Wednesday, January 2, 2019

bonnie jones

by corinne delmonico

illustrations by konrad kraus

bonnie jones had been living in the city for a little over two years without finding a job or making any friends.

like most people in the city she lived on public assistance and was required to spend her day taking aerobics and yoga and nutrition classes in the morning, and various re-education classes in the afternoon before returning to her little room at night.

she made it a habit to only check her mail when she got back to her room at night. it gave her something to look forward to, even though she hardly ever got anything interesting.

one night she read a curious message. it said simply - if you want to make some friends, come to room 5108 in the dixon apartments at 2100 hours on wednesday.

her curiosity aroused, bonnie went to the dixon apartments on wednesday and found room 5103 without any trouble and knocked on the door.

a man opened the door and invited bonnie in. there were two women and another man in the room.

the man introduced himself as hassan smith, the other man as george washington, and the two women as amanda cleveland and jennifer madson.

none of them looked like very interesting people, but bonnie was not an interesting person herself so she did not hold that against them.

the introductions completed, hassan got down to business.

there was a table in the center of the room sand a box on the table and hassan took a kitten out of the box.

if you kill this kitten, hassan told bonnie, we will be your friends.

oh no, bonnie replied, i could never do anything like that.

well then, we bid you good evening, hassan said with a smile, and bonnie left.

a week later, bonnie received another, similar message.

this one read, if you want to make some friends, come to the recreation center at the corner of main and 367th streets, on thursday at 2000 hours, and ask for dave.

after her prior experience, bonnie did not have any great hopes from this invitation, but she had nothing better to do, so she showed up at the recreation center on thursday.

she found dave, and he introduced her to his friends willie, jake, and babs.

as you know, dave told bonnie, firearms are strictly prohibited in the city, but we have made ourselves some bows and arrows and spears and we are going to hunt rabbits and other wild creatures in the park. if you would like to join us we will be your friends.

no thank you, bonnie told him, that is not an activity i would care to partake in.

three weeks later bonnie received a third message. this one was shorter and read simply - want to be our friend? 1056 temple drive, room 7765-a, next friday at 2030.

i will give it one more try, bonnie thought.

1056 temple drive was a rather rundown building, and the elevator took forever to climb to the 77th floor.

bonnie knocked on the door of room 7765-a, and a young woman opened it and waved her inside.

no sooner had the door closed behind her than bonnie was seized and bound and gagged and tied to a chair.

the young woman who had opened the door and two burly men looked down at her with impassive faces. they did not introduce themselves.

there was a knock on the door behind bonnie and she heard it being opened.

another young woman entered the room and the first woman brought her round to face the bound and gagged bonnie.

she looks just like me, bonnie thought when she saw the newcomer.

bonnie had had a twin sister from whom she had been separated at birth, and she wondered if it could be she who now faced her.

one of the men took a small pistol out of his pocket and handed it to the possible twin.

if you shoot her, the man said to the twin, we will be your friends.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

railroad men

by horace p sternwall

railroad bill
railroad bill
had a dog named harry
and a cat named phil

railroad bob
railroad bob
never drank whiskey
except on the job

railroad joe
railroad joe
got up in the morning
and took it slow

railroad mike
railroad mike
never flew an airplane
or rode a bike

railroad tom
railroad tom
hated his pappy
but loved his mom

railroad jim
railroad jim
played poker with the sheriff
who cheated him

railtoad bill
railroad bill
caught a big old catfish
down by the mill

railroad john
railroad john
never came home
before the break of dawn

railroad dan
railroad dan
the railroad was the railroad
but he was the man

railroad men
railroad men
ask for eleven
they will give you ten

mothers, look out the window
at a duck and a hen
don’t raise your sons
to be railroad men

Sunday, August 26, 2018

paths... (5)

by human being

illustrations by rhoda penmarq and human being

fifth of five parts

to begin at the beginning, click here


if the path is blocked by stones
i'll become water

بر سر راهم اگر سنگ بود
آب می شوم

if the path is blocked by water
i'll become the wind

بر سر راهم اگر آب بود
باد می شوم

if the path is blocked by the wind
i'll disappear into thin air

بر سر راهم اما اگر باد بود
نیست می شوم


my heart
to the rhythm of the path


along the path
i always find some generous hands
growing among thistles


sometimes i sit on a rock by the road
and watch people pass by

she's a beggar, some say
and throw some coins for me
i pick them up
one by one
to watch
then i throw them back to their owners
but they never land in their hands
or at their feet
in midair they change into butterflies
and fly off
she's a trickster, some say

if you happen to sit on a rock by the road
ask it
and it will tell you who i really am


i never leave a trail on the path
to find the way back home

all paths are circles
all goings are returns


i turn
and turn
yet i go upper and upper

my mind gathers 'n gains
my heart joyfully unlearns


just when the path turns in re
you find the secrets of the uni

Thursday, June 7, 2018


by ricky joe sternwall

i don’t mean to whine
i just want what’s mine
i want my fellow humans to realize
that i am one of those special guys

i am not like those other folks
those losers, wasters, mopes, and mokes
those fish in a barrel waiting to get shot
i am not like them - honest i’m not

i’m the one who knows the score
the one you have all been waiting for
if i could just catch a break
the world i would remake

it is really elemental
if i could just reach my potential
if i could just be wild and free
the world would revolve around me

the way it was meant to be
why can’t you all see?
stop saying no to me and say yes
and recognize my uniqueness

i’m the one who was prophesied
through the universe to glide
wiping out the whole world’s frown
if you would only stop bringing me down

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

in a churchyard

by horace p sternwall

on a dreary rainy eve
a hand plucked at my sleeve
i turned to see a pallid sprite
flickering in the fading light

and though i made protest
it put me to the test
and as the rain did drip
it did not relax its grip

and down a muddy lane
like a runaway train
he proceeded to tell a tale
old and sad as a rusty nail

he was a sad and lonely cuss
of whom the world made little fuss
the desires with which he was torn
met with society's scorn

he became an incubus
possessed with sodden lusts
vainly seeking peace at last
in the worlds through which he passed

the particulars of his tale
sought my pity, to no avail
perhaps we all have stories
but their resonance and glories

are best left to our own selves
everyone else leaves on the shelves
the narratives of others
so let me go, brother

let us each go our own way
perhaps on judgment day
we may our acquaintance renew
until then - adieu

so i reasoned with the shade
who, in fact, began to fade
with a look in his pale eyes
more of sadness than surprise

i looked around the gloom
at the wet grass and the tombs
the faded words scribed on the stones
again - happily - alone

Saturday, May 12, 2018

walking past you

by horace p sternwall

remember people
when you are feeling blue
whether you are sad or happy
you are only you

the fellow walking past you
with his briefcase in his hand
inside he may be weeping
because his dreams have turned to sand

the kid behind the counter
at subway or burger king
do not tell him your troubles
to him they don’t mean a thing

sadness is all human’s fate
sung by heavenly voices
whether you walk the dusty roads
or ride in rolls royces<