in here. Bring Hera.”

“She hates it in there. The dogs make her nervous.”

Charlotte watched her cat creep across the carpet from her couch, the only mildly cool thing in the room. Hera was a sleek, golden animal, but lately she was looking a little too slim. Charlotte noticed that when she walked, the tips of her hip bones jutted softly against her skin. She rolled off the couch and crawled across the carpet to inspect the cat’s wet food, wondering if the heat had spoiled it. Without her contacts in, Charlotte could not see the problem until she’d picked up the infected dish: the food was swarming with ants.

“I’m sorry you didn’t get into Berkeley. But Willow actually isn’t that bad, you know? And now you won’t have to take out any student loans.”

Charlotte’s friend Marissa lie on the couch with one foot planted on the carpet. From her vantage point on the ground, Charlotte watched a bead of sweat drop from the back of Marissa’s knee to her ankle. Finally she answered:

“It’s fine, I’m pretty much over it.”

Marissa exhaled in response and stretched her legs out further, bending her head back until she could see the hot tub across the room.

“Does that work?”

“Not really.”

“I have a weird thing I’ve been meaning to try. Or at least, I think you should try it. It’s called sensory deprivation.”

“Uh huh.”

“Do you have a pool thermometer?”

“I haven’t seen one.”

“Nevermind, I’ll be right back.”

Charlotte watched Marissa gut and pour fifteen bags of epsom salt into the lukewarm water in the tub, awkwardly stirring in the clumps with a puny wooden ladle. Charlotte stuck the thermometer in the water to gage its temperature as instructed, and read the numbers aloud: 99 degrees. The sun was halfway set.

“That’s close enough I think.” Marissa threw aside the last dripping bag and stirred in wide, fast circles. “Are you nervous at all?”

“No, I mean I don’t think I will be. But I don’t think I’ve ever been in that tight of space.”

“I’ll keep talking to you until you’re used to it.”

“Ok.”

Charlotte lowered herself into the tub one leg at a time, sitting upright as Marissa walked around the side to get a hold of the tub cover. Marissa lifted one half over the side Marissa sat adjacent to, bracing the other half to be flipped closed.

“When you’re ready, just start floating. Is there enough salt?”

Charlotte had to bend her legs at the knees to avoid touching the staggered floor of the tub, but found that her head and back were easily supported.

“I’ll stop when it’s a few inches from closing.”

Marissa swung the cover over the rest of the tub, until Charlotte could only see a sliver of Marissa’s face and the orange light of the sunset flooding through the windows. Something about the contrast between the sliver and the surrounding darkness felt Biblical.

“Are you ok?”

“Yeah.”

“Alright.” Marissa dropped the cover.

Marissa heard a great splashing sound, followed by a thud on the inside of the cover so forceful it was almost dislodged, and another deep thud from the bottom of the tub.

Charlotte’s mother laid her back on her bed and carefully untangled the strands of her hair that were twisted into her emergency room bracelet, drawing a throw blanket over her despite the formidable late night heat.

Charlotte was not, as usual, woken by the temperature spike in the late morning, or the unencumbered light of the sunrise streaming directly through the big windows. Over all other stimuli came the tingling in the atmosphere, and the dancing of bizarre lights just beyond her closed eyelids, and the adrenaline-induced anticipation of experiencing something that she had never experienced before. Her eyes opened. Six ovular patches of rainbow, big and small, hovered in the air, shimmering with a texture made of finely-woven crossing lines, and Charlotte was struck with the sick suspicion that no one in the house, nor anyone else that she knew, would be able to see them at all.

Charlotte observed with awe the largest of the ghosts, hanging in the air mere feet from her bed. Standing on shaking legs, she took one step towards the finely-textured prism, lifting her arm half the way towards making contact. She could hear someone walking through the living room, no doubt coming towards the sliding-glass door, where the curtain inside had accidentally been left open just enough for Charlotte to be seen with her arm half-bent towards the empty center of the room. In one fluid snap, she extended her arm to its full length, and for the first time Charlotte felt something meaningful.

