My wife had selected Winnie the Pooh as our baby’s theme. “Classic, not Disney,” she’d often repeat to family and friends as they called to congratulate us and ask for suggestion on gifts or clothing.
Being new to all of this, I soon found out that matching and coordinating was a common expectation when it came to such things as babies and preparing a nursery. Together we had carefully selected everything from blankets, comforter and floor rug, to the Classic Pooh table lamp that would sit on the dresser.
So, at first I was a little worried about the dresser. According to the instructions I had everything I needed for assembly – Phillips screw driver, small adjustable wrench and hammer to tap the tiny black nails to the back of the unit to prevent it, as the instructions explained, from collapsing when finished. But, until I sliced open the box and let the pieces slide out precisely stacked as they had been when they left the shop floor half a world away, I did not know that the sand color of its smooth veneer finish was in fact an exact match to the sand colored trail of the wall boarder, on which a series of Pooh-Bears continuously roamed, night into day and day into night, honey pot in hand, appropriately accompanied by bees encircling the nursery at a height level with the top walnut railing of the crib. Continue reading
Quite suddenly, nothing happened.
With all the force in the world, nothing happened.
Assured the condition was only temporary,
we were told to return to our houses,
to leave the lights off and get into our beds.
To tremble at powers far beyond our comprehension.
In this book, Greg Farrell brings the minutiae of millennial life to the page. Farrell is quick to poke humor at his privileged upbringing and many neuroses. In the first story, he notes that he moved to Brooklyn to escape the endless car/job cycle of his hometown in Long Island (you need a car to get to the job, you need a job to afford the car). Farrell writes that he “saw New York City as a refuge from those things,” but was “oblivious to the trials that would await me there.” Indeed, his comfortable suburban upbringing leaves him unprepared to handle even the most basic challenges of city life, such as living with pests, shady landlords, and unreliable roommates.
A series of unconnected vignettes about Farrell’s life over the decades, both in and out of Brooklyn, the collection is scattered at times. Some vignettes stand out, such as a sweet Christmas when the family bands together to buy Farrell’s younger brother a Wii before supplies run out, and a charming look at the history of the Jewish deli B&H. Farrell, an admittedly anxious person, makes for an unreliable narrator at times, as in a story about his electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome, a form of hypochondria, which he seems aggrieved that the rest of the world doesn’t take “seriously.” He has a distinct point of view and clear voice, and his stories definitely read as honest. When he shares his thoughts about girls or roommates it seems like a true depiction of his inner dialogue, which, though de rigueur in diary comics, sometimes feels like oversharing to this reader. For example, when Farrell talks about a female roommate he had an argument with, he notes that he had “two wet dreams wherein I ate her pussy.” Farrell’s viewpoint can be myopic at times, rarely venturing beyond his internal monologue. The collection is at its best when he focuses his lens outside of himself on his family and the outside world.
The book itself is a beautifully-printed edition with clear, easy to read text and a simple, eye-catching cover. Overall, Hipster is an interesting read (despite having little to do with hipsters, or Brooklyn).
People of Earth may be TBS’s strangest, if not funniest, new show. Reporter Ozzie Graham, played by Wyatt Cenac, interviews a support group for alien abductees (they prefer the term “experiencers”) in Beacon, NY, a hotbed of alien activity. Though a skeptic, within the first episode he comes to learn and even believe that he may be one of them. Wildly absurd humor and an all-star cast will surely delight audiences.
Creator David Jenkins joined the cast yesterday, October 7, at New York Comic Con, to discuss the stories and inspiration behind People of Earth.
“[The show] really doesn’t have a format, so every episode that we wrote it felt like we were trying to reinvent the show or at least find it in a new way,” Jenkins said.
Though the show is a sci-fi comedy, Jenkins said that he was most interested in exploring the characters that populate his zany universe. “The episodes that I like the best tend to focus on a personal life, then what’s happening in the group, then there’s a sci-fi story that seems to be happening around it but it’s not the focus on the actual episode. You’re still in that world. It’s a comedy that has really interesting sci-fi things around it.”
