The Girl With Ocean Eyes

A spiced-rum girl with ocean eyes
big-bellied sailboats and osprey cries
the climbing sun in full splendor
but foolishly I did not surrender.

I had promising places to be.
My spiced-rum girl would wait for me.

The osprey and big bellied boats gone
all my assumptions of the future wrong
pink fingers release a sinking sun.
Girls with ocean eyes wait for no one.

Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief

Vanilla: The Finest of the Flavors

As a lawyer I know words matter. So did another fine lawyer, Thomas Jefferson. And he meant exactly what he said when he wrote all cisgender, heterosexual White “men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” These include life, liberty, and the protection of the patriarchy.

Now just calm down. You don’t need to worry, because the patriarchy works for Others (people who aren’t cisgender, heterosexual White men) too. So we’ll take care of your needs right after we take care of our wants.

As cisgender, heterosexual White men, we know things. Such as choice is great – particularly when you have all the choices. We also know responsibility sucks. That’s why we avoid it.

And this leads me to the recent kerfuffle about the U.S. Supreme Court ending federal protections for abortion. We recognize pregnancy brings some risk and considerable responsibility. But not for us. So why would anyone need a choice when it comes to continuing a pregnancy or not?

In conclusion, let me quote those great political philosophers, Bare Naked Ladies: “I like vanilla. It’s the finest of the flavors.” That means trust the patriarchy. After all, look at what we’ve done for you so far. Just imagine what we’ll do next.

Treacherous Gulp, Esquire – Counsel for Pungent Sound Technical College of Technology

London Fields: Sex, Death, and Darts!

Martin Amis’ London Fields was published in 1989, and its obsession with the end of the millennium is humorously bleak. Or is it bleakly humorous? I don’t know. But there are other obsessions in the book, too. Oddly (to an American), darts is one. So is death. And sex. Definitely sex. And death. Definitely death.

The story is a disturbing love quadrangle. Keith Talent is a violent, misogynistic cheat. Guy Clinch is an inept, credulous romantic. Samson (Sam) Young is an author. And because this is a “modern” novel, he is also the narrator, but he is not “one of those excitable types who get caught making things up.” So does that mean he’s honest? Or does it mean he’s never been caught lying?

Nicola Six (think Sex) is the black hole these men don’t try to escape. When she was a child, she had an imaginary friend named Enola Gay, and Enola had a little boy. Yeah, Mr Amis does not paint with pastels.

Nicola has always been able to sense when something will happen, so she knows she will be murdered on her 35th birthday. She’s looking forward to it. Oh, yes, nearly forgot – the world, and everything in it, is shabby. Except Nicola. She’s resplendent and wants to die.

From the beginning we know who the murderer is. We also know Nicola is the “murderee” (she is definitely not the victim), and we know when she will be killed. As Sam explains, the story is not a “whodunit”. It’s a “whydoit”. It succeeds either way.

But why is Nicola obsessed with death? Is she heart-broken? Is she bored? What does Nicola say about it? “I am a male fantasy figure. I’ve been one for fifteen years. It really takes it out of a girl.”

Nicola is every sexual fantasy men have. But is she just drawn that way? Like Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. We only see her through Sam’s filter. When Nicola reads a chapter Sam has written about her, she doesn’t recognize herself. But that doesn’t matter to Sam. It’s how he sees her, and he’s writing the story. So does Nicola welcome death because she’s too good for this shabby world? Or is it the only way out of a story in which she does not recognize herself?

Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor

Open Letter from Putin to Zelensky – Solution to World Hunger

Dear Smushed Slug on Heel of my Boot:

‘Sup, dog! So you know parts of world facing severe food shortages because your poorly-run territory can’t ship grain for some reason. I have brilliant solution! I loaded all your grain in my ships and am ready to sell to world. Important to do this now, because prices really high.

But, horror! You put mines in waterways I need to travel. We must cooperate to solve world hunger. So remove mines immediately!

Then I sell grain. But this “give and take” benefits you too. The money I make helps me help you crush all criminal resistance in Ukraine. It’s win-win.

Please respond now and include address where you sleep tonight.

Vlad the Great

The Federal Voyeur Hotline

We created the Federal Voyeur Hotline
because sometimes people can't decide
if what they're watching is a crime,
so we say you shouldn't try
because you can never be wrong
if you let us decide what's right -
especially when so many matchsticks
are begging for a reason to strike.
So it's better if we watch too,
and if you don't call us
then we'll watch you.

Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief

An Indecent Proposal (Part 2)

Having recently given $5.00 to a homeless man near my office, I was shocked to see him today sitting in the same spot. How much money does a homeless person need? He’s homeless.

As I got closer I realized this was a different man. He just wore the same filthy clothes as the other guy. No one was around so I ignored him.

I got my iced coffee and headed back to the office. The homeless man was still there, but this time an attractive woman was walking towards me. I was prepared. I stopped in front of the homeless man and held out $2.00 (I had change this time). When he looked up, I saw a nasty gash on the bridge of his nose. It was still bleeding. Why was he getting into fights? He looked frail as a sparrow. He shouldn’t be starting fights.

