Writings

  • JANE CANTILLON
    Valentine’s Day 1979
  • DAVID PARKE EPSTEIN
    I Dug My Mother From Her Grave
  • DEANIE HOCHMAN
    My House
  • ARIANA MANOV
    Bawdy Women’s Blues
  • JENNIE OCONNOR
    The Hitchhiker
  • TIM MACK
    Tattoo
  • JIM PENTECOST
    Respect
  • CASS SOWA
    Loves Me Not

JANE CANTILLON

Valentine’s Day 1979

It was Valentines Day 1979 at Frederick's of Hollywood.

Gini loved working at the legendary store, and didn’t care about the dirty shadow of the boulevard, a tragic has-been offering nothing but wig shops, pimps, whores and underwear stores. Even the tourists had fled, which made Frederick's of Hollywood a safe place for celebrities to duck into.

Just the other day, Rock Hudson came in with some friends and screeched their way through the men's tasseled rainbow G strings, while lightly touching the pleather and studded man sacks.

Gini found it thrilling when Dolly Parton had recently shopped with her assistant and was buying the superstar the sexy bras and panties. Though Dolly’s gigantic buttery wig was featured in the window display, that day she wore a concealing hat and two rather thin braids, all while sharing a small dressing room with her assistant, Judy.

Today Gini was waiting for her roommate Kevin to arrive at the store exactly at 1:25 PM when the security guard took his lunch break.

He would come in wearing his baggy jeans and his too big Fonzie leather jacket. She would take him into the dressing room and put lacy push-up bra after bra on him, crotchless panties, Mylar G strings with gizmos and vinyl neon butt plugs and cobalt blue velvet panties that said “Eat Me.” Sequence hearts, chains and pasties all layered on his chest and crotch, and finally, lots of cherry edible undies were shoved into his pockets. Then, his bulging body slipped out of the lavender deco building unnoticed.

Back at the apartment, after a couple of bong hits, Kevin would rip the edible undies open, spread a little sugar and peanut butter on, fold it and begin to chew away at the gelatin panty sandwich. Then for dessert, he would munch down the cherry red licorice strings and straps. “Good eatin’,” he would think as he washed it down with a Budweiser. Kevin would be glad that he helped Gini get new underwear and presents for their friends on Valentine's Day. As for him, after he paid his rent, bought his pot and beer, he barely had enough money for food so the edible undies really came in handy.

Another bong hit later, and he would laugh at the thought of people actually wearing them.

©2014 Jane Cantillon.

DAVID PARKE EPSTEIN

I Dug My Mother From Her Grave

I dug my mother from her grave on my eighteenth birthday. For nine years she slept in a coffin beneath frozen ground. I took her from the dirt to kiss the cream that is her face, to kiss the rose that is her lips, to sink my head beneath the ocean of ravens that is her hair, to kiss her full on the mouth, to once again suck the meaty nipple that is her tongue.

©2014 David Parke Epstein.

DEANIE HOCHMAN

My House

My house was always dark, musty, as if we were afraid that something that smelled or reeked of light might peek around the corner. God forbid light should come into this house. Mystery. It was the mystery that made the air in my lungs want to be something different. I felt like I was in a coffin with all the nails in but one. I could peek out with half an eye. You know it was almost as if a blindfold was even on the dishes. And the silverware tiptoed around the table aware of a mystery that needed to be dissected, its red underbelly exposed. The mystery terrified me. I felt I was already in a tunnel of my own. My eyes looking at my hands, touching, touching myself, looking for relief from a world I didn't understand.

Auschwitz.

What a big word. It must have a million letters stretching across the galaxy, wrapping around Hannah and Eli, so beaten, so beaten, not survivors. They thought that adopting me would bring back lives that were taken, the aunts, the uncles, Grandmas, shopkeepers, lovers. They were all there like rats in the holes of every room looking for sustenance, a crumb, a morsel, a gentle hand. No light. Coffins, all the nails down, screaming to a God who was hanging out on the porch smoking and chattin' with awfulness, playing ball with evil. It was a red ball, exposing his true position, his red underbelly so to speak.

Auschwitz.

It rings. The word reverberates loud yelling as the gray days of my life march forward, soldier-like, all my Jews desperately trying to find home. Hannah and Eli. Good, not good. I touch myself. I didn't die. I am alive. I shout, I Am. Yes. No more collecting cans of tuna, no more huge piles of money stuck under a comforter that had lost any sort of comfort, any sort of warmth. I lay in the bed with that money under the mattress. Cold, so cold. I touch myself. The darkness, not so much darkness as an absence of light. Rolls of toilet paper stockpiled in corners. Boxes of Ramen, the noodles that only need one cup of water to put nourishment into a starving body. Dry beans, pasta, tins of herring, sardines piled up in high places. Even crusts of stale bread as if the memory of those tiny crusts, tiny morsels was needed to remind us over, over, and over again The coffin feels so tight, cold. I touch myself. My beingness, my essence inside of me buried outside. I am chained. Auschwitz surrounds our days. I am in a bed that not only has money stuffed under the mattress, but so many documents; different passports, different names, offering promises of freedom when God decides again to hang out on the porch smoking, playing with that red ball. That ball hurts my eyes, exploding with a brilliant darkness that makes me want to burrow deep, looking for my hands. And then I touch myself. Touch myself again and say, I am.

