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Monday, December 31, 2012



A New York Moment
Harvey C. Hamby was drunk.  Usually he held his liquor well, but tonight he was off his form.  Stumbling over an ottoman, he landed on the floor in a sodden sprawl.  As he fell, his left foot shot out behind him and socked Glenda Steinberg in the back of the knee, and she fell, too, taking the waitress, Elena Rosita Allendé y Marquez, and a tray of champagne glasses with her.  Roger Steel was looking at himself as he passed a mirror and he tripped over Harvey. As he fell he reached for Edith  Pemberly-Smythe and she went down on top of Roger.  Harvey grabbed the ottoman and tried to get up as Sheila O’Callahan was sitting down. She screamed when she felt a hand under her ass and Jimmy DeLuciano, startled, took a step backwards and fell onto the couch, landing in the lap of Judge Anna Pavlorroti. They had never been friends.

 The Plaza banquet room was crammed with well-heeled New Yorkers, and all this falling, pushing, pulling, and tripping continued to have a ripple effect through the crowd, who had gathered to celebrate New Year's Eve with newly elected Mayor Mary Flanaghan-Silverman.  The Redhead and the Machine chugged along with the giggling, cursing, crying, and moaning coming from the crowd, who were almost all on the floor.

The big screen T.V. was tuned to Times Square, and the ball was about to drop.  Harvey, whose muscles were extremely relaxed, and so was still in a heap on the parquet, turned his head toward the screen, but was sidetracked by Lenora Black's fabulous cleavage. She was lying on her side and her breasts were roughly at Harvey's eye level. He'd always been hot for Lenora Black, and he was drunk enough to sneak a feel, as he faked trying to get up.

 Lenora hissed, “Harvey, dear, get your fucking paw off my tit!”

Harvey complied. The Mayor, realizing there were journalists and photographers in the room who were upright and busy, couldn't come up with any idea other than turning out all the lights in the party room.  So she did. It's anyone's guess what happened in the dark after that, but the big ball did its thing, and the New Year began.

THE END


Wednesday, December 19, 2012



This is the car I drove in Albuquerque from 1973 to 1979.  There isn't a poem about it in my book, so I've given it a picture here.


Nonnie Interviews Herself

Clifford Garstang, http://cliffordgarstang.com/?p=3412, the editor of Prime Number Magazine, published by Press 53, has invited me to participate in The Next Big Thing series, a chain of self-interviews where authors talk about their new/forthcoming collections and projects. Thank you, Cliff. My book of poems has only just been published, so this is a welcome and timely opportunity for me. Answering these questions has also helped me climb some of the way out of the hole dug for us all by a shooter in Newtown, Connecticut.  It feels good to write.
 If you click on Cliff’s link above, you’ll see not only his answers to this list of ten questions, but you’ll see links to the writer who tagged him as well as links to the blogs of all the writers whom Cliff has tagged. Down at the bottom of this page I’ll link to the Diana Ferraro’s  and Marty Lopez's blogs and they will link to other writers. We are all answering the same questions, and you can discover new writers, or read about the projects of people you know, by following the links. So here goes:

What is the title of your book?
My poetry collection is called One Day Tells its Tale to Another, published by The Linnet’s Wings. on December 16, 2012.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
My poems are loosely based on my life. There is one about a witch, and two about murderers (one of them had good cause) and I’m neither a witch or a murderer and the very last two lines in the collection give advice, and I’m not usually a giver-of-advice, but all the poems come from something in my experience. Although it may be that there is only a line that links directly to what I’ve seen, heard, touched or been touched by, each poem goes through me to you, hopefully. When I read a favorite poet, there is a sigh, or flash, or breath of connection and my inner world becomes slightly, or vastly, changed.

What genre does your book fall under?
Poetry: with and without rhymes, formal (well, there are two villanelles, one sonnet, and a sestina. (Writing sestinas is a form of masochism.) informal, with serious themes and not so much. I have a poem about Chinese noodle soup, for instance, and there is a poem about taking care of my mother during her last year of life. There are some sexy poems, too. Breasts are mentioned. And lips. They are one to two pages long; no epics or allusions to Greek or Latin poets. And there are pictures in my book of poems! My brother Robert Knisel’s wonderful photographs start each section. (I can say that because this is, after all, my blog.)

 Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What a question about a poetry collection! I have to skip this one because I’m heading into crazy daydream territory and I’ll never get on with the interview. In fact, there might be a poem about George Clooney simmering. Johnny Depp is already in my book. No. I’ll do the next question.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Um. No. I can’t do this question either.

Was your book self-published or represented by an agency?
The Linnet’s Wings, a literary magazine, published my book. It is available online through http://www.thelinnetswings.org. Click on SHOP, but please read the stories, poems, flash fiction, micro fiction, and editorials in the magazine, too. Marie Fitzpatrick is the managing editor and she manages it artfully. It is also available on Amazon. The link is to the right on this page.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Nine years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson. That’s probably a stretch.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
In 2001 I had open-heart surgery (I’ve had two!) and soon after developed a crush on my cardiologist. I had a dream about him, and an image from the dream became the first line of the first poem I’d written in many years and I’ve been writing poetry and fiction ever since. Here’s the poem:

IN TIME,

we will walk on gravel paths 
studded with gemstones.
Our plates and bowls will be chipped
porcelain exquisitely painted.
When we drive in our weary car
we will listen to Mozart.
Sunlight will fade our carpet
and our windows will be
draped in fine French lace.
We will dress for work
and undress for pleasure.

Sway and I’ll steady you.
If I should slip, you’ll put me right.
Each will soften the landings
of the other’s great leaps.

As we sit at this café table 
in Montmartre, sheltered
from the downpour, I see our future.
I will write it down on torn paper, 
using a sapphire pen.



What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It is safe for me to say, I think, that if you read this blog, “Augustine’s Confessions,” you will enjoy reading One Day Tells its Tales to Another. I hope so.


Diana Ferraro will be talking about her book, The French Lesson, on her blog http://dianaferraro.wordpress.com on December 20.

Marty Lopez will be talking about his book, Void & Sky, a Collection of Prose & Poetry, on his blog http://upatberggasse19.blogspot.com/ on December 28.




Sunday, December 16, 2012

What exactly is a Well-Regulated Militia in 2012?


What exactly is a "well-regulated militia" in 2012?
Who needs protection in this country, the world, if not the innocents? Those children hadn't even lived a decade.

White Star-Gazer Lily symbolic of sympathy, purity, hope
I'm in the 6th decade of my life. I've lived a full, incredible, sad, joyful, foolish, and useful life. I've gotten to go places, do things, love and be loved as a child and as an adult. I've been a giver and a taker.