People of Earth will premiere October 31 on TBS.
Your skull is packed with razor thoughts, as Father is dying a horrible death, his camel chin, so tired of rising to meet your buzzard eyes. And yes, you have the power to take a papercut, turn it to rivers of blood. There’s a catheter bag taped to the hair on his leg. You know, when pouches of urine pull on the tube, it hurts much more. “I’ll empty it” is all I say. You’re busy with some young woman, bleached-fried hair, doing your nails—donning a silk-slick negligée–clearly the skin of a Python with those aging spots. Next she’ll dye your old coiffure, see if she can change the world. Yours, not his. I hate that fact.
You treat his dying as if it’s yours. He doesn’t deserve that Hell-made pickle of your tongue. None of us deserve your tongue. But go ahead, do what you do: tear down shrines, release the memories of lives that matter, toss them with that snotty tissue in the trash. When he’s gone, it’s free-fire zone. I have a mouth; I’ll use it then. Because of you, every step I make to hold the conch shell of my father’s hand is a field of mines. I’m the one who scratches the genie’s itching head, rubs his shoulders with all the power in my wrists and fingers, in my arms, as he quietly reads the news. Do you know your sour words are bile and hairballs in his throat? I make him crêpes for breakfast when you refuse to switch on morning coffee pots, but manage to open a gallon of scotch, telling someone watching you drink from a bed stand cup: Oh, it’s only apple juice, you say. And we pretend that we believe to save him from the whipping post.
I hate the thought of my father making love to a woman built of shale and splintered wood. That heavy clay horse in the pompous living room you never use but had to have—like six mink coats—will do just fine. I could come up from behind, knock at the door of a head filled up with pharmacies you never needed from the start. And you. You over there—the one with eyes glazed over same as donut holes, the one who will not hold me when he’s gone—I’ll bet you’re stealing his morphine pills.
It’s over now. I stand beside him, stumbling over syllables. “A Love Poem to My Father” is the piece I wrote. My wrist too weak to hold the frame, a hospice nurse helps me out, reaching underneath to steady the paper pinned by glass, now hit by cold November winds. She knows these cracking cricket sounds will live forever in my voice. You are screaming, Get that body off my bed! I wish it were some bullshit job of paraphrase. Where’s that horse? A thick, black zippered body bag is on a stretcher telling me there’s no tomorrow.
Janet Buck is a seven-time Pushcart Nominee & the author of four full-length collections of poetry. Buck’s most recent work is featured in The Birmingham Arts Journal, Antiphon, Offcourse, PoetryBay, Poetrysuperhighway, Abramelin, The Writing Disorder, Misfit Magazine, Lavender Wolves, River Babble, The Danforth Review & other journals worldwide. Her latest print collection of verse, Dirty Laundry, is currently available at all fine bookstores. Buck’s debut novel, Samantha Stone: A Novel of Mystery, Memoir & Romance, was released courtesy of Vine Leaves Press in September, 2016. Janet lives & writes in Southern Oregon—just hours away from Crater Lake, one of the seven wonders of the world. For links, announcements, and interviews with Janet, visit her new website: www.janetibuck.com
At the British Museum in London, many of the world’s greatest treasures are on display. As I studied the Rosetta Stone, one of our modern-day wonders, there was only one thing on my mind: What does that feel like?
Fortunately, the British Museum anticipated that desire. They recently started hosting Objects Handling Sessions, where visitors can touch historic artefacts daily under supervision of a trained volunteer. They’ve also added an interactive Touching Tour, which allows blind visitors to handle plaster replicas of some of the artwork, to better visualize it. These features can help bring history to life in your fingertips.
However, I noticed no one seemed shy about touching the real deal. “Please STOP TOUCHING the art & artifacts!” reads one 5-star review from an unamused guest.