©2014 Deanie Hochman.

ARIANA MANOV

Bawdy Women’s Blues

It’s those full throttle racy women’s blues songs from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s that really get me going.

Bessie Smith teasin’ “I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl”; Lil Johnson’s “Push My Button, Ring My Bell”; Sippie Wallace braggin' “I’m A Mighty Tight Woman”; and Monette Moore’s “Two Old Maids In A Folding Bed”. Alberta Hunter, Ma Rainey, and Big Mama Thornton.

This little white girl didn’t take much note that they were all Negroes—which is what they were called way back. (And, as it turned out, most all of them were lesbians) But to me, they were just big, luscious women who belted out gut-bucket-get-down- and-dirty blues.

Those women, and some of the ones that imitated the greats, belting out those old style songs, and strutting their stuff (and they had lots of it) up and down the dive bars and storefronts on Central Avenue—oh my.

As a child, I hid under the creaking wooden seats with my best friend where we could peek and hear. (And we sure did.)

Their syncopated rhythms, their hip thrusting, and swiveling seemed like the only possible way a body could move. Their voices over-filled whole rooms while their audiences stomped and squirmed at the edges of the music.

From the time I was eleven (too young to understand what a jellyroll was), I listened to “race" records. (Didn't know they were called that.) With my much-too-old-for-me-to-be-hanging-out-with friends, I'd go to their funky homes and suck up the pure joy.

And I'd feel a creaminess—yes –at age 11—a creaminess between my thighs. No words for those feelings.

But with the hospitable smell of hocks and greens seeped into my skin, I'd drag my sorry little ass back to my wonderbread house, hide under the bedcovers and touch myself until I was exhausted.

I have the words now—some of them anyway. The unlawfulness of desire. This music still grabs me and works its mojo. We all own this music -- like our own souls—like owning the deepest, juicy rose-pink insides of my own body.
This white girl all grown up learned to be shameless (relatively anyway) about my lusty appetites.

And my lover learned to vibrate to the beats of my wantonness and smooth them with her tongue.

© 2014 Ariana Manov

JENNIE OCONNOR

The Hitchhiker

I always wanted to pick up a hitchhiker and have wild passionate sex with her. Until the time that I did pick one up.

There was a gorgeous blond at the entrance ramp to the Hollywood freeway on Sunset. It was summer and she was wearing a very tight tank top, no bra, a pair of very short Daisy Duke shorts and bright red cowboy boots. Her long blond hair whipped in the wind and her thumb sported crimson nail polish. Her other hand caressed her round hip and teased the shredded bottom of her Daisy Dukes.

I marveled at the fact that no one had picked her up yet, but I knew I just had to. This was too good to be true.

I screeched to a dust-blowing halt, rolled down the passenger window and, hoping I wasn’t leering or drooling, said jauntily: “Need a ride?”

“Sure, lady,” came back the huskily sexy answer. I flung open the car door and she got in.

Well, actually, she insinuated herself in with a number of almost choreographed moves, beginning with turning her back to me and bending over – oh my god – until her beautiful ass hit the seat. Then she tossed her hair and looked over her shoulder at me wantonly. Next, she pulled her long, long left leg with the red boot glinting in the sun inside the car. She stretched that leg over until her creamy calf made contact with the gearshift in the floor.

She gave me another come hither smile – full red Angelina Jolie lips, and then some – and started to swing in her right leg. Not to be outdone by the spectacular dance of the left leg, the right bent at the knee into a little kick as she lifted up slightly and the red booted leg slid sinuously underneath her delectable bottom. Then, with a soft prolonged sigh, she raised her arms languidly, rested them on her glistening knee and turned to look at me.

I croaked out: “Where to?”

 “Portland,” she breathed.

 “No problem,” I said and roared up the entrance ramp.

©2014 Jennie OConnor

TIM MACK

Tattoo

Listen.

There are mysteries that exist in palm trees. The hissing and humming of leaves pulsing from perfumed trade winds, winds that tap and massage over pineappled landscapes as well as dolphin populated waves that lap onto pearled beaches reflecting their majesty from the light of an absolute Pacific moon.

Watch.