Triptych From West to East

Weekly feature by: Anne Garwig

I

To be prepared in the eventuality of forever
we need 90 years of activities
I will delay this poem another 70
for fear of running out of occupancy
for the time for getting old
isn’t scary but it’s best to pack
some food and maybe some Sudoku
not scary but boring not knowing
how long we will have to wait
to reach with any certainty another coast
manifest west by way of
manifold rest stops

II

We crossed the street near Humboldt Park
and you told me a nickname for Chicago
as two men passed us in the crosswalk
I did not hear clearly if one sai
“Beatles” or “Foals”
“rule”
your shirt said Beatles mine Foals
but you claimed it
half selfishly half selfishly
to protect you to protect me
and the words on our chests
and the breasts behind mine
from intruder compliments

III

Once young enough
I was caught in the street
in front of a passing car
the driver stopped after
I chased the ball
into the road before them
my brother stood in the yard behind me
in memory a prime
and bright morning
ours was four houses from the top of the street
to the east
the industrial park rose with the sun
gleaming atomic-era lines
the giant nuclear furnace
chasing us from the east

Final Tally

Weekly feature by: Gary Duehr

All that is solid melts into air,
Says Marx, Karl not Groucho. Everywhere
A brand of fear
Stamps itself on faces: on the bus, in a rear-view mirror,
Poring over a café menu
Or into the ice cubes of a vodka tonic. When you
Consider all that’s happened since,
Anxiousness makes sense. Time to wince
As billionaires punch the Up button
That takes them to the Tower’s top floor. What’s been done
Can be undone, the arc of history
Can be bent backwards until it hurts, until this story
Ends unhappily: no hugs, no lessons.
Only open lesions
As the country tears itself apart.
The final tally’s done. All those in favor of an open heart
Say Nay; the Ayes
Have it. Say yes to a world where big lies
Become our daily bread.
Say yes to letting the living dead
Rise again to walk among us; we’re their feast.
We’re their host, their yeast.
A toast to the old guy, raise a glass.
For whosoever’s first among us, it’s a gas gas gas.

Waterboard

Weekly feature by Joanna Michaels

I was 29, then. A young 29. Perhaps it was the years of dancing in bleak, smoke-filled clubs, or perhaps it was the childhood robbed by alcohol and cigarettes—another story for another time.

I was 29. He was 28, younger by only 10 months, yet he teased me all the time. Cougar he’d say.

We met by accident. A documentary I watched compelled me to email random soldiers about opening free clinics (something I still haven’t done) and I’d stumbled upon a beautiful man.

The day he confessed his love, I fell in my closet. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it was foreshadowing, or maybe I just experienced a sudden drop in blood pressure.

He flew to Austin and I wore a black dress. It was short. I had worn it for years, but for some reason it seemed appropriate. He later told me he hated the dress. I threw it down a garbage chute in NYC.

He proposed twice, the second time, we both scrambled to take a knee, candied rings in hand. Our friends took photos. My jaw ached from smiling. I wore flip-flops. He hated flip-flops.

In the week after our engagement, I wrote him love letters and send Haribo gummies. I tried to convince him we should wait. He was traditional and asked for my mother’s blessing. She exercised caution, told us to be practical. We didn’t listen.

Once he asked me if I had been sent by his former unit to watch over him. He confessed to asking another soldier if I was FBI. He told me this as we drove in my Hyundai looking for pancakes or some other breakfast food.

We introduced our friends. They were married several years later. I was a bridesmaid. He wasn’t there.

My body was no longer predictable. The signals were crossed and I couldn’t give my future husband the parts that were meant to be given. They stayed locked no matter what we tried.

Strike one.

He called me one night drunk with his awkward roommate. “Is it wrong if I watch videos of abortions?” I laughed. This was foreshadowing.