Indeed, the guards seemed blind to it. Pictured below, a woman rests on an ancient statue marked PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH.
Encouraged, I partook myself. Here is a guide to my favorite sites at the British Museum by taste and texture.
The Sphinx tasted enigmatic. Truly, there is nothing in the world like the feel of a genuine Egyptian sphinx beneath your tongue. Each lick imbued me with years of wisdom.
On the downside, I probably have a curse now.
The coin room in the British Museum has a handful of coins out at all times to be handled. Naturally I popped a few in my pocket when no one was looking.
I felt supremely powerful holding the coins of generations past. However, I discovered that the thousand-year-old drachmas, though purportedly valuable, could not buy me a snack from the museum’s cafeteria. Whoops. Now I know what people in Greece feel like.
Comfy, but short.
“I know what you did to the Sphinx,” a voice whispered in my ear as I stroked the Mummy’s hand. Whoa. I’ve really got to get out of here.
Heaven rises and earth falls
The heart beats its own accord
And the stream ripples with life.
Rock and water are inseparable
Flowing round each other.
If the center holds all things are strong.
Beyond that lies the soul.
Thought spirals a habit,
A dragon whipping its tail
Long enough to touch
Here we are. Here we remain.
Man the creature of the middle,
The center that holds its own.
“The night I opened my veins
the doctor who stitched me up
asked me if I did it for attention”
I will grow old growing mad in the moonlight.
I will wipe the charcoal from the skies in the early morning
having sat out on the back patio smoking cigarettes all night and drinking
three bottles of wine after everyone went home to their warm beds.
I will smear the slate clean and rub oil pastels with my bare palms
into the empty morning air leaving my hands a runny shade of pink and orange.
I never did it for attention.
I do everything for attention but not that.
That is my little secret.
Like the three bottles of wine I promised you I wouldn’t drink because
the internet called me a heavy drinker and told me that I was
at risk of developing something worse and bigger.
Those are my little secrets.
I swallowed them along with the wine and an ambien that never kicked in
and some klonopin to take the edge off.
I buried them in the backyard next to my brother’s dead hedgehog.
I set them aflame with my gas station lighter.
I ripped them into small pieces and scattered them where no one can see them
Two bottles down and the moon bathes me in the very memories I’m trying to forget.
Emergency room lights bright like the skin on my stomach in the middle of winter.
Bright like the skin on my stomach in the middle of summer because it never sees the sun.
Coarse bed sheets soaked in blood and the scent of burning flesh when they cauterized the artery.
I never did it for attention.
I do everything for attention but not that.
In the early morning before my alarm I smoke a cigarette then another
than a whole pack trying to forget and trying to ride away the craving for another drink.
The smoke surrounds me like early morning fog clouding my vision.
Whoever said you can’t drink wine before 7 am is my mortal nemesis.
Whoever thinks that I do it all for attention
the cigarettes and the wine and the bright red lines
is a fucking idiot.
They clearly don’t know what it means to be alive.
They don’t know the remedies to getting by.
They don’t know the blinding shine of the moonlight.
I’m more alive in this moonlight than you will ever be. Don’t you see my glistening?
Don’t you see my scars gleam? Don’t you hear my heart ,so small, so weak, beat?
When the sun comes I will wipe the slate clean.
I’ll wash the dry blood from my hands and throw away my jeans soaked through with red.
In the light of the sun i’ll begin to forget.
The moonlight is maddening. Bring sunlight, bring clarity.
I never did it for attention.
I do everything for attention but not that.
That is my little secret
When I was a little girl my teacher taught me that 2+2= 4
and that a, e, i, o, and u are vowels (and sometimes y)
and my mom taught me a firm handshake (you don’t want to shake like an American)
and my dad taught me diagnostic criteria in the DSM
and my sisters taught me the top pop hits of 2003.