I've never needed to own a gun. And here I am! I have been frightened by guns, though. The "D.C." snipers killed their first victim only a mile from me. And there was a more private time when a gun owner scared me badly, both for his sake and my own, because he...no. I won't tell that story here. I ran far away from that person and stayed away from him and his guns.

Did you read "In Cold Blood?" They were all asleep, weren't they? I could reread it and get my facts straight, but I won't today. I'm sadder today than I was yesterday. Why is that, I wonder? 

I used to be a Kindergarten teacher. Emotionally disturbed kids. I taught older children, too, who were also handicapped one way or another. Not "right" for some reason. I was happiest with the youngest children, because when I tried to help the little ones, I felt like they still could be helped...

You know what else? I would have lunged at the killer on Friday and been killed myself. Like that principal, that psychologist, those teachers in Sandy Hook Elementary who died. I've no doubt that I would have done the very thing those adults in that building did. It is in your blood when you teach little ones. Keep monsters from hurting them or die trying? It has come to that.

Do we really differ so much, that some of us think we need to carry concealed weapons, buy assault weapons, keep weapons in our homes, locked away from our children or, in too many cases within their reach one way or another? 

If a killer comes into my home with a gun, will he give me time to unlock the gun safe and get my own gun? Do we all need to have guns so that we are all safe from people who have guns?  That's the right to bear arms extended to everyone, isn't it? We can all shoot each other, then. Is that a well-regulated militia? Who will protect who? I'm, like so many of you, so sick of this national insanity. 

And something else: there is profit for people who make these weapons. They exploit the paranoid and selfish. Profit. Money, money, money. Trumps decency every time, it seems. Out there in the world; the big bad world. Come on. Really. Does it have to be like that?

Friday, November 16, 2012


Nonnie Deals with Sudden Melancholy

J.W. Turner
Someone who I know only via Facebook and a writer site we both belong to posted a picture of a 12 week old fetus in the palm of a human hand. The message was anti-abortion. You know--how can you consider killing this baby? And the picture was of a tiny, tiny baby, looking like a newborn infant only so much smaller. Is that true? I didn’t think they were so perfect-looking so early. Is that what 12 week old fetuses look like? I’d do a search or something but I’m too fragile at the moment to check on this. It might be true. No. It was a trick photo, wasn’t it? My baby died in utero at 16 weeks. Annie Clare was her name. Is her name. This happened 21 years ago and had she lived her birthday would have been two days ago. It was a punch in the stomach to see that tiny baby on Facebook. Don’t they, the pro-life crusaders remember us? The expectant parents who lost babies they wanted very much and never got to see? Do they really want to hurt us this much while making their political/churchy point?

Nevermind. I have worked things out for myself. About 10 years ago, when I was still married, I got to thinking about Annie Clare again during a road trip. I had my usual muddled, near tears thinking for awhile, then a new thought popped up. What if there is a heaven? What if Annie Clare was born in heaven? Of course! She was scooped up by a heavenly being, possibly an angel, finished her time in a celestial surrogate mother’s womb, and was born in heaven. A heaven-born, as are all the babies who don’t get to have live births for whatever reason. Wonderful, creative, calming thoughts skipped through me. It was all I thought about for the rest of the trip during those long road trip silences. There were silences that lasted hundreds of miles.

When we got home I started a novel about Annie Clare and her life in heaven. I wrote about who was raising her, how she played with other heaven-borns, “dead” people and celestials she got to know and what her room looked like. My novel wasn’t only about heaven--there was a plot of sorts and a character that was her living mother. Madeleine. Not me, exactly. Writing my novel was also my first serious go with writing. Huh. I finished it and sent it out, but no one decided to publish it, although there were nibbles. I’m thinking about getting back to it. The earth parts seem all wrong to me now. I’ve learned a lot in the last ten years. Soon, I’ll have a book of poetry out there in the world. Annie Clare is alive in the novel, though. I think that’s why I want to get back to it.

One of the many things I don’t understand about militant pro-life Christians is: whatever do they think happens to fetuses that don’t get to have live births? They believe in heaven don’t they? HEAVEN. If life begins at conception, then the soul begins at conception, (I think souls probably begin before, long before a particular conception) so why don’t they think that the souls of these babies who don’t have a live birth would go straight to heaven and be splendidly happy, cared for, loved...all that. Huh? Why do they get so upset about abortion? If you asked the baby, he or she would most certainly prefer heaven to being unwanted and on earth. I used to teach emotionally disturbed Kindergartners, and believe me, they were not having a good time. The first goal we teachers had for them was to “experience their environment with pleasure,” because they didn’t know how to do that. And it’s a damn hard thing to teach.

Losing my baby is the worst thing that has happened in my life. I can’t think of anything that might happen even now that would be worse. I was having a middling to good morning until I saw that fucking Facebook photo. Then, whoosh. Down and down. I’m all right now, because I’m writing about it; getting my anger out. Thinking about Annie Clare is okay, now. Maybe I’m not completely sane, but I’m me, and I can think about her any way I want. Sorry if that sounds corny. Shit. I am corny. Not cruel, though. I’ve never been cruel.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


WAITING FOR HURRICANE DENNIS, FLORIDA 2005

With soft eyes,
she quizzed,  
shivered, said:

“Where’s Dad? 
Where’s Ric?
Will you leave me here alone?
Are you all going to leave?
Where’s Peter?
Do you feel all right?
We’re the only ones here.
We need to leave.

Who’s in the attic?
I hear them
Why are they there?
They are there. Why?
The storm’s too big,
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
We’ll all be hurt.
Where’s the cat?
Where’s the dog?

Is Peter outside?
Are you going to leave me?
I can’t see  well.
No! I don’t want to eat.
No! I won’t take a pill.
It’s here, isn’t it?
No! Don’t change the channel.
Where’s Dad?
Is Ric here? 

I can’t lie down.
Will you stay here?
There’s no air
They put those boards
on the windows.
We have no air.
There’s no air in this house.”
Finally she took a pill.
I tucked her in,
and kissed her forehead.

Safe in bed at last,
her face relaxed.
I said,” I love you.
We’ll be fine.”
I rubbed her leg,

shoulder, felt bones.
Tired eyes closing
she whispered to me.
“What did you say, Mom?”
“Thank you. I said thank you.”
And I left the room
lest she see my tears.
Mom was asleep
before the wind
picked up.