Strike two.

The night before I moved to NYC, I told my mother that I would either make it or die.

I’m still writing. You figure it out.

I remembered the shower, just before we got in the car to drive to San Antonio. He was washing my hair. “You have to be prepared, JoAnna. You never know if we’re in Afghanistan—you’ll be tortured. I want to waterboard you.” I giggled. He was serious.

We got married in San Antonio. A ranger married us. How appropriate.

He was still convinced I worked for the CIA.

We honeymooned with bullets and overflowing bathtubs. He poured an entire bottle of shampoo into the tub. Bubbles were everywhere.

We went to dinner and my dress blew up from wind. I heard lewd comments.

We laughed and he snapped photos.

At dinner, he told me he had the potential to destroy me. It was said as a mariachi band that he called over was playing to me on our wedding day. I believe that the cliché of time standing still wouldn’t do that polaroid justice. I asked him if we’d made a mistake. I don’t remember much else.

Strike three.

The letters came only days after we married, letters from women I had never met or heard about.

I wonder how many had seen his bullet scar.

I got pregnant immediately.

It was said that I would never have children.

We were at this fancy gala and I wore a fancy gown to fit in with fancy bougie college students who spent far too much money on closet sized living spaces. We were caught trying to fuck in a kitchen on a floor above the venue. “We have found the lovebirds,” a radio echoed. The condom broke that night.

I got pregnant.

I thought of that moment as a belligerent doctor was removing my daughter with a suction. She told me I was doing great.

They told me I couldn’t have kids.

She left half of her in me. For months.

I thought, this is worse than waterboarding.

My Dog

Weekly feature by: Michael Prihoda

My dog is writing a horror novel and sometimes he asks me if parts make sense.

The basic premise involves a human who goes apeshit and starts serial killing escaped zoo animals around the country. The killer is so hard to catch because he keeps moving, transferring IDs. He’s got passports for different countries and driver’s licenses from four different states (including New Mexico) but he generally prefers Greyhound buses for the irony. He carries a pitchfork, miniature-sized, so he can hide it in the special-made inner lining pocket on his double-breasted suit.

I ask my dog if he’s ever worn a double-breasted suit. He tells me not to be ridiculous. Does he look like a fop?

I tell my dog most writing workshops tell you to write what you know.

He says only amateurs do that.

When pressed, he goes to his kennel and pulls out a stack of rumpled pages that he hands to me. Upon reading, I realize it’s a manifesto concerning his life with me as owner.

He’s already written what he knows and is moving on like any artist worth his salt and pepper.

His manifesto is not flattering to me. I only read part of it and immediately make an excuse to go out and run to the store for better quality dog food. How he even knows which brand is good is beyond me but it costs more than how much I spend on food for myself in a week.

I guess seeing my dog as an artist makes me think of him differently.

He shows me a new chapter he wrote about the newest closest call the serial killer has with the cops. They almost catch up to him in Reno and I ask my dog if he’s ever been to Reno? Because his scene at the courthouse (which becomes a chase through darkened Nevada streets, culminating in a pseudo-showdown which the anti-hero [his label, not mine] clumsily escapes, vowing never to repeat his mistake again) seems oddly visceral and insider, as if my basset hound worked as DA in Reno for a stint right after passing the BARR.

Eventually he tells me he’s thinking about sending his manuscript to agents. It’s not long until some agents are emailing him back and he’s glued to my computer screen, sorting through his offers for representation. His preferred publisher is Vintage, though how he earmarked them I don’t know.

Toward the end he stopped asking me to weigh in on plot changes, character development, or the rhythm of a scene. I take it as a bad sign of his independence. I still pay for his dog food.

The agent he emails back comes over to our house and my dog tells me not to be a square, to offer the woman something to drink. All I have is sparkling water or milk. She opts for the water, then barely touches it. My dog and her talk shop all afternoon and he signs a contract.