And my teacher taught me cursive handwriting
and my mom taught me to say please and thank you
and my dad taught me about the stars
and my sisters taught me that you’re not really a grown up
just because you turned 21.
Some things I learned, I cannot trace the origin of.
Who taught me to feel ashamed when I left my barbies naked and headless
opting instead to climb trees and wind through creeks in the mud?
Who taught me to feel bad when
I played dirty on the soccer field,
when I discovered the slide tackle at eight years old?
Who taught me that all that life means is to be pretty? More than being smart or funny or nice or kind or caring?
Who taught me that as a woman, I had to be, not only pretty, but nice and kind and caring?
Why didn’t anyone give a fuck about a girl’s big ideas and creativity?
Why was it always “keep your mouth shut and your legs shut even tighter?”
Why, as I got older, did seventeen magazine preach never to wear all black,
to always spruce your outfit up with a red shoe, a pop of color?
Who the fuck taught me, taught all of us, that we are not okay to love?
Whose insidious voice got inside our ears and whispered, “you are unloveable,
Who the fuck taught us that the proper way to hate yourself is through your body?
Get a bad grade on a test? Blame you’re thick legs.
Say something mean? Blame your arms fat like tree limbs.
Get into a fight with your best friend? That wouldn’t have happened had your stomach been flatter.
Your boyfriend broke up with you? It was your ass, I tell you, your fat fucking, cellulite ridden
ass was the problem.
Who taught us to skip meals to make ourselves lovely?
Why does every girl I know have a story about an eating disorder that she may
or may not have had growing up?
And now that we are all grown up, why can’t we eat without apologizing?
Why can’t we go a day with weighing ourselves and wondering?
Why does that voice in our heads never let up?
“You fat piece of shit you are nothing.”
So here’s to the all the girls who still feel fat all the time even though they are nothing but skin and bones.
And here’s to the girls who still feel fat all the time even though they are anything but skin and bones.
And here’s to the girls who drink every night to quiet the voice inside.
And here’s to the girls who slice their skin just trying to get by.
And here’s to the girls on juice fasts, and low carb diets, and diet pills.
And here’s to the girls who are tired of the world weighing down on them.
Let me be the voice inside your head.
I don’t care if you are beautiful or smart or kind or nice or caring or thin or fat or mean or bossy.
I don’t care if you like to pay dirty and I don’t care whether you keep your legs closed tight.
You are everything i’ve ever wanted to be, just the way you are.
I wish I could take my own advice but the least I can do is impart it to you.
Fuck that voice in your head.
Fuck it hard like that guy that you met at a party and fucked on ecstasy then never called
back the next morning.
Fuck it and don’t ever call it back.
Don’t ever invite it back in.
you told me that you liked my poetry so
I got drunk and wrote a thousand poems about
the faces you make when you’re trying to make a point
and the sound of the train rolling by at night
and I wrote a devotional ode to cheese fries
and a villanelle about the sunrise
and I wrote about last night at the bar
and the night before
and watching movies in my parent’s basement
and living alone in my old apartment
and I wrote a sonnet about the time that her and I
hooked up in the back seat of my car
and how I realized girl on girl was better than I had ever expected
and I wrote about the trees and the mountains
even though there are no mountains
and I wrote about the sea and the shore but not the beach
because I hate the beach
and I wrote a pantoum just for you
about how much I hate the feeling of dry sand
and the sound of chalkboards
and I wrote about the other things that make my skin crawl
and I wrote an epic poem about our love which isn’t love at all
and I wrote about dead bodies floating in the river
and snow accumulating on my dashboard
and dead leaves crunching under my feet in the winter
and I read you a few of my poems about
spring making its way and
the rain on my fingertips on a warm day and
the ways I want you to hold me
and you told me that you didn’t like my poetry so
I got drunk and deleted them all
all ten thousand of them
one by one
every poem i read seems to have a line about
but i cannot picture them in my head because
i don’t know much about flowers and