He blinked in surprise but said, “thank you, brother.” I laughed because I don’t have a brother. “I’m Michael,” he rasped. “What’s your name?” I told him, “Joe.”

I was stunned. I couldn’t believe he had a name. I was so distracted the young woman walked by before I could waylay her and let her know how much I enjoy helping the wretched. The whole thing was a disaster.

Knowgood Carp, Owner of All the Hotels on Block Island and Some in Connecticut.

Getting Mom Fixed

In The School for Good Mothers Jessamine Chan borrows from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to create a story that is new and disturbing. It’s a success.

The book opens chillingly when Frida is informed by voicemail message “We have your daughter.” Frida is having “one very bad day.” She has left Harriet, her 18 month old daughter, alone at home for a few hours, and the police have been called. Now child protective services is involved, and this admittedly terrible decision changes Frida’s and Harriet’s lives. “Mommy is on time-out.” That’s how it’s explained to Harriet. The truth is far worse. Frida has been deemed a bad mother, and she has been given the “opportunity” to go to The School for Good Mothers – an experimental one year rehabilitation program where Frida will be “fixed” (neutered?). Her parental rights are at stake, so failure has real consequences.

Motherhood has been unexpectedly difficult for Frida. “She thought that becoming a mother would mean joining a community, but the mothers she’s met are as petty as newly minted sorority sisters, a self appointed task force hewing to a maternal hard line.” It does not help that her husband has a young girlfriend and wants a divorce. Additionally, Frida is something of an outsider. She’s a first generation Chinese-American, so she is constantly battling stereotypes and covert (sometimes overt) racism.

The School for Good Mothers is a typical bureaucracy. So it’s a nightmare. When Frida informs a doctor that a mistake has been made, the response is “Oh, no. That’s not possible. We don’t make mistakes.” I say that about myself all the time. Doesn’t mean it’s true. The “bad” mothers must repeat demeaning mantras (“I am a bad mother, but I am learning to be good”) because monotony, nonsense, and humiliation will obviously make them good. Punishments are arbitrary and petty. Sometimes they’re just cruel.

As Frida soon realizes, nothing they learn relates to real life. That’s unhelpful, but it’s worse. It’s nonsense. “A mother is always patient. A mother is always kind. A mother is always giving. A mother never falls apart. A mother is the buffer between her child and the cruel world.” Unsurprisingly, the instructors spewing this crap aren’t mothers themselves.

The School for Good Mothers is soul crushing, but the story allows Ms. Chan to eviscerate society’s lies about motherhood. The school is bad, but the mothers aren’t. Some of them are desperate. Some do need help. But some just had a bad day. Society’s response is disproportionate and devastating.

Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor

The Managing Partner

I'd like to thank Edge of Humanity Magazine for publishing this poem first.  If you are unfamiliar with this journal, it publishes a lot of interesting art, poetry, and commentary.  You can find the journal here http://edgeofhumanity.com

The Managing Partner

Don't tell me he was fooled by a pretty face -
not when we've given him the run of the place.

Yup, he paid her 45,000 and begged her to stay.
She said thank you and still walked away.

Did she at least give the money back?

Nope, it hit her account and she started to pack.

[Sound of Toilet Flushing]

I'd be fired if I negotiated such a deal.
He took her to dinner and she ate his meal.

[Sound of Water Running in Sink]

When he spilled Jamaican coffee on his shirt
she grabbed his fork and ate his dessert.

[Sounds of Self-Satisfied Smiles in Mirror]

Then without even a backward glance,
she walked away wearing his pants -
down the block and across the street
joined another firm, free to compete.

If the facts got out the partners would riot.

I wonder if he'd pay us to keep it quiet.
Because if we tell he'll lose his lofty position
and he'd never accept such a humbling transition.

He does lead us like a hearse to the tomb
all while believing he's the smartest in the room.

But his brilliance wears a brilliant disguise.
It's only seen with a mirror and only with his eyes.

[Sound of Door Opening and Closing]
[Sound of Toilet Flushing]

Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief

An Indecent Proposal

Every afternoon I get my iced coffee from Little Green Hive in Roanoke http://littlegreenhive.com. They have the best iced coffee in town. Usually I pass the same homeless man on my route, and sometimes he asks for money. He implies he may be hungry. I always say no, so he’ll learn to be self-sufficient.

Today, however, something was gnawing at my brain. An indecent proposal. What if I did give him money? What would happen? I had no idea.

On my way back, I passed him again. This time I handed him a $5.00 bill, because I didn’t have anything smaller. He looked up at me and said “Hey, bud, thanks a lot.” His voice was raspy as if the winter had been rough on him, but he sounded sincere. He also seemed to smile. I couldn’t see his mouth under his unkempt beard, but that powderpuff of gray hair did seem to shift upwards. His wrinkled blue eyes were twinkling as he took the money from my hand. His fingers were surprisingly warm.

I got back to my office, and I couldn’t get his smiling eyes out of my head. Still can’t. They were almost human. Of course, I washed my hands thoroughly.

Knowgood Carp, Owner of all the hotels on Block Island (and some in Connecticut).