Now is the Winter of our discontent, and like that long winter that shadowed the son of the Duke of York, our sun fails us, leaving too many stones in shadow, too many dark corners in which to hide a million great injustices.

All through the summer, we toiled in the heat of conscious thought; chanting and letter-writing.  We streamed into streets with fists raised up, blotting out the sun, and there burned in me a feverish need to bear witness to both the crushing of the order, and this long-awaited resistance.

Yet now, in the light of morning, the only shadow cast is that of the looming, straight-legged headlines, one after another like a death march.

I don a sweater, furry socks, hurry back to the covers, soak my thoughts in lusty dreams that still lurk at the corners of my mind.  It’s warm there; it’s territory I know.

But, here and there, in the cold light, embers glow.  First, in the catchall headlines at the bottom of the screen.  Then, rising to form a sisterhood of discontent that dominates the maelstrom.  It appears this dark-ride attraction has faulty wiring after all!

Nearing the calendar’s longest day, I awaken to a firestorm of taking power back, and my toes warm at the image of my Silver Fox, pawing nervously through the Times, playing furtive pocket-pool in his pressed Friday denim.

One Objector put it best:  “I’m glad it’s going slowly – you don’t deserve a bullet”

“for this defective comes by cause.”

Silver Fox

The Silver Fox pulled me aside on my last day of work, ran his tongue over his teeth as he dissected my Shoo-Fly tattoo for the 900th time.  “Your not leaving because I scared ya…are ya?”

He sucked his teeth and smiled that smile at me, the one where his teeth are bared and just slightly spread, and I can see his tongue sneaking around in the dark of his mouth.  I puffed up and told him I had something better.  And I do.

And he doesn’t scare me because of what he’ll do to me.  He scares me because I imagine what I might do to him.  He makes me so mad that my scalp burns and beads of sweat pop out on my forehead, worse than three-alarm chili.  Or Indian food on a hot day.  He makes me so mad that I can’t think, and my fingers cur into fists so tight my arms shake.

And goddammit, there are 50 good reasons why I left.  And one of those reasons belongs to him.  He’s 1 in 50, that old Silver Fox, who surrounds himself with luscious tarts that giggle and fawn like intoxicated mice, with red eyes and soft fur and mouths made for gaping and tearing.  His sharpened pencil twitches at the thought of bearing down on little mice, one by one.

And me, too.  He imagined me in a million ways as he stood behind my chair singing, “Kelly Kelly Bo Belly…” as my skin crawled all over itself and my sex crumbled to dust in my lap.

He’s a parasite.  And he won.  And I left my backbone behind me in the wake of one too many uncomfortable phrases.

Orange Chakra

Oranges taste best when you peel ’em yourself.  Corner the rind between your front teeth, just to get it started, and then slip two fingers under the skin and pull…gently now, like peeling off a fresh scab.  Like peeling sun-dried skin around your lips and eyelids.  Peel with the right amount of strength and assurance so you end up with an orangy-smelling bracelet.

As you section it out, popping one luxurious half-moon of nectar into your mouth, you’ll find a nipple of rind at the axis, holding the whole sweet thing together.  When you can bear it no longer, twist off the wrinkly nipple of rind – I trust you’ll find it bears the tartest essence of the fruit – where rind meets sweet, fuzzy tangles on the tip of your tongue.  I nearly find myself craving the rind, but I know the joy is in the nubby section at the tip-top of the orange, the orange chakra, if you will.  The navel.  The core.

Oranges are alpha and omega.  Food and beverage.  I give myself one after dinner these days to cancel out my longing for ice cream and cake, drenched in lady fingers, sprinkled with sugar, soaked in bourbon.  Just orange now, and sections, and nipple, nay, navel of rind jutting from ripe fruit.

It is less a punitive thing than you might imagine…

Oh, this old thing?

Go Go! Strip down to the barest bones, pull your lips back from blood-soaked teeth, and snarl from ancient tongues.  The gouging of pen into paper drags my soul out like a dog on the end of a snare.  The purpose is to be free, so how then is that purpose?  Culled between posts of careful thought, the act of pen to paper lacks any sense of freedom for me.

These words will never be soap bubbles, lilting on a gentle breeze!  Too much the task of picking word and phrase from air and winding it around my thumb; squinching it between thumb and forefinger.  Holding it (phrase, word) at eye height, crunching it between bright incisors down to the marrow, the taste of it, the salty meat of each word mixing with breath and stone.

I crave each dainty lyric, each supple morsel of thought, like an angry chef dealing out rancorous scraps to banshee cats in the alley behind.  There are words that are spent, spit out, left half-chewed, unbaked, parboiled in the pantry of my mind, but it’s quick to write now!  Turn the phrases, dig the fly from the ointment, butter knife through hot molasses.

This day, these words will not be crushed by heavy hand.  Today they fly free, quick and slinging, peeling like an ostrich across a mud-soaked canyon.  The time drips and I cringe on the edge of my seat to birth these words in rapid-fire succession before my time runs out.



Artie places a thick slice of coconut cream pie on a plate decorated with periwinkle flowers.  The fan turns lazily over the linoleum, clicking each time it makes a full rotation.  The heat of the noontime kitchen is thick and wet, and if she doesn’t eat this pie soon, the peaks of meringue will congeal into a yellowish gel flecked with coconut straws.

Ed has been talking nonstop for the last hour, droning on and on about the closing of the plant.  Thankfully, she has detached herself from the hammering of his voice, and as she sidles back to the table with her plate of pie, she imagines herself riding around and around on that fan.  His voice comes to her in wavy vibrations as she rounds the side of the refrigerator, up over the microwave, back down the side of the stove, and around again.  Click!  Like a barker at an auction, Ed drags one word into the next, but from this new vantage point, Artie is mesmerized by the dead geranium over the aluminum sink.

She snaps back as she forks pie through her bared teeth, Ed’s voice settling on her like more weight than this chair can handle, poised on four wooden legs, with one just slightly shorter than the others.

“Are you listening to me, Artie?”  His voice peels away from his throat like the rind off an orange, and she eyes him over a forkful of gelatinous and cranky pie-end.  “I hear, I hear…”  She nods with her eyes closed, clamping her teeth around the fork, letting it slide seductively across her lips, for effect only, on the way out.