Three months later my dog says he has someplace to be. Doesn’t give me more details. I see an interview of him on Ellen a couple days later. Then he goes to our local library for a reading. His agent leaves messages on my machine almost daily, giving him updates for book tour locations, quotes from reviews of his book, etc. She has a voice like a parakeet but I don’t know why I think that because I’ve never heard a parakeet definitively ever in my life before.

My dog has signings and readings lined up for the entire summer and fall. Apparently spring release with a summer tour is the way to do it nowadays in the book world.

I fly out to New York for the first reading of his tour, realizing when I land that I haven’t bothered to pick up a copy of the book yet, though it’s been out for weeks and it’s all the rage among contemporary horror/literary fiction. One of the messages his agent left on my machine said someone from The Times called it “a breath of fresh air for a lagging genre.” Somebody from The Washington Post noted how “it is a landmark in fiction: finally something from a non-human perspective. Just what literature has been waiting decades to sink its teeth into.” In another life I imagined my basset hound sinking his teeth into my copy of War and Peace. Or was that already my life but just in the past?

I pick up a copy of his book before the reading and browse through it as I wait in a plastic chair some intern probably set up. I’m waiting to see my dog for what will be the first time in weeks. He’s too famous and busy to call me let alone stop in for a quick pet and evening watching Seinfeld.

Something bothers me while paging through the book but I can’t place it until my dog finally comes out to wild applause from an audience whose demographic I can’t place. Then he starts reading and it hits me: the killer has the same name as me.

After the reading I wait in line for two hours to get my copy signed, when actually I just want to confront him about why his killer ended up with my name, when all the drafts he’d shown me left him nameless.

Finally, I’m at the front of the line and I flop the book on the table. His agent beams at his side, smiling and waving at the fans and cameras.

“What the hell?” I say.

“What are you talking about?” he says, his voice impassive, exactly like how basset hounds usually look when they are resting.

“You know what I mean.”

“You know what they say,” he says, red eyes meeting mine, “write what you know.”

Last Dance (Climate Tears)

Weekly feature by: Gregg Dotoli

the slow-burn endures
as money-green carbon skeptics
play a ravaging death dance
acidic seas sway
swinging to que sera, sera
wind blasted trees stoop like ballerinas
to gusting cracking notes
Swaying to que sera, sera
polar caps melting
spawning new dirges
and puzzling eerie weather
rainbows and lightning
form natural stages
for the extant to extinct finale
Biota in decline and decay
Fragile and frail mumbles que sera, sera
we’re not here to stay
we’re not here to stay