Saturday, October 13, 2012


3 POEMS

















When George Took Me to Greece

Jet-lagged and hung-over, we climbed the rough old road. 
A black boulder jutted onto the path and George said, 
“That's Socrates' Rock." 
I stopped when my lover spoke, startled out of tangled thoughts,
touched the stone, then leaned against it, 
looked up and to the east and gasped.
The Acropolis, just there, undid me.
The setting sun lit the hill
and golden temples floated
above the shadowed slope. 
My back against the ancient
teaching rock, I dissolved.



                                                                                     
                                                                                


LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING

If you think by your death you have left me alone,  
to pine, to regret, to watch cable tv, you're wrong.

At bedtime I wear a new black lace gown,
and arrange myself to advantage
on sheets finer than any we shared.
I’ve left the back door open. 
I believe I thrum.  I hear 
his step and then we begin.

He attends to that place
below my ears, knows how 
to rub and nip. There is time for my breasts, 
time for him to stoke me, each inch
until my supple back arches, reaches, pleads,
demands his weight. We twist, turn, lift, 
sate, shout, pound pillows, laugh.

Then something, a noise? 
I wake, on my side of our quiet bed,
my short white hair mussed, our gray cat 
stretched along my pale, restless thigh.



The Dice are Not To Blame


Ted swam far from shore with a bar of lead. 
He loved it, you see, until he drowned dead.
Mick had a trick of giving his money
to heartless bosoms that called him honey.
Sharon kept caring for drinkers and dopers
gamblers and cheaters and whiners and mopers.
Benny saw double and never could tell
which one had substance and which was a shell.
Mick, Benny, Sharon, and poor dead Ted
had luck that sucked they frequently said.
I didn’t agree and suggested instead

 that they didn't have to sink 
     they could listen to me,
and let go of their lead 
     when they swam in the sea.




Tuesday, October 09, 2012


A Story from When They Lived on Staten Island: Nonnie and the Garage Monster

Nonnie followed her brother Peter all the way to a house she'd never been to before. Not next door. Far away. Peter said she could come with him. Peter was bigger. All the kids were going. Nonnie walked very fast to keep up, but they got way ahead. Mommy stayed at home. Did Mommy know that Nonnie was going all this way?

All the little kids stopped in front of an old red house with a big porch. Nonnie's much bigger brother, Bobby, was there with his friends. Bobby was in the fourth grade. Peter and Nonnie didn't even go to school yet.

Bobby shouted,"Come on! It's around back of the house. In the garage. Come on!"

Peter turned around and looked for Nonnie. She smiled at him. He looked around at his friends, too. Peter looked worried. Bobby was laughing.

All the kids went with Bobby and the other big boys to the back of the house. There was a garage back there and the door was open. Nonnie's house didn't have a garage. She couldn't see what was in there but she knew it was bad because Peter and his friends yelled and took off running fast.

They were gone! But Bobby was still there. Nonnie looked.

In the big dark of the garage there was a monster in the way back. A monster with only a red and green and yellow head. Just the head and black all around it.  Nonnie screamed and ran to Bobby. He picked her up right away and carried her to the safe front of the monster's house. Then he carried Nonnie all the way home. She cried and cried.

Mommy was mad. Peter had told all about everything.

Bobby got yelled at a lot.  Nonnie didn't want Mommy to stand there yelling at Bobby. She wanted her to hurry up and kill the monster up the street.

"It was only a mask, Mom." Bobby said. "Tommy said his Dad said it came from Africa and was important but his Mom said she didn't want it in the house because it looked too mean so Tommy said his Dad put it up in the garage and we put Billy's flashlight under it and the little kids got scared but it was a joke."

Mommy gave Bobby another piece of her mind, then Bobby got sent to his room. Peter and Nonnie got to make cookies with Mommy. Bobby didn't get any till Mommy cooled off.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


When Borders Was Alive and Well

I'd been working for two years as a barista in a Starbuck's in a giant, two-story Borders in an upscale mall on Rt. 355, a main artery between Washington D.C., and Frederick, Maryland. I'd finished my M.F.A in 2000 and was trying to build up steam for more grad school--steam and money. I wrote poetry. So, the accepted way to make a living doing that was with a college-level teaching job, which meant a Ph.d. Jeez louise, I hated the thought of doing the doctorate. However, I was tired to the bone of making fancy coffee drinks.

On one of these endless days an eighty-something man came up to the counter with a short stack of books. (We took all kinds of purchases at the café register.) I could see a large magnifying glass jutting out of a pocket of his tweed jacket. He gave off a spicy aroma as if he wore this jacket while he cooked curries and burned incense in a closed room every day. I liked him.

"I'd like a coffee, too, please. A plain, black coffee. Medium? Grande, I suppose? And could I have one of those blueberry scones?" His voice sounded rusty. I wondered how much use it got.

I smiled at him and scanned his books and added in the coffee and pastry. When I started working at Borders, I'd made a point of noticing what people were buying, but I'd stopped looking at titles after a month or two. The store sold bestsellers, mysteries, Harry Potters, celebrity bios, diet books, and never, ever poetry.

"That's $64.76, sir." Damn, but there was something about this old guy that tugged at me. Should he really be spending so much on books? He looked more like someone who'd do better searching for something to read in a Goodwill stack or a library, not in a Borders. That's where I'd be looking if I didn't have the employee discount, well, even with the discount. I was poor but young and strong, though. This  man looked poor but frail and definitely frayed. He was wearing an old canvas hat that might have been green once and the sleeves of his sweater were so stretched they covered his hands up to the middle of his fingers. And there was that magnifying glass. He handed me a Visa card. I automatically asked him for his I.D.

"I haven't driven in years, Miss, but here's my driver's license. It expired four years ago." He was leaning against the counter and I had a sudden urge to hurry up and get him his coffee. But I dutifully checked everything and finally the penney dropped and I registered his name, "Edward Lake."

"That's fine, Mr. Lake. Just sign here. Why don't you find a table and I'll take your coffee and scone to you in a second."

"Thank you. That's kind of you." He picked up his bag and turned  to the tables. I noticed his cane, then, and that he wore his topsiders like backless slippers. He wasn't wearing socks! I wanted to buy him some socks!

Just as I brought him his order, my co-barista came back from break and I rushed off on mine. On the poetry shelf (only one and I knew it by heart) I grabbed a thick anthology. Back at the counter, I paid for it, even though I had the damn book at home, and I went over to Mr. Lake.

"Excuse me, sir. Would you autograph this for me?" I'd opened the book to one of his poems. Edward Lake and his wife Constance had written poems in their letters to each other during the two years he'd fought in France and Italy during World War II. Edward's first volume of poems was published in 1946, but his editor also collected the couple's letters and published them a year later. "Edward and Constance" became one of the most famous books about the war, even though it was poetry. It seemed every couple who had been separated by the war had read and found something of themselves in the poems. By 1950 it had gone into its third printing. (I knew all this, and much more, because I'd written a paper about the Lakes when I was an undergraduate. But, everyone knows something about Edward and Constance Lake. No, I'll amend that. Everyone should know something about Edward and Constance Lake. I think so.)