i wouldn’t know a chrysanthemum if it
bought me a drink and sang me love poetry
in german can’t you hear it sing
I know only dandelions
sie blühen draußen
in the back yard
little yellow heads that pop up
when the spring comes
and fade to soft greys
i make a wish and blow them away
but my wishes never come true
and i know roses
blooming on my arm in shades of
red and black and grey
Man muss Tattoos nicht gießen
they thrive on the water in my body
the body is made up of so much water
we are like sacks of seas
das Meer fließt
and i know hibiscus
floating in wine that my sister let me sip
when i was sixteen and we were
close like we were before
before everything changed
when were were like real Schwestern
es schmeckt suß wie Schokolade
and i know that lavender
is calming so they put it in soaps and teas
and in the south of france my mom bought
so much lavender soap to take home
and scrub our hands clean with
and there’s still some in the powder room
which is just a fancy Badezimmer
that only the guests get to pee in
and i know tulips
my mom’s favorite flower
wir pflanzen sie im Frühlig
in the front yard
i saw them everywhere in amsterdam
at the flower market
did you know that the netherlands
suffered something akin to the great depression
hundreds of years ago
when the price of a tulip bulb kept rising
until someone realized they were just flowers
and i’ve seen a sunflower
towering over me in a garden as i
walked the streets of my mom’s home town
back in germany
it struck awe in me like a chrysanthemum never could
and i couldn’t help but wonder to myself
who no one writes poems about
the price of a tulip bulb or
lavender soaps from the south of France or
hibiscus wine secrets shared between sisters or
tattoos of garden variety roses or
making a wish on a dandelion
I couldn’t help but wonder to myself
why no one writes poems about sunflowers
standing tall in the garden and striking awe in all of us
I tied a kite string around the sun to try and capture its wave lengths.
I didn’t crave the heat so much as I wanted to catch a tan.
My skin is paler than the moonlight by the middle of winter.
I can trace every vein from wrist to finger.
The blue green angels singing, begging me to puncture.
When I get my blood drawn at the doctor’s office
I lay out my arm and place my finger on the spot
“This is the vein you want.”
This is the vein that is full of life and bounty.
They always cringe at me as if I know too much.
And I do know too much.
When I meet someone new in a sleeveless top all I can see
is their pretty veins.
The blue green angels singing, begging me to puncture.
“You have beautiful veins and lovely bones,”
I told my friend that as I ran my fingertips up and down and his arm and
traced his collar bone.
“Thats the creepiest thing you’ve ever said.”
I used to thread my veins together with medical needles.
I’d knit them into long scarves and try a different spot every time to
prevent the formation of track marks.
They littered my friends’ skin like cigarette butts on the ground at the park.
I kept them away but my inner arms would be bruised for days from
And I once got an abscess the size of a golf ball from dirty needles or sharing needles.
Or maybe from sharing dirty needles.
In the emergency room they refused to drain it
my little ball of puss and blood.
They gave me an antibiotic and no other instructions other than to
“Stop living your dirty lifestyle, much worse things will happen,
you rotten junkie, you.”
I still have a scar from when they finally did drain it.
It’s the only scar I don’t plan to cover up with tattoos.
Because I need to remember, when my veins look so enticing,
when your veins look so enticing,
that it wasn’t all good.
I need something to remind me when
the blue green angels are singing, begging me to puncture.
Because the body has memories.
And the body can’t remember pain the way it remembers the good.
I need the sun to bronze me and cover every last inch of the blue green
so that I can stop staring and wishing and remembering.
So that I can stop tracing the lines and remembering the good times.
Instead I want to trace the line of the little scar on my arm
and remember when it hurt.
Because if you forget the pain
history is sure to repeat itself.
Anna Shapiro is an English major at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. After graduating, she hopes to get her MFA in creative writing. Anna lives at home with her family, frog-in-a-jar, and plastic cat skeleton. When not writing poetry, she can be found implementing her feminist agenda and drinking craft beer on draft.