Mercury Blues

Weekly feature by: Sissy Buckles

Not sure how long
I can do this,
hanging on by a thread.
I liked looking at the Ellis Island
photos this morning anyway,
and wondering what
new stories those ancient
sojourners would have to tell.
Morning meditation?
I ran for an hour at daybreak
in the rain, hell yeah
and if you have any extra time
stop and loiter
at the construction site
watch them build stuff
I could linger for hours
drive the jeep out
to the heart of the desert
and clear your mind
apprehending the wilderness –
“we cannot be naked enough”
(Namaste, Thoreau)
visit my Julian wolves
back up in the hills
and def not miss the
superblooming wildflowers
in Death Valley then
ponder eternity
whilst listening to Ray Price
Crazy Arms on the jukebox
and a quick stop at
Pete’s Place after the
La Mesa Classic Car Show
because you can whittle it down
in your mind
all you like to just a few
fundamental things
like the sudden comprehension
in the absolute essentialness
of Bob Kaufman’s
Abomunist Manifisto
(sing it like a tragic aria!)
and for instance
do you sell your soul
like a crummy can of soup at the
crossroads, hunkering down
for the highest bidder
like all those fucking phony
leftists who voted for that
imperialist war-mongering HRC
(third party renegade 4life)
and foreverly damned if I do
or don’t
eternally working for
the Man and so bloody
tired of faking it
including the nonstop
nerve-jangling media blitzkrieg
circle jerk
(& heaven forbid we all
miss out on Kim Kardashian’s
latest snapchat who thinks
she gots it so bad
getting robbed
in a luxury Paris hotel?
Rather consider the happy
fate of not being plundered
by ten men at a time in
the South Sudan killing fields)
or should I be
merely content with the
occasional insincere bone thrown
in my general direction
and all these ominous portents
which I inevitably knew were
coming the morning
I witnessed
a bike go down on the
freeway off-ramp
right in front of me
while heading to work
he was able to jump up and
muscle it over while I
blocked traffic from behind
but we both knew we were
Dostoevskian idiots
staring at each other’s
vulnerable skulls, as I’d surely
reached the zero hour
exigency point and left to my
singular wits I would
stand alone
in the middle of the room
like that loca femme fatale in Texas
ignominiously screaming
BULLSHIT
at the top of my lungs
till I’m blue in the face or hell
I could just give it all away
and learn what my survival
really did depend on,
including poetry because
don’t kid yourself folks,
you will only find true Art
in the outsiders world
just ask Eartha Kitt, conceived
from rape, born picking
cotton on a plantation,
spoke five tongues and
sang in seven or
platinum vixen Jen in a
frilled red vintage playsuit
filing her long nails and baking
in the SoCal sun on a
backyard chaise lounge
her tattoos covered in zinc oxide
never teacher’s pet,
rather the scapegoat
rather the black sheep
gossiping with the chatty mailman
in that charming way
she had, lamenting her bully boss
snarling “and all the flunky
‘Yes Men’ can BITE me!”
and last but never least that
sage young Ockhamist Adrian
up to no good
in the Coachella Valley
whose words almost
saved my life
one long and lonely
Indian Summer night,
I lost my America
years ago stolen by all
the lazy unoriginal takers
of language for granted
(and a person who introduces
themselves as a poet
is a prime suspect in my book)
besides your first big mistake
was deciding it was a
good idea to try and game
a chick who don’t play,
yes I’m talking to you land of
the free home of the brave
of purple mountains majesty
of shameful mass incarceration
fed by modern-day
slave patrols,
of the freshly anointed
Ministry of Truth
Barack Obama’s little parting gift
guaranteed to root out
any and all
Un-American activity,
“come and see the blood
in the streets”
saith Neruda the Prophet,
my original sin branding me
a troublemaker
because I never needed
my daddy’s approval
yet still, gratefully noting the
list of folks who don’t
hate me
after my last Truck poems
to include: hot rodders, musicians,
poets, farmers, librarians,
booksellers, surfers,
Mongols motorcycle club and
the gang down at the Sportsman Pub
poetry mag editors,
course my family, and
miraculously
this was enough
at least
nobody has threatened
to piss on my grave
(not yet, anyway)
and my only belief the science
of counting my lucky stars.
So I’ll be doggoned if I’m not in
on that build and the
fanciful notion of turning
my sister’s 1934 Ford truck
race-ready for the
Barona 1/8 mile Antique Drags
we’ll dial in that little mama
going fast as
a speeding bullet, see