With great dignity, the poet took his magnifying glass out of his pocket and peered at the page. Then he looked at his wife's poem on the facing page.

"Constance died three years ago," he said. "Oh, she was a fine poet. And wife. A fine wife. I don't do so well without her… Yes! Of course I'll autograph this for you, my sweet girl. And after I finish my snack, I'm going to go buy some socks. Constance always did the clothes shopping, you know. She wouldn't like it if she knew I'd lost all my socks."

He beamed at me and signed his name under "You Saved My Life Today." It's my treasure, that book. Every now and then the author would show up at Borders for a snack and a few new books. I'd insist on having a break when he came in so that I could sit with him and talk about poetry. I didn't care if I got sacked, but somehow I didn't. After six months or so he stopped coming by. And a few months after that, I went back to grad school.





 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Lavender, a Liberal

Betty, batty from hormones, in a fanciful fit,
named her daughter Lavender. Husband Don winced.
Brothers Donald, John, Billy, and Tom
were puzzled and pleased by this sister, this girl,
who was a little bit like them, yet not like them at all.

Each night and most afternoons Betty told Lavender
stories, sang her songs, opened books full of pictures
where stout hearts bamboozled evildoers that lurked,
and rags became ball gowns glowing with pink.
Poor maids, Auroras, Swan Queens and their ilk
with true lovers, often princes, used cunning and tricks
to free castles from brambles, lift spells, smote the slick.

As happens, Lavender grew grown, moved on and away
from her mother's fine songs to live songs of her own.
She searched for a prince, found several at least,
vanquished evils and weasels, fiercely scolded some trolls,
got caught in the muck, found her footing, soldiered through.
No castles came calling; never mind she made homes.

With mostly good luck, Lavender aged right up to old.
Though her body got cranky,
she kept close to her heart
certain fluttery trills
Arthur Rackham
and persistent whisps,
of fast stallions,
wize wizards,
dances,
feasts,
and folk
loving out loud--
as dead dragons smoldered
in heaps on their hills.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Foolish Dancer

Late November, New York City, 1967.

An 18 year old dance student, let's call her Susan, woke up in a rebellious mood. She'd been craving a day to herself in the city, but never had the time. Every weekday she was at Juilliard from 9 to 9, and when she had a rare rehearsal-free weekend, her parents expected her to take the bus out to New Jersey to visit them. So Susan got up her nerve and called the dance department secretary and told her big lie-that she was sick and wouldn't be able to make her classes that day. She'd never have thought of doing this on a day when she was expected to rehearse, but on this particular Wednesday she wasn't needed by any of the choreographers who had cast her in their pieces. Susan's roommate had already left for her day of music classes and piano practice, so there were no witnesses to her tiny revolt.

The day was cold and sunny, and Susan had it all to herself. She didn't have much, in fact hardly any, cash, however. But the Metropolitan Museum was free and she could walk across Central Park from W.91st St. It would be a long walk, but Susan was young and strong and feeling adventurous.

This was a day of firsts for Susan: she'd played hooky, walked the width of the chilly park alone, and enjoyed hours of roaming the Metropolitan with only herself to please. She felt sophisticated, artistic, and, because she'd chosen her favorite outfit that morning,  stylish.

The thunderstorm started a little after three. Susan was wandering around the Rodin sculptures, in love with them, but getting tired and a little worried about how she'd get back to her apartment before dark and with the storm. (She didn't know bus routes very well yet, and certainly couldn't afford a taxi.) A man in dark gray suit made a comment to her about the Rodin bronze of Balzac. The tall dark stranger was good-looking, older-at least in his thirties-and wanted to talk to her about art! Susan, flattered by his interest in her, did not have a moment of wariness about this guy. When, after a very pleasant conversation, he, let's call him Dick, mentioned that he lived across from the museum, had a car, and that he could give her a lift home if she'd like, Susan only thought, "he's lives in one of NY's best neighborhoods, he loves art, seems very nice, okay-fine-it'll be fine!"

Susan and Dick hurried across 5th Ave. to his car, a black Corvette (!) but he said his keys were in his apartment and would she come up for a drink while he got them. She wasn't quite sure she liked this, but it was windy and pouring, and it would be fine. Fine! But it wasn't.

Dick took her coat, poured her a glass of wine, and attacked. Within minutes of entering the apartment, Susan was on her back on the couch, fighting off a bastard who was trying to fuck her. But he gave up, because Susan, a dance major at Juilliard, had strong enough legs to push him off of her enough times to convince him he wasn't going to get off that way. So he masturbated. She wasn't a virgin, had gone all the way on her 18th birthday and then once with the young artist she'd started dating, but she didn't know about masturbation, had yet to even look at an erect penis properly, and was wholly, completely horrified by Dick, his cock and what he was doing to it and saying to her, being alone with him, and most of all, by what she thought of as her own stupidity. He insisted she watch him but she cried and refused until he started yelling and cursing. Dick finally finished, tidied himself up, gave Susan her coat, and actually drove her home! She didn't want to get in his car, but was too fragile to argue. And, little as she knew at the time about predatory men, she sensed he was spent and she'd be safe.

She saw Dick again a few months later in the Museum of Modern Art. She had to pass him on the staircase, and he glanced at her without a flicker of recognition. Susan left without seeing the Picasso sculpture exhibit. She did see it before it closed, but she went with her older brother.

She hated Dick, and what he'd done, but she kept it all a secret, because she thought she'd been so stupid, you see. So very foolish. She blamed herself. She went up to his apartment, didn't she? The whole sorry story remained her shameful secret  until well into her twenties when she told a friend, let's call her Linda, after a few glasses of wine. As she told the story, Susan finally unraveled her confused thoughts about that wet November afternoon, and she finally assigned all the blame for Dick's abuse to him. I've known about Susan and that guy, that dick, for ages, but it seems to me that right now is a good time to tell the story to you, because Susan and I are angry again-legitimately angry.









Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Robert in college



Nonnie and Robert are Leos

My brother Robert has always been five years older than me. Almost exactly-we both have August birthdays. His is today. Our sibling order is Robert, Drago, me and then Ric, who died in 2008. Ric died several times, I think. Certainly more often than most of us do. Alcoholism does that. Three out of four of us kids turned out to be alcoholic, but Robert and I were able to get out of the mire years ago. Ric sank with the weight of it all. I miss him. Drago is a social drinker. He has a glass of wine with dinner, not a bottle. He doesn't even want the bottle. I have become a sparkling water afionado. Robert is picky (in a good way) about his coffee.