A scattered flotilla of clouds sail in front of the glowing goddess without her permission giving the island paradise a ghost like warmth to this haunting spiritual night.

Feel.

I lift my silent, blank body onto the table and without permission give to myself a gift that begins the reimbursement of years of tormented conformity and hated compliance.

Celebrate.

The painting, on my flesh, made with statements and observations, not as a wallflower, but with the intrusive scent of the plumeria and the self anointed, well deserved arrogance of the bird of paradise.
Aloha ohana.

Much, much aloha.

©2014 Tim Mack.

JIM PENTECOST

Respect

I fucking hate the word elder. But I have to admit is does comes in handy on some occasions.

“Respect your elders” I hear myself saying to the acne faced, wise assed punk teenager in the drama class I teach in a mostly Latino neighborhood, downtown Los Angeles.

“Respect your elders” I hear myself thinking when some young thirty-something vice principal gets all snippy and arrogant with me.

But that doesn’t mean I like being an elder.

It means that I am closer to the end than to the beginning. These days the end could come at any time (not that the end couldn’t have come at any time before but it doesn’t occur to us when we are younger). In the last two months, friends younger than my 62 years of age, have suddenly died. One, seemingly in good health, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and died in four weeks from the time of the diagnosis—58 years of age.

Like many of the teenagers I am around, I often thought my life would be a run on sentence and prefer not to think at some point there was going to be a period. For fuck’s sake, I’d want to go out with a big exclamation point.

But recently I have been looking at life through the prism of an hour glass but not knowing how much sand is still left.

I am impatient with people who don’t have the sense to inquire about my life experiences. Was I this way when I was in my twenties and thirties? Or was I born an “old soul”? I was endlessly fascinated by the experiences and stories of my elders.

But in this day and age of video games, I pods, cell phones, text messages, DVDs, internet porn, does anyone have time to hear a story?

Every once in a while, with my teenagers in school, it clicks that I have been around the block once or twice. When we study frozen stage pictures, one of the photographic examples I show is the iconic photo where Lee Harvey Oswald is shot as he is being transferred from the Dallas County Jail. First they are amazed to learn that I was alive then, and remember so many details of that day JFK was assassinated: Sister Rose Eileen’s eighth grade class, the weather, etc. Some of them do the math and realize that I am older than I look (thanks to staying out of the sun and Grecian Formula).

Sometimes I tell my class, “When I was in college, gas was only $.29 a gallon” and that same acne punk assed kid says, “Really Mister, $.29? Shiiiit Mister.”
        
Although I may be in the Chekhovian time of my life, the poem by Robert Lowell still resonates loudly:

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

©2014 Jim Pentecost.

CASS SOWA

Loves Me Not

loves me, loves me not
car door slammed
garage door closed
Mercedes tires sprinted down the drive
silence
gone
she peeked
he was gone
garage reeked of alcohol
gun lock box open
handguns and bullets strewn about the bench
the new 20/20 under and over shotgun
laid out
loaded
her body screamed from his recent beatings
"four months of wedded bliss, darlin’”
he'd snarled as he hit her last night
four months of marriage
three of hell
how impetuous she'd been
new divorce.
new town
new job
ten and twelve year old daughters
Connor was a nice looking
successful
local attorney
who pursued her
aggressively
they dated for six weeks
eloped to Norfolk on his insistence
weekend binging arrived with a bang
the first beating
stopped appearing in public
lewd and suspicious comments
“they all know you're divorced, darlin'
they all come sniffin’ around you
lookin’ for a piece
of free ass
they're all wantin' to try your rosebud daughters on
for size, too"
the girls told her yesterday that they saw Connor hiding in
the bushes outside of their bedroom windows
instant nauseous horror
home at 3am last night
drunk
demanding sex
she demanded a divorce
he gave her a beating
extracted the sex
left at noon today
smelling of alcohol
his parting threats reminded her
a woman has no rights in Virginia
"divorce be damned, darlin.
you are my property in this state
along with your brats
hear me darlin?
you're just a slit
get ready for family fun night tonight
be ready"
she tucked the girls in
with a favorite video to watch
placed a chair in front of their bedroom door
sat
waited
alone
thought
frightened
desperate
cold sweat dripped
stinging the abrasions and cuts on her arms
from last night’s beating and rape
they were not old enough
was any woman ever old enough?
she sat and thought
pensive, then determined.
tires screech
screen door rips
back door explodes
he plows his way through the kitchen
dining room
"I’m home, bitch!
"get those juicy tight rosebuds of yours ready
watch me ram my cock out the back of their heads
answer me
bitch!
answer me!”
flushed
wild-eyed
sweating
turning the corner into her line of vision, .
unzipping his fly
“answer me
answer me”
the shotgun
answered

©2014 Cass Sowa.