you’ve got to understand
these guys/gals have been
entrenched in the Cali
counterculture scene
for decades, hmmm you could
say starting with the
WW2 vets coming back
a motley crew
with their knowledge of
general mechanics (and hydraulics
for the lowriders but that’s
a whole other chapter) and the
pilots building cafe racers
which was the closest thing
to flying they could afford,
you could probably also add the
adrenaline rush
they had felt during wartime
and just a means of getting around
for dates and work
like we all need to do
and shoot, just wanting to feel
genuinely alive after so much
misery and death
and the free wind blowing
through your hair
so with very little money
they had to make do with
what they could find
and improve on, go down
to the junkyard dig around
(still a fun trip)
where someone’s refuse
could be recycled and reused;
buy a non-running car for
5 bucks a runner for 15,
lots of elbow grease,
some friends,
hours of tinkering,
hence the beginning of
Custom hot rod world
and course we all know
that folks first impulse is to
stone the messenger
but please
regard this sincere
impartial chronicle as a
simple invitation
to flip your ever lovin’ wig
but that’s a moot point, or rather
the story of an era and
don’t dare
confuse them with
restorers or you are bound to
get the business,
guess every club has to
have somebody to look down on
(aka gold-chainers)
but the dif is these guys
actually work on their cars and
you could say create
as they pretty much can build
up something rad
from nothing,
but I’ve no beef with anybody
do your own thing man,
that’s what I always say….
and the many legends
& heroes & beacons of freedom
that sprung from the tradition,
past and present
just to name a few — you could
start by getting your socks
blown clean off at
Famoso Raceway’s Cacklefest,
and speed records broken
right and left amidst the
otherworldly pristine beauty echoing
off the endless white sandy
glare of the Bonneville Salt Flats,
Smokin’ Mo-Kan Dragway
in Asbury, Missouri, legendary
Top Fuel dragsters
tearing it up cheating death
with steely-eyed determination
through the hellish nitro fumes
at Pomona and Salinas Boyz Cole
and his pops Pat Foster a renaissance
builder and test pilot de rigueur,
a man’s man and a racer’s racer
offering us redemption
under a dirty hood
and this nothing to do with
macho spectacle
it’s all about the velocity, baby
then great googly-moogly
who remembers Big Daddy Don Garlits
doing a ferocious fire burnout in
Swamp Rat 16 and the
SoCal Bean Bandits whose
members originated right in
our own South SD Logan Heights
hood and back in the day
one of the few clubs
that let everybody join,
their all-inclusive nature
incorporating blacks, whites,
Japanese and even Lebanese
members during the club’s existence,
and howzabout artist/pinstriper/car
designer and all around unique
individual Ed Roth of
‘Rat Fink’ infamy along with
his protégées Johnny Ace
and his lovely wife Kali Verra
dancing to their own
monster mash and
all the fellas/their wives,
kids & gal mechanics on the
Jalopy Journal HAMB
& never forget
ol’ Jess getting his start
constructing bikes out of mom’s
Long Beach garage
and just look at him now
sitting on top of the world and that
loveable Germ and his fueled-up
whirlwind-talking Tom Paine common sense
outer limits a mile a minute
always stirring up trouble
for the hell of it and his co-conspirator
cynical scoundrel
Harvester of Bondo (I still
owe his good-looking face a slap)
a modern day Sal and Dean
lordsofhellfire making tracks
and foreverly looking for girls, visions
and kicks and yeah
they’re a little wild but you
couldn’t ask for better comrades
they have each other’s backs
like familia, when anybody
falls down they’d share a wrench,
hand, or greenback
whatever it takes to get them
back up on the bumpy highway
of life in other words
loyal, dedicated, smart
and talented folks and
metaphysical misfits but
I’ll tell you what & this merely an
innocent observation —
take away their gasoline
and guaranteed
they’ll have some hillbillygearhead
moonshine stills jerry-rigged out
back figuring how to cook up
a load because Whew!
they are crazy ‘bout a
Mercury looking oh so fine
gonna buy a Mercury and
cruise it up and down this road.

The B’K May 2017 Issue

The B'K May 2017 CoverFeaturing

Art by: Gordan Ćosić, Mark Myavec, Olivier Schopfer

Fiction by: Max Luque, Joanna Michaels, Michael Prihoda

Poetry by: Christopher Barnes, Sissy Buckles, Gregg Dotoli, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Jennifer Lothrigel, Sy Roth, Seth Ruderman, Dr. Mel Waldman

Prose by: Ricky Garni

Read the issue.