So, when I was a little kid, Robert (we called him Bobby then) was big, smart, and having adventures way beyond my ken. He started high school when I started 4th grade. 4th grade! I didn't even have permission to ride my bike out of the neighborhood and he was a teenager in full throttle. Drago's only 18 months older than me and he teased me day in and day out as I remember it, but Robert didn't give me a bad time. He was sweet to me. Robert gave Drago hell, though. Growing up.

When I was 13, Drago was 14, and Ric was just a little kid in 2nd grade (but already playing his heart out on the drums) Robert came home from college with The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan and a Joan Baez album, thereby shifting his younger siblings' leanings decidedly to the left of wherever the hell they had been. His visits home from RIT and the University of Arizona (fine arts major) were hallmarks of our high school years. I listened to dinner conversations when Robert was home with intensity. It was, after all, the sixties and there was a lot going on.  They talked (I was pretty much still in my Silent Sam phase, although I loosened up a little if I got a glass or two of wine) about everything and I gobbled every morsel about the world, seen through Robert's eyes, that he brought to the table.

Dad was much more liberal than most of the dads we knew, although even he had a "Get a haircut!" period, and he and Robert could discuss most things without yelling at each other until they started on art. Dad painted, usually oceans or mountains, and he had no use for most modern art, no, I'll say all modern art; the good stuff stopped after Impressionism. They'd get into it and Mom would get tense, and we'd hear, "Not at the dinner table. NOT AT THE DINNER TABLE." Didn't do any good, though. The argument would escalate, reach a peak, then one or the other of them would cease fire-without any surrender on either side whatsoever.

Then, Drago and I were in college and Robert was an adult. Then we were adults and eventually my little brother was in the ranks of "out of the house." We've stayed close and kept on talking (I talk now, too, a lot and without wine) as we've limped, zoomed, changed, and grown all this way up. My big brothers are my rocks, you know. Happy Birthday, Robert!


       

Tuesday, July 31, 2012




Gene Kerrigan wrote this in the Irish Independent on Sunday, July 29. (Croke Park is a sports stadium that seats 82,300.)



"Imagine a million dollars. Imagine it sitting on a seat in Croke Park. Imagine every seat in the stadium had a million dollars wrapped and stacked on it. Altogether, that would be upwards of $82bn. Now, imagine 12 Croke Parks, each seat similarly decorated with money. Now, you've got a trillion dollars.

Now multiply that by 21. We're looking at over 250 Croke Parks, each holding $82bn. Now, unless the batteries on my calculator are dodgy, we're looking at something approaching the amount of money hidden offshore by the super-rich in 2010.

The figure of $21trn is the conservative estimate (it could be up to $32trn) in a report published last week by the Tax Justice Network (TJN). The research for the report was done by the former chief economist of McKinsey, a consulting firm that's hired by major corporations and governments."

I didn't know this. Did you know this? There is plenty of money out there, isn't there? For things like malaria tents, clean water, low cost housing, FOOD!

What are these people who have hidden all this money made of? I think they are aliens. I admit, when I was a kid, I thought I might grow up to be Sister Saint Nonnie, but I became more realistic about the chances of that happening long before I discovered sex, alcohol, drugs and assorted behaviors that go along with the aforementioned. However, even if I abandoned my try for sainthood, I always shared my chocolate bars, metaphorically, with my friends.

My mother, and yours probably, used to tell us to eat our vegetables because there were starving children in China (or somewhere) that didn't have any. (Never mind the logic regarding the "how" of this Motherism-we all argued with Mom but had to eat our string beans anyway.) The point was that there were others, not just our best friends, who needed pieces of our chocolate bars. There were invisible others in the world who had less than we did and our mothers wanted us to think, or better, care about them.

In spite of my career choices, which have been sort of anti-wealth-accumulation (dancer, teacher, poet) I've earned enough to be taxed by the government and I've paid. On time, even. I figured that was how parts of life worked. I couldn't build a new school, but I could pay my property tax and so do my part. And so on and so on. I have also thought that , on the whole, most people have a heartstring that tugs the "fairness," principle that was lodged in their brains by assorted adults when they were very young. We feel a good firm yank, or the slightest possible tweak, but, if we're sane, we live somewhere in the land of people who try to have a "good conscience" in their behavior towards their fellows. We struggle with this, of course.

Damn. I keep saying "we." I've slowly, over a lifetime, been absorbing the truth that "we" is an idiotic pronoun to use when talking about values. Those guys with the 21 to 32 trillion in hidden accounts? They don't use that money to share, help, support, etc., etc. anyone.  They keep it for themselves. If you've already forgotten how much money is in these black money holes, re-read Gene Kerrigans's excellent imagery.

Dylan Thomas wrote,"I hold a beast, an angel and a madman in me, and my enquiry is as to their working, and my problem is their subjugation and victory, downthrow and upheaval, and my effort is their self-expression.” Thomas exhorted us to "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."  We need (there's that "we" again) to rage against these aliens, these super-rich, so that they cannot consume our light. They are bastards.

Link for Kerrigan article: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/gene-kerrigan/gene-kerrigan-rich-hiding-250-croke-parks-of-cash-3182543.html



   

Friday, July 20, 2012




After Another Reading of Raymond Carver's "All of Us"

Young, strong, brave me, doing all that!
Dancing, teaching, performing, making this,
making that. I drank great draughts
of art, all kinds, you name it.
Used the fine work out there
to define, refine, defend my being,
my sincere effort to soar. And let
me tell you it was almost glorious.

There was, of course, a catch. For many
of those potentially triumphant years,
I helplessly slogged through a swampy mess
each night.Yes, every night. I'll stand by that.
Same old, same old. So and so loved me, but
I wanted you and you wanted her, then her.
And for all that time I couldn't get free,
couldn't toss you off, over, away, used Scotch
to dull my fury and so became more pitiful.

From here, out of all that, well-rested,
I can see that awful catch of mine
has a place at the table, in fact, near
the head, across from the almost glory.
My foolishness can be read, watched,
listened to, painted. And it has been.
Will be. Now it's time for some lunch.





