The multilingual, multicultural online journal and community of arts and ideas. There's a heaven above you, baby.


Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

A siren startles her. Police? Fire?
Waking up from sleep Cora thinks:
“It’s hard. It’s hard.”
Life is hard. Dealing with each day
is hard. And it’s a long wait for
anything to celebrate. “God’s will
be done.” Cora stares at the ceiling.
It is cold in the room. She feels a
fever coming on.

Pots and pans clutter the stove, plates,
bowls, glasses from breakfast need to
be dealt with. Lyle, Whitney, Mickey are
off to school with bagged lunches. Cora fixes
the beds, showers, dresses,. Before she leaves
for work she pays the bills, orders drug store
necessities, pharmaceuticals.
She reflects that if women, like men, took life as
it comes nothing would get done.

“I believe in God! I believe in God! I believe
in God!” Cora sobs. Her fever is in full blaze.
She tries to make it through the workday.
sweating, scrubbing, scraping, polishing.
She has to or she won’t get paid. Plus they
won’t let her back unless she gets a doctor’s
note saying she was truly sick and not slacking.
She couldn’t afford that. A doctor’s bill was
twice as much as her daily paycheck.

Wide-eyed the children watch Cora pop the
corn and hang the streamers, set out cookies
and cakes with multi-colors.
“Whose birthday, Mama?” Lyle wants to know.
“No one’s, child.” Cora smiles. “The day
got itself done and I thought we’d have some
fun. I bought us some new cartoons at the

    The Magic City

    Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH
    “The Magic City”

    The steel mills of Gary Indiana, the narrow
    crowded streets, the grit, grime, ash heaps,
    crime, the money! – my uncle John was a
    plant foreman. I moved in with him and my
    aunt Ann when I graduated high school in
    You couldn’t beat the pay at the steel mills.
    They paid twice as much as any factory I would
    have worked in Chi-town and the benefits were
    just as good.
    My cousin Jerry, also just out of school, got
    hired the same day. With overtime, bonus
    checks, double time for working holidays,
    we were making as much as doctors (almost.)
    We got a bachelor’s pad, new cars, snazzy
    threads, Talk about the American Dream!
    We were unskilled Jet Setters (or nearly).
    Lurking within that dream, however, was an
    American nightmare, the Vietnam war.
    The draft was introduced and Jerry and I
    were taken right away. Everyone was sent
    to the war, unless they could dodge it in
    college or join the peace corps.
    The mills were getting stripped of their young
    workers. Every plant was.
    Fifty thousand plus died in the conflict.
    Another hundred thousand and more were
    wounded, many permanently.
    Our dreams didn’t last long.
    “The Magic City” fell apart too. When we
    got out of the service there were no jobs for
    us. We had hired on to a work force of thirty
    thousand. Due to globalization, and outdated
    machinery the mills shrank exponentially.
    Less than six thousand people work there now.
    Work disappeared in Indiana and dreams died,
    same as in the rest of the country.


      POST 1POST 2

        Love Equation

        Love Equation 3

        Only artists or hermits or monks choose
        poverty, any other social theory is baloney.
        Wine, women and song cost little; studio
        space next to nothing if you live in a
        ghetto. A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and
        what’s her face works for a long time, at
        least when you are in your prime.
        An artist, poet or painter, wants to work
        as little as possible at some job that takes
        them away from their pen or easel.

        “So there’s that 47%,” Mitt Romney whined,
        “that we can forget. They will vote for Obama
        and collect their gifts.”
        “There are givers and the takers – those
        who contribute and those who mooch,”
        Paul Ryan stared steely eyed at the press.
        “If you’re poor or out of work it’s your
        own fault.” Rush, the bus, Limbo roared.

        Moochers, takers, goldbricks, sure fits
        artists. But I don’t think it applies to the
        poor or anyone who’s out of work or ever
        has been. I suppose there’s always been
        junkies, and winos, and panhandlers on the
        streets, lost souls with mental problems and
        those who are, OK, just plain lazy. It can’t
        be many. But these politicians and that radio
        guy somehow forget we just got out of the
        Great Recession and what’s available are
        still slim pickings, and I can’t see how it
        applies to homeless families or those doomed
        to meager lives in the ghettos and hollows,
        and slums across the nation through

        That 47% has grown. Half of the country lives
        in or near poverty now. The Affordable Care
        Act has added 6 million to the ranks of the
        insured. 45 million to go. But the
        Republican governors refuse to let their
        constituents get the expanded Medicaid,
        so that won’t happen.

        There was only one artist at the Boston
        Center for the Arts who actually got on
        disability. Helen the heavenly. Many tried.
        They got their inspiration from a character
        by Thomas Pynchon. To prove that he was
        crazy, so he could collect government checks,
        he would jump, every year, through the plate
        glass window of a department store.
        Whatever antics my friends pulled didn’t
        work. The government techs said “Nix.”
        Helen was a poet, much published. She wrote
        like Sylvia Plath on acid. She was mad as a
        Hatter, as beautiful as a movie star. Once
        each summer, on a full moon night, she would
        wear her platinum hair in tiers, don flashy
        costume jewelry, wear a black satin gown and
        walk barefoot through the ghetto. No one
        could stop her. The police would find her in
        the morning, raped and beaten. They would
        file a report. Helen would give it to her social
        worker. “I couldn’t help myself.” She would
        say through tears.
        We all knew she set the whole thing up
        with her gangsta lover.


          We wander the ghost lanes of
          our lost souls, coat collars turned
          up against the blistering cold.
          There is nothing left to gamble.
          All bets were off, for us, a long
          time ago. Time is all that’s left,
          It’s the kind one serves like a
          prison sentence.
          We huddle beside the Mission,
          smoke caged cigarettes, wait for
          it to open: prayer, meal, lights out
          at ten, spectral dreams with
          phantom men.
          Prayer? What is there to pray for?
          Tomorrow we will rise slowly,
          as from a graveyard like dead men,
          and haunt the world again.

          DEAD BOLT
          Key in the wrong door, maybe it will open
          to something better?
          I hear two doors close behind the locked one
          The sound is final, my visit done.
          I grew up near a race track, horses, dogs.
          All the races were fixed.
          There was a sign staked near the entrance
          someone hammered into the ground.
          “Jesus Finds The Lost.”
          Lost bets I wondered?
          No, the lost find Jesus, I concluded.
          Not as good as scoring money but they
          have to win something.
          I’ll end this poem with a conversation
          with a homeless person.
          “Are you lost?” I ask him.
          “I’m homeless. Can you spare some
          “Maybe. I’m writing a poem. So far
          it has no meaning. I was hoping you could
          give it some.”
          “You want meaning from a bum?”
          “I’ll take it from anyone.”
          “You need the right key to open the right
          door. If you never find that key you’ll
          be locked out forever.”
          I gave him some change anyway.

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