Sunday, July 08, 2012


Nonnie's 2nd Obsession (1st is one post back, if you are interested)

Kittens aside, (Gracy is doing fine, by the way) the other obsession in my life is TV. Not TV TV, but Roku TV. I bought this charming little device a couple of months ago and it somehow lets me stream movies, miniseries, and episodes of TV shows directly onto one of our televisions and it's dead easy. So, that's what I've been doing a lot of lately. My brother Drago joins me sometimes, but he has more of a life than I do, so I mostly watch alone, except for Sam, Blossom, or Gracy. (See previous post for pictures of them, if you like.) I was on a BBC miniseries kick for awhile, and Drago would drop in to the porch room where I watch and make fun of the upper class English accents, but that was about all of his participation until I started on The Tudors. That one got him too.
Four seasons! We got through all the episodes in about ten days. Drago missed a few, because, as I said, he has a life, but I'd catch him up on those over supper. We know a great deal more about the first half of the 16th century in Europe than either of us knew we didn't know, if you get my drift. I'd just read Hilary Mantel's excellent books, Wolf Hall, and Bring Up the Bodies, so I was fairly well-versed up until Ann Boleyn lost her head, but the series went much further-all the wives, the nobles, the clerics, the ladies-in-waiting, the diseases, the ghosts, and Henry VIII himself and his remarkable conscience, his redoubtable powers of rationalization, his lusty ways, and his astonishing clothes. I felt closest to Thomas Cromwell, because I'd looked through his eyes while reading the Mantel books, and I hated the clerics and nobles who conspired against him. I don't mean in the usual way you hate someone in a movie or book. For a few days I positively ached to revenge him! I'd find myself plotting the undoing of Bishop Gardiner and his cronies while I cooked or brushed my teeth or what have you.

I am, and always have been, grateful for the imagination of others-for books and movies of books, for the people who dream up Roku devices and their ilk, for kittens who unfailingly entertain with their mysterious games and ability to make such adventure out of thin air. I have rather bad heart disease, and this other weird thing called Myasthenia gravis. Hot weather aggravates both conditions, so I don't go out much in the summer and I suppose I spend most of my time living in stories. (Oh, sure, I try to stay informed, although I've slipped a bit lately.) But, you know, I'm older than I've ever been, and I have had a pretty colorful life, so I'm fairly content, except when I hit a restless patch.

Our kitten is giving herself a thorough scrubbing, (she's especially determined to have clean feet) Blossom is working in the garden with Drago, hoping to get to play with the water hose, Sam is blocking the hallway as best he can, and I've just been writing. So…it's all good. A pleasure.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Nonnie, Drago, Sam, and Blossom Adopt Gracie

There are two good reasons why I haven't been writing much lately. Two good obsessions. Well, one is definitely good and the other is almost certainly good. Cats (specifically our new kitten, Gracy, but also her relatives and friends), and my brother Drago's and my Roku devise. Yes, product placement.

The night before becoming a witch in cats' eyes, (I'll explain) we adopted the runt of the backyard litter. There's a blog about them a couple of weeks back, with a slideshow and a Randy Newman tune-doing that one was hi-tech for me and I was, as the English say, chuffed. I didn't choose the smallest kitten just because she was an underdog, (I know) but also because Drago wanted a girl this time (less likely to mark territories, we hope) and she was funny and friendly as hell. I knew this because I'd spent a lot of time with the kittens already. A lot of time. In my Zoetrope office, (an online workshop for all kinds of creative endeavors) my topic for the week we took Gracy unto our bosoms was "witches," and on June 20, I wrote this:


    Turns out, I feel something of a witch myself today. I'm in the business of capturing the remaining kittens and their mother. I already have the two small adorables in my cat carrier, (they'd just eaten the breakfast I'd put out when I put them in there. They are so used to me they didn't even struggle when I picked them up, traitor that I am!) and I have this malevolent looking cage set up carefully in front of the carrier, to lure the mother. The kittens are supposed to be mewling for her piteously so that Mamacat will creep into the cage, trying to get them out, but so far the kittens are just curled up napping. They are not afraid of the carrier, you see, because I've had it out there where I put the food since they were tiny (ier). I wanted them to have a place to go in the rain. Drago said that wasn't a big deal for outside cats; they could always find dry spots when they wanted them.


Marcia is a dedicated cat lady who is hooked up with vets who neuter stray cats. She is a kind person who works hard to help all the strays in her neighborhood and now is helping me. (Well, not me. I was once something of a stray, but I've been tame for some time now.)  She says I will feel better when all this is over. The cage belongs to one of her covens. (Kidding!) She already has Petey, the biggest, friendliest kitten of the litter, and is socializing him, which is Very Important (nod to A.A.Milne, who was a Huge Influence on my development as Writer.)


I'm doing this for several good reasons: 1) the kittens will get used to more people (not just me) and become easily adoptable  2) Marcia will whisk Mamacat away and get her fixed, thus helping to keep down the wild cat population in our neighborhood, 3) Blossom, our dog, will have her backyard again, 4) birds, 5) fleas.


Drago, Blossom, Sam, our grown-up cat, (who embodies the best of our late brother Ric, his first owner;there are blogs and poems about him back there in these confessions) and I have adopted Gracy, who's black and white and has a ladylike goatee. She seems to feel like she's landed in heaven. Loves us all, but especially me. I know this.


But I still feel like a witch. Will this cat-trapping day never end?



 Gracie likes everything I write
Most of the pictures I take of Gracy look like this
Gracy out of focus, Blossom and Sam in








































Well, it did end, of course. The kittens in the carrier went to the Cat Lady, and the next day Mamacat (trapping her was horrible and she and I both hated it as much as I thought we would) got neutered and then was brought back to our backyard. She's still wildish, but eats the food I put out for her and someday will let me pet her. I know this, too. I haven't told Drago about the three other cats who are also showing up for lunch.

So…this was all about cats, wasn't it? I would go on to my second obsession, the Roku, but who likes long blogs? And I want to play with Gracy. I'm in a very good mood, by the way. The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act today and weren't we worried for awhile about that?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012



Fred and Ginger, Just Because I Love Them



Alice Turns Adam Down

"So, you see, you are simply the wrong partner
for this part of the dance. I'd thought 
someone in a blue shirt, with a side part 
in his blond hair, and your hair is red. 
So even if you changed your shirt to a blue,  
I wouldn't, simply couldn't, choose you.

Dance with someone else, why don't you?
You could dance with the woman over there 
wearing that very long string of pearls.
Or how about that woman in the long red dress. 
Do you like long dresses? Or someone else?


Oh. You often wear blue shirts, do you? 
You don't care for long dresses or pearls? 
You like my green eyes and so choose me? 
But that doesn't matter, to me, you see. 
You are simply the wrong partner for this part of the dance."










Saturday, June 02, 2012


Duet Between Two Performers Who Had Been Lovers


Duet Between Two Performers Who Had Been Lovers


She dances alone in a long purple dress with thin satin straps.
The arc of her full skirt sweeps up and back as she lifts a leg. 
Her curved spine, neck and arms complete the line.
She is safe and sure on stage, under the lights.


The sole musician is fierce at his keyboard.
His chords pound deep within her torso.
The two performers are one and brimming with purpose
and the audience is in thrall to their intimacy.


She dances the Maid, pius, resolute, constant.
The music, a stately pavanne to begin,
builds in pace and she swirls, leaps, and takes 
long soldier strides until the rhythms slow,
the melody fades and the final chord sounds 
as she kneels, feels she channels Jeanne d’Arc.


Silence, then the startle of applause. 
The dancer dips low, and extends her arm 
to her partner who bows from his waist.
When they turn to each other, she sees
remorse darken his eyes, but she turns
away. The heavy curtains close and they part.





Tuesday, May 22, 2012


If I Could Have,

I would have liked to have been in one of the villages Jesus visited. Not to witness miracles or anything, I haven't cared about those since I was a child, but to have seen for myself how he looked, seen the light in his eyes, heard the timbre of his voice as he spoke to people, gathered his followers. Heard for myself what he talked about when he talked about love, to paraphrase Raymond Carver.  I like to think I would have trusted him, maybe followed him to his next stop, maybe everywhere he went. I would have liked being there, with the man in sandals, before all the hoopla started.

Did you hear that Joshua Bell story? He's a genius violinist-American, young, ordinary-looking. They (Washington Post reporters) got him to play Bach cantatas in a D.C. subway station for 45 minutes, and only a few people stopped to listen to him. There were children who were interested in what he was up to and had to be dragged away by busy parents, but not many adults took a music break. Mr. Bell earned $32 playing in the subway that day. Not bad for a busker. Why didn't more people stop, I wonder? Have you heard him play his three million dollar and change violin? Listen to him on Spotify.

I would have liked to have been there, in that subway, and been someone who stayed to listen. Be one of the ones who dropped my plans for the moment and listened for as long as he played-had myself a Joshua Bell plays Johann Sebastian Bach break. Just like I hope I would have listened to Jesus-gotten him a drink of well-water, offered him a place to stay, if he needed one, and I had a place to offer.

I like to think about what I might have done given this, given that. Even if I usually decide that I'd have made good choices, I really don't know, of course. I don't even know if I'd notice when something important came up. But I'm trying to pay attention.





Monday, May 14, 2012


Just the Three of Us

The night before my brother Robert flew in from Philadelphia, I said to Drago, the brother I live with, "It will be the first time it has been just the three of us." Drago said, "Well, it is just the three of us." I don't know if I gulped, or if my jaw dropped, or even if my expression changed, but I was taken aback.  I'd been mulling over things differently-that Robert's wife wasn't coming this time, because she's been helping their daughter with her new baby girl, that there had been all combinations of people in our family together for visits, but that, going back as far as I could remember, Drago, Robert and I had never been just us.  Mom, Dad, and our youngest brother Ric, have all died-Mom in 2006, Ric in 2008, and Dad in 2010. Hellava decade, from our small, immediate family perspective.  So, there it was again, while chatting with my brother over chicken, salad, and baked potatoes. Loss. We taste loss so many times, don't we? And, it comes to us flavored differently each time, doesn't it?

Nonnie, Drago and Robert


But, enough of that! Our visit rocked. Dining out, cooking in, walking the pier, a bit of shopping, watching the Borgias, yoga, reading our various books in various recliners, fine talks about the good, the bad, the stupid, and kittens! A stray cat had 5 kittens in our back yard. Drago, who got to discover them (wish it had been me) is happy about it but trying to stay detached,  and I'm a fool in love; a complete idiot. We did promise Robert, the most concerned bird lover of our threesome, that we'd get them adopted so that they'd be house cats-Robert's gone back to Philly, but we'll keep our promise. They are tiny, and we don't have to do anything responsible yet, so I'm helping the mother cat mother them. I go out there to pet them every so often so that they will be used to human touch and will be easily adopted. Good thinking, there, right? Drago fixed up a shelter for them, and I know they used it during a fierce thunderstorm yesterday (I checked) and I put food out because it seems I can't help myself. I could go on and on, but I won't. Kittens are all over the damn place on the internet, aren't they? People are probably sick of hearing about them or seeing pictures of them or watching video clips of them being almost unbearably cute. But these five are in our back yard! Kittens and brothers. I'm full-up.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I Don't Know Anything About Relationships





EXCUSE ME?

Did you hear what I said?
You look…unruffled,
like you might even smile.

Maybe I spoke too softly.
(I do that, I know.)
Let me repeat myself more forcefully.

"Our careful lies are killing us."

So, there it is. I'm finished.
Did you hear what I said? Did you?
Put the cat down and listen to me.


PATHOLOGY

How awful it is to dissect a marriage!
It lays naked on the therapist’s steely table.
He makes his first incision
into the bloated stomach
of our malnourished union.
He polishes his glasses and peers,
cuts the thin taut skin of our collusion.

We're paying him to do this!
Dr. Stahler hums, probes, frowns 
as he examines the damage done
by our withholding of nutrients.

“But we took our marriage to England! to Ireland! To the Alps!
It was fine and plump!
We have neglected feedings of late,
but we were busy, pushed and pulled hither and yon!
What will you do, Doctor?
Will you prescribe an elixir, painkillers,
a weekend out of town?”

"My dear fools,  there is no heartbeat!
Here, lying on my table, is an emaciated 
corpse. Take the remains away and cope 
with them quickly before rot sets in and settles 
irrevocably into your poor, careless souls."





Bereft Light

I'm sure I loved him. Almost sure.
His wide smile, straight teeth.
I liked his back. Liked spotting him
in a crowd. Especially at airports.

Unlike me, he could carry a tune, 
remembered lyrics, knew the band.
He was a good driver. Kept his cool.
Even on the Beltway. 

And jokes! He had a million.
Got them right. No start overs.
He invented puns. And they were good!
I liked that he was proud of them.
His clever puns.

He was a great Scrabble partner!
Everything I know about Scrabble
came from him. Seven letter words?
No problema. Even stoned.

So, yeah. I miss stuff.
But the illusions?
Playing the fool? 
Nosireebob! Not me.
Not those. Who would?

--------------------------------









Sunday, April 15, 2012

"April is the cruellest month" T.S.Eliot



















The Watch

She's unable to move her own limbs,
so I lift, shift, hold her wasted 
body and ease her onto her back,
watching her face for the crumblings 
that mean pain. Her whispers don’t tell me
where she hurts or what she needs.
So I make my guess and take a deep breath- 
take her ninety pounds in my arms.

Together we journey to and from the commode. 
I empty the pot and yes, it smells- 
yes, but doing this task is instinctive, 
swiftly accomplished, and never repellent. 
I didn’t know how it would be. None of us do.

I sigh each time we manage 
the hoist to her high queen-size bed.
The sheets and pillows, her hair, face
and delicate, cold hands are all shades 
of wintery white, but there is color-
brown spots, pale yellow bruises, 
and purple stains on her skin. 
I try-I always try-to handle her 
with patience and reassurance.

We are Irish enough that the Banshee 
has come to sing from the hallway 
but I growl and chase the bitch away.
Some months ago my life collapsed
and I tumbled here to this bedside.
I'm the one, the only other woman
in this house, allowed to stand guard,
to share these difficult intimacies, 
to keep this watch. I want to do it well.





Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Departure      

Strawberry blond! That’s the shade the maple is this year.  I tried for just that color once, didn’t I? Don’t think I managed it, Marnie thought as she approached the house from the paddock. She missed their horses, as she did during every morning walk she’d taken since they’d sold them. Oh, damn this being old!  Marnie wiped mud off her boots on the back doormat and went through to the kitchen where her sister-in-law was drinking coffee and talking, talking, talking to Stephen.

“ I will worry, Steve! I fly in three hours and I haven’t convinced you stubborn fools to sell this place and join me in Ocala. You’ll molder up here in this lonely place, missing all the fun, and I suppose I’m just to take that answer as final and be on my worrying way. Really, I could wring your wrinkled old necks.”

Stephen answered, “We have a home we love and don’t play bridge, nor do we want to learn. Accept it as our happy choice, Ellen. We don’t want to sell. We are as deeply rooted here as the white pines around us.”

They drove Ellen to Albany for her flight to Florida. Ellen’s travel outfit made her look twice as plump, bundled up as she was against the “horrid” cold of October in the mountains, with a cotton blouse and slacks under all the woolies for the return to her beloved southern sun. Sandals were tucked into her carry-on.

During the drive home, Marnie relaxed, relieved the yearly siege was over. After all, they’d been settled in the country since closing their pediatric clinic almost eighteen years ago.  Why ever should they “retire” again? And in Florida?

“You’d better drive, dear.” Stephen’s voice woke her. “I’m dangerously sleepy.”

After they changed seats, Stephen fell deeply asleep. Marnie took his hand and gasped at his cold skin. His fingers had a blue tinge. So, she thought, it’s time already.

Just past five, she helped him into bed and gave him another nitro to put under his tongue. He was pale, clammy, and, she sensed, in much more pain than he’d admitted to. She left him briefly to see to a few things she needed to do, but soon came upstairs bearing a tray with a bottle of champagne, two flutes, and their stash of pills.

They toasted each other, their long, mostly happy lives, and their determination to go together. Marnie had left letters for Ellen and their three children for the postman to pick up in the morning-letters written by both of them earlier that month, after she’d learned that her cancer was back. There was one to the police as well. They washed down their sedatives with the vintage champagne, even got a little giggly, then snuggled under the covers. Whatever came next, they would be Marnie and Stephen, together and themselves, ready to meet it. Or, as the case might be, Marnie thought, not themselves at all, but then, what would it matter?

Monday, April 02, 2012



Aunt Sally Defies Color Solution #58

Kellen, on Neighborhood Chromaguard Watch for Orange, or O Section, had long known his Aunt Sally was unruly, so he wasn't unduly surprised when he spotted her wearing a bright blue baseball cap. She sat in the shade of a leafy tree and on her lap sat a tattered black book. Sally ate a sandwich although public eating was frowned upon and wearing blue in O was something one simply could not do.

"Morning, Aunt Sally," he said.

"Morning to you, dear Nephew."

"Do I have to fine you? Or will you take off the cap?"

"What kind of fine could it be? I have nothing left but this cap, my notebook, and this hideous orange dress. Oh, and half a sandwich."

"What are you on about? You get your allotment, don't you? Same as everyone. I'll fine that."

"Ah, you could, if I had it, but you can't, because I don't. I've left the envelope on my porch for my poor former neighbors who'll live on, they avow, in this dustbowl of creative thought known as O. I don't want any more of that crap from your color crazed plutocrats. I'll mooch off my old friends and the occasional kindness of strangers, pardon me, Tennessee."

"What do you mean, former neighbors? What have you done, you crazy old bat, you bane of my life, you dysfunctioning Aunt?"

"I've moved out of my loathsome orange cube. I'm in permanent transit now. I'm going visiting. G section is next. Most of my old crowd are Greens these days I discovered and I won't tell you how I uncovered their color. But now I know so that's where I'll go. They were your sweet dead mother's pals too, you know. Don't you remember Keisha and Irv? Or their daughter Conchita? I've already been to Blue. I found happy folks who gave me this cap."

"No way. You can't do what you've done or what you're going to do."

"Way. I've done it and I'm doing it."

"I don't want to take you in, you dim woman. Won't you at least surrender that damn hat?"

"Cap. It's not a hat, it's a cap. Take me in? I think not, you brat. You'll have to use your weapon, which you won't do, because you're my nephew, or drag me somehow, but I'd make a scene. I'd scream, and O section rules forbid any fuss. You might get fined yourself."

"You are a pain in the ass, Aunt Sally!"

"You may well yell Kellen, but I will no longer agree to comply   with this silly regime of color control. It doesn't work and never will. We, most if not all, remain human. We've personalities, souls, memories, goals, loves, appetites, tendencies, and qualities. Lumping us into Chromazones, based on random lotteries, is a pathetic attempt to control us all and will unravel. I'm sure it will but I've no patience to wait. Besides, orange has never been my color. So, unless you are going to manhandle me, Kellen, I'm going to finish this bananafish sandwich given to me, willingly, by one of the few friends I still have in this monochrome place and move on to see how things are going in Green. I've heard they hold poetry readings which is quite hard to believe but I hope is true. Did you know they show movies in Blue?"

"How are you getting out of O? Transport doesn't go between zones."

"Oh, Kellen. Really. I'm going to walk, my dumb dear. Green is only three orange blocks away from here. Have you young people forgotten all the things we can do?  Well. So be it. Fine. I'll live to Re-mind, starting small with a cap and I'll see after that. I'll wear the colors I choose, yellow, purple and blue, and walk where I want. It's easy, believe me. Now get out of my way. Write a report to the O Section boss. Orange doesn't suit you either, you know. Must be a family thing-our sallow skin. Pity you think you're stuck with it. I love you. Good luck."